Richard continued to politely listen to the barmaid filling him in on the latest gossip, until his eyes came to rest on the wall of lost souls.
Without warning, he stood up and made his way across the tavern floor, almost knocking Meg off her feet in the process. Once at the wall, he reached up and took down a longbow. He let his eyes return to the spot he had taken it from to read the name inscribed on the plaque. The names and weapons adorning the wall had never had much meaning to him before, but now it was personal. Richard knew the name burned into the maple wood plaque and he also knew his boy, the same boy he had passed by earlier.
This has to end. He didn’t believe this imaginary creature existed. When they would add another weapon and another name to the wall, he would simply shake his head.
Now however, the last fool to wander into the forest in search of this mythical beast was someone he knew. Richard was determined to go into the woods and put an end to the lore of the so-called ‘great beast’.
I am going to hunt down whatever forest animal is doing this and destroy it once and for all. It has taken its last life, its last breath. After I produce whatever common, yet rogue animal this is, there will be no further need for anyone else to lose their life in search of making a name for themself.
Without a word spoken to anyone, he took the bow and headed for the door. With all eyes upon him, there was no need for words; they all knew where he was headed and what he planned to do. By the time he reached the door, he could feel the vacant stares of the patrons who dared to look upon him.
It was true that Richard was considered to be the best and most ferocious hunter in all the surrounding lands. The locals believed that if anyone stood a chance against the great beast, it would be him. Still, this didn’t change the sullen mood in the tavern as he exited without looking back.
In order to salvage the jovial spirit, which helped to spur on the sale of liquid libations, Jeffrey’s voice could be heard booming across the silent room. “The next round is on the house!” he sang out. This was followed by a great cheer.
Richard paused only briefly, when the sound of the cheering reached his ears. Are they cheering for me? No matter whether they are or not. The fact remained; he was setting out on a mission to disprove once and for all the legend of whatever was out there.
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