Chapter 2

Many of the people around began to ask what VaynMacc was planning to do, but were cut off by a piercing, female scream.

Ben's eyes widened. "That, that sounded like Mary!" The giant turned and dashed out of the inn, only to go a few steps outside as a young girl ran into him, and wrapped her arms around his waist.

She turned her brown, tearful eyes up to him, and questioned, "Daddy?"

Ben wrapped his massive arms protectively around the maiden, and whispered softly into her ear, "I'm here, Mary." He then withdrew slightly, holding her at arms length. After looking her over he asked, "What happened? Where's your dress!?"

Mary brushed aside a lock of her long brown hair with one hand, while attempting to cover as much of her light, linen shift as she possible could with the other. Her mouth moved, as if answering, but no words came forth.

"There is no need for her to reply."

Ben turned in surprise to find that VaynMacc had followed him out of the inn, then questioned indignantly, "What do you mean by that? I adopted this girl, she is my responsibility! Do I not have some right to know what she was screaming about? Or why she is standing outside in her undergarments?"

"I think she feels enough shame about her current circumstances already."

VaynMacc spoke truthfully. As Ben looked down into the face of his daughter, he noticed that she was blushing profusely through her tears. He sighed, his shoulders dropping as he asked softly, "Then am I simply to know nothing? To do, nothing?"

Mary tried again to answer her father's question, but was only able to vocalize a single word, "Paul..."

Ben turned purple. He straightened to his full, massive height, then grew another several feet until his tremendous frame completely blocked all sight of the sun for the people standing below him. The muscles around his body went rigid, and he spoke through his solidly clenched teeth, "I'm going to kill him." He started to run, charging off toward the place where he originally thought he had heard his daughter's scream, while a steady stream of threats and profanities poured from his mouth.

"Daddy no!" Mary tried to stop the hulking creature, following closely behind, but to no avail.

"Paul! I'm going to kill you!" Ben came to a crossroad, looked to all the possible ways he could turn, and chose the one that went towards his own home. He then continued his tirade. "I'm going to rip off your extremities, tear them into pieces, and shove them up your backside till they come out of your mouth!" The giant paused to remove a small, yapping dog from his ankle where it had chosen to plant its teeth. The dog refused to release it's grip, so Ben ignored it and went back to his screaming, his new ankle gear growling ferociously as new threats came forth, "I will rip out and beat you to death with your own guts!" He reached his home, threw open the door, and yelled, "I will..."

"You will... what?" An armored captain of the realm guard was standing in the center of Ben's hut.

The giant stuttered as he tried to answer the captain's question, "I, I, I don't know." Beside the soldier, lying on the ground, was Paul Butcher. With a broadsword sticking out of his back.

"Daddy, Paul didn't..." Mary had caught up with the giant, but hid herself behind her father's incredible girth as soon as she caught sight of the soldier. Tears began to flow from her eyes again, as she whispered, "Paul didn't do anything to me. I had just gotten out of bed when that man came into the hut. He grabbed me, and was starting to touch me, when Paul came in and tried to stop him. The man unsheathed his sword, and..."

Mary could speak no more. Tears overwhelmed her, but she was quieted by a soft assurance from the dark figure of VaynMacc that had entered behind her. "Don't worry, take your dress from the floor, there, and go to the inn. Your father and I will take care of everything."

The girl did as she was told. Grabbing up the dress that VaynMacc had pointed out, she threw it over her head and ran quickly back to 'The Last Resort', leaving Ben and Vayn alone with the captain. Or, they would've been alone had not the sect of soldiers under the captain's control returned at that moment.

Needless to say, Ben was nervous. There where between twenty and thirty well-armed men surrounding him completely. He gathered together what courage he had, though, and commanded in a voice that betrayed as little of his fear as possible, "State your name, and your business."

The captain laughed aloud, then walked up till he was only a few feet away from Ben, and replied, "Our business, is none of your business." he paused, leaving time for a few random soldiers to laugh softly, before he continued, "Our name's however, I will give. I am Captain Lacerate Pmuut, and this is the honorable sect XIII of the High Breed army." The captain smirked, then continued, "You are at our service."

"Sect XIII, you say?"

The captain turned to face VaynMacc. "Correct."

A broad grin came across VaynMacc's face as he remarked, "What a coincidence."

Ben was not sure why, but for some reason, he found VaynMacc's grin to be oddly unsettling. Perhaps it was simply because a broad grin was so seldom seen on the dark man's face, or perhaps there was some hidden menace that only he could see.

Lacerate, however, was not unsettled at all. Or at least he did not appear unsettled when he asked, "How is it a coincidence?"

"I've been searching for you for quite some time! And actually, I just heard someone mention your name a few minutes ago. Who would've thought that you would appear in the very village where I was staying?"

Ben was now unsettled even more. Vayn said he had been searching for quite some time, and was now acting as if he were fairly well acquainted.

The captain laughed lightly. "Yes, who would've thought?" The captain's laughter spread around the room, lightening the mood quite a bit.

The captain stopped abruptly. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why have you been searching for us?"

"I heard good things about you, and was wondering if they were true."

Lacerate threw a look toward the soldiers on either side of the room. "Well, I don't think we'd have any trouble verifying the truth of the 'good things' you've heard. Just tell us what they are."

Vayn nodded, then began to speak, "I heard that you have the largest sect in the entire High Breed army, and that even with the large numbers you've had no trouble keeping your men in order. Is that true?"

"Mm-hmm. My men are well trained, and they'd be too afraid of me to disobey an order." The captain turned to his men and asked, "Isn't that right?"

A military style affirmative caused Ben's ears to ring. He did not have time to think on it though, as Vayn began to speak again. "I had also heard that even though sect XIII has been under your control for more than five years, you have not had a single casualty."

"Also true. I take pride in my own personal method of training; as you have heard, apparently, my men are easily able to avoid situations that would risk their lives."

"I have also heard something else," Vayn's grin took on a devilish appearance, and he continued, "I've heard that you're men have had an extraordinary amount of luck with the women folk."

Then entire group of soldiers began a chorus of harsh barking laughs, as they began to state their agreement. "I once laid fifteen women in one night!" came the cry from one man. "I don't need to keep count," came the voice of another, "so many women throw themselves at me that my head would start to hurt if I even tried!"

Ben, needless to say, was becoming more unsettled by the moment. Once, in the inn, a man had accused VaynMacc of lying. Only once, before he found himself lying on the floor with the wind knocked out of him. And from other experiences he knew that Vayn followed a strict code of honor.

Why then, when he had condemned the entire sect XIII to death, was he acting as a friend? Why, when the entire sect XIII was proudly listing more and more brutal and disgusting ways that they had raped innumerous amounts of women, even if he had not already condemned them, was he allowing them to live?

Captain Lacerate brought his sect back to order, and spoke. "As the men have assured you, what you heard about the women folk was quite true. In fact, at each harvest festival we are given, by the steward of the land, one of the finest maidens held within. It is our reward, as keepers of the realm. And there is not one single man in my sect whose desires go unfulfilled."

"That's not quite true, sir!"

The captain turned to find the source of the voice. "You contradict me?"

It was a red haired, bearded man, of stocky build. He nodded to show that he had, in fact, contradicted the captain, then spoke, "Although it's true that most of your men have no desires unfulfilled, there are some who do."

The captain raised an eyebrow questioningly. "Who?"

The bearded man slapped the back of the only clean-shaven soldier in the group, flinging him forward, then laughed out, "Mathew Miller here couldn't fulfill his desires if you ordered him to! He's far to good for that. Mr. High 'n' mighty is above the things that the rest of us do!"

VaynMacc strode across the room, removing the distance between himself and the clean-shaven soldier. He then bowed slightly and, with a mocking intonation to his voice, asked, "Mr. High 'n' mighty, I presume?"

The surrounding crowd burst into raucous laughter, but was cut short. Mathew Miller, appearing to be no more than twenty years of age, spoke with no tremble of fear in his voice as he reprimanded, "It is very easy to appear high 'n' mighty, when the people around you are uncouth pigs."

Captain Lacerate slammed the back of his gloved hand into the side of Mathew's face. "I would watch my tongue if I were you."

"What need has he for watching his tongue? Why not humor him, allow him to speak his mind? You can be certain that by allowing him to speak and release his frustration he would become all the more loyal in the future," Mathew had been knocked from his feet by the captain's blow, he now stood slowly, eyeing VaynMacc warily as the dark man continued, "besides, I could use a bit of entertainment."

The surrounding men began to laugh once more, and Lacerate, his mood eased, gave his assent.

"Why should I bother to speak?"

Lacerate was taken aback. "Why on earth would you not? You are the one who insisted on voicing your problems! Why, when you are given permission, do you choose to refuse the offer?"

Mathew glared at the captain through the corner of his eyes, then directly ahead at VaynMacc. "Why should I refuse an offer of further mockery? Already I know that you do not care what I have to say, Captain, and this man has openly proclaimed that my troubles are but entertainment to him. Why, then, should I waste my time by speaking?"

"Because there are ears willing to listen." VaynMacc's voice had taken an odd tone, it was no longer jovial, but instead seemed almost dangerous.

Mathew, however, was the only one who seemed to notice the change. And at the same time that he noticed, it seemed almost as though a mind outside of his own was telling him that the danger was not directed at himself. Mathew's glare intensified, as if he were trying to see through the many layers of VaynMacc's mind, into his true purposes. He then began to speak. "If there are ears willing to listen, then let them hear."

"I enlisted in the High Breed army three years ago, with the goal of serving the realm and its peoples. After enlisting, I was placed in sect XIII, and for all three of the years I have served since then I have been disgusted, and repulsed.

In every town, village, or city that I have been through, my… 'comrades', have been nothing but a pestilence. To them, any woman on the street is considered fair game, any virgin within the area a target.

It is a great surprise to me, any time they visit themselves upon a domicile and do not relieve the inhabitants of their livelihood, food, and possessions. And an even greater surprise if all of the inhabitants are alive, and inviolate.

They are pigs. Dishonorable, self-seeking, and…" Mathew winced as a slight breeze wafted through the door, swept through the area, and assaulted his nostrils with the stench of the surrounding men; he then continued, "and unwashed, I believe the only time I have ever seen any one of them in water is when they are chasing after bathing women. They have no sense of morality, of justice, or of dignity. The times that they have rid the world of thieves or other criminals are few, and can all be accredited to drunken bar fights or mistakes.

I enlisted in the High Breed army three years ago as a thing of honor. Not to be served, but to serve."

"Then you do not enjoy serving your lord?"

"As if I'd had the chance." scoffed the young man contemptuously, "As it stands, I haven't had enough time to serve him at all; the only order this sect has received so far is to hunt him down."

A smile came over VaynMacc's face, calm, almost seeming to speak for itself, then vanished as he returned to his overly jovial expression. Turning away from Mathew, he once again spoke to Lacerate, "Truly amazing, Captain, your sect is even better than I thought! And I would like to give you a special gift, in recognition."

Lacerate cocked an eyebrow in amusement, then with mock over-dramatization asked, "A special gift, for me? And just what might that special gift be?"

"A swift, and nearly painless death."

VaynMacc was true to his word. Before the man could move, or even comprehend what had been said, VaynMacc swung one of his silversteel wrist guards into the side of the man's head. It exploded outwards, almost like an over-ripe watermelon being hit with a club, and showered the room with its contents. Captain Lacerate was no more.

"Forgive me, Ben. That mess is going to be quite hard to clean up." VaynMacc's expression was back to it it's emotionless norm. He bent down, and after wiping his wrist guard clean on the ex-captain's uniform, removed the bloodied captain's rank insignia from its position on the corpse's chest.

Rising to a standing position, Vayn turned his head from side to side to inspect the shocked expressions on the faces of the surrounding men. His gaze fell on Mathew, and he asked, "Mathew Miller, if you were given the chance to serve your lord, would you take it?"

"I would."

The smile returned to VaynMacc's face. He walked forward until he was within reach of the young man, then pinned the captain's rank insignia upon Mathew's chest. "Mathew Miller, know now that my I am VaynMacc, lord of the High Breed, and master of this realm. I have found you to be honorable, and promote you now to the rank of captain. Do you accept?"

"Yes sir."

VaynMacc's smile disappeared. "Here, then, is your first task as captain. Not one of your former 'comrades' is to see the next sunrise with living eyes. Do you understand?"

Mathew unsheathed a sword belted around his waist as he replied, "Perfectly, sir."

Ben watched as an entire room full of soldiers was reduced to a state of panic. The thugs, suddenly aware that they had revealed their own crimes to the one man who had the power to stop them, took flight.

"Do not hinder them, Ben."

Startled by Vayn's command, the giant removed himself from the doorway that he had been blocking.

"Mathew, do not chase them immediately."

The young man looked at Vayn questioningly, but did not argue.

Silence reigned for ten, possibly fifteen minutes before VaynMacc spoke again. "Those pigs, who once proclaimed themselves to be soldiers, are fleeing in terror. They will make their way to the forest bordering the village as fast as they possibly can, and will not bother making trouble for the inhabitants."

Comprehension dawning, Mathew asked, "So we will chase them then, after they're no longer a threat to the villagers?"

"Correct, and, after they have reached a place where their blood can be spilt without need of cleansing." VaynMacc turned to face Ben, but was interrupted before he had a chance to speak.

"You're leaving?"

Vayn smiled, a real smile this time, and replied, "Yes. These men were sent after me; the longer I stay here, the greater the threat to this village."

"I understand. Will you be back here tonight, though?"

"I will be back tonight, but only for a short while. I will need supplies, if at all possible."

"I'll have them ready for you." Ben tightened his lip, tears pulling at the corners of his eyes. He extended his arm, and the two shared a firm handshake. "I'll miss you, Vayn."

VaynMacc turned away from his friend, and stated, "It's time for us to begin the hunt, Mathew."

The lord and the captain then departed for the day; except for the occasional scream from the forest, nothing was heard from either of them until after sunset.