The last time we saw our handsomely hairy heroes… the Marksman tangled with a mysteriously frozen figure while en route to hunt a rabid creature roaming the streets of Cremouth, while Dr. Wolf contemplates the morality of true power and whether his animalistic alter-ego was friend or foe…
It is getting dusky dark and the Baker is just about to close up shop. The only thing he is waiting on is his cinnamon rolls to finish in the oven. The smell of baking dough, warm cinnamon, and sweet vanilla fill the air. On any other weekday, he wouldn’t be baking so late in the day, but it was Friday and the wife and children needed something to look forward to in these worst of times.
The Island of Cremouth suffered from corruption in some of the highest government positions to the lowest street thug. Representative Devlin was the biggest gangster the island had ever seen and everyone knew it. No matter where you lived, whether it was the nice side of town or the gutter, the corruption could reach you. Whether it was giving free baked goods to the politicians and their cronies or the criminals running free, Cremouth was rotten; rotten to the core.
This wolf-man thing (whatever it would be called) had changed things though. The wicked were afraid to touch the streets at night. What was truly odd is that those who claimed to have seen it said that it was truly a wild animal, prowling around the city, but the beast had never attacked an innocent. The constable was a pawn of Devlin’s. The others were either small-time thugs or crime bosses put over the local gangs by Devlin himself. But not an innocent had been harmed.
While as a father and husband, the beast roaming the street at night did terrify the Baker, part of the Baker couldn’t help but be thankful for the wolf-man thing. At least this beast could do what they couldn’t, hurt those that they, the people, couldn’t touch. Some thought it to be a Saint, ridding the city of corruption with righteous judgement. Others thought the being unholy and terrorizing those that were meddling in evil right along with it.
The Baker pulls the rolls out of the oven. The steam rolls off the pastries like fog off the mountains. He had made a roll for his wife, his two kids, and himself, with a couple spare for breakfast the next morning. The Baker turns and sees out of the corner of his eye, that a shadow has seated itself at a table and is seemingly awaiting service.
“I would suggest you try again tomorrow. You’re welcome to anything left, but my work is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven, with some of the Roaster’s fresh coffee. Anyways, I am about to close,” advises the Baker.
“I was actually hoping I might have one of those cinnamon rolls,” the shadowy figure points out one of the extra rolls, “and if you don’t mind to stop and talk, I can make it worth your while.” The shadow is wearing a dark cloak, with a hood over his head and mask over his face. He reaches in his robe and pulls out a large copper and rolls it across the table where an empty seat awaits.
Intrigued, Baker sets a roll on the plate and sits it in front of the figure. The Baker returns and plates another roll for himself and sits down across the table.
“Well, I have given you one of my rolls, now at least give me your name,” reasons the Baker.
“I am the Marksman and I am here tracking a strange beast,” replies the Marksman, plunging a fork deep into the pastry, wrapping a flaky layer around his fork. “I have found some… irregularities.”
“Irregularities?” asks the Baker.
“Well, it seems that all of the beast’s victims are public officials and criminals. No one else has suffered an ill fate at its hands, not even as collateral damage,” says the Marksman.
The Marksman continues, “In many of the reports with witnesses, the witnesses were the victims of a crime being perpetrated by the individual being targeted by the beast, or their presence didn’t make sense at all. Middle-class business owners in the back-alleys, streets, and in abandoned buildings, with high-up members of the guard, royal cabinet members, or representatives? Their narratives swear a thousand other reasons for them to be there except for the one that is percolating in my mind.”
“I didn’t hear a question,” replies the Baker. There wasn’t a question spoken, but the Baker heard it loud and clear. The Marksman wants to know why the beast targets these individuals and why these meetings were so odd. While it seems there is only one thing that connects all of the beast’s victims together, the thought is absurd that a wild beast could differentiate between the righteous and corrupt as this beast seems to do.
“Listen, I have an idea that this beast is hunting the criminal and the corrupt at all social levels here in Cremouth. I have a pretty good hunch that the officials catching the wrath of this monstrosity are not completely, or even partly, innocent. If this even seems to be true, just say so,” pleads the Marksman.
The Baker sits and thinks for a second and then shakes his head.
“It almost seems as if the beast is some sort of angel of wrath. These men the beast attacks are either well-known thieves, murderers, and slavers or rumored criminals that hide behind the mask of public authority. It sounds insane to say but you cannot deny the lack of collateral damage by such a ferocious animal. It does seem like these attacks are targeted,” answers the Baker.
“Who would be the beast’s next target, if we take into consideration this sentience,” asks the Marksman.
“Well, that’s tough. He’s gone through most of the street gangs, leaving their organization in tatters. He’s found most of the crooked judges. The bosses have either been hunted down or are in hiding. The biggest criminal left in Cremouth is Devlin, but he has his own personal army. I don’t see how even this seething monster could overtake him,” reasons the Baker.
“But that will possibly be the next place he strikes,” says the Marksman as he rises to leave. “That will be where I begin searching next. I appreciate the information and the tasty pastry.”
The Marksman tosses another coin to the Baker and turns to go. The Baker stands and starts to speak again.
“Listen Marksman, while this thing is dangerous and terrifying to all those who call Cremouth home, but it may be the only advocate the up-right and righteous have here,” quietly says the Baker.
The Marksman looks at the Baker for a few moments, sizing up his words and counting them as truth before turning through the doors and leaving.