The Sweet Bounty Pt. 2

The Sweet Bounty Pt. 2

The last time we saw our merry Fable heroes, the Marksman was summoned to the court of the Candy King. A mysterious gray-skinned creature with ram horns and curved tines, a long gray beard, and a ragged red cloak is tormenting the townspeople and abducting children. The Marksman accepts the contract, but finds out that he’s not the only one pursuing the target…

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The Marksman trudges through a snowy forest as the sun sinks below the treeline. The wind rips at the Marksman’s cloak, the chill like daggers searching for gaps in the Markman’s attire. The Marksman grabs his cloak and wraps his face in the fabric. The snow is falling relentlessly, restricting the Marksman’s vision. In fact, the howling wind, white-out snow, and freezing cold temperatures had all but robbed the Marksman of his heightened senses. The Marksman, fearing that he might lose himself in the blizzard, decides it would be better to hunker down till the blizzard passes. Nothing else can possibly navigate out here in this snowstorm, neither his target nor anyone hunting it.


The Marksman finds a tall, sturdy pine with long, bushy branches extending out in all directions and raises his hand straight out. A stream of flame flows from around his finger and snakes out, melting a patch of snow, revealing the dead, long-buried ground underneath. The Marksman lets the flame burn for a few minutes, drying the ground out before sitting cross-legged on the ground, bringing his knees to his chest. He surrounds himself in his cloak, hunkering down like an owl. His father had taught him this, it would allow him to retain his body heat while keeping out the elements. It also allowed him to blend into the environment. He could be a rock, a pile of leaves, or a piece of a tree trunk.


The blizzard continued for hours until finally, the wind died down and the snow began to fall more gently to the ground. The Marksman, fatigued from the hours of buffeting wind, raises his head wearily to survey the scene. Everything is eerily quiet, that is, until a heavy crunching approaches. The Marksman readies his crossbow as a mountainous silhouette appears before him. The infamous Krampus had arrived.


The monster’s yellow eyes flash around and his nostrils flare, catching the whiff of an intruding presence. The monster turns and stares at the Marksman. The Marksman, a master hunter, knows to trust his camouflage, as any movement was sure to give him away. Krampus was not fooled. Krampus lowers his head and charges the Marksman.


The Marksman quickly rolls out of the way. Krampus slams into the trunk, disorienting the monster. The Marksman didn’t escape unscathed, as the impact shakes the freshly fallen snow from the boughs of the pine tree. The falling snow buries the Marksman. The Marksman struggles to pull himself out of the snow, emerging just to find himself on the business end of Krampus’ horns. Luckily, it was only a glancing blow, allowing the Marksman to avoid the sharp tines between the longer horns. Unfortunately, the Marksman loses his grip on his crossbow, and it goes flying off into the snow.


The Marksman quickly jumps to his feet, realizing the dire situation he is in. Krampus turns and prepares to charge once more. The Marksman draws his hunting knife, reverse gripping the knife and staring down Krampus. Krampus charges. The Marksman digs his boots into the frozen ground and waits. Just before Krampus ran him over, the Marksman jumps to the side but reaches back, grabbing onto the monster’s right horn. The Marksman swings onto Krampus’ back, plunging his knife deep into Krampus’ back.


Krampus bellows, reaching back trying to grab the Marksman, but the Marksman persistently holds on. Krampus turns and begins to run wild. The Marksman begins to climb up Krampus’ back to gain a better purchase on the rabid monster. Just as the Marksman pulls himself onto Krampus’ shoulders when he realizes the beast’s maneuver. Krampus slams into another tree, slinging the Marksman over his shoulder. The Marksman tumbles through the air and connects with a tree trunk, stopping his forward momentum and dropping him to the ground. The Marksman rolls over, every bone and muscle in his body aching. Krampus stands over him, a broken tree branch in its claws. The Marksman braces for the ensuing lashing.


*RING RING RING, RING RING RING, RING RING RING RING-RING*


*FUMMPHBOOOOOOOM


The Marksman looks up quickly to see what made that noise. Krampus had been thrown fifteen yards, the beast lying unresponsive against a tree. The Marksman notices a familiar object lying in the snow. It is round, covered in festive paper, a tag is stuck on the paper. The Marksman gets up and limps over to the object to read the tag.


“Merry Christmas, Timmy! Happy bowling. -San…”


“Good thing Timmy wanted a bowling ball this year, I don’t think that a teddy would have had quite the effect.”


The Marksman looks over to see that the voice was coming from a muscular, jolly-looking fellow with green-tinted goggles resting on his forehead. He has a giant burgundy sack attached to his back via a harness system, with a giant hose running out of the bag into what appeared to be a present cannon. A sleigh pulled by nine reindeer is sat out in the clearing. 


The festive man’s cloak was cherry red with white trim, the top of his cloak was open, revealing the white cotton undershirt and impressive chiseled chest that comes from guiding a team of full-grown reindeer. The smell of milk and cookies hang around the figure like an aura.


“SANTA?” exclaims the Marksman, “How, why?”


“Why?” replies Santa with a chuckle, “for the bounty of course.”


“Santa… the bounty hunter?” repeats the Marksman, still utterly confused.


“Of course, Santa has to have income,” explains Santa patiently, “Building and delivering an infinitely diverse array of toys and products to children all over the world in a single night, while supported by a town of professional elves, and maintaining a farm of magical reindeer, all on donations of milk and cookies alone? The overhead is ridiculous.”


The Marksman had pursued many targets both human, animal, hybrid, magical, mystical, and supernatural. This contract was the strangest contract he had ever pursued. He just stares at Santa, trying to reconcile the magical figure that brings joy to children on Christmas moonlighting as a bounty hunter.


“So what is the take? You started the party but I do believe I finished it, although it wouldn’t be fair for me to claim the whole bounty,” reasons Santa.


The Marksman considers what Santa had said about his passion project being funded by Santa’s “extra-curricular” activities.


“Don’t worry Santa, take him away,” says the Marksman, “Take Krampus and go, collect the whole bounty.”


Santa stares at the Marksman, with a glint in his eye. He was exceedingly grateful for the kindness being shown. So, two elves bounce out of the sleigh and assist Santa Claus in loading Krampus into the sleigh. As Santa pulls away in the sleigh, the Marksman swears he feels his heart growing three sizes today.

 

Narrated by Brandon Warner

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