Headhunter (Part 1)

Querrick has always a lone wolf, especially after the two Great Wars he’s served in. The bloodshed and chaos haunts him in his dreams on peaceful nights and divine mornings as he tries to live the decent and modest life of a monk but has gotten nowhere. The body parts being strewn about, the heads of his enemies rolling along the battleground and the lives of his comrades being stripped by bows and arrows, spears and swords, daggers and blades. He lives in the mountains beyond the city and the forest between, hunting and foraging for his own food away from the masses as the crowds put him constantly on edge. His name is known throughout the city; however, his face is protected via the military. The sun rises with a vengeance meaning it’s going to be a hot one and the animals are starting to come out of hibernation. Querrick gets his sword, bow and arrow, and Bo Staff ready to attack the forest. When he gets about two or three miles from his cabin, he sees a large Sabretooth Liger about to devour two children, a boy and a girl, the girl being older. Querrick walks about his way as if nothing’s happening and intentionally steps on a twig to draw the Liger’s attention. He succeeds. Querrick runs like hell hoping the Liger will chase. It does. Querrick gets to the nearest tree and begins to climb, the Liger is already there by the time Querrick gets midway to the top. The Liger jumps and paws at Querrick, just missing him by a quarter inch, Querrick makes his way up the tree, turns and draws his bow and fires three shots in less than a second. All the shots hit the Liger in the head and causes it to sway and eventually fall on its back. Querrick jumps from the tree and draws his sword, plunging it into the Liger’s chest and twisting the wound immediately stopping its heart. Querrick gets to work cutting the Liger into pieces, starting with the arms, when the boy and girl appear before him and are in amazement that he took down the Sabretooth Liger in an instant.

            “Thank you, sir,” the girl says, “you saved us.”

            “I didn’t save you,” Querrick says, “I was simply hunting.”

            He finishes cutting the legs off and throws them at the kids’ feet.

            “You can have those,” Querrick says.

            He chops off the head with one swift slash and hauls the body on his shoulders and begins to walk back to his cabin without another word. The kids’ watch him as he walks into the sunrise with a meal that’d last anyone two weeks, if they were conservative, on his shoulders.

            Querrick skins the Liger, tenderizes, and wraps the meat he won’t use right away for storage, fashions the pelt of the Liger into something fashionable he can sell for currency because he’s running out of herbs and spices. He also needs to buy more polish for his blades and fresh arrows from the archery place around the way. He looks at his Bo Staff and figures its time to get more polish for that as well (though he doesn’t find himself using it often, anyway). He goes out back into his shed, places the meat and other things in there and takes out some firewood for the fireplace. Querrick hears footsteps coming toward his cabin and he quickly gathers the firewood, close the shed door, and makes his way back to the cabin. He places the wood in, stokes the flames, and goes out to address the footsteps, a simple dagger the only weapon he carries.

            Querrick waits in front of his cabin as the footsteps get closer and closer, he sees figures in the distance that look familiar. When the two figures are close enough he recognizes them from the Liger incident and sighs in irritation as now the kids want to stick with him for protection. Querrick is not one for people and children are the last people he want to spend time with. It’s not that he’s an asshole, he just understands what children are and what they demand, and he has his own problems he needs to address before dealing with anyone else’s. The kids arrive at the cabin and immediately pick up on Querrick’s displeasure at seeing them. The girl steps forward but not too close for fear he might kill her and her brother for following him (which would be well within his right, by the way).

            “What do you want?” Querrick asks.

            The girl goes to say something but remains speechless.

            “Do you have a home?” Querrick asks.

            The girl shakes her head.

            “Do you hail from the city?”

            The girl nods.

            “Were you part of an orphanage?”

            The girl nods.

            “You two ran away?”

            The girl nods.

            Querrick contemplates for a moment before asking, “any other family you know of?”

            The girl shakes her head.

            “Shit,” Querrick says, “fuck it, come on in and make yourselves at home.”

            And that’s how Querrick met Isabel and Lykas.

            That night, while Querrick was cleaning the cabin. . .

            “Thank you for letting us stay,” Isabel says, “I know you didn’t appreciate us following you.”

            “was I that transparent?” Querrick asks.

            “If that look in your eyes when you saw us didn’t say ‘I should kill them’, I don’t know what does.”

            Querrick chuckles, “perceptive.” He continues, “if you two are going to stay here, you’re going to be useful. What are your names?”

            “I’m Isabel and this is my little brother, Lykas.”

            Querrick inspects the boy, “you need to learn how to fight. I’ll teach you, but first you have to get healthy. You look like you’re starving to death.”

            “Lykas isn’t like that,” Isabel says.

            “Doesn’t matter,” Querrick says, “we’re in the woods and you two won’t be on my hip all the time. Get him some rest, I’ll make him some soup and teach him some exercises to improve his wellbeing. You do the same. It’ll be a long day tomorrow.”

            Querrick cleans the rest of the cabin and sets up sleeping quarters for the kids without another word.

            The next morning Querrick wakes up the kids bright and early, taking Lykas’ temperature and seeing his has a mild fever. Querrick gets a cold rag, places it on the boy’s head and tells him to lay down. He takes Isabel to the kitchen and shows her how to make Liger soup, which is good for beating colds, flus, and knocking out fevers. Querrick makes it himself and feeds it to Lykas who, surprisingly, likes the soup and devours it in under ten minutes. The soup puts Lykas to sleep as it has a natural side effect of making one sleepy if consumed in excessive quantity.

The two leave Lykas in the room and Querrick shows her how to do various chores around the cabin. It takes about an hour for the two to clean the cabin of dead wood, cobwebs, bugs, leaves, and everything else that sneaks its way in during the night. Querrick takes Isabel out back and starts her on a training regimen. One hundred pushups, one hundred squats, one hundred sit-ups, one hundred jump squats, one hundred high knees, and one hundred mountain climbers in sets of ten. He shows her how to do each exercise and has her do ten sets of ten. By the time she’s done she can barely stand and Querrick has to help her back in the cabin. He tells her she’ll do this every day for one month and then she’ll learn combat as she’ll need to protect her brother. Isabel agrees without hesitation as the love of her brother means more than anything. Querrick leaves the cabin to go to the city to fetch some things. He asks Isabel if she wants anything specific for her and Lykas, but she says no. Querrick leaves without another word.  

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