“Face me, you vile demon!”
“I wish no quarrel with you.” The old hermit sat in a whalebone chair, his shoulders squared in defiance, refusing to face his accuser.
“You sought to quarrel when you released that djinn upon my kin!”
“I don’t understand! I’ve heard you were an orphan. You have no kin.”
“Any victim of your tyranny is my kin. The desire to end your madness is my only companion – a faithful hound if you will. It follows me through my quest. And I’ll see it to the end.”
The hermit made a move to a topaz encrusted jug. The hero raised his sword and brought the hilt down on the hermit’s wrist, knocking him out of the chair. An unearthly scream pierced the morning silence.
“You’ll not use your potions and acids on me. Stand. Face me now and I promise you a proper casket.”
The hermit ran to the door with a spryness he hadn’t displayed before. The hero made short work of the distance and struck the hermit on the backside. His talisman fell from his cloak and shattered.
“The time for pity has passed. You’ll receive no mercy from me now!”
The hero struck again and again. With each impact, the hermit screamed in pain. When it was over, the hero surveyed the carnage within the hollowed-out tree. His quest was complete, the villain was dead. He opened his cloak and withdrew a foxglove bundle. He arranged the hermit’s arms in a cross over his chest and placed the flowers underneath.
“Evil has been vanquished.” He declared. He looked from his shattered talisman to his sword and laid the great weapon next to the hermit. “My penance complete, I need you no more.” He stepped over the slain demon and walked into the morning mist – cheerful another scourge struck asunder.
Homicide detective Charles Sinclair surveyed the murder scene. An elderly man was beaten to death in his own kitchen. His body lie in the entryway. An overturned metal chair had the remnants of his breakfast all over it. A teapot with a topaz colored spout sat quiet and cold on the stovetop. It’s whistling alerted the neighbors something was amiss. A matching teacup lie in pieces on the floor. A broken hypodermic needle lay next to the victim.
Meth, I’ll bet.
“Be careful bagging that crowbar. We should be able to get prints from it.”
Sinclair looked around the kitchen again, but his gaze returned to the most peculiar part of the scene: a child’s lollipop wedged under the victim’s arms folded across his chest. The swirl of colors looked so out of place against a backdrop of red.