Setzer's Last Stand

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Written by user CrankyPelican

e? Ha, no, I’m not a hero. I haven’t saved any princes from tall towers or single handedly won any major wars. The problem with gals like me is that our lives have the rare quality of certainty. It’s all black and white. So long as I keep my sword in hand and an enemy in front of me, I’ll keep fighting as sure as the sun always sets. Most folk, though, they won’t find any tall towers or see any great wars, and they can’t quite wrap their head around the world of blood and death. Speaking of which, I think I’m getting a bit thirsty. Why don’t you buy me another drink, Trevor, was it?”

“Travis, actually.”

Travis, huh? Poor bastard. I brush myself off as I walk in, grimacing at how dirty a black tunic can look in the desert sun while taking a back seat look at what it feels like to be on the watching end of the train wreck that is a singles bar. I’d have felt more sympathy for myself if I hadn’t just seen her there at the bar, working her magic like only a witch can.

Her feminine wiles weren’t going to do her a lick of justice if she kept drowning her hopes in cheap cider, though. Oh, for the record, cheap cider in these parts means substituting all traces of apple with Whiskey. It’s named after the old man’s joke, “It don’t matter the size of her bust or the gaps in her teeth, four shots of cider and you’ll be laying ‘side her’ twice as fast as you could hit the floor!” Personally, I call ‘em “Dropshots” for similar reasons. Gravity makes fools of us all.

Except Opal. Today, I gave gravity the day off, and I’m looking to help her find the floor. Or maybe I just want to lay ‘side her.’ That’s the problem with gals like her, gals that have that rare quality of certainty. They’ll leave you thinking you’re dead certain it’s true love, and then they just settle for leaving you dead. She’s right, though, about most folk never hoping to reach a state of heroism; though she was wrong about herself. She is a hero (heroine, if you prefer) and I know this because she has a villain, and I’m pretty sure the only people who have villains are heroes.

You know how I know this?

I just walked into the bar not half a minute ago, noticing all the details: dirty old mountain of a man sloppily messing a dirty old oak counter looking like it’s trying real hard to rust, if only wood could. The only thing keeping me from cringing at the sight is the meager ambient music drifting lazily from table to table, slowly tightening a weak grip on the wary bodies quietly swaying to a tune I hope I won’t have to listen to for long. That’s when the strangest thing I’d ever seen crept into my view; a flying chair.

Right, the reason I know she has a villain.

“You! You bastard!” She mouthed with her lips, but that’s not what I heard. The song I couldn’t stand to hear one more note of fell away beneath splintering wood crashing against bone. Turns out I like the ambient music better than Opal’s rendition of “Bar chair to my face, No. 2.” I say No. 2 because she’s thrown a bar chair at me before, so you’d think I would have seen this one coming. But if I would have dodged it, then I couldn’t call it “Bar chair to my face,” I would have had to call it something like “Bar chair alarmingly close to my very pretty face,” or something like-

-Uh oh, better focus, looks like she’s getting ready for an encore. Time to show her why she’s a hero.

Or heroine, if you prefer.

“Honey,” is all I get out before I’m rolling out of the way. She was trying to make a repeat performance of “Bar chair to my face, No. 2,” but she missed.

I’ve never cared much for remakes, anyway. They usually just bastardize the original without adding anything new.

As I stand from my evasionary prowess, I feel a sharp bite in my left leg, and I gather the foolish curiosity to take a peak. As I look down, I think to myself, “Wow, that feels like a shard of wood in my leg.” To my relief, I was wrong, as I gazed upon the wound in my leg, and the ornately carved lion’s head handle that’s attached to the six inch blade keeping all my anxious blood inside in a very messy fashion. I must say, this version of “Bar chair to my face, No. 2” carried a refreshing change, definitely setting it apart from its predecessors.

In short, an excellent remake. I was impressed. And I was also bleeding, which, thankfully, pulled me out of my musically criticizing fantasy.

“How does it feel, Setzer?” She’s sultry, and cocky. She thinks she has the upper hand, which, of course, she does. I am suffering from a harsh blow to the head and the growing need to leak vital fluids to an unwelcome guest in the guise of a sharp, stabby knife after all. And now I feel woozy.

That knife is very sneaky. If not for the sudden rush of nausea I am now enjoying, I would never have guessed it was poisoned. But I can’t let her know she has the advantage, else I’m already done for, and I can’t die until I get at least three good hits on her; one for the chair, one for the knife, and one for the-

Oomphfg.

Sorry, had to choke down my own bile.

And one for the poison.

So, to assure that I got a chance to get my licks in while I still had wits enough to use them, I called on my secret weapon; Bravado.

“Could be worse,” I say, with no hint of pain in my voice, “could be a piece of wood in my leg.”

“Wood would be worse?” She scoffs. I chuckle. At least I won a moral victory, getting her to say ‘wood would be worse?’ Go ahead; say it. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? The important thing is that she took the bait, now I reel her in with candorous wit.

“I really hate splinters,” I say, all calm and cool like. She just smiles, I think. It’s hard to say for certain, because she keeps fading in and out of existence, like she can’t decide if she should stay or she should go. Or it could be the poison.

With women, you can never be sure.

She walks over, putting a lot of effort in to swaying those hips that are snugly covered by maroon leggings and a matching tunic. I look her in the eye as she nears, and for a moment, I swear I see a hint of remorse, but only for a moment as her right foot comes down on my groin almost too fast to stop.

Almost.

I leap into action, using the opening my diversion had bought, and catch her foot, twist, and pull her down hard. I’m rewarded with the sound of a resounding thump as she hits the ground, face first. See, gravity? That wasn’t so hard.

One down, two to go. I roll off my back and over her, propping myself up on my arms, and wobbling a little on my injured leg, trying to make as endearing a face as I can manage. The look she throws at me is somewhat less pleasant, and I can’t resist the urge to bend down and kiss her, but something far more romantic comes out of my mouth.

You guessed it, vomit.

My face not a foot above hers, I let it all out. I try to whisper, “That one’s for the poison, honey,” but I’m pretty sure it comes out more like “Bleeechgrrrrumph,” which actually suits me better, truth be told.

Needless to say, she’s none too happy. She lets out a mighty roar, shouting “Setzer! I will kill you! You hear me, I will-“

I let my fist finish her sentence for her. One strong rebuke from him, and she quiets down. Into sweet unconsciousness she goes, and considering the way she smells right now, it’s probably for the best.

Content with my three shots, I pick myself up in as dignifying a manner as possible, and saunter on over to the gentleman at the bar. I check my pockets, and head back over to Opal’s body, trying my hardest not to whimper too loudly, and dig around in her coin purse, making little effort to hide the joy of the irony of it all.

After scraping up a small share of coins, I try to make a smooth move over to the bar again, but it’s hard to make it look good when you’re drooling from the cookies you just tossed on a woman you just knocked out for throwing a chair at you and then stabbed you, which in turn led to the aforementioned tossing of the cookies. But hey, “A” for effort, right?

“Trevor, right?” I groan out. The poison’s starting to really sting.

“Uh, Travis, actually,” Trevor says. What a strange thing for Trevor to say. It doesn’t matter, I’ve got to do this quick, before my vision cuts out and I do something stupid. Well, stupider.

Hey, give me a break! Poison, remember?

I drop the coins on the bar in front of Trevor, and slur out, “Drinkssssssh are on herrrr. My advicesssssh? Leave her before she leavessssssh you dead.” I wanted to go out on a snappy number, but my legs decided they were more rubber than muscle, and I landed on the floor without feeling a thing.

That’s how I know she’s a hero, or heroine, if you prefer. Good guys always win, and the villains always lose, right? I clearly lost, as I’m dying slowly, putting all my energy into one last good soliloquy. Though I guess Opal lost too, because she was publicly humiliated, what with me vomiting all over her and then knocking her out. So I guess the only one who comes out on top is Trevor. He got free drinks and a pretty good show, so that must make him the hero.

Not quite how I expected that all to play out, to be honest. When she said she didn’t want a second date, I thought she was just playing hard to get, but it turns out I underestimated just how hard.

With what little strength I still had, I crawled over to Opal before collapsing in a less than appropriate position on top of her. I guess I ended up ‘side her’ after all.

Well, the important thing is that I learned a valuable lesson, and that lesson is “fools may rush in to love, but only corpses come back out.”

Or maybe “death by poison really hurts.” That one might be not be as valuable, but I can certainly attest to its accuracy. And that means that all that’s left is to give in to this sinking feeling, and close these eyes that have grown so very heavy since I found myself on the floor.

Maybe I’ll see that light people are always talking about…



Setzer's Last Stand

The Melekar Chronicles gaaran