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Here’s a little something new I’m working on. Hope you Enjoy:

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People stared. People always stared when Barn walked into town for the first time. He stood at least a head higher than any other man he’d ever met and his broad, hard-muscled shoulders could readily carry more weight than the shaggy donkey trailing on a length of line behind him. Barn dismissed the looks without even really thinking about it. He’d been getting them his whole life. He ran a heavy hand through the tangles of his beard, mentally tallying how much money he had remaining in his pocket and wondering if it was worth bothering with a bath.

He walked easily down the simple dirt road, his giant stride eating away at the distance between him and the small white building that served as this town’s legal office. Barn’s keen eyes passed casually over everything, seeming to gently survey the small town, but his mind instinctively tracked every window and doorway in sight, seeking out every dark place or hidden alley between buildings.

One of the children who’d been watching him with amazement suddenly figured out where he was going and ran down the street in front of him, pounding on the white building’s heavy door. Barn bent his head from side to side, trying to ease the tension in his shoulders and mentally preparing himself. The thick braid hanging down his neck swung slowly in response to the movement and Barn smiled slightly, feeling the weight of the small knife woven into the heavy cord of hair. He wasn’t really expecting trouble, but it always paid to be prepared ahead of time.

The door to the white building opened and a significantly rotund man waddled onto the front porch, his eyes widening in astonishment as Barn approached. The official waddled forward, meeting Barn at the edge of the boardwalk, whistling slightly in awe. “Damn boy, you’re a big-un.”

Barn let the comment slide past, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. He pulled a folded piece of parchment from his belt and handed it to the man, nodding his head toward the donkey’s burden. “I’m here to collect the King’s bounty on the man they call ‘The Spider’. You’ll find the other six members of his team buried about a day’s ride south. Proof’s on the donkey.”

The village headman blinked, cocking his head like he wasn’t sure he’d heard correctly. He opened his mouth to speak, but a strangled groan from the bundle on the donkey’s back cut him off. The fat man stepped back, his voice rising in pitch. “He’s alive? You caught the Spider alive?” His voice became shrill. “And you brought him here?!?”

Barn sighed and turned, taking a single giant step forward and swinging an iron-fisted hand down hard. The blow hit a particularly solid lump on the donkey’s back and the groaning subsided instantly. He turned back to the village headman, holding out the paper again. “He’s worth more alive.”

The fat man took the folded parchment with trembling fingers, staring white-faced at the man in front of him, no longer certain which person he should fear.

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