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"I don't know." Rimururu whispered in answer to his question, her eyes sympathetic to his pain. "But, if we can find this other Galford, we can prove that you're innocent."
Galford chuckled to himself as he skinned the rabbit with the edge of his shining blade. The skin parted from the muscle easily and the bitter smell of exposed flesh stroked his pallet. There was a bandage on one of the animal's hind legs, which he carelessly tore off. Damn, he was hungry; all of the day's fun had really made him ravenous. He tossed the skin out of the doorway, where it landed unceremoniously on one of the black heaps that littered the yard.
They looked like great globs of dung left by some impossibly huge animal, lying there helter-skelter like that.
Speaking of dung… Whoo! They really stunk! He was going to have to clean that up later on. Too much juice, but then there had been too many to take down individually. He had to fry them all at once. Too bad, it had ended far too quickly for his tastes. He resolved to make his next victim suffer more slowly.
The Grandfather had been the toughest of the lot, surprisingly resilient for such an old coot. It didn't matter, he was dead with the rest of them. Fools, every last one of them.
The nerve of some people! Here, he had selflessly gone out into the dangerous forest to get something to eat for himself and his little woman, and when he returned hours later, he had found a small army of angry, little men waiting for him. Violent little buggers too, they had immediately attacked him. Of course, he would have killed them even if they had welcomed him back with open arms, but that was beside the point…
"Usagi…" Nakoruru's hoarse voice whispered from the shadows, behind him and to the left. His thoughts returned to her and her Grandmother.
Galford slowly turned and stared at them, the rabbit's body limp in his hand. Drops of blood pattered on the earthen floor below, which greedily sucked them up. He wiped the blood from his sword and re-sheathed it on his back. It slid in with a staccato click. Nakoruru was really becoming a drag. All she did was slouch there in the dark, cowering in her Grandmother's embrace. She had been broken all too easily, child's play really.
"What was that, dear?"
"Leave her alone." The Grandmother hissed.
Galford mockingly bowed to the wrinkled old hag.
"When I want your advice, Honored Mother, I will ask for it."
The air hummed and the rabbit's flesh began to smoke in his hand. The humming turned into an angry snapping noise and the buzzing grew louder. Satisfied, Galford examined his dinner. Perfect. He hungrily tore off a mouthful of the succulent meat and chewed it noisily.
"Mmmmmm-mmmmm! Nothing like lightning fried rabbit!"
"It was nothing. I didn't say anything." Nakoruru whispered at last, barely audibly. They both stared at him with wide eyes, filled with utter terror, just the way he liked it. The Grandmother mechanically stroked the young woman's disheveled, black hair. As long as they stayed afraid, they'd cause him no trouble.
"That's what I thought." Galford favored them both with a less-than-charming smile and was pleased to see them both cringe. He tore off a third of the rabbit and threw it at them. It struck the stupid bird Nakoruru had in her lap, which protested weakly.
"Eat your dinner. And get rid of that damn bird before I get rid of it for you…" He waved the hand with the remaining hunk of meat in it above his head, "This won't keep me full for long, and I'm really starting to get a craving for roast eagle, if you know what I mean."
He half choked on his food, giggling. Absently, he wiped the sticky, warm grease from his fingers onto his trousers. Wouldn't that be a pathetic way to die? Choking on your dinner. Ha!
"Now, hurry up before your food gets cold, or there'll be no dessert for you two!"'
They didn't move; he didn't expect them to. He shook his head mirthlessly as he rounded the corner and stepped back outside. Nakoruru and her Grandmother were quickly boring him. He needed adventure and excitement in his life, and this secluded shack out in the middle of nowhere was tiresome as all hell. Soon, it would be time to move on. Very soon. There was a whole world out there, and he meant to see it all.
Galford wolfed down the last of his meal and sat down on a wooden stump to let it digest. He let his gaze wander over the bodies again and out past them. The tall trees circling this little glen seemed to be drawing closer, suffocating him. A smile curled his lips. I do believe I'll set a little forest fire before I go, he silently promised himself.
Movement just barely caught the periphery of his vision. He turned his head just in time to see Nakoruru and her Grandmother vanish into the brush.
"You little witches!" Galford laughed as he leapt off the stump and bounded after them at a leisurely pace. A predatory leer dripped from his face and lightning snapped in his eyes; it looked like there was still some spunk left in them after all…