TITLE: My Help Is Coming
By Dusty Fincher
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The rain pounded into Renny's back as he headed, hunched over, in the
direction of the village. The thunder clapped and the lightning
flashed, yet he paid them no heed. He had traveled through more bad
weather than he cared to remember over the years. What bothered him was
the cold. He hated that chill that came over him when he was caught out
in the rain on a cool autumn evening. He reached up to wipe his short,
sopping wet hair from his eyes.
The front gates of the village were no more than a hundred yards away.
The poor souls had no idea what was coming to disrupt their illusion of
peaceful lives. If Renny had his way, they would never have an inkling.
After all, this is what he did. He conceded, however, that this time he
might have been too slow. The unfortunate fact was that he could see
clearly the entrance gates to the village. Which meant there was a
very good chance that the creature he was tracking had already made it's
He took comfort in the fact that he heard no cries of agony and horror.
On the other hand, the silence could be an indication of the exact
opposite. His foe could have been there already and easily destroyed
every living being within the village walls. If that was the case, then
he would simply have more incentive to bring about an end to the
As he continued along the muddy path, Renny became abruptly aware of a
change in his immediate atmosphere. He spun around to see a shimmer
behind him and the creature was suddenly there. Renny chided himself
for his own surprise. He should know by now that the only thing to
expect was the unexpected. Simply because the creature had not shown
the capability to render itself invisible in their previous encounter
did not mean that it couldn't.
But Renny had been doing this for a very long time, and it was an easy
thing to take his focus off of his failure to anticipate and put it all
on the creature standing before him. Already his hand had grabbed the
sword strapped to his back and had it at the ready. The creature hissed
in response. Mostly feline in appearance, it stood on two muscular hind
legs. A short, whip like tail flowed from its backside. Renny had
already learned that it was a weapon. As were the three inch long claws
protruding from the creature's fingertips.
Most of the dark creatures Renny hunted down were one of a kind and
thusly, had no name. And he put no thought or effort into giving any of
them one. It was his duty to take them out of this world and once that
was done, what good would a name be to them? Something to remember them
by? As far as Renny was concerned, they were best left forgotten. The
fact was, the devastation some of them left behind was more than enough
of a memory for what once was.
With that thought on his mind, he struck out with his sword. The
creature (as Renny mentally referred to all of his foes) brought up a
hand and deflected the blow with its claws. At the same instant, it
whipped its tail around and wrapped it around Renny's leg. A jerk later
and Renny found himself laying on his back in the mud with rain pounding
down in his face. The tail came at him like a spear and he rolled out
of the way. The tail speared into the ground instead and succeeded in
only splattering a bit of mud.
Renny was back on his feet in an instant and was immediately on the
offensive. The creature was able to deflect every furious blow by his
sword and Renny continually had to duck out of the tail's path. A few
more pointless sword strikes later and Renny realized that it was time
for a change of tactics. He struck one more time and after the creature
deflected the blow, he dropped his sword and rammed into it, grabbing it
around its body in a full on tackle.
Both Renny and the creature slammed into the ground. Renny, taking
advantage of the creature's momentary disorientation, began to pummel
the creature in its furry face with his fists. The creature came to its
senses quickly enough and began clawing at Renny's back. Having
sickened of the smell of the creature's soaking wet body fur, Renny
allowed himself to be shoved off.
Still laying in the mud, he reached out to grab the hilt of his sword as
the creature swiftly leapt to its feet. Knowing that the creature was
one of habit, Renny waited until the tail speared at him again. When it
did, Renny was on his feet again as the tail plunged into the mud right
next to his feet and he sliced with the sword, taking the thing's tail
The creature roared in pain, but Renny didn't waste an instant. As soon
as the sword had sliced through the tail, he brought it up and shoved it
through the creature's back. As he slid his sword free of the
creature's flesh, the feline thing fell slowly to its knees and Renny
knew he had struck a killing blow.
He stood and watched as the creature finally fall face forward into the
mud and lay still. All breathing had stopped. Not exactly the greatest
challenge of his life, he reflected, but he sure hadn't managed to get
away unscathed either. He sheathed his sword and started about the work
of getting rid of the body. It wasn't a pleasant aspect of his duty,
but then again, not much about it was pleasant. The fact was that it
would be most disconcerting for a person to stumble upon the remains of
what was obviously a monster. Renny devoted himself to keeping the
creatures from wreaking havoc while they drew breath, he saw it as his
responsibility from keeping them from doing so after, as well.
Renny came back to the main road to find that three strangers awaited
him. All three were dressed in cloaks, not much different than his own.
Except that his was shredded and caked with blood and mud.
"Greetings, stranger," the one in the middle, the oldest, said.
Renny simply bowed his head in return.
"That was most impressive," the old man continued. "Your performance
against that monster. I daresay a hint of hope has found its way into
"May I know the name of whom I am speaking? And perhaps a clarification
of what he is speaking of." Renny's voice was softer than most
imagined. Indeed, one had to listen carefully sometimes to catch
exactly what he was saying. In a moment like this, the storm did not
help. Despite that, the old man showed now indication that he couldn't
"Of course," he answered. "I am Marsden. For some reason, the
inhabitants of Wick, the humble village you see behind us, saw reason to
select me as their elder. They mistakenly believe that I am wise, I
suppose. I will admit that I possess enough wisdom to realize that
"elder" really only means "old" and I was actually chosen for no other
reason than that I happen to be the most ancient of them. As for why my
heart hints of hope upon seeing your marvelous skill in dealing with
that foul creature, perhaps that should wait until we are in a
relatively dry room, preferably with a warm cup of tea to chase the
Renny stood silent for a long moment, seemingly absorbing all that the
man had said, in actuality thinking that he used more words than was
necessary to say what needed to be said, before nodding his acceptance.
"I would be happy to join you."
A bit of time later, Renny found himself in the dining room of the
Elder. He took a few moments to dry himself with a towel provided by
Marsden, who stood silently by with his two companions. Finished, he
placed the towel on the back of the chair provided for him at a small
table, but he did not sit. He did, however, take a cup of tea from on
of Marsden's attendants.
"Please, take a seat, Renny," the elder said.
So Renny sat, taking a sip of tea before placing it on the table before
him. He said nothing else, simply choosing to look up at the Elder
inquisitively. Marsden took a seat opposite him, taking his own cup of
tea from his other attendant.
"Two days ago, Wick was ravaged," the elder began simply. "We had no
way of knowing who, or indeed, what had instigated the attack. Our back
gate guard was found, pretty well shredded and unrecognizable save for
his garb. One who leads must maintain at the very least an image of
composure during a crises. Upon viewing Cole's body, I'm afraid I must
admit that there were a few moments when the fašade of my calm exterior
was severely cracked. Cole was no slouch with the sword. But whatever
it was decimated him. Then took his heart."
At that statement, Renny was able to keep his calm exterior, unlike the
verbal village elder. But only just barely. He kept his expression
neutral as Marsden went on.
"Naturally, we dispatched good fighting men around the village and the
surrounding areas to find whatever did this. Unfortunately, all that
was found were more dead bodies. Bodies of civilians this time. Not
fighting people. The exact same thing had happened to them. They were
all missing their hearts."
Renny's own heart was pounding, threatening to hammer it's way out of
his chest. Could it be? He couldn't be certain for sure, but it
sounded as if it was.
"For the rest of the day, all was quiet. Our men searched as if their
own lives depended on it. Which, rest assured, all of them believed.
As do I. But they were able to turn up nothing. The sun set on a
village cloaked in fear. The night, as restless as it was for all of
us, turned out to be quite peaceful. Then came the morning, and with it
this dreadful rain. And the screams." Marsden's face became haunted
with the memory. "We all heard the screams. Oh yes. A group of our
well armed fighting men, along with myself, ran in the general direction
that the disturbance was obviously coming from. That was when we caught
a glimpse of it, standing in the doorway of old Vonner's dwelling that
he shares with his three nephews. The creature looked at us, blood
dripping from its mouth, and in an instant took off in the opposite
direction, too fast to follow."
Renny looked hard at the Elder. There was no longer any hint of warmth
or humor in the old man's eyes. Just pure, unadulterated hate. Renny
was certain that he knew exactly what he had stumbled across, in his
pursuit of another creature.
"It had a very muscular body, the size of three men," Renny began. "It
had red eyes, two sets of legs, two sets of arms and horns that curl,
like those of a ram."
"You know the creature?"
He nodded. He had indeed seen the creature he had just described. The
Demon. He normally did not name those creatures he hunted down and
destroyed, but this one was different. This one had crossed his path
several times. And Renny had paid dearly. Demon was the only word that
could describe this creature and come close to any sort of accuracy.
"Two more times yesterday, it struck, and destroyed. And today, as we
continued our search, you were spied by one of our men. Doing battle
with a creature obviously not of this earth. Something that seems to
have come from the very depths. He watched you destroy this monster and
that is the first bit of hope we have come across since this whole
bloody affair began. The people of this village look to me to make
things right when they have gone wrong. And things have gone terribly
wrong. I've no words of comfort to give them. I've no reason to
believe that we can stop this monster before it finishes all of us. In
my own heart, I know a fear that is almost too great for me to bear. I
know it is a lot to ask of a person, but I simply have no other course
of action. Could you help us?"
There it was. Laid bare on the table that separated them as completely
and simply as could be said. Renny sat for a few moments before
answering. He knew in his mind what he must do even before the elder
began his plea for the hunter's help. It is what he did. He stood up
and walked to the other side of the table as Marsden rose himself.
"I will hunt and kill this monster," Renny said.
Marsden, with a great sigh of relief, put his hands on Renny's shoulders
as the hope in his eyes grew.
"Thank you," he said.
Renny nodded. Yes, indeed, he would hunt and kill the Demon. For it
had done nothing but wreak havoc on his life for longer than he cared to
remember. A year, two years, a lifetime. It didn't matter. The Demon
took away all that was left of his life. He would spend a lifetime
hunting it down, if need be.
"Thank you so much," the elder said as the screams began again.
Renny's head jerked in the direction of the screams as the elder's hands
fell from his shoulders. Marsden shook his head helplessly and Renny
looked at him, no room for argument in his eyes.
"You will stay here, with these men. I will go."
Not waiting for an answer, Renny quickly made his departure. The Elder
and his company watched him go, not making any moves to follow. He
could only hope that the stranger would be enough to stop it. The
hunter had said nothing, yet Marsden knew that if he had seen the
creature before, the creature was still alive because he had failed to
kill it. Marsden did take a small comfort in the fact that the creature
had also obviously failed to kill the hunter.
Renny found the Demon in what he guessed was the town square. It's back
was to him as it stood over another ravaged body. The rain continued
on, relentless in its downpour. Renny kept behind a feeding stall for
the horses. The Demon had not noticed his presence just yet.
Before the element of surprise could be lost, Renny came from behind the
stall and charged the creature. His sword was out as he came within ten
paces of the Demon and poised to strike eight paces later.
It never landed.
The Demon swung one of its four arms behind him, catching Renny in the
side as he was bringing his sword to strike. Renny flew ten feet
through the air before crashing into the side of a building. He
struggled to his feet, wiping a bit of blood from his mouth.
The Demon turned as Renny got up, it's red eyes glinting. It seemed to
measure the hunter, gauging what it was up against. Then came a smile
of recognition, as the less developed part of the Demon's brain made a
connection. It had faced this foe before, several times. And had so
far been unable to take his heart.
They stood in the rain momentarily, sizing each other up. Then they
The battle was furious. Neither the skilled hunter nor the hellish
creature could quite get an upper hand. Several blows landed, yet none
did serious damage. Renny struck with all of his might, but the Demon
was able to dodge or block almost every blow. More than once, Renny
found himself pulling himself out of the mud. The same could not be
said of the Demon, who managed to keep itself on its feet.
Why can't I seem to get a handle on the beast, he wondered. He had no
idea. He did everything right; he anticipated the creature's moves, he
was able to keep it at bay, he fought almost flawlessly against it. Yet
he could not deliver the blow that would end the Demon's life.
The Demon found a hole in Renny's offense and delivered a punch right
through it, slamming one of its fists into Renny's face. Renny fell
down, hard. His vision blurred and he thought it would be a miracle if
his nose would ever be the same shape again. He was up in an instant,
only to find that the creature had used that instant to make its escape.
As Renny reached up to touch his nose, surprised and not the least bit
grateful to find that it was indeed still attached to his face, the rain
lightened to a drizzle. He scanned every direction, but the Demon had
He knew that he could not talk to the Elder, his mind was in too much
turmoil. He was stumped, at a loss. There seemed to be no answer, none
that would show itself to him anyway, for how to deal with this Demon.
Frustration rarely crept into his mind, but the Demon had a way of
bringing it out. He raged at himself inwardly, unbelieving that he
could be so helpless against the creature. He had all the skills needed
to do it and he had been trained well by his Master.
And then he knew what he had to do. He told himself that he should have
already taken this course, but perhaps he had been too proud to do so.
Perhaps he saw it as a weakness. He shook his head. He had no time for
self examination, he knew what he had to do. He just had to find a
quiet spot to focus.
In short order, Renny had found an abandoned hut with a small cellar.
He let himself in and quickly secluded himself into a dark corner in the
cellar. After a few moments, he was able to calm himself and think
clearly. He concentrated, willing himself to go to a place that he
knew he had neglected for a long time.
Renny found himself in the world between. It had been a while since he
had been there, true. It was the place between this world and the next.
Where those bound to this world are able to converse with those not so
bound. This is the place that Renny went to talk to his Master and
Teacher, the one who had trained him and set him on this mission.
As he strolled down the riverbank in his mind, Renny felt at peace as he
only could in this place. He mentally chided himself for not making the
effort to talk with his master more often. How easy it was to forget
the feeling of acceptance and love when one was not here.
Not long into his walk, he came across a house being built on the
riverside. Heavy hammering could be heard echoing out over the water.
Renny approached the house and found his master, down on his knees
banging a nail into some wood. The master looked up at Renny and smiled
He rose to his feet and greeted Renny, hugging him warmly. Renny
returned the hug without shame as a smile came over his face.
"Renny, how I have missed seeing you," the Master said. "It has been a
"Yes, Master, I realize that," Renny replied, feeling somewhat ashamed
"It's becoming rarer and rarer that you walk with me," the Master
continued, a bit of a frown appearing in his brown beard.
He put his arm around Renny's shoulders and turned so they both faced
the skeleton of the house.
"How do you like it?" the Master inquired.
"It looks like it's coming along."
"Indeed it is. It's very hard to build a house without help, though.
It could take me years to finish this one."
"Who is it for?" Renny asked.
"For you, of course," the Master replied.
He smiled at Renny's shocked reaction and patted him on the back,
"It is for when your journey in the other life is over. You will have a
place to live here, where we can walk and talk for all time to come."
"I don't know how to thank you, Master."
"There are no thanks you can give me other than to do what you have been
called to do. Which you have done marvelously, by the way. Except for
this one. How many times has this one gotten the best of you?"
The words as spoken were quite gentle, but Renny could not help but
flinch in the face of the subtle rebuke hidden in them. It was also a
question that both of them knew didn't require an answer. Renny merely
hung his head.
"I know that you walk with me sometimes, in your dreams," the Master
continued. "When I tell you where I wish you to go next. Oh, Renny,
when did you become so full of pride? When I sent you on this Crusade
years ago, you knew that I would always be right here, willing to give
you whatever help you needed. But as the years go by, you seem to want
it less and less."
Renny caught quite clear that the Master had used the phrase "want it
less and less", not "needed" it. He was finally able to look up and
meet his Master's eyes.
"I come now. In all humbleness, I seek your guidance. I do not know
what else to do. Everything I do fails in this matter."
"And yet it is too late," the Master replied soberly.
Disturbed, Renny lowered his eyes again.
"Oh, not too late for me to help you," the Master reassured. "It is
never too late for that. But you have come to me after the thing has
destroyed many, including your family. And I fear that by the time you
face it again, more Wicks will have been destroyed."
"Then I must stop it. As quickly as possible. How do I?"
"Remember a couple of years ago, I sent you to the jungle?"
Renny nodded at the Master. It had been hot. Renny had tracked down
that creature for two weeks before facing off with it. It had done a
bit of damage to Renny himself, but no more than he'd ever endured
before. At the last, it had hidden itself in a tree thick with leaves
and had set a trap. Renny avoided the trap and had put an end to the
creature. And then, for reasons unknown to him, he remembered a scratch
the creature gave him right before his killing blow.
Unconsciously, he reached up to his neck and rubbed the spot the
creature grazed him with is talons. It had begun to itch, even in this
realm, where fear was an unknown quantity and pain had no place. He
looked up to his Master again, who looked back with knowing eyes.
"You should have sought my help then, Renny. It would not have been too
late. However, by then, you never bothered to come to me with anything
anymore. I only spoke to you in your dreams. You were poisoned,
"Then how am I still alive?" Renny asked?
"It was no mere physical poison, my student. A poison of the mind. A
poison from the enemy himself. The creature you hunt, your greatest
foe, is not of flesh and blood."
"It comes directly from the Enemy." Renny had begun to understand.
Yet, he didn't. Weren't all of the creatures he fought pawns of the
"No. Not directly. It comes from you."
The Master paused to let that implication sink into Renny's mind. Renny
sunk to his knees at that revelation.
"The poison gives you the ability to manifest that which is more
dangerous than anything you have ever faced. The demon side of you.
How can you defeat something that is a part of you? Something that
knows your every strength and your every weakness? You cannot possibly
hope to destroy such a thing on your own."
Renny looked up at his Master, despair etched in every feature. His
body ached with the agony of the greatest guilt. He was responsible.
Every death, every single drop of blood spilt by the Demon, was on his
own head. He had taken on a great deal of responsibility in his life,
more than most men could ever hope to bare. Yet the weight of this
revelation threatened to crush him without so much as a fight.
"Then how do I hope to stop it? How can I land a blow with my sword
when it knows exactly where the blow will land?" His eyes pleaded with
his Master. "How do I hope to destroy part of ME?"
The Master gave Renny his hand and helped him to his feet.
"Our lives are an endless cycle of killing parts of ourselves. We do it
everyday and do not flinch. You will find a way, my student. You now
know the nature of the creature and maybe that's all you need to know.
Have I not taught you that the sword is not the only weapon in your
With that, Renny felt himself coming out of the place that stood in
between. He did not feel ready to leave, but knew deep down that he
could not hide there forever. His time in the physical world was not at
an end and sooner or later, he would have to face that which threatened
not only his physical being, but his soul.
"Farewell, Renny, for now." The Master smiled at him as he felt himself
go, go, go until he found himself back in the abandoned cellar, huddled
in a corner.
When Renny realized that he had come back to himself in his own physical
world, it came as no surprise to him that the creature chose that moment
to strike at the village again. Just as he now understood why it had
terrorized Wick for two days before his arrival. That was how long it
took him to track the other one here. This place had always been his
destination, and the Demon he inadvertently conjured had found the place
This time, Renny found the demon by the outer gates of Wick. Five
fighting men had been engaged in battle with it. Two lay on the ground
as three continued the futile fight. The Demon looked as though he were
about to decimate the remaining men.
Without giving it a second thought, Renny grabbed his sword and threw it
at the creature. It shot through the air like an arrow and pierced the
Demon's back. Screeching in anger, the Demon reached around and pulled
the sword out if its back. It turned around and once again found itself
facing its foe.
The other fighting men forgotten, the Demon started stalking towards
Renny in a slow, deliberate pace. Renny stood his ground, realizing
that his most effective weapon lay on the ground twenty feet away. But
hadn't the Master said the sword would not matter? He knew that steel
and hardware would not be what won this battle. It hadn't yet, it
wouldn't now. There must have been some other approach.
Renny searched his mind desperately, trying to find the key to fighting
this creature. The Demon was part of him! No, he couldn't allow
himself to think like that. He was responsible for those dead men!
This wasn't helping! Take responsibility!!
Then it clicked. He knew, deep down, that if he took his own life, the
Demon would finally fall. It wouldn't come to that however, but he knew
that he wouldn't hesitate if that was the only solution. It was so
simple, yet not simple at all.
As the creature was almost upon him, Renny closed his eyes and let go.
He let go of his hate for the creature. He let go his feelings of
guilt. I'm the reason this Demon exists, he thought to himself. It has
become my obsession, the thing I can't let go. The thing I must hunt,
until the day I die. I continue to hunt it because I want to continue
to hunt it. No more. I let it go. I do not need this Demon to justify
my feelings of revenge. I no longer need you.
Renny opened his eyes to find that the creature no longer stood before
him. The three remaining village guards were staring at him in open
amazement. Renny felt a peace come over him and he allowed himself a
smile. It would get better, he knew. There would be horrible days
ahead, where he would have to come to terms with everything, but it
would get better.
"I no longer need you," he said softly to the disappeared Demon.
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