When people look at me confused with all of the rules I put on myself, they think I am just being crazy. In reality the rules are there to keep me in line. Too often there are times that I am very tempted to simply tear through an entire army with little sympathy. But if I am pushed hard enough then there will be a problem. You know the phrase “wear your heart on your sleeve"? Well I figuratively rip mine out of my chest which in turn makes me more logical than emotional. Without my emotions things become a little too clear for even me. Honestly, there are times that I even scare myself. ~Andrew on how he handles high levels of stress.
Word traveled fast through town that the Hanged Men gang had struck during the middle of the night and many of the townspeople were on edge. Normally they would simply march through a town and pillage, but this attack seemed much more different. When Buffalo had heard it was Andrew and Dulla who were attacked, he got worried for Andrew. He didn’t get to know him well and he was concerned Andrew would charge head on into the fray without knowing the full story about Ellen.
As he ran through town, he eventually tracked him back to the saloon with Andrew pouring something into a canteen as he hummed to himself. As Buffalo approached him, he couldn’t help but feel there was something off with him. He could remember the fight Andrew broke up between himself and Sha. Andrew had maintained an air of strength with Sha, but this time it felt different.
As Andrew shook the last contents of a bottle into the canteen, Buffalo took a seat next to him as he spoke. “Listen, I heard what happened with Dulla and I am sorry.” He looked into Andrew’s eyes, noticing he didn’t appear to have any signs of the influence of alcohol. If anything, his eyes were even clearer than normal. “Wait, if you’re not here to drink then why are you here?”
Andrew exhaled softly as he closed the canteen. “Did you know Ellen only pops up around sunset and appears before the sunrise?” Buffalo tilted his head in confusion as Andrew seemed to be speaking thoughtfully (or at the very least faking it). “Very few supernatural beings exist in that time frame, and combined with what the people in the saloon gave me for information I think I know how to stop her.” He gave him a soft smile as he continued to speak. “Who knows? Maybe I can put the fear of death into her.”
As he paid the barkeep, Buffalo put his hand on Andrew’s shoulder. “Andrew listen to me, Ellen is nothing you have even seen. Granted Sha is kind of a jackass but Ellen is insane.” After hearing insane, he turned to look at Buffalo while pointing to his own head. “True, but madness doesn’t work against the mindless,” he countered before walking out of the saloon. As he pushed the doors, Amy was to the side watching Andrew going behind the building with Buffalo trying to reach him.
Amy moved silently, listening to Buffalo trying to appeal to his mind while Andrew reached behind a barrel and pulled out the blood red board that he showed Dulla last night. The gleam of the blood red painted metal was enough to catch Amy’s eye as her jaw dropped. She stepped out of the shadows, looking at the strange device before looking at Andrew. “I...wha...what is that thing? Are you even from around here?!”
Andrew sighed again as he turned to face Amy. “As much as I want to explain everything, right now is not the time. There’s only one thing that needs to be done and that is to get Dulla out of harm’s way. I know where Ellen is going to be and I will be striking at night. But if you wish to know more about me I suggest to help me out.” Buffalo shook his head as he had this look of confusion on his face. “So you plan to go out against Ellen and her gang all by yourself?! Well I have to agree with madness not affecting the mindless because obviously you have no mind if you are planning to stop Ellen!”
Andrew moved forward, looking down to Buffalo as his face appeared to be carved out of stone. He expected Andrew to show some kind of spark, but instead he simply walked away and started to prime his board. A growl started to come out of Amy’s mouth as she rolled her eyes. “Okay! If you are dead set on facing off with this woman, I will help.” Andrew turned to look at Amy and nodded his head. “Thank you Amy, I guess that is two that I will owe you.”
Buffalo had a frightened look on his face as he pulled Amy aside, getting into a debate with her. He was concerned with her well being and he was afraid that Andrew was going to bring her into a suicide mission. As Amy explained about her meeting with him, Buffalo shook his head as he almost was about to shout himself. But instead he walked to Andrew’s location with a frustrated look on his face. “You know where Ellen is?” Andrew nodded his head. “And I am assuming you have a plan?” Andrew nodded his head again as Buffalo started to rub his temples. “Alright here’s the deal: Kathica and I have dealt with Ellen in the past. I can tell you that she is very dangerous and she will have plenty of backup and no I am not just talking about her gang. And you are standing there telling me you have a legitimate plan to take her down?” Andrew continued to nod before speaking. “Just buy me some time and I will show her a real army.”
Buffalo didn’t understand what he had meant, but it was clear Andrew must had some kind of plan. “I will bring Kathica along, but trust me if you put her in danger I will make you answer for it,” he said with a hard glare. Andrew nodded his head before getting onto the board. “I know, I can tell with you that you do love her. You do what you must for the one that you love. Just as I will do everything in my power for Dulla.” He primed the board, making it float several inches off the ground as Andrew spoke to Buffalo. “There’s a ghost town ten miles north of here. We strike at sunset.”
The sun started to set as Buffalo, Kathica, and Amy went to the town that Andrew talked about. As the trio walked into town, Amy ducked into a two story building to take up a position to take down anything with her rifle. Meanwhile Buffalo and Kathica walked along the main street while hearing the sound of a woman chuckling in the night. Ellen was resting her back at the wall of the empty sheriff’s building as she clapped her hands. “I have to say, getting you to do his dirty work is quite impressive. But I am curious: where is the stalwart knight to save his princess?”
Buffalo could feel his heart beating as he pulled his gun out. His eyes started to dart around as he could hear the shuffling of many feet as the bone men started to come out of hiding from the alleyways. As one of them started to lunge for Kathica, a shot rang out from the silence as Amy fired her rifle from the safety of the building she chose. As the creature dissolved into nothing more than black ooze and bones, he turned to Kathica and nodded his head.
The couple moved back to back, the sound of Buffalo’s gun going off as Kathica’s claws came out. Buffalo knew that he wouldn’t have enough bullets for every undead creature, and Ellen was counting on that. She started to grin and giggle, watching how futile things would be looking for the three until a bright light came from an alley. A wave of pure energy moved like water on the ground, tearing through five of the Bone Men vaporizing them in the process. A shocked looked was on both Kathica’s and Buffalo’s faces as they tried to find who did it before they could hear foot steps.
Andrew walked out of the alley, his eyes showing no emotion as he gave Ellen a smile. Ellen couldn’t help but laugh in spite of herself as she watched Andrew. “This is just precious! You seriously do have a death wish don’t you?” He sighed softly as he adjusted his glasses. “You caught me off guard where I slept. Now I am ready for you Ellen and this time you are the one who will be unprepared.” She continued to chuckle as she watched Andrew speak. “Are you truly serious? I am nothing that you ever faced! Braver men have faced me and fled in terror! And not only that, I am immortal so I have lived several lifetimes! I have knowledge beyond your understanding and my Bone Men can attest to that.”
He looked at the undead as he tilted his head. He raised an eyebrow as he simply snickered. “Hm, that’s a pretty fancy amount of skills you have there. But I am curious, do you feel fear?” Ellen’s eyes went wide, her laughter echoing in the ghost town as she slapped her leg. “You know I am actually going to feel sorry about killing you. You are just too funny. But no, I do not feel fear! In fact, why would I fear anything?! I AM IMMORTAL!” She extended her arms out, laughing hysterically as Andrew gave a slight grin as he looked at her. “No fear huh? Let’s change that then shall we?”
As he said that, he put his index finger to his forehead. He exhaled softly as his hearts started to slow down. “Burn away the body, abandon the mind and all you have left is soul. Transcend and become one with the multi-verse...emissary of Ulyaoth!” The blue rune burned brightly on his forehead, the lines that pointed down started to cover his face and pulsate with a strange blue energy as his eyes vanished as the sockets turned burned blue. A robe started to drape his body that was silver in color along with a pair of bracers that were on his wrists and four orbs that surrounded his body appearing last.
Ellen looked on with disbelief, what was Andrew really? But all she did was smile as she pulled out her gun. “That’s a nice set of clothes you have on there. Too bad for you that the clothes will not make the man here.” As Buffalo shouted to Andrew to move away, the gun went off in Ellen’s hand. She was about to laugh again, but her mouth hung open as the bullet was suspended in mid air with the blue energy of Ulyaoth. His eyes locked on the bullet as he scoffed at it. “Matter means nothing to me. However, it does mean something to you.”
The bullet fizzled away and as Ellen reloaded her gun Andrew sent out a whip from his bracer. The end of the whip struck Ellen in the stomach, but instead of leaving a wound it was somehow stuck inside of her body. She had a shocked look on her face as she then looked at Andrew while he maintained an emotionless expression. “Let’s see what I can grab out.” He jerked his hand back, the whip pulling out her liver as she started to cough up blood. She started to get angrier, watching as Andrew held her organ in his hand and then simply tossing it aside as if it was nothing to him.
She gripped her gun tighter, growling as she glared angrily at him. “Do you have any idea how long it took me to get that?! I had to search all over town for that damn thing!” She aimed the gun at his head again, but this time one of the orbs greeted her. It hovered in front of the gun before firing off a single beam, making the gun vanish from her hand and back to Andrew’s hand. He looked at the weapon for a moment, smiling softly as he started to melt it with his energy. “And I am guessing that was important too?”
Ellen started to clench her fists tightly, a growl escaping her lips as she glared at Andrew angrily. He tilted his head to the side as he spoke with a calm tone. “Forgive me, my ability to read emotions seems hampered. But you seem angry right now. Are you angry at the moment?” Hearing him ask that finally made Ellen snap, screaming with a primal rage as she charged right at him with her hands outstretched. He grabbed her wrists as her teeth seemed more pointed as she began her attempts to bite his throat out. As he moved his head around, she began screaming at him. “I am going to not just kill you! I am going to eat that smug look on your face! And then when I am done eating you, I am going to use your organs as spare parts!”
Andrew smiled at Ellen as his head continued to move around. “Interesting, you actually wish to eat me? Tell you what: have at it. Take as much of my flesh as you want.” Andrew then grinned at her as he finished his thought. “In exchange...I’ll just take your hands.” His whips he used before started to wrap around their wrists as his hands glowed with a blue light. It engulfed their limbs in a flash of light, but only Ellen was left screaming in pain as a portal appeared from behind Andrew to drop her hands from the sky.
Ellen clenched her teeth in pain as she backed up. However, Andrew slowly closed the gap as he continued to look only at her. “So, before I put you in the ground let’s put it to rest shall we? Do you feel any fear Ellen?” Her pupils dilated until there was nothing left as she raised her head to the sky. As she took a deep breath, she screamed at the top of her lungs,”BONE MEN!!!!” The undead started to surround Andrew, their hands ready to tear him apart as he simply grinned. “All I needed to hear,” he said as he snapped his fingers.
At first there was no sound, but soon the ground started to quake under their feet. From out of the alleyways several larger monsters started to surround the Bone Men. Buffalo looked worried, they were nothing that he had ever seen before. Were these the things Andrew actually can summon? Their upperbodies were massive, but there were no heads. Only three mouths that rested at the top of the torso. Their limbs were long but the hands each had three fingers. Their flesh didn’t even look right. It was as if their bodies were almost spirit like from the blue flesh he saw.
The monsters surrounded the Bone Men, Ellen looking in disbelief as Andrew looked at his army. He didn’t say anything, but with a snap of his fingers the monsters roared in unison and began to tear through the Bone Men as if they were nothing. Sparks of blue energy came from their bodies as they sent off bolt after bolt. The Bone Men continued to melt, leaving behind nothing but a black material and bones as Andrew slowly walked towards Ellen. Her face was contorted in rage as she charged straight at him. But only until moment did she regain some composure when she saw Andrew hold his palm out to her and only seeing a bright blue light before everything went black.
“Wakey wakey Ellen, I need you to be completely focused.”
Ellen heard that all too familiar voice and growled again, but when she woke up she was met with many changes. Not only were all of her Bone Men were killed, Andrew had reverted back to his original form. She even noticed that she was now left in her bra and underwear and her clothes were set far from her. In addition, Ellen saw that her feet were now removed as well by the same tactic he used on her hands and a purple barrier in the shape of a heptagon now surrounds her. She glared at him angrily as he simply relaxed. “So, now you have more of my limbs. Do you think I am going to break? Think I am going to simply tell you whatever you want?”
Andrew shook his head, humming to himself as he walked through the barrier. “No, this is the part where I perform a couple of social experiments. But I would be remiss in my character if I didn’t give you one chance to prove me wrong. All you have to do is tell me two things: who hired you to take Dulla and where she will be ending up.” Ellen stayed silent, blood still coming from her wounds as she remained defiant.
Andrew sighed softly before waving his hand. The sound of shuffling feet started to come towards them as Ellen came to watch as every last member of her gang were tied to what seemed to be zombies. But the zombies he had were different. His zombies all had blue skin with their torsos distended from being drowned. The zombies stood in a line as Andrew then spoke in a clear but monotonous voice. “Today we are going to play Prisoner’s Dilemma. Here’s how it is going to work: if your boss tells me what I want to know then I will let my zombies kill you all. However, if one of you tell me what I need to know, I will spare the entire gang’s life and allow you to leave. But whatever payment you got from your job I will take in exchange. So, who is feeling talkative?”
He could hear one of the men spit on the ground as he laughed at Andrew. “Ha! You think you can scare us with these things?! Ellen’s Bone Men are far more dangerous than these slobbering fools!” Andrew grinned as the man spoke and pointed to the zombie he was tied to. “Looks like we have a volunteer for demonstration. Now...chant.” The man had a confused expression on his face when Andrew said that, but saw the zombie starting to speak. Its head was raised up to the heavens as its mouth started to fill with the blue magic of Ulyaoth. The man started to get more frightened, shouting to Ellen and then to Andrew before the zombie exploded.
The man’s parts flew around the area, some fizzling against the barrier as Andrew exhaled softly. “Now, are we feeling more talkative or should I set more of them off?” One of the gang started to visibly tremble in fear as he started to shout at him. “Wait! We don’t know where she is! Jack just said to get her on the train and some headless woman gave us gold!” Andrew turned his head when heard that name. He remembered a man who made her suffer, was this the same person he fought when he got here? As he processed the information, he continued to speak softly. “And where was the train heading?” Ellen couldn’t believe what she was seeing, her men betraying her right in front of her. The man stumbled on his words as he looked fearful for his life. “We only know it is heading east I swear!”
Andrew had a soft smile on his face as he nodded his head. “The one who spoke please get the gold and leave it near me. Then you all will be free to go.” The zombie who held the one who talked released its grip on him, making the robber stumble on his feet before running back to grab a sack of gold that was meant to be their payment. Andrew turned his head, watching as the sack was opened to confirm before he nodded his head. “Very well, then the zombies shall let you go. Get to your horses before I change my mind.” As the zombies released the remains of Ellen’s gang, they all ran as fast as they could while ignoring Buffalo and Kathica. Not that Buffalo would honestly blame them. After Andrew had just done it would have been a surprise for even one to stick around.
Ellen looked at Andrew angrily before laughing. He however seemed to have no expression on his face as he walked out of the barrier again. “So that’s it? You’re going to let me go now?” Andrew shook his head. “No, you will tell me where Jack is.” Ellen glared at him as she turned her head. “Something tells me you know this man, and unfortunately for you your time is running out.” Ellen scoffed at him as she rolled her eyes. “Really? And why is...is...” she stopped talking as she saw the first rays of sunlight appear in the horizon. As she backed away, Andrew’s glasses shined in the light as he spoke. “You should know that this barrier is special. Not only it can hurt you but it also leaves behind corrosive damage.”
She stopped short at the barrier, looking at him with shock as he knelt down on the ground. “You are aware there’s a huge difference between immortal and invincible right? What you really need is invincibility. That way you will not burn up in the sun. Immortal just means you never age. Besides, I noticed your hands and feet didn’t come back so you have no regenerative powers.” As he spoke the sun peeked out over the horizon, making Ellen clench her jaw as she felt the burn of the sun’s rays as she looked at Andrew with a grim smirk. “And you are aware that it will take hours for the sun to burn me away? I literally was crusted over in a couple of hours so I can outlast you.”
Andrew nodded his head as he produced a glass bottle and his canteen. “I know, which is why I need to speed up the process. Tell me something Ellen, have you ever heard of lobster l'americaine or crêpe suzette?” Ellen rolled her eyes as he continued to pour something into the bottle. “I think you are more than aware of what I eat. And once this barrier is down I will show you what I like to eat.” As she laughed, he continued to pour the canteen into the bottle and tore a piece of her shirt off and stuffed it into the bottle.
“The reason I ask is because they both share a common denominator. You see what they both have in common is the use of alcohol in their production.” He walked into the barrier again with the bottle in his left hand while his right hand glowed with energy. “And the first thing that my chef taught me is that when you cook with alcohol you put it away from the heat. Otherwise, this happens,” and as he said that he lit the fabric on fire and threw the bottle at Ellen’s body. He stepped out of the barrier again, watching as Ellen screamed in pain while the alcohol’s flames consumed her body.
Amy could see the smoke from her vantage point and immediately ran out to see if Buffalo and Kathica were in trouble. What she was met though is the faces of Buffalo and Kathica staring in both fear and disbelief as they watched Ellen burn. She stumbled around, the pain becoming too much as she struck the barrier multiple times. The pain she was feeling from the burn was now being magnified through the barrier. Each strike she used with her forearm caused the damage to be shot back at her until her whole body seemed to be pulsating with the purple energy’s damaging magic. In time the blows broke the barrier but the damage had been done.
Ellen crawled on the stumps where her hands were and her knees as she nearly seemed to be dead. What wasn’t burned away was slowly being corroded by Mantorok’s magic. She continued to crawl until she was met with Andrew’s figure as he knelt down in front of her. “So, are we ready to talk?” Ellen coughed heavily as she looked into his eyes. Though lacking in fear, she could see how he had no soul. He didn’t take any pleasure, any desire of vengeance, he didn’t even gloat. To him it was purely scientific and if she didn’t talk he would make sure that he would end her life. Her breathing was ragged as she looked up at him with a weakened expression and with a raspy voice she said,”N...New Orleans.”
Andrew nodded his head, smiling softly before putting his foot on the back of Ellen’s head. Buffalo saw this and walked behind Andrew. “Hey, what are you doing? You got what you were looking for.” Andrew tilted his head to the side as he seemed to be making a calculation. “True, but I don’t remember ever saying that I would simply spare her life. In fact, I never told her that I would spare her. I guess she must have made the assumption.” He began to press his foot harder into her skull, making her groan in pain as Buffalo look frightened. “Wait a minute, I know you had to do what you did because of Dulla, but back then you had to fight. You don’t have to here!”
Andrew nodded his head again as he spoke. “Also true, but again there is no rule to sparing her life. Tell me the rule and I will let her live.” As soon as Andrew said that, his face went white as a sheet. Did he really just say that? Did Andrew just ask Buffalo to tell him the rule of sparing others? This couldn’t be the same person from before. Soon Kathica stepped in as she looked frightened as he applied more pressure to Ellen’s skull. “N’yow hold on Andrew, why would you even ask if there is a rule? You don’t need to kill her. Look at her, she’s barely alive.”
Andrew then turned his head to look at Kathica as he buried Ellen’s face in the ground with his foot as her voice was now muffled by the dirt. “Technically she was never alive in the first place. So can it really be murder if she is undead?” Kathica gasped, already starting to look frightened herself how easily Andrew can speak about killing. It was almost as if they were arguing with a machine and it was using every path of logic it can find.
Amy then walked up behind Andrew and spoke with a serious tone. “You’re right, there is no rule but can you not see what you are acting like now? If you do this how are you any better than Ellen?” Andrew blinked a couple of times as he then spoke to Amy. “Because I never sought her out. What I did was purely defense. Now to make sure she doesn’t do anything bad anymore I will stop her.” He applied greater pressure, the pain in her head starting to build as Ellen screamed in the dirt. She was unable to do anything against Andrew and it seemed that her fate was sealed. “I am curious to see how far her immortality’s limits are. Call it my final experiment Ellen. I want to see if you can come back if you have no brain left.”
He raised his foot higher to stomp the back of her head and immediately Amy said loudly “I am calling one of my debts in!” Andrew’s foot stopped inches above Ellen’s head as he spoke. “Are you sure? I believe I owed you twice and you wish to use one on someone like her.” Amy nodded her head, her heart beating hard as she saw how quick Andrew reacted. “Yeah, I’m using one debt on her. Please I do not want you to save Dulla and then lose your soul.” Andrew nodded his head and then walked back to Ellen’s clothes. After throwing them back into a building with boarded up windows, he grabbed Ellen behind her neck as he showed her to Amy. “I want you to remember this day, and how she chose to let me to spare your life. It may take you a long time to rebuild yourself, but I will still keep a close eye on you. You come anywhere near me, my friends, or the ones I love then I will get a lot more creative with you.” After saying that, he threw Ellen inside the building, slamming the door behind her as he could hear her scramble in the darkness as she screamed in pain.
Andrew seemed to be completely ignorant to her pain as he walked past Buffalo, Amy and Kathica. Before reaching his board, he heard Amy’s voice again. “What did you mean by creative?” Andrew tilted his head again as he calculated everything again. “I think I would test to see if her limbs could act independently from her head. Maybe cut her body into many pieces and separate it through the Grand Canyon staggered for several miles.” Hearing that suggestion made Amy’s blood run cold. She knew now Andrew was now a man on a mission. He knew where he needed to be and now the only question was this: what sort of man will be meeting Dulla when he reaches the end?