The patrons of the little tavern scattered as one swung his sword at the other. Still bewildered by his lack of memory and now angry that he was coming under attack, one of the participants in the fight took a step sideways and withdrew the sword he had recovered. The sight of the gleaming steel only incensed his attack even more.

“You take his life and you take his belongings as well? You are truly souless!”

“Gabriel, stop this, I will not have this scene unfold in my bar!” The barkeep shouted, but Gabriel was not listening. He brought his blade around and aimed it in a chopping motion at the man’s midriff, but he was able to parry it with ease. I know how to duel, it woul seem. The two swords met with a long ‘clang’ then parted, with Gabriel quickly trying again, this time following up his first attempt with a similar effort, which was again blocked.

“Please sir, I have no wish to harm you…” His words fell on deaf ears, with Gabriel trying a sharp thrust that he deflected to his right, helping to preserve Gabriel’s forward momentum so that he stumbled against the bar, sending several glasses off it to smash into small pieces on the floor. Ale and mead spilled across the wooden beams and over their boots.

Enraged, Gabriel lurched forward and tried to slice the man from the top downward, and when that strike was knocked sideways he came at him again, quickly striking from the left before spinning to try and catch his opponent off-guard on his right. The man gave ground, heading toward a set of tables which the patrons had vacated. The rest of the drinkers were watching from the corners, trying to give the frenetic fight a wide berth. They watched as the man leaped backward onto the bench then onto the table itself, sending yet more glasses and mugs everywhere, their contents seeping into the woodwork. Using his height advantage, he knocked away another couple of hasty attacks then kicked out, catching Gabriel in the chest and sending him staggering backwards.

“I have no wish to hurt you but I will if you leave me no choice sir.” He said, letting determination creep into his voice. “I have come here to find out who I am, as I have no memory of anything before tonight. I seek your help, not a fight.”

Gabriel glared with unbridled contempt and fury as he rubbed his chest. “You are a liar!”

“No sir, I am not. I speak the truth. I cannot remember anything of my life.”

For a moment Gabriel simply stared at him, then slowly, a cruel smile broke out. “You truly do not know who you are?”

“No.”

Gabriel gestured toward a mirror in the corner of the tavern. “Then come, see.”

Distrustful yet curious, he did not take his eyes off Gabriel as he made his way across the pub. He had no idea what to expect when he finally stood in front of the mirror, yet some small part of him was tingling with worry. It was a fear well-founded – as he gazed into the mirror, he met with the realisation that made him gasp and drop the sword.

There was no reflection. He could not see himself; Gabriel was behind him, walking slowly, his hateful smile now even wider. “Now do you see what you are? You are a servant of evil, and must be put down.”

“I… but…” His mouth was suddenly very dry. He couldn’t speak, but didn’t know what he would say even if he could. It was all he could do to not stumble to the floor in shock.

The mirror caught something, a reflection of Gabriel suddenly quickening his pace and bringing his sword up, ready to strike. Instincts to survive kicked in – as Gabriel charged, he twisted out of the way and grabbed the other man, once again using his motion against him, only this time it was to drive Gabriel head first into the mirror with a hard and sickening crunch. The mirror shattered and shards of glass fell to the floor along with Gabriel, who groaned and slipped in and out of consciousness, blood pouring from several cuts upon his face.

As he stared down at his dazed attacker, the man’s eyes couldn’t help but drift toward the red liquid. The realisation of what he was brought with it a surge of hunger, a primal need. He could hear the man’s heart beating, hear the blood that rushed through the man’s inviting neck.

“Devil!”

“Monster!”

The other patrons were coming to their own revelation. They were all staring at him, grabbing whatever they could – bottles, mugs, even pieces of wood that they’d ripped from chair legs. Shaking himself out of his sudden (and terrifying) blood lust, he looked at the crowd.

“Please, I don’t know how this came to be, but I am not a monster. I only wish to know who I…”

His words were cut off as a tankard flew toward him, thrown by one of the patrons. Another swiftly followed, as did another.

“Get out of here demon!”

“Leave this place before we burn you alive!”

Without another word, he bowed his head and made for the door.

Part 3

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