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Reckoning

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The Year Without A Summer was still going strong and the Six Mile Inn was full of people. Most of them were normal travelers looking for a respite from the cold. A few, however, were permanent residents. They could be picked out from the rest by the red scars on their inner forearms. They were the Marked. The murderers of 1816 America. Among their ranks were Tender, Storm, Johnny, Mary, Edward, Rosalie, Henry, Lavinia, and John. Just recently, two more Marked had come into play. The first was a bitter woman named Sarah. She had joined in June.

"I hate this," Sarah grunted as she shoved her way into the Six Mile Inn. All around her on the streets, she could hear people singing Christmas songs as a kind of bitter irony. Sarah understood the feeling. She was covered in snow and full of fire. She was currently in a rant against God because of this wintery summer. But she was also mad at her mortal father who was still getting on her case. Several other miserable men also wouldn't stop hounding her with stupid questions and demands. One of those miserable men was her big brother, Silas. Or at least, he used to be. Sarah had actually killed him off last month with the intent of claiming his property, an inheritance that she felt should have been hers. But as fate would have it, Sarah didn't even get to enjoy that land before the wintery summer rendered it all useless.

Following that, Sarah slowly began to starve until she finally set her pride aside long enough to look for help. Where did she end up finding herself? The Six Mile Inn. And after drinking a whiskey that she was later told was laced with a special type of poison, she was pretty much accepted into a gang of murderers. Some of them, like her, were guilty of fratricide. One of the others who had committed such an act was a kid named Edward. He understood what it felt like to have a parent favoring another sibling.

"Sarah!" ah, speak of the Devil. It was Edward!

"Edward!" Sarah greeted him as she sat down.

"You look like you've seen better days!" he laughed at her.

"I have!" she grunted back. "Where's Lavinia?"

"In the back!" Edward answered, darting off to fetch her.

"Ah! Sarah!" Lavinia sounded genuinely happy to see the woman walk in.

"Lavinia," Sarah allowed Lavinia to hug her.

"Will it be the usual?" the barmaid asked.

"Yes please!" Sarah heaved a tired sigh and Lavinia laughed in understanding.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked once she returned with the drink. Edward sat down beside her, receiving a very watered down beer. He drank it proudly despite it being mostly water.

"There's not much to talk about," Sarah said, accent thicker than Lavinia's. "I'm just hopin' to give my earthly and Heavenly fathers a reckoning!"

"Ha! Send my regards too," Lavinia cackled cruelly. "If God's day of reckoning don't happen soon, mine certainly will!"

"I also have a score to settle!" Sarah agreed. No wonder they were close friends. They were both very bitter about everything.

During the conversation between Sarah, Lavinia and Edward, another Marked patron walked in. This one was a man named James. He, his wife and daughter were all cannibals. Despite this fact, he, technically, was the only Marked. Sure, his wife and daughter ate humans too, but only James actually loosed the killing blow upon these people. Most would find his dietary habits disturbing, but the Marked were not among that group. True, it had taken time for all of them to come to grips with the fact that this man killed people with the intent of eating them, but it didn't take anyone that long. It was mostly because he was doing this out of necessity and not a cruel and unusual fetish. Also, to be fair, every other Marked had killed one or more people so it wouldn't be fair to condemn James and his family for their actions. If anything, he was one of the better Marked because he killed out of necessity where everyone else killed because they could or because they wanted petty revenge, Henry and Edward were examples of this. So James, despite being a cannibal, was considered a Marked and was treated as such.

"Any good eats of late?" Henry teased the man as he walked in.

"Of course. I just stopped in to say hi and I did owe John some firewood since he lent me some of his to help me rebuild my house when part of the ceiling collapsed," the man replied casually. It was then that Henry realized that James had dragged something into the Six Mile Inn along with him. It was a sack full of the lumber. John heard James' voice and came out quickly.

"Ah! My lumber! Thank you, my good sir!" John took the sack quickly from James and, with the help of him, placed it near the stove in the kitchen. Once the lumber was stored away, the three men returned to the bar.

"Will you stay for a drink?" Henry asked the cannibal once all three of them were out of the kitchen.

"I'm afraid not, I've got to bring dinner home tonight so…" he trailed off. The other two nodded knowingly. For better or worse, even though James was very open to them about his homicidal tendencies, he had the grace to try and kill as little as possible. He was a strange killer, apathetic enough to kill anyone without regret, but at the same time, he did not kill unnecessarily. He tried to limit himself to one death per three days, meaning he knew how to make a human last for three days amongst three people. He might've been a cannibal, but he was very conservative with his food. In fact, there was a time when James was lucky enough to fall upon a murder-suicide case and the bodies were still fresh enough to eat. So yes, James would scavenge before he would kill. The other Marked had to admire that about him.

So, with a friendly nod, the man left the Six Mile Inn to go hunting. Ever since the Ohio Fever had kicked in, it was getting harder and harder to find victims, but James never failed his family. Someone was about to get a huge reckoning from him.