A Prairie Tale

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Chapter 4: The Head Hunter

From all of the areas in Western ranges, occupations take their ways differently on crime handling. When sheriffs take down the thieves, marshals taking down deserters and soldiers with defiant rebels, there are bounty hunters for infamous criminals.

And no more can be tougher than Kate Dunn. She takes down her criminals 9/10 alive, with her unmatched talent with the lasso. Brought up by an unknown mother and a hardy strict father, Kate always learnt durability from her knowledge since childbirth.

She rounded up murderers, scoundrels, and even doing other peoples’ jobs for them; making her into a living fable. Kate was kind hearted towards people even within or above her authority, and became the charismatic idol of the time.

It was an evening in Thistlebush, her home town. Her house was liveable, but no able for a party, gathering or anything like that. She was sharpening her tools and weapons, but she realised it was time to get some more equipment. All the shops were closed, so she just sipped a drink of water and laid back in her bed, waiting for sleep to come.

It was morning and she was woken up by her loud telegraph machine. Kate had an assignment with a bandit chief who had been stirring up trouble in their encampment at Evans gap. This was a minor matter, but it needed to done. However, she was warned that the bandit group are elite and are said to be the best of the best.

Unfortunately, she was quite poorly prepared, and went over to the shops at Thistlebush to stock up on supplies.

At the Gunsmith, she needed to refill ammunition and maybe get a new rifle; being stuck with just a pistol and a cheap blunderbuss. The man at the gunsmith shop spoke to her when she entered. He said,

“Welcome back, Kate! You are looking for a new man killer?”

“I wouldn’t want to think of it that way. I just need a decent reliable shooter.”

“Well, well. This little beauty came in just yesterday. Pure talent; this can match that ancient blunderbuss of yours. Tell you what, give me the blunderbuss and I’ll give you my terrific firearm free of charge?

It was a big shotgun type object, but looked accurate. It was a bit like a muzzle loader, but took bullets in their casing, not just primitive gunpowder.

“This blunderbuss was a trademark of me, but it wasn’t an heirloom or something like that. So, I’ll take it.”

“That’s the spirit!”

The man went outside to fetch the gun, while Kate was looking around the store in curiosity. The man at the gun store earned many shooting trophies and was an award-winning gunslinger. He then came back, and said,

“I’ve been a massive fan of yours. Here is some free ammunition. I have got more than needed, anyway…”

“Thank you; just in time for another assignment.”

“Good luck to you, ma’am.”

Kate left the shop looking at her new firearm in delight, as it looked dependable and better than her original blunderbuss, which was for sure. She then went to the general store for some more goods and entered.

The man didn’t recognise Kate, but spoke in a loud strong manner, “Greetings! What is it that you require?” Kate actually needed a new horse; her old pony was past its best. She then replied,

“Have you got any horses?

“Ah, I have got just the thing. Lovely mustang I am giving away for $100. It is simple as that. So, what to you say? I’ll even throw in a pair of binoculars free.”

“I’ll take it. Here.”

Kate brought along $175, but didn’t expect her rifle with no cost whatsoever. She always earned the high pay of $50 average each manhunt, becoming a wealthy legend. Mustangs are strong and reliable horses, so it was worth the hassle and the price. Plus, free binoculars? She still had some money left, and took a short visit to the doctor just in case she meets any injured during her assignment.

The doctor made his home outside of Thistlebush, and was seemed to be a traveller instead of just a doctor. He was not known, but Kate had money to spend, and he appeared to be nice. Kate then said,

“Excuse me, sir. I’m looking to buy some medicines.”

“Oh, what? Yes!”

The man was drowsy but sober. He did his job, wiped his nose and stood up. “Yes, young lady. Do you want my mending liquor?”

“You aren’t a bartender. What is that?”

“Fine blends of everything nice, along with strong fruit liquor. Tastes nice, but works as a pain killer as well. Just a humble $5 each.”

It looked cheap and with this man not known in the area, it could be a scam with the dodgy cost. But, she had the money and she was fond of flavour in alcoholic beverages, so she took 5, leaving her with some cash left in in emergency.

“Thank you, kind lady. Hope you stop on back. I will be travelling to Serenity tomorrow, if you ever want to buy anything there? If you don’t know where it is, I’ll sell you a useful map of the area, just for $25.”

She needed a map on the area for what seemed like months, and she had a peek. It showed the north border of Mexico as well, and it seemed useful, so she took it as well. “Thank you, sir. I will be going now.”

When she set off for Evans’ gap, she noticed something peculiar while riding her horse. Miracle cures out of alcoholic drinks? ‘Seemed like charlatan.’ she thought to herself. Kate tried a small sip of it, and it was somewhat of a strong but pleasant taste. Not sure if it was a pain killer though, but anyway, she had it now, probably no refunds.

She arrived but saw the camp below; Kate was above the canyon. Luckily, she remembered about her binoculars and saw what was going on there, as she heard gunshots.

There was a man chasing 3 men into the camp, firing. Then the man planned to take on all of them, and was hiding behind the stagecoach. She was worried, as this man was in clear trouble, and by the looks of it, the ‘man’ looked like the legendary ‘Judge’ who was also another legend known in the area.

She was also very fond of Judge, and wanted to save him fast. There was another man, who looked like the bandit chief. He walked out of his hut wickedly wielding his handgun. Kate heard them muttering, but couldn’t hear what they were saying. Whatever happens, she needed to save his life, and had just the plan…

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