Damocles Stark, Master of the Grand Order of Demon Hunters, was a living legend. At the moment, he was a legend in repose. He wore a wide-brimmed hat low over his face, a long duster coat and seemed to be asleep.
At length, two young mens’ valor trumped discretion and they walked over to the table. Before either of them could offer a word, Stark spoke.
“Yes, I really am him. Yes, most of the old stories are exaggerated but not all. Now, go away before I grow annoyed.”
The duo stood, mouths agape, before Chelek threw caution to the wind. “Umm, would you tell us one of the stories as it really happened?”
Stark sighed, “Story telling is thirsty work, lads. I’ll require a pint.” He pushed back his hat revealing a face that was more scar tissue than flesh “And if my ugly mug frightens you, you’ve no stomach for my story.”
Treng and Chelek conferred and returned with the required pint of ale. Stark took it in one scarred hand and drank, not stopping until the tankard was empty.
“Ahh. Well, you’ve heard I’m the only Hunter ever fought a Duke of Hell single-handed and lived to tell the tale. Well, let’s lay us some lies to rest. I run for years with a Grey Mountains dwarf partner, Breck were his name. He fought with me that day and, say what you will of dwarves, that little whoreson could swing an axe unlike anyone I ever knowed.”
“An unearthly creature had been eatin’ the locals and we tracked it to a remote mountain cave. It smelt like a trap, but we went in anyways. Well, trap it were indeed. There may well have been a Duke there, but I never saw such. What we did see, was an entire legion of demonic warriors. Back to back we fought and we cut their numbers down over and over again. There weren’t no room for thought, only slaughter. When they drops back to regroup Breck yells over to me, ‘Lad, you’re on fire!’ I laughed and shouted back, ‘And how, my friend! I never felt so alive.’ Well, the dwarf points one stubby finger back at me and says, ‘No, you hulking idiot! You…are…on…fire!’
“Sure enough, my coat was ablaze. Now, mind you lads, demon fire ain’t your normal flame. Naught but holy water will douse it proper but we had none of that. So, I’m swingin’ my sword all the while that hellfire is scourin’ the very flesh off me bones and screamin’ like one of them damned creatures meself.”
Of a sudden, Stark stopped and waved to the barkeep, motioning to his empty tankard. As one, the two entranced lads called out, “But…but…what happened then, Master Stark?”
Stark favored them with a wide grin that somehow softened his horrible visage, “Well, what do you think happened then, ya damned featherheads? I died!”
Stark’s booming laughter was a fitting counterpoint to the stunned expressions of his youthful listeners.