Chapter 1: Hope's Protector

Lazy wind blew dust over the dirt street that ran through the town. Random travelers were thankful for the light breeze that relieved a few degrees upon their warm skin. Most were smiling from their happy existence. The small town of Hope lived up to its name. Peace had resided over the people for quite some time. They had a guardian angel that kept them safe.

In one of the shops off the main street sat a tall man lounging upon a reclined barber chair. An inky needle bounced off his facial skin, imprinting a menacing design. The pricks caused a pain that was completely ignored by its receiver. He lay as comfortable as one receiving a massage. Ink and blood stained the right side of his face and neck.

"Almost done."

The tattoo artist looked down upon his palette. Great beauty lay hidden by years of stress and scarring. Black hair was haphazardly chopped into a butch style cut. Wrinkles had begun to form around the corners of his eyes and mouth. When open, cold gray surrounded black pupils. Half the beauty was now covered with heavy designed black ink.

"This may sting," the young artist said. The man gave a brief chuckle.

Using a damp cloth, the inky blood was wiped clean from the man's face, revealing a black claw-like design that started around the eyes, went down his neck and continued unseen under his white shirt. The man rose and buttoned up the top two buttons of his dress shirt. On each hip was two six-shot revolvers facing opposite directions. A diamond cross on the buckle decorated his gun belt.

"Let me ask you something," The young man, said. "I've been working on you for about two years now. When you came in here, I admit you were a little ragged but you looked good. Now, with this, why? Why cover up your body with this tattoo?"

The tattooed man looked down upon his artist. While his new ink made appearance menacing, his eyes were still kind and so was his disposition.

"A few years back I did a lot of reading. I learned all I needed to learn about life and the world prior to the disease. One such thing I read about was ancient cultures. There used to be ancient warriors who would tattoo themselves as a way of giving their body power and energy over their opponents. They believed these works of art they inflicted upon their skin would make them unstoppable. I thought I would give it a try. Now, not only do you know why I have done this to my body, but you also know the power you hold and can give people."

The man smiled then turned to leave. On his way out he picked up an old rifle with metal sites. He slung it over his shoulder and walked out onto the streets. His step had a limp about it, favoring the right leg. His left seemingly injured at one time.

The bright sun caused his eyes to squint as he looked out over his town. He may not own Hope but he swore to protect its pacifistic residents. The tattooed man was well known here. His name, Diablo, was given by his enemies, scared by the tall gunman. The people of the town adopted the name with affection, but they never use it to his face. No name has been uttered to the man since his arrival at the town about two years before.

The tall man's boots dully thudded on the dirt ground as he crossed the street with the bar in mind. He stepped out of the harsh rays and into the low light through two swinging doors. A few lone drinkers speckled across the room sparsely populated the establishment. A large smile grew across the bartenders face as the tattooed man stepped closer to the counter.

"I see it's done," the elder man said as he set a glass upon the wooden counter. "Impressive. Here is your usual."

With a pale arm that hadn't seen the sun in a long time, the man poured out a brownish bubbling liquid into the glass.

"Thank you John," the gunman answered with a smile. He took the drink and swallowed it, enjoying the bite. "I'm glad you get cola in for me."

"Anything for you," a bigger smile appeared.

The love for the man known as Diablo was great in this town. There was not one resident that wasn't helped by the strange man. No one knew where he came from. One day two years ago he just appeared, riding an odd motorcycle. He purchased a small plot of land just outside of town. The pacifists were wary at first. His heavily armed body and unclean disheveled appearance was menacing. Their fear turned to love after he dispensed a large group of scoundrels that were terrorizing them one day. From then on, he never failed to un-holster his weapons whenever anyone was in danger.

The tall man sat drinking his cola at the bar as a short man came into the bar. A smell followed him as he slowly walked up to the counter, eyeing the tattooed man the whole way. A gun was suspended from each of his bony hips. He licked his lips as he sat down on the stool next to the town's protector.

"Whiskey, now," The short man barked then turned to the man known as Diablo. "Interesting tattoo you got there."

An evil eye was given in response.

"Ye know, I heard somewhere about a man. Did a lot of things. You wouldn't happen to be him?"

"No," the tall man replied gruffly.

"You mean you've done nothin' your life?"

"I just sit here."

"You wouldn't happen to be. . . "

"Anything else sir," The bartender cut him off. Names and titles were not something that was spoken to their protector and he was going to keep it that way.

The short man turned his eyes to the bartender.

"Now that weren't very polite, you goin' and cuttin' me off like that."

He slowly reached towards a gun.

"Rude men need to be taught a lesson."

"You're right," the tattoo man said. He reached out and grabbed the short man by his shirt collar, pulling him off his stool. Kicking and screaming, he was yanked out of the bar and into the hot sun.

"Get off of me," he shouted.

The tall man let go, allowing him to fall to the ground with a thump. The smelly man scrambled to his feet fiddling to get his pistol from the holster on his hip.

"I wouldn't."

"You wouldn't what? Take out my gun? You don't scare me."

The tall man's reply was a fist to his stomach, putting him right down, coughing in the dust.

"If you don't want to get hurt than just turn around and walk away."

Eyes burned underneath the black ink embedded on his face. The short man stared into them transfixed. Fear started to grow causing him to tremble. Never before had he met a man who instilled so much panic within his mind. It was like a supernatural force had taken a hold and was squeezing the man's lungs. His breathing became short and quick, causing him to feel a bit light headed. A hand reached out and stood him up, so he was now standing in front of the tattooed man.

"Are you going to leave?"

Out of fright, the man turned and ran, without stopping for his vehicle he came to town on.

When satisfied the scoundrel was gone, the man known as Diablo turned and walked back into the bar. It was times like this that the town was reminded why it was good to have their stranger around. There were countless more times that he had done deeds such as this, taking care of knaves that disrupted the peace.

A freshly filled glass was displayed on the bar when the man sat back down. A nod and a smile came from the elder man and were returned by his protector.

As he was taking a drink the bar doors swung open again, this time three men entered. The light from brighter outside obscured the appearance of these men.

"Excuse us," one of the men said, "But we're looking for the man known as Poe."

Author's Note

A new story in the world of Poe has begun and I hope all of you will enjoy it. Some of the characters and events within this story are based on additions to the original story. The revised version is up now but if you read the original, you would have missed a few small parts added that would make this story make a bit more sense.

I hope you enjoy and will enjoy the story to come.