The Circus Freak leaped straight at them.
“Just go, Hunter!”
His jump kick rebounded off the gray fighter, though, causing him little else than to waver a bit in his advance. The clown rolled back and stood up to see the fighter pointing at him.
“You have looked down on us!”
“Well, maybe then I won’t get ignored!” Which was a funny thing to say right after ignoring the warrior.
“But now we’ll look down on your blood!”
“What?” The Circus Freak laughed.
“That doesn’t work either.”
“What?” He looked aside at his henchmen, “no, look, we will kill him, which will cause him to bleed as we stand over him, right? Then we’re—we’re looking down on, you know.”
“You guys are the best,” the Circus Freak yelled out amidst giggling.
“Can we just pummel him to death, already?”
“Well it doesn’t feel right, now does it? Saying something stupid before getting to it–”
She didn’t hear the rest, the Hunter was already running. If the clown wanted to be an idiot and serve as a distraction, she would gladly take the offer.
Moving felt odd with what was left of the cape all wrapped around her belly. It was mildly uncomfortable due to the pain of the wound scraping and moving against the tissue, but she took it in stride.
Sweating and audibly breathing, even if still controllably, she went down another flight of stairs. The alarm was finally turned off, though for what reason, she didn’t know. Maybe some part of the mechanism had malfunctioned? Irrespective of the reason, Zaniyah was very thankful for it.
It became way more possible to keep track of her surroundings now that her hearing was useful again. Two members of the Tech Guild were running across a hall she entered. Without breaking stride, she ran past them and turned a corner as a bullet tried to follow.
She was out of view before they could catch up, trying to match Circus Freak’s running speed.
I can do it as well.
She found another flight of stairs and took it down. The Hunter felt pretty fast and agile again, now that the clown wasn’t showing her up. A man was coming up the stairs when she arrived there, he brought up a double-barrel gun to aim at her, but she jumped beforehand, lifting her legs as much as she could to continue out of his aim. The gun went off as her butt hit his face.
She held her breath as her body flipped in the air, forward, while the man fell back and down the stairs. The gun went off a second time as she landed on the ground with her hands to curl up into a controlled roll. She stood up and collided with the wall, bouncing off and tripping over the man’s body which tumbled against her heels.
Instinct flared due to the pain and danger, as did her dagger, and she frantically grabbed onto the man and slit his throat and then span and stabbed his gun arm for good measure.
The Hunter took yet another breath, at the floor next to the man she had just killed.
She pushed herself up, she was on the right floor. Zaniyah felt extremely annoyed she was going through all of that to retrieve the amulet, which she had already gotten once. With that sentiment, she checked the cape around her side, the part over the wound was soaked in blood.
She looked around, ears open to possible danger. Yelling and screams and sounds of fighting filled the tower above her. Nothing came from below.
It was funny that with how tall the tower was, what was really impressive was how far it went underground. She was down to what? Four floors down?
Steps from her left. She drew a blowgun and caught the first of the incoming fighters somewhere in the face, instead of in the neck.
My aim’s getting worse.
She was so tired. The second fighter, a woman, hesitated at the sight of her comrade that was on the ground, inexplicably paralyzed. She had two of those serrated swords.
The Hunter pushed herself forward, at a half-limp.
She drew one of the swords instead.
The Hunter squinted her eyes, putting the blowgun away and picking up a knife instead to the sound of a snarl. Carrying two knives, she growled and surrendered herself to instinct.
A blade was shot at her, vibrating through a mechanism that made it into a real saw blade. The Hunter dove down and rolled across the floor, jumping once her feet came back onto the floor.
She parried the saw-blade sword, but the woman stepped back, keeping her distance, and thrust again. It forced the Hunter to balk in her lunge and fight from steady footing instead. Crouched, she sneered and growled before jumping to the side. She threw a dagger at the woman’s head, which she parried in a moment of concentration that kept her from noticing the one thrown at her belly.
The swordswoman looked down.
She charged but the Hunter jumped back and crouched, watching her closely, regaining some control from her instinct. She prowled from a distance, refusing the woman’s effort to win the fight before she lost it.
The woman started to lose strength as it drained away with her blood, and once sufficiently weak, the Hunter lunged and put her out of her misery.
Breathing heavily, she retrieved her thrown daggers, bloodied, wiped them against the woman’s scarf and put them back.
“I told you to leave.” After a second of hesitation, she also took the woman’s sword.
The victims to her blowgun were the lucky ones, it was just putting them to sleep. The Hunter ran along the corridor, pushed to concern by the sounds of destruction that were getting closer and closer to her.
Even if it weren’t the beasts, and she should assume it was, it still meant she was running out of time.
The Hunter checked inside a room and found nothing. Checked another and found nothing. After quite a few rooms, the sounds getting closer and closer, she turned a corner to find three members of the Tech Guild guarding a door. She pulled back before she was spotted.
That should be it…
She took out her blowgun, sword in her other hand.
Her body felt so stupidly heavy. If only she had gotten some decent rest on the train, but no, LBA had attacked her there, too. She had been forced to ride on horseback nonstop for Britthan to make it in time. She needed a rest. She needed to heal. But more importantly, she needed that amulet.
Please let it be it.
The Hunter took yet another breath.
Zaniyah used the blowgun three times before actually having to engage in actual combat, and only hit once. She surrendered herself to instinct again, to carry her through the fight. One of the three had been a gunner, which was the one she hit.
One of the swordsmen ran for her while the other retrieved the pistol. She parried with the blowgun and swung the sword at his side like a stick. The sword had two buttons on the hilt, she used the one more comfortable to her hold and the blade whirred into action, sawing through flesh and bone like it was hungry for human meat.
“Ah-ah-ah-ah!” The man couldn’t even yell properly. She kicked him in the groin for good measure and back-handed him with the blowgun – again, hardwood – before aiming the sword at the third and final guard, who aimed his gun at her.
“You savage bi–”
She took a guess and pressed the second button at the same time as she heard gunpowder going off.
“Augh!” Her body flinched back as pain took a strong bite on her right shoulder, taking her out of her bloodlust. Because of that, she didn’t follow the sword to finish the kill. Still, the man screamed as the sword burrowed into his belly. He had the strength to grab it by the base and pull it off before falling back on the ground to bleed and cry to death.
There had been a lot of that that night, but Zaniyah would not be one to do that.
“Ssss…” She grabbed at her shoulder and felt it, finding a bullet hole both in front and back.
It went through… she nodded and stepped forward, I will survive.
The Hunter walked by the whimpering swordsman whose side she had sawed through, and then by the one who had been gutted by the weapon they had invented themselves. They were both bleeding and crying, too busy whimpering to even curse her properly. It was saddening, but the Hunter had gotten used to death and tragedy from a young age, it would not slow her down, let alone dissuade her.
Zaniyah had seen her own sister half-eaten by a wild cat, which was actually the reason she was still alive.
With her sister on her mind, she pushed the door with a small grunt of effort. It didn’t budge. She bowed her head down and took yet another breath, steeling her resolve.
She knelt down over the gunman and looked for a key. She found it and got up, unlocked the door, and pushed it open for real.
Inside the room was, finally, the amulet. She sighed in relief.
“Mother Nature be praised…there you are.”
Not wanting it ruined so close to the goal, she looked carefully at the room, searching her sense for traps and ambushes.
Something is definitely out of place…
The amulet was on top of a table, seemingly forgotten there, but she knew better. The table had chairs around it, and all of them seemed to be untouched except for the one facing the entrance. She walked to it and, painfully, crouched down to look at its legs. The floor beneath them had an uneven display of dust and care, but not the kind caused by dragging.
The Hunter looked up in reaction to a crushing noise that led to her floor. It was a few corridors away but it was her floor, she was certain.
Please, can I have one second of peace?
It was fairly obvious by then, however, that no, she couldn’t. She put her hands on the chair and pushed down, seeing crevices under its feet give way and sink. Content with that, she sat on the chair, waited to hear a pronounced click, and then grabbed the amulet. She had to do all of this to a background of audible signs of approaching danger. It was getting closer and closer.
Sweating, both from all the physical exertion and nervousness, she placed the amulet inside her tied cape, it would hold the best in there.
Go go go.
She stepped outside of the door just as something crashed at the end of the hall to her right. Looking, she landed eyes on a beast.
Dark. Bulking. Clawing all ready to leap.
She jumped back into the room, narrowly avoiding its lunge at her. It landed in front of the door, tearing a path through the floor for the couple of feet it took to come to a stop, but one of the claws shoved inside the door, to help with stopping.
I’m too late.
She stepped back as the hulking figure filled the entrance. Its eyes oscillated and fixed on her belly, it could see the amulet.
Zaniyah looked around, her heart racing, her head throbbing.
“Are you the one I met in the jungle?”
It offered no reply, it simply pulled to squeeze itself through the door. It ruptured the sides as it endeavored to get into the room.
The Hunter looked at the table from which she had retrieved the amulet. Without giving it much thought, she kicked it and stepped back.
The table didn’t budge but, from the ground, jets of acid shot up to melt each of the chairs. A big clunk called her attention to the entrance, a metallic door closed down on top of the beast. A sliver of hope ran through her chest as the beast was forced down into a lying position.
It tried to push itself up, to beat the force the door was producing upon it. The Hunter tried to find room through which she could escape, but there was none. Eventually, a gargle of frustration was emitted from the beast before it sunk its claws into the ground and pushed itself back. Slowly but surely, it held the door with its head while pulling out his arm, and then bent over and backed away to allow it to close.
At that point, gas started pouring from two vents in the back part of the room that seemed to have been hidden beneath a closet.
Zaniyah felt like the victim to the greatest conspiracy in the universe.
Abandoned and alone, she was trapped in a room that was being gassed with a beast just outside, which was already banging on the door to knock it down.
Grabbing onto her wounded shoulder with her good hand, she gave one last look around. Was there something else she could do? Anything at all?
The door, after three hits, burst open along with parts of the wall and ceiling. She stepped back and watched as the hulking beast stared, intently, at her. Straight at her.
The Hunter took a deep breath, steeling resolve. She would try to dodge the beast’s lunge and then make it to the door.
She would never give up.
The beast sank its claws into the ground.
The Hunter felt those might very well be the last seconds of life she had left in her so, for that reason, she decided she might as well indulge herself.
And take yet another breath.