Crash and Burn

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Chapter 4

We woke up the next morning to the sounds of screaming outside. I shot out of bed, grabbing my bow and quiver and strapping my daggers onto my body, Elle doing the same with her swords.

“What’s happening?” Elle asked quietly.

“I don’t know. Let me look. Can you cloak me for a few seconds while I peek outside?” I asked, strapping the last of my daggers to my belt.

“Yeah just hurry. I can’t do it for long,” she replied, following me over to the door. I felt the telltale tingle of her magic drape over me as I opened the door slightly to get a look outside. I slipped through the small crack, shutting the door back to not draw attention to the room.

Elle only had enough magic to cloak me for a couple of minutes at most, so I had to be quick. Running out to the street, I peeked out and I saw utter chaos ensuing. Men in black were everywhere, cutting down anyone who stood against them. I winced as the body count continued rising, but watched a moment more to see if I could gain any information.

“Where are they?!” One of them yelled loudly. Oh shit. These must have been from the same place as those men in the alleyway. They fought with the same gruesome style and had the same all-black clothing. I quickly ran back to the room and slipped inside, feeling Elle’s magic leave my body as soon as I shut the door.

“Elle, we gotta go. There are men like the ones from the alley everywhere and they’re looking for someone. It has to be us, and they are cutting down anyone who stands in there way. We have to get out of here before they find us.”

Elle's eyes widened and she nodded, grabbing a sword from one of her sheaths and heading back to the door. “I scoped out the quickest way back to the woods before I got the food last night. It’s cloaked in shadow so we should be able to get out without much attention being drawn to us.

Nodding, I let her lead the way. Thank goodness she had the wherewithal to scope this out last night or we might be toast. I had severely underestimated the extent that these guys were willing to go to find us. Whoever sent them really wanted us, and I could only imagine why.

We were almost out of the alley when all hell broke loose. Hearing footsteps behind me, I quickly grabbed a dagger from my sheath and spun around just in time to dodge a swipe from the guy’s sword before countering by plunging my dagger into his chest. Before he had time to take another swing at me, I grabbed a second dagger in my other hand and swiped it at his throat, sending him collapsing onto the ground. I quickly grabbed the dagger out of his chest before turning back to Elle, who had thankfully hidden in shadow.

"Go into the woods. I’ll hold off the others coming and meet you there when I get the chance. Stay hidden and listen for any information you can find. I’ll find you afterward. Nodding, Elle rushed away before two more men entered the alleyway, swords drawn. They were far enough away that I was able to grab my bow, firing two arrows in succession to take them out quickly.

However, before I had the chance to go find Elle, more men came rushing into the alley. Four from the front and three from the back where Elle had just left. I panicked briefly that she had been found, but I knew she was smart enough to have stayed hidden. Out of the two of us, she was the best at hiding, and she was damned good at spying. If she could figure out who these guys were and why they were after us, then maybe we could avoid them. They didn’t look like Council enforcers, so they had to be sent by someone else. If we couldn’t find out who then there was no chance we could avoid them forever.

A dark chuckle drew me away from my thoughts and I turned around to see all seven men closing in. Not good odds, especially since I still didn’t know what these guys were. I had guessed shifter since the ones in the alley were stronger than normal, but none of them took any animal shapes, and they all fought with weapons, something shifters rarely did, if ever.

It made me think they were something else entirely, and that was not good. Not knowing what they were meant I didn’t know their weaknesses, and I would have to figure it out on the fly. Not a very good thing when I was facing 7 to 1 odds. Putting my bow away, I quickly grabbed two daggers out of my sheaths, holding them at the ready and waiting for the right time to strike.

“Look what we have here, boys. I think we found what we’ve been looking for.” One of the men said. I quickly concluded that he was the leader, and watched him extra close to pick up any signals he gave the other guys.

“Where’s the other one?” The guy to his left asked, confirming my suspicions that they hadn’t found Elle. Thank fuck.

“Doesn’t matter,” replied the boss, “This one is the one that truly matters. The Lord will be happy to know we found her. He may even give us a promotion when we bring her in,” he chuckled, looking straight in my eyes as he repeated the same thing as the other men in the alley. “We’ve been looking for you for a very long time. You have been a very naughty girl. But that’s okay because the Lord will most definitely enjoy breaking that little spirit of yours.”

Bingo. They wanted me alive. That meant they might not be fighting to their full potential. Still, seven on one was not a fair fight, and I doubted I’d be able to escape any time soon. My only hope was that Elle was smart enough to not come after me.

Picking up movement out of the corner of my eye, I swung out with one of my daggers, cutting the wrist of a man who had swung his sword at me. I shoved my other dagger into his chest before he even had a chance to recover, sending him collapsing onto the cement. I instantly drew another dagger, spinning around just in time to dodge a sword aimed at my stomach.

So much for not fighting to their full potential. They must have had healers on hand to heal any wounds they gave me. That was not good for me.

I regained my balance just in time to throw the dagger in my left hand straight into the neck of the guy who had just swung his sword at me. His eyes widened slightly as he fell to the ground with a thump. With only two daggers left, my odds were not looking good. I really should have grabbed more than four of them before I left. The extra bulk would have been worth it had I known what we’d be running into.

With no time to grab my dagger out of the man’s neck, I ducked under a sword to my left before jumping out of the way of one to my right. There were still five men standing and I only had two daggers left. I knew this wasn’t going to end well for me, but I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to fight until the very last second.

I managed to take out two more men before the leader joined into the fight, chuckling as he strode up to his remaining two henchmen. I stood with one remaining dagger in my right hand, panting to catch my breath as they decided what move to make next.

“You’ve impressed me, little hunter. The Lord will be very happy to see that you already have so much skill. However, I’m afraid I cannot let you take out my other two men. While the healer will most likely be able to fix them, I simply cannot have you getting away. You have already been gone far too long.” What the hell was this guy talking about?

Without giving me any time to question it, he hurled two daggers at me, one right after the other. I was able to dodge the first one, but the second one embedded deep in my thigh. Damn that bitch hurt! Not letting it take me down, I braced for the next move, dodging a blade when the man on the left swiped at my head, I ducked and moved in closer to him, aiming a well-placed punch to the temple. Even with the added strength from my runes, the man only stumbled backward slightly, shaking his head to regain his bearings.

What the hell were these guys on? I had never met anyone strong enough to withstand that strong of a punch and this guy just took it as if I was a puny schoolgirl, not a trained fighter. I was in deep shit.

Blood was still pouring out of my leg along with the blood from a couple other minor injuries I had sustained throughout the fight, and I was beginning to feel a little lightheaded because of it. I needed to get the damn dagger out of my leg so the skin could start healing, but I couldn’t afford to look away from the three men in front of me. Screw it. I couldn’t keep losing blood like this. Deciding to take the chance, I reached down to grab the dagger, yanking it out of my leg. Pain shot up my body from the wound, and I grimaced.

Taking advantage of my position, the leader sent another dagger flying into my side and I grunted, stumbling backwards. Fuck! I couldn’t afford any more injuries.

Before I even had a chance to recover, the but of a sword hit my temple with enough strength to rival my own. I crumpled to the ground, struggling to breath through the pain from my wounds. The leader stalked up to me with another dagger, shoving it into my uninjured leg and I finally let a single yell out.

Smiling, the leader kicked my remaining daggers out of my hands and kicked me in the gut. Grunting with the force of the kick, I felt the metallic taste of blood in my mouth. Damn. There was no way I was making it out of this one on my own.

Still, I had to fight. Elle needed me and there was no way I was going to let these nut jobs take me away from her. Placing one hand underneath me, I called on my shoulder rune to give myself extra strength to try and lift me up. Before I could get even a foot off the ground one of the men kicked me back down.

“You, little hunter, are very impressive. And to think, you aren’t even at full strength yet. Once the Lord gets a hold of you you will be practically invincible,” the boss chuckled darkly, landing a solid kick to the temple and plunging me into darkness.

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