Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Danger and Death

She started with the team in the north, led by the Hound-man with his barbed nets. The last hunter in line went without a sound, struck at the base of his head by one of her poison darts. A few feet ahead of him, the woman with the chainmail armor made unavoidable clinking when another dart dropped her to the forest floor. Whirling about, the last two hunters in the group drew together, as if the closeness would protect them. Aylon sent one of her crimson-fletched arrows through the throat of the younger one, which caused the Hound-man to jerk back in surprise. He began to curse and turn about, trying to see where her attacks were coming from. She waited until he was looking the opposite way, then stood from the concealing bushes. When the Hound-man turned again, Aylon was mere inches away from him. His cry of shock was halted by a long-handled dagger thrust up through his leather jerkin and into his heart. The body was dead before it hit the ground, and then she was off into the treetops again.
Across the forest, Mif was nearly knocked over by Lewell's sudden turn as a muted shout echoed to them through the forest.
"What was that?" The man gasped, gripping his crossbows with white knuckles. At the head of their line, Edercy the Tracker glanced back at him with a look of distaste.
"The first of our parties to encounter the Bloodfeather." He answered tersely, before continuing through the brush. Als Coonhert spared Lewell a sneer as he went past, while the other hunter in their group, Raiza, looked past him to the north.
"It must have been Miskel's lot." She murmured. "So are we next, or is the great Bloodfeather saving her mentor for last?" Mif also wondered this question, but before he could hazard a guess, the sound of an explosion came from the south. Raiza whipped about, Lewell swore and almost dropped his favorite crossbow, and even Als stopped where he stood. More shouts, and screams, came to them through the trees, and it was clear that Flaming Fury Elsa's group of bounty hunters was faring no better than Miskel Hound-man's.
"We're ready for her, right Edercy?" Als asked over his shoulder. His forced cheer died on his face when the young man realized that the famed hunter was no longer standing behind him.
"Curse that snake." Raiza snarled, hefting up her spear. "He's just led us all to the slaughter!" As the last sounds faded from the southern battle, Mif backed up until he ran into a thick oak tree.
"Edercy's gone?" Lewell's already profuse sweating intensified. "That's it. I'm leaving!"
"Wait, you moron!" Als snapped, but Lewell had already started running back the way they had come. Mif was about to hurry after him when the fat man grunted and dropped to his knees, a shaft of wood tipped with red now sticking out from his back.
"Show yourself!" Commanded Raiza. "I would face the one who seeks my death."
"Then turn around."
The voice was grim and hateful, the woman it belonged to more fearsome than these hunters. Raiza whirled in a half-circle that brought her face to face with Aylon the Bloodfeather. Only a spasm backwards saved her from the knife that curved upwards between the two of them, though not the left hook that came out of nowhere. As the hunter crashed backwards, Als Coonhert screamed his fury and charged, double scimitars flashing dully in the gloom of the forest.
The Bloodfeather dodged his first few swipes, but then she side-stepped and caught his right shoulder with a high kick. Undeterred, Als pivoted to bring down his other weapon. Instead, his arm was seized with two iron grips, and suddenly the hunter was flying through the air upside-down. He crashed into a tree and fell with a whoof of expelled air. Another dagger found its way down through his back.
Mif watched all this with a terrified curiosity, unable to move from his spot. He saw the Bloodfeather stand from Als' corpse and go to face Raiza, still recovering from the blow to her jaw.
A sudden flush of anger entered the orphan boy, and he tore at the straps that held the many bags on his back. As they tumbled to the forest floor, Mif pulled out his one weapon, the worn and cracked hilt of a broken sword, with a little bit of jagged blade still gripped by the metal casing.
Raiza had managed to plant the end of her spear among the leaf litter and get one foot one under herself when the Bloodfeather returned. The hunter yanked out the spare dagger she kept tucked in her boot and tried to slash at her enemy. A hard leather boot intercepted and kicked the blade out of her hands, and a few moments later Raiza found herself looking up the shaft of her own spear.
Aylon was about to plunge down with the weapon when a sharp pain hit her left leg. Glancing down, she saw a deep gash now pouring out blood. Backing up from her was the servant boy she'd seen earlier, the one she'd intended to let leave this conflict. He looked terrified by what he'd just done, clutching a little broken blade with both hands - a blade that now had her blood on it.
"You little idiot." She said incredulously, before unhooking her bow from the quiver on her back.
The instant he saw the Bloodfeather pull out her main weapon, Mif knew he was in trouble. He turned to run, not noticing the quick footsteps behind him, or the whistle of air from a projectile; once the end of the strung bow dropped down over his head and swung the boy into a tree, he didn't notice much of anything.

Raiza stumbled through the undergrowth, trying to avoid the traps she'd spotted with ease earlier. The disoriented woman didn't realize she wasn't alone anymore until nearly running face-first into another bounty hunter.
"Thank the gods!" She gasped. "I didn't think anyone else had survived."
"What happened?" The hunter asked her. Raiza tried to focus her vision, but the effects of that punch were taking their time getting out of her system.
"The Bloodfeather, she- she took us down. Would have killed me, along with the others, but then, then the Muscle-head's kid attacked her. I couldn't really see, but I'm pretty sure she knocked him out and carried him off."
"Good." Raiza's eyes narrowed as she finally realized whose voice she was conversing with.
"Edercy you snake, you- Ack!" Raiza never got to finish her complaint, as Edercy's hands tightened around her throat.
"It's nothing personal." He said quietly. "But a plan is a plan. I'd blame Aylon, for not finishing her fights properly."

Summer Is Supposed to be Fun, Isn't It?

I've been feeling a bit conflicted lately. Final exams for school finally wrapped up, and I made it through all of them, which took a crap-ton of stress off of my shoulders. The next few months are going to be taken up by my Dual Credit course in the mornings for U.S. History, along with evening rehearsals for a production of An Enemy of the People, which promises to be interesting. Sometime in August I'm going to try to squeeze in a brief river trip with my grandparents in Colorado before school starts up again, though the details for that still need to be worked out.
In addition to those three big things, I need to get my driver's license so that I can get around to my various places, and work more gigs for my mom's petting zoo business. I'll also need to put in more effort on preparing for the ACT/SAT tests next year, and gathering as much scholarship money as I can for the college I want to go to.

With all of these things looming for my summer, is it unreasonable that I should want to spend my first weekend of it relaxing a bit? Since I don't know when the next opportunity will show itself? Granted, relaxing for me usually means diving into some world-building or character elaboration for my stories, but you get the idea.

Show of hands, who else has parents who prefer you to get things done as quickly as possible, without considering that you do, in fact, have a time-management plan in mind?