He had to hide now, not that there was anything moving around, but he could sense danger. He knew this kind of feeling well, a hunter, after all, has extensive experience with life on edge. This one had more than others. It was clearly visible on his face, back, arms and legs. The scars that served as lessons and the injuries that will never heal that serve as reminders of just how dangerous even the smallest of creatures can be.
He put his hand on the handle of his small dagger; it was a curved thing of beauty. Made of silver and imbued with magic filled gem, the Moonblade, it was now his only hope of getting out of there. The sword, always the sword… He never carried it but always whined about how useful it would be, in fact, he knew it wouldn‘t. A sword is too big and too clumsy to draw, too heavy to manipulate with the animal‘s speed, too long to fit under his clothing and too obvious to carry on his belt handle. His other weapon, now resting peacefully over his back was a bow. A mighty longbow, custom made though. If the man was near two meters tall the bow had to be at least a meter and a half long, a fearsome weapon with unimaginable range and more than spot on precision when handled by him. But he knew it won‘t help him here so he reached for his second dagger.
A blade no less interesting than the first one, this dagger resembled a short sword in many ways and yet it clearly wasn‘t one. It was quite a few centimetres longer than the silver one but an enemy would never see that for the colour of the second dagger was black. As black as charcoal, an ideal weapon to fight with at night, nobody could guess the reach of it and so the strikes were even deadlier. Please work, I could really use a trick now. The forest was even darker than before and so he had checked the presence of the massive tree behind his back. It was one of his first lessons, always stand with your back against the wall. The lesson cost him a massive scar but he‘d say that it was worth the pain.
He molested the handle of the dark dagger in his hand, checking it with one eye and remaining in the forest with the other. Even now he felt a presence from the blade, one could say that the occurrence of the Blade of the Divine and the Anerith at one place was more than ridiculous and yet Jeremiah was often lucky with his findings. Yes, it takes courage to fight a fire demon and then carve a dagger from his heart of stone, but he managed and the burns on his hands were yet another lesson worth the pain.
Jeremiah took the aim, Slow and steady wins the race… He retracted the line and waited some more, then he took a deep breath, held it and let go. The massive arrow dipped in all kinds of poisons seemed to hit the target. At first, he was worried that it would not even reach the golem of fire that was now feasting on the trees in the ravine, but it hit him. Thank God, it hit him. But it seemed only to upset the demon; he immediately sprung up and rushed towards Jeremiah. As the demon rushed the hunter watched closely, he knew that he cannot outrun a demon and so he stayed and watched carefully whether the poison works at least a little bit. The demon came at him in just a few second expressing no kind of weakness.
He ran, confused and disappointed, not afraid though. Fear was only the means to die, he remained calm and tried to think of a getaway but then he felt it, the immense heat on his back. The demon started to reach out with his hands in his burning frenzy. This was even beyond the point of negotiation. Jeremiah had no better plan anyway. He turned to face the demon and drew his silver dagger, he turned the multicoloured stoned in the handle so that it was shining sea blue and attempted to stab the demon. He failed though; the demon got a hold of his hand. He smelled his own skin burn but there was no time to panic now. He looked at the spot where he hit the demon with the arrow. The last remains of the arrowhead were now melting in the fiery hell that the golem‘s body was made of. But, even though much weaker than he expected, the flames around the injury were a bit weaker than the others, if he did not want to lose one of his limbs, or in fact all of them together with his body, this was the chance. He let the dagger go from his caught hand and caught it with the other as it was falling. Then he stabbed the demon from the side, at the place where the arrow has hit him before. The fire golem let out a cry of hell itself, it staggered and let go of Jeremiah‘s hand. The hunter took this chance and turned the dagger in the wound to keep the demon in check. Now we‘re talking… A faint smile could be seen on his face as his hand, firmly clenching the dagger handle, burned in the fire, as his skin blistered and burned away. The deeper he managed to put the dagger in the weaker the fire grew. Finally where there were just the remains of spark in the demon‘s eyes he pulled the dagger out and stabbed the demon in his heart, immediately shifting the stone on his silver weapon to orange colour. Some things are better left alive. The golem turned to ashes but the stone that was previously it‘s heart turned pitch black and remained on the tip of his dagger.
Now! He stabbed at the dark in front of him with the Anerith and the heart of the fire demon did its job. He heard a roar and he could smell burning meat but the dark was too thick. He could barely see his hands not to mention what was behind them. But the one strike was all he needed. A Nightstalker is always difficult to kill even when the conditions are good, but now, since everything he had planned for the hunt got out of his hands, he needed an opportunity to run away.
Nightstalker is humanoid creature, a three meters tall gargoyle if you will. The book says that they survive mostly on cattle but an occasional person or two is nothing unusual in their diet. They live in forest and avoid open spaces, because their strength lies in close quarters. The old folk that survived a meeting with this creature often speak of night in the middle of the day, hence the name. Every stalker emits darkness in his surroundings ensuring that his prey loses its vision, a crucial advantage in a melee, before the fight even begins. They have extremely strong claws on their hands and feet allowing for quick turns and agile movement, but they are blind. They can still hear very well and, at extremely close distances even sense alien body heat. A seasoned hunter never goes unprepared for a kill.
Even with all this information memorized Jeremiah saw no other option. He retreated his dagger, turned to the left and ran. He knew that he can‘t be that far from the village because he was not lost for a long time. As he ran the darkness faded off a bit. He could now distinguish trees and even though the stars were still covered with the stalker‘s darkness he could see the moon, he turned a bit to the right and ran as fast as he could.
The pain was unbearable, the stalker caught up and buried his claws deep into his leg, but Jeremiah was not the one to give his life easily away, he quickly turned around and stabbed at the darkness once more. This time his hand just drew a half circle in front of him, the blade could not find its target. But the stalker obviously retreated a bit and that gave the hunter one last chance to make a make run for it. He turned back in the direction he thought he saw the local tavern at; the stalker would not go to a place with that many people.
Jeremiah was wrong though, and he could see it now, he could see the chimney of the tavern in the distance and he ran. He ran like never before, feeling the string from his bow biting into his flesh as it moved up and now as he rushed across the forest. He felt the almost impalpable beat of the demons heart in his dagger and tried to think the situation through one last time. All he needed was a moment of surprise, something that would force the Nightstalker to stay still just for a second, he would then be able to stab his chest and from there it was just a bit further for the kill.
He saw something strange, a bright light emerging in front of the tavern. He tried his best to keep the speed up, he knew that the severe bleeding will slow him down by a considerable amount but now that he could see his goal it was somehow easier to move. He ran towards the light, which grew stronger with every passing step. The footsteps behind him began to slow down as if the creature did not want to go into the light. How? Do they have sight after all? He heard the footsteps halt and so he decided to turn back and take a look. It was a bad decision indeed. As soon as he turned he saw the crouching stalker prepared for a leap. The creature‘s legs buried into the ground as he sprang and jumped good ten meters towards Jeremiah. Even with all his experience he did not foresee this. He staggered a step back and watched his death close in on him. The Stalker looked anything but grotesque, he had the face of a savage wolf, showing all his so obviously deathly teeth and reaching for the hunter with his immense and shape claws.
As Jeremiah retreated he staggered and fell, he rolled from the small hillside, which was now the only thing separating him and the light source. As he rolled down he noticed a womanly figure near the source of light, it looked as if she‘s holding it in her hands, not impossible but highly unlikely. Everybody knew that all the witches were burned a long time ago. And yet she looked awfully familiar in some way. He had to see her somewhere before. With every barrel roll that he did he could see the light and the woman and when turned back the stalker rushing after him and then it came.
The light reached unbearable intensity and then it disappeared with an explosion. The pressure wave lifted him from the ground and threw him onto the Nightstalker. This is it! The moment of surprise that he has been waiting for. He spun in the air and from the spin buried the dagger deep in the enlightened creature as he landed on it. The stalker let out a terrible screech and with the smell of burning meat fell to the ground. Jeremiah could now feel strong pulse on the Anerith as it buried itself deep in the creature‘s chest. Now to collect my money. The darkness lifted and the gargoyle‘s corpse lay on the hillside and so he laid beside it and let out a breath, he began to feel sleepy for he lost way too much blood running, but it was a lesson worth the pain.
A witch huh? There sure will be a lot of money in that…