I’m off the bus the moment the door opens—hell no, I’m not waiting a second longer than I have to. I push out, fellow Seattlites glaring but used to much stranger behavior from city-dwellers. The length of the bus, the handful of people getting off, and whatever distance I manage to run before the Hunter’s foot touches pavement is all I have for time.
My feet pound the street, lungs screaming with pain already. The Hunter is fast, but luckily not one of the faster mages I’ve encountered. As I run, I pull my bow off of the clip on my back. His knife is within grabbing range, but as opposed to using it, he prefers to pump his fists harder as he slowly closes the gap between us.
Thank the goddess he hasn’t decided to turn me into target practice by throwing his knife. That he hasn’t tells me a few things: he only has the one knife, he sucks at throwing, or he’s not confident in his magical abilities if he were to lose the knife. If the goddess favors me today, all three will prove true.
Hoping for the best, I turn down an alley and stop at the end, bow raised, arrow nocked, string taut, staring down the sight. As soon as he comes around the corner, I release. Thunk! The string vibrates, making my arm tremble under the recoil. The Hunter screams, the arrow burying to the fletching in his right shoulder. I just hope it’s his dominant one because I’ve been wrong before.
His left hand reaches across his hip to grab the knife sheathed there, and I try not to scream in frustration. Either he’s left-handed, ambidextrous, or doesn’t care if his coordination is crap. It appears to be the latter when he comes at me, his aim not terrible, but not great either. I can’t imagine the pain helps, but he’s going to kill me if I don’t get my head out of my ass and move.
The blade grazes my arm, drawing blood as I jump out of the way, diving into a pile of garbage bags stacked next to the large dumpster. I’m a little too enthusiastic with my jump because my forehead knocks the metal, the sound reverberating through my skull. I’m stunned for a moment, unsure if skinning my arms on the pavement would’ve been better than seeing stars.
Get up, the working part of my brain screams.
Still dazed, I roll to the ground, air wheezing from my lungs when I land on my quiver. It was a farther drop than I thought, but I don’t mind the pain shooting up my spine—especially when the Hunter’s knife sinks deep into one of the bags I’d just been getting acquainted with. Whatever his blade hits, it reeks. Worse than that, it’s wet, and since I’m sprawled on the pavement, still trying to get to my feet, it sprays me. I barely close my mouth in time to not have the pleasure of tasting it, but it still douses my neck and shirt. Now, I smell like rot.
Great, just great.
I’m so caught up in my misery, it takes me a moment to realize it sprayed the Hunter in the eyes.
He’s busy fumbling, trying to wipe his good arm across his face. I stumble to my feet, blinking when stars cross my vision again. There’s a good chance I gave myself a concussion, but at this range, I won’t miss.
I load another arrow, aim for the mage’s calf, and wince at his shrill scream. It rips through my throbbing skull like glass shattering in my eardrums. I cover my ears, regretting shooting him.
Then, thinking, the hell with it, I grab my bow in both hands and bring it down over the back of his head. The noise his skull makes is enough to make me gag—or maybe that’s just the stench of the garbage finally getting to me. Both, I decide, watching the now-silent man hit the ground.
He won’t be coming after me anytime soon, but most Hunters are extremely resilient. It won’t take long for him to get back up, but it will be long enough for me to get far, far away from here. Speaking of, I should haul ass before other Hunters find us. Besides, I could really, really use a shower right about now.
I turn toward the mouth of the alley and search for the closest bus stop.