A/N: I just wanted to let everyone know that this is NOT going to be a vampire and/or werewolf story. Yes, there are some supernatural elements; magic, witches, demonic creatures and things like that, but I am tired of reading about vampires/werewolves and will not be including them in this. Thank you for your time, and I hope you enjoy.
A strong wind blew through the streets, rustling the few trees that were growing along the sidewalks, and making loose trash dance down the alleyways between the restaurants and boutiques that made up this part of the town. This wasn't a gentle breeze that made people take a moment to breathe deep and relax, taking in a simple pleasure that they didn't have to feel guilty about.
No, that wasn't it at all. This breeze meant business. It was cold, sharp, and caused anyone who felt it to wrap their coats a little tighter around themselves, and duck their heads to try and protect their faces from this chilly slap. Their footsteps would become rushed as they tried harder to get to their destinations faster in order to escape this harsh wind.
Right now, on this particular street, there was only one person out late enough to feel this, and unfortunately for her there was no escape. She sat on top of one of the roof's of the buildings lining the sidewalk, Jack's Bar and Grill, smoking a cigarette, braiding her blonde hair in an attempt to make it stop whipping her in the face, and she tried to forget about the fact that her toes had gone numb about forty-five minutes ago. That seemed like a long time to not feel a part of your body that could normally be felt when you focused. Would frostbite be an issue? Her stomach clenched at the thought of peeling off her shoes and socks and seeing all ten toes black and dead. She tried with all her might to push it to the back of her mind.
She took the last drag of her cigarette and dropped the butt into the coffee-can turned ashtray the staff of Jack's used on their breaks. What the line cooks, wait staff, dishwashers, and bus boys or girls didn't leave up on the roof was a blanket or extra jacket, just something to help ward off this cold that seemed to work its way into her marrow. Maybe if I wasn't sitting on the edge of a roof like a moron it wouldn't feel so bad, she thought with a sardonic roll of her eyes.
Most of the time she liked coming onto the roof in order to survey the streets below. She knew it was immature, but it made her feel like Batman. That was a dream she always had when she was a little girl; having a cool utility belt, fighting crime and keeping the streets safe, but never able to reveal her true identity for fear of the backlash that would follow. Since she wasn't the child of millionaire parents who were murdered and left her a company this would have to be enough.
She cast a lazy glance down the alley between the little restaurant and the bridal shop when she heard something moving. Probably just a stray, or some trash, or a stray digging in the trash, she thought. Her lips curled into a small smile when she saw it. It was large, three maybe three hundred fifty pounds of raw power. It wasn't bulky or heavily muscled, though. Instead its weight came from height; skin that looked to be stretched beyond its limit and pulled tautly over bone that stuck out at sharp angles. She watched for a moment as it dug through the trashcan, shoving that night's toss outs from Jack's into its mouth, and chewing quickly with sharp pointed teeth.
She stood from her resting place and walked over to the ladder, which lead down the right side of the building. The cold wind was still blowing loudly so she didn't have to work too hard to cover the sound of her boots on the metal rungs. Luckily, the creature was in the alley on the other side of the restaurant, scarfing down its dinner, and the old brink blocked any sounds that would have otherwise carried. Little miracles like that made the job easier, but frustration began to bubble just under the surface of her mind when she reached the end of the ladder.
The wind just had to start blowing tonight, she thought when she reached the end of the ladder and looked down. The end of the ladder was a good five and a half feet from the ground, and the wind – that was currently whipping at her back, and making her hands begin to numb – had knocked over the trashcan she had used to stand on when she climbed up the ladder just a couple hours before. Damn it all to hell, she thought as she took a deep breath, and dropped down the large gap.
She made sure to keep her knees loose as she landed. The last thing she needed was to roll an ankle when she was so close to finishing up for the night. She took a moment to catch her breath and mentally assessed her body parts. Nothing was in pain, toes were still numb, but that seemed to be normal now that winter had the city between its teeth. Teeth that were probably made out of icicles that took pleasure in making things miserable for those who had to work late. As if her thoughts had been heard, a strong gust rocked her body forward. She barely had time to catch herself before slamming into the wall, the old brick biting at her palms. Well, fuck you too, Winter, she thought.
She walked around the front of the building, taking great care to keep her footsteps silent in case the noise was carried on the breeze. Her thoughts were nothing but prayers that the creature would be too distracted by its meal to pick up her scent. She was upwind with had no way of changing that, and despite her attempts to remain calm, her heart rate picked up, almost making her dizzy. When she peaked around the corner, relief washed over her when she saw it was still gorging itself on left over steak, fries, onion rings and whatever else had been thrown out. Her stomach churned unpleasantly as she watched.
That little bit of relief vanished when she noticed that it was a lot taller than she originally thought, seven and a half feet instead of only six. Its arms were at least five feet long with razor sharp claws on the end that looked to be six inches in length. That surprise was going to make things more difficult, and this task had started out really hard to begin with. She leaned back against the wall, and looked up at the inky blank sky. Not a star shone that night, and the darkness gave her a comforting feeling, like she could slip in and out of anywhere and no one would be the wiser.
Her lungs filled to the brim with a deep breath that felt sticky with humidity. The creature was bigger, and had better protection than she thought, but she still had the upper hand. He or she was still eating, had no idea it was being hunted, which gave her a head start. She pushed her anxiety down until she could ignore it, and reached behind her for the axe resting in the sheath on her back. As soon as the blade left the protective covering, the charm placed over the old cloth no longer worked, making the axe visible. Luckily there was no one around to question why a woman in her late twenties would be carrying something like this.
The back of her neck tingled with anticipation as she waited for the perfect kill shot. Experience told her that the back of the head was her best bet when it came to downing something like this in one go. The problem was, unless the thing's attention was drawn to its right, she would have to try for the side of its head, and if it saw her she would be screwed for she had been told these things were fast. Then again, she was not informed of the heinous looking claws so maybe the speed and agility were just a bunch of hype.
That was something that couldn't be risked, and since there were no stray animals around to cause a diversion she would have to create one herself. She looked around for a small rock or bottle cap or some other small object that could be easily thrown. There was nothing. Letting out sigh of agitation, she dug through her pockets until she found some spare change. A dime wasn't ideal because of its small size, but it would have to do. As discreetly as she could, she tossed it down the alley, and waited, unconsciously holding her breath, causing her lungs to burn.
The coin hit a dumpster about halfway down the long alley. She tensed up, praying that it work, but already holding another coin just in case. The coin hit hard. It sent a pinging noise bouncing off the walls of the building loud enough to be heard over the wind. The creature froze, dropped the fistful of vegetables back into the trash, and turned its head in the direction the sound came from, searching for the source just as she had hoped. It felt good to have a plan come together.
Now for the hard part. Her heart started beating wildly, and for a moment her vision was clouded with black spots, blinking in and out of existence. She took a few deep breaths to try and get it under control, as she lifted her arm and took aim. She flung the axe as hard as she could, and it felt like her heart had stopped as her whole body tensed. Her eyes felt like they would pop at any moment, they strained so badly as she watched the axe sail through the air…and crash against the wall, missing the creature's head by only an inch.
At first, all she felt was anger and frustration. She had been sitting in the freezing cold for hours waiting for this thing to show up, it was oblivious to her existence, the perfect shot presented itself to her on a silver platter, and she missed it? Not to mention that she still couldn't feel her toes, which probably meant they were all dead by now. Like most things in her life weren't hard enough without adding toelessness to the list. She would probably have to buy some special, corrective boot to help her stay balanced while she walked.
The axe fell uselessly to the ground with a loud clatter, and everything seemed to speed up as the creature turned around. Her anger and frustration evaporated into the ether, and it almost felt like someone had replaced all of her blood with ice as the large beast trained its pitch black eyes onto her; its gaze hard as it seemed to pen her to the spot. Terror gripped the back of her neck with fingers that burned in contrast to the freeze spreading throughout the rest of her body.
The thing's eyes quickly glanced down at the fallen axe and then return to her, narrowed in a hateful glare. She nervously licked her lips, which suddenly seemed to have chapped and cracked, and let out a shaky breath; her body betraying her as she tried as hard as she possibly could to remain calm. Calm seemed like nothing but a concept at that point, and she had no idea how to make it an obtainable state. No, calm wet itself and went running out the door about three seconds ago.
"I don't supposed we could just go our separate ways and forget about this, could we?" she asked, her voice an octave above normal as all of her nerve endings seemed to scream the same thing: run, you moron! But she couldn't just run for it wasn't that simple. The creature had something she needed, and she couldn't leave until she took it. It would have been so simple, too, if you had just landed the shot! she thought to herself. She morbidly wondered just how many body parts that thing would tear off of her before she was able to retrieve her second axe and throw it.
The creature, which she decided to name Scud justifying that if it was going to try and kill her it needed to have a name, quickly flexed its muscles, and razor sharp barbs sprung out of every pour on its back. They were dripping with a thick fluid that smelled so strong it left a foul taste in her mouth even though the wind was still blowing very strongly in the opposite direction.
"Didn't think so," she said, and Scud hissed back as it lowered into a crouch, looking like a cat getting ready to pounce. She shifted onto the balls of her feet, and all of her senses went into hyper drive as she waited for the thing to make its move. The seconds felt like hours as they stared each other down, but finally Scud lunged, closing the distance between them in one leap with its long skinny legs. Luckily she was ready for it, her years as a gymnast paying off, as she dove out of the way. It wasn't graceful, however, and she hit the ground with a hard thud that left her feeling winded.
She barely had time to roll out of the way as it ran towards her, swinging one long arm down. The sharp claws scraped along the asphalt, spitting little chunks in her direction as she stood. Adrenaline surged through her veins burning her insides as she reached back for the second axe. The creature lunged again, and the woman spun out of the way, grabbing the handle of her weapon and pulled it from its sheath in one fluid motion. She used her momentum to bring the blade around, and in one quick slice, severed the arm of her prey turned attacker.
The sound that erupted from the creature was unlike anything she had ever heard. It sent a chill down her spine, and she had to ignore the urge to cover her ears and run. A high pitched ringing echoed inside her head after the beast stopped wailing, and she became painfully aware of the fact that all of the sounds around her seemed farther away than they should be, and her right ear was barely registering any noise at all. Great, first my toes and now my hearing; what else is this stupid night going to take from me? she thought, and jumped back as a long arm came swinging towards her.
A scream of pain was ripped out of her throat when the tips of the claws sliced across her belly. She avoided the urge to lift up her now ripped shirt and assess the damage since her organs weren't falling to the pavement. She decided to deal with what was going on in front of her right now. And right now a very pissed off Scud was swinging its good arm wildly while a light blue colored liquid gushed out of the stump she had created. Maybe all I have to do is wait for it to bleed to death. Finally something is going right! she thought and dodged another swing of the razor sharp claws, barely avoiding being sliced up again. Ok, easier said than done.
She took off down the alley, glancing over her shoulder once to make sure the creature was following her. Ok, what's the plan; what's the plan? she thought and glanced around. She saw another service ladder, this one leading up to the bridal shop and immediately went for it. Dropping the axe to the ground, she jumped up on the dumpster and ran for the ladder. She grabbed onto the last rung and pulled herself up, and started climbing as quickly as she could.
Her heart was beating so fast and powerful she could taste cooper in the back of her throat, and her vision was starting to blur around the edges, but she willed herself not to look down. The ladder was a good five feet off the ground, but that thing was over seven feet, and had really long, well, now just an arm. The size had been intimidating on the ground, but now it terrified her as the harsh reality of what would happen to her legs if she didn't get out of its reach fast enough tried to invade her mind. She grit her teeth, and pushed it aside like a rickety dam holding back a flood.
Halfway to the roof she stopped and finally allowed herself to glance down. She was out of the thing's grasp, but only just. The tips of its claws could barely graze the bottoms of her boots. She climbed up three more rungs. She didn't know if the thing knew how to jump or had the energy to, but why risk it? It glanced up at her, its black eyes narrowed and heated with anger as it hissed at her. She could tell the blood loss was starting to take effect, and for the first time in five minutes she felt relieved.
Thank God, she thought as the thing started to stagger. It swayed back and forth on large bony feet, and held its arm out trying to keep balance. Its upper body leaned back, and it took three quick steps backwards trying to stay upright, but the blood loss was too significant. It fell to the ground with a sickening crunch, and she winced in sympathy when its chin smacked violently against the asphalt. It twitched around for a few moments, trying to get up, before it lay still, and everything went quiet.
"Holy crap," she said around a large exhale. Her breathing was still erratic, her heart pounding dangerously fast, but the adrenaline was starting to wear off. She knew that because she was starting to shake, and her mind finally registered exactly how painful those claw marks were. She very slowly climbed down the ladder expecting that thing to pop up at any moment, but it never did. She slowly stepped onto the dumpster and hopped down, every move seemed to set her stomach on fire.
She took a moment to focus on slowing her breathing and heart rate. Now that the immediate threat was down, she needed to work on getting rid of the second: bacteria. She wasn't a hypochondriac, but even she knew that being sliced open by a creature that, only moments before, had its talon like claws wrist deep in trash wasn't something that should be ignored and left untreated.
Wincing in pain, she reached behind her and felt around the invisible sheath until she felt the charm. Small and round, it felt like a marble wrapped tightly with a string, and tied to the shoulder holster. She gripped it firmly and pulled. The string snapped, the charm's magic instantly vanished and the gray holster became visible. At that same moment, a sharp pain erupted in her head, and she clenched her teeth to stop herself from screaming out. Shrugging it off her shoulders, she knelt down and fumbled for a moment with shaking hands until she unzipped the small pouch.
After retrieving the contents, she stood, pouring a generous amount of the salve onto her hand. She dropped the now empty container to the ground, lifted her ruined shirt, and smeared the foul smelling ointment onto the cuts. They weren't very deep at all, and looked more like paper cuts that ran across her stomach just above her belly button. She knew just from the damaged caused by such a slight graze and the size of the beast's claws that she was extremely lucky her internal organs were still very much internal.
As she used her fingers to thoroughly cover the cuts, the ointment, which consisted of ingredients she never even knew existed until a few hours ago, immediately went to work. The pain all but vanished save for a slight stinging sensation as the skin rapidly healed. In moments the bleeding stopped, the stinging wasn't as pronounced, and the cuts had closed and were starting to scab over. She let out a small sigh of relief, and wiped the left over salve on the front of her jeans. She hesitantly sniffed the tips of her fingers, and her face contorted into a look of disgust.
"I've got to ask if he can make this stuff smell like mint or something," she mumbled, and dug around in the pouch again. She pulled out a small, empty jar, and walked over to the dead creature. Now that her prey was down and her wounds had been taken care of it was time to get down to business. She waited hours for this, and she wasn't going to let a near death experience get in the way of completing her task.
Kneeling down next to the creature, she pulled up her pant leg and retrieved the pair of pliers she had been told to bring. Taking them out of the sheath she normally used for a knife, she took a deep breath and tried to mentally prepare herself. The guilt for killing him or her, she still wasn't sure which, was already twisting her stomach into knots, and now she was going to harvest parts of it like a poacher. She closed her eyes for a few moments, and created a mental image, thought of the reason why she was doing all of this in the first place, and her feelings subsided.
"Oh gross," she hissed, as she carefully cut one of the barbs sticking out of the creature's back. She got as close to the skin as she possibly could, and the nasty smelling fluid oozed out. Careful not to touch that, she used the pliers to place the barb in the jar. She repeated this several times, gagging and cursing at the horrible smell that soon became thick in the air around her, until the jar was full.
Putting the pliers back in the sheath, she stood quickly and backed away from the body, sucking in fresh air that didn't feel coated in the putrid odor. She twisted the lid tightly on the jar, and put it back in the small pouch on the holster. She tried as hard as she could to forget about everything that happened in the last forty-five minutes as she gathered her axes and put them back in their sheaths.
"This shit had better be worth it," she said, wrapping a new string around the charm and tying it to the shoulder holster. As soon as it was secured the charm's magic activated. A soft glow enveloped the polyester nylon blend, and a slight burning sensation tingled over her entire body, causing some discomfort, but not very much pain. She watched, amazed like always, as it disappeared from sight. She still wasn't used to this: the magic that really existed, the literal monsters that went bump in the night if they were clumsy, but most thought were a myth. It was real, she had the invisible axes, and body of a dead Daimonas to prove it.
She shrugged the shoulder holster back over her jacket, the wind making every movement feel like a struggle. She rubbed her temples trying to get rid of the oncoming headache with willpower alone. After a few seconds, she accepted the fact that it wasn't going away. She took one last look at the body; lying in a pool of its own blood, over a dozen barbs cut from its back. Gulping down the bile that was rising in her throat, she made her way out of the alley, and back into the cold, windy night.