Chapter 1: Hunted
He ran, pumping his legs faster…faster…faster. He had to get away; he couldn't let them catch him. Trees flew by in a blur. He nearly collided with a pig, almost ran into a skeleton, and nearly plummeted to his death in a ravine. Everything, everything seemed to be in his way. There seemed like no place to run, no place to hide.
There was a hissing sound as an arrow flew past his ear. Fuck, fuck, fuck, I'm going to die. I'm going to die and I can't do a fucking thing about it. An arrow lodged into his shoulder-blade. Searing pain enveloped his back and he stumbled and slid on the ground, sharp rocks and sticks tearing at his clothing and slicing his skin. Blood oozed out of the wound and cuts, they stung from the dirt that was lodged into them. Tears prickled at his eyes that he wiped away furiously on the sleeve of his shirt. He couldn't die now, not like this.
This was wrong. He shouldn't be in this mess. If his armor hadn't broken a few hours ago he would've been fine. Hell, he'd probably be the attacker, not his assailant! After so many wins, after all those years it took to finally achieve victory, it was going to be stolen away again. He was going to die and someone else was going to be standing with one foot resting on his dead body while they sucked in all the glory like a leech. To make matters worse he was going to die by his best friend's hand and there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop him.
He tried to move his arm, his body, but the pain flared up in his back. It blinded his senses, making a pitiful whine escape his pale lips and causing his vision to blur. His body quivered from the pain and it was all he could do to keep from passing out. He heard a familiar giggle come from behind him, but it was lacking the bubbliness it used to contain. Instead it sounded sadistic and sinister. "How does it feel getting your ass humiliated, Aleks?"
He gave a dry laugh, "Hah. You haven't won yet, you still have Ant-"
"AntVenom is dead, Aleks. I killed him a few hours ago after he attacked you." The brunette cursed at the words. He was dead, he was dead and his attacker was going to win.
"When did you become so cruel Eddie?" Aleks sneered; his brown eyes alight with anger. "You never could kill me before. You were weak."
"People change Aleks. I got better and you just don't want to admit that I beat you." Eddie snickered, "You always hated losing."
"What do you know Eddie?!" Silence fell upon them. The pain in his back was unbearable now. He couldn't move at all; he really was at the mercy of his friend. He broke the silence with a jeering voice, "That's right; nothing. You know nothing. Killing changes you, Eddie. Do you really think you will be the same after killing me?"
"It's not like it matters. If I can kill AntVenom then I can kill you just as easily." Eddie's foot came down hard on Aleks back. The pain intensified and the pale male cried out, tears spilling out of the brown abyss of his eyes.
"You fucker!" Aleks spat out. He coughed and blood rose up into his mouth, coating his tongue with the metallic taste. "Does our friendship mean nothing to you?!"
Eddie only laughed, "I threw that away when I signed up for this tournament. And I know you did too."
"Then kill me. Kill me now if you can honestly say that you threw that away." He waited for another arrow to pierce him in the neck or the head, but it didn't come. Instead what pierced him were Eddie's words as they cut at his heart.
"Fine; I'll take off your head." The bow was tossed onto the ground near his head. Aleks tried to reach out, but the pain in his shoulder stopped him. The bow would be useless anyways; it wasn't like he could whack the other with it. It was just a stick compared to a sword.
Then an idea came to him; he just needed to reach into his inventory, his other dimension, and grab something that could help him. A sword wouldn't be useful in this situation; he wouldn't be able to get it in position in time to block. What he needed was a bucket of lava or at least a bucket of water so that he could temporarily blind Eddie and escape.
Escape? Where would he escape to? Eddie would find him and with armor and a better weapon than him; he would surely die in a confrontation with the other. But he had to try; it wasn't like him to give up so easily. Reaching out he willed his hand to reach into the other dimension. He knew he had a bucket of water somewhere; he just had to find it…His hand bumped into something cold and slick. A smile played on his lips. He found it; his saving grace.
Eddie's foot stomped on his back this time. He cried out and almost lost his grip on the bucket. His vision blurred and his inventory flickered before becoming stable once more. The Russian made himself stay awake. Unconsciousness was a death sentence. "I don't know what you're reaching for, but it won't help you; nothing will."
"Are you sure about that?" He threw the bucket over his shoulder.
Eddie didn't see it coming. He fell backwards, his sword gripped in his hand. Aleks took this opportunity to stand up, but the pain from the arrow stopped him from moving further. He reached behind and ripped it out of his shoulder. Blood sprayed from the wound but he didn't have time to worry about blood-loss. He had to get away and focus on not dying.
He reached into the other dimension again and took out a stone sword before he started to run. The brunette heard the Latino curse as he came after him, his breathing ragged. His own breath was uneven as he ran. The pain in his shoulder wouldn't go away and his vision was starting to blur again. He felt light-headed and dizzy; he needed to stop and rest but with Eddie in pursuit he didn't have the opportunity. Maybe he should turn and fight; he had nothing to lose now anyways. If he didn't die by Eddie's hand he was surely going to die from blood-loss or infection.
He slid to a halt and hoped that Eddie wouldn't have some sense and cut him down right then and there. The brunette whipped around and pointed his sword at the incoming Puerto Rican. "Let's end this here and now."
The older male slid to a halt and raised his own sword. "Okay; but you won't win."
Aleks wasn't the best fighter, he had to admit, but it was obvious that in a one-to-one battle against Eddie that he had more skill. His sword clashed with Eddie's; a metallic sound rang out as Eddie's sword vibrated, making it hard for the Latino to accurately use his sword. The brunette used the opportunity and used a backwards-slash. The stone sword roughly cut into the skin of Eddie's chest. Blood spewed out of the wound, staining Aleks' hair, face and clothing. But he welcomed it, the warmth that came from the blood. He missed feeling it on his body.
Eddie recovered quickly, bringing down his sword and aiming for the skinny brunette's bad shoulder. The Russian brought up his sword to block it and winced. The attack had been stronger than he thought it would be, causing painful vibrations to course through his arm and into his shoulder-blade. He pushed on and ignored it, blocking again and again as Eddie swung his sword with more force each blow. Finally it was too much and the sword was forced out of his hands. Eddie grinned wickedly, this was the end.
Just as he swung downwards Aleks brought out his secret weapon and blocked the attack. "What?! How did you get a diamond sword?!"
Aleks laughed, "You underestimated me Eddie!" He looked the Latino dead in the eye. "Never underestimate a previous champion." He swung, hitting the other's sword out of his hand. It clattered a few feet away and hit a tree. Eddie turned to grab it but Aleks raised the sword and put the tip of it on the other's throat. "Don't move."
The black-haired male eyed the sword wearily. "I guess you beat me."
"Guess? I did beat you. Goodbye, Eddie. This has been fun." He brought his sword back before swinging forwards and slicing open his friend's neck.
"FUCK!" Aleks laughed as he heard Eddie slam his hands down onto his desk in frustration.
"I warned ya," More chuckling, he felt like he could barely breathe now. "You were messing with the wrong champion."
"God-fucking-dammit. I had you!" Eddie giggled with frustration clearly in his voice. "And then you pulled some hax-bullshit and pulled out a diamond sword! Where the fuck did you even get that?"
"I found it dude! I found it in the chest near the castle!" Aleks exclaimed, his laughter having died down.
"I call horseshit!" Aleks raised an eyebrow at his friend's accusation, even though he knew that the other couldn't see it. "I looked through all those chests! You're a cheating sack of shit!"
"How could I cheat, dude? The server doesn't let me and you would've seen if I did anyways!" Aleks proclaimed, feeling indignant from his friend's accusation.
There was a few seconds of silence before the other exclaimed, "Goddammit I don't know! I call cheats!"
"Oh, you wanna go right now, huh? I'll show you who's cheating!" Aleks threatened with a sneaky smile on his face. He loved playing with Eddie. He felt more relaxed with him. And even when they did fight, it was never serious and felt more playful. It was a welcomed change from his and James' fights, which were more intense than his and Eddie's. Though they were still joking, there was still a level of seriousness in their remarks. With him and Eddie there wasn't.
"Yeah, yeah let's go! Another round, and this time I'll win!" Eddie exclaimed.
"Come at me bro!" Aleks taunted with a cocky grin on his face.
"Don't worry, I'll fight you! But we gotta pick a new map first!" The Latino giggled again and Aleks almost joined in. The hyperactive youtuber's giggle was quite contagious.
"Right, right," He moved his character until it was looking at a sign. "How about this one?" he inquired.
"Um, which one?" Eddie's character was looking around but he didn't seem to find it. "I can't see which one you're looking at."
"This one right h—" He was interrupted by his door being slammed open by a flustered James wearing a green backpack. "What the fuck? Why are you here James?"
"James is here?" Eddie inquired, sounding absolutely confused. He heard the other get up and exit his room. Aleks took off his own headphones and turned around so that he was facing James and Eddie, who had just appeared behind the other youtuber.
"There's…An emergency…Meeting at…The Creature House…We-We need both of you…There…" James was out of breath and his words were coming in short gasps. He seemed worried and scared, something was definitely wrong.
"W-Why? I'm not even a Creature!" Aleks exclaimed with confusion and exasperation in his voice.
"It's not just for the Creatures. It's for all of our friends too." He was still breathing heavily, but it wasn't as bad as before.
"James why are you out of breath?" This time Eddie spoke, causing the other to turn around and look at him.
"I had to abandon the car a few miles back…Hopefully you won't have to see why." The Russian and the Puerto Rican exchanged looks. James saw them and shook his head before either could even attempt to speak, "No questions. Just come on we need to go! Grab a cell phone and a few snacks, nothing too heavy. We need to head out and get to the house."
The half-Latino turned and pushed passed Eddie. They both exchanged glances again before following suit. "I wonder what he's talking about," Aleks mumbled to Eddie as he walked down the stairs.
"I don't know but this isn't like him. Whatever is happening must be pretty bad…" His tone was hushed as well. They both felt uneasy, something was definitely wrong.
Once Aleks pushed open the door and set a foot outside he was instantly blinded by the sun. He flinched and put his hand in front of his face, trying to let his eyes readjust after being in the dark for so long. Once his eyes readjusted and he could see again he looked around. The road was quite empty, which was a surprise. It was never empty. The brunette started to feel quite uneasy; the inexplicable silence and emptiness of the street was creepy. He shivered slightly before a comforting hand rested on his shoulder. He turned his head and saw Eddie, whom also looked quite uneasy. Aleks put on a smile despite his anxiety, trying to calm his friend. He let his own hand rest on top of the Latino's before pushing his hand off and catching up to James, whom had pulled ahead quite a ways.
"Why is it so empty?" Aleks' voice sounded too loud in his ears amidst the silence blanketing them.
"Steven will explain it when we get to the house." James said simply, staying vigilant.
The brunette wanted to inquire more on the subject, but he had a feeling that this was the best answer he was going to get from the older youtuber, so he remained quiet and only talked to Eddie in hushed whispers for the time being.
At some point Aleks had started wandering away from James and Eddie. He had a tendency to go off alone and explore when he found something interesting. So when they came up to a crossroads, Aleks had thought he spotted a figure at the edge of his peripheral vision and, despite knowing that he should probably stick with the group, decided to follow it and see where it led him.
Cautiously he walked towards where he thought he saw something but there was no one there. "H-Hello?" His voice was hesitant and scared. He felt so open without Eddie and James next to him. Again a figure flickered in his peripheral vision. The skinny brunette turned towards where he thought he saw the figure, but only saw a small path between two houses. A trashcan sat near the siding of the red house on the left while a bush grew near the white house on the right. His instincts told him to run but his curiosity got the best of him and he walked towards the houses. "I-Is anyone there?" he called out again, his voice shaky. Again there was no answer.
He shrugged as his fear and uneasiness left him; he was just being paranoid, no one was there. But just as he turned around, a high-pitched, shaky, scratchy voice called out to him from behind, "Help…Me…"
He whipped around and fell over at the sight of a small, pale male. His pupils were huge, only the smallest bit of blue and white could be seen in his wide eyes. Scratches and blood covered his body and clothing while blond hair knotted and fanned across his face. Skinny hands reached out at the brunette, clawing at his legs and feet. "Please…Help…" His longish nails started digging into Aleks skin. He cried out as a surprising amount of pain pierced his legs.
"I-I'm sorry I can't help you! I-I can't…" He looked around to see if either James or Eddie was near but he couldn't see them. The young male must have wandered off too far. Tears started to stream down his face and he tried to kick the person who was clawing at his legs. He heard them cry out and he used the opportunity to get up and turn around, but was instantly brought back down onto the ground again when it started scratching at his legs. Hopelessness and fear started to envelope him and the tears wouldn't stop falling from his eyes. Desperately he wished someone would come and help him. "EDDIE! EDDIE, PLEASE HELP ME!"
He started to sob as the creature kept clawing at his legs, the pain nearly crippling now. The young youtuber kept calling out his friend's name, even though it was drowned by his sobbing. Just as he was about to give up he heard the creature cry out. Two arms picked him up, setting him down on someone's lap and cradling his body close to their chest. "You're alright now, t-the creature is gone now…You're okay." He knew that voice! Looking up he saw Eddie's worried face. He felt his pain, fear and relief wash over him and started sobbing again, burying his head in the Latino's chest.
"It hurts Eddie…It hurts." He whined, trembling now. The Russian felt Eddie's hand stroke his brown hair as he shushed and rocked him a little.
"You're alright now…" Aleks heard footsteps coming closer to them before they stopped somewhere near his feet. He gave a little cry when he felt a hand poke at the torn skin of his calves. He felt Eddie's arm hold him tighter. "Don't worry, it's just James. He's wrapping up your legs. It'll hurt but I'm right here."
"Don't'…I-I want to see how bad they are first." He murmured, trembling as the pain spiked again.
"Trust me; you don't want to see them…" It was James' voice this time. "Look, you can take a look at them when we get to the house. But first we have to focus on getting there. Can you stand?"
Aleks didn't have to think about it. "N-No…I-I can't…" He stuttered shakily. He wearily glanced at where the man-creature had been and flinched when he saw its body. Its skull was crushed in with blood was pooling around him; a terrible smell was being emitted from the open skull. He felt the urge to vomit but kept it down. James was standing near his legs, which were wrapped up in gauze; only small amounts of blood were leaking through in random places. The older youtuber looked worried and scared, even.
He crossed his arms. "We'll take turns carrying you then." James looked up and towards Eddie, "Will you carry him first, then we'll switch and I'll carry him in a few miles?"
Aleks looked up at the Latino's face. He was nodding, "I'll carry him as long as I can."
The brunette hated the thought of having to be carried there but he knew he couldn't stand with his wounds; besides, even if he did protest he knew his friends would insist anyways. He was still trembling from his encounter with the creature and the pain, and he could still feel it's cold, grimy hands as it clawed at his legs, tearing at his flesh and spilling his blood…Tears threatened to spill over again, so he wiped them away with his arm. It was bad enough that he had to rely on his friends already; he didn't need to cry about it. "T-Thank you…" He mumbled hoarsely.
"Don't worry about it Aleks. We would never leave you behind, especially since James says there are more of them out there." Eddie slid the other gently off of his lap, being careful not to let the other's injured legs to hit the ground too hard. "He calls them the "Infected" or something like that." The Latino put one arm under the Russian's knees and the other arm supporting his up back and under his armpits. He hoisted him up gently, still very much cautious of hurting his legs any further and causing him pain.
"M-More?" The thought of another creature like that caused him to shake violently. He clung onto the other's shirt, twisting it in his hand while flashbacks from when he was attacked bombarded his mind. Tears filled his eyes and a small cry escaped his lips. He felt Eddie's arms tighten and he was lifted up so that Eddie could bury his head in Aleks' neck.
"It's alright, you'll be fine. I won't let them hurt you again." Eddie's words comforted the brunette some, but he still clung onto his shirt and wouldn't look up.
"I-I don't want to be protected." He protested, despite his fear.
"I know you don't, and if you weren't hurt than I would let you protect yourself but Aleks, with your legs do you really think you could do anything against them?" Eddie was right and Aleks knew it, but he felt like his pride was wounded by letting the other protect him. He knew that the Latino understood and didn't want him to get hurt any more than he was, but it made him feel so helpless; so…weak.
"Come on, let's go." James ordered, "And Aleks don't whine. I know you're scared and want to protect yourself, but you're injured. It sucks for all of us, not just you."
He turned and walked away. Aleks was still shaking, but his tears had stopped. He knew James was right, but the thought of being protected still left a bitter taste in his mouth.
Hey, I'm Flo, the author of this fic! I hope you enjoyed the first chapter.c: I tried to add extra spacing between each paragraphs but FFNet doesn't like that, so it's impossible. I'm sorry if it's hard to read!