Chapter 14 of Lead Heart is up. All feedback is welcome, I hope you all enjoy
The eyes of the hunter watched warily from his perch, wrapped in the shadows of the night. An ambush predator who hunted prey of an unconventional type. Those eyes followed a girl from the market stall to the changing room, then back toward the ship.
What a ridiculous thing to wear.
She’d come out looking like a bipedal fish. What the hells was she thinking?
He tapped his forehead to focus at the task on hand. The bounty his guild received had no uncertain terms about what would happen if she had a chance to fight back.
So they wouldn’t give her the chance.
He marked her current path and did some quick calculations, then pointed his aide North.
The teen sprinted exactly 60 seconds, weaving through rough stone streets and rougher wooden buildings, and fired a round straight up. A dark blue ring sprang to life with a pop, it illuminated the streets for no more than 3 seconds before dissipating quickly.
“Number 2, 60 degrees in the number 4 glass. About a mile.”
The message was delivered to a waiting watcher and delivered in seconds. The small, circular room was hemmed in by glass windows, 4 brass spyglasses set into the foundation to be manned by trainees.
“Good. Keep your eyes peeled, let me know if anything changes.” Rising from his meditative position, the hunter took the ladder to the top of the tower to snag a waiting glider and goggles. His wiry frame slid into a catapult and released the trigger. He gagged as his stomach hit the floor, blood pounded wildly in his ears while his last meal threatened a mutiny.
Normally he’d have foregone eating if there was a flight coming up, but he’d had no warning on this one.
Still, he released the wings at his apex and the glider smoothly snapped into place, setting him off at a brisk pace. Cool wind parted his hair, an intensely relaxing sensation in contrast to the exhilaration of the flight itself. Easily the best part of the job.
Ninety seconds after the first, another dark ring bubbled up slightly further North, and he adjusted accordingly. Number 2 pulled the rifle from his belt and double checked the harness out of habit. It would be unfortunate to drop your only means of hunting from this height. A metallic pop chimed through the night air and suddenly one area lit up like the sun. He readied his gun and aimed prematurely as he glided overhead.
There she was.
She’d been caught totally unawares and he’d timed his pass perfectly. Instinct guided the tip of the rifle and he pulled the trigger, the feathered shaft slamming into the dirt just a few inches shy. He noted that she jumped right when the shot was fired. They did warn she’d be a tough stick. But then, he wasn’t the best because he only hit the easy shots.
The shadows of the buildings below mingled with the bright light as the aide gave chase, floating like ghosts in the open air. The hunter looped around to match their direction and was rewarded with another clear shot. He watched the dart drive into the door frame immediately over her head. Suddenly he found himself locked in an intense stare, and he swallowed nervously as she tracked him through the darkness.
The moment was brief, and she slid back into the shadows immediately.
The dancing specters continued as the girl and the aide played a game of hunt the mouse in the streets.
The small man bit back his nerves bitterly, chastising himself in his weakness.
His fingers were starting to numb in the icy wind and he was losing altitude from the changes in direction at this point. He coasted by as the the sea of light brightened up a market square. A flash of movement hit the corner of his eye. HA!
The flare tumbled from the hands of a very surprised boy succumbing to a tranquilizer. Cursing himself, number 2 swept around to get a better view of the clearing. Empty, save for the aide sleeping in the street-
Number 3 flipped into the plaza end-over-end, slamming face-first into the side of a well.
The girl tumbled into view. She grabbed the sleeping aide and hurled him at the larger man like a thrown axe. Even from this height, number 2 could feel the jarring impact between 2 skulls colliding. His two brothers collapsed into a heap. He snapped his eyes to the girl and took a shot.
The false wings carried him out of sight again. His face felt hot. His entire body pulsed the erratic rhythm of his quickened heartbeat. Pull yourself together. He let the glider carry him a bit further while he struggled.
Let himself fall into a trance to relax.
He no longer felt the sting of the cold wind, nor the pain of the violence against his brothers. Determination coursed his veins, and he focused his eyes in the shadows – she wouldn’t be dumb enough to stay in the lit square.
The canvas of the night was absolutely still now. No one moved save the hunter and the hunted. Movement grabbed his attention, but it was just number 3 in the clearing. Stop moving you stupid-
No, he was still out cold.
Number 2 swung the rifle on his comrade when a dark blue burst of fire erupted around him. White, hot fire consumed every nerve. The concussive force of the explosion knocked him out hard.
He regained consciousness just in time to witness his own crash into the wall.
Leliana wiped her blade on a headless figure’s shirt before sheathing it.
She hadn’t recognized any of them, but the tattoo of the six-pointed star wrapped in copper on the small one’s neck froze the blood in her veins. She’d actually planned to stack them hilariously atop one another to be honest. When she’d dragged the flyer into the market square, the dying flare was bright enough to reveal that small symbol and seal their fate.
She disrobed the men and scattered their heads into the sewers in separate locations on her way back to the ship. it wouldn’t stop an identification from being made of course, but it would slow it down a bit.
And deliver her message.
On the plus side, this modded revolver she picked up apparently shot grenades, and that was fantastic. There were even 3 left in the cylinder to replicate.
She frowned. There was no way this was a random operation. Someone in town knew where she was headed, she needed to get back before they realized she’d taken the head off of their stinger.