Chapter 15:

The Huntress (1)

There's a Demon in my Basement!

The moon was high up in the sky. It was a good night for a hunt. And she knew exactly where her prey was located. After all, she had spent the last few weeks gathering intel just for this moment. It felt good to finally wear her armour again. She had mist the weight of the cold steel hiding away her body. The spear in her hand was just as familiar. Tonight, she would hunt down some demons. Bookmark here

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"For the last time, I will stop playing Monopoly with you guys if you don't stop cheating!" Nonetheless, Blake handed over the money he owed Snow who took it with a cheerful smile on her face.Bookmark here

"I'm not cheating!" Astaroth complained.Bookmark here

"I am cheating, but I won't stop," Drake threw in. Bookmark here

Blake sighed and looked at Astaroth. "Do you think I haven't noticed that slight gust of wind, every time the die falls in a way you don't like?"Bookmark here

"That is just... I am just helping the die to adjust so they are more comfortable." They nodded, obviously in agreement with their own statement.Bookmark here

Blake slumped into his seat, letting his arms hang down in defeat. You can't reason with demons. And even less with idiotic demons. "And precisely that is what cheating is!"Bookmark here

In the meantime, Snow arranged the ridiculous amount of money she had accumulated over the course of the game in order for it to be more easily accessible. Not that she ever had to pay someone else. No, her luck when it came to rolling the die was ridiculous and probably also boosted by some sort of magic.Bookmark here

Blake just groaned and stood up. "I need some fresh air. I'll forfeit this match." Bookmark here

"Oh, I'll come with you!" Astaroth already stood, when Blake turned to shake his head.Bookmark here

"Just give me five minutes of quiet, will you?"Bookmark here

The demon fell back on their seat in disappointment. "Sure..."Bookmark here

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The cold air was a fresh reminder it was early December. Even though the heat constantly radiating from Astaroth made it easy to forget that. He just sighed before leaning against the wall of his house. Maybe he should start smoking just to have an excuse to leave on a frequent basis. ...No, it was too gross to be weighed out by the benefits. Even though his situation wasn't that bad. After all, half of them were leaving him alone if he specifically asked for that. Yet, he wasn't sure they would still be so compliant if he asked them more than just every once in a while. Bookmark here

He sighed. Maybe he could just- Bookmark here

Something flew by, close to his face. At first, he had thought it to be some sort of huge insect - but the burning sensation slowly crawling up on his cheek was telling him differently. It took him two seconds to understand what was happening. Quickly he put up a barrier shielding him in the direction the arrow had come from. Bookmark here

Where-?Bookmark here

A second one was whirring through the air, easily drilling through the barrier, directly into his left upper arm. A Magician?!, he thought but had no time to elaborate on that idea. If his defensive spells were useless and he had no idea where his attacker was, he had no other choice than to find cover.Bookmark here

"Shit!" Quickly he reached for the doorknob, but he was too slow. Another arrow managed to find its target, this time nailing the right sleeve of his coat the wood of the door. Desperately he pulled away at it, but no use. The material was stronger than him. A short glance at the other arrow still being stuck in his arm told him that moving it to pull out the other arrow would be painful. Still, he had no other choice than to do so. He gritted his teeth in preparation before grabbing the arrow in the wood and pulling it out. Bookmark here

"It does seem that my hand has lost some of its cunning."Bookmark here

Where exactly the stranger had come from, Blake couldn't tell. Was her voice familiar? It might have been, but right now he couldn't think about that. Confused he looked at the light blue armour she wore and finally at the head, covered by a helmet. "Who are you? What do you want?!"Bookmark here

"I would tell you that if you would be alive for long enough to process that knowledge.” The bow in her hand started glowing and changed its form to a halberd. Bookmark here

Out of reflex, he threw a fireball at her, which she just pushed aside with a stroke of her weapon. However, it did give Blake another idea. He couldn't open the door, pulling it open and having to take a step back for that would get him dangerously close to the stranger. So he opened it in a rather unconventional manner - he threw a fireball at the door, destroying it in the process. “Ash!”Bookmark here

The demon poked their head out of the living room. “Yes?” Their face darkened upon seeing Blake’s condition. “Who did that?”Bookmark here

An arrow flew through the hallway, almost hitting Astaroth’s face, but the demon ducked themselves fast enough. Leaving the arrow to stick to a wall instead. Bookmark here

The attacker, once again equipped with a bow stood in the frame of the entrance door, already preparing her next shot. Bookmark here

Astaroth quickly grabbed Blake's healthy arm and pulled him into the living room. Bookmark here

Drake caught the human who tumbled into the room. Bookmark here

"What is going on?" Snow ran up to Blake, investigating his wound. Bookmark here

"Snow, take care of Blake! Drake, you help me fight. We're under attack," Astaroth instructed them while marching up to the enemy.Bookmark here

"Please try to take it outside…", Blake mumbled while looking at Drake. He had no doubts that two demons could handle this situation. But he wasn't sure if his house could also do so. Buying a new one would be quite bothersome.Bookmark here

Drake just nodded before leaving the room. Bookmark here

“We should… remove the arrow, right?” Snow looked at Blake, looking for confirmation.Bookmark here

“No, wait…” He looked around. It took him a while to recall his limited medical knowledge. “We need… a first aid kit first.” He knew he had one in the bathroom but he didn't deem it a good idea to sent Snow into another room. “Grab… Some cloth, a scarf, just… something that could be used as a bandage.”Bookmark here

“Oh, understood!” She looked around in a hurry, before tearing off the lower end of her dress, acquiring a stripe of fabric. “W-what do I do now?”Bookmark here

Now it was Blake’s turn to look around. They needed a small, but solid object - no, two of those. A small pack of batteries caught his eye. That should suffice. He kept on searching - a remote for his TV - it also had a size fitting for this purpose since there it only had a few buttons. Bookmark here

He looked at Snow and pointed at those items. “These two. Get them.” Bookmark here

Hastily she did so, almost tripping in the process. “H-here!”Bookmark here

"Good. Take them and put one on each side of the arrow. Fixate it with them."Bookmark here

The girl did as she was told, though her hands were shaking. "Like this?"Bookmark here

He nodded and used his other hand to hold the objects in place. "Now, you take the cloth and coil it around my arm, just above the wound. Make sure it's tight. Keep going downwards with it and use it to fixate the things in place." Somehow it felt weird to him how calm he was. He was way calmer than Snow, who tried her best at bandaging him."You gotta tie it together in the end." She nodded and a few seconds later it was done. "In this manner?"Bookmark here

Blake looked at the arrow still stuck in his arm. At least it wasn't moving anymore. For everything else, he'd have to see a doctor. He nodded. "Thanks." Then he stood up. "We should go to the basement, just in case that-"Bookmark here

He didn't get to finish the sentence. Something crashed through the wall and ended up in the giant pile of debris. Dust was flowing around in the air, making it hard to see what exactly had just gone down. Bookmark here

Coughing Blake waved his hand in front of his face, trying to contemplate the situation. Bookmark here

"It is… just Drake," Snow noted, seemingly recognizing the cat-like shape quicker. Bookmark here

"Basement," Blake said, without any further explanation. They couldn't risk ending up as casualties. Bookmark here

"But-" Bookmark here

Blake just grabbed Snow's wrist and dragged her along. There was no time for a discussion. "They will be alright, as long as we don't get-" He saw the destroyed door towards the basement. It was likely that a huge part of the room was buried in debris. "-hit." He shook his head. "Okay, new plan - out of the house." Because who knew for how long it would take until the roof came crashing down on them?Bookmark here

It couldn't be long until his neighbours contacted the authorities and help would come. For now, they just needed cover for a short period of time. At least that was what he thought, but after leaving through the house's backdoor and reaching the end of his property where his neighbour's garden would begin, he noticed it. The barrier put up around his house. Carefully he touched the almost invisible wall, trying to find an easy way to lift it. There was none - it was a complicated spell that would take some time to get rid of.Bookmark here

In the meantime Drake rose up again, jumping back into the direction of the enemy and Astaroth. The Demonlord had yet to transform fully into their demonform, taking on some sort of hybrid version of it. Their limbs weren't quite human anymore, with the claws their arms were ending in and the hoofs replacing their feet.Bookmark here

The huntress didn’t seem faced by this. She just changed her weapon again to form a greatsword, ignoring the fact that most people would hold it with two hands. Cracking her neck a little bit she seemed to wait for the demon's next move.Bookmark here

Drake could feel a low growl escaping their throat. They knew her smell - it was familiar. But from where? Where had they met this person before?Bookmark here

It was no use. They couldn't remember right now. Instead, they just launched their next attack, letting their hands form claws, sharp enough to cut through anything. The moment the enemy's armour was gone, would be the moment their victory was ensured. Bookmark here

The huntress swung her sword, trying to throw the attacker off before they could reach her - but she did so too early, her blade just barely missing Drake. Bookmark here

They could feel it sliding through their clothes, but their skin got away untouched. The sword now at the side this was an amazing opportunity for them to strike, they just-Bookmark here

Sharp pain at their side made Drake halt in their movements. It took them a split second to realize what had happened - her sword had once again changed its form, gaining some length - just enough to reach their body. They couldn't see her face, but the demon was sure, she was smiling beneath that helmet. There was no other way. Yet, that was not important. For now, they had to get out of the weapon's reach, otherwise, they'd get injured beyond regeneration and- but how would they do that? Just how-Bookmark here

Purple smoke emerged, enveloping both contestants. It wasn't her doing, the huntress was well aware, so she retreated, for now, jumping a few metres back. A quick glance at her blade told her that her attack had been successful - there was blood on it. Quickly her eyes scanned her surroundings, looking for her enemies, especially Drake, who still had to leave the smoke, since Astaroth were still - they were gone.Bookmark here

Where-?Bookmark here

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“Should… someone not notice, what is going on?” Snow looked at Blake, at his wound to be precise. Bookmark here

He shook his head, while letting himself slide down to the ground. “It's… a special one. There’s also an illusion on it. Just as there is a teleportation spell and it's- urgh, I hate it. She really thought this through. If someone were to cross through, they’d just end up on the other side, thinking everything here looked normal.”Bookmark here

Snow lowered her gaze while kneeling down in front of Blake. "I do not comprehend this…" She crossed her arms. "Why would she attack us?"Bookmark here

"Probably doesn't like demons. I don't know." He shrugged. "I just… Astaroth will defeat her." It was unclear, even to Blake himself, why he was so confident in that fact. He just… was.Bookmark here

“That is… what I am worried about.”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

“I mean…” Snow scratched the back of her head. “It was not right for to attack us, but… In the end, someone will be hurt in the aftermath.”Bookmark here

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A giant claw grabbed her from behind. Cursing she looked around, seeing the giant demon who currently had her in their grasp. She reduced the size of her weapon, to the point where she only held the handle and changed the way she was holding it, just a little bit, so it pointed directly at the demon's hand. Then she gave the tool the mental order to expand again - long and thin, almost like an extending needle so it drilled itself into the claws.Bookmark here

The demon did not falter. "What-?" Maybe moving around would be-Bookmark here

Suddenly she was eye-to-eye with glowing red eyes. She felt herself freeze for a moment, her blood running cold through her veins. Drake looked at her, the cat-like shape sitting on Astaroth's index finger. They didn't hesitate, sinking into the silver-blue steel. Mentally she prepared herself to get her eyes gouged out or worse - but that didn't happen. Instead, the front side of her helmet was just torn away, the backside following only a little bit later and falling down due to gravity.Bookmark here

Upon seeing her face, Drake froze. They stared at her, then jumped back, flying in the air and looking up at Astaroth. Said demon looked back at his smaller colleague in confusion, before raising the girl in their grip up to their face. The same confusion took a hold of them. They tilted their head, before putting their hand on the ground. Their fist stayed closed, as they detached the arm from their body and returned to their humanform. In disbelief they stared at the enemy’s well too familiar face. It was Drake who broke the silence. "Ciana, what are you doing?!"
Real Aire
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