Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Assassin's Retirement: Scion of Beowulf Chapter 6, Part 2 #blogstory

Welcome back to Assassin's Retirement!

Copyright Lexi Ander

The ring of metal hitting metal sounded just before Zane broke into a clearing. He slid to a stop in the snow. Prince stood in the middle of a dirt road, swinging his sword at a figure who used their rifle to block each attack. The moonlight was strong here, making it easier for him to discern a figure covered from head to foot in snow camouflage. For all Zane knew, the shooter could be a resident of McCall who Zane saw on a regular basis. He didn't train his gun at Prince's opponent. He wouldn't get a clear shot with Prince in the way. Instead he concentrated on the three creatures that were now crouched low to the ground as they slowly stalked up behind Prince. The spines along the center of their back quivered, giving away their excitement.

Zane moved to the side, attempting to get into a position where Prince wasn't in his line of sight. As he sidestepped, their twisted backs evolved into a pair of leathery wings and they took to the air. Zane slipped and fell on his ass. He couldn't take his eyes from the creatures. "What the fuck is going on here?"

With steely resolve he raised his gun. The creatures circled over Prince as if searching for a weakness or an opening to attack. He shot first one then a second of the flying things. The third creature dropped to the ground so suddenly Zane wondered if it had been clipped. No such luck. It landed on clawed paws, burning red eyes turned on Zane. He scrambled to his feet, his jeans now wet from the snow.

Still, his heartrate didn't rise as he stared down the foul-smelling creature. He blinked. Surely the creature's eyes weren't glowing red. Nothing living had eyes that color, but no matter how many times he opened and closed his eyes, what he saw didn't change. The creature snarled, bringing Zane's attention to the insanely long fangs. The spines on its back rattled as they moved around, the ones nearest it shoulders inexplicably pointing in his direction. Zane fired his gun, shocked when he missed. The creature had somehow side stepped, the bullet bypassing it completely.

"Zane! Run!" Prince called, still struggling with the shooter.

An expression passed over the creature's expression that gave Zane the impression it understood what Prince had said. There was relish and naked anticipation reflected there, as if the creature loved to chase things. If he ran, he would die. Instead of heading away from the nightmare on four legs, Zane strode toward it, his arm raised, gun trained not on the face but body. The creature's tongue lolled out the side of its mouth as if laughing at Zane. With each of Zane's steps forward, it retreated.

"No, Zane!" Prince kicked the shooter in the chest and the person flew backwards at least ten feet before they hit the ground and slid into the trunk of a tree.

Annoyed that Prince thought he needed saving, Zane barely kept from snapping his teeth at the man. Incredulously, the creature treated Prince as if he was more of a threat than Zane, which Zane found deeply insulting. It turned and gave all its attention to Prince, completely ignoring Zane. Prince gave a battle cry before rushing to clash with the creature. Zane didn't move to help Prince. Only an idiot would try to help as Prince swung that long ass sword.

From the corner of his eye, he caught movement. The shooter was slipping into the trees. With a new quarry identified, Zane gave chase, ignoring Prince's cursing. Under the boughs of the forest, the heavy breathing and clomping footsteps of the gunman were loud, covering any noise that Zane made. The person moved as if they could see perfectly in the low light. He suspected the they had on night vision goggles or something similar. Zane followed, attempting to step exactly where the shooter did and was mostly successful, but frustratingly, he slowly fell behind. The person was fast, much faster than he had a right to be considering the unfamiliar and shadowed terrain.

When Zane broke through the cover of trees at the point where he had lost sight of the gunman. He found himself about twenty paces from the edge of the lake. For five feet or so, bedraggled tufts of snow covered grass were separated by rounded stones and gravel that went all the way to the shore. Unmistakable footprints marred the blanket of snow that covered the pebbled ground, leading unerringly to the water's edge. The ice along the shoreline extended out over the shallows. There it was broken into an obvious path leading deeper waters.

Zane searched the ground for other footprints or sign. No one could survive the water in winter. Unless the shooter had a wet suit and gear they needed to survive the ice-cold depths. The new snow wasn't disturbed in any other direction. Did the gunman have time to back track to follow the edge of the tree line? If he did, then could have reentered the forest to throw Zane off. With how heavy the shadows were in the area, he couldn't tell but he bet that was what the shooter had done. No sane person would take to the water.

Reluctantly conceding he had lost the shooter, Zane re-holstered his gun and walked to the edge of the lake. The moonlight glinted off the water like jewels, the wind biting. He searched the surface for a bobbing head or some sign that someone was attempting to swim to the opposite shore. Like he thought, there was nothing.

The skin between Zane's shoulder blades tingled. Just as when he'd first arrived, Zane sensed watchful eyes on him. He didn't detect malevolence or felt he was in immediate danger. They were simply watching as if waiting for him to do something. Was it the shooter laughing at how easily they had lost Zane? Or something else entirely?

Table of Contents

Chapter One - Retirement
Chapter Two - Normal is not supposed to be this hard
Chapter Three - Caught
Chapter Four - Crimson Comet
Chapter Five - Mountain Magic
Chapter Six, Part 1 - Harbinger of a Nightmare
Chapter Six, Part 2

Thank you for stopping by and reading!!

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