Fourteen, including me that was how many Hunters that were available for this plan. There were a few more rookie Hunters that were assigned to evacuation and protecting civilians who wouldn’t be able to fight off a horde of beasts. The rest were gathered at the wall. If this plan was correct then there wouldn’t be a sneak attack so Hunters were not needed elsewhere.
Most of the Hunters were equipped with these unique Istan weapons. It seemed that the woman, who had introduced herself as Elizabeth before she went off to gather Hunters, was the one who had designed and forged the weapons for them. It was impressive considering they were of all different kings of weapons including some strange ones which I hadn’t heard of before. I felt it was weird that she had created them and used them herself because she had surprisingly strong blood and instincts. She would have certainly been able to fight without them. However she seemed to be keeping something a secret about them which made me annoyed.
However there was no time to continue to be annoyed. The Beast army had stopped growing larger and it felt more restless than before. The attack would certainly happen sometime in the near future. It had only been an hour since I had arrived but it seemed much shorter.
As the last of the Hunters arrived the man, Alfred, moved forward and stood in front of the Hunters. He had a harsh look about him. There was a moment of silence before he spoke, “Regret now because in a few hours you may no longer be alive to do so. There are no excuses for what we are about to do. We are sacrificing many of those who live in the city to save the rest.” He turned to one side and looked to the sky, “But there is no other way. We must throw away everything that prevents success because if we do not have success then we have nothing.” He pointed toward the city, “They have nothing.”
“So we must betray them. The government does not yet know how we really plan on protecting the city. I have told them we will be able to protect the walls and no Beast will set foot inside. However they do not know the true extent of what we face. I have told them… but they do not understand.” He began to speak loader, “No, they can not understand. So tomorrow, for those of us who survive, there will be an even darker future. We will be blamed for our failure, for out lack of strength. Who knows what punishment will be given to us. But, I will accept it. Each of you must accept it for we will be nothing more than weak traitors.”
There was whispering and uncertainty among the Hunters that assembled in front of him. He looked over them. “If any of you object, who thinks there is a better way, a way we can win without failure. Speak up.” There was silence. He waited and then finally spoke, “That is because there is no other way. The number of forces arrayed against us is overwhelming. Each of you is worth a hundred of them and indeed there are a hundred of them for each of you. However should be afraid, more afraid of your own death then failure then leave. We can waste no effort stopping you. But know that if you do then you are even worse then those Beasts that are trying to ruin all we stand to protect.”
All the Hunters stood there silently, none of them left. He nodded, “Good.” He finally relaxed and smiled a little, “I’m not cut out to be a leader and no Hunter wants to be lead. Each of you knows what to do. So fight, survive, and protect our city.” There was no clapping, instead the sounds of metal ringing as weapons were drawn.
I smiled and stepped forward, “Well, I thought it was a good speech.” I turned to the other and I had my own smile, “I’m going to kill any of you that die before you manage to kill your hundred, understand?”
Then there was finally some laughter. About to go into battle the Hunters standing their could not continue to stay grim. Dwelling on things was more difficult for us to do then normal humans. Alfred placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “Well then, are you ready for your special task.”
“Yes, I’ve been ready since I became a Hunter.” During the organizing in the last hour Alfred had an addition to the plan. Rather than letting the Duke initiate the attack we were going to force his hand. I was going to make an initial assault where I attacked his ranks, baiting the normal Beasts into attacking earlier. With the support of the Hunters with ranged weapons the Duke would be forced to either pull back all the Beasts to beyond the tree line or start the attack.
Rika thought that the normal Beasts would be unwilling to do that will under attack and me and Alfred agreed that assessment. When that happened then the pace of the battle would be in our favor and the assault wouldn’t be as organized as it might normally have been. I liked the plan because it sounded more exciting.
I moved over toward the edge of the wall. Then I looked back at Alfred and waited for his nod. Then I began my change. My hand changed into claws. I hadn’t noticed it before but when I changed my hair, which was normally short, grew longer and changed to a golden color, like the Beast that had given me his blood.
I leapt from the wall and just after I did I could hear the out of a twinge as Elizabeth loosed an arrow from her bow. I saw the arrow fly through the air toward a Beast. Then everything began to happen all at once. I hit the ground and using the strength of my legs pushed off it and toward some of the closer Beasts. They hadn’t even had time to begin to react. I tore through them in a flash of blood and went on to the next one. I tried to keep each one as fast as possible to leave time for as many as I could.
While moving I kept part of my attention toward the Duke and his Court of Beasts. Should they move to stop me I needed to pull back. I knew that I would not be able to beat them alone. I wanted to try, but I knew I couldn’t do it which was the only thing that stopped me from trying. More Beasts rushed in toward me and more Beasts died as they tried to stop me. Occasionally the numbers would seem overwhelming but then an arrow from Elizabeth assisted me and I was free to fight once more.
Then the Duke’s court began to move. One of them, a scaly bipedal lizard broke from the group and headed toward me. The Duke and the rest of the court began to head for the Wall. There was a roaring sound from one of the Noble Beasts and the entire army of Beasts began to move toward the wall. The assault has finally begun. Many of the Beasts around me began to flee as they were order to attack the wall and while I killed a few of them close to me many began to get out of my range.
I had another fish to fry, well a reptile at least. I was fairly certain I could beat it but in the heat of a battle you could never know for certain. There could be plenty about the creature and its combat style that I knew nothing about. I really wanted to find the Beast but I still needed to follow the main plan. The Duke and his Court were the lowest priority. The more lesser Beasts I could kill the better.
So instead of turning to face the reptile I chased after the Beasts that tried to escape from me. With them attempting to escape from me they were easy pickings. I was able to kill them as they began to climb the wall. However each killed delayed me, not by a lot but my the smallest amount. Each kill I made let the reptile get closer and closer to me. It was shockingly fast, faster than I had anticipated. I had hoped to be able to lead it on a merry goose chase all the while picking off as many beasts as I could. With it getting closer and closer that seemed like less and less of an option.
Eventually I found myself next to the wall with the reptile only a couple of arms reaches away. I looked up and quickly considered trying to climb the wall however without support from Elizabeth I would be exposing myself too much if I climbed the wall while the reptile wanted to kill me. So I turned to the creature.
I guessed it was time to fight the Beast. I had already killed my fair share of the lesser Beasts, now the protection of the town would be left to the other Hunters. I smiled and lowered myself onto all fours, “So I guess it will be just you and me now in a battle to the death.”
“Yes, your death.” Said the reptile in a hissing voice. That hissing made me worried but I still smiled.
“We shall see.” Was my only response. I had kept my eyes on the creature’s mouth when it spoke, there were razor sharp teeth and a set a long fangs in that mouth. We circled each other for less than a minute before I decided to strike. I leaped in however then the creature reached out its claws to bite into my flesh I instead grabbed the arm. I flipped over the reptile and then using my mass and momentum threw the reptile into a nearby tree.
It smashed into the tree with a thud and the reptile fell to the ground. However only moments later it stood up again. I wasn’t surprised about that however it seemed to be less effected then I though it would be. The beast was certainly tougher then I had given it credit. Also something was bugging me about the moment of the attack it had made earlier however I couldn’t yet place it.
I circled it again trying to figure out what it was the bothered me. This time it was the first to make the move. It had more measured movements than me, like a trained fighter it moved toward me trying to claw it me with its, well, claws. I slowly backed up pulling away from each attack. However I was getting closer to the wall with each movement and soon I wouldn’t have anywhere to back up to and would be forced into an offensive move which would give the beast a better opportunity to attack me.
However with each move the beast made I better understood its movement. The attacks were fast and light. The claws were sharp and out certainly hurt but currently the attacks would likely do no more than mildly inconvenience me. At least if that was all there was to the attack. Now I was almost certain that his claws were poisonous, that it wasn’t trying to deal me a serious wound with its claws but instead to just injure me. Even a small flesh would could be dangerous if its claws were poisonous.
The beast was also experienced. My initial attack had be unusual and caught the beast by surprise but I was unlikely to be able to do that again. I could probably brute force an attack, which indeed was tempting, but then the poison claws would be dangerous. Given a large enough dose I was sure that the poison would be lethal. The question however was how much that dose was.