“The perfect weapon?” I asked. “Certainly it seems like a useful weapon but given the difference in all the bolts wouldn’t it take a lot of experience to learn how to use it correctly.”
Elizabeth smiled and said, “Yes, normally. Which is another one of the reasons that nobody wanted to use the weapon. Figuring out which bolt is the best on to use it tricky especially because there was large differences between the bolts. However someone with the talent like Kirk has should be able to use the crossbow flawlessly.”
It finally began to dawn on me. “Because of his heightened senses. He should be easily able to differentiate which of the bolts he should use given the circumstances and what enemy he is fighting. He would also be able to tell which of the bolts do what without having to test each individual bolt.”
Kirk placed the quiver next to the crossbow and then looked over toward me, “We can discuss this later. However we have some Beasts to hunt. What is the plan Yaju?”
“Well, the Duke wants us to surrender of he will kill more people. I suggest we do exactly what he says.”
“What?” Said Alfred. “How can we just surrender to him? After all we have already done.”
I rolled my eyes, “Of course we aren’t surrendering to him. However if we all go in together he will be forced to deal with us. If it is the pretext of surrendering we can probably avoid having him kill anyone until we can gather him and his two noble beasts together so we can deal with them all at the same time.”
“That sounds dangerous.”
“It is dangerous. However anything we could do would be dangerous. The other option would be to just abandon the city and let the beasts win. Is that what to want.” I said.
“Fine.” He said sounding a little annoyed, “We will do you plan. So far you have given good advice and we have had a fairly good success ratio.”
Then we walked out from behind the building and toward where the beasts were. I had my hands raised, not that it really meant too much but it was still a token symbol of surrender. The bird beast quickly noticed us and flapped its wings taking off. It twisted in the air and then dived through a hole in the roof. It must be going to inform the Duke.
We walked through the front door and passed the broke reception desk into the center of the building. The roof had been collapsed and sitting on a chair in the center of the pile of rubble was the Duke. The bird was pitched a little bit higher on the rubble looking down at us. Next to the Duke was a feminine beast who resembled wolf. All together they made an menacing group. I questioned my plan mentally but I wouldn’t voice such thoughts aloud a this point.
I stepped forward with my hands still raising up. “We had done what you said and surrendered. Now release the prisoners that you have.”
The Duke glared at the five of us with anger in his eyes. Finally he stood up. “I did not promise to release these humans if you surrounded. I said I would kill them if you did not.” There were a couple humans knelling a few feet in front of him, close enough to easily kill. He stepped toward them placed one of his large hands on one of them.
“However,” He continued, “You are here. However you don’t seem intent on surrendering. After all, there are more Hunters in this city then those that are right here. Where are the rest of you?”
“All the others are too injured to move. We are the only ones who are healthy enough to attend you commands.” I said.
He glared, “Step forward.”
I did at he said and took a few steps forward. The others stayed back. It would be bad to ignore his orders until he were ready to actively oppose him. He looked down at me form the top of the pile of rubble. “So after all your squirming and attempting to stop me you realize that it is impossible to stop me. Are you the leader of this band?”
“Yes I am.” I tried to seem as confident as I could.
“You see, my rule has been challenged and I can’t have that happen. You want these people and your companions to survive but I require a price. To have the peace that you want I must have the blood I need in repayment. For that you must die to cement my rule.”
“I understand, if that is what is needed then I am prepared to accept that.”
“So young and foolish. Kill her.” The Duke motioned his hand and this two companions stepped forward.
The stepped closer and closer to me and just as they got within reach I spoke. “Do proud and foolish. Had you killed me with your own hands I may not have been able to do this.” Then I gathered my instincts and blood. That rush filled me, the part of me that I hated more than anything else about myself. My desire, the reason people always thought of me as a leader despite my best efforts.
“KNEEL.” My voice was loud, commanding, and with the dangerous hint of viciousness. I released my presence, the one not too dissimilar to the the Duke that was standing in front of me. The two beasts that were right next to me obeyed. They knelt and then moments later they were dead. I had drawn my knife and it only took a moment of movement for me to slit their throats. Has they been able to resist my order they could have easily dodged it but the couldn’t resist.
The Duke was growling at me. He knees were bent a fraction of an inch like he had felt the command in my voice and had trouble resisting. Behind me I could tell instinctually that all the Hunters that were following me had knelt just like the beasts that were dead at my feet.
They would obey and command I gave, they would die for me. However I knew that I couldn’t use that. This cursed ability, the one that made me just like the Duke in front of me. I could turn my friends and allies into nothing more than slaves. I knew it and it frightened me more than anything else, more than death. The sweet taste of power and command tempted me every time I used the power so I avoided it at all costs lest it become too natural for me.
The Duke continued to growl, “You, what did you do?”
“I commanded them and they obeyed. Surely you have been doing the same thing. My command was just more powerful.” My voice had changed back. It had become more normal. I could hear those behind me begin to stand up. “Now it is your time to die. You will never rule this city.”
He was beginning to become angry. Instead of standing on two legs he had fallen to all fours. “POINTLESS.” He roared, “EVEN IF YOU KILLED THEM YOU WILL NEVER KILL ME. I WILL KILL YOU ALL AND THEN DESTROY ANYTHING YOU CARED ABOUT.”
The command in his voice was intense and I knew that those behind me were shaken by it. I turned toward them calming my own aura using it to guard against the Duke’s own. “Don’t worry. We can beat him.” It was still painful for me to use my power like this even it was to protect those who followed me. However without it they would have fled and collapsed to the Duke’s intense command. Without previous experience to the decrees of a Duke or King it was difficult to resist.
With my words it seemed like it cleared up the fog of fear in the other’s expression. They climbed back to their feet and I turned to Duke and said, “You’re finished. It doesn’t matter how powerful you are. I ruler without anything to rule is nothing but a dangerous beast that must be put down. You are not anything any more.”
Then the Duke, that large gray beast with a horn charged us. It rushed fast and strong toward me however it was telegraphed so I was easily able to get out of the way. My knife was still in my hand so as he rushed past me I was able to run it along his side drawing blood. However his hide was much thicker then I had expected. I was barely able to make more than a small cut. Without a direct strike I didn’t think I would be able to inflict a serious wound upon it.
The rest of the Hunters also got out of the way but for others it wasn’t as easy. We scattered around the room making it difficult for him to attack a group of us. Alfred had already drawn his sword and Kirk and Elizabeth were getting far away to better use ranged weapons. The other two Hunters were functioning as distraction.
The Duke rushed once more across the room. This time faster and more accurate. This creature was deadly. I could tell that for certain. With each pass it was getting better and better at anticipating our moves. The first couple of shots that Kirk and Elizabeth had made pierced the creatures skin but after that it was paying attention to them and was dodging the shots of knocking the projectiles out of the air with its horn.
Alfred and another one of the Hunters approached the Duke from different sides and managed to bloody it before it swung in a circle and knocked them both back. He other Hunter got the worst of it and fell to one side with his arm bent at an unhealthy angle. While the Beast was distracted I moved in with my knife and the two other Hunters joined me in the attack. Sensing the weakest link the attack the Duke raised to two legs and punched one of the Hunters. She managed to block the attack but the force of the blow knocked her across the room and into the wall.
However that attack give me and the other Hunter time to hit the Duke. However the Duke didn’t seem to avoid. My knife sunk into it. The other hunter had claw type weapons and managed to hurt the Duke. However with the weapon still inside him the Duke head butted the hunter knocking him to the ground. He hit the ground with a thump and then didn’t move.
Feeling the threat I pulled out the knife and jumped backward. I surveyed my surroundings. While the Duke had already taken some major wounds three of our Hunters had already been taken out of the battle. Now there was just Me, Kirk, Elizabeth, and Alfred.
With a motion I began attracting the Duke’s attention. It was dangerous but I needed to give Kirk and Elizabeth a clean shot. Alfred noticed what I was doing and moved to help me. The two of us harried the Duke trying to keep him way from the other two. Then there were a couple of whooshing sounds and the Duke howled in pain. However instead of collapsing he turned toward the two ranged combatants.
Me and Alfred used that moment to strike but the Duke had already shown his willingness to take injuries to remove combatants. Blood flowed but the Duke managed to break free from us and strike and Elizabeth. She managed to avoid the brunt of the force but that wasn’t were the Duke was aiming. There was a snapping cracking sound as the bow broke.
Then the Duke turned toward Kirk and rushed toward him. Alfred managed to intercept him however he was batted away with the Duke’s horn. The force of the blow sent Alfred flying.