Chapter 62 - Hydra's Scheme

At least three hundred sweepers had flooded the outpost’s dungeons, along with an uncountable number of guards. Although the sewers were large, interconnected, and rife with unexplored areas, they had enough people to sweep the whole thing and search every corner. There was nowhere to run.

Luckily, Cloudhawk had the foresight to release the slaves. The dungeon was in chaos, and the lights had been broken plunging it into darkness. Huge sections of it were blanketed in impenetrable shadow. Shots could be heard coming from every direction, mingling with shouts and sounds of combat. The chaos wasn’t going to last long, but it gave Cloudhawk and the Queen a sliver of hope for escape.

Bang!

Cloudhawk fired at a guard a dozen meters away, ending his life.

Other guards who’d been with him spun around, just in time to see a demonic visage lunge at them from the darkness. The Bloodsoaked Queen flitted among them with a dagger she’d pilfered, spinning gracefully like a dancer – a butterfly riding the breeze through a forest. She swept through the pack of guards so quickly they couldn’t even tell where her blade was going, and where she passed fountains of blood splattered droplets against the walls.

The two of them continued on, eventually coming upon an intersection. Suddenly the sound of approaching footsteps emerged, about twelve pairs from what they could tell. Cloudhawk pulled the Queen into a corner, covered both of them in the cloak and poured his psychic energy into it. They vanished. 

Moments later a group of guards and another group of sweepers met in the center of the junction. They quickly spied the four dead guards and knew their prey had to be close. They shouted commands for those nearby to be vigilant, then soon afterward split up to search the halls.

Cloudhawk allowed the power of the cloak to dissipate. “My focus is fading. The more I use the cloak the more tiring it is, so we have to find a way out of here soon. If we don’t we’re gonna die. The problem now is which direction do we choose?”

The dungeon was a complicated place. How where they supposed to know where to go? They didn’t have any sort of map.

“We’re just going to have to take our chances.”

The Bloodsoaked Queen picked a route at random and strode forward. What was Cloudhawk going to do, did he have a better suggestion? Whether or not this way was the way out wasn’t as important as staying on the move. If they were caught they were finished, so their lives were entrusted to lady luck!

The hallway was narrow, more like a large pipe. It was only large enough for two people to walk through side by side.

Cloudhawk frowned, for he knew that if a group of enemies came this way it was too tight for them to hide beneath the cloak. As though his thoughts had summoned them the sound of footsteps echoed their way, five or six this time. The pack of guards rounded a corner and the two groups came face to face.

“Here they are!”

“Kill ‘em!”

Cloudhawk answered by blowing a hole in one of them with his gun.

Two of the guards crouched and lifted their weapons, while three more from behind shot from a standing position. The two groups stood about twenty meters apart, too far for the Queen to cover no matter how fast she was, and the pipe was too narrow for them to dodge five gunners.

Bang-bang-bang! The guards fired a salvo at them.

These makeshift guns weren’t the best quality, but at only twenty meters away they were lethal. Bearing a pair of daggers the Queen whipped her blades through the air, summoning a host of sparks. By virtue of her incredible speed and accuracy she cut the bullets right out of the air. So she had this ability as well?!

Their faces fell as the guards hurried to prepare another volley. Meanwhile the gourd hanging from the Queen’s waist shone with rays of light, and spouted flame. The fire gathered into the image of a phoenix, then crashed into the group of five guards setting their clothes ablaze.

The smell of burnt flesh and hair filled the pipe. Five guards rolled and whined as the fires consumed them.

Cloudhawk loaded them with a few final shots then followed the Queen down the route. Eventually the pipe opened out into a cavernous room, but it made things more complicated. There was no longer even a single beam of light, and the darkness was so complete one could stretch out their arm and not see their hand in front of their face. But it meant they were out of the dungeon.

Groping through the darkness was better than waiting for death in the dungeons.

The two waited at the edge of the abyss for two seconds, and just when they were preparing to step ahead an earth-shaking roar assailed them!

Cloudhawk felt an oppressive, savage intent wash over him. He turned and saw a bearded man of fifty or sixty years leveling a huge weapon their way. He was charging at them like a crazed rhinoceros.

Leonine! That asshole!

Cloudhawk fired his gun without even thinking, but Leonine had decades of experience. The moment Cloudhawk lifted his weapon the old slaver changed direction, and the bullet buried itself harmlessly in a wall. Cursing, the young wastelander flung the broken down rifle to the ground and pulled the handgun from his waist. By the time he brought it up to fire Leonine was in front of him, his saber glinting as it traced an arc through the darkness.

Clang!

Two small blades blocked the slaver’s dagger. The three weapons collided, eliciting a deafening screech.

 The Queen’s daggers shattered under the strain – Leonine was as strong as he was cunning. There was enough momentum behind the strike to keep it cutting through and the Bloodsoaked Queen stumbled backward half a step to avoid him. She shook, and a trail of blood crept from the corner of her mouth. The shock of their collision must have caused some internal injuries.

With a feral roar Leonine launched into another attack, bringing his two-handed war machete down over his head with enough strength to split her in two.

“This old mutt is asking for death!”

Cloudhawk fired his handgun several times in quick succession.

Leonine stopped dead in his tracks and used his sword to block the shots aimed at his head. The rest found their mark in his chest. Thud, thud, thud! He staggered back a few steps, only the bullets didn’t kill him. The crafty slaver wore a thick coat and hardened leather underneath which preventing the bullets from doing much damage.

Leonine prepared for a counterattack when, from the darkness of the cavern, a figure stepped forth.

The stranger was tall and burly, clad head to toe in full armor with a sword at his waist. His ugly face was twisted in a sneer that warped scars around the patch covering his right eye. He was covered in an aura of menace like a viper, and slowly emerged from the darkness to stand before the fugitives.

When Leonine saw who it was he blurted out. “Hydra, these are the demonhunters!”

“Demonhunters?” Hydra reached for his weapon and slowly pulled it forth. He glared at the two with his one good eye and chuckled darkly. “Since when were demonhunters such trash? And still you can’t put ‘em down… you’re a real disappointment, old man.”

 Leonine glowered at the newcomer, while Cloudhawk’s face was a thunderhead.

Leonine was no less powerful than the late Mad Dog, and the cyclops spoke to him like he was worth nothing. It could only mean he was stronger than the slaver. With the Queen injured, was she strong enough to handle this character?

Whether she could or not, her eyes were filled with anger and defiance. Being a demonhunter was a source of pride, and this heathen dared to insult her illustrious order.

She reached up and yanked the cross from around her neck. Right away the cyclops saw her fighting spirit and leveled his shimmering blue blade her way. His weapon was long and thin, and masterfully fashioned. “There’s nowhere for you to go.  You aren’t escaping. But, if you defeat me I will help you.”

What the hell was this guy saying?

“However,” he went on, “if you can’t even beat me, you’ll die right here!”

He said nothing further, charging at them with blinding fury. His wrist flashed and in a blink he peppered them with eight or nine thrusts.

Cloudhawk had never seen someone wield a sword so fast!

The Queen was just as quick, dodging his attacks as they came. All but the last, when suddenly her wounds began to take their toll. They slowed her by just enough that the cyclops’ sword reached her, and pierced her shoulder. A trickle of fresh blood stained her clothes.

Hydra’s cackles rang off the walls. He attacked again, like nine steel vipers hungry for blood.

This series of attacks was more dangerous than the last, the Queen seemed to be surrounded by his onslaught. Yet she appeared calm like a placid lake surface, her heart and body as one. All of a sudden a bouquet of white light erupted from her hand, forming into a blazing cross of holy light.

“This is…”

The pupil of Hydra’s one good eye contracted and he lashed out reflexively. His treasured sword met the holy cross mid swing, and broke into a thousand pieces. Hydra felt like he’d been run over by a raging bull and was flung a good five or six meters away.

The Bloodsoaked Queen held her mighty weapon aloft, and it painted the area in dazzling holy light. All the energies of her sword crackled as it coalesced. If she released it upon her enemy Hydra would be cleaved in half.

He called out to her, tripping over his own tongue. “Y-y-you win! I’ll get you out of here!”

Cloudhawk called out from one side. “Queen, don’t trust him!”

Hydra tried to explain himself. “We have the same goal, I can help you.”

Hydra hadn’t planned to the kill the two of them, for the simple fact that they were worth more alive. They were demonhunters, and killing demons was their duty. The one Hydra wanted to see brought down wasn’t two children, but the wicked demon itself and his lackeys.

It was the only way Hydra could become the true ruler of the Greenland Outpost, and now that he’d witnessed the true power of a demonhunter he thought he had a chance. If he succeeded then Hydra would have all he desired. If they failed the blame would lie at the demonhunter’s feet.

Bit by bit the light of the Queen’s holy sword faded. Though she did not show it, it was not her intention to let it go. She was too weak, too wounded to cut his head free.

Hydra pointed down one of the pathways. “This is the only way out of the dungeon.”

“Hydra, what are you doing?”

Leonine couldn’t understand what the outpost leader was doing. 

Hydra slowly turned, fixing the slaver with a deathly glare. “I’m doing whatever the fuck I want to do, and I can’t afford to have someone behind me waiting to put a knife in my back! Time to die!”

His voice was cold, and cruel. All color drained from Leonine’s face.

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RWX's Thoughts

Sorry I went silent the past few days.  Had a death in the family.  XL was doing the chapters, I wasn't quite getting the review done.  I'm back now, we'll be on track again - RWX