Catrine didn't know what to say to the elf's kindness. It was all a blur of pleasant shock as Camthon ushered her inside, past the inkeeper Joseph and his snide remark, and to the fire, where he began his tale. Catrine sat rigidly at the edge of the chair at first, but gradually relaxed as the story played out. It was almost as if she could see it in front of her eyes. She forgot her miseries completely. She saw the nimble conman and the fat Jarl in her minds eye. She didn't react for awhile, until the middle of the story she realized her lips had curled into a smile. As Camthon finished his story, she laughed. It was a quiet sound, and raspy, like it hadn't been used in awhile. "Thanks," she mumbled. I wish I was as clever as the thief, she thought to herself. When Camthon offered her his room, she hesitated at first, remembering the innkeeper's remark, but when he said he would be sleeping downstairs she accepted. For once, my luck is good, she thought. I need to use it while I can. She thanked him at least five times on the way up to the room, and heeded his advice to bolt the door. She collapsed onto the bed, and was out in a second.
* * * * * * * * * *
She awoke in a cold sweat. The nightmare again. She rubbed her eyes and breathed hard. I need to forget, she thought. The past is done. It was still dark. Then she heard it again. A human shriek...then an inhuman shriek. She wobbled out of bed and grasped the bedframe.
The window shattered on her right. Another inhuman shreik. Too close. The wind from it mussed her hair. In a half awake haze she fumbled for the dagger in her boot, holding it in front of her. Then she bent her arm and flung it with a practiced hand. THUNK. It flew out the window and hit it's target. The shriek - this time in pain. She dashed to the window, the class cutting her. Outside the window was the dark, crumpled form of a gian spider. Black blood oozed from it's eyes, where her dagger had landed. But wait. It wasn't dead. Not even close. It slowly unfolded itself and BAM! flung itself against the side of the building. Catrine reeled back as a hairy leg stabbed through the window. "W-what in Mitgard...I haven't seen one of those since...since..." she stammered to herself. Sweat popped from her brow. She backed to the door, pulling out a dagger from her other boot. BAM! BAM! "s-since that day..." Her head throbbed. This was not good. Back then there was only one. Now, by the sounds coming from outside, there were many. She fumbled with the door bolts. Dammit, don't pretend to be a hero. You're not a hero...said a little voice in her head. Not at all.
She flew out the door and down the hall, looking like a wreck. Her hair was a mess, eyes wide, too bit shirt slipping off one shoulder. She didn't have time to grab her cloak. What do you think someone like you could do, said the little voice in her head. You're just an unlucky wench.
Catrine immediately thought of Camthon, since he was the only one she knew around here. "I need to find out what's going on," she said to herself as she pounded down the stairs into the main room, where she saw a pretty young woman and a man she was whispering to.
Throughout the process of the girl cleaning and stitching his wound, Sartorous let out a few winces. After she was done checking his ribs and took a quick look at his cheek, she made him a tea made from madder root. She said it would help him sleep and numb the pain, but would also turn his urine red. He spluttered a little at that, but continued to drink about half of the cup. He set the cup down on the nightstand near the girl's bed. After she finished sewing his pants back to their former state, Sartorous slipped them back on along with all of his gear and made his way to the room he had rented. He set his cloak and gear down at the table in the room, but kept his dagger close to him as he laid down on the bed.
Sleep took him without him noticing. It must have been the madder root tea. He slept well that night up until he was awoken by screaming outside. He groggily slipped out of his bed and stood up. He went lightheaded momentarily before regaining his balance and being able to make his way to the window and poke his head out. What he saw snapped him awake in an instant. A grotesque giant arachnid scuttled its way up and over the inn a few feet from his window. Upon further inspection, he could see more moving around the town. He practically leaped across the room to his gear, feeling a pull on the stitches in his thigh. Ignoring this, Sartorous pulled on his gear and went back to the window.
He poked his head back out the window and looked down at the ground, guessed that he was about ten feet up, and then something grey caught his eye. It was a gutter to the left of the window that led from the roof to the ground in order to drain water off of the roof. A loud bang downstairs caught his attention. Stepping out of his room and standing on the balcony, he could see the girl who had mended his wound and a crack appearing on the wall behind the fireplace. A second later a second bang was heard and dust fell from the ceiling over the fireplace. One of the creatures were trying to break a hole in the wall.
He ran back to the table and hefted the chair over to the window. He swung around in three quick circles before letting of the chair. It flew through the air and out the window, smashing it to tiny shards of glass of wood splinters. The next second, Sartorous was sprinting straight at the window, taking long strides and feeling tugs at his stitches with every leap. Then, he jumped through the window, holding his arms and hands over his face and head. Once he was through, he reached out to his left and closed his fingers around the gutter. His weight was too much for the gutter though and it tore from the inn.
Sartorous quickly swung his other hand on to the gutter and used it as a rope of sorts. All the gutter did though was slow his fall. He hit the ground softer than he would, but still pretty hard. Luckily, he went into a roll and stopped most of the damage. He had a few scratches on his hands and face from the tiny shards of glass, but was otherwise unharmed. His stitches had managed to stay in, but were still a little strained from all the activity. He stood and brushed himself off, smirking at his own cleverness. He was about to save his own hide and run for it, but the memory of the girl patching him up flickered across his mind. With a soft sigh, Sartorous crouched slightly and began walking toward the side alley. He rolled his feet a certain way as he walked in order to keep his foot falls quiet. With the added help of the whole town screaming bloody murder, he was able to masterfully sneak into the alley where a spider was trying to ram its way into the inn.
He pulled the hand crossbow out from under his cloak and flicked the switch that opened the wings on each side and locked them into position to fire. The small crossbow was loaded as always. He leveled the sight on one of the spider's leg and squeezed the trigger. The bolt went flying through the air and stuck in the spider's leg. It wasn't enough to really hurt the thing, but it was enough to pull its attention away from the inn and fix it on Sartorous. He quickly put the collapsible crossbow back under his cloak and took off back up the alleyway, pursued by the arachnid. It was faster than he had anticipated and quickly caught up with him. It leaped toward him and bared its fangs, intent on sinking them into his flesh. Even with the stitches, Sartorous was able to jump and leap to the side, out of the creature's attack range.
He rolled across the ground and onto his hands and knees by the time the spider realized where he had gone. It dashed toward him with incredible speed, but Sartorous was fast enough to draw his sword and stand in time. As the beast neared, gnashing its fangs again, Sartorous jumped back to dodge its attack but stabbed his sword forward at the same time. The point of the blade pierced two the spider's eyes. As he went to draw his sword back, the spider bit down on the blade and pulled it from his grip. The sword went flying through the air and landed on the ground ten feet away. 'Damn,' Sartorous thought to himself.
Aron looked up to see a young attractive girl standing just outside the door of the Inn. Her long hair ruffled as if she'd just awoken. Despite being very short, he could tell this young girl was no child by certain features that stood out. "Demons, Monsters, call them whatever you like. But if you keep standing there you'll end up dead." Aron replied to the woman. With the guard who had saved his life dragged off by these foul creatures, Aron's oath was void. "If you wish to escape, follow me." He said to her. Without waiting for a reply he turned and, with weapons ready, headed to a alley just across from the inn. At reaching the entrance he looked to see if she followed.
She looked at him. Suddenly she remembered river still asleep up stars and her eyes widened. She turned around to run and go get her but as she did she saw the little girl toddling down the steps her face covered in tears. She scoped the girl up. "Shhhh river. We need to be quiet." She said, "Mommy?" She sobbed. "Mommy's not here but we'll find her." She said soothingly to the child. She hoped she was right and her sister was in another town. She followed the man. River stayed quiet apart from the occasional sob. She was a smart girl and knew when to listen. She hoped Sartorous had made it out alright. She could feel her heart pounding in her ears as they walked.
'Damn,' Sartorous thought to himself as his sword went flying through the air and hit the ground with a dull thud some ten feet away. The spider crept closer, baring its fangs. Dark blood fell to the ground from where he had just stabbed two of its eyes out. Unfortunately his blade hadn't pierced far enough to kill the beast. He just pissed it off. He took a few steps away as the spider continued creeping closer. In one quick motion, Sartorous drew his dagger and one of his throwing knives from his belt. Sweat was beading up on his brow as the beast clicked its pincers at him menacingly and continued to slowly bear down upon him, knowing he was not much of a threat with just knives and a dagger. That was where it was wrong. Sartorous was quite skilled with a knife and dagger, almost as skilled as he was with his sword. Suddenly, he took off running at the giant spider, feeling more strain on his stitches. The spider charged forward with a burst of speed as well. As they neared, Sartorous threw his knife at the beast. The blade sank into its body near the two blinded eyes with a sickening thud.
The beast flailed its arm as the knife sank into it, but Sartorous was fast enough to dodge comes its limb and dig deep gashes on them with his dagger. It eventually caught Sartorous in the sternum, however, and launched him through the air to hit the side of a building and collapse to the ground. He coughed and spluttered as he regained his feet, leaning up against the building. The spider turned and charged at him again, intending to end it while its prey was wounded and winded. It saw the damage Sasrtorous could do. Somehow he had maintained his grip on his dagger while flying through the air; his sword, though, still sat on the ground some feet away. There was no way to get to it. He wouldn't be able to roll to either side of the spider; it would only stab down on him with its powerful legs. So, he would have to face it head on. Setting his face and tightening his grip on the dagger, Sartorous bent his legs a little and braced himself.
The stitches felt as if they were straining to their limit now. 'Just hold a little longer,' he urged his stitches silently. The spider closed the stretch of land between itself and the thief with a few thrusts from each powerful, hairy leg, blind with feral rage. Sartorous's knife and bolt were still sticking out of the creature's body, but the wounds had stopped bleeding not long after the initial blows were delivered. As the beast neared, Sartorous charged it again, but this time he jumped up on to its head and brought his dagger down into the beast's body. The spider closed its pincers around his ankle and stop him short of his original target. It threw its head up and released his ankle simultaneously, intending to fling into the air, but he had managed to stab his dagger into the spider's body and keep hold of. As a result, he merely swung around so he was its backside with his feet dangling off slightly. He pulled himself back up on to the beast and pulled his dagger free. The spider felt him walking on its back and began flailing and smashing into buildings, intent on knocking him off and trampling him.
Somehow, he managed to keep his balance and bring his dagger down with and stab through the top of its head. As the spider collapsed to the ground, Sartorous was sent flying off of it and tumbling across the ground a few feet by the inertia. Sartorous got to his feet and brushed the dust off of himself before gathering his sword, crossbow bolt, and throwing knife and making his way back down the alley he had originally met the beast in. He came around the corner on to the main street to see the town is complete disarray. Citizens were running in all directions, but he spotted most of them making their way to a large house on a hill. It must be some sort of town hall. As he looked to the large house, he could the girl who patched him up the previous night making her way there with a man with a sword.
A deep sigh of relief escaped his lips as he watched the woman running with someone who looked like they could protect her. That was one less debt on his tab, but he had to make sure she got there safe. He decided he should catch up with her and the man, so he could settle his debt once and for all. A pain shot trough his leg as he took a step out of the alley, forcing him grip at his thigh where the woman had stitched up his knife wound. He could feel his stitches through his pants, and realized they had finally given under the strain he put them through. They must have come lose when the spider bit down on his ankle. The adrenaline during the fight must have fought off the pain, but now that he was calming now the pain was creeping up his leg. He gritted his teeth and limped his way up the street, keeping an eye out for any of the giant spiders. Luckily, the guards had organized some and were holding the creatures at bay and he made his way to the girl. As he neared he noticed the baby in her arms, He had completely forgot about the baby that had been in her room when she patched him up. When he was a few yards away, he did his best to shout over the noise of fighting.
"Cassan... Cassandra," he shouted as he fought to remember her name. What an impressive figure he must have cut as he made his way toward her, limping slightly, sword in hand, clothes covered in dirt and blood.
Catrine crept out of the inn and into the street, her remaining knife drawn and at the ready. She dashed into a nearby ally like a ghost, not even sure where she was going or what she was trying to do. She just knew that she had to do something. She took a few turns. Ever closer the din of the spider's massacre. Soon it seemed to come from all around. It began to rain. The rain shimmered silver in the mocking moonlight. Soon it was pouring. Catrine wished she had remembered her cloak. She ran head down through the muck, until she noticed the rain mingled with something else in the mud.
Catrine's eyes slowly rose as she took in the scene. A few feet from her, a town guard lay in a tangled heap. Dead. The blood was his. But he was not what captured Catrine's attention. A spider stood crouched several meters away from the body. When it saw her, it reared up, baring it's fangs that dripped with rain, blood, and saliva. Catrine crouched lower, immediately on guard, but her dagger hand trembled. She turned white as a ghost. Her free hand shot down and grabbed the fallen guard's shortsword. She swung it experimentally. The spider seemed to take this as a challenge. It charged.
She had two choices. Fight or flight.
Neither seemed very appealing.
She chose the former.
She hurled her dagger. It peirced the spider's eyes. It shrieked. She grasped the sword in both hands. The spider advanced. It stapped with one leg. She dodged and stumbled back. It lunged with it's fangs. She ducked. She swung the sword wildly at it's head. It slit another eye. It did little more than anger the creature. She stabbed at a leg. It cut. Oozing black blood. It smelled like death. She creature advanced. It was backing her up against a wall. A fang grazed her neck. It stung like poison. Another hairy leg flew at her. She barely parried it. Focus, focus, focus. Focus Catrine! The creature tossed it's foul head at her. She ducked and swung the sword. No good. It rammed past the sword and into her in the side. She thought she heard a crack. She hit the ground.The creature screamed and threw itself at her. In a last despairng attempt she gripped the sword in both hands and held it up. she closed her eyes tight. This was the end...
But the end did not come.
When she opened her eyes she saw the monster crumpled in front of her, her sword, buried deep in it's soft belly, herself lying facedown in the dirt.
Cassandra turned around when she heard her name to see Sartorous limping over to her. She noticed the blood on his weapons and immediately came to the conclusion that he must have blown his stitches doing battle with one of those creatures. She handed river to the man she was following and ran over to Sartorous. "Thank the Goddess your alive." She breathed before taking his arm and putting it around her shoulder. She was stronger then she looked. The adrenaline she could feel pumping through her veins definitely helped. "Try not to put as much weight on it as possible." She said as she helped him follow the other man.