“Come with me. We’re going hunting”
Words innocent enough, but his trigger finger is itchy, twitching. His teeth hurt with a bareness he doesn’t understand and for the moment he simply doesn’t care. He finds the largos in the shallows, not because he wants to but because he needs to, because he doesn’t have anywhere else he can turn for something like this — it’s a dangerous, heinous task. She would find joy in it, or so he thinks.
He does not look prepared to leave, there’s only a roughly hewn rifle on his back, the clothes he wears, a hood pulled up and over his head, but the tension and anxiety that permeates the air, that radiates from him in a choking miasma. He is not well. He’s hiding that poorly.
She does not seem surprised, or if she is, she hides it well. There’s only a nod, a sheathing or her blades and newly acquired firearms in their respective holsters, and she is by his side, silently expecting. He knows what she’s about, she vibrates with a feral anticipation he’d come to expect of her, if not her kind — a twitchy, murderous part of her he hasn’t been able to satisfy. She had been waiting for this, like a tiger locked in a cage for too long. She too, was itching for some action
But where she is calm and collected, he is twitchy. Restless. She can sense that.
She follows. She keeps her eyes focused on the path he leads her on, but she stands at a distance, one hand close to her weapons. She sill unnerves him, but she is the best person he knows suited for this heralding. They would be relentless.
Hafsaah knows of the krait. Her kind loathes them almost as much as the kraits loathe pretty much everybody else and he is glad to hear it, in a way— it means that this task would not be in vain. Asking around the lake itself proves to be a sticking point, with the reports for the kraits’ revolting disposition varying from despicable to horrifying. Residents fled scared. The fishing still reeked of poison and venom. A witch beneath the water they cried.
It is, perhaps, a bounty he wasn’t sure they would find. She dives in first, floating like a bird in the air beneath the water. When he straps on his rebreather and wades in, it is with an unsure gait, a familiar and horrifying sensation. He’d stayed away from the water this long, and the return felt prophetic, and doomed.
When they reach the lair at the bottom of the lake, Hafsaah’s features contort with savage glee, even behind her mask.
She stays close to him, as ordered — or, as she interpreted what her “orders” were — but she takes a moment to frolic in the vast, open expanse of the lake. She twirls and cuts through the water around him. It could have been beautiful, enchanting even, were it not for her being the bloodthirsty animal that she was. A short moment later she has her fill, and glides at his side, focused once more. She meets his eyes, nods, and suddenly disappears from sight, as if she melted into the water. He knows she’s still there next to him. He can almost perceive the outline of her body, if he looks hard enough, and the scent of her still lingers.
It is time to work.
He sends a harpoon flying into the shoulder of of if the krait guarding the entrance to the broodmother’s lair, the Blood witch that haunted this lake with her magic that twisted the once pure water of the Viathan into a toxic dumping ground. The two kraits standing guard were dispatched at a dizzying speed. The first one saw its own belly split open from chest to nearly a third down its tail, seemingly on its own. It writhed and gurgled as it struggled to keep its entrails from floating away into the darkening water. From further away, an alarm is sounded in blistering shrieks that pierce through the underwater landscape,the ruins of this mighty tower that had housed the worst of nightmares and evil. The krait begin to swarm, and all the Captain can do is point, and send this sea dog after them.
And she is a sight to behold. The knives she wields are formidable, delightful instruments of death, and she leaves a trail of ichor in her wake like a grim banner. The unlikely pair is cleaving through the snake people with fury and vengeful grit. When the kraits are focusing on the obvious target of the large man, with his clumsy swim and his flashing weapon, an invisible stalker cuts through them as they charge, leaving behind a cloud of blood and the ghost of a wave brushing against their scales. If they stop to look for the unseen attacker, their throats yield to the bolt of a gun, the blade of a knife.
A bloody ballet of shattered scales and tainted ichor. An aquatic fireworks show of broken fangs with streamers of guts. He reveled in the carnage, the erasure of this taint upon the world, but more importantly, the riot that swelled behind his heart, and a flash of teeth.
Only the witch remained now.
There is a moment, frozen in time where the whole of the world slows against him, against them both, drags their movements with every strain of muscle against the current. She moves like a spear into the heart of their prey, and he finds that the need is too great. Where the blades slip between the fragile bone of the krait, he wills himself closer, he needs the scent of it somewhere on him, in his rebreather, in his nose, his lungs —
A dagger pulls from his boot, and when the shade clears, he grabs its head from behind and stabs sideways, and oh how the body thrashes and writhes, how she screams and shrieks under the muffle of water.
One boot, two. He braces himself on those sloping shoulders, twists the blade and pulls up, kicking down. The head tears from its ligaments. The bone snaps, and the water fills with a dark cloud that fills his eyes and thickens the recycled air. It burns with the threat of toxin, his skin is on fire.
But the thrill is good. He hangs there, bonelessly and floating, slowly sinking with the unsupported head of his prey until the edge wears off, the bite of the water returns. He motions to the largos, and begins his clumsy swim out, metal hand gripped tight to the thin jaw of their prey. The entire encounter had lasted less than a few minutes.
The beast inside quells its hunger. He resolves to not tell anyone.