‘Those bastards were riding something fast when they come in. I’ll have to kill them if they try to ride away.’
Leona lifted the bow and arrow on the ground at her feet.
‘I’m glad I brought this.’
She had grabbed a bow when she was running away, just in case. If it weren’t for that decision, she wouldn’t have been able to pull off the exploding-chipbox maneuver.
It was easy. She fastened the chipbox to an arrow and then input an incorrect password to put the box in detonation sequence. Then she just fired it towards the slaughters.
The problem for Leona was that the tension on the bow was too strong for her to use it properly. Just firing the bow once was enough to take almost all of her energy.
She’d managed to fire the chipbox-laden arrow with pure grit, but she wasn’t sure she could kill someone if it really came down to it.
The only things she had to protect herself now were a knife and the bow.
‘I guess there’s nothing left to do but die.’
She had been able to get one good blow in, but killing the last four slaughters would be a pain in the ass. She could always just run away - Leona didn’t want to do that, and she wasn’t even sure she’d be safe, anyway.
‘I’m going to kill these bastards, then leave. She wanted to kill them out of anger and frustration for turning her new home into ruin, but that wasn’t the only reason.
‘They were good people.’
She had only been there for two days, but everyone accepted her kindly. Even for Leona - who had seen lots of shit in her day - watching the slaughters play with heads like they were soccer balls, or stuff their faces like animals, made her feel disgusted and horrified.
She wouldn’t be able to forgive herself if she let these savages live.
Knowing that they were alive and breathing the same air as her made her sick.
That’s how she was feeling - not quite an ethos, but an instinct. Leona hitched an arrow in the bow and waited, watching the open area intently.
The four guards she was waiting for never showed up. They were all dead - wind whistling through the holes in their heads. Leona didn’t know that.
“What the hell!”
Instead of the guards, what emerged from the building were a few slaughters who had managed to escape the brunt of the explosion, thanks to sleeping inside. There were three of them. Leona held her breath and lowered her eyes to observe them.
‘Baldie, One-Eye, Long-Hair.’
Leona continued her watch on the three, giving each a nickname.
“They all look dead.”
“Did lightning strike or something? Did some idiot explode a grenade?”
“Boss must be dead then.”
All the spoils from the city had disappeared together with the chipbox. The surviving slaughters had absolutely no idea what was going on.
They were trying to decide if there was an enemy attack, or if it had merely been a mistake. The timing would have been perfect for an attack. Slaughters are strange and eccentric beings out in the wild. They don’t mourn their fallen brethren. Of course they had a sense of fraternity with one another, but that fraternity didn’t extend to the dead.
Baldie addressed the other two survivors:
“So who’s the Boss now?”
Even in a group of three, to a man the look in their eyes shifted when the question of the newest leader was raised.
“Why me, of course” ventured Long-Hair.
To which Baldie shouted in reply:
“That’s bullshit! I’m the oldest! The Boss is always the oldest!”
“My ass, the Boss is always the strongest” replied Long-Hair.
“You guys are nothing compared to me! What the fuck are you talking about?” added One-Eye.
The atmosphere around the three survivors turned tense as the subject of rightful leader was raised.
‘What the hell...pathetic losers.’
Leona watched the open space, wondering if these slaughters actually belonged to the same species as her. Ard Point fell to people this careless and pathetic. She was pissed off and dumbfounded.
“I’m the new boss!”
“The order for boss is the order we came out of the building, you assholes!”
They were now shouting at each other, appearing like they were close to throwing punches. Leona began to wonder if she’d be okay running away - if she didn’t have to take care of those morons herself. She was contemplating that decision when…
One-Eye suddenly threw a glance in Leona’s direction, mumbling with a bleak chuckle:
“I found it.”
Leona ducked her head as fast as possible. But it was too late. One-Eye had already seen her.
“Where?” asked Long-Hair, seemingly forgetful of their recent violent row.
“4th floor of that building. Fifth window from the left.”
“Figures. Must’ve been a rat hiding out.”
“It’s a little kid.”
Baldie laughed. Leona could hear the slaughters laughing. She had goosebumps on her back.
‘Crazy bastards...those crazy bastards.’
The three seemed to have run out of the building randomly. In reality, they were holding their positions in a triangle shape. They were merely pretending to argue, while they each looked behind the others’ backs. With that formation, they could easily get a 360 degree view of the situation.
Slaughters are crazy.
Just like hunters.
Slaughters stay alive in the wild for a reason. Insanity doesn’t guarantee survival. Even if slaughters are known for being an insane group, insanity certainly wasn’t their only strong suit.
They had managed to make their enemy drop their guard by pretending to argue. They took advantage of that moment to uncover Leona’s hiding place.
Slaughters were vicious and smart enough to use their enemies’ preconception that they were crazy against them.
“There’s no back door in that building. The kid can only leave through the front door. Let’s harass ‘em a bit.”
They were only going to stay for a night then leave. And yet, they had an in-depth understanding of Ard Point’s layout.
“Looks like all the guards are dead too.”
There was no sign of the guards who had been on the walls. They had a pretty good idea what must’ve happened to them.
“She might try to escape through a back window. Get to the back of the building! I’ll take the flank. You watch the front!”
They began to move in a well-ordered fashion.
‘I can’t just stay here now that they’ve found me.’
Leona wasn’t the kind of person to wait in fear for death. She moved to the next room and settled by the window. She notched the bow.
Unable to pull back the bow all the way, she nevertheless boldly thrust herself into plain view through the window. The slaughters saw her plainly. She didn’t have enough time to aim or settle her breathing properly.
‘Please let it hit them!’
The arrow flew from the bow.
The arrow didn’t even reach Baldie’s feet. It stuck in the ground ten strides from him.
“You can’t even shoot! Hey kid! You wouldn’t even be able to shoot a still pig like that!” jabbed Baldie. Leona gritted her teeth. It was true that she couldn’t shoot - she couldn’t aim because it was too hard to pull the bow back. Baldie continued to bait Leona:
“Hey! Try and hit me! I won’t move! HAHAHAHAHAHA.”
“That fucking bastard...”
Leona grit her teeth and reloaded the bow.
Pulling the string back for the second time was enough to make Leona’s muscles scream in agony. The bow wasn’t light enough for a child could wield it. She tried as best she could to pull the string. Her efforts were in vain however, for they only made her more tired.
Instantly Baldie laughed bitterly at Leona.
“HAHAHAHAHA!! Hey! Where did the archer go? Whacha gonna do noooowwwwww??”
That only served to piss Leona off even more.
‘Crazy assholes. If only I had another weapon...they wouldn’t be acting like that then…No, no, hold on...”
Leona was suddenly struck with a bad feeling.
She hadn’t live up that that point without mistakes. Of course she’d made a few. But there were reasons why she’d managed to stay alive.
She never made the same mistake twice. Leona had just make a mistake. She’d been discovered for observing too keenly the seemingly pathetic slaughters.
What Baldie was doing may also be some kind of trap.
‘What about the other two assholes?!?’
She couldn’t see the other two slaughters. They could be inside the building coming for her right now.
It’s possible they were pretending to be going around the back of the building. They could have brought heavy weapons capable of taking out a 4-story building.
Leona saw One-Eye in the distance, holding what looked like a pile of metal. He was aiming it at her. Leona became even more uneasy.
Leona had no idea that what he was holding was an RPG-7. All she knew at that moment was her uneasiness - which told her to run inside the building.
The rocket let out a roar and a ball of flames. Leona flung herself into the room across the way.
Leona was thrown like a pinball onto the floor with the explosion.
“You idiot! Can’t you even shoot properly?
“It’s nighttime now you dick!”
The missile thankfully had missed its mark. The room was a mess, but Leona was able to lift herself to her feet, shaking.
“Cra- crazy...what the hell was that.”
The sound of metal from outside let Leona know that something bad was happening again. She couldn’t know for sure because her hearing had been messed up in the first explosion, but Leona knew at the very least that her situation was dire.
‘I gotta run away.’
‘Those assholes are using god-knows-what kind of huge weapons. I, on the other hand, have a bow I can’t even use. There is no chance of winning. I’ve gotta run away.
One of the slaughters had a rocket launcher. Leona couldn’t see the other. Just then she realized, in this desperately dangerous situation, that she had lost track of the third slaughter. Just as she staggered up and looked towards the door…
Long-Hair was standing there, staring at Leona, a dark smile creeping across his lips. There were only three of them left, but the slaughters were exhaustive in their movements.
One slaughter attacked the 4th floor with the rocket launcher; another was lying in wait in the building in case the rocket failed.
‘Deciding who would cover what side of the building...that was all a trick.’
Letting everyone within shouting distance your plan is something only idiots do. These bastards are crazy - but they’re not idiots. It’s impossible to know what’s a bluff and what’s real with them. They were able to move this systematically without even a proper discussion.
These slaughters were able to take down the 100 or so men of Ard Point with only 30 of their own. That wasn’t only because they had superior weapons.
Only then was Leona keenly aware of their real capabilities.
Leona bit her lips, retreating slowly.
“I’m not sure what you did, but there’s nowhere else to run now.”
Long-Hair was slowly walking towards Leona. He was weaponless, but he could easily strangle a little kid with his bare hands.
“Haha. Good. Good. The Boss didn’t like us playing with live ones. Now that he’s gone I can finally enjoy myself a bit.”
As he approached Leona, Long-Hair seemed to be extracting maximum pleasure from the fact that she was trapped and had nowhere to go. Leona’s eyes were wet with fear as she shook in the window. Leona was shaking her head and had her arms crossed as if to say ‘don’t come any closer.’
“Just jump, huh?. If I get you, something really, realllllllly bad is gonna happen.”
She would die if she jumped. Long-Hair was chuckling, curious to see if Leona would choose to kill herself to escape his terror.
“Should I show you what I mean by something bad? Yea? It’ll be scary. It’ll hurt. It’ll be terrible. I want to rip your eyes out and pour sand in there.”
Leona was just shaking, her teeth clenched. She was staring at the grim reaper-esque Long-Hair. She had nowhere to run in the sealed room. The man approached her. Just four steps away, he screamed:
“I’ll choose for you if you can’t, kid!”
The man rushed towards Leona, who undid her clasped hands. Instead of running away, she leapt into the man’s torso.
Leona had her knife hidden under her arm. It was now in her right hand.
She thrust that very hand towards the man’s neck.
The man grabbed his neck and stumbled back. Leona stood up nimbly and removed her knife.
Leona stabbed the man’s chest.
Now she went for his stomach.
-THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!
She was stabbing him repeatedly, holding the knife with two hands.
The man was shaking, unable to fight back after being stabbed at least seven times. Blood was bubbling in his mouth. Leona was staring at the man, calmly. Her demeanour suggested she had been faking her terror just moments before.
Leona removed the knife and stood up, staggering, once the man stopped convulsing.
“I’m screwed cause I’m a little kid, but there are also some good things about being a kid.”
Leona licked the blood off her lips and spit. Her clothes and her face were all covered in blood.
Kids are weak. Her opponent had thought so, and he had looked down on her and underestimated her accordingly.
Just like slaughters use their insanity to deceive their enemies, Leona had used her age to do the same.
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