My eyes have fully adjusted to the darkness of the caves, and I have become quite the hunter. I’ve moved on from rotting corpses and rats to bats in flight. I’m down to six arrows now, though, so I’ve learned to be more conservative with them. All these hunting skills will be useless if I run out of arrows.

I start trying to use the dagger to hunt. It’s a lot harder than using the bow, but eventually I get it. I learn how to sneak through the darkness, moving quietly and staying hidden. I learn how to sneak up on small animals, and kill them quickly and silently. It takes a good long while, but eventually, I get as good with the knife as I am with the bow. More importantly, I know how to conceal myself, and I can move without making any sound. I can see in the darkness now, but the things that can see in the dark can’t see me. It’s a skill I learn just in time, too.

I don’t know how long I have spent in these caves, hunting rats and bats and whatever else I could find. Long enough that I’ve gotten really good with both the bow and the hunting knife. I haven’t seen any other humanoids since the peri, though. I am thankful for that, because it has given me a chance to hone my skills without facing any serious opposition. Still, a part of me wants to try hunting some sentient creature just to see how I come out. Eventually, I get my chance.

I go around a bend, and I see two more of the strange obsidian peri coming towards me. They haven’t seen me yet, though, so I press myself against a wall, and let them go around me. One of them passes less than two feet in front of me, but they are completely oblivious to my presence. I smile when I realize that I have perfected my stealth skills to the point that not even the mighty drow of the underdark can see me.

As soon as they step past me, I slide from the wall, and strike from behind. I step behind the closest one, cover his mouth with one hand, and slit his throat with my dagger. He gurgles on his own blood, which alerts the other one to my presence. I make a mental note to take this into consideration the next time I try to take on two opponents at once, but I barely have time to form the thought before the second one has his sword out and is facing me. 

He lunges, but I step to the side and the sword misses me by inches. I paid too much attention to that attack, though, not realizing that he had another sword in his other hand. He brings his second sword around, and catches me in my arm. It’s a glancing blow, but it still stings. 

If he’s going to fight with two blades, so am I. I pull my sword out, and slash upwards with it in the same motion. It opens a gash across his stomach and chest. I punch him with the hand holding the dagger, but it bounces harmlessly off of his forearm. 

One of his swords goes high, aiming to take my head off, and the other goes low, trying to gut me. I duck under the one, and simultaneously step back from the other, and so they both miss. The move knocks me off balance, though, and before I can recover, he swings both swords down in an arc from over his head. Since I’m already off balance, the easiest thing for me to do is to just keep falling backwards. I land hard on my ass, and drop both the sword and the hunting dagger. Shit.

He jumps at the opportunity, quite literally. Thinking me unarmed, he jumps into the air, with his sword and dagger aimed right at my chest. As he’s coming down, I reach behind me, and pull one of my broken arrows from my belt. Even though they’re no good with a bow, they still make good emergency knives. Wielding it like a small cutting tool, with just the arrowhead sticking out from between my knuckles, I punch him straight into the heart as he’s coming down. One of his blades punctures my arm, right at the shoulder, but seeing the light fade from his eyes in a look of shock, pain, and fear is worth it. The body falls on top of me, and I roll out from underneath it. 

I search the bodies, and find almost nothing of value. There’s a potion with a healing symbol on it, so I drink it. It doesn’t occur to me that it might be poison until it’s halfway down my throat. Fortunately, it isn’t, and my wounds all heal…including some lingering pain I had felt since fighting with the devil so long ago. I look for another one, but there aren’t any. The daggers they have are suitable for throwing, and so I take them and put them in my belt, replacing the broken arrows. The peri I killed from behind was carrying a longsword, so I take it and drop the devil’s sword. I think twice about it, and pick it back up. 

They are both wearing leather armor, so I strip them bare and try it on. I don’t like it. It restricts my movement too much, and slows me down. I take the armor off, and decide to just stay in the black silk clothes I took off the first peri I killed. I really like the comfort and freedom of movement. 

There’s no good place to hide the bodies, so I just pull them off to the side. So far, this has been a lonely place, so I’m not too worried about anyone finding them. 

I should have worried more. Just as I finish moving them, Something hits the back of my head, and the darkness consumes me.

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay 

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