My boots echoed on the stone. I looked around as a Huntress; trying to find the wrong places. I preceded, Alexander behind me. The pews past us by without incident, and without finding a living soul, but at least we hadn't encountered an inhuman one. I stopped at the closed door of my room, and opened it quickly. Alexander closed the door behind himself, locking us in the simple room the priest had allowed me to occupy. I sank to my knees in front of my trunk that lay at the foot of the bed and drew the lid open. My weapons lay just as I had left them. I took the blades from the chest, placing all five of them in their proper places, and replacing Alexander's at my hip. I slipped my crossbow into place as well as my long blade. I went to the mirror and washbasin and took a look at myself. I took the cloth and dipped it into the water. I could see Alexander standing behind me, looking about uneasily. I stopped a moment. I felt it too. Something was terribly wrong, I didn't care to find out; we had orders that had to come first. Being there felt very wrong though. It felt as if the entire church was willing us to leave.
I rubbed at the dry blood caked on my forehead, and winced when I began rubbing my open flesh. I examined it in the mirror. It wasn't too deep; it would heal within a weeks time, or at least have scabbed over. I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Alexander sit on the bed. I approached him and held out his dagger. He took it and slid it into its sheath. I slipped down beside him.
"We must leave," he said and I nodded, knowing we should, something had happened in this church, there wasn't a living soul in the place except for us. I stood, him behind me, and approached the door. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him shiver. I retracted my hand that reached for the door handle.
"What is it?" I asked, facing him. He moved towards the window.
"Let's not go back through the church." I followed him to the window that stood about a foot above my own head, just at Alexander's. He reached up and opened the window as I looked for a place to push myself up on. I felt his hands then, firm on my waist, as he lifted me to the window ledge. I slipped easily through the opening in the widow and turned to aid Alexander, as his larger frame would most likely barely fit. He didn't need my help though, as I could see his body slipping almost as easily as I had, though the window.
The night was still calm, the air still dry with threat. The leaves rustled in disturbance. I looked around, unsettled at the way the buildings stood, all too quite and standing too proud of holding their masters inside sleeping soundly after having said the night's prayers and told their child a story of monsters and demons that don't exist. I was almost envious of those children, not knowing what stirred the shadows into moving, but I knew better than that.
I felt Alexander approach and still a few paces behind me. I wondered briefly if he thought the things I did, but when I turned to face him, seeing the way he was studding me, his face told me he thought the opposite. He started away, and for a moment I thought I saw pain writing itself across his pale face and blue eyes. I followed him as he walked carefully towards the tree line, his eyes combing the darkness. I closed my eyes and let the forest speak.
I felt nothing. I heard nothing, not even the call of an owl or a rustle of a mouse. The wood was completely still. I looked to Alexander who looked to me also.
"The forest is still," I stopped, my voice cut to deeply through the silence. I started again softer, "the forest is quiet, full of warning." He looked back to the oaks that loomed before us.
"I know, but we are Hunters of the Night, we can't let our Elders down." He spoke words of truth and ones he believed were right.
I was the first to feel the chilling wind push past me as I crossed from the grass of the meadow to the leaf cluttered dirt. My eyes darted through the trees; searching for the creature whose domain we had just entered.
"We are unwelcome here," I whispered to Alexander, crunching behind me. I heard his footsteps halt for a moment and then continue.
"I know," He whispered back.
The moon was high when we came upon the clearing and the tattered farmhouse. The barn stood in despair as its door lay in pieces, overlooking the rotting wood of a house that used to stand as proudly as the houses in the village. If only walls could talk.
"We should continue on," Alexander said when I turned to him. I had to agree with him. Any other time I would have explored the house. My hunter's instincts would have demanded it of me. Now I knew time could not be wasted. I shook my head, following Alexander as he continued. It didn't seem right the Elders could control my life the way they did. It didn't seem, the way they could control my actions just because they might have an assignment of importance for Alexander and I. I shook my head again. I had never asked to be a huntress, hated by so many just because they could never fathom nor face what lurked below their children's windows.
My eyes snapped up when the sound of Alexander's boots changed. The trees had thickened around us and a dirt road was settled roughly beneath us. Alexander's eyes looked hazed and I peered at him, confused. He had stopped standing on the edge of the path, leaving me to stand across from him. I held back a gasp as he looked up into my eyes. His eyes shimmered the vibrate blue they'd always been, but with something no hunter could ever possess.
"Forgive me, Damara," Alexander said softly.
Out of the darkness I felt them and saw their eyes peering at me all too late to grab at my dagger, as two pairs of hands clasped around me, my body drowning into the night.