A withered leaf flitted across the dry forest floor, the wind carrying it from under Slithice’s legs. His pointy nostrils contracted, as he sniffed the air, eyes narrowed. For a moment, he allowed himself a glance to his right, cocking his head ever so slightly. A shadow of doubt crossed his mind, but he quickly dismissed it.
The lack of a decent scent did not discourage him as the forest was his companion. The trampled brambles spoke of his quarry’s hasty flight. The chipped oak bark showed signs of his flailing hands, grazing across the tree side. He had to be here.
Then suddenly the wind shifted its direction, carrying a strong and musty scent. The hunter jerked to his right, bow raised, arrow notched. His wide eyes dashed across the dark forest, realizing his obvious mistake. He had underestimated his prey. This was no ordinary fugitive. In fact, he had been watching him.
A dark figure burst out from the bushes, hurtling towards the hunter. He released his arrow desperately but missed by a league. The figure dove into the mass of leaves, throwing clouds of soil and dust into the air. Slithice lunged out of the way, his lithe figure moving swiftly up the nearest tree. As he secured his position on the lowest branch he turned back, frantically searching for his prey, for whom, he now had an increased sense of respect, and wariness. But it was already too late.
It was the 23rd day of the hunt. And Arboreal Mastix, the condemned rogue trader had continued to elude the grasp of the greatest bounty hunter that the Kingdom of Assarda had seen.
Slithice had never been tested this long, usually killing his prey in the second day of tracking. But something was different this time.
His quarry was a condemned black merchant, guilty of supplying the resistance with armor and weapons. And now he was to meet his judgment. Just that the kingdom did not realize who they were dealing with.
Nevertheless, Slithice would prevail, he told himself. He had tracked nearly invisible, invincible foes, chasing them across the Kingdom, and he had always succeeded. How could a mere trader survive.
His back was sore from crouching, eyes dry and red. But he seemed to have finally cornered him. The incident in the forest was simply an underestimation. But now he was prepared.
He had made his movements stark and obvious as he trailed off his prey’s wake, taking the false trail that he had left him. He trudged off into the mountain pass of A’Kroth, wary that Mastix’s eyes watched his every footfall.
Dawn had set in and the pass had become dark with the jagged shadows of the lofty peaks.
It was easy to get lost inside. Easy to lose.
And now he had finally convinced the trader that he had him off his trail. He watched as the dark figure of the trader got out of his concealment and set off towards the town. He allowed himself a grin. Finally
His arrow aligned with the left thigh, aiming for the femoral artery. He increased the tension on the sinew of his bow, ready to release the month of fatigue and toil into the last few moments of the kill.
A loud pang indicated the release of an arrow.
Only, the arrow wasn’t his.
His eyes widened in shock as the brutal realization dawned upon him. He had been fooled once again. A sharp pain exploded from his shoulders as an arrow burst through his chest, soaring through the other end. His eyesight blurred as he let out a wail of surprise, anger, and defeat.
As he dropped to the ground, the dark figure of his quarry appeared from behind him. A sliver of moonlight played across the contours of his familiar weathered face.
Gasping for his last breaths, he could still see the remorse behind his old mentor’s steely eyes.
Coughing and spluttering he managed to bring his eyes level to his.
Please note all the characters mentioned are fictitious and any resemblance to someone you know or have met is horseshit.