If I attempted to run, I already knew what he would do to me. I needed no extra reminders of that fact. The images of my parents’ faces flooded back to me as I stared my enemy down. I would win this battle for them, and myself.

Win, lose or draw…

As the hunter drew his weapon into a fighting stance, I remained completely composed in my own position, ready and waiting for his first move. As I promised myself to give him the fight of his life, I knew I was in for my own.
I knew that he knew what he was doing and that he knew how to handle his blade. I barely knew how to handle mine. All I had on my side was that the hunter himself did not know if I knew what I was doing or not.
As much as the thought made me sick to my stomach, I had to thank the hunter for giving me the emotional blindness and control that I now possessed. I had no feelings, no responses that could be equated to normal people.

I did not know if this was entirely because of what happened to my family, or if I had gotten in touch with a dark and sinister part of myself. And then without warning, the hunter began his attack.
He swung his blade towards my face, but I managed to move out of his path with relative ease. We both resumed a posture of defense, never breaking eye contact. My first thought was that he was testing me.
His next attack was much more violent, swinging his blade and his free fist at me with frightening speed and accuracy. I brought my blade up several times and managed to deflect his.

On his next attack, he aimed directly for my head, and I ducked underneath and turned, swinging my blade at high speed towards him. As he turned back to my blade reached him first and sliced across his chest.
I grinned with satisfaction as he recoiled in pain, surprised at how I had injured him so quickly. I could tell from his face that he was surprised as well, and that he had greatly underestimated my skills.
I knew at that point I could not afford to drop any kind of hint that it was a lucky strike. I saw him grit his teeth as he lunged at me again. I managed to parry the thrust from his blade with my own, but he managed to strike me across the face with he free hand, balled into a fist.

I fell backwards in shock by the power of his punch and tried to tumble out of the way as best as I could. As I came to and turned over, barely a few seconds later the hunter had reached me too quickly.
He managed to kick the blade out of my hand and bared down on me with his own. Just as I prepared myself for the mortal strike something extraordinary happened.

The hunter was struck from his side, which threw him completely off me and onto the ground nearby. I got back to my feet quickly enough and watched the stag as it moved away from the hunter, its attack successful.
I smiled ear to ear at seeing it help me in my most desperate moment. Seeing my trusty blade out of the corner of my eye I moved swiftly over to it and took it in the palm of my hand once more.
As I turned, I raised my blade, in time to deflect the blade of the hunter as he resumed his attack. The impact of the stag’s antlers had winded him but done no serious damage. I could not even contemplate how I could repay the debt I owed, but that was not on my list of priorities at that moment.

The hunter had become far more aggressive, and had managed to pin me against a tree, my blade holding off his own. As we held each other at bay the hunter managed to pull back and knee me heavily in the groin.
As I winced in pain, he swiped at me with his blade and caused a very deep laceration across my forehead. In response I brought my blade down and cut deeply into his arm as he allowed his guard to drop.

Anticipating another strike from him I swung my blade upwards and deflected his knife arm away from me. Taking the opportunity to move I twisted away from him and from the tree, and back into the open.
He turned to me once more, his arm badly bleeding. I could feel the blood running down my forehead as we faced each other off again. I stared into his eyes, and I could see genuine shock in his face. He had clearly not anticipated such strong resistance. I felt great pride in myself and my allies of the forest.

The hunter raised his blade to strike me once more and out of nowhere the stag and the deer appeared. The stag ploughed straight into the hunter’s side, knocking him off balance once more and the deer that I had seen the for the first time the previous night knocked me backwards and away from the hunter.
I knew it did not mean me any harm, and was attempting to get me out of harms way. I managed to keep hold of my blade as the deer moved to the side of me, allowing me to regain my bearings. I looked into its eyes briefly until it turned back to the hunter and its mate.

The stag was struggling with the hunter, trying to injure or disable him. But before I could reach them in time, the hunter drew up his blade and struck the stag in the side of its chest.
“No!!!” I cried out at the top of my lungs. It was the first time I had uttered any words or sounds since the morning when I had told Sarah and Peter to leave. I got up, preparing to defend the stag but the deer beat me to it.

It managed to push the stag away from the hunter, but the blade was pulled from the stag and the hunter managed to keep hold of it. Acting on pure rage and passion I threw myself at the hunter, blade at the ready.
As I came down on him, I could see he was not expecting such a suicidal move on my part. I managed to slide his other arm open and impale his shoulder in the process. As I fell over him as he lay on the ground my knife twisted while inside his wound, causing him great pain.

I fell to the ground near to him and a short distance from the deer and the fallen stag. With great shock I realized I had released my dagger in the confusion. I caught sight of it nearby, but as I went for it I was struck in the face by a leather clad boot.
I reeled backwards, blood streaming from my nose but managing to keep my balance. I had managed to inflict a great deal of damage on the hunter, but I was now unarmed. My blade lay on the far side of him.
I could see the sick twisted smile returning to his face as he lunged at me once more. I could see the gully to my right as my back hit the same tree I had attempted to hide behind before.

The hunter struck out for me with his fist, which I managed to deflect. But he had managed to take advantage of my blind spot, and before I could do anything I saw out of the corner of my eye the blade that he had used to murder my parents.
I could sense nothing but pure evil in his eyes and the stench of his breath as he stopped inches from my face. I looked into his eyes and felt my jaw slacken, releasing a slow gasp of breath.
I watched as he smiled once more, and then drew all his remaining saliva together. He then spat in my face before moving away from me a few feet. I did not understand his behavior. I would have expected him to have dealt me the final blow, having had the opportunity to only moments before.

I noticed that he no longer held his blade in his hand, and my first reaction was to look down at my body. As I did, I then came to embrace my worst fears. Protruding from my chest was the bloodied hilt of the hunter’s dagger.
I did not know much about human anatomy but from where it was embedded in my torso, I got the distinct impression there was no way to save me. I felt a wave of sorrow and failure come over me. The fear still did not touch me.
“I’m sorry Mother, Father… I tried…” I whispered as I looked back up to the hunter, who was still smiling at me. His smile soon changed into an open grin, and then he began laughing in a way that made my blood curdle.

“At least you aren’t dying like your father. He squealed like a little girl before the end. As did your mother”
It was the first time I had ever heard the hunter speak. And in that moment, I swore it would be the last.
I felt that there was nothing that could save me now, so I decided to use my last remaining ounces of strength for what I believed was right. Reaching down, I took hold of the bloody hilt that stuck out from my wound.
I looked into the face of the hunter as I carried out what I thought was my last action. As I grabbed the hilt, I saw his laugh change to a face that demonstrated great confusion.

Without thinking I tore the dagger out of my chest and held it up high. I smiled once more as I watched the hunters jaw drop in pure shock. I was tempted to run at him and impale him, but I had promised myself I would not kill him in such a fashion.
Putting strength into my arm I threw the dagger at the ground near the hunter’s feet, which caused him to look down in even greater shock. Bearing my teeth and acting on more rage and anger than I had ever felt I balled up my left fist and channeled into it all of the remaining energy I had.

In the split second or so that the hunter as staring down in shock as the dagger I had ripped from my torso, I swung my fist up with all my might and struck the hunter across the face with so much force it created a cracking sound that echoed through the trees.
The shock was so great that it threw the hunter backwards several feet. I saw he had no control over how his body was falling as it flew with great speed off the side of the gully.
I moved as quickly as I could to the side of the small ravine, listening to the desperate screams of the now defeated hunter as he plummeted to the ground below. The hunter hit the ground headfirst and I could hear his neck shatter in several different places.

To Be Continued…..

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