As the feral began to close the distance between them, Cynder began to think malice might not be as fitting as she initially thought. It was as if he wasn’t really concerned with her other than as prey, and as a means to an end. He didn’t even really seem to care there were other hunters in the city; he wanted territory with a steady food supply. The others were an obstacle to overcome, nothing more. His goal was to be well fed, and being the only hunter in a city would insure that.
She brought her hands to her mouth, as though to stifle a scream, and swallowed hard. It seemed unlikely she could talk to the feral or that the hunters would have any interest in doing such. Perhaps this was unfortunate. She swallowed hard again as the first webs began to shoot from his clawed fingertips. She was going to die, and she found there was no way she could bring herself to accept it.
“Stop!” Scarecrow’s voice barked out of the darkness. “Now! Enough!”
He emerged from the shadows flanked by Poison and Eclipse. All three carried themselves in the manner of being ready to pounce, their eyes blazing in the low-light. The feral made a sound, which came across like a satisfied chuckle. With a quick snap of his wrist, he pulled Cynder closer to him. She swallowed hard one last time before moving her hands from her mouth, setting her jaw. Eclipse cocked her head quizzically, as his noticing what may have been some black staining around the young human’s mouth.
“Cynder mine!” Scarecrow hissed, stepping forward. “Stand away!”
The feral hissed loudly, holding out a hand to stay the other three hunters. There were hisses and clicks, sensations that Cynder could not make out. Strange images and sounds. She wondered if they were trying to negotiate.
“How it is,” the feral said finally, looking down at her. “Accept it.”
His mouth opened wider and two very large and cruelly shaped black fangs dropped forward. Briefly, Cynder wondered if that’s why the hunter’s speech carried the clicking sound it did. Not that it mattered. She tried not to let her fear show as the feral brought her closer to him.
“You’re a fucking coward!” She spat.
The fangs punched into her scalp, past flesh, muscle, and bone. The pain made her yelp, despite trying not to. She could feel some sort of liquid seeping into her. Instantly, a new pain surged from deep inside of her; it was as if she was burning, smoldering from within. She tried to scream again, but found herself paralyzed. It was then she noticed what looked like thin wisps of smoke surrounding her. She was able to get her eyes to move in their sockets enough to see a split that had formed along her left forearm and the smoke emanating from it. Her eyes turned helplessly toward the scowling hunters, who were now slowly advancing; if they couldn’t rescue her, they would avenge her.
The feral suddenly stopped, his red eyes wild with anger and confusion. He pulled away from Cynder quickly, tossing her aside like a soiled rag doll. She found she could move again, though it hurt to do so. There was still smoke coming from newly formed wounds on her skin and she still felt as though she was burning away inside. The only comfort she found was the slight flashes of light forming on her peripheries, an old sensation from just the past winter, and the feral’s reaction as he leered at her.
“Was it something you ate?” She asked, noticing her voice was somewhat slurred, something she had expected to happen.
“Bad!” The feral roared, desperately trying to spit out what he swallowed. “Rotten!”
“Cynder?” Scarecrow’s voice got her attention, she turned to see him coming quickly toward her, his voice touched her mind…What did you do?…
She opened her still free left hand. It was stained black, as though she’d been holding onto tar. Three small black objects rolled out to the pavements.
“Seeds,” she said weakly. “Three handfuls, and whatever was absorbed into my skin. Probably overdosed myself.” Then a wave of hallucinated light and color washed over her as she spasmed, causing her to laugh wildly. “Plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay ball!”
The feral, still spitting, and trying to fight the effects of the seeds himself, prepared to spring. He was still going to kill Cynder, though, not in the same manner or for the same reasons he intended. Even as he launched himself as her, the back of Scarecrow’s talon caught him in mid-air, sending him flailing back, spurts of purple hunter’s blood spraying into the night. Poison and Eclipse started to move closer to the feral at greater speed.
Scarecrow reached Cynder, who was still smoking away and staring blankly ahead. There was no time to figure out what she was seeing or whether or not it was real. He pulled her close to him and cast a glance toward his fellows.
“Cynder sick. Very sick,” he said to them…I must help her…
Both Poison and Eclipse nodded, their understanding obvious across their features. The feral was attempting to get up, but was fighting with his own effects from ingesting some of the seeds. He spat to the side to try and purge the drug from his system. Looking up, he could see the other two hunters. The smirk forming across Poison’s lips as his multicolored tongue tasted the night air was anything but whimsical.
“’Will you walk into my parlor?’ said the Spider to the Fly,” he hissed as he advanced, the sensation emanating from him was that of retribution.