The Huntress' Thoughts
Had I gone completely mad? What was I thinking entering Vengham? No, no use questioning that now. But, I find myself in a very creepy building, with a very creepy doctor, intending to “inoculate” me, he says. He’s pointing… Down? To the basement? Fair enough, I guess. Huh, apparently there are three more individuals was here as well. Ugh, syringes… I really don’t like them. And… Wait… Did he say experiment? Can things get worse than this?
Run! I must run! I’m not sure why I must run, but I must run! A light source! It’s a lantern in a clearing, and whatsmore I don’t seem to be alone. My eyes are not adjusted to the light proper, so I can’t see them. And as if that confusion wasn’t enough, I can hear the shadow beast at the edge of the light… Wait, I have my gun! I’ll make quick work of… It’s… A giant cat… Made of shadows! Not only do the enemies appear to be taken straight out of nightmares, but people I am with thinks I’m a child. Well, that matters little now, must focus on the fight! What a fight to focus on, though… A creepy lady who keeps singing a nursery rhyme, while slicing up a giant looking bug… A strange well dressed man who’s just standing there, for all intents and purposes… He appears to be drinking, maybe? And a weird sailor who is going after my prey!… My… prey? Hmm, I suppose it does feel wrong to hit the ape, as if my bullets doesn’t have the effect they should… But the cat is too elusive. That said, I have no choice now… The cat is staring me down. Time to shoot! That… felt… good? I am the huntress, not the other way around, I suppose. W—wait! The shadows are… Coming towards me! I—I… This must indeed be a dream! I feel… better. My feet feel lighter, as if I can move more quickly. My eyes feel sharper… What just happened? And woow! What happened to the well dressed man… He looks… Wrong! And yet, I feel something to him, and the others. I can’t describe it… Unless the word “pack” makes any sense, I suppose.
We make our way towards light after light, the military man picked up a lantern and led us. The lady spoke to me, but I can barely think at the moment. I recognise her face, I have seen it somewhere before… Whatever, this is a dream, it must be. I think I answered her? We reached a hunting lodge. It appears to be inhabited by a man. He says that this indeed a dream. I introduce myself to him… And I realise my rudeness, I had not introduced myself the people around me. Was the weird feeling I felt towards them, or simply that this is a dream, so it was never necessary? Wait… Does this lady know me? St Clair? I remember that name. The rumours say that she killed her husband. Apparently not a rumour. The man leads us outside and tells us about these white things in the lake… Personally, I just can’t over the fact that I have whiskers… This is such a weird dream. We enter the lodge, and while the lady and the soldier, named Jonathan Croft apparently lieutenant and everything, argue about which is best suited for me, we decide to wake up. Who decides to wake up anyway?
My face!… I am… Still human… I think… What a horrible dream. Was it a dream though? St Clair scans me, clearly disapproving of my attire. I care not. Shortly after the doctor finishes dressing in his elaborate costume, I hear something upstairs. The doctor maybe, he needs to answer a question or two! As we go up the stairs to where my things were I hear something ahead… The soldier is in the way, I cannot see. But it sounds like a beast having a meal. Myself and the soldier gear up, while the lady and our doctor charge ahead. I hear a bang from the soldier, before I can join the battle proper and… All I find is a horrible smell… wolf-man thing, and the doctor… Corpses. He is dead… Right before my eyes. Is this a dream too? It must be. The lady… I can’t even describe her actions with words. I turn my head away as they… work. Our doctor gets wrapped up in a book. I need to get away from this. The lady decides to scout ahead, I go with her. What was I thinking going to Vengham? I must be mad…
Somehow I manage to catch my calm. The lady, Delilah I believe she said her name was, says she hails from this land, though that she has not been here for some time. Given the state of the land, perhaps that is for the best. Even so, she says she may know where Linus might be, and that as I already believed he is probably already dead. Thus, we begin to travel through Vengham. Myself, the Lieutenant Croft, the Doctor, as well as the lady Delilah, make up for a strange pack… Team. That said, I do feel a connection to them. The dream we apparently shared may have something to do with it. Or perhaps the extreme circumstances we’ve found ourselves in are activating some sort of survival instincts in me to keep my friends close. That said, I should keep my eyes and ears open. While my eyes will be of little use in this darkness as they are now, my ears should provide reasonable scouting potential.
A house. Should there be people inside, they may be able to assist us. Though, from what I have heard of the vengamese, they may be just as likely to shun us. The “noble”-ness of my pack appears to be very disinterested in the common folk, however. I would argue with them. However, considering our circumstances it will do little good. As long as lady Delilah knows where we are going, that should be good enough. I doubt Linus would be in these parts anyway. His mother was much too poor for this, as it turned out. Oh, Linus where could you be? I should not have come here looking for you, but now I cannot return to Ludmilla without at least some news.
Footsteps! The lady turns off the lantern, and we split up, two by two. The lady and the soldier does not seem to be the most subtle of people… Then again, I probably would not be either, should I wear such elaborate clothes. That said, the Doctor seems to be doing well.
Again, footsteps! This time ahead of us. We turn towards a set of stairs. Quite the sight awaits us at the top of the stairs, though. I had heard that one would burn people, specially those afflicted by the plague, or those thought to be witches in less civilised corners of the world, so it should come to no surprise to me that it would be practiced here as well. We manage to get passed them before the party behind us was able to catch up to us.
We negotiate some more alleys, when I see someone atop a tower ahead of us… What—or who ever it is seems to have noticed us. It descends on the iron fence in front of us. A thought returns to my mind as the bird-woman-person grips the fence like no mere should be able to do, namely… Am I still dreaming? I shake of the thought, and listen to her. She introduces herself as Alice, and asked us if we were hunters. Silly question! I would never let prey get the better of me, I am the hunter, not the other way around! She barters with the Doctor. The less than healthy looking green liquid in his bottles appear agreeable to Alice. In return she gives us bottles containing liquids that apparently make you sturdier or more agile. I have read of potions with such effects. Not to mention a french alchemist who said he could concoct similar brews. With that, Alice flies off, and creates a diversion allowing an easier time to get away. We continue towards the bridge, said to lead towards the part that yields the old St Clair mansion. The Doctor would find use of the basement of the St Clair mansion, as I understand.
We split again, with myself and lieutenant Croft in front, followed by the lady Delilah and the Doctor. After a while, Croft stops as the lady and the doctor stares into an alley. To be on the safe side, I hide behind some boxes while Croft walks up to them. In the alley was a priest, he talks about the area around the church. I keep my ears peeled should there be company. As well as keeping an eye on the priest, should he turn hostile I… I will assist my friends! As fortune would have it, nothing happens. And the priest says he will lead us to the church, passed the bridge.
Before the bridge lies an unavoidable obstacle before us… Plagued men and dogs. As we have the element of surprise, we surmise a quick strategy… I will sneak up to get the high ground. Behind me, the Doctor will sneak up to get into a good fighting position. On the other side of the street, Croft would attempt a quick dispatch of the plagued dogs. In the middle, the lady and the priest would attempt to communicate with the people, to allow us passage. The dogs sense us as we approach, however. Myself and the Doctor seems to not be targeted at first, though. I make it up on my perch, when I see why… Croft is faced down by a rabid, burning, dog and a crazed man with an axe. I take aim and dispatch of the dog. The other dogs are cleaned up, and it appears the negotiations are done and over with, as the Doctor… Decapitates one of the men… And Delilah and the priest make quick work of another. Croft makes an attempt to finish a third… But there is one in a shooting position left… He is shooting at the Doctor. A similar feeling to what I felt during the dream comes over me… My eyes sharpen… Me feet lighten… I cannot hesitate. I jump over to the other side, to get a better view of the gunman. I take aim… I hesitate, and barely get a grazing shot. This time, I will defend the others! I aim, there is a slight shake in my hands… And my trusty musket clicks… The others swarm him. Lady Delilah comes up to me, she asks if I am alright. What a silly question…
I was far from alright… I had just shot a man. Or attempted to, at least. Makes no difference. Guns are killing, is what my grandfather always said. He never pointed them at people, for this reason. But also said that there are times when one needs to kill people… Luckily for him, he no longer risked ending up in that situation. Thoughts of my grandfather came over me, I started to understand. I know the value of life, I know the loss of death. I answered the Lady that I was quite alright. The priest spoke to us, and headed off towards lower Vengham. My eyes kept moving to my companions… We had all changed. Perhaps it wasn’t a dream, after all? Perhaps I am not dreaming now. The lieutenant had reverted back to human form… Or something. However, there is no mistake he was… Different, as well. Like the rest of us. The Lady had peeled bits of skin, and had bugs crawling inside of her. The good doctor was… Bigger. Much bigger. And I… I feel different, but I don’t know that I look much different. Wait… Did the lady say I had whiskers? I touched my face again, and indeed… Whiskers. I shook my head, this was no time to think about it we needed to focus on our goal… s? Plural, yes we all had different goals. As we make our way over the bridge a huge creature jumps out on the bridge. It was an odd beast-man, more beast than man. It had two huge arms–no one of the arms seemed much longer. It reached all the way to the doctor, the doctor was grabbed by the giant! The rest of our pack scattered in an attempt to do what they can to bring the monstrosity down. I was baffled by the sheer size of the thing, but finally got my senses together. I remember my training. A well placed shot can disarm anyone from anything!, my grandfather had said. My hands were still shaking from earlier, and more so now… So my trusty musket clicked again! Silly thing! I wanted to toss it off the bridge in frustration, but I somehow managed to keep my cool. I hid behind a pillar, and fixed my musket. I leaned out and shot the beast. It was a good hit. And my worry for the doctor suddenly disappeared… As the hand that was holding him basically started to explode with finger-insides and bones flying every which where. The lady had taken place below the beast, and was cutting his thighs. She was absolutely showered in blood now.
It did not take long for the beast to run. And such speed! But the hunt was on… I felt its blood calling for me. I hurried after. If only I could get within its line of sight, and I could end it., were the only thoughts running through my head. I heard a shot. The lieutenant was quicker to position. As we were unsure if the beast was dead. Thus, we closed in on the church carefully. The beast threw a crucifix at us. It was too disoriented to hit anything, luckily. My blood became still when we saw the beast draw its final breath. It was a strange feeling… I see myself as a huntress. I hunt the beast, the beast does not hunt me… But this was something very different… Yet the same. My blood didn’t pump for survival as it had previously, it pumped for the hunt itself.
Delilah remembered the what was said by the cabin, and did some… Weird blood sacrifice, or something. I would had stopped her, had this been a sacred place… But I fear God may have been wise enough to abandon this place long ago. She called them to ask for new attire… A reasonable request, I guess, considering the state of her dress. Lieutenant Croft did the same, as his arm had been completely coated. The Doctor asked for the location of the chalice… Chalice? In my shock I may have missed a thing or two about why went here specifically. It mattered not. The messengers pointed downwards… The basement, that makes sense.. A defendable position.
We were getting tired, and required rest. The vestry seemed like a logical place. Again, normally not to be recommended, but given the circumstances I don’t think God would mind, even if he should return. Myself and the lady searched for the key to the vestry, while the men took care of the barricading. The lady had scolded me when I asked if we should not help them, so I refrained from pushing the subject too much. We found the key, and a diary. I began reading it, and recounting the more interesting parts. Apparently, the lower courts of Vengham we had seen in flames before, had been in flames for some time. How dreadful. The bishop seemed to have gone insane, slowly. Maybe the beast outside was… No point in speculating. The men went upstairs to investigate the bell, as the lady had heard it go off. And for our part, Delilah had theorised that there should be a well, not too far away, and she required to clean herself somewhat.
The well was located outside, as is most of the case. The crank looked like it would make a lot of noise, so I took a position on the roof of the back door, and made sure to keep an eye out. I caught the noise of a bell of sorts. I pointed Delilah to the location. And a huge lumbering… man like thing appeared at the some ways down the street. Delilah drew its attention… Is she mad? It started walking towards her slowly. I thought that I would shoot it right away, but I hesitated… I won’t shoot him, unless he seems to be hostile. He walked all the way up to Delilah, and raised his metal rod… I shot him, twice, before he could react. Delilah seemed disappointed with me, as she finished him off. And Croft… CROFT?! Where did he come from?! Anyway… He checked with us, that we were fine. I thought he was up by the bell… He must’ve come down much faster than anticipated. He assisted in the carrying of the water. Inside we reunited with the doctor, who seemed quite shocked to see Croft.
Us women split off into a different room to wash up. The lady did seem to mind any state of undress. She did seem surprised that I offered to help her wash. Her body, like my own, is covered in scars… But hers are of a… Slightly different nature. I have seen many a scar caused by the dangerous life of the adventurer. These are of a darker nature. She told me of her past. I felt for her, but I fear she would not accept pity, or respect, at this point. As we talked, for a moment I felt as if I was back in the Gainsborough mansion speaking to Esmeralda. I was beginning to feel human again… But this is not a place for humans. The lady suddenly shot at me with a knife… Still stained somewhat in blood. She overwhelmed me for a split second, I felt instinct kick in. I kicked her back. Croft barged into the room, in my protection. I told him that it was fine. The lady had calmed down… She wanted to test me. While I may not approve of her methods… She has a point. This is not a place that allows for hesitation…