Well, it's time for the first big action scene. I had fun coming up with scenarios to test Sonia with and even more fun designing her interactions with the vampire Pasha.
Believe it or not, I actually did a fair amount of research for this section, too, but I won't bog things down with too much analysis. I'll let you guys decide. Please enjoy!
"Pasha!" she cried out, casting aside her cloak. "Don't do this! Let's just -"
The hunter dodged backward as a large ax slammed into the floor in front of her, guided by hands of an empty suit of armor. She roared in frustration and peeled a long chain from her waist, spiraling it in front of her. As it swung again, she let out the chain, sending it wrapping around the handle of the ax. With a leap, she was in the air, both feet colliding with the armor's chest and sending it backward, the hunter flipping back to tug hard at the chain, liberating the armor's weapon from its grasp.
She looked around, seeing that the rest of the armors were now approaching, some with axes, some with swords. Steeling herself, she rushed in to the nearest one, dodging it's blade and wrapping her chain around it's legs. With a swift pull, the armor was on the ground and Sonia was rushing past, making for the stairway. But every step through the manor seemed to only pull the stairway further and further away. She screamed in frustration as they retreated, turning to dive out of the way of another ax.
She was surrounded now on all sides, but she acted without hesitation. In an instant she vaulted herself, hands first, onto the shoulders of the nearest false knight, somersaulting over it toward the walls of the manor. A display of throwing hatchets, blades crossed, rested atop the manor's family shield and crest. Without delay, the hunter leapt into the air, grabbing and prying them from their display. In one fluid motion, she cast the hatchets out, each one sinking into the chest of a suit of armor, dropping them.
She quickly surveyed her surroundings. If the stairs wouldn't cooperate, she needed another way up. Spotting several chandeliers that cast down the little light still in the grand hall, Sonia rushed forward. She slid between two armors, dodging their attacks and leaping up onto the shoulders of a third. Casting out her chain, she leapt into the air, snagging the nearest chandelier. Her lithe form swung through the air, reaching apex near the center of the room. Turning, she returned back to the armors, smashing into them with both feet and sending three of them tumbling over.
She smirked as the armor crashed and fell lifeless, but several more were still approaching. Building back up her momentum, she swung from the chandelier, faster and faster until she was peaking over the edge of the third floor balcony. Catching the railing with her foot, she pulled herself up and released her chain with a twist. Twirling the chain one more time, she spun it around her chest and waist, locking it in place.
She rushed into the adjoining room, a long hall with a grand piano at the center, shelves of books all around. In a flash the lights were extinguished, but Sonia was unfazed. Reaching to her belt, she unclasped a glass bottle with a glowing red liquid. She cast it at the shelves where she knew the books must be and it exploded in a blaze of fire and light. Flames erupted from the book shelves, spreading around the room and illuminating it. The light was restored none too soon as a swarm of grotesque heads, kept aloft via bat wings, swooped down at her. Each head screamed and contorted, the hair on it writhing like a nest of snakes. Sonia rolled and dodged, avoiding their attacks. She raced toward the bookshelf, twisting in air to send a volley of throwing knives behind her. Three hit their mark, dropping the creatures with earsplitting screeches, but the remaining three closed in on her.
The hunter leapt against the flaming bookshelf, pushing off as fire licked her heels, vaulting up and over the incoming creatures. As she landed, she loosed her chain once more, spinning it through the air. The creatures swooped around, barely missing the bookshelf, but they did not miss her chain. In an instant the spiked end of her chain was launched through the air, lodging itself into the leftmost creature's face, crashing it into the flaming shelves. The other two continued forward past their fallen comrade, but a quick jerk from Sonia freed the barbed end and sent it hurling into the back of the closest creature, her further pulling crashing it into the remaining head.
The pair of demon winged heads floundered on the floor for only a moment before Sonia's boot came down on them, crushing each one and splattering her in their blood. Panting, the hunter turned to the exit of the hallway. "What further hell do you have for me, Pasha?" she cried out. There was only the sound of the burning books to answer her. Gritting her teeth, she pressed forward.
The hallways of the manor seemed to stretch and rearrange at will. She would look down one corridor only to find the one she had come from had disappeared. Stairs appeared at random, leading to nowhere. The very floor beneath her fell away at the slightest touch. Doors ignited into blazes before she could pass through them. Still, the hunter pressed forward.
Her breath fogged in the air as she approached a large, wooden door. She stared at it for several moments before approaching, producing her chain and kicking the barbed end at it. It struck the door with a satisfying thud; this, at least, was no illusion. This also meant this was where Pasha wanted her to go. With a roar she kicked open the door, revealing a large ballroom. Candles and torches lit the room, with various colored glass panes transforming it into a kaleidoscope of light and shadow. In the center of the hall, with the light dancing about him, stood a tall man with fiery red hair and a regal, blue coat with gold trim, lined with fur. He smiled at the hunter as she approached. "It has been a while since we shared a dance, Sonia. Shall we?"
"Pasha, I'm not here to-"
SMASH! The colored panes of glass crashed down as demonic, winged creatures, each the size of a large man fell from the rafters, landing around the hunter. They roared at her with twisted faces and broken horns jutting from their skulls. The hunter screamed in frustration as they lunged at her, weaving and dodging their blows. Loosing blades from her belt once more, she stabbed two of the creatures, but left herself open to the attacks of the rest. Her blood spilled across the ballroom as their strikes sent the hunter tumbling. Reaching to her belt once more, she produced a vial of holy water, hurling it at the creatures. It crashed against them, its contents burning the demons. They writhed and shrieked in agony as she quickly righted herself, stabbing her dagger into their hearts and heads, ending them. She turned in time to see the red haired man, Pasha, appear before her. With a sweep of his arm she sailed across the room.
Instantly the man was behind her as she struggled to her feet, seizing her by her long braid. With a sweeping motion, she buried her dagger in his heart and kicked off from his chest, pulling herself loose. The man stumbled only a step or two, smiling. His grin revealed two long, pointed fangs. "Give in Sonia. I will make this painless."
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.