"More damned gonnes..." Leeja hissed.
"Upstairs." Bujilli looked out the doorway. The rain had washed away most of the blood except for what was spattered across the wall just below the eaves. A light fog was rolling in now that the rain had passed. It was a good time to leave this place.
Bujilli could smell the reek of burnt powder. He hated the smell.
There was a loud crash in the back. Towards the stairs.
He looked out past the front door. Rain washed cobblestones, fog curling around the base of streetlights, the way back to the Academy. He glanced back at the archway, the boarded-over and barricaded entrance to the corridor leading back to the stairs. His eyes met Leeja's gold-green stare.
Hesitation kills. His Uncle had taught him that from an early age.
Bujilli strung his bow. Pulled out an arrow. One of the wickedly barbed-headed ones he'd found beneath Idvard's Keep.
"I say we do a little hunting."
Leeja smiled beatifically. Like an angel. Of death.
The way through the barricade was not difficult to discover. Whomever had erected the barrier had been trying to discourage casual inspection more than really hold-off any sort of a horde. A really fortified position would not always look all that daunting. Until it was too late. This sort of thing was more a statement. A designation of territory. The sort of thing he'd expect from a gang.
Only there wasn't very much graffiti in this place.
No one had camped-out down on the ground floor before. They both knew this from having checked the place out thoroughly.
Locals tended to avoid the place from the looks of things.
Bujilli climbed up and over the sturdiest bit of the barrier. Leeja beat him to other side, but he had no idea how she did it. She just smiled, turned and got on with the hunting.
He did his best to move as quietly as he could. She moved like a ghost.
The stairs. Blood. A body crumpled at the bottom. One arm caught-up in the railing.
Scraping noises. Heavy footsteps. Furniture shifting. Someone was rifling the place upstairs.
Bujilli checked the body. Warm. But dead. Half the guy's guts were strung along back up the stairs. It stank.
They were up the stairs in what felt like three steps.
Leeja's gonne interrupted the investigative process.
Two dirty, bedraggled kids stood staring at Leeja.
"Yu Yu You shot Zeddy!"
"I wasn't going to shoot the wall. It wasn't doing anything wrong." Leeja began to nonchalantly reload her gonne.
"But we didn't do nothin' to you..."
"What are you looking for, if I might ask? I'm curious what could be up here that you'd kill to get your hands on it."
The floorboards creaked. Bujilli turned. Drew. Released.
His arrow took the would-be ambusher right between the eyes. Silently he swore. He should have hit them in the throat. His aim was a little off still. He could use some practice with the new bow.
He drew another arrow.
"Any more of you around? I don't like wasting arrows."
"N No. Just us. Now."
Someone crashed through one of the windows in the next room. Making good their escape.
"What are you going to do with us?"
"We could sell them to the Butchers..." Leeja teased.
"Look. We didn't know you were looking after this old place. We...we didn't mean no disrespect. Honest."
"So what brings you here?" Bujilli lowered his bow just a little bit.
"Shut up Trizzi!" The smaller one, a girl with unevenly spaced eyes, slapped her partner.
The taller one, a boy painfully thin with washed-out gray eyes stopped talking. Began to stare at their mud-caked feet.
The little one glared at them.
"Doesn't look like they're the talkative type." Leeja sighed in resignation and disgust. As if she thought somehow that she ought to be used to this crap by now.
"You're bluffing." Accused the filthy little girl. She was terribly upset.
"We'd rather not kill you if it's not necessary..."
"Your idea of necessary. Not ours. Not mine." Spat the child.
Her eyes went wide in shock. A faint glimmer ran through her.
"You're the ones that drove out the werms. Oh No! Trizzi RUN!"
The little one flung herself towards the nearest window. Her partner wasn't so quick. Leeja grabbed them by the shoulder.
"Please don't hurt me." Whined the skinny-kid. Then he bit Leeja's hand. The kid had lots and lots of really sharp teeth. All of them filed to points.
Leeja yowled more in shock than anything. Blood sprayed. She jerked back. The kid fell to the side of the window. An arrow through the throat. His blood was a noxious, unhealthy greenish-black oil that reeked of horrible things.
Bujilli went to Leeja. She was swearing in some language he couldn't follow. He examined her wound. It was minor. Superficial. She had reflexively pulled back before the kid could really sink his teeth in.
They wrapped her hand with clean wool and bound it with a couple of rags.
Then they both got out of there.
Those weren't really kids. If they ever had been born human...they were something completely other now.
They also weren't alone.
Down the street and behind the corner someone was pounding on makeshift drums. The sound carried oddly in the fog. But the malevolent intent was unmistakable.
Once they reached the open street Bujilli and Leeja ran for their lives...