Actions

Work Header

Hunter of Hunters

Work Text:

It should have been an easy enough mission. Go into the tomb under Oedon Ward, spear her mark on the decrepit stone, and bury him in the graveyard after. The usual hunter gone slightly too blood-drunk, minds flickering in and out of their plane of reality, lost in the endless cycle of feral bloodshed.

If it weren't for the girl standing in front of Henryk's bloody body.

She barely came up to her chest, a scrawny thing, maybe 11, 12 years under her belt. Tangled shoulder-length gray hair framed sharp eyes, calculating like a hawk's. Her clothes called desperately for not only a washing, but a mending too--her jacket was in tatters, and her linen shirt and canvas pants were grimy and covered in suspicious red stains. Perfectly at home in the Yharnam streets.

In her hands, she held two knives. Short, rusted things, the blades were chipped, but the handles were rewrapped with well-worn strips of black leather. A clean blade, no tricks as far as she could tell. Eileen lets out a quick breath. The girl was too young to be a hunter anyway, but, then again, weren't most of them these days. The hunt never cared much for such things.

More notable than her knives was her stance: feet shoulder length apart, knees slightly bent, chin tucked down, and arms shaking in front of her. Not the stance of a panicked child, nor that of a trained duelist, but that of a hungry girl who'd had to fight too many fights too young.

"Step aside, child. You're in front of my prey."

The girl shakes her head, grip tightening on her knives.

Eileen steps forward, keeping her hands steady at her sides. "I do not wish to spill any unnecessary blood tonight," she says carefully, "so it would be prudent to step aside."

There's another shake of the head, and the girl mirrors her step forward, chin raised in defiance.

Eileen raises an eyebrow under her mask. So challenging her was how the girl would play it, then? She draws her blades slowly, siderite gleaming in the dim glow of the dying lanterns. A threat, and a clear escalation. "You don't want to face me, child."

With no mask to hide her features, nor jacket to hide her shivering, the girl was about the easiest to read creature haunting these streets, at least in recent memory. She lunged forward, her knit brows betraying her movement long before her arms did, rusty knife aiming straight for Eileen's stomach.

It was over quick. Eileen blocked the stab easily, then responded with a flurry of quick slashes, the third one with enough force behind it to rip through the girl's defense, and she shoved her to the side, sending her stumbling to the cold wet stone. Eileen rolled her eyes. "Nice try kid, but I'm busy here."

Henryk was slumped over a gravestone, perforated by a dozen small throwing knives, his blood starting to pool under him. His breath came out shallow, and his eyes were closed, unconscious. She sighed. Clearly someone else did her job for her. Another hunter, perhaps, or a wandering beast. She raised her blades, crossing them over his neck to deliver the finishing blow.

"No!"

She pauses her blades, turning to face the girl. "I'm sorry?"

The girl stands up, picking up her knives, that same look of defiance coming over her face. "Mine," she says, pointing to the man with a knife.

"Ha! You're too young to be a hunter of hunters, girl."

The girl merely stares at her, and she stares back, until she notices that her belt buckles make up a makeshift holster around her hips, leather added and crudely pinned down, forming small loops. Eileen looks back at the body and starts, jumping back in surprise as the dots connect. She sheathes her blades and pulls off her mask. "Wait, are these your knives?"

The girl nods, and she gapes back in disbelief.

"You faced down the mad old hunter?"

The girl motions throwing a knife followed by frantic running away, then lets out a small grimace.

"Wait, you're telling me you let Henryk chase you around the tomb while you threw knives at him and somehow came out on top?"

She nods again, grimace giving way to a proud smile, and Eileen laughs, a short barking laugh that reverberates through the entire tomb. "Ha! Count me impressed! What's your name, girl?"

The girl stares at the bottom of Eileen's cape before responding. "Red," she whispers.

"Would you like to do the honors, Red?"

Red nods eagerly, and all but runs forward to the body before them, pulling her knife over her head.

"Wait, use mine. It'll cut him free," she says, offering one of her blades. At her questioning glance, she chuckles. "It's a lot to explain. Trust me on this one, I've been a hunter of hunters for longer that you've been alive I'm sure."

Red takes the siderite blade in her hands. She flips it in the air, testing its weight, and nods, seemingly satisfied, before raising it over her head and plunging it into Henryk's chest. Eileen's about to open her mouth when Red puts both hands on the blade and twists, and she instead winces at the sound of tearing flesh.

"Was it personal?" she asks.

There's a silence in the air, then Red pulls out the blade, wipes it off on the remains of her jacket, and hands it back to Eileen handle first. "He killed my last friend," she explains, voice flat.

"I'm sorry."

Red shrugs. "He's dead now."

"That he is. You'd make a remarkably fine hunter yourself, you know. Not many could have gone toe to toe with the old hunter himself."

Red stares, and Eileen realizes with a start that she's blushing, a faint flush showing up on her brown cheeks. She smiles.

"Well, my business is done here. We can leave his body for whatever scavengers find a use for it, since you hold a grudge."

Eileen sheathes her blades and slips her mask back on, turning to leave the tomb. "You know Red," she calls out behind her. "You can come stay with me at the Chapel if you'd like. I'm not the best company but I can get you a new jacket, and some sharp knives."

She walks out without waiting for a response, and surely enough, she hears the pitter-patter of footsteps as Red jogs to keep up. Eileen smiles to herself. She'd have to find some kid-sized boots, too, and maybe show her how to read and write a bit of the Yharnam tongue. One way or another, things were about to get a good deal more interesting for her.