[[ content warning | death mention ]]
“I’m impressed you managed to get away before they found you.”
You look up to see a shadowy figure crouched on the fire escape, staring down at you from beneath the deep cowl of their hood. You don’t say anything; panting for air as quietly as possible while somewhere down the block the hunters pan out to try and find you.
“No, honestly, very impressed,” the figure says. Their voice is gravelly, verging on hoarse. You feel the sympathetic urge to clear your throat. You ignore it. You wonder if they’re going to attack you or not, if they’ll let you keep running or bring the hunters onto your trail.
“They’re some of the top hunters in the territory,” the figure continues, and then tips over the railing in a strangely controlled fall to land lightly on their feet, knees bent to absorb the shock. It’s not a very far fall, but it’s also not a human move—unless they’re a conveniently acrobatic human.
They probably aren’t. Your senses, as one beloved comic book figure once said, are tingling.
You glance back over your shoulder. This alley leads onto a busy road where you’ll be able to lose the hunters. You wonder if mystery-chatty person here will stop you or let you make a run for it. You don’t want to fight. You’re exhausted. Depending on who they are, what they are, you’ll lose if you do.
“Cat got your tongue?” Mystery Stranger asks, something like a snicker in their undertone. Great, they’re a wisecracker.
“You gonna get in my way?” you ask, and you try to sound menacing but it just comes out tired, scared, strained.
The stranger laughs, short and raspy, like a smoker. “Depends,” they say, “Your way won’t get you very far. My way, on the other hand, will get you clear of all of this.” They wave their hand in an idle rotation, and then cock their head and wait for you to answer.
“What’s the catch?”
“Smart cookie,” says Stranger. “You help me out with a little problem of mine, I help you out with this big problem of yours.”
You’re about to press for details on what this ‘little problem’ consists of, but then you hear a whistle, sharp and piercing, and just like that, the time for conversation evaporates. You either run or take this stranger’s offer, and either way you risk a lot. Your trembling legs tell you you aren’t going to get very far, not with the hunters so close.
“Deal,” you say.
Stranger draws up to their full height and throws their hood back. “Very smart cookie,” they say around a mouthful of fangs, their eyes gleaming like embers. You feel ice surge through you as the stranger whips around to face the converging hunters.
“Hello boys,” they purr, stoop forward, and roar.
White hot flame jets down the alley, blinding you, burning you even as you’re standing out of its range—the hunters don’t even have time to scream. When it’s over, when you can blink the black spots from your vision and shake the ringing from your ears, the stranger is blowing smoke rings into the sooty alley.
Behind them, all there is is ash.
You wonder what you’ve signed yourself up for, what the hell kind of problem a dragon shifter could possibly have that they’d need you--a kitsune—for, and whether or not you’d have been better off with the hunters.
“Shall we?” Dragon Stranger asks, and you’ve got no choice but to nod. After all, a deal’s a deal. And nobody breaks a deal with a dragon unless they want to be roasted.
prompt via witterprompts
Welcome to the blog!
Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.