Dedicated to my beautiful RPers, you know who you are.
"Lady Artemis, we have tracked the Kobaloi across the forest and have them surrounded."
The goddess looked up at her lieutenant from her place on the woodland floor. A small rabbit was hopping around her hands, and Artemis seemed quite content to let it do so.
"Excellent. Can thee handle them by thyselves, or does the Hunt require my supervision?"
Zoe hesitated for a moment, then spoke again.
"We will take care of it, My Lady. Kristen has already started setting up traps, and the Hunt is closing in."
"Very good, Zoe. I shall await thy return."
Nodding respectfully, Zoe backed away. With inhuman speed, she nimbly raced back deep into the forest. The bushes seemed to part for her as she ran, and Zoe knew that Artemis was working her magic to give her a safe passage back to the others. A smile spread across her face. Even though her Lady Archeress pretended to be letting them tackle the pesky Kobaloi on their own, she wasn't going to leave them completely without help. The magic grew weaker the further she ran, but she appreciated the sentiment.
"Try looking above ground level if thee seek someone as elusive as me, Nightshade."
Zoe stopped dead. Looking up, she could see a pair of eyes shining at her from behind a veil of dark, glossy hair.
"Somedays, I think thee lied to us about thy parentage, Laureline." Zoe said, holding a hand up in the air. "Only the nymphs can hide as well as thee."
"No such thing! I'm just the stealthiest person thee will ever have the misfortune to meet." The girl smiled, pulling Zoe up into the tree. "Not to mention my modesty."
"My, what an inflated opinion you have of thyself today, Laureline!"
This earned her a laugh, and she made the mistake of looking down. She bit her lip nervously, and her friend didn't miss the movement.
"Does thee not have faith in me? Dropping thee is not on my agenda for today."
Zoe shot her a pained smile. Much as she disliked confessing it, she was not as fond of climbing as some of the other hunters. She prefered to have her feet firmly on the ground and would only leave it during hunting. Having been shut in that garden for millennia, climbing was a strange concept that she'd never truly grasped. However, only Artemis and the girl in front of her knew, and it was not a fact that she particularly wanted to broadcast.
"So, Lieutenant Nightshade, what is our plan?"
Zoe snapped back to the present as she was pulled further from the ground.
"Kristen and Helena are tracking the Kobaloi as we speak." She explained. "There appear to be around half a dozen of them, but Kristen has already lured one away from the group and is dealing with it."
"Good girl. It makes me proud to see how Truman is finally learning to harness her powers. While the skeleton in my tent was impressive, I do not wish to repeat the experience."
Zoe couldn't hold back her laugh. That had been a memorable first night with the Hunt. It had been the first time she'd discovered her friend's parentage, too.
A shrill scream pulled Zoe out of her dreams and she sat up quickly, almost bumping heads with Sophia.
"Are we under attack?" Zoe asked, eyes wide.
Sophia shrugged. "Probably. Then again, that was Eliza. For all we know, it could have merely been but a spider."
"Art thou not going to investigate?"
Sophia mumbled something unintelligible and rolled over. Zoe pushed her blanket away. If there was a monster outside, she would face it. There would be no better way to prove herself worthy of the Lady Artemis' blessing! She grabbed up her bow with shaking hands, and slipped out of the tent.
The clearing outside was quickly filling with Hunters, all with expressions ranging from concern to just plain irritation at being woken up. In the centre of the largest huddle there was a pale-skinned girl talking in a shrill voice to anyone that would listen. Zoe guessed that she had been the one that screamed.
"-out of thin air! I swear on the Styx, I nearly died with fright! One moment I was asleep, and then that thing was standing over me! It was all Kristen's fault, I tell thee!"
Zoe didn't pause to hear the rest. She quickly hurried over to where she thought the sound had come from, and nearly collided with another girl in the process. This girl had a devilish grin on her face, and was watching a tent door almost gleefully.
"Oh, Kristen has done it beautifully this time!"
"What has she done?"
The girl turned. "Why ask me? Go and see for thyself, if thou dare."
Zoe cautiously moved closer to the tent and took the folds of fabric into her palm, preparing to pull them aside. She only faltered for a second. She would not let her fear get the better of her. She was different to her sisters. Courage! She was a Hunter now, and Hunters did not back down from danger.
She dragged the material aside. Inside, cowering on the floor, was Kristen Truman. She seemed to be frantically mumbling to the ground, but Zoe didn't have time to ask why. Another figure, dressed in a speckled grey gown, was rolling across the tent floor locked in a furious wrestling match with a large collection of bones.
"Oh, excellent!" The girl said, smacking a bony hand away from her face. "Reinforcements! Are the other hunters just standing around out there again?"
Zoe just nodded, stunned.
"I shall be having words! Is Gemma not awake y-?"
The skeleton's hand grasped the girl's neck, cutting her words off. The gesture made Zoe's heart lurch, and she regained the use of her limbs in time to run across the tent and pull the skeletal mass off of the girl. She quickly recovered, and Zoe found herself moving in perfect harmony with her as they both slashed at the skeleton, driving it backwards and out of the tent.
Zoe ended up using an arrow as substitute for a spear. It worked fairly well, but it only lived a brief life before it snapped between a pair of bony ribs. The girl shoved a sheath in Zoe's direction, pushing the skeleton back so she could continue her attack without accidentally threatening the other two girls in the room.
"Use this. It will serve thee better than wood!"
Her fingers shook as Zoe pulled the knife out, and held it up. Tiny jewels adorned the bronze blade and Zoe stared, mesmerised. The blade caught the light, shimmering as she turned it over in her hand.
It was the middle of the night, yet the room was rapidly filling with a blinding light. Zoe squeezed her eyes shut to shield them, and swung out in a random direction in the hope that she might hit the offending body.
She hit nothing but air. Even as she pulled her arm back for another try, the light stopped burning through her eyelids. It had only lasted a few moments. When she was sure it had died down, Zoe gingerly opened an eye. Standing over a pile of dust, the girl had a satisfied smile tugging at her lips. She ran a hand through her hair, trying to tame the tangled brown locks into submission.
"I much prefer them like this. Do thee agree?"
Spots still blurred Zoe's vision, but she nodded again. She was getting awfully good at just nodding obediently.
"Well, I appreciate thy help. Is thy name Zoe, the former Hesperide?"
"Well, Zoe, thou have my thanks."
At that moment the lieutenant of the Hunt ran in, almost crashing into the pair. Her eyes flitted around the tent, coming to rest on Kristen. Pulling a tiny bag from her belt, she offered it to Kristen.
"I am not injured, Gemma. Laureline and Zoe have disposed of the creature. I understand that I am now a danger to the Hunt, and I will leave if thou wish it."
Gemma shook her head. "I will not hear of it. When she has calmed down, I am certain Eliza will see that it was not thy intention to summon it. Thy lineage of Hades is naught to be ashamed of."
Kristen hung her head, and Zoe's heart went out to her.
"I will take Eliza's place in here if she would prefer it." She butted in.
All three sets of eyes turned to her, and Gemma gave her a warm smile.
"A kind offer, Zoe. I shall ask if this suits her. Elsa, Kristen, does this suit thee?"
Elsa agreed instantly, with Kristen murmuring her assent a heartbeat later. With a smile, she took Zoe's arm.
"We should retrieve thy belongings if thee are to join us. Kristen, I have a feeling Zoe will be considerably improved company compared to Eliza Galanis."
Elsa continued, oblivious to the wandering thoughts of the lieutenant.
"So if Truman has that under control, where will I be of most assistance?"
"This station is as good as any. Celesta should drive the party our way soon."
Zoe's voice faded away as she heard a quiet crack from beneath her. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up, sending a chill down her back. Elsa had apparently heard the noise too, and was silently climbing through the branches to get a better look at the ground. There was a moment of absolute silence.
Both Elsa and Zoe sprang into action. With a mock salute to Zoe, Elsa let herself fall from the tree and land gracefully on her feet twenty metres below. Zoe was not so lucky. As she shuffled around to find a good handhold, the branch below her snapped. For one, heart-stopping moment, she began plummeting towards Earth.
Then her hand closed around another branch. The wood held her weight, but her feet windmilled helplessly as she let out a shrill squeak.
"Do not let go of that branch, Nightshade!" Elsa shouted, scrambling back up the tree.
Beneath them, a figure sprinted along the path. Zoe thought it might have been Leilani, but the branches obscured her view.
"I was not planning to do so!"
It wasn't the first time Zoe had needed assistance with trees, which only added to her embarrassment. Once again, the lieutenant of the Hunters of Artemis had to sit there and wait to be rescued.
At least it isn't a boy this time.
Elsa's face popped up in front of hers with a giggle.
"What are thee doing, hanging around up here? I do believe we have a Minotaur to slay!"
Zoe smiled at the smiling hunter. "Hilarious. Will thee return me to the ground, please?"
Elsa nodded and spun Zoe round. A second later, she instructed her to let go of the branch (something Zoe did very unwillingly) and hold onto her instead. All Zoe could do from that point onwards was cling to Elsa and wait for her feet to touch the safety of the ground.
Elsa climbed down the tree as though Zoe wasn't there. It wasn't as fast as falling, but it wasn't far off. Moments after they'd been up near the broken branch, Elsa was depositing Zoe on the ground with a smirk.
"Admit it." Elsa smiled angelically. "I am thy saviour and thee, my dear Nightshade, are eternally in my debt."
"Thy assistance is appreciated." Zoe rolled her eyes, turning on the spot. "But we do have a slightly larger issue to be concerned with-"
Kristen came running out of the bushes, right into the pair. She was breathing hard and barely able to speak properly. Bits of leaf and other foliage were stuck in her braid, and her hands were covered in mud. They shook as she spoke.
"It- We don't know where it came from!" she wailed.
Zoe's reply was cut off by a thundering roar not fifty metres from them. Grabbing hold of Kristen and Elsa, she started to run.
"Where are the other hunters?" she yelled, their feet pounding against the floor in unison.
Kristen shook her head in distress. "We all just ran. It was chaos. We were prepared for a small clan of Kobaloi, not the Minotaur."
Zoe didn't feel angry at the others for abandoning their posts. Their numbers were perilously low at the moment, and the Tartarus-residing beast appearing out of the blue was certainly an excuse to panic.
Way out of her depth, Zoe fumbled with her belt. After lots of tugging, she finally freed the horn and blew into it as hard as she could. The eerie sound radiated from it, and Zoe knew that Artemis would be on her way.
The bushes behind her suddenly erupted, the Minotaur closing in on them, and Zoe was forced to make a split-second plan.
"Scatter. We can regroup once Artemis arrives." No better order came to mind.
Elsa obeyed Zoe's order without question and vanished up the nearest tree. Moments later, the sound of cracking branches faded as she sped away through the treetops.
Kristen was less willing to leave Zoe alone.
"And what about you? Should we not find the others?"
Zoe ducked as a large chunk of wood flew over their heads.
"At this precise moment, we just need to avoid a one-way journey to Hades." She answered, pulling Kristen to the side and through a thin gap in the trees. "We will seek each other later. Flee!"
For a moment it seemed like Zoe's plan had worked, but the change of route did little to slow the monster and it barrelled right into the vast oaks.
A loud groan came from the trees, and Zoe looked up. The ancient trees had been uprooted by the impact, and were now slamming down towards her. All she could do was shield her face as it fell. With an earth-shattering crash, the giant trunk hit the ground.
The good news was that the main body missed her. The bad news was that one of the branches caught Zoe by surprise and, making her knees buckle painfully, it flattened her against the floor. The circlet that usually resided atop her plait was sent sprawling away from her, but the giant piece of wood pinning her prevented her from retrieving it. She twisted desperately. It would be only moments until the Minotaur recovered, and she was just a sitting duck.
The rumbling hadn't even died away before the monster let out another deafening roar and stepped forwards. Zoe stopped moving. All she could do was hope that it assumed her dead, and ignored her.
No such luck.
A thick hand closed around the branch, dragging it away. She tried to scramble away, but the Minotaur disposed of the log and reached for her.
She couldn't get away fast enough, and the hand closed around her body.
A/N: First chapter, guys! This is part of my "Make a hunter" adventure I've got on Facebook, so no flaming the OCs. They're real people. Flame my writing if you must, but constructive reviews would be better!
Update: I feel like I have to clarify. My facebook friends have created characters that I will be using in this fanfic, because not enough are mentioned in canon. That is the only way these two websites are connected, and it is not "lame", thank you. *Sighs*
Until the next chapter, me out. Xxx