All at once the paralyzing force that had overcome the man was released. He felt it rip out of his mind like a bullet. His mind seemed to decompress and snap back into his brain, cowering in the deepest recesses it could find. The man’s ears were filled with the red-eyed beast’s screams; nails on a chalk board mixed with a roaring lion. He saw the Hunters look first to their steeds and then up towards the cave. The man, back in control of himself, scurried away from the edge hopelessly attempting to avoid detection. It was useless. The man heard the Hunters shout along with the sound of them scaling the red rock face to his cave. He was trapped.
Unclipping his folding blade from his belt, the man opened it up, locked it in place, and stood up. He stood in a combat stance; feet shoulder width apart, a slight bend in his knees, low center of gravity, fists up, one gripping his knife, and ready. For a half minute he stood there in silence as he listened to the Hunters getting closer and closer. He breathed at a steady, even pace, enriching his blood with a surplus of oxygen. Sweat trickled down his back as the day grew warmer. A green hand appeared at the edge of the ledge. Then the other. The first Hunter pulled himself up. Standing six feet away, the man and the Hunter stared at each other. It was a good four inches taller than the man and was heavily muscled. The Hunter was armed with a small . . . axe was the best thing the man could compare it to. A graceful steel axe head was attached to a dark, wooden shaft as long as the man’s forearm. Attached to the butt of the axe weapon was a braided chord adorned with colorful clay beads. Tied to the end of the chord was a silver metal ball the size of a fist. The Hunter began speaking to the man, its gravelly voice stern and hostile. Strangely, the man felt a vague hint of familiarity towards the beings language. He brushed it off. He knew what the Hunter wanted. Without thinking, he touched his pocket with his free hand. A tinkling sound whispered from within. The Hunter saw this. “Bad idea,” was all the man had time to think before the Hunter attacked.
Holding on to the axe end of its weapon, the hunter flung the metal ball right at the man’s head. He bent backwards as the shiny sphere sailed towards his face, attempting to move out of range. At the last moment, the chord attached to the Hunter’s axe stopped the weapon an inch from the man’s forehead. Before it could swing away from him, the man caught hold of the chord. The hunter let out a surprised grunt and began furiously trying to rip the chord from the man’s hands. The man saw his opening. He adopted a tug of war stance and pulled with all his might. The hunter, who had still been gripping the axe’s shaft tightly, flung forward towards the man completely off balance. It desperately attempted to regain its footing, a ferocious snarl gurgling in its throat. The man was too quick. Seizing his opportunity he lunged forward and stabbed the Hunter in the abdomen with his folding blade. Hot sticky blood squirted onto the man’s hand as he held the creature in a death embrace, one arm around its back and the other clutching the folding blade buried in its stomach. The Hunter fell silent, a look of surprise, pain and confusion appearing on its face. The man withdrew his blade and stabbed the creature again. It grunted, glaring at the man through its large eyes, blood appearing at the sides of its mouth as it drew in short, raspy breaths. The man stabbed one last time. The hunters eyes rolled back into its head and it collapsed to the floor of the cave.