I am up and running before my legs can protest their fear, and I crash headlong into the dark figure, knocking the torch away into a guttering mess of sparks on the floor. I take her in the middle, and she folds around me. But she is a smart one, and there’s a knife going at my shoulder like some mad dog. The blood is quick and hot and rushing to stain my tunic, cold and sticky where it goes damp. Of course she would have another one. Of course an assassin would be well equipped. Of course I was going to slam her as hard as I damn well could into the ground. I rear back and carry her with me, slashing all the while, and suplex her blasted head into the floor. There is no satisfying neck crack, but there is a howl of pain and confusion, and I let her go, only to start kicking the living shit out of where I figure her side must be. In the dark and the confusion, I find something a bit bonier, that must have been, by the sound she’s making, her nose. I feel her blade catch again, this time at my wasteband, and I bloody my hands to get it free of her own. We’re both slick with each other’s blood now, tacky with the stuff, and it’s hard, but not impossible, to bring it down where some of her body must be.
There is a satisfying yelp as the dagger bites into her flesh, going deep and hard. I pull it free and drive it home again, past her blocking fingers, through her damn flailing hand, and I pin it into her stomach. I’m up and kicking her again, head, shoulders, whatever I can find, when I feel the fight go out of the hand grabbing at my foot and ankle. Unconcious or dead, it doesn’t fucking matter, she’s no longer my problem. It’s moments like these where’n I can look back on a hard life and be glad it’s not my first knife fight. First one in the dark, that as may be, but I’m no slouch. I search her body and find what I’m looking for after only a moment, a heavy pouch at her waist, filled with some spare coins and striking matches. Hurrying, I flick one across the rough sole of my shoe and it springs to life, blinding me for a bit. In the dim, sputtering light, I see and take the torch, and reignite it.
By the unholiest of the gods, but she’s a bloody mess. Her nose is broken. Her stomach a blooming flower of red on red cloth, darker here where its wet, and spreading. I hesitate to look myself over and just do my best to tear a makeshift bandage from the hem of my tunic and wrap it around my hand. It stings like hell, but its nice and tight and should stop too much blood loss. It’s going to stop being this numb soon, I know from experience, and I had better get a move on. Luckily, there’s only one exit down here, and I strike out toward it, finally having a moment to myself to draw some breath. I probably should have checked if she was still breathing, but I’m more concerned with getting the hell out of this place and getting back up into the light of day. Maybe there’d be some hope up there where the sun was. My bleak heaven knew there was probably only worse hiding down here in the dark places with me.
The tunnels have to end sometime, don’t they?