In the midst of the Broken Plains, a land shattered and mourning its own forgotten past, a loud booming horn flew into the sky. It signaled a warning for all who heard it. To William Sharr the call was startling, and turned his heartbeat into a war drum. The melody...that song from the hermit...why didn't it sound pretty anymore? And why did he feel off? How long had they been walking in this fog state? He wet dry lips with his tongue and whipped his head around, eyes zeroing in on new arrivals.
They scurried in packs, disgusting insects that seemed keen on tasting flesh. Will cursed as the distance between himself and a group shrunk, smaller and smaller until he found himself backpedaling. From his side a bright light nearly blinded him while cold ice pushed past and impaled a collection of Yh'mi's finest. Fuck, he thought, they're here.
And suddenly they were upon him, legs skittering on the stone floor of the Plains and mandibles churning hungrily. Five in total, moving as a hive with Will as their common goal. He swung his crossbow in front him, then hissed in frustration. They were too close and too fast. What-
A creature sprang into the air, shooting toward him with a speed that chilled him to the bone. Instinctively Will slammed his crossbow into the thing and shoved it to the ground. It chitin shell glittered in the sunlight, but he managed the fix it still with a boot and pull the trigger. It stopped moving as he shot a bolt point blank into its back, but four more were there to take its place, zooming over the ground and toward him.
Will cursed as another lunged for his legs. He kicked hard and sent it flying backward. then swung his bag in a wide arc. The pack caught another leaping critter and slammed it away. There was a squeal, but he couldn't focus on it. With a speed he'd long since honed, Will pulled a bolt from his quiver, set it in his crossbow, and locked it in place. He aimed down the sight and spotted the bug he'd punted in the distance, attempting to make its way back to him. Pfft!
A bolt found its home in the creature's shell, cracking the back and pinning it to the stone. As it died Will yanked another quarrel form his quiver and set in place just as two more approached him tentatively. They'd seen their brethren killed and seemed cautious now. He swallowed hard, swiveling his crossbow between the two.
The third bug he'd slapped away made its way back to them, swaying as if disoriented. Will stepped back when they began to advance, their eerie eyes glittering with eagerness. He needed distance with the crossbow, but these things weren't staying still. Gods what now?
His boot caught on an edge of the shattered ground. In a flash Will's vision was upended as he fell to the the ground, head slamming into the ground and igniting a dull pain. He groaned and attempted to right himself.
The attackers took this as an invitation and charged him without much preamble. Will half rose and viewed their approach with wide eyes. Shit.
They arrived at the same time, all three springing into the air and toward his head. In their fervent fury they hadn't strategized an approach, however, and two ended up clashing with each other and tumbling into the ground. Will fell back on his ass and fumbled with his crossbow. He ignored the tangled mess and aimed for the one still leaping toward them, letting loose a bolt that impaled the creature midair.
It flew back, but died on impact. He blinked, then got to his feet. No time to panic. Get this done.
And so, Will did. As the other creatures separated they each found Will standing before them with a curious resolve in his eyes. To them, it was nothing to be concerned about. After all, they wanted a meal, and couldn't process the strange intricacies of a human mind. They launched an offensive once more, no doubt surprised when Will batted both away with the crossbow. He moved with deliberate speed, footwork engineered to prevent either of them from getting another chance. A pivot here, sidestep there, and a well-timed kick. He was untouchable...why? Is this Yh'mi? Is this what it does?
They circled him in confusion. How long would this go for? Will grinned and suddenly spun, aiming his reloaded crossbow at the creature opposite of him. He killed it quickly with a thick bolt firing across the distance between them and puncturing its shell. The creature behind him recognized the opportunity and lunged at his back, but Will had predicted this. He whirled around again and revealed a knife from his belt, the steel blade flashing in the sunlight and sinking into the exposed underbelly of the insect. The dying beast squealed in his arms. Its legs spasmed and claws scratched his flesh but he kept the blade in until it fell still.
Around him the sound of battle finally sunk in. Will looked up with a wild expression and dropped the carcass from his knife. They needed to rally but, for now, he'd do his best to offer support. He began to fire at unsuspecting attackers, trying to relieve his comrades as best he could.