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Chapter 32 – Purposeful Poisoning

 Chapter 32 - Purposeful Poisoning

"Fuck, kid, why haven't you lit the lamps?" Slyfox boomed loudly as he squeezed his fat figure into the small room.

Cloudhawk could sense the softness of the Queen's body, the warmth of her breath against his neck... and the hardness of the sharp weapon her long, slender hands were pressing against his neck from beneath the grungy covers.

Shocked? Horrified? Tense?

Cloudhawk didn't know how to describe his current state of mind. It was an inexplicable, indescribable type of sensation, and even he didn't know what he was feeling right now.

Slyfox let out a rather irritated snort. "Are you dead? Say something! And why are you still on the bed? Get your ass up!"

"What do you want?" Cloudhawk didn't dare to show that anything was off, much less leave the bed. He said in an intentionally feeble voice, "I need to rest. Stop bothering me!"

"Fuck that! You just got nicked a few times. Since when have you been such a wimp? Don't you want your share of the spoils?" Slyfox walked over, tossing a large silver coat of fur over towards Cloudhawk. It was actually a very complete wolf pelt! Judging from the size of the thing, it had to have been skinned from the alpha rotwolf. "Check it out. This is a really great piece of fur; its both warm and tough. You can even make it into a suit of top-notch leather armor. Man, you really should be thanking your lucky stars. Oh yeah, you can keep the shotgun too. Consider that part of your spoils."

"What the hell? These things belonged to me to begin with!" Cloudhawk had been the one to kill the alpha rotwolf, and he had found the shotgun on the field of battle. The fat bastard was acting like he was giving Cloudhawk some nice gifts when in reality he was just giving Cloudhawk things that were rightfully his to begin with!

"Don't be a brat. Do you think you would've gotten anything at all if I hadn't fought over them for you? Hey, I'm talking to you! Why the fuck are you still lying..." Slyfox's words suddenly trailed off as he noticed what was happening on the bed. Although the room was very dim and he couldn't make out many details, he could still tell that someone was lying next to Cloudhawk, most likely a woman. Judging from her posture, she was cuddling the little bastard.

A perplexed yet amused look suddenly appeared on Slyfox's face. "Ohoho! So you've finally learned to have some fun, eh? Hidin' a woman in your room... lemme take a look at her."

They'd been discovered! The Queen tensed even further, pressing the dart slightly harder against Cloudhawk's neck. Cloudhawk felt as though the dart was about to stab straight through his skin. He immediately began to sweat heavily as he called out, "Who I'm sleeping with is none of your business! I-I... I'm naked. Get the fuck outta here!"

"HAH! No wonder you are in such a pissy mood. I get pissed too when someone interrupts me mid-shag. We're all men. I get it, I get it! But y'know, that woman of yours seems to have a really nice body. How does she look? Is she a slut? Lemme take a look. Hell, I'll teach you a few moves on the spot. I'm a grandmaster in this area, y'know."

The Queen began to tremble, her rage and her frustration having reached a boiling point. As for Cloudhawk, he felt so frightened that his soul was at the verge of fleeing from his body. This fat fucking bastard was about to get him killed. He hurriedly shouted, "Fatass, are you trying to steal my woman from me?"

"WHAT!? You no-good sonufa... do you have any idea how many women I got? Why the fuck would I try to take yours, you brat?" Slyfox seemed to have been truly affronted by this suggestion, and he instantly started to curse at Cloudhawk. "I was plannin' to invite you to the banquet we're holdin', but since yer busy dealin' with this woman I'll leave you to it. Let's get the hell outta here, guys."

Still grumbling and cursing, Slyfox left the room. The mercenaries outside all began to let out mocking shouts.

"So the kid found a woman for himself?"

"My mind is completely blown!"

Quite a few of them craned to stare inwards with depraved looks in their eyes, curious as to what type of woman this half-grown brat could possibly find.

"Stop staring. He's probably a virgin. How the hell is he gonna stay hard with all y'all staring at him?" Slyfox let out a loud guffaw. "Plenty of women in the world!" The mercenaries roared with laughter as they left.

With the mercenaries gone, Cloudhawk let out a relieved sigh. Moments later, he tensed up again. He immediately said to the woman behind him, "Don't get mad at me. I just wanted to get them outta here as soon as I could. I'm sorry if I offended you."

The Queen's hand suddenly slumped down powerlessly. She made no response at all! Cloudhawk couldn't help but use his elbow to nudge her slightly. "They left already!" The Queen slowly began to curl into a fetal position, still not saying a single word. Something was wrong!

Cloudhawk turned to look at her. Only now did Cloudhawk realize that her face was ashen, and that her lips were blue. A few strands of her black hair had been plastered to her face by sweat, and her entire body was trembling slightly. It looked as though she was gripped by tremendous pain.

"Is the injury acting up again?" Cloudhawk hurriedly lit a lamp, only to see that her teeth were tightly clenched. She clearly wasn't in the mood to worry about the rather disrespectful words he had said earlier. Cloudhawk looked at her closely. "Where were you hurt?"

Cloudhawk swept the Queen's lithesome form with his gaze. He noticed that there were a number of holes in the front of her clothes, and he immediately pulled them open, revealing a number of wounds across her taut, firm belly. The wounds weren't that deep, but they looked badly infected. The once-white skin around the wounds had already turned dark and purple.

What was going on here?

CRACK! The Queen delivered a stinging slap to his face. She glared at him, forcing words out of her gritted teeth. "Take your filthy paws off of me."

"You've clearly been poisoned, and quite heavily. If this goes untreated, all of your internal organs will rot." Cloudhawk finally understood why the Bloodsoaked Queen was so weak. A resigned yet curious look appeared in his eyes. "But it doesn't look like you were bitten by an animal. What happened?"

The Bloodsoaked Queen growled out, "None of your business. Fuck off!"

"Why are you such a pain to work with!" Cloudhawk was starting to grow pissed off as well. "I saved you. TWICE. Not only are you being an ingrate, you are acting like an asshole. Oh, right... you also tried to kill me! For fuck's sake, if it wasn't because you know of the world beyond the wastelands, do you really think I'd be working so fucking hard to save you?"

The Queen trembled with rage. "You..."

"Just shut up! You won't be able to hang on for much longer. If you don't get treatment, you'll die." Cloudhawk shook his head. "I swear to you, if you die in my place, I'll have no choice but to strip you naked, eviscerate you, then stuff you like a doll. Given how pretty you are, you'll make a lovely souvenir. We'll stick you right in front of the outpost for everyone to see."

"You wouldn't dare!"

"Wouldn't dare? Why the hell wouldn't I?" The Queen was noticeably growing weaker and weaker, and so Cloudhawk was becoming more and more daring. No matter what, he wouldn't let this woman die here. He wanted, needed, to learn a way out of the wastelands. "If you don't want to die, then please work with me, alright?"

The Bloodsoaked Queen let out a few rattling coughs, a few flecks of blood flying out of her mouth. Oh, shit. This is bad. She's not gonna actually die here, is she?

The Queen shut her eyes. After taking a few deep breaths, she opened her eyes again. No emotions could be seen in her gaze, and she now looked as calm and collected as ever. She said in a cold, calm voice, "Three days ago, I was hunting after the demon. I found the place he was hiding, but accidentally revealed myself and ended up being attacked by his minions. I wiped them all out, but I paid a price... and I was also struck by a poison dart." As she spoke, she handed over the short dart she had been clenching this entire time.

"This was the thing you were using to threaten me earlier, right?" Cloudhawk accepted the poison dart. It was slick, barbed, and extremely sharp; clearly, this was a high-quality weapon. It was also smeared with something that was dark-green in color, and a few flakes of dried blood could be seen on its surface. No ordinary wastelander would ever have access to such a weapon. "Fuck. That was close!" The Queen really was a vicious schemer. If she had so much as nicked him, he probably would be a goner by now!

"With so many of his minions killed, the demon naturally found out that I was here and hunting for him. However, he doesn't know much about me, nor does he know if there are other demonhunters working by my side. Given how slippery and crafty demons are, he won't reveal himself unless absolutely necessary. That's why he's chosen to watch from the shadows while sending out others to test me."

The Bloodsoaked Queen's voice turned deep and dark. "The 'sweeper leader' you saw earlier today was one of his minions. Their real target wasn't the outpost; it was me."

Although he had guessed at this long ago, he still felt shocked upon hearing his suspicions confirmed. "No wonder. You clearly were able to defeat him with ease, but you insisted on killing him in the most dramatic fashion possible." Cloudhawk suddenly understood everything. "You were putting on a false front! It was so obvious, even I could tell. Do you really think you fooled him?"

The Queen stuttered slightly. She had felt certain that she had put on a flawless performance, revealing no weaknesses at all. How was it that the kid was able to see through everything? But she had most likely indeed been able to deceive her foe. Otherwise, there was no way things would've ended that easily!

"You still haven't told me what a 'demon' is."

"Demons are cruel, savage, vicious, venomous creatures. They are the source of all sin, the cause of all calamities, and they are the enemies of mankind. As a demonhunter blessed by the grace of the gods, my principal responsibility is to hunt down demons. Honorless, faithless heathens like you could never understand."

The Bloodsoaked Queen slowly closed her eyes as she continued to speak. "I have no idea how strong that demon was. I don't even know if the play I put on today was able to fool him. You've saved me twice, so I'll give you fair warning - leave this place immediately!"

Cloudhawk was stunned. "What?"

"Blackflag Outpost is currently the most dangerous place in the wastelands. Its very existence is balanced on a steel wire, and the slightest wind could blow it off. The demon holds tremendous power in these wastelands. For him, destroying Blackflag Outpost is a very easy task. It might happen tomorrow. It might happen right now." The Bloodsoaked Queen opened her dark, jewel-like eyes again, a steady look in her gaze. "If you leave right now, you might be able to escape. Flee, as fast as you can."

Cloudhawk still had no idea what a 'demon' was. Still, there was no reason for this female demonhunter to lie to him. The fact remained that she had been heavily injured by the minions of this 'demon', and she hadn't even been able to face it in person. This meant that there was an enormous gap in power between this young demonhunter and the 'demon' she spoke of.

Blackflag Outpost might truly be in danger!

Cloudhawk swallowed, hard. "Fuck. I can feel a chill going down my spine. But... why haven't you fled yourself? Given how badly hurt you are, there's no way you can win!"

"Flee?" The Bloodsoaked Queen forced herself to sit up, leaning against the headboard of the bed. She was extremely weak, but she still possessed an aura of forlorn beauty. Her eyes were filled with ardent faith and firm resolution, as well a look of absolute disdain for the ignorant child before her.

"How can a wastelander ant possibly understand the faith and resolve of a demonhunter?"

"Alright, alright! I get it already. I'm an ant, a bug. You are a noble demonhunter, a royal queen. Everyone gets it already. Do you really have to repeat this crap over and over?" Cloudhawk was getting rather impatient. "No matter what, the first thing we have to do is to treat your wounds. There's a guy outside named 'Mantis'. You should've heard of him before, right? He loves to spend his time studying venomous insects and various poisons. I'm sure he'd be able to help treat you. How about I call him over and have him treat you in secret?"

"Unacceptable!" The Bloodsoaked Queen replied coldly, "No one in the wastelands can be trusted. You can't let anyone see me in the state I'm in!"

This woman is crazy stubborn. What the hell am I supposed to do? Judging from the condition she was in, the poison shouldn't be too dangerous; otherwise, there was no way she could've lasted for so long. Poisons meant to be pre-applied to weapons were generally formulated to be long-lasting rather than potent. There were some types of poison that could almost instantly kill a person, but they were only potent for very brief periods of time. When a battle suddenly erupted, there was often no time to properly apply poison to your weapons.

Cloudhawk played with the dart for a few moments when suddenly, something clicked. "I have an idea!"

"What is your id-..." Halfway through her words, the Queen fell silent. Her eyes bulged out as something completely unexpected happened. Cloudhawk suddenly stabbed himself in the arm with the poison dart, leaving behind a bloody wound on it. The Queen stared at him, completely dumbfounded. "W-what are you..."

"Just wait here!" Cloudhawk was in such pain that sweat was pouring down his head, but he still squeezed out a smile. He seemed quite proud of this 'genius' idea of his. "I'll be back shortly and I'll save you!"

As soon as he finished talking, he pushed the door open and left.

"Help! HELP! I've been poisoned! Where's Mantis? WHERE'S MANTIS?! I need him to save me!"

The Queen just stared blankly as he charged out, not sure if she should laugh or cry. What the hell was wrong with the kid?