Branwen breathed in and slipped from the alley, avoiding the eyes of the few milling about as she stalked over the pitted sidewalk. The beast was close; she could feel the fear curling in her stomach. It was clearer than any other beacon.
The sword buzzed against her palm, voicing its alarm and displeasure with its static like burn. She spared a moment to glare at it and bend the panic down. She couldn’t risk losing the monster again, even if there were other hunters she could call upon. This was the fifth city she’d tracked its insidious trail through; Branwen was intent on it being the last.
The streets emptied before her, vapor curling in the sudden vacuum she prowled. Whatever her thoughts on the masses beneath her sandaled feet she valued the attendance to instinct.
Unlike the younger generations she remembered when her mere shadow would have sent settlements running to the four winds. Times had changed; the world was smaller and less wild. In most minds, even the ones unknowingly shying in her presence, she was a fairy tale.
Under shop overhangs couples hissed inimical words and evening bar goers lit cigarettes and watched the street warily.
Streets off still and people were nervous, a herd around a hidden predator. Humans were used to the top of the food chain and few understood the primal fear the proximity to the beast created.
Branwen increased her pace, pushing past the coiled threat hanging in the air.
A shadow of a frown creased her smooth brow. She spun and caught the human’s wrist, tip of an ivory sword hovering a hairsbreadth from the swell of her chest.
The human’s eyes were round, whites showing about the green iris.
She squeezed and the woman sucked in air. There was a pop and the human’s wrist fractured under her fingers, crunching into a mess of splintered bones. A ragged scream echoed across the street.
She sent the woman rolling with a flick of her hand.
Branwen coughed and spat dirty water, cheek pressed to the asphalt. Her sword, paces out of reach, burned with a fury she could feel past her own pain. With a grunt she pushed herself up and dashed towards the sword.
The creature watched Branwen pluck her blade from the ground. The agony pulsing from her wrist lessened and she rolled the appendage. A grim smile spread across Branwen’s face. “Monster.” She hissed and charged.
The beast did not shy from her blade, she did not dance away. Each furious swing was blocked, Branwen’s wrist, arm, shoulder met with the monster’s own. The thing never did let the sword touch her flesh though.
She tired of this. The mephitic mess of human and spirit before her did not weaken and the sword hardened the normally frail frame. She threw the human’s arm wide and sent a fist crashing through the woman’s ribs.
The scream sent a shiver of pleasure down her spine. The human went down on its knees before her and she smiled, placing a sandaled foot against the woman’s wrist. The fingers scrabbled against the sword’s pommel before she kicked it away.
Separated from the blade the woman before her was mortal, same as the rest of the species. A quick twist and yank and the human died, neck snapped past its threshold.
She approached the sword with far more caution than she had the hunter. It too was an ugly mix of spirit and other. Ivory and fury. Her mouth twitched looking at the weapon now humming on street. Slowly she bent and gathered the fuming blade in the folds of her skirt.