It always surprised him how few hunters expected to be hunted. One would think that someone so devoted and adept at pursuing others would know the signs when the tables were turned. Was it hubris, perhaps? The arrogant assumption that no-one would dare? That surely they would simply know, on some base level, that they were being tracked? Or that the universe itself, all creation would bend to ensure that such a gross travesty of roles would not be allowed. They were the hunters, and as such, they could never be prey. Prey were weak and running and sniveling and fit only to be picked off. That was not the way nor fate of a hunter.
Kasoria did not subscribe to this, for one simple reason: he remembered that once, a very long time ago, he'd been prey, too.
Every time they cut you. Every time you bleed or bruise or wheeze or break. You remember you're a man. You're not a god. You're not a monster. Not an Immortal.
"Wolves die jus' quick as sheep."
The murmur escaped his lips almost without his bidding. As if his mind wanted to share his thoughts despite the taciturn nature of his soul. The whisper fluttered around the wet stone and cobbles of the alley. Kasoria kept walking, not slowing, always listening. There it was again. That telltale scrape against the ground. But not leather, oddly enough. Almost like something... sharp, dragged against the stone as it set off into motion again. The Raggedy Man frowned and turned another corner. This wasn't the long way home; this wasn't heading home at all. Ever since he'd traced the faint, persistent sounds behind him. Around a corner, up a street, he could tolerate that. This was a big city, after all, and there were many pedestrians.
But the sounds had stayed with him. Always at his back, a street or so away. Following at a distance, practiced and careful, but not invisible.
Kasoria had hunted men and women and yes, at times, even children. He knew the tread of a predator. So he knew when he was the one being stalked. He shifted the pack of food over his shoulder and changed his route. Moving further to the East, away from his home. Sliding around corners, speeding up when out of sight for a handful of trills. Until the sound of scraping on cobbles was distant, but constant, source struggling to keep up-
The Raggedy Man chose his route well, not randomly. As soon as he was down another alley, he darted to the sewer grate he knew was set into the ground and yanked it up. Just far enough for him to toss the pack down, then jump down himself. Strong, quick arms snapped out to stop his fall by catching the edges of the hole, feet finding the ladder in front of him. He got his footing, reached up, and dragged the grate back over the hole. Nothing but darkness, save for a few perfect circles of light coming through the holes in the great.
Maybe five trills, from darting to dragging. He listened, on the ladder. Knife in his hand now. Hearing the scraping. Hearing it stop... very close. He could almost hear the sniffing of a snout, the puzzled look on a canine face. Should it come closer, the tracking would be over for it. He'd plunge that blade between its ribs and drag it down here with him. Lost and buried, with but a single move.
It moved off. Scrape-scrap-scraping across the cobbles and away from him. Kasoria frowned and finally shrugged. Good to know he still had it in him. He made his way down the ladder and reclaimed his pack. Not too far, on this level. He knew the tunnels, of course. He knew them well enough to find-
Kasoria froze. A feeling, a memory, a sensation gouged into his flesh from seasons before, flooded over him like the stink of sewage. There was no mistaking it. His Spark snarled and howled under his skin and he dropped the pack and drew his gladius before the bag had even fully settled on the stones. Knowing it would avail him little, but wanting, needing that ancient, solid reassurance.
She moved out from the darkness. She, that had herded and directed him. He knew that from the half-smirk on her face, glowing with victory and indulgence. Kasoria swallowed and was glad for the hood covering half his face. Mainly the half that was sweating quite profusely. He lowered his gladius a few inches as she came into view, to show he meant to harm in that moment, but also... damn him... also in the awe that he could not hide.
They are not Immortals, but they are far removed from men. All the monsters of the world are not equal to them.
Well... maybe that fucking Leviathan.
"Any reason yous're followin' me... miss?"