Chapter 6: Terror Night
"When you said I should expect company, I did not think you meant here." Nidalee stated, her tone slightly annoyed, as she sharpened her spear with the air of a stone. "That said, why are you still here?"
Teemo, loading a normal dart into his blowgun before test firing it at a target of leave, turned a coy smile at her. "Because I was worried about you. We're friends, and friends look out for each other." He replied.
"He's right! We can't just let you risk your life on chance." Tristana added, cleaning out her cannon. Her pack of ammo lay beside her, each of the balls nearly as large as her head, ready in case of trouble. "If Rengar tries any fishy business, we'll keep you save." She added.
Nidalee was thankful for their support and honored the two of them would want to help her like this, but she did not want either of them to get involved in her fight. If all went well, there would be no fight. "You two have to promise me that, if something goes wrong, neither of you can intervene." She said.
The two yordles look to one another, then replied as one "Promise."
"I mean it. Even if he has a knife to my throat, do not get involved." She hissed, as though the two were intruding into a personal matter. They were, but it was out of friendship and not an invasion of privacy. Telling them to leave now, with the resolve in their eyes, would be a waste of breath and energy. Besides, with the coming night, the two would cause more harm to the jungle than good for her.
Again, they looked to one another, sharing a conversation between their friendly, cute eyes. Finally, they separated, Tristana going back to cleaning her gun and Teemo turning to Nidalee. "We promise to not intervene on yours or Rengar's behalf. Think of us as spectators." He said, smiling.
Nidalee let out a troubled sigh, stopping at her work of sharpening, and looked to the sky. Tonight was the night of the full moon, and meeting between her and Rengar to discuss the terms of their challenge. If needed, that meant it would begin and end the same night. "Very well, but stay out of sight. The last time we spoke, Rengar was very suspicious of me... cheating, I suppose. I do not wish to live my life in fear, thinking he's waiting within ever bush, in every tree, waiting for me to drop my guard." She explained, revealing the root of her terrors.
There was no doubt that, if provoked, he would hunt her like any animal, waiting for the precise moment then he could take her without a fight. He was a hunter, perhaps the best she will ever know. To fight him in his element, as hunter and prey, would mean death. Her only chance at life was balanced on keeping the trust she had gained as predators. That balance was already tilting.
"We still have time before nightfall. Are your traps set Nidalee?" Tristana asked, finished cleaning her cannon and now aiming it. She wouldn't fire, not in this enclosed space, and not without it being loaded. "Also, you may want to wash up before going. No offense, but you smell like an animal." She said.
Nidalee shot the female yordle a glare, her face blushing in embarrassment a little. "Thank you, but I will be fine." She said.
Tristana raised an eyebrow. "Let him see you without the layer of dirt. It may make things easier when you talk to him." She said, hinting at something else. Teemo's chuckle revealed he knew exactly what his comrade spoke of.
"You're telling me to seduce him? Seduce Rengar, the priderstalker and hunter of the world's deadliest beasts?" She asked, her tone serious, if not that of a skeptic person.
Nidalee knew the process of attracting a mate, she had been taught so by her cougar family and by her fellow League champions. She did not seduce, however, and she had yet to fine a mate of either species. Cougars did not hide that they found her an oddity to them, no matter her form, but neither did they treat her as an outcast. Summoners and citizens found her very attentive, yet kept their emotional distance due to her wild nature. She was a born human, but became something different. She knew she was no monster, yet, at times, she wanted to find someone who would love her for who she was without being turned away by her other, bestial side. Friends were a wonder to have, but she wanted someone to treasure and for the same person to treasure her.
"No. I'm saying you are dirty and in need of a bath. Rengar is part beast, like Warwick, and has a sensitive nose. Haven't ever noticed how he avoids smelly places?" Tristana asked. She tossed her pack of ammo over her shoulders, threw her cannon over her left, and grabbed Nidalee by her wrist. "Come on. I saw a waterfall over there. I can wash your back and Teemo will patrol the perimeter." She added.
Teemo stood at attention, giving them a salute. "Captain Teemo will let none have so much as a glance." He said.
Tristana nodded, then looked to Nidalee for her answer. The yordle was too small to pull her, but she did pull on her arm.
Finally, Nidalee submitted. "Alright, I'll go. Let me go and I'll follow you." She said.
When Tristana did so, Nidalee placed her sharpening stone in a pouch at her belt, her spear behind her back, and stood from her place. As Tristana led the way, Teemo went in another direction to take up his position as guard. The two yordles worked as a great team, on and off the battlefields. It brought a smile to her face, grateful to have such trustworthy friends.
The waterfall was not far from where they were. As Nidalee and Tristana set their things on dry ground, Teemo vanished into the darkening woods. "He won't be spying on us, will he?" Nidalee asked as she removed her boots.
Tristana giggled and waved the concern away. "Of course not. Once, when we were on a walk, it started raining. By the time we found cover, the both of us were soaked to the bone, our clothes like sponges. The darling blinded him with one of his darts so he couldn't see me while our clothes dried." She said. By the stunned look on her face, Nidalee would never have believed such a thing. "Okay, so that's a lie. He wanted to blind himself, but I convinced him to wrap a cloth around his eyes." She admitted.
Nidalee closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. "You had me worried for a moment there." She said.
As the two of them undressed, Tristana offered Nidalee a towel to cover herself. The water was cold, but it was not unbearably so. When they finished, dried off, and fully dressed, Tristana let out a long, piercing whistle. Nidalee recognized it as that of one of the birds within the jungle, only the pitch was slightly altered. In moments, Teemo emerged from the woods, a smile on his face. "Captain Teemo reporting in!" He said, standing at attention and giving his salute once more.
Both women giggled at him before Tristana stood at attention as well, giving him a short salute before letting it drop. "At ease Captain." He dropped the salute and eased his stance. "Anything to report?" She asked.
Teemo shook his head. "Nothing out of the ordinary Lieutenant." He said.
Tristana smiled up at Nidalee. "Time for your meeting, and make sure he sees your true stripes." She said, slapping her bottom.
Nidalee took a step forward before turning her head to smile and nod at the both of them. "I will. Thank you." She said. As she changed into her cougar form and started into the jungle, Teemo and Tristana followed, staying at a distance in case they were needed.
With the full moon overhead, a slight overcast obscuring part of it now and again. The air held a chill, winter's call that the cold would only worsen as the days went on. Though it was not completely black, if a large enough cloud were to drift in front of the moon, the night would be plunged into darkness for a brief moment.
Standing there, in the meadow near where the two of them had met and clashed Rengar and Nidalee stood. In her right hand, Nidalee held her spear, her left contained one of her traps with Teemo's vibrate colored mushroom intertwined within the blades. Her spear's point was to the ground in front of her, but she could, at a moment's notice, turn it up into a deadly obstacle. Rengar, standing with his hands over the hilts of his knives, stood as ready as she. He wore a belt that contained four bolas, extra but smaller knives, and a single pouch by itself at his belt.
Nidalee looked him over. He stood as beastly as she remembered, tall, muscular, a full mane of hair around his head, one piercing eye that seemed to stare into her soul and analyze her whole being next to an angry red false eye at the center of a long scar on his face. This was the pridestalker, a hunter who collected trophies of his greatest kills. With only two failures out of an uncountable number of hunts, he was as confident as death. Tonight, that score would be changed.
Rengar looked over her with the same eye for detail she was giving him. Her skin, he noticed was fresh and clean. The times he had seen her before made her look more beast, a layer of fur, dirt, and a small amount of blood masking her true looks. He could clearly see the long triangles that were her tattoos, a sign of magic and strength, possibly even rank along her feline family. Her weapons were as imposing as he toned figure. The spear glimmered in the moonlight, its sharpened point testament to the care she had put into it, and the trap she held was as Elise said. Besides those he could see, he knew that she was just as dangerous unarmed as she was armed, maybe more so. His failure the first time was not due to his surprise, but her experience.
Through the silence, the only sound was that of the wind blowing against the grass and leaves. Now and again, a leaf blew past them, carried by the chilling wind. Despite the cold, neither of them moved so much as an inch. His fur kept him warm. Her clothes kept her warm.
Finally, it was Rengar who broke the tension. He shuffled from one foot to the other before clearing his throat. "Nidalee!" He called, the sound of his voice carried with the wind. She moved her shoulders, preparing for the worst. "You are a fine specimen of a prey, unlike anything I have ever faced in my life! There has only been one other to evade my blades and live. Tonight, I will not make the same mistake!" He growled, the ring of his knives being drawn free echoing in the night air.
Nidalee's right arm moved, her stance changing to a more suitable combat stance. Her eyes steeled as hard as the point of her weapon. In her left hand, she prepared to throw it at him. She was ready to guard and counterattack, or evade and retreat. He had to make a move, and she would too.
Her heart skipped a deep as she watched him bend down and slide his knives toward her. He removed his weapons belt, then tossed it onto the two knives. As he straightened, he held his arms out, head bent down. "You are no prey of mine." He said.
Nidalee fell to her knees, her hands dropping to the ground. "What?" She heard herself ask.
Rengar looked up at her as he spoke. "You are no huntress in this. You are the protector of your home, your family. What right have I come here and hunt you? All for a worthless trophy? No." He said, shaking his head.
Slowly, he approached her, putting a hand under her arm to help her stand. "You're just guarding your territory from invaders who would wish you or your family harm, same as I did when I first meant Kha'Zix and was drawn to the League. If anything, I am afraid of you." He said. He walked over to his spoke, passing his weapons, and turned back to her. "From one hunter to a huntress, will you join me for a hunt?" He asked.
Nidalee was stunned to hear this. All this time she had been afraid of this being her last night alive, ready to defend herself from an adversary she had almost no chance against, and now, as though by magic, he was asking her permission to stay here, inviting her to hunt with him. She was speechless, trying to find some way for him to turn this around, as if it was a charade to catch her off guard. He had walked right up to her and helped her up, rather than try to pin her down and break her neck. He had disarmed himself, throwing his weapons at her feet and walking past them as though they did not exist.
She felt a tear come to her eye, then roll down her cheek. She released her trap, letting it fall to the ground and arm itself, and wiped the tear away. She looked up at Rengar, her vision blurry, an honest smile on her face. After a few moments, she spoke. "I would be honored. Thank you." She said.
A hissing cry pierced the night. Bushes rustled in the distance. From behind Rengar, Teemo came out of the woods, running toward the two. His face depicted fear and danger. "Nidalee! We've got trouble!" He shouted.
Behind him, Tristana blasted out of the trees, her cannon smoking as she loaded another cannon ball into it. Without saying anything, she fired into the darkness before turning and retreating. Something was hit, producing a "Splat!" sound.
Out of the trees and bushes a group of giant spiders came. Behind them, a larger, more deadly spider emerged. All of their fangs dripped with deadly venom, and each one held red eyes that pierced the night.
From between them, glass cracked and shattered as two black spiders grew out of the pouch of Rengar's belt. They were as big as yordles when they stopped. They only had one eye, but it was piercing red. One jumped toward Rengar, the other toward Nidalee.
Rengar was quick, catching it by its front two legs and tossing it away. He rolled toward his things, snatched up one of his two hunting knives, and threw it at the spider. The knife struck hard into its head, splitting the eye in two. As green blood gushed out of the wound, Rengar charged it, tackling it the ground before ripping its legs off.
Nidalee held her attacker at bay with her spear, forcing it to the ground with all her might. As its legs clawed at the air, trying to get up, she threw one of her traps at it. It stuck for a moment, then the blades sliced its head in four. After a few moments, it eased all movements, allowing her to remove its body from her spear.
By this time Teemo and Tristana were there with them. Teemo held his blowgun, a dark already inside, as he turned his back to the two of them and raised it to fire at the advancing horde. "They just came out of nowhere! Dozens of them! Tristana and I did our best to take care of them, but then that big one showed up. I they belong to-" He was cut off by Tristana's cannon firing, but he did not need to finish to know what he was going to say.
"They're Elise's!" Nidalee growled. She looked to Rengar, who had dispatched his attacker without a scratch, and was gathering his weapons. "Those two spiders came from your pack. What were you doing with them?" She demanded.
Rengar turned his head to her, then shook his head. "I had them in case of trouble. I didn't think they would be trouble!" He roared back.
"Argue later! We have bigger problems now!" Tristana yelled, drawing their attention back to the horde before them. There were seven spiders advancing toward them, their bodies only being knocked back by her cannon balls. It was no wonder Teemo had run toward them instead of attacking. He could do nothing unless he hit their tiny eyes. "The armored ones do not look to have fangs, but they are guarding the ones that do." She informed.
Nidalee and Rengar shared a look, then ran past Tristana. "We'll take of them. You two worry about the dangerous ones." Rengar called back. He smiled, glancing at Nidalee for a moment. "Not the hunt I had planned." He said, sounding more like an apology.
She swung her spear in her arms, fixing it so she held it in both of her hands. "You may get a trophy after all." She said. The hunter nodded slightly.
Rengar swung hard, his blade crashing into the armored exoskeleton of the spider before it. A few inches in and the blade caught, forcing him to pull it out. The wound was enough, so he used the rope of his bola and caught its front right two legs, roaring as he pulled the massive insect over. A split second later, a cannon ball sounded behind him, followed by a splat.
A growl behind him cried out in angry, but was silenced with a grunt from Nidalee, her spear entering its head from the collection of eyes in the center of its head. She jumped onto her shoulders and pushed the length of her weapon down deeper, causing the insect to cry out in agony before she swiftly pulled her spear free.
She pushed down on his shoulders, a noise escaping her lips as she flew through the air. In that instant, Rengar felt his blood boil, as though a wild surge coursed through his body. With it, his adrenaline increased. Turning, he saw Nidalee in her cougar form, growling at two more of the armored foes. He lunged forward, leaping over her to land on the ground. Rolling forward, he came up under the left one, his knives digging into its chest and he pulling them free. Despite its armor, his momentum had given him enough power to cut it open, the magic surging through him providing the speed to create the fatal wound.
To his right, Nidalee tackled the other one, forcing it off six of its eight legs and onto the ground. In fluid movements, she returned to her human form, sliced its throat with her spear once, spun around, gaining momentum, before coming back a full 360 degrees and ramming her spear into it neck, the head bouncing off with the force of the violate impact.
Teemo was there as well, firing darts to blind the foes. The one Rengar had taken down with his bola now lay dead, a poisoned dart in each of eye. He threw his mushrooms into the mouths of the less armored spiders, giving Nidalee and Rengar the oppritunity to strike them down without fear of being bitten.
By the time the big one was close enough, only a single poison spider remained. It raised its front claws up, then brought them down. A cannon ball from Tristana knocked it off balance slightly, causing it just miss Nidalee, standing on the twitching body of the spider she just decapitated, and Teemo, laying one the ground from only just dodging it.
Rengar ran past, grabbing the scout and tossing him away. "Are you alright!? Nidalee!" He called. There was no answer. "Nidalee!" He called again.
In answer, the cougar growled. He looked up to see her clinging to the creature's claw with her sharp front claws. Her back claws dug into the ground.
He charged toward the captured leg, swinging his knife at it in an attempt to remove it. His blade just bounced off. "Damnit!" He growled. When the beast moved, he grabbed Nidalee by the pelt and threw her over his shoulder, retreated before the beast could bite them.
It must have been twelve feet tall. It's fangs were like curved swords that had been bathed in poison. Eight fat legs moved the six foot long body forward, trees only minor obstacles before it. With a hissing cry it looked and sounded like a nightmare come to life. Neither Rengar nor Nidalee feared spiders. This... this was no spider.
Nidalee returned to her human form and beat on Rengar's back. "Let me go! We have to kill that thing!" She cried.
He did no such thing. "Look at it! It's big and tough. We cannot punch through that hide of its! We need to find something else to kill it!" He said. He reached the two yordles, Tristana standing protectively in front of Teemo. "Can he move?" He asked. Teemo nodded. "We have to get out of here. Now!" He ordered.
When the beast cried out its demonic hiss again, and began to move toward them, the two needed no other encouragement. "Where are we going?" Tristana asked, pulling up the rear to keep firing at the beast. Her shots were doing nothing in terms of damage, but they were staggering it.
"First of all, stop shooting it! You're wasting your shots!" He growled. He heard her curse, then saw her out the corner of his eye. "Nidalee! Is there a place here that we can use to kill that thing? Jagged rocks, a crevice, something?" He asked.
Nidalee managed to work herself free of his grip. Tumbling to her feet, she remained crouched, unmoving. "Wait! Something's not right..." She called out.
The other three slowed and finally stopped, then looked to Nidalee before looking to the spider beast. It was not going completely into the meadow. It hissed and let out several cries, but did not advance. If anything, it back up several of its steps.
"It won't follow?" Rengar asked.
Nidalee nodded. "It won't leave its territory." She said, watching it hiss. If it wouldn't leave its territory, and it was a magic spider, then who brought it to the jungle? Only one name came to mind, but that did not answer how it got to the jungle. "We'll have to leave it for the time being. I'll talk to the League when I get the chance, but fighting it alone is too dangerous." She said.
The others nodded their agreement, but Rengar had that look in his eye. "If the dog is leashed to one spot, it might be fun to taught it." He said, a dark smile and sinister laugh following.
Nidalee slowly shook her head, turning to face them. "Do not do something so foolish. Look at its back." She said, pointing to the creature's back. It was moving, like ants on a dark floor. It was carrying eggs, some as big as soccer balls. Each one moved, some with visible young spider-lings inside, others with tiny cracks in their flesh-like shells.
She eventually rose to her feet, then looked to Teemo and Tristana. "How did you two come across those?" She asked. She caught a glance at Rengar, looking angry. "They insisted on comings as, if nothing else, spectators." She explained.
"We were scouting the perimeter, and then those things just popped out of the ground." Teemo said. Tristana nodded her agreement, using her hands to hide her head then lifting them up like she was burrowed underground.
Nidalee looked to Rengar for his opinion. He shrugged, either not knowing what to say or not wanting to answer. She looked back to the large spider beast, its head now poking out of the vegetation. "We'll have to leave it for now." She said, disappointed. A new ally had been made, but a great foe had been discovered. If she was lucky, she'd get some sleep.