August 05, 2022

A Serpent’s Kiss

The Serpent Moon is here, and with it comes another reason to join Mr. Chary in his work. Play Hunt: Showdown from July 27th to September 26th to earn Event Points that can grant you new Legendaries, access to new weapons, and the new Evolving Hunter: The Viper.

Fits of madness turned killing sprees. Loyal men snatched from their wives by possessive claws. Beasts driven by a hunger no blood could sate. The stories of the violent incidents under the Moon's vigilant watch had spread and grown with every retelling. And so, as the sun set in the feared Bayou, the towns cowered, shops closed, streets grew empty, and the night was left to the horses and the flies.

But this was a moonless night, and it was enough to make the foolish feel brave.

As soon as the doors swung open, Howard Lauman's presence rang loud in the dark, damp saloon. His freshly polished boots strutted through the stink of a long day's work, and his silver rings caught the attention of more than one pair of shifty eyes. Aware yet unperturbed, Howard settled down at the near-empty counter with a satisfied sigh. He courteously tipped his hat at a hooded loner drinking in the corner, then turned to greet the saloonkeeper.

“I'm paying upfront," he announced loud enough for all to hear, while shoving a pile of crumpled bills across the counter “and you better make me spend every nickel 'till the night's over!"

The bleak atmosphere rapidly escalated into a lively bash, as the crowd joined in on the newcomer's enthusiasm, be it for his peculiar character or the never-ending stream of glasses sent his way. Howard was no novice drinker and gladly downed whatever he was offered, even as the liquor burned his throat with an unusual fury and his guts twisted in a silent warning.

The glasses piled up, and hours flew by in the strenuous blinking of Howard's eyelids. He spectated fleeting memories that didn't feel like his own and escaped him seconds later, leaving only broken pieces behind. Words mumbled together until they made no sense. Gentle touches he welcomed even as they reached for his pockets. His head empty and heavy at the same time. Deep black eyes who watched him without a face.

He came to himself being thrown to the streets by three different men, his mouth dripping blood from a fight he couldn't recall. He shouted injuries at no one in sight and stumbled his way through the dark alley, his only guide the faint glow of a distant streetlamp.

Something was wrong. His muscles ached without real pain, and his legs grew heavy and rigid with every step. He couldn't remember when he began to walk, but the saloon was now dead-silent, and the streetlamp seemed no closer than before. One faulty step, and he was ready to welcome the cold ground, but instead, he felt the warmth of strong hands grasping his shoulders.

In the dark, he could barely make out the imposing figure staring him down, at least a head higher, hidden within the shadows and layers of fabric.

“Get lost!" He could still speak, but barely. “I've got nothing left!!"

The figure made no effort to move or speak. Just waited and stared. Deciding to be wise for once in his life, Howard turned on his heels.

He managed three steps before the figure spoke.

“You will die soon."

The voice was no louder than a whisper. It was fragile - old paper ready to crumble at the slightest of touches. But the words were confident, final. A sealed fate.

Howard turned back, excruciatingly slow, and blinked at the shadows, waiting. Met with yet more silence, a jolt of clarity shot through his brain, and he reached for his pistol.

He could only watch as the figure approached in a graceful stride and placed one hand on top of his own, gently twisting it until the pistol fell off his weak grasp. He lashed out in anger, eager to tear and scratch whatever he could reach, but the hand remained unbothered and retreated without retaliation.

“There's nothing left to fight," the voice uttered again. There was no gloating nor sympathy, just truth. “It's done."

Howard was transported back to the saloon, the dark corner, a hooded silhouette, watchful black eyes. Liquor that burned like betrayal and ego winning against his better judgment.

His whole body seared with fury, and he tried to scream but lost his voice to a coughing fit. His lungs stung with each laborious breath, and his legs finally gave up. He fell to the ground, hands glued to the cold dirt, as his guts tried to expel the poison inside.

The figure's stare didn't shy away from his humiliation, and Howard dug into the dirt with both hands, desperate to blind his captivated audience, but his arms felt heavier than he could carry.

“What did you do to me?" He heard his words coming from the mouth of a wounded street cat, but the figure just watched.

“Who sent you?" His heavy eyelids fought against hot streaks of tears, but the figure wouldn't budge.

“Why won't you leave me to die?!" He could no longer hear his own voice and was unsure if his plea came in a scream or a wail.

Yet this time, the figure twitched.

The silhouette slithered closer, and in the faint glow, the slightest curves of lips and a nose were the only proof Howard's assailant was a human and not Death itself.

“When you're about to arrive..." The figure got close enough that Howard could feel a slight tremor as they fought to find the right words. “If your body still allows it..."

Black eyes glimmered with zeal.

“Would you tell me how it feels?"

With his last shred of strength, Howard hurled a fistful of dirt. Darkness crept at the edge of his vision, and he barely saw as the figure effortlessly took a step back, and something moved within their clothing.

A hissing noise and a blur of vengeful fangs were everything Howard could make out as paralyzing pain pierced through his contorted face.

Beneath the Serpent Moon, hardship, sacrifice, and deception will change the Viper forever. Play the event to unlock this Evolving Hunter's four unique skins and learn the end of this story.

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