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"Get indoors," said Arrowhawk curtly, not bothering to respond to anything the woman had said. She didn't have the time for niceties. Instead she turned to face the direction the woman had pointed, gritting her teeth. She tightened her grip on her weapons, the handle of the knife creaking from the pressure applied to it.

 

She broke into a sprint, the enchantment of Sleipnir spurring her on, accelerating to a quick run, then to a faster run, then to a speed akin to a racehorse moving all-out. And, as her cape moved up to be perpendicular with the ground, she sped on faster than that.

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GM

 

And so...

 

"Sweet Mary mother of Jesus, what the hell is that?"

 

"Oh Lordy! Its her! You know the one who..."

 

"Horse Manure! I know who it is! STEP ON IT!"

 

The driver did not need to look around to put two and two together. He was already soaked in adrenaline that made his thoughts nice and clear. There was of course the thought of the money Metal Head and offered. But right now, it really didn't seem like enough. 

 

No, not anything like enough. 

 

So, through the streets of Bedlam, the Pick Up Truck Flew. Once again, it had more speed that Arrowhawk, but it was a lot less agile. 

 

"FASTER! FOR GODS SAKE GO FASTER!"

 

And, just like before, the Truck started flying towards the highway, the only place it could pick up enough speed to stand a chance of outrunning Arrowhawk...

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The truck was just ahead of her, picking up speed even as she did. Arrowhawk's feet hurt, her thighs burning, a painful stabbing sensation in one lung. But she had them. She knew she had them. 

 

Arrowhawk lunged forward, leaping into the air and onto the back of the pick-up. She landed in a crouch, driving the knife into the bed of the pick-up, an almighty screech of metal filling the air as she slid backwards several inches before the knife finally held. 

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GM

 

In the front of the Pick Up, hurtling down the streets of Bedlam in a rather alarming way, was the Nose and two hunters on either side. "KICK HER OFF! KICK HER OFF GODDAMN IT AND BLAST!" yelled the one not driving. This was surely the sentiment of the driver to, although he was gripping the wheel so tight his knuckles were white. He had not the will to speak, for his mind was dedicated to staying on the road swerving traffic and fifty or sixty miles and hour. 

 

On the back of the Pick up, the two other hunters, holding machine pistols in sweaty palms. Both started scrabbling backwards

 

"YOU KICK HER OFF!" yelled one in retort. 

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Arrowhawk smirked as the men in the truck began to panic. Good. Bullies always panicked when a fight happened, because a fight meant they could lose. They'd come out tonight looking simply to beat someone, not fight them. She pushed off the knife, leaving it embedded in the pick-up, as she swung Orheidr round. It clipped one of the two men in the back of the head, yanking him downwards to meet her rising foot. He slammed backwards into a heap against the back of the cab.

 

Her hand reached out and grabbed at the other man's head, squeezing a little. He let out a cry of pain as Arrowhawk vaulted, pushing down on the man as she slid into the roof of the cab, roughly throwing him to collide with the pick-up's bed. 

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GM

 

"Beelzebub's Fart! She's on the roof!" screamed the driver. 

 

"I can smell her! I can smell her, yes I can!" giggled the Nose happily, tapping his huge nose knowingly. "I can smell her on the roof! And she is bleeding! Oh yes, she is. I can smell the blood!"

 

"Stop the car! Shake her off!" screamed the passenger, pointing his gun at the roof. 

 

It was, despite the risks, as fair a plan as any...

 

The brakes were jammed on, and there was the sound of protesting tyres. At least one burst. The Nose, had he the speed of wit to mention, would surely have publicly declared he could smell burning rubber. In fact, pretty much everyone with a nose could smell burning rubber. 

 

The driver clung to the wheel trying to control the rapid break, and for a moment, it looked like he might, until momentum caught him out and the pick up swerved, tipped, and fell on its side, throwing its passengers to one side roughly and violently. The Truck slid across the tarmac for another thirty feet, and sparks flew, until eventually it ground to a halt. 

 

 

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Time seemed to slow as the truck suddenly crashed. Despite the precarious situation, Arrowhawk found herself thinking how on Earth people on Midgard functioned with so little control over their vehicles. If she rode like this she'd fall off the horse every few minutes. 

 

As the truck tipped on its side, Arrowhawk let herself get thrown, pushing lightly into a jump, flipping around in mid-air. She landed with her hand on the cab's door handle, clinging to it for dear life as the vehicle grinded to a stop... at which point she flung herself through the window, glass shattering around her. She drove her knee into the driver's chest before smacking him in the face with an open palm, and drove her bow into the throat of the other mercenary, leaving her alone with the man with the distasteful nose. "This ends," she snarled at him.

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"It end it ends!" giggled the Nose, bleeding out of one nostril. 

 

From his jacket, he pulled out a flicknife, and with a little ping! it snapped into play. It was a pinprick compared to Metal Head's wicked dagger, but it was sharp still, and Arrowhawk was peppered with wounds. 

 

"But maybe, it changes!" he said, his knife ready to strike as he slipped into a crouch. He was no fighter, Arrowhawk could tell, but he wasn't an idiot, and she was bleeding. 

 

"I can help you, I can. The Nose can find anything! Track anything! Surely the cape has criminals and nasties to find, yes? The Nose can find them. The Nose can be your sidekick, yes! You see? When one thing ends, another begins!" he smiled generously. 

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Arrowhawk looked at the man coolly. If he stabbed her, she was in no shape to keep standing, wounded badly enough as she was. But then... if he stabbed her. She was clearly a much better fighter than he. But... he could get her to the woman. And if she could get to the homeless woman, she could hopefully get her to safety, and take down the Nose as an afterthought. 

 

"The woman you're chasing. I need to get to her. Tell me where she is," Osla said levelly. 

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GM

 

"The nose can! The Nose can! Well...the Nose can't" said the Nose, looking sad. "The Nose can follow her scent, yes! Very fast! Very very fast! But the Noes does not know where the scent leads! The Nose can find her for you, if you promise to not hurt the Nose" he asked, emphatically. 

 

"The Nose does not want to go to jail. the Nose will get beaten and hit, just like the Nose always does. By mummy, by daddy, by all the kids at school, just because the Nose has a big Nose! But the Nose found he could use his Nose, yes!" he said, keenly. "So the Nose wants to do something with his Nose, yes! So please don't hit the Nose, or make the Nose go to jail. Then the Nose will help you!"

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Arrowhawk tilted her head to one side, frowning at the Nose. Unlike the man in the metal mask, his sob story seemed a little more plausible. And she would be much less able to find them without aid. Her ears were ringing a little. And she was starting to really feel the pain now she'd stopped moving and the adrenaline was draining.

 

She took a step back, boot crunching on glass as she left the confined cabin of the truck. "I can promise not to strike you. I can make no promise on anything else, Nose. I'm sorry." Her voice was quiet, and less harsh. "But I think you know something about bad men thinking it's alright to hurt those they see as lesser. Am I wrong?"

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GM

 

"Not hit me?" blurted the Nose "Well, that;s a start. Not a very good start, but its better than being hit" summarised the Nose. "Poor the Nose! Everybody hit him on the nose and called him big nose! Nobody liked me. They just punched me on the nose and made me bleed!" he said, wiping his eye. 

 

"The Nose knows plenty!" he said, more Machiavellian now the prospect of a barter came into play. "The Nose not so good with names, or faces, but I can tell everybodys smell from a hundred, no! a thousand yards! Maybe more! I can smell em all, every one I meet! Even you!" he said, tapping his big nose (for, most assuredly, it was big!)

 

"But...that makes the Nose dangerous. People might want to hurt the Nose. Secrets are my bullets, my knives, my weapons!" he said. He looked at the knife in his hand. "Well, I suppose this knife is my knife, but I;m not so good at stabbing people" he conceded, dropping it to the ground. 

 

"The Nose knows! The Nose knows! But, the Nose is one thing, the lips are another!" he said, miming zipping his lips together. 

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Arrowhawk frowned under her cowl, bemused at the Nose's odd mannerisms. Clearly something was a little off with this one.

 

"And is not being able to tell me how to save that girl and stop this hunt a form of power and protection? If I did not think you'd help me, I would have brought you low with the others." She still made no move to advance, but she was wasting time she did not have. "Be better, Nose. Where I come from, there is a man of preternatural sight, just as you have preternatural smell. He is a living legend. People speak his name across the many worlds. So many people. I know you can help me, if you just tell me."

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"No!" spat the Nose back, defiant. 

 

"My knowledge is my only chip. If I go to prison, you know what will happen to me?" he said. "I'm not a fighter. I'll be beaten and butchered within days. I would rather die!" he said. "So I won't say a word! My own skin comes first, you see?" he said, more slyly. 

 

"I'll help save the girl, if you save me. And by that, I mean you won't hit me. You won't beat me. And you won't throw me to the cops" he said. "That's the deal. Nothing better will ever be served" he said. "Because I am a coward. And when a coward is fighting for his life, he is very very brave...."

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Arrowhawk gritted her teeth and exhaled a long, harsh breath. "Fine. I will not throw you to the cops, and I will not strike you. But I will not shield you from the authorities. And you will leave and not participate in these hunts or the deal is off. You help me end it."

 

She took a couple of steps forward, looming over the man, glaring at him with eyes that had glared at frost giants and at gods. "You help me end it, and you walk away, on the condition that you walk away. You're done here."

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GM

 

At this reassurance, the Nose smiled. It was an awkward smile, as one might expect from a man with such a face, who had been punched in his truly enormous nose so many times he had lost count. 

 

"Yippee!" he mumbled. "Goody Gumdrops!" he mumbled more, for emphasis. It was not entirely clear whether his joy was genuine, or his cynicism was. Quite probably, it was both. 

 

"I can track the woman, yes! Easy easy, for the Nose! But we must go to where she last was! Where I picked up the scent!" he explained. "Where you valiantly fought. And bled. And bled quite some more, if I smell correctly...and the Nose always smells correctly!"

 

Police Sirens spliced through the night air. And close by, too. 

 

"But you wouldn't let the Nose be taken by those nasty cops, now, would you?"

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"I won't let them take you, but we have to move!" said Osla, her patience wearing thin, voice sounding harried. She didn't think the Nose was deeply evil. He was however, deeply annoying. She pointed at the car that had flipped over, laying on its site before her, the Nose still in the wreckage. 

 

"I'm no expert in automotives. Is this drivable, if I can put it onto its wheels?" she asked. The alley was some distance back, both she and the Nose were on foot, and she would greatly appreciate conserving her energy for now.

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"What, you think they let me learn motors and stuff?" sniffed the Nose. 

 

But he did sniff. 

 

"No oil leakage. Lubricant's intake. Metal smells the right heat. No fried wires. Tyres a little burnt on the front left. I'd go easy on the back axle, metal smells a bit worn" he summarises. 

 

"But yes, it should be good to go. If you can get it on the right side. See? See how useful I am! I am your friend!" he smiled, although admittedly his nose was so gargantuan it somewhat blotted out his lips. 

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Arrowhawk walked around to the side of the truck, gritting her teeth knowing this was going to hurt. She planted both hands flat on the metalwork of the car, bracing her legs and glancing at the Nose to make sure he wasn't running off. "Fine. You can drive.

 

She gave the vehicle a long hard shove, feeling searing pain ripping through her side, containing the urge to scream in pain so as to avoid showing weakness. The obsequious little man would only stay fawning for so long. And he still had his knife.

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GM

 

And so...

 

The rain was coming down hard now, and the night had a touch of chill about it. In more ways than one. 

 

The Nose drove well enough. His nose was arguably the finest on earth, but he could still use his eyes perfectly fine. The way he sniffed, however, one could only wonder if he actually needed his eyes at all. The man could practically smell the shades and colours of the cars on the road. 

 

He pulled up outside where Metal Head had been left. Although he was not there now. 

 

"Not so good" commented the Nose. "I got the woman's scent. And his. He is bleeding. Like you" he said, nostrils taking in the night air. 

 

"He is scary. Hard as steel. Determined" he added. "I know him. Brutal and direct. Callous. He cares for nothing, I think. But something hurt him. Something burned his face up pretty bad. I could smell the scars...."

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Arrowhawk clutched at her side all through the ride, too exhausted to bother hiding her vulnerability. Besides, the Nose could probably smell just how badly hurt she truly was. He probably had a more accurate idea of it than she did. 

 

She glared sullenly ahead. "He's not special or especially scary. I have seen plenty of the same. Men who feel their pain justifies whatever fresh atrocity their minds can concoct. What was done to him made him as bad as those that did it. The only reason to admire his determination would be if he determined no one else should suffer as he." Arrowhawk laughed bitterly. "Chance would be a fine thing." 

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The Nose wrinkled...well, his nose. Once one got past its spectacular size and impressive ugliness, it was a powerful organ indeed. Whether Arrowhawk would find use for his powerful organ, that was the question...

 

"I have them both!" he declared, impressed with the size and power of said organ. "The bleeding man is making his way to his hideout, I think. Best not go there. At least, until you get your spleen patched up. Such a smell, the spleen! Alas, not a pleasant one" he lamented. 

 

"The woman! Ah, her nicotine, her sweat, her filth! A blend of homelessness and fear. Yes, she is...wait...yes another smell! A man, following her before the hunters! Hmmm...yes...the same time as you arrived!" he said, wrinkling his nostrils. "What happened?" he asked Arrowhawk, full of curiousity. 

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Arrowhawk cocked her head to one side. My. He was persistent. "He... claimed to be trying to help her too. He was trying to get her out of the city." She looked at the nose sidelong, face mostly concealed by her cowl. "He had a vehicle. I accidentally damaged it."

 

She sat up a little straighter. "Of course, I do not know what his exact intentions were. We got off on the wrong foot. But I said my priority was to get that poor woman out of here. Take us there. Now."

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GM

 

And so...

 

The detective (or at least, the silver eyed man who had claimed to be a detective) had said the woman had gone to Shotgun Simon, an infamous (or famous, depening on your prepsctive) tramp. "The Knight Tramp" they called him in a rather thin pun. And yes, he had a shotgun. 

 

He was holed up in a near - collapse brick building that was fifty years old, looked a hundred years old, and had the structural integrity of a building two hundred years old. One had the impression that if one looked at it too hard, it might collapse. 

 

The detectives car was outside. 

 

"They there are! Ooof...the stench!" said the Nose, holding his mighty organ in his hand and massaging it. 

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"Stay in the vehicle," commanded Arrowhawk, opening the door and sliding out. She wasn't sure if he would or not. But they were here, so perhaps it was of little consequence.

 

The gemstone in her belt briefly glowed as she wrapped her cloak around her, fading from mortal sight. Creeping slowly, Arrowhawk approached the entrance to the crumbling wreck of a building. She didn't want to be shot at. She wasn't sure her armour would be sufficient at this point. 

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