Four Years before The Might of Gabriel…
There was something about returning to Texas that got to him. It wasn’t the old buildings, the small joke of a downtown, or even the broken roads. It wasn’t the people craning their necks to stare with curiosity as he drove down the main road or the elderly church ladies who waved with far too friendly smiles from their gathering as he passed.
No, it was how every corner offered a reminder of troubled fights, chasing the next high, and street races. It was the deep knowledge of how painfully damaged the place had left him, chipping away at his very soul until he escaped.
Yes, Sam West hated Texas.
If it wasn’t for the fact his brothers never left, he’d never return. He’d done everything in his power to separate himself from Texas right down to hiring a dialect coach to get rid of his accent. He’d keep Texas as far in his rearview as possible if he could. Instead, at least once a year he made the return to Texas to visit Cole and Noah, dredging up all the old memories.
Turning down the quiet street, Sam lowered the music and paid close mind to the GPS on the dash. The houses were few and far between as he drove. The ones he saw were shells of houses still being built. It confused him. He had to have the wrong address. Cole had moved into a new house, that much he knew. Every house he passed didn’t have a roof. There was no way his brother was living in a half-built house.
The last one on the road was the only one fully built. Construction materials cluttered the front lawn, and Cole’s truck was backed up the long drive. Two stories tall, the house had pristine white siding with deep teal shutters. The windows were wide, the lawn was huge, and the garage was twice the size of the house itself.
The latter didn’t surprise him. Cole ran his own mechanic business and rebuilt cars in his spare time. He poured everything he had into building a solid business and had done so successfully. It only made sense he’d end up with a huge garage at home.
“Hello?” Sam called out, letting himself in the front door. The open floor plan made it easy to find his brother. Taller and leaner than he was, Cole West looked more like a part of the construction crew than he did the owner of the house. Ashy blond hair was shoved under the backward baseball cap on his head, and a toothpick was jammed between his teeth. His pants were faded, covered in paint splatters and old grease, and worn down in the knees while his t-shirt was dirty. Even his boots were different colors from wear and tear. The only well-kept thing on his being was the brown leather and bead bracelet on his left wrist, something he only took off if absolutely necessary.
“Hey! If it ain’t the law school grad! You made it!” Cole exclaimed, his words thick with a Texan accent. He grinned wide. He crossed the room in long strides and pulled Sam in for a brief hug. “I thought you’d call when you got in. Ain’t no reason I couldn’t get you at the airport.”
“I rented a car. It’s no big deal,” he replied. Whistling, he wandered the expansive room. “You really outdid yourself. Just… holy shit, Cole.”
“Yeah, well, it ain’t anywhere near done yet. The house is done, sure, but they’re still buildin’ the greenhouse out back, the landscape needs work, and the front walk is missin’. There’s still work to be done to bring the shop up to date in the garage, too. Still, I figure there ain’t no reason Molly and I can’t live here while I do the other shit like paint and decorate.”
“Molly?” Sam repeated with a raised eyebrow. Never had he ever heard his brother talk about living with a woman, so Cole’s casualness on the matter was astounding. “Who the hell is Molly?”
“Oh, I’m in love with a redhead named Molly, Sam, just you wait,” Cole said, beaming. “Stay here. She’s upstairs and out of the way, gettin’ in a good nap. She needs it.”
“What?” he asked, frowning, but Cole had already disappeared up the stairs. Sam stepped closer, talking loud to be heard, “What the hell happened to Kathryn? Last we talked, that was the closest you had to a real relationship!”
“Yeah, Kathryn! What the hell happened to Kathryn? I thought for sure you two would figure your shit out. And now you’re living with someone? Who the hell is Molly?” he demanded.
“Kathyrn lives in Washington,” Cole yelled back. “Why the hell would she move here?”
“Okay, but who the hell is—oh sweet Jesus, give me,” Sam ordered, interrupting himself as Cole came back down. Molly, as it turned out, was a tiny red retriever puppy with the darkest chocolate brown eyes and the happiest little tail he’d ever seen. Her entire body wiggled enthusiastically as Cole handed her over. Dogs had a way of completely disarming Sam, and he didn’t care in the least. Little paws smacked him in the face as an overactive tongue showered him with kisses. “Who’s the prettiest girl on the planet? Yes, you are! Oh, I’m going to steal you!”
“No, you ain’t,” Cole retorted.
“Oh, yes, I am. I really, really am,” he crooned. “Just put you in my bag and go. He won’t even notice. No, he won’t.”
“Yes, he will. Take her outside, will you? Before she pees all over the place. I just got the floors done last week.”
As soon as Molly was taken care of and settled back in the crook of Sam’s arm for constant attention, he let Cole give him a brief tour of the house.
“I’ll get a big TV up there, a nice table and couches and all that… make it a good spot to watch the game or whatever. I finally got my big kitchen for cookin’ in, too,” Cole was saying, while Sam did his best to pay attention. Molly was perfectly distracting. “I’m goin’ to turn the basement into a game room, a place for the guys on game night.”
“I still can’t believe you play Dungeons and Dragons.”
“It’s good team buildin’ for them down at the garage, a good way to keep them happy. Plus, it’s a small fuckin’ town, and I need something to do with my time,” he replied. “Gives Chris a place to go, get away from all the kids. His wife comes, too, sometimes.”
“You should put a bar in down there,” Sam told him, and Cole shrugged.
“Oh, and I need you to pick out a paint color for your room while you’re here.”
“Yeah. Noah went ahead and picked out his already, so I just need yours. He said I should just paint it blue because everythin’ you do is blue—”
“He’s not wrong,” Sam muttered.
“—but I still want you to pick,” Cole finished, as if he didn’t hear what Sam had said.
“Cole, I’m here once a year.”
“I know, but it’s still your home, boy,” he retorted. “No matter where you end up, there’s always a room for you here so pick a damn color and don’t argue with me.”
Sam smiled, grateful for the gesture. It was exactly the kind of thing Cole would do, even though he didn’t have to. He’d taken over as Sam’s legal guardian when Sam was eleven. After that, no matter what happened or where he ended up, Cole included him. Cole was the only reason he survived Texas, that much Sam knew for certain.
“Before Noah gets here, let’s get this shit out of the way,” Cole began as he paused in the kitchen. “Bar exam. When do you get the results?”
“Never.” Sam shrugged, grinning wickedly. “Quit the firm, too. I’ve decided I’m becoming a stripper. Really put my Gabriel muscles to use.”
“Nice,” he said. “Girlfriend? How’s she doin’? How’s all that goin’?”
“Dumped her and now have no less than five baby mamas. The jury’s still out on baby mama number six.”
“Classy. Really. Nate? Riley? How they doin’?”
“Dead,” Sam told him as he did his best to keep a straight face. Messing with Cole was always something he enjoyed, even if it rarely got a rise out of him. “Hidden in a closet. I needed more room in the apartment.”
“Wouldn’t keep them in there too long. They’ll start to smell in that Arizona heat,” Cole advised.
“Duly noted. Is she good to run around?” He pointed at Molly, and her entire body immediately shook with excitement. Cole nodded, lips pressed together tightly. As Molly explored while they talked, Cole watched her closely. Sam hopped up on the island, the lack of furniture leaving him with no other option. He sighed and continued in a more serious tone, giving a real update since Cole paid for all his schooling. “I have about… maybe six or more weeks before I get the results on the bar exam. I’m not worried. I know I passed.”
“I ain’t doubtin’ that,” he murmured. “As smart as you are.”
“Work is work. They’re ready to bring me on as an attorney once I can. They’re impressed by all the unsolicited input I’ve given so far, Mr. Schofield in particular. He calls it initiative even if it’s unsolicited.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“That’s a damn good thing,” Sam replied. “He’s a partner, so impressing him is a big deal.”
“Good. And Corrine?”
“Med school keeps her busy, which I expected,” he said. “She keeps talking about us moving in together next year. I’m thinking about proposing at Christmas.”
He kept the statement as casual as possible, knowing full well Cole had strong feelings on the subject. It was honestly the one thing Sam wasn’t looking forward to discussing with his older brother.
“I’m sorry, what?” Cole demanded, the surprise clear in both his voice and his expression. “I don’t think I heard you right.”
“It’s what she wants,” Sam stated. “It makes sense. We’ve been together for almost four years. The only red flag is I’m still living with Nate.”
“Have you thought that plan through, boy?” he asked, his tone harsh. “I mean that seriously, Sam. That’s a big fuckin’ deal. That’s a big fuckin’ deal for anyone, but that’s a real big fuckin’ deal for you. Have you told her what you do?”
“She knows I work at a law firm,” he said, trying to skirt around the actual answer Cole was looking for. It didn’t work as Cole rounded on him, his expression severe. “No! No, okay! I haven’t told her I’m a hunter. I haven’t… there’s no good way to fucking tell someone that.”
“Boy, you need to tell her that,” Cole replied. “You can’t keep that shit a secret, especially not if you live together and especially not if you want to marry that woman.”
“I know, I know,” he muttered. “Nate said the same thing in case you wanted to know… and something about penguins mating for life. I don’t know how we got there.”
“That boy and his animal facts.”
“He and Rye are good. Nate couldn’t get off work to come with. He sends his apologies. Riley went back to see his family… something about his mom going to a conference, and his dad needing help around the house before they go back to Florida.”
“They the ones that own the hunters house in Chicago?” Cole asked.
“That’s the one,” Sam said. “He’s annoyed they keep bugging him to take over, reopen it permanently.”
“What’d that mean for you three bein’ you hunt together?”
“I don’t know.” Sam shrugged. “Maybe all of us would move to Chicago?”
“Boy, pass the bar exam in one state before you talk about takin’ it in another,” he retorted, shaking his head. “You always did reach too big, too fast.”
“There’s nothing wrong with big dreams. You taught me that.”
“No, there ain’t,” Cole agreed. “But I also taught you to be smart about the whole damn thing. You’re thinkin’ about relocatin’ when you ain’t even settled your career in the state you’re gettin’ your license in.”
“Rye has no interest in it so I don’t see us moving anytime soon if ever,” Sam assured him. While he appreciated his brother’s concern, it was misplaced. What he did with his life was his own, including his relationship with his own girlfriend. He didn’t need Cole telling him how to do it. “Where’s Noah?”
“He’ll be back soon. He went to change into his huntin’ clothes,” he said, slamming his palm down on the island countertop. “Speakin’ of, you mind helpin’ me with a hunt tonight?”
“Hit me with what you’ve got,” he replied and rubbed his palms to his thighs. While he wasn’t expecting to hunt on his vacation, he was still prepared. “I brought all my shit in case, so I’m ready to go.”
“Honestly, I ain’t got a clue what the hell we’re dealin’ with,” Cole admitted. “It’s fast, it’s smart, it’s tearin’ its way from farm to farm, killin’ cattle and other livestock. No one’s been killed yet, but that don’t mean they won’t be. We’ve been huntin’ this thing for weeks, and I’ve caught sight of it… maybe once. Human lookin’ thing, teeth and claws and the works. It’s a fuckin’ mess. I ain’t to the point of askin’ Mom and Dad for help because I ain’t wantin’ to cross that bridge if I don’t got to.”
“I don’t blame you—”
Heavy music from the driveway drew away both their attention. Molly went galloping
through the house, giving her best attempt at a bark and sounding absolutely unintimidating. Accompanying the music was loud singing, and Sam grinned.
“Is he singing The Boys Are—”
“Yeah. Oh, he’s thrilled you’re back in town.” Cole laughed as they left the house. “You missed his birthday. He’s twenty-one. You know how this shit goes.”
“Oh, it’s going down like that, is it?” he demanded, his smile widening. He followed Cole outside. Dancing in the bed of a yellow pickup, Noah West had absolutely no care what anyone thought of him. With perfectly styled chestnut hair, tanned skin, and jeans with a few too many holes in them, he was a weird blend of natural country boy and wannabe city boy. His t-shirt reflected his love for rock music while his truck showed off his love of mudding in old cornfields. He sang at the top of his lungs, making a total show of his excitement. “Is the town ready for the West brothers to party?”
“I invited the whole damn police department this time,” Cole muttered, crossing his arms. He let out a heavy sigh. “Maybe by doin’ that, no one will get arrested.”
“That’s wishful thinking right there,” Sam replied.
“What’s wishful thinkin’?” Noah asked, his heavy accent rivaling Cole’s. He vaulted over the side of his truck.
“You not getting your ass arrested when we turn this town up West style for your birthday,” Sam replied. He dragged Noah in for a hug, slapping him hard on the back. “You’re looking good, kid.”
“I’m too damn cute to be arrested,” he said.
“It’s a rite of passage at this point,” Cole told him. “If you’re a West and over twenty-one, you’re aimin’ to be arrested at some point and you’ll be drunk. Just how things go. Kid, where the hell are your huntin’ clothes?”
“Ah, shit!” Noah exclaimed, stomping his foot. “I knew I forgot somethin’. Jules was over, and she had pie… I got distracted.”
Cole sighed, making a face. It was one Sam knew all too well. He stood behind Noah, taking him by the shoulders as he grinned.
“You can’t be mad at the birthday boy, Cole,” Sam said. He squished Noah’s cheeks, saying, “Look at this handsome face! You can’t be mad at that!”
To drive the point home, Noah offered the cheesiest smile possible.
“Come on, Cole,” Noah began, “you can’t be mad at this.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Cole sighed, and both knew they’d won. They exchanged high-fives enthusiastically while he gestured to the house. “Go on! Get! I’ll find you clothes. Shit. We got a hunt to get ready for. Go!”
Sam missed the city. The lights, the traffic, the buildings, all of it. It changed the dynamic of hunting in a way he sorely craved. Hunting in a rural location presented challenges he didn’t navigate. Cole was Earth Bound and Energy Bound as a descendant of Uriel. The very earth spoke to him. Noah was just a destructive little shit, being Fire Bound and Water Bound. If he could set something on fire or drown it, he did just fine.
Sam, as a descendant of Gabriel, wasn’t nearly as equipped. His specialty was strength. He performed better in situations where he didn’t feel like he was running around blind. Stuck in the middle of a cornfield in the dark felt just like that. His heart pounded a little harder, and his chest was tight, his instincts buzzing against his skull.
“Listen up,” Cole whispered. He crouched on one knee, hand pressed into the long grass with his eyes closed. Tendrils of deep green light snaked through his fingers, its brightness pulsating under his skin and disappearing under the sleeves of his shirt. When he opened his eyes, they glowed vividly with the same color. “You two do what I say, how I say it. You hear me? No questions asked.”
“I have a question,” Sam interjected quickly, undeterred by the annoyed glance Cole shot in his direction. “Why are your hunting clothes nicer than your everyday clothes?”
“He’s got a point,” Noah agreed. “Your boots ain’t dirty, your pants ain’t got holes in them, and your shirt’s clean.”
“First off, I don’t deal with grease every time I go huntin’ like I do with the garage,” he snapped, standing upright. “Second off, who the fuck cares? We’re huntin’, so the peanut gallery needs to can it.”
“We’ll come back around to this,” Sam promised, flashing a brief smile before sobering. “How do we know—”
A high-pitched squeal filled the night, and Sam whirled quickly. Reaching under his shirt, he removed the golden cross around his neck and handed it off to Cole. Every nerve tingled as his power surged to the surface in an explosion of golden light unhinged. His skin glowed brightly as tracks of light trailed over his entire body. His muscles bolstered and swelled, an incredible sense of strength phasing through him. He was born to be stronger and more powerful than other hunters.
Unlike other hunters, however, he had absolutely no control over his power. He relied heavily on the magic within his cross to hold his power in place until he needed it. If he didn’t, there was no telling who he would hurt.
“You won’t know,” Cole murmured. “I told you, it’s wicked smart. Don’t let it fool you. It knows what the hell it’s doin’. Look alive. We ain’t huntin’, boys. We’re bein’ hunted.”
Sam glanced over at him as the air crackled, coming alive with sparks of energy. The vivid greens in his eyes were gone, replaced by silver. Beside him, Noah cracked a cocky grin as fireballs bounced off his fingertips. The violent red that lit up his eyes was off-putting in the shadows of the night.
Sam’s nerves lit up in anticipation, his ancient instincts sensing a danger he couldn’t see.
The grass rustled.
He whirled on the balls of his feet, eyes scanning the dark.
Shadows moved unnaturally.
The wind was unbearably still.
His heart pounded hard in his chest.
“I don’t like this,” Sam whispered, barely hearing the words come out of his own mouth.
“I know,” Cole replied. “Stick close, boys. Don’t turn your backs on it. Noah… Noah, kid, I need you to light this place up, you hear me?”
“Don’t you worry. I’ve got this,” Noah told him. A wave of flames ejected from his palms, spreading out in a wide arc around them. The long grass burned, sending smoke billowing into the air. The night came alive, and while the fire was helpful, the smoke created an unavoidably problematic situation.
Sam blinked rapidly, the sting in his eyes from the sudden heat painful. His vision cleared considerably.
Only a small part of him wished it hadn’t.
Standing far closer than he was comfortable with, the demon they were hunting lurked in the grass. All he could make out was its oval head cocked and watching them, a mouth full of teeth bared as it chittered at a damn near impossible-to-hear pitch. Smears of fresh blood offset the milky color of its smooth skin. It had no eyes, no ears, or nose he could see. Even still, it eerily tracked them perfectly in slow movements.
Bolts of energy shot from Cole’s hands as he stepped toward the demon, placing himself in front of Sam and Noah. The demon shrieked and skittered in the grass to get away, but Cole was faster. The ground rose in a violent wave that shoved the demon back in the fire’s direction as he switched rapidly between earth and energy.
The move pissed the demon off. It careened forward, its mouth widening as it let out a horrifying sound that damn near shattered their eardrums.
Sam dropped to one knee and covered his ears, desperate to make it stop.
The fire intensified, surging fast.
It grew in height as Noah pushed his power further.
The very air around them crackled with energy.
It sizzled loudly, gaining traction.
Lightning spewed in every direction from Cole’s hands, its blast radius overwhelming.
Sam was thrown back, toppling over himself. The world dissolved in an array of flashing gold, silver, and red. He recovered quickly, rolling into a crouched position. His power flared and grew brighter in response, anger seeding itself deep in his stomach.
As he stood, so did the demon, and Sam’s neck craned back to get a better view of what they were dealing with. The demon loomed over him, topping out at well over nine feet tall. Its body was thin, with lanky arms and muscular legs. Long fingers ended in sharp claws that Sam wanted nothing to do with.
“Oh, we’re fucked,” he muttered.
They were in way over their heads.
The demon’s head swept in his direction, and a hand swatted at him. He dodged. Its other fist slammed down and narrowly missed Sam by a hair.
He responded fast, using the proximity to his advantage.
With one hard punch, the demon was sent careening into the dark.
With a hiss, Sam shook out his fist.
The hit resonated through the very bones in his arm, the pain surprising him. Rarely did his hits reverberate so hard.
“That can’t be all,” Noah whispered, his voice tense.
“It ain’t,” Cole replied under his breath. His hands glowed brightly, and the atmosphere crackled once more. As he spoke, he protectively resumed his spot between them and where the demon had vanished. “Keep your distance. Light it up, Noah.”
Noah never had the chance.
Barrelling through the rising flames, the demon galloped straight at them on all fours. A screeching roar filled the night, but Sam never wavered. He couldn’t attack from a distance with his power, but he wasn’t defenseless.
He drew his gun and fired in rapid succession.
He aimed for its limbs.
Bullets hit the demon in the knees and shoulders.
It never slowed.
Instead, it reared back on its legs, arms swinging impossibly fast.
He’d pissed it off.
The flames soared upward, their intensity increasing with the lightning and rumbling of the earth.
Lashing out, the demon swiped at Noah, sending him to the ground. The fire abruptly disappeared, and they were pitched into shadows and smoke.
“Check him!” Cole shouted.
Sam did as he was told. When he found Noah, he dropped to his knees. His heart pounded harder in his chest.
In the light of his power, there was so much blood.
Noah struggled, eyes wide in fear and throat gurgling. Several gashes tore open his neck. Whether they were shallow or deep, Sam couldn’t tell.
He had to help.
“Okay… okay… it’s… it’s…” he let out, stumbling over his words. His hands shook horribly as they hovered over Noah’s neck, his power flaring uncontrollably.
He didn’t know how to help.
He couldn’t help his baby brother.
He was terrified he was going to snap Noah’s neck.
“Cole!” Sam shrieked, his voice breaking. “Cole!”
With a resounding crack of energy, Cole appeared. He slipped to his knees, his hand immediately covering the wounds to stem what bleeding he could.
“Okay, okay, okay,” he said, a slight tremble in his voice. He fished out Sam’s cross, passing it off. “It’s okay, Noah… don’t… don’t you talk… I got you, kid. I got you.”
Cole’s eyes scanned the dark as Sam put his cross on, the restraint of magic knocking the wind out of him in his panic. The night was quiet, offering no signs of the demon. If they were still being hunted was up in the air.
“Okay, kid,” Cole whispered. He carefully shifted his hand, trying to peek at Noah’s neck. He leaned closer to Sam, keeping his voice as quiet as possible while he struggled to get his keys from his pocket. “His carotid don’t look severed. That might work in our favor, but we need to get him to the hospital fast. Sam, I need you to get my truck.”
Sam said nothing, unable to look away from Noah. His body shook, and his mind tumbled wildly out of control. His chest was painfully tight, and his heart pounded violently in his ears.
He couldn’t lose another brother.
“Sam!” he exclaimed, kicking Sam hard enough in the thigh to snap him out of it. Sam’s head jerked up, wide-eyed and terrified. Even though he barely understood what Cole was saying, he nodded erratically. “Sam! Focus! You’re scared. Me too, boy, but I need you to fuckin’ focus, okay? Get my truck. Now, Sam!”
He thrust the keys in his hand. Sam pushed off the ground and ran faster than he ever had in his life.
Of all the times the police had chased him down for doing something stupid, Sam never imagined it’d be with his baby brother bleeding out in the back seat.
Still, he drove.
He didn’t pull over.
He never hesitated.
He kept driving.
In the backseat, Cole endlessly talked him through it. He heard Cole’s voice, but words were lost on him. Sam couldn’t get out of his head. He replayed every single moment of the hunt, second-by-second, trying to figure out how he could’ve prevented Noah from getting hurt.
There had to have been something he could’ve done to save his brother.
He sat in the waiting room, covered in Noah’s blood, with his legs bouncing erratically. He was alone as Cole handled the police, the doctors, and everything else. Sam was useless. He couldn’t focus on anything else. He couldn’t figure out how he could’ve changed the situation. It was torture. Every moment melted fluidly into the next one. He had no clue how he could’ve saved Noah. He curled over himself, head in his hands and drowned in the thoughts.
Cole grabbed his cheeks when he crouched in front of Sam, forcing him to look up.
“You listen here,” his brother began softly, “there ain’t a damn thing you could’ve done, you hear me? Ain’t a damn thing. I shouldn’t have brought you two.”
“No.” Sam shook his head, letting out a shaky breath. “It’s not—”
“It is,” Cole interrupted. “But you need to focus on you, Sam. No slippin’ up, you hear me? Mom and Dad are on their way. Jules, too. They’re a ways away, so it’ll be an hour or more, but they’ll get here. Doctors are hopeful. That’s a good thing. That’s a damn good thing. They think the worst of it is his vocal cords, but we won’t know for sure for a while. We can work with that, okay?”
“Yeah,” Sam said, nodding slightly.
“We need to get you cleaned up. You can’t sit here like this…” he faltered as Sam leaned forward, his head falling back into his hands. He wanted to cry. That’s all he wanted to do. He didn’t have the energy to do anything else. Cole inched forward, pulling Sam in by the back of his neck for a tight hug. He buried his face in Cole’s shoulder and fell apart, clinging to his brother. As if knowing exactly where Sam’s thoughts were, he whispered, “This ain’t Gideon all over again. I promise.”
It felt an awful lot like dealing with their older brother’s death all over again. Even though Gideon hadn’t died in a hunting accident, he was still gone. His death had torn apart their entire family. Sam didn’t know if he could go through losing Noah, too.
“You can’t know that,” he mumbled. He wanted to believe it was true, but he couldn’t. The unknown was too scary. Even with optimistic doctors, it could end up going in any direction. Cole remained silent, unable to argue. “Cole?”
“Can I stay the summer?” Sam asked into Cole’s shirt. The idea of going back to Arizona was unimaginable. Being with his brothers heavily outweighed his desperation to leave Texas.
“You ain’t ever got to ask,” Cole said with a sigh. “I always got a place for you. You know that.”
“Thank you,” he said. Another heavy wave of emotion crashed through him, and he lost his ability to say more, his breath catching in his throat.
Hunting was dangerous.
He knew that down to his very core.
Nothing could really ever prepare Sam for the moments it forced him to face mortality. They were all on borrowed time.
He was born a hunter.
He was raised a hunter.
Sam was going to die a hunter.