The acid was a dead giveaway.
Nyssa couldn't believe Sara could be so naive in thinking that using the liquid would be of any help. That is, until she saw the vipers. Their mangled scales reeked of the acid and they slithered haphazardly along the cavern floor. Sara had maimed some of them in a struggle, Nyssa observed, viewing the patterns of footprints along the dirty cavern floor. Dust trickled here and there and gave Nyssa pause... her gaze fell upon the bamboo staff, which lay abandoned at the base of a rock face. A few vipers still possessively clung to it. Where was Sara?
Nyssa's eyes narrowed and she knocked an arrow in her bow, her eyes peripherally searching for traces of movement. The small vial of Pit liquid glowed about fifty yards ahead of her position in the cavern, and a shaft of air signaled that there was an exit to the cavern on that side. Nyssa played images in her mind. She thought about what Sara must have done... she would have lit the vial to better see the cavern... then, the scream, as she saw the snakes. She dropped her staff as she scrambled to the back of the cavern, where she dropped the vial of light and tried to flee in the dark. All she would have had on her person then was the pack and its remaining elements, a canteen and a metal spike.
Not the best accoutrements, Nyssa mused to herself. Perhaps she gave Sara's survivor capabilities too much credence. This seemed anticlimactic; if anything, Sara would have about twelve hours at maximum to survive with her current items.
Without a constant light source, Nyssa was sure that the woman's wits would last even less time. She caught glimpse of a crimson liquid adorning the floor. Her mind calculated four hours of potential life. Sara was bleeding.
Sara saw Nyssa encircling the steps on the cavern floor and wished desperately that the assassin would think out loud. She wanted to know whether the patterns were legitimate enough to pull Nyssa's steps toward the trap. Her ruse was her sole hope at this point. Without a legitimate weapon and dwindling resources, Sara knew all too well that beyond this crazy attempt at attacking Nyssa, her chances at living another day were slim...
She would give this her all.
She had set up the trap in two steps-- the first, concocting a biological weapon out of chemical substances. There was barely any acid remaining, so Sara had torn one of her pant legs off, wrapped it around her hand, and used the metal spike to extract venom from the fangs of one of the dead vipers. The procedure disgusted her and she fought from retching twice, but she forced her hands to do the necessary work. It reminded her of her first days working with Ivo in his lab, toying with creatures and blood. So much blood and experimentation. She had built up minor defenses to the work, and they came in handy now as the viper's poison dripped into the acid vial, sizzling upon impact as it mixed with the remnants.
With the other end of the spike, she grit her teeth hard as she re-opened the cut on her leg. Breathing heavily, she trailed this blood from the rock face where the bamboo lay all the way to the exit of the cavern. Then, she ripped her other pant leg to dress and wrap the wound, pouring a small bit of water on the cut first, as to prevent infection. Once the blood had marked a fake trail, Sara dropped the vial of light toward the exit of the cavern and began the more difficult part of her plan.
She had first noticed the outcrops of rock along the cavern's ceiling while scrambling up the rock face to flee from the snakes. Laying on her back on top of the rock face confirmed to Sara that a person could climb up there with the right kind of tool... she had the spike, which could provide extra support for establishing footing along the climb. Her thoughts returned to the kind elderly woman in Nyssa's chamber. The woman had gone to great lengths to give Sara that black fabric, and demonstrated to her the strength and flexibility of the substance.
That's when Sara's mind flooded with hope.
A couple years ago, she had snuck out on a date with Oliver. He took her to see this incredible acrobatic troupe that was traveling from Central City to Starling to perform. She remembered being entranced by a routine performed by a man, a woman and a silken rope.
They had wrapped themselves in and out of the fabric with ease, pulling each other to mesmerizing ascension above the audience. Their bodies contorted together, gracefully maneuvering up in the air. Seconds later, the fabric unraveled and the partners dropped, causing the audience to gasp. Yet, when they stopped falling, the fabric wound around their limbs as a beautiful safeguard and they were posed above the stage, clutching each other in intricate positions. It was one of the most beautiful routines Sara had ever seen.
She knew that fabric had looked familiar-- aerial silk!
Her plan heavily relied on her skill with the silk... after seeing the performance with Oliver, Sara had attended an Aerial Club meeting in college and quickly learned how to become comfortable with the fabric. She had always been lithe and athletic, so the climbing wasn't much of a problem for Sara. It was the falling that she disliked. As many other components of her life were out of her control, she had always felt that falling was something beyond the scope of management. But, her peers at the club and the teachers there made it look simple, graceful even. After going back to practice a few times, Sara finally understood how to climb up the rope, how to do a single-foot tie in and how to move her body in tandem with the contours of the fabric, weaving her feet in and out to create basic holds and patterns. Her muscle memory increasing, she finally advanced to learning a move called the Hangman.
She never thought her life would depend on her understanding of that move.
It had taken very little time, once she ascended the rock face, to unravel the fabric from around her head and bend the metal spike into a hook, which she wedged into the ceiling of the cavern. Carefully weaving the fabric through the loop of the hook, Sara tested its strength, making sure the hook itself was sturdy enough to support the suspended weight. It frightened her, looking down at the expanse of the cavern, thinking that all that stood between her and death was her body's form in the suspension. Sara gingerly placed the vial of venom in between her teeth; she began taking deep breaths in through her nose as she wound her feet around the fabric, the rest of her body following. She let go of part of the fabric and her torso shifted to an inverted position; she felt the adrenaline surge through her chest as the fabric caught and released with the small drop. She removed the vial from her teeth and waited, aloft in the cavern, for Nyssa to make her move.
Nyssa slinked along the bloody pathway through the cavern. She listened to the sounds of the cave-- the hollow noises the wind made, the snakes writhing along the ground. Something felt like it was missing... there was an almost eerie stillness at the back of the cavern. It disconcerted Nyssa. She scanned her surroundings; wherever her eyes went, her bow followed, threateningly.
The feeling sat at the nape of her neck. It felt as if there was a pocket in her surroundings, which usually translated to ambush. But Sara didn't have the resources or the necessary skills to ambush her, so she let that thought begin to sink to the back of her m-...
Nyssa's eyes brightened in surprise as the sound came at her from above. A blurred yellow light was flying directly at her, down from the top of the cavern and, "AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Nyssa howled in pain as something dripped onto her neck and shoulder, sizzling upon impact. Her hand trembled and she dropped her bow, clutching at her shoulder in agony. Eyes narrowing, she realized it was acid and something incredibly potent. She unsheathed her dagger, grimacing and enraged, and slashed at the figure above her. The yellow blur untangled and fell to the floor, a mixture of swirling darkness and light.
Nyssa took in the sight-- Sara's blonde hair cascaded over her face, her hands braced on the ground-- the woman's eyes were defiant and strong. Nyssa slashed, yelling, and hit Sara's arm, blood spraying on the ground. Furious and in pain, Nyssa shot out her left foot, knocking Sara prone.
She pinned the woman down, dagger at her throat, and growled menacingly, "You are clever, attacking me from the air. But, it is over for you now, Ta-er al Safer... little yellow bird!"
Within the moment of delivering the strike, Nyssa's eyes fluttered wildly and her body ached. She stared into Sara's blue eyes, confused, questioning. A spasm of pain gripped her arm and she looked at her shoulder... a pool of blood and burns decorated her exposed skin. The acid had eaten its way through her clothing, and something else was diving into her bloodstream without hesitation or mercy...
Sara lay still, her mouth drawn in a line. "Venom, Nyssa," she said solemnly, and clutched at the assassin as Nyssa toppled to the ground.
Nyssa felt her body begin to go rigid; her limbs were so heavy. She had been told of the quick effects of Pit Viper venom, but had never experienced its grip firsthand. Her thoughts reeled and she clutched at Sara.
"Get... my..." she heaved, sweating and gripping Sara's arm.
Nyssa's pupils dilated and small flecks of amber invaded her irises.
"Father..." she stammered before her expression went slack and she felt her eyes slowly shut.
Sara didn't realize her breath was caught in her chest-- she quickly exhaled.
Her thoughts gone, she automatically dragged Nyssa's limp body onto the rock face and used one of the woman's arrows to cut a swath of the aerial silk. What water she had left, she poured unceremoniously on Nyssa's burn and wrapped it in the silk. Then, she grabbed the assassin's dagger and ran, as fast as her legs could carry her, out of the cavern, through the tunnels and back to the base of the waterfall. Once her eyes adjusted to the light of day, she tore up the mountain path, her lungs exasperated but functioning. She quickly limped through the rocky pass.
She reached the plains and felt like passing out, but knew that wasn't an option. Nyssa's life relied completely on Sara's swiftness. Sara saw, across the stretching plateau, the ominous yet majestic facade of the fortress of Nanda Parbat. She ran, screaming at the top of her lungs for help, until she reached the outer stone walls.
Sara didn't know how to get the guards to pay serious attention to her, so she fiercely hollered at them, her body burning. She felt sick and the wound on her arm throbbed. Her vision went in and out as the pain surged throughout her body.
"In the name of Ra's al Ghul, I require immediate help! The Heir to the Demon is dying!!!"