From one of my current works in progress, which I hope to release sometime later this year.
Kreg had not quite reached the board leading across to the barge on which Zhagu’s wagon was secured when he heard a feminine shriek. Fatigue fell away as he dashed up the board.
The back of Zhagu’s wagon hung open. Kreg did not see Zhagu anywhere nearby. Pawfy lay crumpled next to the wagon, his right cheek blazing scarlet in the light of the setting sun, his eye already swelling shut.
A dark form loomed over Fhwey at the back end of the wagon. The bottom of her tunic was flipped up. The figure’s hands tore at her breeches.
Fwhey shrieked again.
“Leave…my…sister…alone.” Kreg’s voice cracked with strength that surprised even him.
The dark figure turned. Kreg recognized Dovthi.
“Sister?” Dovthi sneered. “That tale? Everyone knows she’s your whore.”
“Let her go, Dovthi,” Kreg said. “This can end right here.”
“You’re right in that.” Dovthi drew his sword. “It ends here, Bvaykoo.” In Dovthi’s mouth, Kreg’s sobriquet was a curse.
Kreg ducked aside at Dovthi’s rush, grateful for the long days Kaila had drilled him in fighting on the tossing deck of a ship. His own sword whispered out of its sheath. He tossed the bow aside.
From the corners of his eyes Kreg could see others running toward them. Kreg thought he recognize Mosho and Zhagu but he could not take time to look to confirm. Dovthi occupied his attention.
Metal rang against metal as Kreg parried Dovthi’s next attack. Kreg stepped back at the ferocity of Dovthi’s swing. Again, Kreg raised the sword, ready to parry, only just before the swords met, Kreg twisted his wrists, dropping the point of the sword as he took another step back. Dovthi’s sword flew through the space Kreg’s sword had occupied and whistled past Kreg, the point a mere handwidth in front of Kreg’s face.
Not meeting the expected resistance, Dovthi found himself twisting too far in his attack. Kreg’s own sword came up again. Kreg stepped forward, extended. The point of his sword struck just below Dovthis’ right arm and penetrated. Kreg withdrew, pulling the sword free. Blood sprayed in spurts from the wound.
Dovthi turned back, raising the sword for another strike. Kreg caught the strike on his own blade before it could gain any power. He slid his blade down Dovthi’s hopping it over the guard and raked the tip along Dovthi’s forearm. More blood spattered and the sword dropped from Dovthi’s hand.
Dovthi’s left hand came across, seeming almost to float of its own accord, to cover the wound in Dovthi’s arm while his life pumped out of his side. He sagged to his knees staring up at Kreg with hatred that Kreg did not understand. After long seconds, like a felled tree, Dovthi toppled to the deck.
Kreg gasped for breath and looked to the shore. Mosho stood at the foot of the plank that led from boat to shore. Zhagu stood just behind him, one hand over the lower half of his face, his expression unreadable.
“The only reason I do not kill you right now,” Mosho said, “is that I saw Dovthi draw first.”
The manifest unfairness of Mosho’s words struck Kreg like a blow.
“You will leave now,” Mosho said. “Leave and do not return. If I ever see you again, I will kill you.”
Kreg’s hand tightened on the grip of his sword.
Mosho smiled. “Do you think you can take me? Hwume!”
Beyond Mosho, on the shore, Hwume met Kreg’s eyes and shrugged. He drew an arrow and fit it to the string of his bow.
Kreg nodded. “I’ll go.”
Kreg wiped the sword on Dovthi’s tunic and slammed it back into its scabbard. His eyes dared Mosho to demand its return.
Mosho said nothing.
Kreg looked to where Pawfy lay. Fhwey had dropped from the back of the wagon and huddled next to him.
“I’m sorry.” Kreg squeezed his eyes tight. He had hoped to help them. His one consolation was that they at least in no worse state than when he had found them on the streets.
Kreg walked to the end of the boarding plank and looked down, meeting Mosho’s eyes. Mosho stood aside. Kreg marched down the plank to the riverbank, then up the hill, mercenaries and merchants parting before him.
If you liked the above, it’s from my sequel to my fantasy novel The Hordes of Chanakra. You can find the first volume here:
Pulled into an alternate world mired in the middle ages, Kreg finds allies in Kaila, a rough swordmistress, and her wizardly father. He’s also found their foes – an unending horde pouring forth from the small nation next door.
Now, he’s in a race against time to find the true source, before everything he cares about ends in fire and death!