The door to the captain’s cabin eased open silently. A man in the passageway leveled a crossbow, loaded with a broad-headed hunting quarrel, through the doorway. With the sharp crack of bowstring striking wood, the crossbow loosed the quarrel which buried itself in the rotund blanket-wrapped form on the bunk.
Kaila, from her position behind the door, grabbed the arm of the crossbowman and pulled. He tumbled into the room. With her other hand Kaila swung up with her sword catching the man just under the arm . The sword bit deep. Blood sprayed in pulsing spurts.
Kaila released the dying man and pivoted into the doorway. She bared her teeth at the sight before her. Men crowded the passageway, too tight-packed to fight effectively. Her sword licked outward, stabbing into the groin of the first man, then the tip slashing across the throat of the second. More blood showered the deck, splashing across Kaila. She spat at the coppery taste and stepped forward, her foot landing on the back of the crossbowman. Two more strikes and the bodies blocked her progress. She kicked, shoving bodies back into the remaining men, inducing them to back away seeking room to fight where they did not get in each others way. Kaila pressed forward, not allowing them that room.
As Kaila fought, her sword began to glow with a dim blue light.
The sound of impact from the hold beyond the passageway told her of the execution of the second part of the plan. Marek and Keven, leaving no one at the tiller for the nonce, dropped from the hatch behind the crowd pressed into the passageway.
The next man got his curved sword up in time to block Kaila’s attack. Kaila rolled her wrists and the point of her sword dipped, dropping below and around the man’s sword. She stepped forward, thrusting into his ribs. She jerked her sword free and stepped back, reaching up to wipe the blood spray from her eyes.
Beyond the remaining crewmen blocking the passageway Kaila saw Keven’s form shift. Shillond, his seeming dispelled, stood in Keven’s place, fire burning at his finger tips. The purser’s cabin door opened and Keven stepped into the passageway, Kreg’s sword ready before him.
Side by side, Keven and Kaila filled the passage, limited by the tight quarters to a thrusting game, but with the reach of the shashyns, more than a match for the remaining crewmen. Keven’s sword pierced one. Kaila’s another.
In the hold, Shillond reached out. One of the crewmen’s clothes burst into flame. Marek, struck the back of a crewman with a slashing blow before he could turn to face the new onslaught.
Kaila took a step forward, raising her sword to point at the face of the nearest man before her. He looked down at the bodies forming a gruesome carpet on the deck. He looked up. His eyes met hers. His hand opened. His sword dropped to the deck.
In moments the remaining men, five in number, followed suit. Weapons dropped, they clasped their hands before them and plead for mercy.
“There is but one penalty for mutiny,” Kaila said.
“Hold, Kaila,” Marek said.
Kaila stepped back. “Majesty?”
“As King of Aerioch, I claim your lives. You will serve me without question–” He nodded to the bodies on the floor. “–or you will die.”
Nearly falling over themselves in the crowded passageway, the crewmen fell to their knees. An incomprehensible babble arose as each man strove to declare, louder and faster than the next, his loyalty to King Marek, captain of this vessel.
Kaila schooled her face to stillness as blood soaked, and dripped from, her hair and clothing.
The above is from the forthcoming sequel to The Hordes of Chanakra:
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!