July 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Black metal, a three foot shaft with a head clad in spikes, it crashed down and crushed tallow flesh, suet and slime spraying from ravaged meat already gone bad even as it screamed in pain. Not dead, they were not alive, at least not life as she knew it. She did not care. The metal danced, at once ponderous and fluid, and crushed a jaw on the upstroke.
Her armor marked her as a daughter of Alron. The insignia, an oval with two outstretched hands presenting a sword as the device, marked her as chosen of Galia, daughter of the Dagtal. In the dim light of the minor moons she reflected the silver accent of stars as the length of iron in her right hand ruined an eye, spraying humor in an arc.
They were the size of men. This much she could accept. She could not accept that they were men. Men do not smell like the pit behind the abattoir. Men do not shriek like tomcats, or run crouching on all fours. And men do not stop to eat their own fallen when they fall. So little light reached down upon the scene that she could only see half shapes, jagged and distorted, and trusted more to smell and sound to tell her where they were. Trusted to the feel of her familiar length of metal to tell her when she’d struck, shuddering back up into her arm. She drove the edge of her shield down where she knew a leg had to be and felt bone snap under the rim.
If they were men, they might have broken ranks. Thin air, rocky ground, even this pass through the ludicrously steep Erythni Mountains was forbidding and terrible at night. Instead, it seemed that for every one she killed more were coming. The other guards had long since stopped screaming, as had the horses, as had the fat merchants and their pampered, overdressed, balm smeared courtesans. Ironically, having failed to stop the slaughter around her had prolonged her life, as many of them had stopped to eat even as she was still up and fighting.
She had no intention of stopping, either. Sweating, panting, she swung her shield arm full in the face of a smeared form leaping at her and was rewarded with the sound of crushing bone and raining teeth. Her high spirits were dimmed when she felt that the shield was noticeably lighter, knew she’d cracked it. Snarling, her short hair matted down into her eyes under the helmet, she hurled the shield’s remains at another of them and used both hands to swing her mace around her in the dark. Everywhere the head completed an arc, flesh or bone suffered.
Her feet encountered the crushed bodies of the creatures, or of her former employers and fellow travelers, there was no time to stop and see which. She stepped around or over them, constantly in motion, constantly lashing out even as her arms and shoulders protested with tightness across the whole of her back. There was no time to be tired, now was just fighting free. A faint hiss behind her was all the warning she received or needed, pivoting on her mail clad hip to swing the weapon in an arc as she turned. The blow sheared right through the neck, pulverizing bone and shredding flesh, spraying what simply could not be blood across the slivers of the moons. The head itself, crushed inward, twirled in the air as it traveled away from its body, matted snarls of hair waving as it flew.
She knew it was hopeless. It did not make her want to fight any less. « Read the rest of this entry »