Are you bright enough to shine despite... The Darkness?

The Blood of the Honored, Part 5

Posted on June 19th, by Kevin Gubernatis in Excerpt, Fantasy, short story. No Comments

In response to Pargnok’s taunt, the forest elf before him threw out its cloak wide, revealing a large bone-handled dagger in one hand. The other hand went low, fingers spread wide to brandish the large, silvery steel nails that adorned each one. Throwing back its cloak had also revealed a curved and ravishing feminine form beneath and Pargnok felt his loins stir as he saw her almost-naked body.

The elven woman crawled toward him on all fours like a wild beast, her razor-sharp claw scratching the stone beneath her menacingly and enticingly. Pargnok tried to drive the elf’s comeliness out of his mind and only see threats. Her movement was low and agile, which meant that she could strike quickly and without warning at his legs, which were his most vulnerable spot. Pargnok tossed his warblade into his right hand and lowered his shield to guard his feet.

The elf still wore her hood low over her face. This, coupled with her low stance, meant that Pargnok could not see her eyes, which was likely a deliberate tactic. One of the first lessons any battle master teaches their pupils is to look an enemy in the eyes. Not only was it respectful to do so, but the eyes were very telling in combat, giving away an opponent’s next likely move. Over the course of his career as a soldier, Pargnok had become quite adept at reading an enemy’s eyes. Not seeing this elf’s eyes meant that he had only her movements to gauge her actions.

As if gleaning his weakness from some perception outside the norm, the elf slid to the wall near the courtyard and then leaped forward, ignoring Pargnok’s legs and slashing with her big knife at his eyes. The Captain deftly jerked his head backwards, missing the incoming blade by the shorter end of an inch. He lifted his shield and slammed it forward into his attacker, sending her sprawling backward.

The elf landed on her back but used the momentum and flipped over onto her feet. With a screech of unbridled rage and ferocity, she darted forward faster than Pargnok thought was possible. About two meters in front of him, the elven woman leaped into the air more than that distance, coming down with blade and claw slashing. Pargnok dropped to one knee and let her crash into his shield. He then hefted her whole body backwards, feeling her dagger glance off of his helmet and her claw bite into his armor at the shoulder as she went.

Pargnok sent her sprawling behind him and rose to both feet as he spun around and backed up so that the fire light of the brazier was in front of him and not behind him. At the sound of Grilcor bellowing commands, he chanced a glance down into the courtyard to see that his soldiers were in perfect form. Each legionnaire had come away from the wall shield raised and formed a barrier around the archers in the center, who were volleying in repetition upward at the prowling forms on the walls above them.

Heartened by the proficiency of those under his command, Pargnok drew his attention back to his foe, who was already on her feet and charging at him once more. This time he was more than ready for her. In one quick motion he strafed left toward the brazier and plunged his warblade into it. The oil coated his weapon and made the flames dance upon the blade. He brandished it back and forth and his foe came up short, hissing at the licking flames.

“Ild innas nuru, oreck!” the she-elf spat at Pargnok as she danced away from the fire. She brought her cloak in tightly about her now, so that no part of her graceful form could be seen at all. From the way the cloak flapped and bulged though, Pargnok could tell she was doing something beneath it, something he likely didn’t want her to do.

“Yeah, well fuck you too!” Pargnok yelled as he thrust his warblade at her and loosened his grip, so that the weapon slid forward in his hand. He tightened his grip as his hand touched the weapon’s steel ball pommel. The extra reach wasn’t enough to score a palpable hit, but it was enough to let his flaming blade set her leafy green cloak aflame. The elf yelped loudly and tore the garment from her back, throwing it to the side and dropping blowgun and darts she had been readying .

When Pargnok’s eyes met his enemy’s, he immediately regretted his fiery tactic. For within her eyes he saw what lie behind them and it wasn’t rage and cruelty, as he had expected. It was desperation and behind that desperation was…what? Fear? Not only that, but with her cloak cast aside, her features were even more distracting. He was surprised to see that the forest elf was bald, but not surprised to see that she was beautiful. She seemed to sway, as if matching the rhythm to some music that Pargnok could not hear. He again attempted to see only danger, only the threats that she represented.

Pargnok could glimpse one of the other sneaking slavers behind his current foe. The forest elf had just leveled a blowgun at some target in the lower courtyard when, in quick succession, two crossbow quarrels and and arrow slammed into him and knocked him backwards. He fell onto the flaming perimeter and howled in pain as it lit him on fire. He then promptly fell right over the edge of the wall and was gone.

The She-Elf, who had witnessed her comrade fall as well, turned back to Pargnok with the rage in her eyes that Pargnok had expected earlier. A rage born of grief from her felled companion that gave him pause. Pargnok knew his caution when the woman began swaying even more rhythmically and began chanting in some language that he did not recognize as that of the elves of the Dark Forest.

The elven woman danced, and spun, and sang to the music that Pargnok thought he could almost hear now. Just as he was about to silence her with a swing of his flaming blade, she reached a crescendo and stopped abruptly. She stared into his eyes, the flames of his fiery blade dancing in her own, with an expression that seemed to him as both triumphant and exalted.

Then Pargnok heard the sound of rumbling thunder above him and the sky began to pour down rain onto Forest Edge Fortress.

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