Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Excerpt 2: A Plague for the Paladin: First Kill

His feet firmly set beneath him, Gabriel was breathing just as heavily as his opponent. The werewolf was looking the young man over and glancing at the other six figures that seemed to have it surrounded. The beast was covered in a light gray hair, its forelimbs elongated. What remained of pants hung from the beasts waist, a few inches below the cut that Gabriel had already inflicted.

Howling, it launched itself at Gabriel. It led with its right hand and Gabriel saw it in slow motion as the long long fingernails slashed at his face again. He threw up his shield and heard a rewarding scrape as the claws connected with the large piece of metal. Gabriel followed the beasts arm as it pulled it back readying for another strike. Inside of the werewolf’s reach, Gabriel used his shield as a battering ram and smashed the creatures snout, sending it reeling backwards.

The circle of men broke and reformed as necessary to allow the combatants room to fight, but close enough that should the werewolf choose to run, it would have to pass near one of them.

It shook its head to clear it and snarled, saliva dripping from the inch long fangs. Not wanting to give it time to recover, Gabriel advanced again and swung his sword again. The beast jumped to his right side and quickly shifted its momentum, throwing itself at his unprotected side, sending them both toppling. Gabriel landed hard, pinning his shield and shield arm underneath him. Luckily the beast had connected while his arm was still in the air and he used his free elbow to smash the flesh in between its eyes.

The momentary distraction allowed Gabriel to roll off of his shield arm, away from the werewolf. He heard a growl and continued rolling, the beasts pounce narrowly missing him. As he rolled back onto his shield, he pushed with all of his strength and forced himself into a crouch, swing his sword wildly, not hoping to connect, but thinking it at least would deter another charge long enough to gain his footing. The ploy worked and Gabriel found himself face to face with the beast again.

His arm was beginning to tingle so he stole a glance at it and noticed that it was dripping blood from a wound on his forearm. It was his turn to growl, and when he looked at the werewolf, he thought it was smiling at him. Charging, Gabriel held his sword in both hands, his arms locked so that the shield led the way. As he closed he swung his left arm out and slammed the werewolf, throwing it off balance, his longsword trailing shortly thereafter, biting deep into the beasts ribs.

Howling in pain, the werewolf pushed off of the shield creating a few feet of distance between it and the young man. The dripping blood elicited a cheer from Lear and the other men standing around watching the fight. Gabriel followed the beast-once-man closely, shuffling forward, his feet barely leaving the ground. As he got close to it, it lashed out with a long bony hand, but with its lifeblood pooling on the ground beneath it, there was not much strength behind the swing. Gabriel swung his sword at the canine like head and was surprised when the creature, with a resurgence of energy, ducked the swing and dove forward, back onto him. As he rolled with the creature, Gabriel managed to shake his shield off of his left arm.

His other arm was was being held by the werewolf, effectively stilling his blade. Gabriel began to pummel the creature about its snout with his gloved left hand, and only managed to catch the glove on one of the wolflike teeth, tearing a hole in it and drawing blood. Pulling his hand away quickly he reached down to his belt where hand axe still hung tied to his swords scabbard. The beasts mouth was inches from his face and the hot breath stank of decay. Snapping teeth missed his nose by a fraction of an inch, so close he could feel the air move.

Gabriel redoubled his effort in trying to free his sword arm, hoping to distract his opponent from what his left hand was doing. He managed to unclasp the strap that secured his axe to the scabbard and brought it into line with the beasts head. The axe bit deep into the back of the beasts neck, causing the lupine head to jerk forward. Gabriel turned his face and took a sound blow to his already cut cheek, waiting for the jaw to open and clamp down, but the bite never came. A few moments later he was dragged out from underneath the dead werewolf by three separate pairs of hands, the other three men having grabbed the beast.

Gabriel was stood up, his legs wobbly underneath him, and as soon as the hands let him go, he fell again to his knees, exhausted and gasping for air. He was left there, dripping blood from his wounded arm and sliced cheek for a moment before another set of hands, this pair more familiar, grabbed ahold of him.

Lear dragged him to his feet, allowing the young Paladin to lean against him, still breathing deeply.

“Go get Varin and bring him here,” Lear waved at one of the five other men. Half an hour later, the man returned on a horse, Varin trailing him.

Silently, Varin worked his stones and stopped the blood flow from both Gabriel’s cheek and his arm. “How do you feel?”

“Sore,” Gabriel replied, his breath finally stabilizing to a normal rhythm.

“I can heal the cuts and mend broken bones, but I can do nothing for the bruising. I am sorry that I can not do more.”

“Thank you for what you have done. Can you leave us?” Gabriel asked.

Varin took the hint, as did the remaining members of the group that had watched the battle, who all found something that needed to do a good distance from the young Paladin and his mentor.

“Master Lear, does it get any easier?”

“What, killing them? No, it doesn’t.”

“No I mean accepting that you’ve killed them.”

1 comment:

J. A. Platt said...


Awesome use of the shield as a weapon. I've read too many scenes where it's only used for blocking (or worse yet a prop). In a fight everything is a weapon!

I also like that Gabriel consistently has qualms about killing the werewolves. That said, this line: “No I mean accepting that you’ve killed them.” comes as a surprise. I think I wanted a hint of Gabriel's dilemma during the fight. As the reader I wanted a chance to be in on the secret.

This is going to be wild when you finish it. I'm looking forward to the next excerpt.

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