A Wylde Tale by T. J. Schaaf and Cal Westray
Chapter 14: Death in the Wind
We left for Dragon’s Peak. Because of Cassandra, Tabitha didn’t notice the fear effects of the place. Truth to tell, she is quite fearless. So, I doubt if it would have affected her anyway.
I only had a few days to teach Tabitha spell-casting. After explaining to her about the upcoming war, she understood how little time we had to get her as well prepared as possible.
I taught her how to see and access ley lines and a few minor spells. She was a quick study, mainly because she is quite intelligent. She was a member of Mensa and is a whiz at mental exercises, specializing in mathematics. Once she established a way to equate magic and mathematics, she absorbed the techniques of spell work rather quickly.
A lot of magic is based on belief. If you are certain that something can work and you can follow the steps needed to accomplish it, it happens. If you are doubtful, you are already doomed to failure. Miss Katt spent so much time in Amber and traveling through Shadow worlds, she witnessed and understands all forms of magical activities. She knows magic exists and she works with it constantly. So, belief in magic is easy for her.
She now memorizes spells with a child-like wonder and casts them with deadly efficiency. If she had the same amount of time in practice that I had, she may have surpassed my ability. One of the spells she practices most often, is a twelve-foot diameter globe of daylight. It should be quite handy for keeping vampires at bay.
Cassandra works with her when I am called away. She is almost smug about knowing Miss Katt’s potential and she is growing quite fond of her. Cassandra made a pendant for her. She altered the pendants that we wear, so we can talk to each other through them. It’s a definite improvement on the previous model. The plan is to have Miss Katt stay in the warehouse with the main population. She will be a critical part of the defense and the main contact with us, in case of severe danger to the population. With some of the anti-vamp gear that Thomas provided, she will be better protected as well.
Moonscrye returned the communication pen to me, in case I need to reach Thomas. Thomas has been meditating for a few days now and it won’t be long before I need to get him from the cave. Scouts are reporting that the army will be here soon.
Moonscrye advises me that the army of the fire warlock will attack during the day and the vampires will attack the following night. The fire warlock has demons in his army, which can attack during the day. It doesn’t look good and there will be little break in this battle. At least the town’s defenses are well organized.
After a few days, Miss Katt and I return to Talladale to check on things. She needs to become familiar with the town and the buildings where she will be needed. In a short period of time, she has thoroughly examined the warehouses to identify vulnerable areas and coordinated efforts to make them more secure.
It’s early morning. There was little activity last night, just minor skirmishes that were easily dispatched. It was good exercise for what to expect. I got a little sleep last night and I am now getting restless. We went to Dragon’s Peak last night to siphon some ley line energies, we are at our peak level and as ready as we’ll get. I practice spell casting at the campfire and test my fire resistance. It is odd, placing my hand into the fire and feeling no heat. It is like reaching into a hologram of a fire. Soon, I will face a more serious challenge.
Miss Katt drinks her coffee and is amused at my antics.
Captain Jason Willows joined us because we are waiting for Cassandra’s scrying for the signal to begin. Willis stares as I pull out my hand, expecting it to be charred. “Nice trick, Major.”
“Good morning, Captain. Just practicing. I could stand in it, but it would cover my boots with ashes. How are preparations coming?”
“We are as ready as we can be. The cavalry is staying with their horses and everyone sleeps with their weapons at the ready. The townspeople are huddled in the warehouses with guards at every entrance. Everyone is on edge because of the waiting, and dreading the inevitable.”
“Nothing like waiting for a siege.”
Miss Katt is concerned but not afraid and she is ready to begin her part in the battle. Jason is visibly nervous, wishing that we were only dealing with a normal enemy. We drink the rest of the coffee in the pot, extra strong. I think I need to invent an espresso machine, along with a host of other conveniences. This culture could use some serious help.
Through the pendant, Cassandra tells us it is time. Something activated her magical wards, a few miles away. I finish my coffee and I wish them all luck as Miss Katt drains her cup and runs down the alleyway to the warehouses. Jason knows that I received the signal and it’s time for him to sound the alarm. The cavalry will head down the road to face the enemy, with the infantry close behind. They will also be ready for the change in uniform colors.
I use the communicator pen to reach Thomas. “It is time, I have to head out and begin the spell. I will return for you when I have it at full strength. Meet me at the caravan within an hour. A runner is coming out to meet you.”
“See you soon, Wylde. Good luck. Remember, the fire mage Kilner is mine.”
“I will remember.” There is no time to waste, I prepare for what must be done.
Cassandra and I rehearsed this several times, we know that it has to happen in unison for this to work. From Cassandra’s wards, she determines where the army is located. She wants me to teleport to the site, this side of the triggered ward. She will take the position beyond.
We port into position and begin casting our whirlwind spells. She is delayed for a moment after encountering a small party of soldiers and dispatches them.
The spell is well underway. The air is still around me, a forty foot diameter column of calm. Beyond the calm air, the air speed increases a few miles per hour, every minute. It will take nearly an hour to reach the speed needed. I carry my small shield lifted before me. Nearly a hundred yards away, some soldiers approach with crossbows at the ready. With a bit of effort, I step forward and move the whirlwind toward them. It hits a section of road with loose dirt and gravel. The cloud of dust obscures their vision, and mine as well. The gravel scatters like buckshot, which should discourage them from getting closer. I continue concentrating on building up the storm’s intensity.
The plan is to force the army back, the way they came. The forest is too dense to take cover and they will become targets for debris if they do. They should back up until they encounter Cassandra’s whirlwind.
I walk forward and continue building up the wind speed. I keep track of the direction by following the texture of the road. There is more grass beyond the road, very little grass where the road is. Move on and build up speed. The cloud of debris gets thicker every minute.
I’ve been walking for nearly an hour and Cassandra tells me that we are nearly midway. The army is pinned in now. Occasionally the air around me gets warmer and the debris combusts. The fire warlock must be casting fire spells at the whirlwind. Something I was also counting on. I doubt that even a fireball will penetrate the wall of this whirlwind. It should spread the fire outwards, back at the army.
I continue moving forward. I notice that the whirlwind has stopped building up speed, the fire warlock must have cast a ‘dispel magic’ spell. It will start losing potency and be beyond my control. However, it will take awhile for the winds to die down. Time to abandon ship. I visualize the caravan and step through. The tornado will continue its work until it dies down.
I find that the army is busy with men that got through our little trap. I was hoping to reduce our casualties, but there were numerous losses on our side. Cassandra was aware that their army was wearing similar uniforms to ours, hoping to make it difficult for us to determine who is the enemy. She abandoned her whirlwind and is casting the spell to change ourarmy’s uniform colors.
I have made the place in my mind, as though I was floating in space. Relaxing and regenerating energy. Focusing on controlling my powers. Focusing on harnessing new ones. It was only a matter of time before I was going to be awaken and summoned to battle. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how long I’ve been out, but I think it’s been about four days. I wonder why I haven’ t been waken up yet. Now that I think about it, it has been quite awhile. Okay, now I’m getting a bad feeling. I begin to rise back to the conscious world. I hear the sound of the communicator.
As I come to, I answer the pen. Wylde will meet me in town in an hour and a runner is on the way to help carry some things. After I turn it off, I see a huge figure walking towards me with a really vicious halberd, lifted into the air. To prevent being cornered into the cave, I jump up and run outside to greet this nice man. What a surprise, it’s a demon. He looks like an ogre or something, but massively demonized. I’m guessing he’s one of the big ugly demon’s men. He appears to be relatively slow moving. That may be the way I can get him. He says nothing but his actions speak loud enough.
He gets closer and tries to bring the blade down on me. I step out of the way so it ends up hitting the ground. Instead of it being stuck in the ground like I hoped, making it difficult for him to pull it out, he simply pulls the blade out, along with a huge clump of dirt. He began to swing it again, this time sideways. I quickly run to a patch of closely grown trees. I figured it would slow him down at least. But as I watch him swing his blade, I saw it crash right through the trunks of the trees. And we’re not just talking about ones that you can put your arms around either. They were big trees.
Slowly, I continued to move through the trees with the demon following, until we get near the river. I kept on working my way down river, until I came to a spot that began to lead into the really rough white water. I knew there was a small tree fallen further down, but I wasn’t sure if I could cross there. Seeing the demon gaining on me, I thought the plan would work. As I reached the tree, I realized that it wasn’t such a good idea. The log was old and nearly rotted through. And it was pretty thin as well. But seeing as how I had little choice now, I slowly went across. Halfway across it, the center snaps and falls inward. I hurried across, avoiding falling in. As I reached the other side, I turn to see the demon trying to cross. That was my plan, but I never expected him to do it. Idiot. I expected the demon to fall in at any time, but it didn’t. He kept coming. I had to think quickly.
I grabbed a stick off the ground and hoped it would be strong enough to knock his legs off the log when he got closer. I began to swing as he got really close. I hit, but the stick did nothing. But then I saw my opportunity. I got really close to the end of the log, then bracing my feet and hands, ready to dodge his halberd. He lifted it for a strike. I leapt out of the way as he brought it down hard, where the log and land met. As he started pulling it up, I could see that it worked. The hole that he made, slowly fills up with rushing water as he brings his blade up. Then it starts washing all the dirt away from the log, removing the support. Soon after he began walking again, the edge of the tree fell in and so did he. He put up a really good fight, but the current was too strong, even for him. I just stood there and watched as he was carried down river into the rapids where I hoped he would lose more than his blade.
I quickly ran back upstream in search of another way to get back over. After about ten minutes of walking, I saw a big log up ahead. It looked perfectly fine to cross over. I hurried up and got across it. As I did, I heard the clanking of metal and cries of battle.
So I ran back to the cave and picked up the rest of my weapons. Also, some other supplies like water and bandages and began to head off to war. After about another ten minutes of steady running towards the town, I heard the rustling of leaves behind me, and the crashing down of what sounded like horse hooves. I turned around to see another really big demon running after me. This one looked more like a Hellhound more than anything. A giant rotting dog or wolf. Blast it!
I saw that I was near the spot I had camped out the first night in the forest. I looked around and spotted the tree that I had slept in. Good, maybe I could climb it and go from there. So I ran over to it and climbed up as fast and as high as I could. As the hound got closer, I could see that he was about twenty feet long and fifteen feet high. He was huge!!! As he started walking around the bottom of the tree, and proceeding to climb it, I pulled out some of my Molotov Cocktails and lit them. As best as I could, I aimed for his head and threw them at him. It worked all right, his face was covered in fire. It looked like it wasn’t doing a thing to him. Seeing how little that did, I went ahead and pulled out my sword.
Not knowing whether it was pure genius or stupidity, I put my legs over a branch, and fell back so I was hanging above the dog. When he leaped at me, I stuck him in the head with my blade. This, too, seemed to do very little. Not seeing what else to do, I came up with a plan. I would use my hatchet to cut off the top half of the tree, so it could fall on him. Then, I could jump down and run off. So after cutting for a few minutes, it was almost ready to fall. Then the tree started moving. He, too, had got the idea of cutting it down. He was ripping away at the base with his teeth and claws. With the occasionally ramming into the trunk with his head.
Fortunately, mine was done before his. I worked my way around to the other side of the tree, braced my back against a limb, and used my feet to push it over. As it began to fall, I jumped down out of the tree and ran as fast as I could away. I glanced over my shoulder to see the upper half of that massive tree fall right on top of a mound of leaves next to the dog. That was a good plan. It did a lot for me.
Well, by now I was scared silly, running from this dog that was about to eat me any second. Maybe my powers are triggered by adrenaline, I don’t know. I did know that I could feel them coming back slowly. Amazingly enough, the closer the hound got, the faster they returned to me. Finally, I thought I had enough to do some serious damage to him. So I once again climbed up the nearest tree. This time though, I jumped right back down and walked towards the dog. When it was about twenty feet away from me, I picked it up with TK and threw it into a group of trees. I then picked it up again and slammed it back and forth into trees.
“Ah, so the little twerp does have some power. Yummy,” was all the hound said.
So maybe it was more than just a really big rotting Hellhound. It took a lot to throw that thing around, and I could once again feel the power leaving me. I quickly bashed it up some more times. The good news is that I really hurt it. The bad news is I ran out of power. The worse news is that he leapt at me. The best news is that he never hit me. As he came down upon me with claws out and jaws open, he passes right through me. After a brief pause, he understood what I had done. Astral projected myself. Then he did something I hadn’t thought of. He stopped, sniffed the air, and headed towards where my body was resting in the tree. I too ran to it. He began shaking the tree trying to knock my body out of it. So I jumped up into the tree in hopes of returning to my body before it fell. I got there, and began to re-possess it. The last time, it took me about a minute to get full control again. Let’s hope it would take less time now.
I awoke one again in my body. As I sat up preparing to jump out of the tree, I realized that I was on the ground. Jumping up not knowing where the dog was, I saw its huge corpse laying next to me. Its sides were full of arrows. Arrows made of what looked to be pure silver. There must have been thirty of them in him. And his head, well, there was no head. Just a big patch of splattered flesh on fire where it was. What the heck had done this, it wasn’t three feet from where I last saw it. That means whatever killed this, did it in less than a minute and before the dog could even react. Whatever. I’ll worry about thank you cards later. Wow, that was some serious damage. I went over and took out one of the arrows in put it through my belt for safe keeping. Maybe we could play a game of Cinderella and find out who it belongs to.
Once again, I headed off in search of battle. As I neared the forest edge, I saw a body on the ground. It looked like one of the privates from the army. I’m guessing he was the runner who was supposed to come help me. Looks like the dog or ogre got to him first. I started walking away. Then I turned around. No, it couldn’t have been either of them. He wasn’t cut, bitten, or even touched. Then I heard a faint rustling of what sounded like a flag or cloth. I slowly turned around to see another demon descending from the trees. As I looked closer, I could see that it was the girl in her full armored suit. Whew! That was a relief. But wait, she doesn’t have a huge cape that lets her fly down from trees. She also has more muscle in the upper body region. Upon third glance, it appeared to be a man, with the same outfit she had. Then I heard horse hooves behind me again. I turned to see Mordak, the bull demon that was friends with the girl. He looks in my direction and says, “You are mine now.”
“Don’t you mean ours?” said the girl coming up next to him.
Okay wait, there is no way she is going to try to kill me now. She and Mordak both lunged at me. They got closer and then they went over my head. As they did, the girl donned her armor and outstretched her chains. I whipped around to see them both attacking the other demon with the big cape. Well, that was a relief. I had never seen her in action before. Man was she impressive. I hadn’t realized how lucky I was before. I walked away with just one less eye. That was fortunate. She and her chains worked together in perfect synchronized form. And Mordak just plain rams the guy with his horns. As he did, he left a trail of purple energy behind him. His horns were on fire with green flames now. They both looked really cool. Then the other guy started putting up a fight. He too had chains, and he shot stuff from his eyes, and his cape completely enveloped the other two a few times. I wasn’t sure if they were going to make it out alive after all.
After a good ten minutes of fighting, I heard a whistling sound from behind. Then about ten more of them appear. Suddenly, the demon had more than a dozen arrows in his chest. He screams in pain. That gave the others the window they needed. They started ripping him and his cape to shreds. More and more arrows come from the forest. The same silver ones as before. Slowly but surely, the two warriors and the unseen one worked the demon down to nothing. As he fell down for the final time, the girl lifted him up by her chains.
“Let’s see the face of the great Cloakmaster that we have killed today,” she said as she began to peel off his magic mask with her chains.
As she did, I saw all the color drain from her face. It was like she had seen a ghost. Then, I saw tears start flowing down her cheeks, and her face tighten up. She let out the most blood curdling scream I’ve ever heard as she began sucking his soul. I then looked at Mordak to see him kneeling down almost in mourning. He too looked sad. After she had sucked his soul, she fell to her knees and began to cry more than I have ever seen anyone. I hesitated to ask what was wrong. Knowing her, I may not come out alive. As I slowly knelt and put my arm on hers, I began to ask what was wrong.
As I started to speak, I saw a brief flash out of the corner of my eye. Then I felt more pain then I had ever felt before. This even topped losing my eye. I whipped around to see that my right leg had been cut off at the calf. Between the two pieces of it was the blade of a halberd. I screamed louder than I think even the girl did. As I screamed, all the pain began to go away. Then everything I saw went black and all shades of green. Almost out of instinct, I leaped up and slashed at the demon with my hands. As I looked at his chest, I saw it was ripped open.
I then looked down to see I no longer had hands. I had black claws, almost talons. I suddenly heard new sounds and smelled new smells. I could even feel the slightest wind upon my skin. Neither knowing nor caring what had happened, I started tearing up the demon. As he brought his halberd down on me once again, I caught the blade between the palms of my hands and snapped it out of his hands. As he struggled to pick it back up, I reached over, grabbed his head, and snapped it to the side with a loud crunching sound.
As he fell to the ground, I saw a mass of energy coming from his body. I felt some urge to reach out and grab it, so I did. As I grabbed it, it went into my hands and chest and I felt another surge of energy. This one felt really good. I quickly looked down at my leg to see how bad it was, only to find it perfectly intact.
“Looks like your eyes aren’t the only things that grow back,” said the girl while crying.
I touched my eye-patch. I have had both eyes for nearly two weeks now. Ever since I went back to the village in Foz do Iguacu. I never told anyone but her, because I didn’t want them to know I could do it. She was correct, I had some serious regenerative powers. As I blinked, everything went back to normal, including my hands.
“What happened, why are you crying?” I asked the girl.
“Do you remember how I told you about the stranger I loved so much? The one who was killed by one of my true father’s men?”
“That demon was the man who killed him,” continued Mordak. “I know because I brought the news to her.”
“So it wasn’t your true father’s fault, it was the demon lord’s.”
“Exactly. I gave up so much and hurt my father so much, all for nothing.”
“And now you can truly begin to heal,” said a familiar voice from the forest.
“You,” said the girl as he came out from the trees.
“You?” I said as I saw who it was.
“You know him?” we both said looking at each other.
“Yeah.” I answered, “Remember in the woods the first time I met you? He was the teacher I was waiting for.”
“He was one of the forest elders that I went to get help from.”
“And I was the one who killed that hound back there for you, Thomas.”
“Are you here to help fight the war?” I asked hopefully.
“No no. It’s not my fight. But I was sent to protect you from harm. And now I must go.”
“Wait,” I yelled as he disappeared back into the trees themselves.
“I can’t believe he was your teacher,” she said.
“I can’t believe he was the one who killed the hound, or helped out here.”
“No, I seriously don’t believe it. Look at the arrows in the demon’s body. Now look at this one that I took from the body of the hound that almost killed me,” I said pulling out the arrow. “They are both silver.”
“Yeah, so it was him both times.”
“No. Didn’t you see his bow, it was armed with wooden shafts. It was someone else who helped.”
“Maybe you’re right. Good. Then we have two more friends.”
“Come on, we have a war to fight. We’ll worry about this later. What about you Mordak?”
“I cannot go home now. So I will fight with you. Now that I know this boy is the chosen one, I have something worthy to fight for.”
“Then let’s go,” I said.
As we all were walking, the girl said something. “Good, I’m glad that worked.”
“What worked?” I inquired.
“Look for yourself.”
As I looked at her, I saw a red cape slowly coming out of her shoulders.
“Wow! How did that happen?”
“Oh come on, you know this one. When you take a powerful creature’s soul, you sometimes gain powers that it possessed. I got a new cape. My powers are almost complete.”
“What did I get then?”
“Probably nothing. Chosen ones never get anything good. You’re screwed,” she said with sarcasm and a big grin on her face. Then it turned back to tears.
“Don’t worry,” I said trying to comfort her.
“We’ll get him soon enough,” followed Mordak.
I find Thomas, Moonscrye, and Alban at the caravan. Thomas is dispatching some demonic creatures and some enemy soldiers, in our colors. The change is complete, now our people can identify the men who are the enemies.
Moonscrye and Alban observed the color changes and they now ‘see’ what they witnessed in their scrying. Moonscrye smiles and Alban looks confused before realization sets in. He grins evilly and jumps into the fray to assist Thomas.
Thomas winks at Alban. “You can’t always trust your visions.”
Alban calls back. “I see that now, Thomas.”
Thomas calls out. “Wylde! Are we ready?”
“Yes! Let’s go before the winds die down! Alban! Protect your sister at all costs!”
“I will, brother Wylde. I will!”
I take Thomas by the arm and visualize the area I want to port to. We step through. I port us behind the tornado’s last position, out of reach. “Thomas, we need to be ready. Hold still for a moment.” I cast an impervious to energy spell on him, then on myself. “That should give us ‘some’ protection.” We move into position and find the warlock and a half dozen of his men are surrounded by an energy field, protecting them from the effect of the whirlwind. The wind has died down enough so that we can approach for an attack. There are bodies of the enemies scattered everywhere.
He dispels the barrier and his men take a defensive position around him. They wear long swords and have crossbows ready to fire. We are the only ones around to stop them. “Two against seven, Thomas. Hardly cricket. How’s your TK?”
“Good, we could use some help from the opposition in reducing the numbers. I’ll take the left side, you take the right. Why use a sledgehammer, when a nudge will do? I think they will get the point.”
“I like it.”
I use a telekinesis spell on the crossbow, pulling it to the right and firing. Thomas does the same, nearly ripping the arm off the soldier. It hits the men next to them in the back, point blank. Two of them fall and two of them are unarmed. The two that were hit, discharged their bows and they went well off mark. The other two still have a shot at us. They fire and Thomas deflects them neatly.
“Well done, that was the ticket.”
With the soldiers buying time, the warlock fires a spell, a fireball. Figures. It hits us squarely and I feel the heat, but my spell protects us from the damage of the spell. I grab Thomas by the sleeve as we are hit by the concussion of the spell. We roll back a bit. “Hold on, lad, and close your eyes for a moment.”
“I don’t like the sound of this.” He protests.
“Trust me.” I smile. The flames cover my actions. I port us directly behind them. With my eyes closed, I call out, “We’re not over there.” They turn and I use my high intensity flashbulb spell. “OK Thomas, let’s finish this.”
The warlock and the remaining four men are trying to clear their vision. We have little time before they recover. We take out our blades and between us, we dispatch the soldiers. Leaving the warlock to deal with.
Thomas grins. “Leave him to me.”
“Very well, let me refresh that spell for you.” I refresh our protection spells, in case the warlock tries anything else.
The warlock sees Thomas’ blade and takes out his own. “Impudent upstart! I’ll delight in finishing you off and take care that cursed mage next.”
“Sticks and stones.” I smile. I look around to see that we aren’t disturbed by any of Kilner’s minions. There may be some late comers.
He charges Thomas, who deftly parries his first swing. They close and a flurry of strokes follow.
“Not bad, Thomas. You must have had a good instructor.”
“I thought he was.”
“A little more flexibility in the wrist!”
I see four men coming down the road, late for the party. They are wearing leather and partially mailed armor. “Gentlemen, I suggest you lay down your arms. Now!” I shake my head as they reach for their crossbows. I trigger their bows with a telekinetic spell, causing them to fire early. One catches a bolt in the foot, while another catches it in the leg from another and drops to the ground. Both are screaming in pain. All four are forced to use blade weapons as I charge, drawing both of my blades. “Remember, you ‘were’ warned.”
I close on them and move to the right of the uninjured pair, near the smaller of the two. Parrying with one blade and thrusting low with the other, I cut deeply into a less armored area of the body. He howls in pain and brings his blade closer to his body, trying to protect himself from further injury. I catch him hard in the forehead with the pummel of my blade. Before he drops, I push him at his partner.
While he is moving out of the way, I charge the other two who are reloading their crossbows. Slowed down by their injuries, I cut them down before they can raise their bows. I hear the forth man approaching, fast. I leave the blade in one of the men and take his bow.
I turn to face him with a blade in my right hand and the crossbow in my left. He brings the blade down hard in a head cut. I parry, but he nearly beat the blade away. He is definitely the stronger of the two men, possibly a lieutenant of Kilner. He presses the attack and I fall back a couple of paces, catching a few breaths. He switches to a two handed grip on his blade and swings the blade trying to use it as a club, he figures he can beat me with pure brute force. I continue to parry his blade, looking for an opening. I’m not getting tired yet, but I can see that as a slight possibility. I also don’t have enough time to cast any spells. I decide to close with him and put the crossbow to some use.
I raise the crossbow as if to fire it at him. He releases his two handed grip on his blade and grabs the end of the crossbow with his right hand, to take it away from me. I pull the trigger. There was no possibility of hitting him, but it did what I planned. The tension of the string was enough that it caught his fingers solid on the bow. Not enough to sever them, but I’m sure it smarted. He screamed, pulling the crossbow out of my hand. Before he could swing his blade again, I thrust my new blade into his throat and twisted it. He looked startled and horrified as he fell to the ground and I pulled the blade free.
I looked around, but there were no further disturbances. Thomas was still fighting with Kilner.
Their fight goes on for over ten minutes. I think that Thomas is fighting more defensively, trying to wear him down. It also keeps him too busy to cast any spells.
I ask. “Well, Kilner, are you ready to give up? You appear to be completely on your own now.”
“I think not.”
“I didn’t think so. I wouldn’t trust a surrender anyway.” I see that Thomas leaves an opening to his left side, immediately after a parry to the right. It is either a flaw in his style or a cleverly done invitation. This is the fourth time he is open that way, but Kilner is resisting that opening. It would leave Kilner’s left side slightly exposed, if he goes for it.
Thomas seems to have gotten the feel for Kilner’s weakness, his ego. For the fifth time, Thomas leaves himself open. Kilner takes it with a full lunge. The blade tears through the loose fabric, but Thomas sidestepped enough to be missed or slightly cut. Thomas doesn’t miss. The edge of his blade, angled inward, catches Kilner in the throat, while Kilner was off balance from the lunge. As Kilner falls, he tries to cast a spell, probably to escape. Thomas is ready for this and uses his left hand in a karate chop to the back of the neck. I hear the vertebrae snap and Kilner falls, unmoving.
Thomas stands over him and takes the soul of Kilner, the fire warlock. We have one less threat to Talladale.
“Good show, Thomas. A fraction slower and he would have vented your spleen.”
I see the blood well around his side. “He didn’t actually miss me. I expected to take some of the blade to finish him off.” He winces from the pain in his side.
“We better see to that then.” I approach to examine the wound. It appears to be closing up a bit, although I can’t be sure with the shirt covering most of the injury.
“Never mind, Wylde. Let’s get back to town.”
“Very well.” I take his arm and visualize the caravan. We step through.