The Shadow Wolf Sagas are a little experiment of mine, working on first person and serial format, written raw so I can improve my first draft mojo as well.
Blade Breaker 1.3 (last week’s)
Some fools dream of becoming killers. They want the fear and respect that come with being hard men. Desperately seeking the validation of the shadows, they become easy prey for real predators, anyone who can promise them a place in the hierarchy of the dark woods. All to eager to serve those that they want to become, each one of them thinks that he will be accepted in the pack, if only he does what is required with enough fervour. They think everyone else is a clod, blind to the truth of blood and blade, willfully suppressing the knowledge that they are pawns.
I grinned because a chance to rid the world of such vermin was an unexpected boon.
“I don’t want any trouble,” I said, holding up my hands, trying to sound surprised. It is rarely difficult to convince such men that you fear them; they want to be feared like a man in a blizzard wants a warm hearth. They did not realize that I knew their friend was coming up behind me in the alley, and that I was merely wanted him to get closer.
“You’ve got trouble, mark!” said one, holding up a knife. I caught a whiff of alcohol and black crystal on his breath, mad recklessness waiting to explode. “Hand over your scrip or I’ll cut ya!”
His two friends snickered. I heard a soft footfall from behind me, followed by a tension, the gathering of force that precedes most attacks. I could smell the man now, his overeager excitement for the kill turned my stomach.
When the attack came, I read it first in the faces of the three in front of me. Their slack mouth started to tug upwards, and their frenzied eyes began to brighten with cruel glee. Then I heard the whisper of a shifting leather heel on wet cobblestone as he darted forward, aiming a blade at my back. I stepped forward, tracing a quarter circle with my back foot as I turned. The gutter-knife was in mid lunge, but my back was now out of easy reach. Like most men who kill, but do not dance, his form was terrible. He wanted to put that knife in my back with all of the weight of his body behind it, now with nothing to offer resistance he was off-balance. I grabbed his arm and pulled, turning back towards his companions, using his momentum against him as I tossed him at their feet, knocking one of them to the ground.
The two remaining gutter-knives slid around their writhing comrades and came at me, long knives glittering in the dark alley like pools of water in a cave. They came in low, letting me see the blades, as if such a thing might unsettle me. I showed my teeth and put a hand behind me, grabbing the leather wrappings of my trusty warhammer. Things were about to get unpleasant for my new friends.
The one on my right was smarter, letting the other take the lead. Lefty jabbed at me with one blade, aiming for my groin. His attack was predictable, and I sidestepped, sending him tumbling with a quick shove. The rightward attacker, eyes wide in anticipation of victory, slash at my throat. I caught his hand in mine, holding it fast, and then watched his look of triumph turn to horror as my hammer crashed into his face. His skull buckled under the blow and he fell like a sack of meal.
By now the other two had gotten to their feet. I could see the narcotic bravado warring with the reality in their eyes. Deep down even the mangiest of hounds knows enough to recognize a true wolf. A little bit of their friend dripped of my hammer. I grinned at them, listening to the one behind me.
“I am Ragnar Grimfang of Clan Shadow Wolf,” I said. “Twiceborn. I have fought giants on the world’s edge, hunted bane spirits with the Inuw in forgotten forests, and ridden the waves with old Tharn Furisborn. I died at Drajinskyg, as was my fate, but the grave spit me out. Who are you to cross steel with me, gutter-scum.”
The two in front of me ran. I have been told that my eyes, a brooding blue colour, can be quite piercing.
The one behind me, feral with rage, leapt at my back. I took two quick steps forward, listening to the sounds of his boots on the cobbles for positioning and pivoted, lashing out and burying the backspike of hammer in his ear. His mouth opened and close a few times in shock, and then, he too, fell.
I considered for a moment what I would have done in his place. Was he brave, trying to attack me when his friends had run, or just reckless? Perhaps he had simply been more desperate: few things drive men to death like fear of the future.
I considered going about my business, but decided to wait for the watch show up. By now several people were watching from the backs of shops. The laws of Myrrhn are very forgiving with cases of self-defence, and, so long as no one had bribed the watchmen, I would soon be free to go.
The watch was quicker than I expected, appearing at the scene of battle before the rats started sniffing. At their head was a familiar figure, a dwarfen lass with a shock of red fair. My old friend watch Sargent Murith.
She did not look pleased to see me. I grinned.