This week we have part of a battle scene from Bloodlust: The Blades of Khazak Khrim. One of the major conflicts takes place in an around the city of Kirif, including a vicious clash in the Underspire, a series of caves where the cities disadvantaged residents live.
Durekk is a secondary character that I added in to give the reader some perspective on the Vvath side of the fights. Unlike the Sword-Bearers, Durekk is not possessed of any special powers. and he is far less exalted in the politics of his society. He gives a rank-and-file view of Vvathi tactics and culture.
Durekk struggled to keep in formation with his brothers. He was on the left side of The Blood holding the centre of the chamber. Their battle hymn was ragged now, and the air in the chamber was worse than that of the forges in the Seventh Hall combined with the tepid swamps of the Niyiki. Keldin was down, struck by some Krassian magic that shocked him right through his armour.
Up ahead he saw the Hundath hurl themselves at the Chosen wielding a sword of light. Flanked by towering forms and backed by Legionnaires, she seemed invincible as she cut down a trio of muscular warriors with a single swipe of her weapon and then sent a beam of light flashing into the ranks, turning more of the fearless warriors into ash. Durekk actually felt pity for the Hundath, but also pride at the courage that they showed. He hoped that some of them earned a place among his brothers in their next life.
The man he was bracing fell, and Durekk found himself on the front lines. A lithe figure faced him, the spears of the Phalanx thrusting out from behind him like a crown of war. Those spears did not give Durekk pause: the Hoplites of Kirif were no match for The Blood. The lithe figure, however, was one of the thrice-damned Krassian magic-users.
Elf-like, pale skinned and red-eyed, like one of the servants of the Adversary, the figure faced their lines. Durekk steadied himself, shield-up, sword-ready, shoulder to shoulder with his brothers. Then the figure gestured, and lightning leapt from his hand into the ranks of The Blood.
Durekk cried out through locked teeth as his limbs seized. He thought of the cold waters closing over him in the last test. Luckily his stance was steady and he kept to his feet despite the crushed mass of bodies underfoot. Somehow he drew breath. The man to the right was not so fortunate, and he stumbled.
Instantly the lithe Krassian darted forward, thin sword darting at the warrior’s exposed Heaume. So deft was the strike that Durekk barely registered the movement. The thin tip of the blade slid through the tiny eye-slit, piercing eye and brain. As the sword withdrew, a string of blood stretched away with it. Durekk felt a shiver run down his spine as the blood continued to run into the sword, now being sucked out of the warrior’s helm and absorbed into the blade.
The lithe figure smiled, revealing sharp fangs.
Durekk righted himself, locked shields again, and prayed that he would survive.
Here, Durekk has come face to face with one of Gavin’s Hearthbound, Silver Rose. Durekk is an elite warrior, trained to excellence since birth. Silver Rose is supernaturally swift and strong, and endowed with magical abilities that few can match. The only way for Durekk to survive is to rely on teamwork and hope that his nightmarish opponent does not single him out. Here, as in the Shield Maiden, formation and training count against much more powerful opponents.
The sharp fangs refer to the Bloodthirster discipline, where a gifted is exposed to Vampirism. Silver Rose thus has access to blood magic, which would be seen as especially heretical to a Vvath. The adversary is a religious reference, a kind of Lucifer figure in their ethos.