The Shadow Wolf Sagas are a weekly writing exercise that I engage in because it is fun. The first story arc, Blade Breaker, can be found here. The first story of this arc, Red Fangs, can be found here. The previous week’s post can be found here.
“Let’s see how well you fight, Grimfang,” Berkhilda growled.
My grip shifted on my weapons. I could see no easy escape here and silently cursed myself for not paying the signs of the streets more mind. Ah, well, everything seems like fate in hindsight. Our attackers halted abruptly ten paces from us. Then, with swift precision half of them raised crossbows and fired. Bolts sprang through the air, like black birds in the gaslight.
I flung myself aside, arm up to cover my face. Always wear a helm. Despite my speed I felt several impacts and a sharp pain on one thigh and just below my ribs. Kingsmail is superb at deflecting most attacks, but stilletto heads at ten paces will cut through anything but enchanted plate. Hindsight.
Berkhilda didn’t even duck. By the time I regained my feet she was engaged in a whirling melee, screaming an oath to Furis at the top of her lungs. Our attackers scattered before like lambs before a wolf. She caught one with that axe, a swift lunging stroke, that sent the cloaked figure tumbling to ground in two parts. Her eyes and fangs flashed predatory as the light caressed them.
I got to me feet swinging my hammer into the face of a masked attacker with a satisfying crunch. His long blade clattered to the ground as he fell. Two more approached me, darting in from opposite flanks, I threw my weight at one, pushing him into the stone wall of an ancient villa, and kicked the other in the knee, halting his attack before I brought my hammer down upon his skull.
Then, where there the night had been filled with the sounds of clashing arms and the grunts of fighters, there was only the clatter of footsteps. The would be killer that I held against the wall struggled, but could not break my hold.
“Cowards!” called Berkhilda, as if she could call them back.
The Vampire’s axe was slick with gore, and there were four bodies marking the progress of her charge. Not all of the blood on her armour was from them, however.
“You’ve been wounded, Berkhilda,” I warned her. I could see several of the bolts had found their mark.
“Don’t worry yourself on my account Ragnar, these little scrapes won’t bleed any more unless I want them too,” she said. “Do we know who these fools are?”
“Mercenaries. I recognize the masks, question is who sent them?” I answered. “Does it sound like something Cinder might do?”
“Why don’t you ask this one?” Berkhilda pointed at the mercenary I was holding with her axe, a dangerous gleam in her eye, he went still.
I punched him in the stomach, doubling him over and then stepped back. “If you know anything, you might be able to purchase your life.” I said.
The mercenary looked at Berkhilda and then around for escape, eyes wild beneath the mask. I stepped in and punched him again to get his attention.
“Listen friend, you really don’t have anything to gain by holding back,” I said,
“They don’t tell us who hired us–” he began.
“I know, but they must have given you a description of who to attack. Was it me or her?”
“Both… both of you.”
I looked over at Berkhilda, she had pulled out one of the Bolts and was making a sour face.
“Any special instructions?” I asked.
“Uh… shoot first then close… and they gave us something special to put on the bolts.”
“Do you have any?”
“Find some on your dead mates and I’ll let you live.” I said. “Try to run and my friend will eat you.”
While the mercenary scrambled on the ground. I looked over at Berkhilda. She looked dazed. Obviously whatever had been applied to the bolts was meant to harm her. Twiceborn like myself are quite resistant to poison, which is a rather useful trait in Myrrhn.
“Found it,” The merc held up a steel vial.
“Good,” I said, taking the vial. “Be more selective of your next contract.”
“Thank–” The mercenary began, his sentence ending as I knocked him out with a sharp tap from the haft of my hammer.
I sniffed the vial.
“Wh-what is it?” asked Berkhilda.
“Silver, heartwood, and garlic oil,” I said.
“Vampire’s bane,” she muttered. “Old recipe too. Garlic is anachronistic.”
“Are you able to move Berkhilda?”
“I am fine Ragnar.” she said, but stumbled after a few steps.
I moved forward, letting her lean on me. “I’d rather not report back to your father that I failed to keep you alive. Come we’ll visit an old friend of mine who can get rid of the poison and provide some shelter from daylight.”