Blades of Treachery - Excerpt 2
Wynne Reassesses Rhys

After she and Rhys suffer through a rather painful trip down a mountainside, Wynne reflects on the fall. Of course, with an ambush approaching looking for a quick kill, she should probably try to keep her mind on the moment.

Wynne remembered screaming; she remembered fearing for her life, but the thing that stood out strongest from her wild ride down the mountain was how Rhys had made every effort to shield her from the worst of their descent. He had even turned them around and placed himself beneath her as they plummeted from the last precipice. Even when her panic had gripped the sword that wounded him, he took the responsibility on himself.

He had held her for a moment after they landed, and had asked after her condition without concern for his own. She had come to see him as more than he put forward their first night together and had admired the way he dealt with the men of the caravan on the days that followed, but that absolute selflessness surprised her.

She was also surprised when he raised his sword and set her on his left, though when she realized why, it made sense given his recent actions. They had landed in a depression surrounded by rocks, and those rocks had hidden the residents of these crags. Rhys imposed himself between them and her as they began to appear around them.

Wynne had never seen a creature the likes of those surrounding them, backing them against the valley wall. They were shorter than she was but not by much, with greasy black fur covering thick, rippling muscles. Vaguely humanoid, they possessed over-wide shoulders and elongated arms, clawed hands dragging the ground at their knuckles. They had hooves instead of feet and legs like a goat, with stubby tails. Most frightening though were their heads, plated with bone in what seemed a twisted mockery of the human skull, black eyes set deep in shadow.

As she looked past her companion at the approaching creatures, Wynne noticed the blood streaking his tattered shirt from a nasty gash and several smaller wounds. She saw the blood on his sword hand, slicking the grip as he tried to hold it balanced. She saw how he stood, shoulders slumped slightly forward despite a valiant attempt to stand upright.

Reaching out with her mind, fighting to concentrate, Wynne sent out a desperate call to Willa, hurrying her Aperture to her side. She was certain the duck would come, despite their recent adventure. There was a big difference between play and work, and Willa understood that difference. Even so, it would take several moments for the duck to arrive, and by then, there might not be a Mistress to come to.

Wynne took one last step back, finding her progress stalled by the rock face behind her, and watched in horror as the creatures continued their approach. She tried to calm herself, wishfully thinking that perhaps they were approaching to talk rather than kill. But that last ray of sunshine was shattered as the beasts began to howl with a united voice that sounded like mocking laughter.

The pack was on the hunt, and the prey had come to them.

All characters and events depicted herein are © 2000 by Edward Robinson. Any resemblence to people living, dead, or living dead are purely coincidental. No part of these pages may be reproduced without the expressed written permission of the author, except in the case of review or short quotations for report purposes. All rights reserved.