- Rune Breaker: Chapter 1 – The Bargain is Struck
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 2 – The Clever Girl
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 3 – A Paradise in the Future
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 4 – Clan of the Winter Willow
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 5 – Spell-worked Water, Alchemical Food
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 6 – Waste Not Want Not
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 7 – Battlelines
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 8 – Filling the Gap
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 9 – The King of Flame and Steel
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 10 – Recovery
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 11 – Sisters, Brothers
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 12 – Her Most Beauteous Wings
Ru looked down at him disdainfully, then started to bend down in order to claim the silk shirt. It was then that he registered real pain on Taylin’s part, something the link simply wouldn’t allow him to ignore. He swore death upon anyone who might claim or ruin his prize before his return and mentally reached into the link.
Somewhere in that dozens of interlinked arrays and spell structures, there was a specialized teleportation spell. It was unidirectional; only capable of sending him to a point within a ten foot radius of the holder of the other end of the link, but it required no energy on his part and activated at the speed of thought.
He triggered it and vanished from the field of battle.
Taylin’s instincts kicked in as she fell into her stance and the world suddenly became much simpler. In that moment, she was no longer awkward in her newly won freedom, or ignorant of the world she found herself in. Some things did not change, even in the span of centuries; there was a man with a sword, he was on a horse, and he was bearing down on her. For once in the past two days of confusion and strangeness, she knew exactly what to do.
Then the halflings concealed in the wagons on either side of her turned the winches that raised the trip lines. Man and mount suddenly became hundreds of pounds of screaming metal and horse flesh.
She shouted a warning to the boys behind her, hoping that Kaiel and Grandmother could care for themselves, and side stepped as the horse slid past her in the dust, its rider pinned helpless with his leg beneath it. Seconds passed until three of the village boys simultaneously reached the conclusion that this was their chance to safely make a ‘kill’ in battle.
Without any knowledge of how to strike a proper killing blow, they simply set to stabbing wildly until the man lay still.
Taylin might have felt sorry for him if two more riders weren’t thundering in behind. Both saw what happened the first time and spurred their mounts to jump the trip lines. The woman on Taylin’s left thrust with her spear as they came while the man to her right swept his sword for her head.
She parried the sword with her own and made to catch the spear on her shield, but the piercing weapon punched right through the leather covering the wagon wheel. Before it could come close enough to strike her, Taylin rolled her arm, catching it by the haft on the spokes and snapping it with her superior strength. Undeterred, the former spear wielder reared back and slashed at her with the broken haft, opening a cut across her forehead, which oozed blood.
On the other side, one of the village boys thrust his own spear at the swordsman, but failed to penetrate his armor. The swordsman batted the spear away and answered the young man with a terrible wound across his neck. He never got the chance to celebrate it.
In warding off more rakes with the other rider’s broken spear, she saw the vicious attack out of the corner of her eye and rewarded the murderer with a backhanded stroke through the ribs. Keen, magically sharpened steel sheered easily through his armor, along the rib line, and back out again, bisecting organs as if it was cutting cloth. The swordsman reflexively curled around the wound, over balanced and tipped himself off his horse and into the fury of the late young man’s friends.
This time, Taylin did not feel sorry as she turned her attention back to the other rider. In fact, her blood felt hot in her veins and she could feel the telltale itch of the scales on her arms, just moments from emerging on her skin. Instead of trying to calm the rage, she harnessed it, using it to slam the broken haft out of the way so she was open to cut the belly band of the other woman’s saddle.
With the cut made, she let the haft slip past her defense so that the other woman lurched forward and was dumped off her horse atop the trip lines. Undaunted, the woman sprang to her feet and drew a short sword. Unfortunately for her, she was facing away form Taylin as she did and the former slave laid her back open before she could turn and fight.
Three bandits littered the ground at her feet and three panicked horses bolted past the gap and into the town proper. Taylin resumed her stance only just in time to see the black charger break through the mist with a trio of outriders at its back. Blood stained the horse’s hooves and its rider’s sword as they came on, intent on simply overrunning her.
A flash of brilliant light flared past the lead rider and took one of the followers in the shoulder. It should have been a glancing blow, but the injured man spasmed, then slumped in the saddle. Taylin risked a glance toward the source to the light to find that in the initial frenzy, Kaiel and Grandmother had scaled the wagon to her right.
Kaiel had his flute gripped tightly in the middle and it was easy to see why, as a gout of silver-white flame poured out of either end, arching back in a shape reminiscent of a bow. Which was exactly what it was, as evidenced by Kaiel miming drawing on that bow, which caused an arrow of the same coalesced energy to form and then streak toward the horsemen when released. That shot missed and by then, the group was at the gap.
The lead rider reared his horse as they reached the lines, aiming the animal’s hue hooves in Taylin’s direction. Unless she wanted the boys behind her to suffer her fate, there was nowhere to dodge. So she didn’t. With a snarl that no demi-human could mimic, she stepped forward and caught the flailing hooves on her shield.
Immediately, the wood strained and the tendons in her arm felt as if they were on fire. But she braced the length of the sword beneath it and pushed with both hands; her strength against the mass of the horse. The was a moment of incredible tension, and then suddenly the horse was too far back on its rear legs. It danced a moment more before Taylin angled her shield and threw it over into the horse passing on its left side.
Both beasts shrieked with fear and rage as they went over, colliding hard with the wagon on that side. The rider of the smaller horse never had a chance as he was caught and crushed between the two masses. The smaller horse didn’t fair any better as its right front leg shattered.
The rider of the charger, however, leapt from his mount as it fell, rolling expertly and coming up before Taylin could drop her shield. He saw edged sword tore easily through the blacksmith’s apron and rasped as it slid along the outside of her ribs. Her borrowed, white robes soon became stained with blood.
How dare he. Her voice and not her voice snarled in her head. She brought the shield down to break his arm and would have too, were he not swift in freeing his sword and pulling back into a stance. He wasn’t fast enough, however, to raise his sword to block the blow she whipped at his head, removing it from his shoulders.
There was movement to her right and she remembered the other rider. Fueled by her mounting anger and the heady feeling of battle, she pivoted cleanly and swung for the brought her sword around.
She saw a corpse with its chest pierced through by almost a half dozen black spikes astride the horse moments before a scythe intercepted her strike.
“Yes, Ms. Taylin?” Ru quirked any eyebrow at her.
She blinked blood form her forehead wound out of her eye and it took a moment to register the face and voice though his blood-lust in the link and her own howling rage. “Oh, Ru! I almost…”
“It would have been a small inconvenience to me, yes.” He said, and pointed just past the gap where the savvy bandit that made it thus far were dismounting so as not to find their mounts to be the hindrance they had been to those before them. “But I am not the one who should experience it.”
She nodded, resolving to apologize properly later, and put her sword into a ready position. “Right.”
“Do you require healing?”
She gave that a sliver of a moment’s thought. Her side hurt, but it was more shallow than it looked. The wound on her head, however, was dripping into her eyes. Plus, the ecstasy that came with healing was…. distracting, especially the full powered variety.
“Just stop the bleeding.” She instructed.
Ru didn’t even look at her as he channeled a minute spark of healing magic to her through the air. Job done, he looked up and counted at least eight bandits approaching, chest deep in the mist. There were other skirmishes going on all down the line and in the mists, but at the moment, those eight were his intended target.
He let his imagination run wild and grinned a most feral grin.
May I kill them all, Ms Taylin? The question was entirely rhetorical.
To his surprise, he felt her own rage pressing up against his, coupled with a willingness for battle he didn’t think she was capable of. She lunged forward before he did.