Here is the 3rd chapter from Fearsome Devils. The writing style in this chapters sets the scene for most of the remaining story. The Children live in a dangerous world. Life and death conflicts creep up every day, and their relationships as villagers provide strength to overcome each challenge. The dark and graphic fight scene embodies that world. Furthermore, the Children are not infallible heroes. They all enjoy and suffer from their own free will.
As readers, I’m hoping that you’ve noticed that the village itself is the true central character. Each Child chips in for it to succeed, whether at their best or at their worst.
A charming embrace is not all that lightfoots can muster. The powerful stride of a stallion was just enough for the hunters to keep pace with Syrel and his crew, but no more. Before they reached the spot where the dogs were seen, all three lightfoots leapt forward and disappeared into the branches of trees.
A whistle was heard. The leaves of a tree rustled, a blur passed the vision of the hunters, and another tree bent as one of the swift fighters landed gracefully on its branches. The walkers stood silently, observing each blurred leap one by one until the lightfoots were out of view.
Alladeck held his hand up to settle the hunters. They remained silent, patiently waiting for word from Syrel of what was ahead. Moments turned to minutes and the sun moved through the sky. Silently, and determined the hunters stood and waited.
Suddenly, leaves nearby were disturbed. A blur fell from them and Syrel plopped himself onto the forest ground. He approached Alladeck and whispered his report.
“No dogs. But a warm fire burns around the rocks at the ridge,” Syrel breathed as he pointed near the clearing up ahead. “A burrow lies under those rocks. No dog or man fits in there, but red eyes glow down there. You don’t think…”
Alladeck interrupted in disbelief, “We’ve broken no law, we only hunt what we need! I’ll believe it when my eye gazes upon it.”
Annoyed, Syrel responded, “Inedar and Owen sit in wait over the burrow. We shall know soon.”
Another moment passed and a black silhouette ran through the clearing, and stopped in the cover of a bush. Alladeck’s face snapped into a snout as he borrowed the powerful nose of a wolf. His whiskers twitched and his eyebrows raised.
“There are more.” he whispered.
He nodded to Syrel and dropped to the ground. The hunters clenched their fists and writhed their bodies. In an instant they became a pack of jungle cats. Alladeck darted forward with his party following close behind. They split and surrounded the small clearing
Syrel drew his sword, crafted cleverly from the sage tree, and ran headlong towards the bush. He thrusted the sharp wooden blade through the bush in a flash. His sword tip pierced the shoulder of a jackal. The small frame of the animal didn’t even slow the force, and both careened into the field.
The animal bit back, starting to sink its jaws into Syrel’s shoulder. Two hands pulled at the sword’s grip and brought the creature off of himself and onto the ground. The furry body rolled back without a whimper.
A shadowy aura surrounded the beast and it started to change. Before Syrel could recognize the figure, a small, claw endorned hand brought a knife to his chest. Syrel’s sword swiped low to block the attack. The other hand of the figure came up and clawed into Syrel’s chest.
The now bleeding lightfoot reached down to pick up the monster and tossed it into the air. He then caught a glimpse of the little devil. Its legs and arms were small. Small hands held long claws. A scaly tail hung behind its back. Sharp fangs protruded from its mouth. There was no doubt now that it was a small one.
As frightening as the appearance may have been, it was easy to dispatch; but Syrel knew all too well that the small ones wouldn’t travel alone. He thrusted his sword deep into the center of the creature as it continued through the air.
His foot pushed down on the lifeless body of the devil to remove his sword from it. He glanced across the clearing toward the rocks he had scouted. A whole pack of the jackals rushed at him.
Syrel began to turn and run but his pride got the best of him. He knew that the hunters were poised to attack any other animals that might try to ambush him like this. Yet, following the plans of someone like Alladeck was not the will of this difficult lightfoot. He turned back and readied his sword to strike.
As the pack approached, the hunters saw Syrel’s rebellion and Alladeck growled at him. Ignoring the first warning, they all began growling. The jackals heard this as well and began to slow. The animals in the rear were engulfed in a shadow as they shifted back into devils and scanned the treeline.
The jackals in the front of the group jumped at Syrel. The first met his end to his blade, but two more sunk their teeth into the arms of the lightfoot. His leather arm coverings prevented the bites from drawing blood but he fell to the ground, compromised to the next attack.
The remaining lightfoots, Owen and Inedar, charged into the clearing behind the pack of devils. The monsters had hold of spears and clubs and rushed for the two.
Inedar grabbed hold of one of the spears, stole it from the monster, and threw it into the crowd. Two of the devils leapt onto him. The first found Inedar’s hands around his neck and was flung backwards. The second continued to claw its way up his arm.
Owen, the eldest lightfoot in the village, fought with more skill than his companion. His sword pierced the throat of a devil as he stepped back and brought it down over the skull of another. His body pranced along with his sword, never allowing the creatures to draw near.
The walkers descended on the group as well. They ran past all 3 fighters. Each pounced on a target and bit at their throats. In a matter of seconds the hunters killed off the remaining foes, but left the two younger lightfoots to finish off their own threats.
Inedar shouted as claws rent his hip. He pulled his knife from his belt and brought it to the creature. It pulled itself onto his chest and slashed into his cheek. Inedar brought his arm between the two and placed his hand on the devil’s chest. He pulled it away, causing the sharp claws to cut his chest where they had held on. The devil continued to claw at his arm, but the clawing stopped when the knife was brought through the devil’s head.
Inedar dropped the lifeless body onto the ground to see Syrel trying to kick off one of the demons from his prone body. The two jackals still held his arms while one who had shifted back to a devil brought down a knife. Syrel recovered from his daze after hitting the ground. He flipped his legs up, launching the devil backwards, rolled backwards in the air and landed on his feet. His arms crashed the two jackals together who then fell.
The jackals shifted in a dark haze. Syrel brought his sword across both of them. He brought his sword to the air, twisted it, and brought it down into the third devil’s chest. The two who were slashed held their wounds and looked back up. The devil on the left saw a blade containing his impaled friend driven into him. The devil on the right saw the perfect opportunity to drive its knife into Syrel’s leg.
The lightfoot yelped and his leg buckled. He stood on one bended knee to see the devil striking at his head. As the knife came forward, a black point drove through the creature. The knife dropped and Owen lifted the devil into the air on his sword. He flicked his wrist to the side and the creature flew to the ground.
Owen offered Syrel his hand, but the stubborn boy shook his head. The pain of his wounds pulsated to became a reminder of who was responsible. He swallowed his pride and reached up to meet Owen’s grasp. Owen didn’t say anything, but Syrel knew that his injuries were his own fault.
©2014 Caleb Abbruzzese