After the long holiday break (extra long because one of my three-year-olds had his tonsils taken out), I needed to warm up to writing again, so I wrote another snippet from Aren’s POV. This takes place right after the first one, which you can read here. I’m not re-writing the whole trilogy from Aren’s POV; I’m just playing around because it’s fun. 🙂
Warning: Unedited writing commences below!
The second the bright white light of the In-Between disappears, I know we’re almost too late. The king’s swordmaster is here, and he’s dragging a human from one of the college’s tall, brick buildings.
Beside me, Trev lets out a hiss. He wants Taltrayn and the shadow-witch dead as much as I do, but he heard Sethan’s command: no human witnesses. Taking the girl without every other person here seeing something unusual will be almost impossible.
“We’re doing this,” I say to Trev and the other fae who fissured with us to the rooftop.
“I know what he said,” I cut him off, scanning the paved courtyard and nearby buildings. There’s only one place that might be unoccupied, a structure to the north that’s in the process of being built. It will be difficult to lure her there, but it’s our best chance.
“Force her that way.” I point to the building. It’s surrounded by a metal fence, piles of dirt and lumber, and a few inactive construction vehicles, but there’s no movement I can see. It’s late here, almost dark. Human workers travel home in the evenings. It should be empty.
“How do you expect us to do that undetected?” Trev demands.
I move to the left, following the progress of Taltrayn and the shadow-witch. “No magic. No misses with your arrows. And when you kill, make sure any dropped weapons go to the In-Between.”
“Kill them.” I fissure out before Trev can protest again. Bright light and piercing cold overwhelm my sensations for an instant, then I reappear on the ground below.
And almost get my head taken off.
Sidhe, the swordmaster is quick. I deflect his attack, but my counter is weak.
I disappear out of Taltrayn’s path, step back into the world half a foot away, just behind the shadow-witch. She has long, dark hair. I could reach out and grab a handful of it, but she’d scream. She’d draw too much attention.
I curse again. Surprise should have been on our side, but Taltrayn was ready for us, and he has reinforcements. They’re fissuring in around us as quickly as my rebels can notch and release their arrows.
A fae’s sword whistles by my head. I face my new opponent, dodge another attack.
The Court fae’s mouth is twisted into a snarl. He knows who I am. Good.
Holding his gaze, I open a path to the In-Between, step into the light, then step out at the same point. The enemy expected me to move. He’s already spinning, making it easy to lop his arm off. It drops to the ground.
No time to watch it disappear. Multiple fissures cut through the atmosphere behind me, their loud shrrips far too close. I spin, and my sword slices just below the nearest Court fae’s jaedric cuirass. Blood arcs from the gut wound, splattering on the concrete.
My boot pounds the chest of my next opponent, giving me time to defend another’s attack. I counter and kill, but another fae replaces him then another.
I have no choice but to fissure out of the way, away from Taltrayn and the shadow-witch. It doesn’t matter, though. My fae are doing exactly as I ordered, attacking hard and heavy, leaving the construction site the only potential escape path.
But Taltrayn is still at her side. That has to change.
“Cut them off,” I order as I disappear into another strip of light. Six of us emerge in front of Taltrayn and the human. She’s not a threat; he is. We let her slip past and close in on our secondary prey.
I adjust my two-handed grip on my sword and meet the swordmaster’s gaze. His expression doesn’t change. He looks at us all as if we’re deranged tor’um, unimportant and unthreatening. The arrogance fits him like his well-oiled jaedric armor and that gilded, glistening sword. Noble traem.
“Attack,” I command. My fae are getting better at working as a team. They close in on Taltrayn, giving him no choice but to disappear. Instinct tells me where he’ll emerge and I vanish, too.
I step from the In-Between swinging, and almost get the kill. But my instinct was slightly off. My sword slices through Taltrayn’s side, but it’s only a deep flesh wound.
He doesn’t give me time to hurt him again. He rounds on me with a speed and strength that’s staggering. There’s a reason he’s considered the best swordsman in the Realm. I almost forgot that in my reckless pursuit of the shadow-witch.
I reel backward. His sword passes through the air where my head was, so close I can almost feel the slice of his blade across my throat.
He’s swinging again. My heel comes down on my other foot. I try lifting my sword to block his attack, but I’m not quick enough.
He’s going to kill me.
Shock paralyzes me for the briefest instant, then I hear the sharp shrrip of my fissure opening behind me.
Taltrayn’s blade advances faster than I fall, and when a cold, piercing light sucks me out of the human world, I don’t know whether I’m entering the In-Between or the eternal Ether.