Sunday, August 28, 2011

Most of Chapter 18 for Sample Sunday

Here is most of Chapter 18 of Covenant of the Faceless Knights for those of you on the fence about purchasing it or wanting a larger chunk of my writing (9 pages of the book) to see if it suits your taste. I wanted to leave it on a cliffhanger for you though....

Chapter 18

Elec and Saeunn raced toward the base of the southern hill, where the slope wasn’t quite as steep as the opposite side. Elec observed that there were at least six ogres. They stood one and a half times the height of a human, with heavily muscled arms, and bloated bellies. Their skin was an unhealthy yellow, with patches of hair in random places and blemishes all along their skin.
Elec had never seen an ogre before, though he had encountered a creature born of giant-blood. Even so, seeing several of the creatures face to face made him reach a new level of fear. They moved with a speed that belied their disfigured, swollen bodies. He imagined the force with which their mighty blows would strike and it made him wince involuntarily.
Elec uneasily quaffed a potion. He felt he would need every advantage that he could muster if he was to survive this encounter. He knew that if he took the wrong combination, the effects would not overlap properly, but the particular combination he used now he had perfected over many years.
Saeunn charged the nearest ogre bravely and almost slipped on a snow patch, but caught herself and kept going, not even breaking stride. She and an ogre collided and there was a loud thud as her solid form hit its somewhat bulbous frame. The ogre’s head snapped back as Saeunn used the hilt of her sword to slam into it, cracking its skull, while deftly avoiding the ogre’s heavy fist. The creature landed in a heap—it was dead before it even hit the ground.
Saeunn turned on another. Elec watched her fight with a grace and willingness that made him feel more inadequate than usual. She was his complete opposite with regards to self-confidence, he realized, and he could not help but be impressed by the remarkable barbarian woman from Chansuk.
A large rock just missed crushing Elec’s head and he quickly returned his attention to his own role in the battle. He decided to go in the same direction that Saeunn was heading. He wanted to stay close to the barbarian woman for several reasons.
What is that!? Elec wondered as he caught a glimpse of something across the valley on the northern hill that looked like a murky rift in the planes. He shook his head, dismissing the sight as possibly a side effect of one of his elixirs or a trick of the sunlight. Perhaps even the slow-falling snow was deceiving him….
Whatever it was, he had more pressing issues to deal with. He ran quickly, trying to keep pace with Saeunn. She was forcing the ogres at the top of the hill to refrain from lobbing rocks at the elf momentarily, and at least forcing them to reset their positions. That would buy him some time.
Saeunn had cornered two more ogres now and was forcing them into defensive positions with her well-placed and aggressive swings. There was no subtlety to the barbarian woman it seemed. She simply relied on brute force and innate skill.
The ogres began to maneuver her in between the two of them and Saeunn either didn’t realize it or didn’t care. Just as they were about to complete their move, Elec arrived and forced them to change their strategy. The ogres both sneered and gurgled something unintelligible at him.
The other ogre swung a club at Saeunn that she parried with her greatsword, burying it deep into the wooden weapon in the process and stopping the blow entirely. She immediately kicked out with her left leg into the kneecap of the ogre, knocking its leg back on the slick surface and causing it to fall forward, giving her an opening. Saeunn reared back with her newly-freed greatsword, and struck a killing blow to the back of the ogre’s head, knocking it to the ground and its final resting place. 

Elec had taken the attention of the second ogre and he was now madly dashing to and fro, dodging its blows, and trying to avoid the creature’s club as it made divots in the snow around him. He saw a tree behind him and formulated a plan as the ogre swung wildly and with such force, that to connect with a single blow would surely spell death.
He dodged behind the tree as quickly as he could, forcing the ogre around its wide base slowly enough that it did not see Elec climb the low hanging branch on the opposite side.  The ogre peered around the base of the massive tree trunk and realized too late where Elec had disappeared to.
The ogre cried out in anguish as it felt the sharp end of a blade plunge through its back. Elec drove the blade in hard and thrust with all the momentum and might that he could muster. The sword sank deeper into the ogre, through its lungs, and out the front.
Elec rode the beast for several seconds as it fought to remove him, until finally, it collapsed to the ground with a solid thud. Elec dove from its back toward Saeunn who had just disposed of her foe.
And it was a good thing too, as three more ogres had come into view, somehow finding a less treacherous way down the hill than Elec had initially considered.
Three more! Elec thought in a slight panic as he removed yet another potion from its housing on the bandolier and drained its contents. 

Garius could not see where Rose had arrived atop the hill, and so he returned his attention to the stunned orc on the ground, now only a few paces from him. He made a few movements with the hand that still clutched The Repentant, rubbed his braided beard and uttered an incantation, asking The Watcher, the god of the skies, for a blessing of aid.
As if the clouds themselves opened up, a massive bolt of lightning exploded out of the sky and landed directly on top of the prone orc, incinerating it and leaving a scorched patch of soil in the snow-soaked ground around the orc’s charred remains. Garius slung his holy warhammer upon his back and searched quickly for a path up the hill in order to aid Rose in dispatching the archers above.

 Rose emerged from a shadow directly behind the first archer, using the element of surprise. She precisely slit the green-skinned orc’s throat, dropping it to the ground softly. The second and third orcs noticed her just then, dropping their bows in unison and struggling to draw their swords.
Rose used that opening to kick out at the closest orc, hitting him squarely in the abdomen causing him to double over. Then she hammered down with Zaedra in a reverse-grip and skewered the back of the creature’s head, knocking it firmly to the ground.
The third orc had gotten his sword out and she sensed that her end was near if she didn’t move. They were still positioned directly under a tree, so she stepped into its voluminous shade and moved through the shadow realm to end up behind her target.
The orc, however, did not sense her as it looked closely into the shadows trying to discern her whereabouts. She stealthily drove the tips of both daggers into his back in unison, penetrating the lungs and leaving the orc lifeless as he gurgled something in his native tongue.
She removed the daggers and then suddenly felt a sting in her left shoulder that radiated pain down her entire arm. She looked to see what it was and noticed an arrow protruding from her shoulder that passed right through and below her left clavicle. She whipped round to see another orc approximately fifty paces from her that she had not noticed earlier.
She tried to step into the shadows once more, to use the shadow realm to hide her from her enemy, but could not concentrate as another arrow penetrated the flesh on her left thigh. She fell to one knee under the ensuing pain and then there was blackness. Her last thoughts were of failure.

 Elec and Saeunn exchanged grim looks as the three ogres bore down on them.
“Any ideas?” Elec asked as he quaffed another potion, drawing a quizzical look from Saeunn, who did not quite understand the elf’s ways.
“Survive,” Saeunn remarked bluntly as she once again charged headlong into the onrushing ogres, wild-eyed and ready. Her shock of long blonde braided hair bounced from side to side behind her as she charged.
Elec nodded in agreement, more to himself than her, as Saeunn had already taken off.
Saeunn jumped feet first into the center of an ogre’s belly, knocking the wind out of it. As her momentum continued, she knocked the ogre to the ground, landing atop it, using her muscular legs and an incredible sense of balance to remain upright upon her fallen opponent, falling to her seat atop its chest.
She got her feet under her again and slashed her greatsword in such an arc as to dismember the second ogre on her right flank in the process. Its head rolled away and its massive body fell to the snowy ground, blood heavily staining the white snow where it landed. She stood atop the other and stabbed at its head, but the ogre managed to wiggle out of the way of her blade. It retrieved its club, striking her in the side, knocking her to the ground this time, and losing the grip on its own club as it followed her trajectory.
The ogre stood, rushed her, and was upon her by the time she regained her footing. The creature smashed its fist into her left temple, knocking her senseless as she stumbled back a few steps.
She was blinded with her bloodlust and could hardly feel the pain.
She shook off the blow, ignoring the wound that had opened up, and refocused as the ogre was bearing down on her once more. Its club, which resembled a tree-trunk, was gripped tightly in both its massive hands.
It swung the club wide and Saeunn parried the strike with one of her own. The two foes matched blow for blow and parry for strike for a few rounds of swings, neither tiring nor slowing for a second. It was a fierce and hard fought exchange.
Saeunn was able to position herself better and eventually managed to kick the ogre in the groin, stunning it and giving her an opening. She swung on a high-to-low swing that spanned the creature’s right-facing shoulder, across its body, and ending up coming out at the left-facing hip. Her blade cleaved through flesh and bone, never stopping once along its deadly path.
The ogre stood with a look of disbelief in its black eyes, trying to hold in its entrails, as its life blood gushed out onto the snowy ground.
Saeunn cried to the god of war in victory, allowing the bloodlust to fuel her, and looked around for another foe to vanquish in The Champion’s name.

 He tightened his grip on the hilts of his weapons and followed after her, hoping that his elixirs would last the remainder of the fight. They were performing well so far, he noted, but the durations were lessening.
An ogre headed directly toward Elec and he could no longer give consideration to his needed improvements. He considered an idea. He tossed Daegnar Giruth into the air and spoke a magical word in the ancient elven dialect. The blade seemed to freeze in midair and held fast. As the ogre neared him, Elec sprung toward him, and used the ogres arm to launch himself into the air. He grasped the hilt of the blade and pulled himself up as the creature lunged, passing directly beneath him instead. Elec spun around in a complete circle, continuing with his momentum to launch himself onto the ogre’s exposed back.
He landed with a thud, forcing the ogre to stumble forward. It fell with its arms outstretched, sliding forward on the slick ground. Elec grabbed the ogre’s head and attempted to hang on, but could not. He slid forward now unexpectedly and came to a stop just as the ogre unsteadily got to its feet.  Obviously dazed, it looked around for its club, but could not locate it.
The ogre snarled at Elec, showing its rotting yellow teeth behind its curled lips. It charged him, covering the ten paces very quickly. Elec tried to spring away in a dive, but lost his footing and slipped. The ogre slammed into him knocking the air from his lungs, but Elec managed to remain standing, unable to fall backward under the slippery ground. The ogre swung a series of mighty blows. Elec dodged the first one, was grazed slightly by the second and was hit hard in the face and head by the next two, which sent him sprawling to the ground. Another blow followed but he tumbled backward away from it, and fell to the hard, wet ground. Keeping his eyes on the charging ogre, he crawled backward as quickly as he could until he finally backed himself into the trunk of a tree.
This is it! Elec thought, trying to cover himself as best he could. Nowhere left to go….
Just then he saw past the tangles of the ogre’s greasy, matted hair to glimpse a figure airborne heading toward them, a huge blade angled down, poised for a death blow.

 Saeunn drove her greatsword straight through the back of the ogre, skewering it and killing it instantly as the sword tip angled through its huge belly and into the tree trunk. The ogre fell limp, held up only by the angled blade, its tip buried in the base of the tree.
Saeunn stood there, allowing her adrenaline to dissipate.
Then she suddenly and wildly looked about for the elf, a look of dread upon her face, thinking that she might have just killed him too in her rage!
“Elec!” Saeunn cried desperately, not wanting to peek around the bulbous ogre’s weight to see if the elf, too, was pinned to the tree.
“Up here,” came a voice from above her. On a bough of the tree lay the battered form of Elec, blood dripping from his eye and lip where he had been pummeled soundly by the ogre. “I really need to work on homing my combat skills…,” he laughed, coughing up some blood in the process.
Saeunn gasped and then smiled wider than he had ever seen her smile before. Then she actually laughed.
“How…how did you…?” Saeunn let the question hang, obviously relieved that he was alive.
Elec swallowed hard, wiped some blood from his brow and pointed at a unique ring.
“I can use this to teleport on occasion, assuming that the charge has been restored,” he smiled. “Luckily, it had,” he added with a laugh. “I haven’t really timed it. I just know it takes some,” he paused and spat some blood, “time to recharge.”
He grabbed another elixir and quaffed it sloppily, spilling some on himself and cursing a bit. His hands were shaking.
“How are you feeling?” Elec asked Saeunn, assuming that she had taken a few hard blows. “I have some potions that might help you.”
“I have been better,” she flatly stated, now weary from fatigue.
“Here,” Elec said as re-corked the top of the elixir and tossed it to her. “Drink the rest of that and you’ll feel better. It speeds up the healing process. I couldn’t open this a minute ago,” he pointed to his left eye, which Saeunn markedly watched heal before her eyes.
 As he slowly climbed out of the tree and got to the ground, he noticed the left side of the barbarian’s head was bleeding badly through her sash. He removed another vial with some kind of ointment from his bandolier.
“Remove your sash,” Elec instructed her and she did so, revealing a large laceration in the side of her head. Elec considered how she was still standing.
He poured some of the liquid out onto her sash and dabbed at it, rubbing it around on her forehead until it started to coagulate.
“I don’t have a lot of this left, but I know where to pick more of the root that I craft it from,” Elec said as he gestured at the very tree that he had been sitting in. He absently plucked some of the leaves and stashed them in his belt pouch as he spoke. “Tie this back on again and let it be. It should be fine by the morn.”
“Thank you, Elec,” Saeunn responded, truly amazed at the resources of this white-eyed, exotic elf.
“We should check the others!” Saeunn exclaimed, and with that she was off and running, at full speed from her first step.
It was all Elec could muster to keep ten paces back.

 Garius got to the top of the hill just in time to see an orc deliver the second arrow that bit deeply into Rose’s hamstring. As that registered, the visage beneath his helm shifted to resemble that of seething rage.
He approached slowly, clutching the handle of The Repentant firmly once more and with purpose. He held the hammer high in one hand beckoning The Shimmering One and asking for protection while he crossed the snowy ground to the orc responsible for the ruination of his friend and companion.
In response to his prayer, a shimmering aura surrounded his body, forming a protective barrier that made the arrow slow and fall harmlessly away. As he walked toward the archer, he chanted the verse over and over with vigor, growing louder with each step as The Repentant glowed with holy energy.
Garius continued to cross the ground as the stunned orc realized he could not penetrate the defenses with his missiles, and so, retrieved his sword from his scabbard.
Garius now stood in front of the creature and dismissed his personal fortification spell. Propelled by an anger that he could not quite comprehend, he invoked an incantation initiating a spell to once more call forth the necromantic powers of the degenerative plane. Uttering an offering of prayer to The Reaper, he extended his hand with an open palm toward the orc’s frame. But unlike so many times before, this time he felt a satisfaction in tapping that dark power.
The orc attempted to stab at him, but the Inquisitor infused such vast amounts of physical pain upon the orc, that he dropped the sword mid-swing, and his body wracked and convulsed in agony. The orc fell to his knees. Garius continued the incantation, inflicting such suffering on the orc that he finally fell to his knees, before dropping face first into the snow. His life force was completely drained from his body, as it was absorbed now into the Inquisitor. Garius Forge’s frame shone with energy as he felt the necromantic power dissipate, storing it temporarily within his own body.
He turned from the ruined orc and ran as fast as he could beneath the weight of his armor toward his fallen friend. Garius reached Rose and threw his helmet off, revealing a grim expression. He cared for this woman clearly much more than he’d even known, he realized at that very instant.  He clutched her arm and called upon a surge of regenerative energy, redirecting what he had stored within himself and using it to channel healing directly into her wounded body.
“You shall not be taken from me that easily,” Garius muttered aloud as he continued his prayer.

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  1. Great idea here Gary!

    I chose NOT to read this post past your introduction paragraph as to not give anything away as I just started reading the book last night.

    I really like the idea of the preview in general though. So far I really like what I have read. The prelude and prologue alone started to real me in.

    I will be sure to toss a mention to this post on twitter here in a moment. Gotta help spread the word! ;)


  2. Thanks again for your help, Chad! Looking forward to seeing what you think.