Tuesday, November 23, 2010
NaNoWriMo: Day Twenty-Three
So I don't normally post my NaNo excerpts a day apart, nor do I normally post twice in a day, but I found my latest excerpt quite tasty. I also passed the 40k mark, so I'm feeling the win coming close.
Short and sweet, here's your next look.
Peace and Writing Love,
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The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 13 excerpt
She glanced back at Phinella, who was tending to her mare. A patch of sun hung over her, but the brushing of the trees put it out. Eris looked up to the branches, but it was not the drifts putting out away the light. The shadow of something in the crowns moved across the air, stopping where the sunlight was shining through. When the things had blotted all the nearest sunbeams, she saw their faces. The Trapos warriors had followed them to the Crystal Pool, waiting and watching with bows dangling in their arms.
Phinella looked at her, a sweet smile on her and none the wiser of the assault awaiting them from above. The mistress’ expression changed when she next looked at her directly and she gave her a nod. She mouthed, “Do what you must.”
Eris dug her heel into the dirt, gave the snakes a second glance over and sprinted for Phinella. One dropped from the branches between them, its arms stretching for her. She doubled back and spun away from the snake, her hands already ahead of her and yellow aura snapping to life around them. She pushed at the Trapos as it brought its face to her. What should have been ochre eyes, splinters of black in them, were instead pure coal. The warrior flew off his feet, but the other snakes dropped around them before the first could hit the ground.
She motioned for Phinella toward her, yelling “Run!” The mistress slapped her own mare and the she took off for Eris. The pair of horses blitzed off into the forest. Phinella buried herself in her student’s arms and they ran for the Pool. Eris touched the well’s edge first when a thick twang slashed into the air. The mistress stumbled, instant dead weight, and Eris also dropped from the Phinella’s arm grabbing her leg. She spun around, drawing her in, but glared upon a two-foot long arrow driving out just below her shoulder.
Phinella did not so much as whine. She was simply silent. Eris crawled over her body, touching the shaft of the arrow lightly. She yanked her hand back when the mistress moaned and was grateful for it to have not been fatal. She rolled her over as the Trapos closed around them, but she gave the mistress her attention.
“Can you sit up?” she asked.
“Do it, dear,” Phinella said, her words in a mumble. She forced her head at the Trapos and let it drop back against Eris’ chest. She had seen their eyes. “Now.”
The Trapos launched themselves at the women, worse weaponry than bows coming at them. Deadly spears with coiling, tiny teeth were raised above their heads. One pike embedded itself inches from their feet and Phinella scurried back from it. Another soared at them, but Eris was already on her knees with her hands to the trees. An aura shield blazed from the dirt, coursing potent and solid. The spear cracked against the shield and bounced off in two pieces. The useless tosses of their spears did not stop the attack, however. The snakes put their fists to the shield, repelled with each strike and dazed, but they came back with heavier hits and more determined.
Eris leaned back with each hit, the aura snapping her will harshly. Each of their fists put a rebounding tone through her head, an echo that would not quit.
“They’re coming through, Eris,” Phinella said, sliding back further. “Can you hold it?”
She fumbled with her answer. The barrage was sapping everything from her. “I don’t know.” She stuttered off the last word and clenched her lips. “I need to...I need—”
“Don’t speak. Just think.”
“Think what?” Her question was lost under the ravaging hisses of the snakes. They glared at her through the shield, but showed no sign of weakness. A larger one, the first to have spotted them when they had crossed into their territory, flicked its tongue, tasting the aura. It slurped its tongue back in and jumped on top of the shield. A knife was then in its hand, driving down. Eris knew the knife’s point came through the shield, for she was knocked to her end on the rebound. She shook her head and looked up. An inch or two of the steel was stuck, but the warrior did not pulled it back. All four arms went to work where the knife had punctured.
Phinella screamed as another knife came at the shield in front of them, also barely puncturing it. The grounded warriors followed the other’s lead.
“I won’t be able to hold it,” Eris said, her breath escaping her. “They’ll be through soon.”
A sharp splinter cracked down the wall of the shield and Eris glared at it in horror. She looked up to the Trapos warrior, who had his face pressed to the barrier. His coal eyes set a curse on her: that they would not escape their murderous assault. He hissed, his open mouth drawing air and calling the others to him. The grounded Trapos crawled to him, tangling in a dark green ball of arms, heads and black eyes. They slapped at the shield, coming ever closer to them.
Phinella had slipped away, the blood loss taking her to an unconscious sleep. Eris backed against the well and clung a hand to the root dome, trying to maintain any shred of bravery left in her. A thought spun in her mind and she turned herself around, leaving Phinella to lay and looked at the dome. The Trapos were situated just above it.
She kept herself apart from the well, hands open at it and scanning the wards. She would require great power to ignite it and that would force her to pull back the shield’s protection slightly. Phinella grabbed her leg, but did not make a sound, and Eris readied herself. She pulled all the will left in her to her core and spread it down her arms. The channels were bleeding to be released from the incantation she was thinking. She blinked, her spell snapping to life the instant she pulled the protection away from the shield. Fire was in her hands and touched the roots. They were taken up immediately, the barrier no longer protection enough from the heat. She whispered another word, twirling her hands and releasing the full fury of the raging fire. It leapt and spun upward, consuming the Trapos.
The snakes screamed and hissed, jumping from the barrier over the well. Dancing tongues fell from the smoldering scales as they tried to pat it out in the dirt, but unsuccessfully. The fire wrapped around their bodies swift and merciless. Eris pulled the shield back and kept the fire steady on the Trapos. She strained to hold the fire and the rebounding heat made her back away. It was growing heavier by the second, but their dying hisses only fueled a greater passion to hold the torture on them.
When the last Trapos stopped moving, no more than a black charred corpse, Eris broke the link of the incantation and flicked her hands to cool the burn. She returned for Phinella, who sitting half-turned against the well, observing its ruin. She seemed to be teary-eyed, her cheeks red and lost in the emotion of seeing the ancient Pool as no more than wasted space.
“Eris,” Phinella said, weakly, “what have you done?”
“I am sorry, Mistress.” Eris took Phinella against her body and cradled her. “It was the only thing I could do.”
“I know, dear. But, Valence. You have taken away your only chance of finding him.” She paused and took in slow breaths. “I know of no other way to help you.”
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “Finding him would have meant nothing if I had lost you in the process. You’ve given me so much. You are the teacher who never gave up on me when everyone else did.”