Note: This post has been slightly edited to update it to the current version (as of 3-25-19) of The Victor’s Blade: Book 1. Enjoy!
Zaelor broke into a dead sprint toward the intruder, quickly confirming his suspicion: he’d managed to pin the shoulder of the intruder’s loose-fitting shirt to the tree trunk. As Zaelor raced toward them, they wrestled to free their shirt from the arrow. That wasn’t quite so easy, however. There was something dark beneath the shirt—possibly a leather breastplate, which the arrow had penetrated easily at this range.
|Photo by Matt Atherton on Unsplash|
The intruder heard Zaelor’s footfalls and spun around. Zaelor could see the whites of their eyes through the slits in the mask, wide with fear like a cornered beast. They weren’t going to free the leather armor before Zaelor got there.
Zaelor nocked another arrow as he ran, drew, annnnnnnnd—slid to a halt right before he crashed into the intruder. He held the arrow tip against their throat.
“Hello.” He couldn’t resist a grin. “How about we try this again?”
He didn’t keep his gaze off their masked face, but his peripheral vision caught motion below. He shifted the bow ever so slightly, releasing the arrow just to the left of the intruder’s neck while he knocked their wrist aside with the lower end of his bow. A knife fell from the intruder’s hand to the forest floor.
“Now, now. None of tha—” he cut himself off, reaching up to jam his bow against their throat this time—until he realized the intruder wasn’t there any more. Only a scrap of their loose green shirt was hanging uselessly from the tree, pinned now by his two arrows. The armor must have been cut just enough to—
A knife tip pricked his cheek as an arm hooked behind his neck. The intruder held him rather securely, despite being slightly shorter and much thinner than him. Whoever they were, they knew their stuff.
But so did he.
“Come now, we’re both rational adul—” Mid-sentence, Zaelor kicked his heel up into his assailant. He heard them grunt, and their grip loosened just enough to give him an opening.
Zaelor reached with his open hand and grabbed their knife-hand. As he stepped into the intruder’s guard, he twisted their wrist. Now he faced the intruder, who was growling in pain and crumpling to their knees instinctively to take pressure off their wrist. The second knife fell from their hand. And now he could see that in addition to the intruder’s knives, there were two short-swords on their belt. My, my. You’re more of a walking armory than me.
Apparently he wasn’t applying enough pressure to their wrist, because the intruder was reaching across their stomach to unsheath one of those swords with their free left hand.
Zaelor sighed as he tweaked the wrist a little further, but he could see with his peripheral that it was too little, too late. The intruder had already started the motion of loosening the blade. Zaelor was about to get sliced in the stomach if he didn’t move.
[Excerpt from The Victor’s Blade; all content subject to change.]