Sequel to Witch King
When an Archmage needs a guard to see him through the enchanted Alahanai Forest, dwarf Einith Redstone jumps on the opportunity. The amount of coin offered for the contract is enormous, and he wants to help a fellow dwarf find his Heartstone. And then Einith is stunned when the enticing elf Tae’liamath joins them as their guide.
Their journey through Alahanai is more dangerous than expected, physically and personally. Between the search for a missing knight out of legend and a bond unexpectedly formed, Einith and Tae find themselves growing close, and their emotions are sent reeling. With a Heartstone at stake, magickal encounters, and falling for each other, Einith and Tae have much to overcome before their journey ends.
Out of the trees, half a dozen misshapen creatures tumbled their way onto the path Tae had his small party follow. He slid a blade from his bracer and backed up towards the cart and the Archmage that struggled to placate the animals. Einith came with him, mattock firmly in his large hands.
An odd, syncopated trill passed between the things. Twisted, malformed, stunted beings they were, flesh shrunken and wrecked, eyes glazed to a dull white. Tae shared a wary looked with Einith for a moment. That trill rose in pitch. One leapt at Einith, and crumpled under the powerful blow of his massive hammer.
"Protect Lasra!" Einith barked as the swarm sprang into action after their first fell.
Tae backed up more, blades in his hands. Another fell with its head smashed apart. Then Einith was surrounded and cut off. He itched to help, but there was no opening. And he couldn't leave the Archmage to fend for himself.
One creature broke free and rushed toward him. The ponies screamed in terror behind him, Lasra's shout mixed in the noise. Up close, the rotten stench of the creature threatened to gag Tae as easily as the look of the thing.
It swung a fist at Tae's head, a crude stone knife in its hand. He jumped back and hit the wagon hard. Too close. He sprung off the side with as much force as he could and tackle the creature to the grass. Skin slid unnaturally loose along the muscle and bone of the thing when he caught its wrist midstrike. The other fist crashed hard into the side of his head, and his ears rang with agony.
The creature rolled them over before Tae could shake off the pain and straddled his chest, arms trapped at his sides. It opened the black maw in its face and shrieked. Foulness spilled out of its mouth. Tae bucked and writhed, but the creature was too heavy to allow movement.
He jabbed awkwardly at the thing's back. The knife shallowly gashed its side and a second hit scored deeper. It landed a heavy hit to his chest, but Tae stabbed once more and the creature lost its seat, sliding over to the ground. Tae pounced on the creature's back and buried his blade on last time into the thing's back.
It went through the spine disturbingly easy. Red-black gore seeped around the silver of his knife. Tae hoped it had pierced the creature's heart, because he wasn't sure he had the strength to finish it off.
Einith's snarl of rage rang through the air and Tae scrambled to his feet. At some point, Lasra had hopped off the wagon and stopped next to Tae. The old man surveyed the scene, a glow beginning to build around Lasra as Tae watched. Two of the creatures still stood, facing off against the dwarf. The Archmage nodded at Tae once and strode over to Einith.
"That's enough out of you," Lasra announced.
A thunderous sound rolled in the distance and Tae expected it to fade away. It rose in volume until it roared just beyond Tae's sight. The creatures turned away from his companions and shrieked toward whatever came at them, called by Lasra's power.