Another quick little snippet in the Quen & Quill story.
Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks!
Quick synopsis: Quen and Quill are traveling to Blackrock and have their horses stolen in a small village where they stop for the night. To avoid trouble, they're resuming their travel on foot when the horse stealers try to take the rest of what belongs to the Sunmaster and the Shen Warrior.
In which Quen and Quill travel to battle with the evil Sunmaster Aster, and meet trouble along the way!
Quill found himself talking to empty air. Quen had left his side, silent as a drift of poisoned air. He halted, surveying the immediate area. He knew better than to call out. The small hairs on the back of his neck stood up.
The sound of galloping horses made him drop his pack and stand with empty hands. He had no time to run and hide, no time for anything but his own defense.
Four horses came into view back along the path he and Quen had just traveled. He recognized his horse first, and then recognized the men they had encountered hours ago in the little village. Quill’s lips tightened. He felt a surge of the Sunmagic he carried inside, ready at his beck and call. If they looked for an easy mark, they wouldn’t find one here. The use of magic would tell Aster exactly where he was, but better that than dying.
Quill crouched as the horses picked up speed. The grin of the lead horse’s rider grew. He drew his sword and bore down on Quill.
A dark shadow seemed to leap from the very ground. The shock of impact was audible to Quill even from this distance. The man gave a surprised cry as he and the shadow toppled off the horse. The cry was quickly cut off. The riderless horse sailed past Quill, the wind of its passage tugging at his clothing.
A flash of steel, and the second horse stumbled heavily, squealing, hamstrung, and slammed shoulder-first into the ground. Another flash of steel and the horse stopped squealing. Neither horse nor rider rose from the ground.
The two remaining horses veered to the side as each rider tried to avoid the mess in front of them. Quill watched, frozen, as the shadowy figure charged straight at the horse on the right. The horse spooked, rearing up into the air. The rider frantically kicked free of his stirrups and threw himself out of the saddle just as the horse fell over backward. The rider rolled and valiantly tried to defend himself, but the shadowy nemesis made short work of him.
The survivor wheeled and fled.
The shadow darted to the horse that struggled to roll over, and floated into the saddle as quickly as the horse gained its feet. The horse squealed and leaped after the disappearing survivor, covering the ground in cat-like jumps.
Numb, Quill watched as the pursuer overtook the pursued. A knife found his back, and the man’s arms flew into the air. He rolled from the saddle, limp as an empty sack of flour. Dust rose from the point of impact on the ground.
The shadow secured the reins of the second horse and rode back to where Quill stood, rooted to the ground.
Quill looked up at Quen’s face and said nothing. Her eyes were as bleak as an ice-covered pond. He felt his Sunmagic retreat from the exposure to such cold. The horse she rode panted and heaved, a rim of white around its eye.
“Get your pack and let’s go, Sunmaster,” Quen said, and her voice would have frozen stone.
Nausea roiled in Quill’s stomach, but he picked up his pack and took the reins from her. He avoided looking at the bloody long knife she still carried. His jaw knotted.
At least this time she didn’t suggest looting the dead.