The Seven Jewels

by Rev. Joe Kelly
read from the beginning

part three.

Alruf whirled about and charged up the wash, dodging bouncing boulders as the cries of terror turned to bloodcurdling screams. The boulders crushed the soldiers with sickening, fleshy smacks. A rock glanced off the top of Alruf’s head and knocked his helmet off. Reeling from the blow, he charged heedless and half-stunned through the avalanche.

At the top of the wash he halted to catch his breath and steady his spinning head. He looked up, panting–just in time to see the whirl of a jet-black scalp lock and the bronzed, massively muscled flesh that rose before him.

Alruf dragged his backsword out just in time to stop the giant barbarian’s long, thin saber from cleaving his skull open. Too late, though, to brace himself–the blow smashed the back of his own blade into his head. Alruf gave a strangled cry as his legs gave out from under him, and he tumbled back into the rocks below. His body rolled limply back down the wash, came to a halt with a dull thud amidst the last of the tumbling boulders and the ruined and bloody bodies of his men with their faces and limbs grossly distorted and smashed into unnatural angles.

Alruf lay there, very still.

Kan Luodal considered the Wose for a moment. He should have climbed down and made sure Alruf was finished off. But he was tired, exhausted unto collapsing with the strain of the sleepless three-day chase. His mind was fogged, his limbs heavy and uncertain. Even his legendary Kan stamina had been taxed beyond its limits; there was a very real danger, he considered, that he would lose his footing among the rocks and meet his end, with his head smashed open, lying by the very man he had just triumphed over.

Besides, the bastard was dead. Blood covered his limp, expressionless face. If the swordblow hadn’t killed him, the fall surely had.

Insomnia-drunken, Luo turned, shuffled and staggered back across the plateau, considering as he did the sprawling ruins that lay there. If nothing else, they would be a good place to rest.

Vultures and flies began to gather. They circled hungrily over the dead bodies in the silent wash. After some time, one of the bodies stirred. With a pained groan, Alruf sat up, and thanked Zubal-Thurdos that the northerner had been foolish enough to take him for dead. He rose, wearily, achingly, to his feet, and started the long trek back up the wash to retrieve his backsword.

On to part four.

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