violence

In the seconds that came before the Dog Soldiers bore down on them, the officer shouted for his men to reach the gatehouse and launch signal rockets. He fell with a grunt and two feet of spear sticking out of his guts. The one who stood beside him slashed its owner’s throat before he could withdraw it; but he was too slow in returning to guard. A blow hit him along the left side and drove him to his knees. He struggled to roll with the impact, but he had been seen to fall and the Dog Soldiers were here!

A shield that had lost its owner was at hand; he seized it, and thrust it before him as a killing blow came down from a stone hatchet. Still hunched like a turtle beneath it, he thrust with his sword, felt the blade go home in an exposed, gray-painted leg. Then another blow slammed into him from the side, and a heavy figure bore down on him, knife in hand, clutching and reaching for his scalp.

The Dog Soldiers were upon him, and he was down–

Horror, and not courage, kept him fighting: grappling and clawing. He sobbed with fear and effort, and scratched, and bit: still the painted warrior made no sound. The knife-blade stung his throat. Only one thought was in his mind, one thought that gave him nigh-superhuman strength. He tore the grasping hands away and smashed the man’s head down into the stones, once, twice, again–

But there were more of them, still, he was mired in a stomping, tangle of ice, and blood, and limbs, and death. He’d lost his sword.

The Dog Soldiers were upon him and he had no sword!