This is just some random violence short story I wrote a while back.
I tried set it the present tense as much as possible as an experiment, so apologies if there's any confusion.
Critiques are quite welcome.
On with the show!
On the road in Milandir.
Though punctuated by the basso drumming of thunder, the downpour isn't enough to cover the crash of the Harrier's horse bursting through the roadside brush, even with the tumult of the fat, heavy drops splattering on the rich foliage.
Which was why the Traveler manages to haul her ornate double-barreled flintlock pistol clear and get a snap shot off. The harrier's cry of "stand and deliver; or be slain!" garbles into a choking curse as he ducks, his dappled tan mount whinnying and snorting in alarm at the bullet shrieking past it, it's hooves spraying
fans of muddy water as it dances back.
The shot goes wide of it's actually intended target - one of the crossbowmen who'd emerged with far less
vicious panache and who were bracing their weapons on a fallen log as they drew a steady bead -and TH-PACK's
wetly into rotten wood. Not a second later it erupts, blasting both shooters with dagger-sized slivers,
causing one man topple backwards, shrieking and squirming, hands clutching at his punctured face.
The Traveler had already moved into a combat crouch, weapon bracing on her forearm, lining the lower barrel
up at the Harrier. She holds her breath, worn brass leaf sight aimed dead center mass, and squeezes the second trigger, clearly seeing the ball shot tearing through his soaked duster, her red eyes
narrowing in anticipation of the shower of gore from the incendiary that would be blasting his torso into chunks
of scorched meat
That would mean nightmares for only few blessed nights...if the Gods had any mercy.
Sawing the reins left and right, the Harrier is standing in his saddle to avoid being dumped backwards.
A dead easy target for the traveller.
The Harrier has wrestled his panicking mount back under his control, and is turning.
He's leveling his spear, legs kicking forward for a brutal spurring, teeth bared, eyes wide, mad as hell.
The whistle of the discharged bolt yanking her hood from her head snaps the Traveler out of the moment.
The Harrier is not only not blown open, he's charging.
The Traveler claws for her jagged glaive rattling in it's frog, then stops, and starts to frantically reload, only to tangle her polearm in her cloak and fumble her gun.
She dives hard, abandoning the gun, clawing her way onto her feet before she's even landed, dashing off the road towards a copse of trees drooping over the road.
The Harrier jockeys his lathering mount around the discarded weapon, snatching it up with a deft thrust of his spear. He's already turning for another charge as he appraises the treasure dangling from his weapon.
An Altherian Inferno.
He's going to be rich. No worthless refugee to ravage, drag over the border, and sell to those despicable Cancerese wretches this one. Oh no. Only a genuine Hero of the Shining Patrol gets a gun like this.
Oh, and wine red eyes, ram's horns, and a corpse's pallor. She's Tainted, a hell-spawn. An open bounty this close to the border. Better then a fresh whore.
He smiles, knowing the gods truly bless bastards as he completes the turn -in no hurry now- as his prize finishes her dash to shelter.
The trees are dense enough to discourage a charge and provide ample cover from a long stabbing weapon.
She's a veteran, she's made a veteran's choice with seconds to spare, and it's one he's already thought of.
He canters forward, tucking the pistol into his belt. His gang is only four men now, but that just means he won't have to cut the sale of the gun five ways.
The Traveler literally runs into the first katar thrust, it's blade ramming into her chain shirt, driving it's links through her leather jack and macerating the breast beneath.
The second skips off her horns, scoring a ragged fissure into the whorled bone.
The second Stalker strikes, her knives flashing like steel serpents lunging out of the damp gloom of the copse, cutting hot lines of pain across the Traveler's upraised arms.
Shoving forward, then stumbling back, the Traveler knows the tempo of the ambush has just changed, and not for the better.
Her nails burst into rivulets of incandescent blood as they grow into unnaturally long claws.
Three fighters, no quarter.
The Traveler stabs and tears, weaving and feinting, gouging at eyes, raking along arms. Her assailants are
blurs of looping steel contrails, knives diving and biting. The Traveler flails, then hurtles horns first, feeling bone click apart under her drive. One of the Stalkers gives ground, and as the second's blade flenses her collarbone raw she's ramming her hands wrist deep into his chest cavity. Demonic energy sears up her spine, and suddenly her wriggling prey is aloft and showering her in a hot, coppery downpour!
But not enough!
She tugs her arms apart with casual ease, and he bursts open, his spine flapping from side to side like a strange red fish! Struck by this the Traveler laughs, hurling the upper part of him at his compatriot, discarding the other, springing forward at the terror stark upon the other Stalker's face!
The Stalker rolls aside, shrieking at the Harrier, who himself is jockeying for a clear thrust, no longer smiling. Her eyes flick to him and she spits a demand, glancing instantly back to the Traveler.
She's spitted through the mouth upon crimson claws! The Stalker trembles, convulsing, and the Traveler raises her arm, turning her wrist, rotating the flopping, gurgling killer like a fisherman with a prize catch.
She glances up, catching the Harrier's eye. He can see, he understands, his adam's apple quivering as he fights down an eruption of bile.
There's nothing inside there now. Dark wine red has become luminous, baleful scarlet. Unmuted by the darkness, unsplotched by the mix of mud and pine needles and gore coating her meager kit, the Traveler's eyes are twin lanterns of hate marking a sure path to the deepest hells.
The Traveler clenches her hand, and the rupturing Stalker's skull gives the Harrier a clear view of the wet, pink grooves of brain being mashed between her fingers.
The Harrier retches hotly, spraying his mount's mane and neck.
By the time he's cleared his watering eyes, she's got her glaive in hand.
He glances down it's plain shaft iron shaft to the battered blackened blade. Raggedly toothed and battle scarred, it's edge is more butcher's saw then proper war blade.
It has clearly never cut cleanly through anything.
She's waited for this moment. With contemptuous ease she whips the weapon upward, tearing through the poor horse's torso, bisecting the Harrier almost as an afterthought.
Leaving the weapon standing upright in the steaming, mangled knot of mount and man, the Traveler leans down, and yanks her pistol from the dead man's belt.
She looks up.
The last crossbowman has stepped from cover, weapon raised to his shoulder.
Her eyes are clear again. Blood oozes down her fingers from a dozen superficial cuts, and trickles freely from a score of deep strikes.
She reloads, and as one they shoot.