Collar of Slaves: 1 Raiders cont by Shandria Katz

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SUMMARY: Thank you everyone for your comments. Here is the next part of the chapter.

Something woke her. The ground was chilled from dew kissed night. The sky was dark but the morning was coming. Vahlia looked to fire where the Kingsmen slept.

Someone was near the small fire, the kingsman she had protected. But it was not he that woke her. Something was very wrong. Her eyes searched the shadows about her. No bugs chirruped in the grass, no frogs called. Something lurked in the grass about them.

Before she could voice a warning, a hollow keen cried out in the night that made her shiver. Shadows leapt from the dark, blades gleaming in the firelight. Hector rose in response to the ambush drawing out his broadsword meeting the first attackers with steeled power. He swung the blade cleaving into the ranks of his attackers, his movements methodical and clean.

Shadows swarmed him like dogs and one poised to take him from behind when a dagger dove into its back. The dagger's flight was faster than any creature she knew. More flew and sunk into their victims. Justin swiftly reached Hector's side and like a formal dance, he wove and danced with his rapier in fine counterpoint to Hector's cleaving.

A hand forced her down as something hot swung above her, golden embers flying about her. Then a solid thud was answered by a grunt of pain from. Siobhan leapt over her and rolled to her feet brandishing a firebrand. Shadows swarmed about them and Siobhan slugged them with the brand with ruthless efficiency. She dodged and danced at their attacks and cracked a few of their heads in response.

Fighting broiled around her and the valiant three fended them off in a parody of a complicated dance that only they knew the moves to. The shadows swarmed, more corpses joined the ground, hewn, pierced and smouldering.

Another hand grabbed her, the hand slick and clammy to the touch, dragging her away. A stench of stale sweat and smoky gore rolled over her, her body reacting to remembered trauma. More hands reached out grabbing her, cloth ripping from her. Her nightmares stirred and madness filled her mind. A horrid scream rattled the night, so primal that even the shadows paused.

Her bandaged hands slapped away the intruders; and her body moved like a predator, pain forgotten in the madness. Grabbing a blade from one shadow she throated the next. She clawed and fought every step back to the three with madness pouring from within her. Her eyes locked upon the leader who had severed Justin from Hector's side and hurled him aside.

Her arm rose high and fell like a bird of prey, the curved blade burying itself into the leader and flinging him to the ground. Everyone stopped in their exchanges to watch her limp to the leader, climb upon him and remove his knives as she gazed upon his face as it awakened from the shock.

He moved to strike her down but she was quicker and his hand was staked to the ground. Fear filled his eyes as the second knife pressed to his throat. "Morte!" she whispered as the knife sliced open his throat. Blood spurted and poured as she shakily stood over him. "Consumed to darken lands," she spat upon his gurgling face and she pitched over weakened but her eyes hunted for another violator.

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