The below is an extract from my current WIP novel, Summons of the Majestic. Hope you enjoy!
Movement on the bridge broke my reverie, and I saw Rash bow low to Tetrax, who mirrored him with sober sincerity. Then, halberds were levelled, and a couple of scouting feints were thrown by both sides, neatly dodged. After that were a few seconds of stillness – minds thinking over tactics, unwilling to commit to offence. Tetrax had the slightly longer weapon, but the Knight was surer of foot and far more intimidating in his garish armour.
I couldn’t guess on a winner, but silently cheered Tetrax on, trying to push my determination into him through will alone. His enchantment, his summon cord, throbbed with anticipation of violence. “Come on, come on,” I said. “We must get across.”
Suddenly, I heard Oswan squawk above me, and then he was on the ground, off to my left. The aggressive head swivelled to stare at me, its gaze full of warning.
I stared back, confused, and then I felt something approaching – a lumbering presence, caught in the corner of my eye. It seemed to come from the group of rocks, to the left of the bridge.
“You pests,” growled a strangely familiar voice. “But you have your uses for hounding me. Ha! I was counting on you coming this way and distracting the guardian fool.”
A large fist thumped into my back, and the force of the blow sent me to my knees, winded. Looking up, I saw Arcadia looming above me, smiling crookedly. “You!” I said, the word coming out in a wheeze. “You.”
The Demethrax nodded. “Indeed me. That Knight looked a stubborn sort for me to take. And the drop is not something even I would look forward to handling.” She turned, eyeing the bridge. “The thief’s distraction is what I need. Farewell again, boy – see you in Orpio, should you survive.”
With that she barrelled forward, lumbering onto the bridge. I watched, utterly taken-aback by her sudden presence, unable to voice a warning. Somehow, Tetrax and the Knight were yet to notice her, caught up in their duel, the volcano’s noise masking her approach, and she made it onto the bridge. There, the Demethrax slowed, but Rash finally noticed her, turning from Tetrax, halberd sweeping round in an arc.
“Stop!” I finally managed to shout, but it was too late.
Arcadia swung a huge fist at Rash, knocking aside his weapon and shoving the Knight aside. He tottered, teetered, and for a moment I thought he was going to topple off the bridge, but then he regained balance, gripping the rope-rail with a gauntleted hand. Tetrax took too surprised steps towards the Demethrax, but she was already gone, shambling off the far end without a backwards glance.
Time stopped, the volcano growled its dissent at the opportunism, and I got back to my feet, sharing a look with Oswan.
“Was that the…” said Tetrax, turning towards me.
Rash stood in his way, halberd raised. “No flight,” he said. “Distraction or no. A fight was agreed.”
“Enough talk! First strike wins!”