Silk and Steel
Egad I’m so sorry I missed the last 2 weeks – so many crazy things are happening this end and I’m struggling to keep on top of it all. Righty, here’s the next slice – still at the riots with Spyro and co. I’ll give you Fey’s perspective and then Ros and Vraxi’s as they are quite short and I’ve missed 2 posts 🙂
( I have my two eldest boys to thank for teaching me about the Eastern-European knife throwing techniques which feature in this extract XD XD )
When Spyro gave the command, Fey ran forwards; not with the main throng but slipping and ducking along the right flank of the mob so that she easily reached the wall before the front runners. Inside, she could feel her demon roiling to be let out but she ignored the urge to sink into a battle frenzy, for now.
Instead she channelled the demon’s strength deep into her muscles, crouched low, tucking her legs tight beneath her for maximum power, and then sprang right up onto the top of the barricade.
Two watch soldiers were already there to meet her. The first raised his baton above his head and Fey easily ducked the clumsy attack, dodging low so that the man overbalanced forwards, coming down on thin air with Fey now behind him.
As he toppled, she spun her left arm out behind her, whipping her long cloak like a sail to flip the teetering man back over the edge. He crashed onto an open cart full of tar barrels.
The second soldier gritted his teeth, pulled a knife from his belt and came at her in a crouching stance.
Fey smirked at the venomous scowl, “So serious?” she quipped, “Is the game not to your liking?” That said, she leapt right over the crouching man’s head, drawing her own daggers from her boots in mid-air and planting them in his back as she landed behind him.
She immediately tugged them free, pitching the soldier forwards, and another swipe of her cloak sent him spinning to join his friend below.
More ladders began to appear along the wall as the soldiers below climbed up to face the angry mob.
“Looks like I’ll be dancing this number for a while yet,” Fey muttered, returning her knives and drawing two pāhdrasai rods from the scabbards that crossed her back.
She swiped the first across the front of her body to slash the chest of one oncoming soldier while the other arced behind, crashing into the face of another assailant. The rods shattered on impact, showering the two men in a corrosive alchemical explosion and shards of broken glass.
Fey put a boot on the first man’s back as he screamed and clawed at his face and chest, and kicked him easily off the wall, but before she could turn to give the second man the same treatment, she felt a thick arm suddenly close around her windpipe, crushing the air from her lungs, she could feel the demon inside her, fighting to seize control of her consciousness.
“Not yet, my friend,” she thought, trying unsuccessfully to find a handhold on her assailant, “not yet…”
Before Spyro had even given the command to storm the wall, Ros nudged the yag in the ribs and motioned for him to follow her into one of the houses which immediately adjoined the barricade. Together they slipped past the close packed rows of filthy bunks, up the many wooden staircases of the tenement building until they came to the little ladder which led into the crawl-space below the eves. Even here four damp, mildewed-looking pallet beds were crammed close together and they climbed through the skylight onto the slate roof.
“Front row seats,” Vraxi observed.
Ros looked him up and down, “By the seem of things, the stage is up here with us,” she said dryly.
“Well, you know me, Ros, dress for every eventuality, that’s my motto.”
He gave a little bow and settled himself in a stable position,scanning the scene unfolding below.
Ros crouched beside him, training a dart on the lip of the barricade, her middle finger resting a hair’s breadth away from the trigger mechanism nestled against her palm.
“He does so love to show off,” she smirked, as Spyro began the final leg of his speech.
But Vraxi knew a test when he met one and decided to pretend he hadn’t heard her.
Ros gave a satisfied little smile and didn’t press the issue.
When Spyro leapt down from the wall, they watched Fey leap up to take his place and soon afterwards wooden ladders appeared along the barricade’s length as the dockside watch soldiers began climbing up to help their comrades on the other side.
Vraxi slipped an osetr into his hand and held it delicately but firmly, point facing his palm, forefinger pressed against the blunt edge of the knife.
“She won’t thank you if you miss,” Ros teased, as they watched Fey send the first two soldiers spinning over the edge onto the open cart.
A third stuck his fur-helmed head over the wall and Vraxi rose to a side-standing position and brought his elbow back smooth and wide, angling the blade at the man’s neck. When his shoulder reached its limit he let his forearm snake backwards in a rolling motion so that his forefinger flowed wave-like, bringing the blade with it. When it reached the zenith of its arc, he snapped his elbow like lightening, leaning into the hurl and throwing the full force of his chest muscles behind the motion, flicking the now vertical knife free just as it passed his ear, as if he were cracking a cattle-whip.
The osetr sailed, handle forwards, true to aim and made a neat little three quarter flip at the last minute before burying itself comfortably in the man’s jugular.
Ros smiled appreciatively, reached inside her pocket and placed a single fleshcoin on the roof slate beside her. “Match it and whoever takes down the next one wins them both,” she said without taking her eyes from the wall.
“See you and raise you another?” he dared, placing two beside her one and not taking his own eyes off the fighting.
She reached inside her pocket again and matched his bet then fired two darts in quick succession into the necks of two guards who were still on the ground, wrestling with the dock workers.
“Another says I get the next as well, and no raising,” she said.
Vraxi grinned and laid down his fleshcoin, just as a huge hulking guardsman hauled himself up behind Fey and hooked a meaty arm around the demon-bound woman’s neck. “She’ll thank me for this I’ll wager…” he muttered, unsheathing a vjatich this time and cracking it out in the same smooth double-wave motion.
Again the knife did it’s fancy little flip at the last moment and the man fell sideways off the wall, clutching his neck and releasing Fey who didn’t miss a beat but spun straight into her next attack.
Ros shook her head, “is that actually necessary or are you just showing off?” she asked, stopping Vraxi’s hand as he went to take his winnings.
“Will you allow for a little of both?” he ventured, and then added quickly, just in case, “reducing the rotations it makes mid-air improves the accuracy, my lady.”
Ros smiled and laid another fleshcoin on the roof. “Let’s keep going,” she said, turning back to the fight.
Within a few short minutes, they were both, apparently, out of ammo and several rows of fleshcoins sparkled in the sunshine.
“Is that really all you’ve got, love?” she asked, feigning a disappointed pout.
Vraxi spread his arms apologetically, “would you like like to search me? As you can see, my knives are all gone but there may be more to me than meets the eye…”
Ros narrowed her eyes at him. “There is always more to you than meets the eye,” she said dryly, scooping up the pile of coins and handing it to him. “Come, let’s see how things fare on the ground…”
Vraxi looked alarmed, “Far, far better without any interference from me I should think!” he said quickly. “For Xander is always saying how dreadfully I get under his feet in these close-ranged situations and certainly, you must concede, I am built for better things than one-on-one combat with these muscle-mountains the city watch favours!”
“I said nothing of joining the fight,” Ros said, arching an eyebrow at him, “although I note your enthusiasm for it.”
“Can you blame me?” he asked earnestly.
“For a great many things, dear. Although perhaps not that,” she conceded, hoisting open the roof hatch and waiting for him to follow her down.
As they excited the building, they met with Fey and Xander who had managed to quietly disengage themselves from the rabble. The dock workers had now broken down a significant portion of the wall and were piling through into the skydocks with wild bellows of victory.
“Looks like our work here is done.” Fey said, clapping her hands together, “if there’s nothing else I’ll be heading off for a well earned pint.” She didn’t wait for an answer but tipped two fingers to her forehead and strolled off in the direction of the Cross Keys.
“Try and stay out of trouble, boys,” Ros said over her shoulder as she headed back towards The ‘Kādasa.
Xander glared at the yag, who was watching Ros’s exit with a mesmerised expression, ‘chance would be a fine thing’, he thought angrily.