This time around for WTF Friday I thought I’d feature one of my favorite scenes from “Zikhin” (Book One of the Tome Series) featuring the bandit Scorpio. Enjoy!
The towering screamar trees angled high overhead, their mangled branches reaching across the late afternoon sky like the clawed fingers of daemons against the reddening firmament. A cool wind howled through the wood, echoing from their disfigured trunks with eerie effect. The man and woman riding their mounts along the winding path looked around, nervously pulling their rich capes tighter about their shoulders. Humans hailing from the kingdom of Acacia, they were both fair in complexion with blonde hair so light it practically glowed in the shadows. Neither spoke for fear of drawing the violent trees’ attentions and with their gaze on the mist covered swamp around them, they failed to notice the dark figure perched in the boughs just ahead.
His alert grey eyes on the travelers fifteen feet below, Scorpio watched and waited. With the brown and black leather of his clothing helping him to blend in with the fen’s natural gloom, it was easy to go unnoticed and bide his time. He wasn’t an overpoweringly large man, only five foot eight. Having a considerable lack of comrades in that he preferred to work alone, he had to make the most of the resources available to him. As his unsuspecting victims neared, he carefully turned around without making a sound, his heavy leather cape providing counterbalance to keep him from falling, and readied himself. His muscles tense.
Drawing his dagger, he clenched it tight between his teeth and dropped onto the back of the man’s mount. Using the weapon’s hilt, he struck him across the temple with one hand, knocking him unconscious and held tight to the reins around him with the other as his horse reared in surprise. His female companion screamed in alarm as he let him fall to the ground. Turning the mount around to gain control of the frightened animal, Scorpio rode toward her. Coming to a stop several paces away, he leaned on the horn of the saddle.
“Your money or your life. I really don’t care which you choose, ‘cause I’ll get the money no matter what. But you might want to make it easier on yourself. Toss me your purse and I’ll be on my way and you and your companion here,” waving his dagger in a half-hearted elaboration as he spoke, Scorpio glanced over his shoulder at the man lying unconscious, face down in the mire. “Can go on your way.”
The woman looked at him with wide-eyed horror, or disgust, curling a lip disdainfully as she took in his worn leathers. His straggly, wavy brown hair, wet from the last cloudburst, clung tight to his face, matted against the rough of his beard and moustache. She eased her mount backward.
“If you plan on running, how far do you think you’ll get? I promise you I know this swamp far better than you do. You still have the alternative. Your money or your life.” Suddenly her eyes rolled back into her head and she fell from the saddle, insensible before she hit the ground. Scorpio shrugged. “Or pass out.”
Working quickly, he searched their persons for anything valuable and threw what he found in his satchel, strapping it across his chest. He left them their horses, having no real use for a mount living in the fen, and was about to leave them to their fates when the glitter of a chain around the man’s neck drew his attention. Tearing it free, he held it up to the fading daylight, a piece of blackened metal engraved with the image of a rearing scorpion. He grinned at the irony and slipped it over his head.
~ Excerpt from “Zikhin” Book One of the Tome Series copyright AJ Culpepper 2011
~ Image courtesy of pinterest.com Artist unknown