“Close your eyes.” Drawing his xiphos, Zorastres moved around the fire to stand between her and the edge of the garden with his back to the shadowed trees.

Lassa looked up at him. “What are you doing?”

“Do you trust me?”

Her grey eyes searching his face as if debating something within herself and judging it in him, she nodded. “Yes.”

“Then do as I ask. Don’t open your eyes, don’t make a sound, and don’t move until I tell you it’s safe.”


Lassa closed her eyes and Zorastres focused on the reflection of the garden in the wide blade of his sword. In the glow of the firelight, he could see a shadow moving through the grove. It moved toward them, its body slithering easily between the trees. The rattle of a serpent’s tail carried in the night air mingling with the hiss of the countless snakes wriggling about her head.

Trembling with fear, he tightened his grip on his sword with an audible gulp as the drawn bow in her hands came into view. He watched her take aim and steeled himself for what he was about to do. Taking a breath, he made ready to dive and charge with his xiphos leading the way the instant she loosed the arrow.

Then night suddenly turned to day and a horrific scream ripped through the quiet. In the reflection of his sword he could see the Gorgon engulfed in flames, her writhing serpentine body rapidly charring black. Her eyes glowed fiercely then dimmed, her petrifying gaze dying with her screams.
His heart pounding in his chest, he looked down at Lassa still sitting on the sand by the fire with her eyes closed, the fingers of one hand raised.

“You said not to open my eyes, make a sound or move. Okay, so I moved, but I didn’t do anything else.”


“Do you really think I couldn’t sense the danger? I’ve trained as a warrior all my life, Zorastres, give me a little credit. I can fight with reasonable pinpoint accuracy without relying on my eyes. By the way, can I open them now?”

He glanced at the blade of his sword. The Gorgon was a pile of ash amid dying embers, her eyes cold and dead. “Uh, yeah.”



~ Excerpt from “Rahasya” Book 3 of the Tome Series, copyright AJ Culpepper 2016

~ Image courtesy of brianlt.blogspot.com





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