Excerpt From "The Tempered Blade"
The sun was setting; the purple and orange hues shone through the tree line of the forest.
Angwenth didn't have much time to find Tails, and she was losing daylight. Her eyes scanned the ground: tracks. There were four sets of foot prints leading in to the cave, and 'Ah ha!' one set leading off towards the North. She crouched down to inspect the small humanoid foot prints.
Her eyes traced the path of the footprints towards the edge of the forest, and pushed herself up. Shadow should have been out here waiting for her. 'Something’s wrong.' Her chest tightened in panic as she cupped her hands over her mouth and with a deep breath let out a loud howl. The sound of her voice echoed into the forest, bouncing off the trees and causing a few birds to take off into flight.
Before the echoes died off, a howl responded from the North East, the same direction as the tracks from Tails. "Shadow."
Angwenth narrowed her eyes, her face flushing with heat. Cupping her mouth once more, she howled in response to her companion's pleas and took off. The light was fading rapidly, though Angwenth's vision was blurred with fury as she ran. Shadow howled every few minutes and Angwenth adjusted her course to the sound, ducking under hanging branches, leaping nimbly over roots that threatened to trip her. When the sun set she lost her advantage of being as nimble, though her speed didn’t alter. At least not until her foot slipped into a hole covered by leaves, and she tumbled forward. She slammed into a tree trunk, the air ripped from her lungs.
Letting out a groan, Angwenth rubbed her chest as she glanced up to realize she was laying on her back. She took a deep breath, causing her head to spin, before she heard Shadow howl again.
Angwenth squeezed her eyes shut as she pushed her hand against her throbbing head. "I'm coming, I'm coming."
She pushed herself up off the ground, and leaned against the trunk while the pounding lessened. After a moment she took a step towards the howl and let out a hiss as she winced in pain; her ankle was sprained. "Damn it!"
Angwenth used the trees for balance as she headed towards the noise. When she reached a clearing she heard a howl coming from above her head. Glancing upwards she saw a net, inside was a black furry beast. “Shadow?”
The animal shifted and stuck his nose out of one of the holes, his green eyes shining down at his owner before he barked in response. Angwenth smiled, glad the trap didn’t injure him, and glanced to see where the end of the trap lay. The net had a rope at the end, and Angwenth saw the start of it wrapped around a tree branch nearby.
It took a few tries to get her grip right, but Angwenth eventually made it up to the top of the tree. Pulling out her sword she grabbed one end of the rope as she sawed through the other side and slowly lowerEd the net to the ground. Once her companion was on the ground he was able to wriggle his way out of the trap, and Angwenth slid down the trunk back to the forest floor. She limped over to Shadow. “Are you hurt?”
Shadow let out a gruff and wagged his tail. He rushed his head against her leg, and let out a soft whimper.
“I’ll be fine. Did you see that girl come through her?”
Shadow barked and looked towards the north. Angwenth sighed. “Okay. Let’s go find her.”
The moon was high in the sky by time they made it to the edge of the forest. Her home town lay ahead, most of the lights turned off for the evening, though a few still shone through windows and lit up the streets. Angwenth knew that Tails was in town to find her family, to get a ransom demand. Her parents wouldn’t have enough to meet any demand that the bandits made, but that wouldn’t stop them from trying. One good thing about bandits is they only kill when necessary, and when money was a bonus. Killing Angwenth’s parents would leave them empty handed. At least they were safe from death, but that didn’t mean Tails wasn’t capable of hurting them to make sure they knew her demands were the real deal.
Shadow walked in front of the limping Angwenth as they headed down to the town. They took the shortest route, using alleyways and backroads when necessary to get to her parent’s house as fast as possible. Angwenth needed a plan though. Busting in wasn’t going to solve anything, not with her injured foot. If Tails was still there, and was smart, she would be keeping an eye on the front door for passing neighbors. Especially if her mother screamed when she was startled by Tails breaking in.
Thankfully, Tails wouldn't know of the hidden gate in the vegetable garden behind the house. The vines had taken over the fence and covered the gate as well, it blended into the yard and was rarely used.
Angwenth pushed her way through the gate and signaled Shadow to be careful, though she knew it was a silly effort. Sometimes she forgot he was a wolf, and not a human. Heading towards the back door she took a peek through the window into the kitchen. Inside was dark, other than one candle, but that was enough to see that her mother was sobbing softly at the kitchen table. A shadow lay on the ground, and as her eyes adjusted she realized it was her father laying face down.
Tails paced back and forth in front of the table, talking rapidly at Angwenth’s mother. Angwenth couldn’t make out what she was saying between her mother’s sobs. It didn’t matter, her father was down, possibly dead. Angwenth kicked the door in, her injured ankle hating the impact, but she didn’t feel the pain. Tails jumped at the sound and spun around looking at Angwenth. “How did you get free?”
Angwenth pulled the sword from it’s sheath rushed towards Tails. Angwenth’s arm slammed into Tails with and the small girl flew across the room, crashing against the banister of the stairs. Leaping forward, Angwenth pulled back her right fist and aimed for Tail’s face, though the young girl was faster than she looked, and rolled out of the way. Angwenth’s fist met concrete, a knuckle shattered. Spinning around on her knee, Angwenth felt a foot slam into her side, hitting the broken ribs from earlier, and she toppled over.Tails rushed over to the elder woman, and had a knife at her throat. Angwenth pushed herself up, using the broken banister for support, her body wanting to give up. “Put, the knife, down.”
The young girl shot a glare at Angwenth and pushed the metal weapon against Angwenth’s mother’s neck. “What did you do to them? If you hurt them, I swear I will slice her throat.”
Angwenth took a step forward and narrowed her eyes. Her voice rose in anger. “Are they alive? You captured me! You injured my pet, my father is laying on the ground, and you have a knife to my mother’s throat. Despite all this you want me to tell you if your bandit friends are alive?”
A grin flashed on the girl’s face. “Comes with the territory. I get paid to kidnap people, then we double cross those people to get paid more from your loving family. Though, I do have to say that I became rather fond of my family of bandits.” Her grin was replaced with anger. “Now, tell me if you killed them so I can slice dear mommy’s throat.”
“I don’t give a damn about your family.”
Before Tails could push the blade any deeper, a loud growl came from the doorway, and a flash of black fur tackled her to the ground. The metal weapon clattered a few feet away from her hands as two big paws slammed into the bandit’s chest. Shadow had his jaws wrapped around Tail’s neck, small drops of blood running to the ground. He was waiting for Angwenth to signal.
Tails reached out for the weapon, but not before Angwenth could slam her foot onto the girl’s hand, crunching a few bones, and kicked the weapon away. Crouching down, her full weight on the hand.“Now that you’re of no threat to my mother, do you really want to know what I did to your family?”
Tails snapped back a threat, but Shadow growled and the girl swallowed without continuing. Angwenth glared at Tails, hatred flashing in her eyes. “First, I killed your fat friend. Couldn’t even reach me over his gut. He fell. Crushed the table with him.”
“You bit-”. Shadow’s jaws tightened for a moment, making Tail’s stop talking. Angwenth tilted her head. “Then. Then the grand finale. I gutted your leader. And I stole his blade.”
She pulled out the weapon from its sheath and held it up in the candlelight to show the carvings, proving to Tail’s that it belonged to her leader. “And now, I’m going to let Shadow finish you off.” Angwenth sighed and closed her eyes, ‘Damn it. She’s the only one who knows where Smalls can be.’, “Unless--”
“Unless what?” Her voice croaked.
“Unless you tell me where Smalls is. So I can find him, and find out why he did this.”
“I don’t know where he is! And even if I did why would I tell you?”
Shadow growled and tightened his grip around Tail’s throat. “Wrong answer.” Angwenth stood up from her spot.
Frightened the bandit screamed. “Wait! Wait!” Angwenth paused, but didn’t turn around. Tails sighed. “We...we met a man at the inn. I didn’t catch his name, but he said he wanted us to capture you. I don’t know if it was Smalls or if it was someone else, but I heard the name Smalls. I swear that’s all I know. Let me go, please!”
A scream rang through the kitchen, but was cut short as Shadow ripped out the girl’s throat. Angwenth walked over to her mom, who was now kneeling by her father on the ground. “Are you okay?”
Her dad’s breath was shallow. “Is Dad okay?”
Her mother smiled weakly, “I’m just a little shaken up. He was hit over the head, but I think he will be fine.”
Angwenth kneeled down and winced. Her mother looked over, worried. “You’re injured. I’ll call for a doctor. You need to rest. Then you can clean up the mess your dog made.”
She placed her hand on her mom’s shoulder.
“Sorry about that.” “You saved my life, and your fathers. Thank you. I know it’s been a long day, go rest.”
Angwenth smiled and kissed her mom’s forehead.“Unfortunately, the day’s just begun.”
The Three Vow's, The Tempered Blade and The Chronocles of Ollundra and all associated works are under copyright © Composite Games Limited 2013 - 2014