Book VII is online at Amazon! The story relates the action and the aftermath the disastrous Battle of Loma Alda, in which the fierce Okan and A′oan war bands come up against a previously unknown enemy.
Not until months later could Kaybrel bring himself to talk about the savage combat with his wife, Maire, herself a powerful chieftain as kubnath of Silba Lek and as well as Moor Lek. Here he relates the battle’s events, in retrospect as the two lay together in their marital bed.
In their bedroom’s darkness, the scene came back to life before Kay’s eyes. He described it as he saw it.
“Don’O, he doesn’t realize the others are coming up his backside, he’s rallying the men to fight the company charging from the left. I spur my horse through the mess—there’s so much confusion, it’s just chaos—I try to get close enough to yell to him back-to-back, go back-to-back! He hears me, doesn’t look like he understands, but he’s a good man, he follows orders, and I’m yelling the order to our men myself.
“Right next to us on the line are Rik’s men. I can’t see him, don’t know where he is, and Rik’s monja is down—he’s already been hit. Maybe Rik has fallen, too, for all I know. So I yell the same order to them, and then Jag Bova rides up beside me. He hasn’t got all his armor on but at least he’s on his horse. I tell him to take Rik’s men back-to-back, but he knows, he’s already shouting the order and calling out Puns! Rozebek! To me!
“Through this cloud of dust, all those roiling bodies, I can see Fallon trying to shove his way to his own men. But I know he won’t get there, and he’s not going to be at my left, and then, God help us, the first wave hits.
“I push the Demon forward, into it and into it, and my blade, it’s like my blade flies by itself. You hear the ring of steel on steel, blade on shield, blade on blade, and then that thud of blade on flesh, blade on bone. You’ll see something like an arrow, it comes arching for you through the air, slow, insanely slow, but you don’t have time to think how crazy that is, because you’re too busy cutting your way through the enemy’s foot soldiers. They’re running hard at your men, and then come the horsemen, and they’re the ones you really have to fight. You can’t just slice them down like you would so much windblown grass. Because they’re kubna, same as you, and you know the glory is going to fall to one of you, him or you.
“Pretty quick I come up against one of them, a big son of a bitch, he looks even bigger inside that metal armor the Espanyos wear. The Demon lurches to ram his horse, and his dodges—very nice, I think, trained as well as mine—and before I can get done admiring him I take a swing at him and miss. He feints, but I know that trick and wait for his move, and just as I figured it comes hard on the feint. I’m ready for him, his sword slams against my shield, and damn! He almost knocks me backward off the horse. And then out of the racket somebody’s arrow bounces off his shield and in that fraction of an instant I jab at his flank and cut him.
“But the bastard doesn’t go down. He kicks his horse out of reach and then without a pause he charges, and then it’s horse on horse, man on man. We slam into each other, and if my leg hadn’t been caught between the two horses I’d’ve been thrown, but by then I didn’t give a damn. I started to swing and he did, too, and I got in a blow and then another and then another and then Fallon is there and somehow, together, we push the rider back into mob.
“God, Maire! God, I was so glad to see him.
“He grins—you know, the way he does? He doesn’t have all his armor on either, and there’s blood running down his right leg. But we have no time to think about that, because now we’re in the middle of it.”
Read what happens next! And please leave a review — your insights will be appreciated.