Monday, April 27, 2015

Scout's Law - Chapter 13

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With Callan hidden under piled stones, David hides atop a boulder as two trogs slide down the slope toward them.

With my heart hammering in my chest, I listened as the trogs slipped and slid down the stony slope toward the hidden body of their dead companion and my very living wife, also hidden beneath carefully piled stones. When I was certain the trogs were too far down the scree to spot me on top of the boulders, I crept up out of the crevice I’d hidden in and quietly drew my sword. I breathed through my mouth to reduce the already slim chance an exhalation might give away my presence. There was nothing I could do about the hammering of my heart.

I strained my ears, listening for the slightest change in the sounds made by the trogs. When the scrape of trogs sliding through rocks changed, it was so obvious a deaf man could have heard it. One second I heard two trogs noisily sliding and climbing and the next second the sound cut neatly in half. Either one of the trogs reached the bottom already—something I strongly doubted—or one of them slid into the corpse near the bottom of the scree.

A few seconds later, one of the trogs grunted in surprise and called to his companion. The call definitely didn’t come from the bottom of the slope, meaning the trog found the dead guard. My mind raced ahead, planning my response depending on what the trogs did next.

I fervently hoped they would simply climb back up the slope and go report to their leader. Callan and I could use that time to get out of the scree and find a better hiding place. I feared most that they’d yell for help, forcing me to attack and pray I not only killed the trogs quickly but could just as quickly find a better hiding place for Callan and me. Of course, the trogs didn’t do either one of those things.

I listened to the trogs talk for a few seconds, my body tensed and ready to spring to the attack if either of them raised their voice.  I heard the unmistakeable sound of a trog climbing the rest of the way down the scree, joining the other trog at the bottom. Then I heard a spear plunge into the stones piled at the bottom of the scree and that made no sense to me.

Surely the trogs didn’t think the person who killed the guard was also hiding down here? Okay, I was hiding down here, but there was no logical reason for the trogs to suspect that—especially since they’d already shot Chris running from this area. Their actions made no sense.

No, that’s wrong. Poking spears into the rocks at the bottom of the scree made no sense based on my knowledge. So what did the trogs know that I didn’t know? Lots of stuff and none of it was important at the moment. One of the trogs was directly below my boulder and mere feet from discovering Callan!

My tensed muscles uncoiled and I sprang from my boulder. I saw the trog below me jab his spear into stones piled against the boulder. Some sense warned the trog trouble was near because he looked up just in time to see me dropping toward him. His mouth opened to shout and he tried to raise his spear in defense. With the spear stuck a foot deep in the stones that was never going to work. Before he said anything, I rammed my sword through his right eye and out at the base of his skull.

The trog collapsed beneath me as I pulled my sword free. The other trog whirled at the sound of his companion hitting the ground. The trog’s eyes widened at the sight, but his surprise didn’t slow his reactions. With his own spear plunged into piled stones, the trog abandoned it and grabbed for the blaster rifle slung over his shoulder. The barrel of the dying trog's blaster stuck out from underneath his body. I’d never free that rifle fast enough to shoot first, but the other trog was too far away for me to reach before he fired.

I grabbed the trog’s spear with my left hand and dove to my right. The spear pulled free easily and I readied it for an off-hand throw as I rolled to my feet. The trog swung the blaster rifle my way as I hurled the spear. It was a surprisingly accurate throw for a right-hander, flying arrow-straight toward the trog’s chest. It was not a particularly hard throw and the trog deflected it easily with the blaster rifle. But that was my plan all along.

In the brief time the trog spent concentrating on the spear, I charged. While the spear clattered harmlessly off the rifle barrel, my sword thrust came up under his breast and skewered his heart. The trog stumbled backward, blue blood bubbling up out of his mouth and flowing freely down my sword blade. I pulled my sword free and, as if the blade was all that held him up, the trog collapsed.

I heard a sound behind me and spun, my sword held ready. A dirty and dust-covered Callan yanked at the barrel of the other trog’s blaster rifle, struggling to pull it out from under the trog’s body.

“It’s okay, Callan, I got them both.”

“I can see that, darling,” she replied, wiggling the blaster to work it free. “But how long have we got before someone else comes looking for these two?”

I snatched up the blaster at my feet and ran to help Callan. “That’s exactly the sort of question I should have thought of.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, David. You were rather busy.”

I rolled the trog up and off of the blaster rifle, releasing the body once Callan pulled the weapon free. “Okay, let’s climb out of here and see if we can find a place to hole up until the trogs stop looking for us.”

Callan looked up at the boulder I’d leapt from. “There’s no way out of here over the boulders?”

“Maybe, after a lot of dangerous hopping from boulder to boulder we might find a way to safety. We might also find ourselves having to double back and climb this scree after all. But we can try—”

I interrupted myself as a new sound reached our ears. The droning of propellors told us an airship approached!

Can our heroes flag down the airship? Find out in Chapter 14 of Scout’s Law, coming Wednesday!