CHAPTER THREE: Crossing the Rabbit's Path (7)

     Grom’s sight returned in time to witness Denthis hurdle nearly twenty feet upward, avoiding the attack with ease while the ends of his cloak flapped against the wind. Then he fanned out one of his arms during his descent, and the faintest glisten of daylight gleamed off of expertly flung knifepoints. Three more archers collapsed, writhing around in white snow drifts and painting them a rosy red hue. As Denthis touched down, his feet were already engaged in a lightning dash, and he moved as if being guided by some unseen gale.

     “To arms, to arms!” the eely voice urged, but it would’ve been more accurate for him to state, “One arm, one arm,” because as the figure withdrew a sword from its scabbard, the weapon fell to the ground; his hand was still grasping the hilt, but the appendage attached at the wrist was feeling altogether unattached at the elbow. Then a cutlass ran him through.

     The sweet symphony of unsheathing steel resonated beyond the cornices and cascaded into the ravines below. They rushed at Denthis from all sides, enclosing around him at every angle, but a quick and clean stab that slayed another prompted a reevaluation of strategy. Three of his assailants scampered toward him from one flank in tandem with another three hastening from the opposite. They bellowed out confident, echoing war cries.

     Grom and Bornen stared on with mounting astonishment and engaged interest, while the fight concluded as thus: cultist 1 and 2 initiated the combat with wild swings; Denthis countered with a half-block double dodge combo; cultist 4 thrust his sword ineffectually; cultist 3 was parried mid attack (kill stroke); cultists 5 and 6 consecutively executed missed lunges; Denthis ducked under a second round of wild swings, then yawned mockingly; cultist 1 rallied for another go, but was parried and riposted (kill stroke); cultist 2 regained his balance in time to feel the heaviness of a boot collide with his head; then cultists 4, 5 and 6 would’ve made a last ditch effort to synchronize desperate slashes, but they were all instantly stopped by imperceptible injuries marked with rapidly appearing knife handles (mortal wound, kill stroke, kill stroke); cultist 2 recovered from the kick and smartly fled, tripping over a low crawling one-armed figure gushing blood, who was then assisted into a pitiful retreat. A weak, eely voice beaconed in the distance, “We’ll get you yet, Rabbit. You hear me? You haven’t seen the last of the Red Star!” . . . An ominous threat like that was music to Denthis’ ears.

     After retrieving his weapons and wiping them down on the spare robes of the dead, Denthis returned to the boulder and studied the dwarves. “Are you two all right over here?”

The End

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