Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 138

had gone through in the hands of their masters. Better to die than be captured by the forces of evil. The howls of the wargs came ever closer and more frequent. He had never seen a warg, let alone fought a pack of them. However, he had spent his free time in Elannort wisely and had studied much in the library. He knew that they feared fire, more than anything else and that they disliked being about in daylight. If they could keep the fire alive until dawn, they would have a chance against them – so long as their lycanthrope, their werewolf leader, wasn’t with them. Gamying soon stirred and came to sit by the fire. “Get some more rest, Aglaral; I’ll wake you when the action starts.” Aglaral declined, instead making more tea to warm them. They sat in silence for a while, disturbed only by the regular howls. Gamying eventually spoke. “When they attack, we will take our places either side of the door, you and I. I don’t want to depend on Kris; I can’t see him as a great warrior somehow. Let’s hope that Manfred is recovered soon. We should be able to hold them off until dawn, even without him.” “Can I ask you something?” Aglaral ventured. “Do you believe in all of this Hero and Sword stuff? Can that weakling boy really help us?” “I know it seems hard to believe. Manfred has been a friend to Tamarlan for as long as my family have been regents, and before then for all I know. We trust him with our lives. If Manfred says Simon is the one, then I believe him. As for the Sword, well you must have heard the stories. If it could be found, it would be the most powerful talisman at our command. Manfred has great power; you saw it today. But even he would be as nothing compared to the Sword. With the Hero and the Sword, we would have a chance. Let us hope that things are going better for the others.” Their conversation was interrupted by more, loud howling, now close by. The wargs had arrived. Quickly the two warriors took up their positions. Kris too was on his feet. Manfred snored on. “Quickly, Kris, build up the fire. Use all the wood,” Gamying ordered. Kris gathered up their remaining timber and placed it on the fire. The flames burned brighter, casting shadows of two men with swords drawn out into the night. A noisome smell assailed their nostrils, worse even than the smell of the hut. It was an ugly smell; wet dog mixed with evil. There was a group of wargs out there now, not far from the door. How many there were, Gamying could not tell. He could count at least twelve burning red eyes, reflecting the faint firelight, but that was probably just the first rank of the pack. One warg pushed forward. In the flickering firelight, it was an awesome sight. It was about half as big again as a wolf with a long shaggy coat, large ears, and a gaping maw filled with razor sharp teeth. Its eyes were blood red and burned with an evil intelligence. It surprised the men by speaking in a low, guttural voice. “Give us Red Boy. Rest leave, safe. Pack not hungry. Eat today. Lucky you is. Else all die.” Before Gamying could frame a reply, Kris shouted. “The Red Boy is not with us. He seeks the Sword.” “Who speaks?” “It is Kris. Kris, Bard of Karo.” “No value. No Red Boy, all die.” Gamying was outraged. “Speak again Bard and I shall personally sever your head and feed your guts to the wargs. Not only do you endanger us, but also you put Simon’s mission in jeopardy. If we survive this day, you will have some explaining to do before the Traitors’ Court in Tamarlan.” He turned his anger outwards. “Know this. I am Gamying, Heir-Regent of Tamarlan. I know your kind, cowards who sneak around in the dark taking defenceless babies from cribs and frightening old women. Leave now or taste cold steel. There will be much blood spilt today and most of it will be yours. We are not all snivelling cowards like wargs PAGE 137