Vibrations: Harmonic Magic Book 1, page 11
Looking away as Rindu dispatched the next batch of attackers, Sam found Nalia. If anything, she was surrounded by even more attackers than Rindu. He tried to decide where to go to help and saw her in motion against the intruders.
She was using a pair of swords. Were those hook swords? He had seen those in the kung fu demonstration, with their wicked point at one end and a curved hooking blade on the other. But what he saw now might as well have been another species using appendages of its own body. While the monks using the hook swords in the demonstration were fluid and expert, doing things so precisely that it hardly seemed possible, Nalia was doing things exponentially harder. If the monks were tigers in their power and skill, Nalia was a tyrannosaurus rex. If the monks moved like the weapons were a part of them, Nalia used them as if they could think for themselves, and anticipate everything they needed to do.
At the moment, she had five attackers trying to kill her at once. Two were swinging long swords at her, one toward the head and one toward the midsection. One attacker had a club with metal banding and studs on it and he was aiming at her left knee to cripple her. Another intruder, a woman by the look of her body shape, was trying to slash her from behind with double daggers. Finally, an assassin was trying to strike her with double sticks from the right side. Sam watched in horror because there was no way anyone could evade all the blows coming at her. His horror multiplied as he noticed a man sneaking into range with a bow in his hand, drawing an arrow from a quiver and preparing to shoot her.
He watched her whirl in a circle, even more fluidly and gracefully than Rindu’s movements. She bent at the waist at an impossible angle to her left as she thrust her swords out. The bend was just enough to allow the sword coming toward her midsection to miss her, though it cut her clothing. The sword in her left hand swept past the man holding the offending sword and a dark line suddenly appeared on his throat. He garbled something and then fell.
Meanwhile, the lower part of the sword somehow simultaneously blocked another sword and then, with a twist of the crescent blade that acted as a handguard, tore it from the attacker’s hand. At the same time, the right sword blocked both daggers aimed at her back with the lower part of the sword and the crescent while the hooked end of the sword caught and removed one of the hands of the attacker with the sticks.
Amazingly, while in the awkward position, Nalia threw her left leg out in a kick that connected directly on the middle part of the metal-bound club coming at her knee. There was a sharp crack that Sam heard, even as far away as he was, and then half of the club was flying through the air, eventually striking another intruder in the face.
Finishing the movement, she rotated clockwise, swirling the swords in a complex motion that seemed to defy physical laws. Though it was too fast to clearly see, Sam could see the results. The attacker with the metal sticks lost his other hand, the woman with the knives failed to block the sweeping strike that took her head, and then the attacker who was now holding half a club received vicious cuts to his legs, almost taking them off completely, and to his midsection. His eyes grew wide as he watched his entrails pour out onto the ground, and then he too was down.
Finally, Nalia finished her swirling motion with a vicious cut that consisted of diagonal slashes with the long side of the swords, tracing an “X” pattern that caused the final swordsman’s head to fly into the air as Nalia kicked his body away into another attacker. A lightning quick spin kick caught the head before it fell, propelling it into another attacker, knocking him down.
Sam hesitated a moment. What he had just seen was just not possible. It was as if natural laws did not apply to this woman. She had foiled five simultaneous attacks and killed the attackers in less than a second, at a speed that was so fast it was almost invisible.
Shaking his head to clear it, he started toward the hidden archer. Nalia was still surrounded by the ten remaining attackers. The bowman had found a good position and was slowly nocking an arrow to the bow, trying not to move quickly lest he be noticed. Sam kept to the deeper shadows and crouch-ran toward the archer, hoping he would get there in time without himself being noticed and shot. His focus was on the archer only, watching for any sign he had been seen.
He was able to get within a few feet without being noticed. The archer, obviously not thinking about hidden enemies while he was concentrating on Nalia, was moving his bow to and fro, trying to find a clear shot. Glancing over at Nalia, Sam saw that she had whittled the enemies down to only three. She would soon finish them off and then the archer’s shot would be clear. Sparing a half a second to look for Rindu, Sam saw that the Zouy was just finishing off the last four of his attackers also.
Taking his chance, Sam went to jump on the archer to keep him from shooting. The archer noticed him, surprise registering in his face, but recovered immediately, obviously being well-trained. Sam was already too close for the arrow, but as he got near the archer, the man dodged left and pushed to deflect Sam's hurtling body. Luckily, the arrow skittered from the bow, sticking in the ground just a few feet away. He had done it; he had saved Nalia. Now if he could only keep from getting killed, his victory would be complete.
He kept as close to the archer as possible to prevent him from nocking another arrow and he swung at the man, a clumsy and slow hook punch. The man dodged the blow, feinted like he was going to kick Sam. Sam braced to block the kick, but realized too late that the fake kick was a setup. As he felt the solid bow stave crack the back of his head, he was grateful at least that he was able to keep him from shooting Nalia. Then everything went black.
Dr. Walt had just finished the finest presentation of his career, and was the winner of the most prestigious of awards. The audience was giving him a standing ovation and clamoring for him to speak further.
“Dr. Walt,” one of the audience members said. “Dr Walt!” Why was the audience speaking in Kasmali?
He realized the he was being shaken awake, interrupting his dream. Sputtering, he sat up and reached for his eyeglasses on the little table next to his bed. He strained to make his tired eyes focus and saw Rindu in front of him. The Zouy looked like he was wet.
“Ahh, Rindu, my friend. What is it? And why are you wet?” As he took in a deep breath, he smelled an unfamiliar scent. “What is that smell?”
Rindu reached over to the table, took up a lamp, and lit it with a wave of his hand. The doctor didn’t think he would ever get used to that particular usage of vibrational energy. It was too much like magic.
Once he adjusted to the blinding light, Dr. Walt could see clearly. Rindu was indeed wet, but not with water. “Is that blood all over you?”
“It is. We have had…a commotion. Please come with me.”
“Of course, of course. But, are you ok? Are you hurt badly?” the doctor asked him, looking at the drenched robes that now looked like they had been dyed red.
“I am not hurt at all. The blood is not mine. Sam was injured slightly, however, and three of the servants were killed. Their throats were slit, silently. They did not suffer much.”
As they walked toward the room in the main building they often used as an infirmary, Dr. Walt asked, concerned: “Sam? What happened? Is he ok?”
Arriving at the room, the doctor saw Sam sitting up in a bed, his back propped up with blankets. He had bandages wrapped around his head, but he did not have any other apparent injuries.
“Are you all right, my boy?” Dr. Walt asked him.
“I’m fine, thank you. I have found that a good solid long bow is no match for my skull. Then again, I wouldn’t care to test their relative strengths again. Ouch!” He winced as his movement seemed to cause him pain.
Dr. Walt checked Sam’s injury. It was just a small cut on the skin of his scalp on the back of his head, and a sizable lump. Checking his eyes, using the lamp to contract and dilate the pupils, he said, “Good, you don’t seem to have a concussion. So, what exactly happened?”
Rindu looked at Nalia and raised his right eyeb
“They did not prove to be too great a challenge, though they were obviously trained in combat. We believe they were a group of the Gray Man’s Collectors.”
“Wait,” Sam interjected. “What are Collectors?”
Dr. Walt answered, “The Gray Man has several groups of men spread throughout the territories between here and the mountains that are far East of us, the mountains that we call the Rockies on Telani. These men are trained in combat, tracking, and for some groups, assassination. Their sole purpose is to bring people and important things to the Gray Man. He wants people for two purposes. One is so he can use them as slaves and for experiments. The other is that the Gray Man is trying to collect all the knowledge he can.
“These Collectors bring artifacts, books, scrolls, and the like to him. They also bring people who may have information the Gray Man wants. He has been after me for years. It appears that they finally found my compound here. It is time to move, I’m afraid.”
Rindu cleared his throat. “There is more. One got away. Both Nalia and I counted the intruders as we were fighting. We both arrived at the same count: 48. We counted the bodies three times. There are only 47. That means that the Gray Man will soon know where we are. He will send a larger force. A much larger force. I tried to track the missing person. He must be a tracker because he moves quickly and with little evidence of his passing. I was able to find tracks of a manu bird, so perhaps the survivor escaped mounted. We could probably find him, but there is no way we can track him quickly enough to catch him. Not unless we follow him all the way to the Gray Fortress and try to catch him before he gets there.”
“Oh, dear,” Dr. Walt exclaimed. “Well, we will talk about that in a moment. First, I would like to know what happened with Sam.”
Nalia stepped forward. “He tried to save me. While I was fighting, an archer hiding in the shadows was preparing to shoot at me. Sam snuck up on him and stopped him. The archer hit him with his bow stave just before I got there to kill him.”
Dr. Walt looked at Sam. “That was a very brave thing to do, Sam.”
Sam blushed and then winced in pain. “I didn’t do a very good job of it. Instead of helping, Nalia ended up having to save me.”
Nalia tilted her head and looked at Sam. “You could not have known that a single archer poses no threat to me. You put yourself at risk when it seemed to you that I was in danger. Thank you.”
Sam looked awkward, averting his eyes to the ground. He softly said, “You’re welcome.”
Dr. Walt looked Rindu up and down, and then did the same with Nalia, who was also covered in blood. With her, though, it wasn’t as evident because of the dark clothes she wore. “Are either of you injured?” he asked them.
Rindu shook his head. Nalia said: “No, but I have a small cut in my sleeping clothes. I do not think I will be able to wash out the blood stains either, so my favorite sleeping clothes are ruined.”
“Good, good.” Dr. Walt said absently and then started. “I mean, it’s good that you’re not injured, not that your clothes are ruined. Of course, it is unfortunate that your clothes will be sacrificed. I’m just glad no one is seriously injured.”
Looking thoughtful for a moment, he looked at the three, each in turn, and at Skitter, who, Dr. Walt just realized, had been curled up below Sam’s bed the whole time. “We have some decisions to make. This place is no longer safe. We can find a new place in which we can prepare for what we eventually need to do to get Sam home, or we can start on our way to the Gray Fortress. What do you think?”
Rindu answered immediately. “I will do as Sam says. His is the most immediate necessity.”
“Skitter says he’s with me and that it’s my decision.” Sam said, closing his eyes as if his head was throbbing again.
After waiting for Sam to continue, but realizing he wouldn’t, Nalia stood straight, squared her shoulders, and said, “I have been wrong to doubt Sam’s intentions. I have behaved in a manner unbefitting a Sapsyr and would make amends.” Turning to Sam, she continued: “Sam, I will abide by your decision and will do my best to repay you for your selfless act in trying to protect me.”
Dr. Walt added quickly, “It’s your decision, Sam. I will aid you in any way I can. As Rindu says, your need is the most urgent.”
Sam opened his gray eyes, watery in the lamplight. “I can’t be the one to make the decision. I’m the least of us. I couldn’t even hold my own against one man that I surprised. I don’t have the knowledge and wisdom to make decisions for all of us. It’s too much responsibility. I don’t know what to do.”
Rindu put his hand on Sam’s shoulder. “It is a great responsibility, Sam, but you are up to it. You are much more than you believe. ‘A man does not know his capabilities until he is locked in the privy.’”
Sam looked blankly at Rindu. “Again with the privy? Maybe it’s just a language thing, but I find your sayings to be…awkward.” Dr. Walt fidgeted and Nalia shifted her head away from her father as if she was averting her gaze. From the look on Sam’s face, Dr. Walt saw that he realized that it wasn’t just a language thing. “But I understand the concept. There is an old proverb on Earth: ‘calm seas do not make skillful sailors.’ I think it’s the same idea. Adversity brings out talents and skills we otherwise would not display.”
Rindu looked thoughtful, taking a mental note of the saying. Sam put his hand to his mouth to hide his slight smile, and then winced again.
Sam looked to Dr. Walt. “What kind of journey are we talking about if we choose to go now?”
“Remember how we discussed the ley lines and vortices that occur when the lines of power meet? Well, the Gray Fortress is built upon a very strong vortex. It is approximately the same location as Seattle on Telani.”
“Seattle?” Sam exclaimed. “That’s nearly 1200 miles from here. It would take us months to get there, even with horses.”
“There are no horses here, I’m afraid,” Dr. Walt said. “Though there is another way. We’ll talk about that later, though. Suffice it to say, it will probably take us two months to get there.”
Sam’s face became blank, a look Dr. Walt recognized as meaning he was communicating with Skitter. Of course he would ask his friend. He was uncomfortable with making decisions about unfamiliar things. Everyone patiently waited.
Finally, Sam blinked, looked up at Dr. Walt, then, Rindu, then Nalia. Softly, he said: “Let’s go. Two months is a long time, and the sooner we start, the better.”
There seemed to be a collective sigh, which was broken by Rindu’s voice. “Yes, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep.’”
Sam looked at the Zouy with surprise. Rindu noticed, shrugged his shoulders, and confessed, “Ok, Dr. Walt told me that one. He said it was popular in your world.”
Chuckling to himself, Dr. Walt pulled out some crude maps and they started to plan.
Ix had been summoned to the Gray Man’s personal study. The jittery messenger, dressed in his dark gray, almost black, uniform stood impatiently as the assassin took her time in giving him the response he awaited. Looking at the man, she wondered how long he would last.
The Gray Man never lost his temper, but failure could be serious. His power was such that, although he didn’t believe in wasting resources, he could, and did, kill in the blink of an eye. If one proved a liability, failing in some key way, it was not unknown for the Gray Man to instantly and effortlessly kill the offender where he or she stood. Thus, many of the messengers and soldiers who remained close to their leader gradually got more and more nervous until they were unable to fulfill their assignments, bumbling and paralyzed with fear. Truth be t
There was no use in tormenting the man. “I will be along in just a moment. You can go back and let the master know.”
Nodding to her and snapping to attention to salute her formally, fist thumping the center of his chest, he turned on his heels and hurried off.
Ix turned to the small table on which her figurines sat and then glanced in the mirror. Jet black hair, cut short for ease of handling, and so it didn’t get in the way during her work, covered her head. She had brown eyes, tilted slightly and maybe just a little too narrow and long to fit in well with people here in the West. Her small flat nose sat in the middle of her face, as if daring anyone to mention it. She was not remarkable, either in beauty or in ugliness, which was good. Being remarkable was not an asset in her line of work.
She was small, lithe, barely five feet tall. Most women here in the West were several inches taller, with the men being closer to six feet tall on average. Some, like Shordan Drees, were much taller. He was almost seven feet tall. It was a trade-off, though. Her height, at times, was a benefit and at others it was a detriment. The same could be said of any height, she supposed. It was what it was. She used the tools she had.
Other author's books:
Welcome to BookFrom.Net Archieve
The free online library containing 500000+ books
Read books for free from anywhere and from any device
Use search by Author, Title or Series to find more
Listen to books in audio format instead of reading
Quick bookmark is available by clicking on the plus icon (+)
Bookmark loading occurs by clicking on the arrow icon (<-)