Excerpt Thursday: FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT

It’s Excerpt Thursday! Today we have a short excerpt from FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT:

A shadow passed overhead, and Ridmark caught a glimpse of sunlight reflecting off something coppery.

“Down!” he hissed.

He pushed Caius against the boulder, and a drake landed a half-dozen yards away.

The serpentine creature was the size of a large dog, through its bat-like wings stretched for a dozen feet in either direction from its slender body. Gleaming copper-colored scales covered the creature from its head to its pointed tail, and talons the color of sooty iron jutted from its paws. Its narrow head rotated back and forth on the end of its long neck, and its gleaming yellow eyes regarded Ridmark with an unblinking stare.

Caius frowned. “Is that a…”

“Drake. A fire drake, yes,” said Ridmark. “Spread out your hands. Make yourself look bigger, and start moving to the side.” He spread his arms, staff in his right hand, and moved to the left while Caius moved to the right. “For God’s sake don’t run at it.”

“Small little devil,” said Caius, and his deep voice turned the drake’s attention toward him. “One good blow from my mace should crush its skull.”

“Aye,” said Ridmark, “and if you miss, you won’t get a second blow, because your head will be on fire.”

“Do you think the orcs enspelled it,” said Caius, “and sent the beast to scout?”

“Perhaps,” said Ridmark. The Magistri of the High Kingdom used their magic for defense, for knowledge, and for far-speaking, but the shamans of the pagan orcs possessed many strange powers. “There are nests of the drakes upon the Black Mountain. Occasionally bold knights will decide to make a name for themselves by slaying a few of the drakes…and usually they wind up cooked within their armor.”

The drake had still not moved, its head rotating back and forth between Caius and Ridmark.

“What is it doing?” said Caius. “Why hasn’t it attacked?”

“Because,” said Ridmark, “drakes aren’t afraid of humans, but I doubt this one has ever smelled a dwarf before. It doesn’t know what to make of you.”

“So he’s trying to decide,” said Caius, “whether or not to eat us.”

“Yes,” said Ridmark. “Keep making yourself look larger, and back away around the boulder. If it decides we’re too much trouble, it will fly off. Probably try to kill one of the Mhalekites. If it decides to eat us, we’ll have to fight it, and it will breathe fire.”

“That would be bad,” said Caius.

“Obviously,” said Ridmark. He squatted, scooped up a stone with his free hand, and kept backing away. “And if it misses, it will set those pine needles on fire. If it does, the orcs in the Tower will see the fire…”

“And come to kill us,” said Caius. “So what do we do?”

“Keep backing away,” said Ridmark. “If we can get behind the boulder, it…”

The drake scuttled forward, its jaws yawning.

“Down!” said Ridmark.

Caius threw himself to the side, and the drake spat a jet of swirling yellow-orange flame.

-JM

 

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