Nicky as horror target.

Granted, it’s a small role and I grabbed the last few sentences off a previous scene to use as set up.  It’s from Blood Dawn (Renebooks, 2004)

Necrodez needed to find a human sentry to drain him and suck the mon’s visage from his body.  He and four companions would then go in and take Lord Dawnreturning from under the camp’s noses.  “Pacionsuidae, the first sentry is mine.  You come at him from the front and i’ll take him from behind.”

The greasy looking mon with stringy black hair nodded and slipped into the trees.

* * * *

WOODFINE walked the south edge of the camp, his cloak pulled tight around him, listening to the sounds of the night.  He saw the fires and knew that Travis would be telling more of his stories to his new audience.  He wished he could be there listening.  The story hour would be ended by the time that he was relieved.

The youngest son of a noble, he sometimes missed his family and his father’s court in Gormond’s Reach, especially in the stillness of the nights when it was his turn to keep watch.  He had not been at court since the day he carried word to William about Nans’ presumed death.  He was grateful to have been proven wrong.

The bushes ahead of him rattled and he stopped with his hand to his sword.  A greasy-haired mon stepped out in front Woodfine and he drew his blade free.  Distracted by the one in front of him, Woodfine did not hear the mon behind him.  A hand suddenly clamped hard over his mouth and a blade slammed into his back and angled up under his ribs.  The ranger’s strength fled.  His sword slipped from his fingers.  Woodfine coughed blood against the palm preventing him from crying out.  The burning magic of the hellblade raced through him and he knew that he was dying even before his assailant gave the blade a savage rotation through his lungs and spleen.  The scream of anguish rising from his throat could not get past the powerful hand on his mouth.  His knees gave.  The hand released his mouth, but he could neither breathe, nor scream with his throat and lungs filling up with blood.  He coughed hard, choking, and gasping for air as he drowned in his own blood.  Crimson fluid came up and splattered his chin and tunic.

Necrodez wrapped an arm around Woodfine’s chest as the mon sagged, settling to earth with him.  He tangled his fingers into Woodfine’s hair and twisted his head to the side.  Woodfine blinked at him through eyes already dulling with the approach of death.  Necrodez sank his fangs into the ranger’s throat, tore it open, and fastened onto the spurting flow.  Woodfine’s body gave a last convulsive shudder as his blood-starved heart struggled to beat and then he went still.

* * * *

LUCK got his name because the unlikeliest things always tended to happen to him.  That evening he saw Zulaika and Willa slip off into the woods and decided to trail after them.  Unlike the others in the company, he and his dead brother Itch had come from the slums and seen far more ugliness in their young lives that anyone else there, except for Isranon.  He wore a brace of throwing daggers up each sleeve, and several more on his belt as well as the long knives they all wore at their hips and the sword at his shoulder.  He had also learned to play his hunches.  It was a formless hunch that set him to following.  Others might have said it was simply curiosity or distrust of their undead allies, but Luck actually had no problems with them because he trusted Nans and nothing much bothered him.

He found Willa sitting with her shoulders braced against a tree and her breasts trust forward.  Zulaika knelt in front of Willa, unlacing her bodice.  Luck found his body reacting to the sight of a fine pair of tits exposed in a sliver of moonlight filtering through the autumn leaves.  The Ymraude nuzzled Willa’s breasts.  Willa gave a soft moan, pressing herself more firmly against Zulaika’s mouth.  A tiny sob of pain came from Willa and her moaning deepened.  In the stillness, Luck could hear Zulaika’s sucking and realized he had overheard the instant of the Ymraude’s fangs entering Willa’s breast.  He started to turn and leave when a flash of silver in the moonlight and the sound of something moving in the trees caught his attention.

Luck flicked two blades from his forearm sheaths and threw, following them with two more and reaching for a third set before waiting to discover whether and what he might have hit.

Zulaika raised her head, snarling at him and reaching for her sword.

“In the bushes!”  Luck hissed, running past them.

He nearly fell over the body laying there.  He had managed to put all four blades into the mon. Luck would have whistled if he had not feared there were more out there: luck had definitely been with Luck.

Zulaika squatted beside him with Willa behind her.  “Gathos!  Willa, warn the camp.”

Willa ran back.

“You know him?”

Zulaika nodded.  “Sa’necari.  He runs with Necrodez.  Bounty hunter.”


“We must check the sentries,” Zulaika said.  Her hands became claws and she ripped through the sa’necari’s body, going deep into the chest cavity to tear out his heart.  “That one will not rise.”  She shoved the heart into a pouch at her side.

“I agree.”

They walked the perimeter, keeping to the shadows and avoiding bright patches beneath the moon.

“Woodfine should have been here,” Luck muttered.

Zulaika’s eyes saw better than a mere humans and she went to a small patch of bushes.  “He is here.  Dead.”

Luck joined her, hissing curses.  “Damn.  Piss-swizzling cockwhores.”  Woodfine had been a close friend.  They had ridden together for six years.

“Bounty hunters,” Zulaika told him.  “They’ve come after Dawnreturning.”

Zulaika unhooked a horn from her belt and blew the “Fear, fire, foes,” signal.  It would give away the fact that their enemies had been discovered, but she did not want more dead sentries.

Luck looked at her and then nodded.  “Let’s check on the rest of them.”

* * * *

Isranon’s head jerked up at the sound of the horn call.  Around him, all of the lycans were dropping to all fours and changing form.  Nevin went only as far his transitional form and drew his sword, running to the edge of the camp.  Anksha, standing on the far side of the fire, spun about on the balls of her feet and scanned the center.  Isranon pushed himself onto his side and then his knees, seeing Woodfine approaching him.  “What is going on?”

Necrodez knelt beside him.  “Lord Dawnreturning?”

“What is it, Woodfine?”  Isranon asked.

Anksha glanced in their direction.

“It appears the camp has been infiltrated,” Necrodez said.  “Come with me to a safer place where we can guard you.”

Isranon put his hand on Necrodez’s shoulder and allowed the mon to help him to his feet.  The mon’s strength seemed stronger than Isranon imagined a human’s would be.  Instinctively, Isranon’s fingers brushed Necrodez’s neck.  A rush of images poured through Isranon’s awareness and he saw Woodfine dying with Necrodez’s fangs in his throat.  He shoved free of Necrodez with a shout.  “Anksha!”

She charged toward them.

“Damn you,” Necrodez snarled, reaching for a spell as he drew the concealed hellblade from his sleeve.

“Luminos!”  Isranon shouted.  “Luminos!”

Light filled every corner of the camp and spread into the forest beyond it.

“Falsity fall!”  Isranon screamed out the command for a variation of Josiah’s spell of Revelation.  If there were any others wearing stolen forms in the camp, they would be stripped bare of their deceptive appearances.

Necrodez’s face twisted in rage as his body was forced back into its true form.  His fingers wove a web of blackest magic and he pitched it at Isranon.

“Sa’necari!”  Anksha yowled, as a greasy-haired mon charged to Necrodez’s aid.  She somersaulted over the sa’necari’s head, avoiding his castings.  She whipped around and sprang like a tiger onto her opponent’s back, tearing his throat open from behind with her claws.  Pacionsuidae fell, clutching at the wound and drowning swiftly in his own blood.

Isranon called up his golden shield, shaping it in front of him as a long oval.

Necrodez’s spell rebounded on him as it struck Isranon’s shield.  The backlash staggered the sa’necari and he screamed, recovering with an effort.  He had lost the element of surprise and now faced an enraged battlemage of the first rank.  Necrodez called up his own dark shields, black energy rising between himself and Isranon.  A lance of flame descended from the skies and shattered Necrodez’s shields.  “Noooooo!”

Anksha started to run forward, but seeing all the magic flashing back and forth, she hesitated.

Isranon struck Necrodez with a second lance of the sunfire.  The sa’necari’s flesh sizzled and he shrieked in agony.  He stumbled backwards, attempting to flee.  This battlemage was too strong for him.  Isranon called down two more lances before Necrodez could manage three steps.  Necrodez crumpled, his body turning to ash.

“There’s more of them,” Isranon said, putting his hand on Anksha’s shoulder to help support him as he lurched through the camp, looking for more foes.  The sound of steel meeting steel filled the air.  He could hear the cries of the wounded and dying.  Every time he stepped around a wagon or a tent, he found another struggle.  Isranon sucked in a fortifying breath, gauged the fight, and struck hard.

They came around a corner and saw Travis backing up, beset by two myn in chainmail.  A sword struck Travis in the chest, and the ranger crashed to his knees.  One of his foes raised a sword to finish him.  Isranon snarled, calling the sunfire to strike Travis’ opponents.  They shrieked and flung themselves about, the fires swiftly consuming them.  Anksha lowered Isranon to the ground and ran to Travis.

“I’m all right,” Travis muttered.  “My chain held.  Just knocked the wind out of me.”

“Come on, Old Dog,” Anksha said, dragging him to his feet and calling him by the nickname the lycans had given him.

Together Travis and Anksha got Isranon up again and continued through the camp.  Each time they found another sa’necari, Isranon summoned the lances and incinerated them.  He raged among their attackers until silence settled like a blow and they paused near the edge of the camp.  Isranon sucked in a breath and pushed away from them to stand swaying.

A cool hand touched Isranon’s arm and he spun with another spell on his lips, only to find himself facing Nans.  “It’s over, Isranon.  We got them all.”

“Thank the Gods,” Isranon said, crumpling against her as the adrenaline rush that had been sustaining him evaporated.  “Thank the Gods.”  Consciousness fled and his body sagged in Nans’ arms.

* * * *