Pilgrim of Fate Captain Bram Paxus has kept vigilant watch over the small outpost village of Kyrus for the past eighteen years. But when the local blacksmith is mysteriously murdered, peace is shattered and the village is thrown into disarray. To catch the killer, Bram unexpectedly finds himself teaming up with a youthful monk named Hydas to solve the grizzly crime. As clues are uncovered, the unlikely duo discovers traces of a sinister plot that goes deeper than they both could’ve imagined. With enemy warriors threatening from beyond the Shaded Woods and the Winter Solstice now in jeopardy, Bram must race against time to find the killer before it’s too late and the village is lost forever.
Lance stood ready at a moment’s notice. His sword and shield gripped tightly in each hand. Lance already knew the Jaguar Knights were exceptionally quick but as fast as lightning like some believed?
Within seconds the first Jaguar Knight’s macuahuitl collided with Lance’s shield, the clashing steel ringing loudly in the deep forest. The Anahuac’s strength was unreal as Lance almost dropped his protection. Momentarily rattled, Lance quickly regained his composure. I will show you my skills, Captain!
Lance swung and blocked, his combat training proving its worth. His eyes were focused as he watched the enemy swing and twirl his blade around his body. The movements were mesmerizing, but he refused to let his focus be shaken again. Lance took a quick step with his left foot and pushed off with his right. With the move, he closed the distance between them within a fraction of a second. His sword was already pushing forward, aimed directly at the enemy’s heart.
The Anahuac spun to his left, dodging Lance’s sword while bringing his own macuahuitl across Lance’s ankles. In an instant Lance was on his back. The Jaguar Knight leaped into the air. Both of his hands gripped the savage blade tightly as he prepared to swing it down upon Lance’s head.
The blade smashed into the dirt, sending clumps of grass and mud everywhere. Lance had managed to roll to his right, just barely avoiding the fatal blow. He grabbed a hold of the Anahuac’s wrist and kicked him square in the face, sending the Anahuac stumbling backwards. The powerful warrior wiped the blood off his mouth with his empty right hand. Lance stood up and kicked the macuahuitl off into some nearby brush. He dug his feet into the ground and prepared for another attack.
Bram moved on instinct. He had been through enough battles in his lifetime thus far to understand the heightened sensations of combat. His sword clashed against the wooden blade of the Anahuac time and again. High and low attacks combined into a mesmerizing dance of death, each of their blades dashing dangerously close to their jugulars. This Jaguar Knight was definitely older and more experienced than his counterpart who was currently engaged with Lance. He was more calculated and patient, making him all the more difficult to predict. The Anahuac twirled his weapon above his head, writhing his body like a snake as he gnashed his teeth with excitement. He feinted forward and jumped back to his original position within an instant. Bram knew he wasn’t going to win this battle by speed. I need to slow him down and keep him still…but how? Bram raised the top of his shield just below his eyes, narrowing the view of his target. He held his sword straight out in his right hand, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Bram took a cursory look at his surroundings, seeing if there was anything in the environment that he could use in his favor. Unfortunately, they stood in a small clearing within the Shaded Woods. Nothing advantageous immediately presented itself.
The Anahuac must’ve seen Bram glance around because he instantly launched his next attack. He feinted again, but this time he landed a mere foot away from Bram’s face. Bram slashed across his body hitting nothing but air. The Anahuac ducked and dove low against Bram’s feet. Bram slammed his shield to the ground just in time, catching the macuahuitl with the bottom half of it. With the enemy’s weapon immobilized, Bram swung at his enemy, but the Jaguar Knight had vanished. Bram spun around quickly only to feel the Anahuac’s shin land flush across his jaw, the powerful quick almost knocking him unconscious. On wobbly knees he struggled to stay upright.
The Jaguar Knight charged at him, kicking his macuahuitl from off the ground in one motion and catching it in the air. He swung hard against Bram with deadly intentions. Bram just managed to raise his shield in time to deflect the blow but the impact rattled the shield right off his body. The Anahuac wasted no time, slashing at the sword in Bram’s other hand, sending it flying off into the distance.
Bram stood there weaponless while still trying to clear the cobwebs from the earlier kick. He could see the Anahuac draw near once more. C’mon Bram. Get it together. Bram watched the blade swing towards his head. He knew he wasn’t quick enough to dodge the blow as the black blades approached with stunning velocity. Bram needed to act now or his head would no longer be attached to his body. Bram stepped in towards his enemy and caught the arm holding the macuahuitl. He twisted the arm upwards and pulled it down, driving his knee across the back of the Anahuac’s elbow. Bram could hear the audible snap of bone. The Jaguar Knight hollered in pain as the weapon fell harmlessly to the ground. Bram backhanded him across the face but still refused to let go. The Anahuac tried to land a desperate blow with his free arm, but Bram caught it in the air. He drew the enemy close and head-butted him with such force that the Jaguar Knight’s nose gushed like a fountain. I have to end this now! Still holding him tightly, Bram buried his forehead into his foe’s skull over and over again until the enemy no longer moved. Feeling the Anahuac’s weight suddenly slump, Bram released the broken arm and dropped the dead warrior to the ground.
Excerpted from Shadows of Kyrus by T. Sae-Low. Copyright © 2013 by T. Sae-Low. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.