Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena


If I ever manage to write enough Zhanh stories to compile them into a book (and then do so), this will likely be the first scene.


I saw something move in front of me, and unveiled my brighter light for a better look. The rat girl looked me right in the eye, and froze; I shouted, "Run, or die!" She remained frozen.

I was supposed to kill rats-- or ratlings, or vermites, or skaven, or rat goblins, or whatever you wanted to call them-- out of hand. That's what the snakes who paid the academy where I was trading unsavory tasks for credentials wanted. But they were still PEOPLE, and I wasn't willing to kill them without a warning. And the warning usually got them to either run or charge, and if they charged, I could kill them with a mostly clear conscience. But not this girl; she just stood there, staring at me. I stared back.

She was pretty, for a rat. She was clean, and her clothes were clean and in good repair, and she had a sort of domesticated animal prettiness. And she just stood there.

Something made me glance over my shoulder, and I realised I had been had; three rats were coming up behind me with spears leveled. I threw a Mage Blast at the rat to my right; there was a blue flash, and my target collapsed in a clatter of charcoal. I drew my knife underhanded with my left hand, and put my back to the wall.

The center rat should have pulled back so that he and his surviving ally could attack me simultaneously, but he didn't see that, and charged. I parried his thrust with the knife against my forearm, pivoted left, and grabbed the spear with my right hand. I kept turning and stabbed backward with the knife. It was a flash move, something I didn't really have the skill to try, but I was desperate, and it almost worked. It would have disembowelled a human sized opponent, but against this rat, it caught him in the throat and the blade stuck.

I probably would have tried to free my knife, and gotted killed for it, but my turn had given me a clear view of Pretty Girl, who was about to heave a javelin at me. I fired a BLast at her, and realised as I did so that I didn't have the energy for it; I felt the spell pull the addtional needed energy out of my blood. I didn't quite scream. I didn't quite faint.

Fortunely my last opponent had been sufficiently startled by Pretty Girl's fate that he didn't skewer me while I was distracted. I had dropped the knife to cast the spell, but still had a grip on Second Rat's spear. I brought it up to ready as smartly as I could, and faced Third Rat.

It occurred to me that Third Rat had no idea how hurt I was, or that I was hurt at all. He had just seen me reduce two of his friends to charcoal, and fatally stab another. And I DID outweigh him by two to one...

"Run. Or. Die." I growled. He ran. I managed to stay on my feet until he was out of sight.

Paul Haynie
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