cover image by Jon Paul Ferrara
Turning back to the man on the ground, she once again had to wipe the gathering flakes from his face. She attempted to tug him to a sitting position, thinking she could wrap her mantle around them both, and lend him what little body heat she still had. When she went to lift him, she realized he still had his broadsword lashed crosswise over his back. Finding the strap’s buckle on the center of his chest, she released it.
Then, froze as the howl came.
It was close by. The man groaned as she urgently rolled his dead weight, enough to drag the sword out from under him, and then dropped the leather sheath as she freed the blade. Holding the sword in her right hand, she used her left to release the clasp of her mantle. She would need her arms free to swing the sword. Keeping her eyes fixed upon the trees, she dragged her woolen cape over the man’s unmoving body.
The deep growl sent a chill to her marrow as the threat of the snowstorm had failed to do. Low tree limbs rustled and then parted as the set of glowing yellow eyes peeked through the wintry foliage.
Swallowing hard, Skena brought the sword up, preparing to swing, and praying she had strength enough to wield the mighty sword true.
Skena stood trembling, from the cold, aye, but more so from dread. With the specter of famine looming across the land, she feared wolves would soon be a threat they would face. Foolishly, she had hoped the menace would not come this early in the season. Swallowing to moisten the dryness in her mouth, she watched the feral eyes narrow on her, judging how much a threat she presented holding the sword. Plainly, she posed nary a concern to the creature. Shoulders lowered, teeth bared, he edged forward, a low growl of intent rising deep in his throat. The animal scented her fear. Her weakness only emboldened him.
Keeping her attention on the black wolf, her eyes quickly scanned to see if there were others coming up behind him or circling around. Where you found one, usually there lurked a small pack. Her luck holding, thus far no other pairs of bright eyes appeared; no dark forms skulked through the unmoving undergrowth around the dense pine trees.
“Oh, please let him be a lone wolf,” she offered her wish to the Auld Ones, before whispering dark words to weave a Charm of Protection, drawing upon what little powers she possessed to sustain her through this ordeal.
Not a small woman, her Ogilvie blood showed in her tall body and strong bones. Even so, to hold the heavy broadsword—which took years for a man to master—was tiring. Her arms vibrated; tremors racked her muscles. A mix of terror and cold. The winter storm slowly leached all the strength from her body. She fought against the quaking, still the sword wobbled in her grip.
Baring his fangs, the wolf crept slowly forward, more daring with each step. Skena had trouble keeping her vision clear. Falling flakes and those kicked up by the spindrift continued to stick to her long lashes, adding moisture to the tears she valiantly labored to hold at bay. It was vital to see the wolf when he leapt, in order to time her swing. She sucked in a hard breath of terror. The creature was so much bigger than she expected!
“Off with you, evil foal-chû. You shall no’ be making a meal of this warrior or me.” She spoke false courage, hoping the sound of her voice might frighten him into backing off. Instead, his body coiled, preparing to spring.
So intent upon the wolf, Skena hopped slightly when long arms enclosed about her. Startled and yet unwilling to take her eyes off the black creature, it was several heartbeats before she comprehended the stranger had awakened and was on his feet. Suddenly, in his strong embrace she was not so scared.
“Be still, my lady. I lend my strength to your swing.” The warrior’s cold hands closed over hers. He leaned against her back; his powerful muscles caused her shaking to lessen.
Skena had little chance for the details of his nearness to filter through her thoughts, for with a feral snarl the wolf leapt at them. Frozen in terror, she was unable to move, yet she felt the warrior wielding the sword. Bared teeth snapped close to her throat. She cried out and then flinched when the great blade caught the beast in the neck. Blood splattered across her clothing and her face. Its heat shocked her. Numb with the horror, she stared at the animal writhing on the ground. In the gathering darkness, the pooling blood oddly appeared black upon the pristine snow. The coppery smell set her stomach to roiling; revolted, she choked back rising nausea. Her grip slackened about the hilt.
The knight’s fingers closed tighter around hers. “Nay, my lady, never leave a wounded animal alive...sometimes, not even a man. ’Tis when they are most dangerous. They risk all for they have naught to lose.”
One Snowy Knight, Dragons of Challon, Book 3
Coming July 19 2018 - Print
July 12th - eBook
Coming July 19 2018 - Print
July 12th - eBook
eBook and Library Quality Tradesize print
Prairie Rose Publications
#DragonsofChallon #ScottishRomance #MedievalRomance #HistoricalRomance