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could see that almost the whole Purple River army was out of the trees. On
either side farm women and the rest of the Purple
River fighters were already spreading out, to curl round the masses of Senar.
And now, finally, the rear ranks of the Blenar were turning around, pointing,
and beginning to shout the alarm. No need for silence any more. Blade opened
his mouth and let out a maniacal screech; it was echoed by all the men and
women running behind him. It seemed to rise up to the sky and bounce back,
down onto the enemy ranks. Blade saw some of them wince.
Only a hundred yards to go. Blade waved both swords over his head and screamed
again. He increased his speed still more, covered the last few yards at a
sprinter's pace, and crashed into the enemy's ranks like a battering ram.
Seconds later the men and women behind Blade did the same. They came in so
fast that they simply bowled over a good many of their opponents,
smashing them to the ground and trampling them underfoot. Most of the
Blenar had formed a shield wall facing the women of the city and were holding
well against them. But a shield wall faces only one way. And Blade had
launched his attack from another
direction.
Through the Blenar ranks Blade slashed, both swords leaping and flashing with
terrifying speed and thrusting and slashing with terrifying effect. He killed
or crippled five men before he was even aware of it, his flawless training and
lightning reflexes taking control of his brain. Then he became fully conscious
of where he was and what he was doing. He began to carve his way forward, not
as fast as before, but even more surely.
The Blenar were trying to turn and face the attack in their rear. But they
could not weaken the wall against Idrana's women too much. Within minutes
Blade's attack was packing the Blenar so tightly that only the front rank
could move or use their weapons. And a single rank of Blenar could not hope to
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stand against the fury and skill of Blade and his comrades.
Blade saw Himgar hack through the shaft of a spear with one stroke, and the
neck of the spearsman with the return slash. A Blenar with two swords ran at
him while he was killing the first one. But Truja was fighting on Himgar's
flank, and she stepped across to cover the Councilor, thrusting the attacker
in the stomach as she did so. The second Blenar sank down on the trampled and
blood-smeared grass almost beside the first.
Then a solid mass of Blenar was coming at Blade, and he and the people on
either side of him had to give way for a moment. But only for a moment. As the
Blenar pushed forward, the attackers curled around them and drove in behind
them. Again Blade was the first to make the move and he did so with even more
determination than usual. In the center of the Blenar he could see the bulky
shape of Rilgon himself.
Blade hacked his way past three successive Blenar, not even trying to kill
them. He was satisfied with getting them out of his way and leaving them for
his comrades to kill. His goal was Rilgon the heart and brains of the enemy.
But as Blade drove into the ranks of the enemy, he found his own arms had less
room to swing and strike. As he came within striking distance of Rilgon, a
dying Blenar reeled into him, pinning his left arm against his side for a
moment. At the same moment Rilgon lashed out and down with his long, jeweled
sword. Blade's long-sword snapped up just in time to keep the blow from
splitting his skull, but the point ripped open the scalp on the right side of
his head. Blade felt the pain sear and the blood start flowing.
With a convulsive jerk of his left arm, he shoved the dying Blenar away. Then
his short sword lunged forward, driving in under Rilgon's shield. Blade felt
it sink into flesh, saw Rilgon grit his teeth and let his breath out in a
hiss.
Rilgon's long-sword whistled high, coming over and down, and again Blade
blocked it. The clang of steel on steel half-deafened him. He swung his own
long-sword around and brought it in from the side, hoping to draw Rilgon's
shield out of position.
He did. If Rilgon had ever fought before against a thrusting sword, he gave no
sign of it now. His shield swung unnecessarily wide to meet Blade's slash.
Blade's long-sword crashed into the edge of the shield. At the same moment
Blade's short-sword plunged into Rilgon's unguarded side, vanishing halfway up
to the hilt.
Rilgon gasped, coughed, and reeled. His shield sagged and dropped away. He
lurched back, the shortsword still deep in his side, and coughed again,
spraying blood all over Blade. Before Rilgon could do anything else, Blade's
sword came down for the last time, with a force that would have sent it
through a steel post. It went through Rilgon's neck as though the neck had
been a twig. The severed head flew into the air and dropped at Blade's feet.
As the body with its spouting neck toppled, Blade jabbed his long-sword into
the head and raised it high.
He took a deep breath, and roared, "Rilgon's men see your leader he is dead!
Now it is your turn all of you!" Cheers went up from the Purple River army on
either side of Blade and behind him.
Then Blade was too busy coping with a fresh rush of still-fighting Blenar to
shout again or to see the effects of his first cry.
In fact, for a long time he was too busy to see or hear anything that was not
immediately in front of him. At least it seemed like a long time entire hours [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]