Thursday, August 27, 2009

Princess of Amathar - Chapter 28 Excerpt

There were six more of the monsters standing around me, and they lunged for me as a group. I swung my sword through the body of the closest, while pushing the next back with my left hand. I recoiled as I felt the thick coating of slime which covered the thing's body. At that moment, three others rushed forward and I was knocked back against the tree. I began hacking with abandon, chopping here and there into the bodies of my attackers. This caused them to step back a few feet. At least those who were still able to step back did so. One was lying on the ground unmoving, and two others were flopping around as they tried to get back to their feet.
While they took a moment to decide who would be the first among them to die, I prepared myself for their next assault. When they lunged forward, I jump up, tucking and rolling forward, to land behind them. Then with a spinning cut, I decapitated two in one blow. When I say decapitated, I mean that I sliced off at least the top half of what I would call the head, for I repeat it was difficult to say just where the body ended and the head began. There was no neck. The single remaining unscathed amphibian turned toward the river, and it was with fierce satisfaction that I noted none of those who remained would ever swim again. I ran after the last remaining man-frog, the anger born of being taken from peaceful sleep into bloody battle hazing over my better judgment. I could have easily overtaken the flopping limping gate of the slimy entity, even with out my gravity enhanced speed.
Before I had gone more than two steps, I stopped in my tracks. Stuck into the ground was Noriandara Remontar's sword. I pulled it out of the ground and looked at it. It was quiet. There was no sign of the soul within, and I felt my heart ache, even though I knew this really signified nothing. The soul would have been quiet even if I had been using it in battle. The soul only awaked when used by its chosen knight. I put the Princess's sword in my sheath, and continued.
My scum-covered adversary was gone, but I knew approximately where it had entered the river. On the bank were a great many tracks. This was apparently both the point of egress and entrance. The water here was fast and deep. Before I could think too much about it, admittedly something that is usually not too much of a problem, I took a deep breath and dived in.
The water was not too cold, though the temperature was lower than the air had been. I swam deeper and deeper-- the river was far less shallow than I had supposed. I reached a level at which my ears began to hurt. The water was muddy though well lit by the noon-day sun. It seemed to me that I was able to hold my breath longer than I had whenever swimming on my home planet. Perhaps this was due somehow to the gravitational conditions of Ecos, or perhaps it just seemed that way because of all the adrenaline pumping through my system. Still, I was just at the point when I thought that I would need to surface for a breath, when I noticed an opening in the rocky bed of the river.
I swam down into the large hole and discovered a tunnel, which went downward some twenty feet and then turned. I realized that I didn't have enough air in my lungs to last much longer, so I returned to the surface and took several deep breaths. I then hyperventilated for ten or fifteen seconds to fill my blood with oxygen. Now I was as ready as I could be. I dived back to the bottom of the river only to find that I had been swept down stream. I tried to go against the current, but it would have been impossible even had I not been encumbered by equipment and clothing. In the end I was forced to swim to the shore and walk upstream to the place where I had jumped in and do it all again. This time I went right to the bottom and into the submarine passage. At the bottom of the shaft, I gave myself a strong push off the wall and into the tunnel, and then swam for all I was worth. I didn't know how long that passage might be, for I suspected that the creatures that regularly used it, while air breathers, were able to remain submerged for a long time. It was certain that they were far better designed for life under the water than I was. It wasn't long before I was wishing that I had taken off my boots.

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