The acrid smoke cleared just long enough for Tynan to see Nightstone, and he turned Duraden in that direction. Spurring the stallion into a gallop once more, they charged for the opening. Men stumbled into their path and terrified, rider-less horses reared up as Tynan and Duraden bolted through the renewed chaos. Tynan masterfully steered his stallion past the obstacles. As the daylight became visible again, Tynan saw his victory in sight. He congratulated himself and turned back to laugh at the mercenaries still stumbling about. Tynan never saw the ax that struck out and buried itself in Duraden’s side […censored for Tumblr…] and sliced open Tynan’s lower leg in the same motion.
Duraden listed to the left without so much as a dying scream, while Tynan struggled to free his feet from the stirrups before Duraden fell. He landed hard on the ground and Aric skittered out of his grasp, out of reach. Turning over, he gasped for breath. Tynan was greeted with the dead eyes of not only Duraden but also the man who had felled Duraden. Unable to get his ax and himself clear before the horse toppled over, Duraden’s weight had crushed the mercenary. Tynan hissed with disgust. The stench of burning flesh that floated through the air stung his nose as he struggled to his feet, only to cry out in pain from his injured leg and fall again to his knees. His head turned when he heard a low chuckle behind him.
A mercenary hefting a heavy maul came out of the miasma of smoke and dust. Towering over Tynan, the man hauled his weapon over his head and brought it crashing down. Tynan dove forward, toward his sword lying some feet away. The maul powdered the black rocks it hit in place of Tynan. The soldier turned and raised the maul to strike again. Frantic, Tynan dove for Aric a second time. His fingers grasped the hilt. Rolling out of the way as the maul’s iron head fell, Tynan muttered the words to a minor energy spell. Healing spells were not something Tynan kept at the ready, he rarely needed them, and the spell he cast gave him only a small boost of energy. It was enough to get him moving though.
Rock shards pelted his face and arms as the maul just missed him. He ignored them, using his sword to lever himself to his feet. The mercenary swung the maul a third time, aiming for Tynan’s midriff. Tynan brought Aric around to block the flying maul, but mistakenly braced himself on his injured leg. His leg buckled and Tynan was unable to block the blow. He only slowed it down. The maul landed a blow to Tynan’s right side and he felt several ribs crack. He fell to one knee, gasping for air.
Laughing, the mercenary reached for Tynan. When he got close enough, however, Tynan used his left hand to thrust his sword forward into the man’s gut, putting all his strength behind it. The man looked surprised for only a moment before his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell lifeless to the ground. Tynan pulled Aric free of the mercenary’s corpse as he staggered to his feet and headed in the direction of Nightstone again. Then his wind spell faded out. Tynan went pale as he looked over his shoulder and found at least half of the Order’s forces still standing.
Zentin Thrace’s eyes locked with his. “Get him!” he screamed, spittle flying from his mouth. The remaining mercenaries turned in unison.
His mind went blank except for a single teleportation spell. Without delay Tynan spoke the necessary incantation and pictured the entrance to the caverns. He disappeared in a brief burst of blue light. The arrows meant for him pierced empty air. Tynan reappeared partway up the side of Nightstone Peak, in front of the giant boulder that served as the entrance to the Black Caverns. It was high enough and wide enough to admit a man on horseback.
Tynan wasted no time to see what reaction the mercenaries had to his reappearance. He faced the boulder and muttered the word to open the door. A deep rumbling rose as the boulder rolled back. Tynan fell into the caverns as a slender opening appeared, without waiting for the boulder to roll back all the way. He spoke the word to reverse the boulder’s rolling. When the boulder shut the opening, he leaned against the cavern wall of jet black obsidian and slid to the floor, exhausted. His broken ribs caused him enough pain that he saw spots and Tynan crumpled onto the floor on his uninjured side, gasping. The gasps became sobs and he slammed his palm into the stone floor with frustration.
A moment later his sobs were cut off as he became aware of the rise and fall of spellcasters chanting a spell outside. Tynan wanted to laugh – any spell they tried would be useless – but he could hardly breathe, let alone laugh at their folly. He was dying he knew, his strength failing.
It saddened Tynan that this was how his end would be met: bloodied, in pain, and alone, without friends or even family to see him to his final destination. Tynan reflected that his greatest regret was his failure to start a family of his own. He had no wife or children to mourn him, just the bards who would undoubtedly write ballads about his final hours. Tynan only hoped they did his struggle justice.
Then, he began to wonder how those people would know what had happened in the valley this day. Without a doubt, the mercenaries outside would have a jolly time recounting the day, with Tynan turning tail and running to the caverns to die at the end of the story. Tynan groaned. His immortal reputation was doomed.
Anger followed on the heels of his embarrassment. Not only had the Order attempted to rob him of his riches, but they planned to rob him of his dignity and ruin his reputation as well. They would keep the people from knowing that he, Tynan Darius Selvantyr, had fought bravely against them and held his own until he was mercilessly outnumbered. Tynan pushed himself upright out of the pool of blood that had begun collecting underneath him. Great men did not die lying down, he told himself.
- Into the Darkness, Prologue, page 15
To see read all previous excerpts from Into the Darkness, go here: amrycroftwriter.tumblr.com/tagged/into-the-darkness.