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Old Disciplines, New Uses by Susan Bianculli

Old Disciplines, New Uses by Susan Bianculli

Author:Susan Bianculli
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: fantasy
Publisher: CBAY Books
Published: 2015-08-31T16:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER 7

A scrabbling sound somewhere behind him alerted Arghen to the fact that he was no longer alone. Not knowing the terrain ahead of him, he turned around and, going to one knee, braced his spear for the charge he suspected was coming. He had no idea what it was, but it didn’t matter. Whatever it was, it was closing in on him out of the darkness from the direction of the Cavern of Convergence. It had to be hunting him.

A nightmare on four legs burst into the dimness of the luminescent lichen of the tunnel. Arghen saw to his dismay that it was a Mulwurf. Mulwurfs were hunters of living meat, making hidden dens on the edges of city-states and trying to prey on the Duty Patrols, Scouts, and the occasional merchant train traveling between city-states. Duty Patrols rooted them out on a regular basis, but new ones always seemed to move in when the smell of death of the previous occupant had dissipated. Mulwurfs were about the size of two dranths in bulk and length, and covered in thick black fur that acted like armor—unusual for a Sub-realms dweller. They were sharp toothed, muscled, and double jointed, making them agile in offense and defense. They also had an extra digit on their front claws, which allowed them to swipe or snatch something out of the hold of an unwary Under-elf. But what made Arghen most concerned was that the Mulwurf had poison in its fangs. The poison was a two-parter: one fang held a toxin that made an Under-elf confused and unable to think clearly, while the other fang’s poison paralyzed. Both venoms were released when the beast bit into its prey. Arghen remembered the last time he’d had to help clear out a Mulwurf den—one of his Duty Patrol partners had been bitten, and it had taken him and the other two of the quad some time before they could kill the Mulwurf. But it wasn’t until the next Lightening, long after they had brought their wounded member back to the city-state, that their quadmate had woken all the way up from the poisoning.

The Mulwurf saw at the last moment that Arghen was braced for its charge and tried to turn aside by rising up onto the wall and running over him. Arghen switched the angle of his spear, and the sharp tip of the spear taken from his Halsferian dance partner scored a long slice in its belly. The Mulwurf roared and jumped completely over him, sacrificing the advantage of position to save its skin. Landing, the monster doubled back over itself and came at Arghen again with its front claws, trying to knock the spear out of his hands. Arghen was too canny for that, having had experience in Mulwurf fighting before, and he managed to always have the spear tip right where it would hurt the beast the most. After a few jabs at him from alternating paws, it crouched back and then threw itself at him.



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