Hi guys! Today as part of the Summer Blog-A-Day event I have a new short story featuring Malik from Heirs of Power. This is during his younger days when he wasn’t quite as proficient as he is now…
If you’d like to see the rest of the event please check it out here.
A solid thunk reverberated through the length of the quarterstaff as it crushed his enemy’s skull. Malik knelt, the weight of the bag of books across his shoulders assisted in dragging him down to steady his foe. The grey-skinned man wasn’t dead. Good.
He rolled up the sleeve around a limp arm and wrapped his fingers around the man’s wrist. An unsteady pulse confirmed he wouldn’t have much longer. Hopefully it would be enough. He needed something, anything. Malik closed his eyes and wrestled with the dormant power within him, tentatively pushing out to explore the weaves of magic within the prone body.
Grey skin meant this man had been infused with the abilities of the Tenebri, poisoned by their taint. As a traitor to their entire world, it was a simple decision to make- one life for a wealth of knowledge. Malik rubbed his beard, scratchy with new growth, and plunged his mind deeper.
There. A rippling, noxious, black thread. He pulled, teasing and drawing it forth like an infected splinter. They always had the fireball throwing ability. It must be a simple gift for their masters to impart. Dark waves throbbed over the unconscious man’s skin and coalesced at Malik’s fingertips. His forehead furrowed so tightly it ached and his eyeballs itched from behind. He kept going. Twisted the simple spell and moulded it as the raw power entered his hands.
Bang. The spine of An Encyclopedia of Lanetherian Herbs dug into his back and the world turned a patchwork of leafy branches and stunning, cloudless blue. The remains of the magical backfire that had tossed him eight feet across the forest was still dissipating in a fiery fog over the Tenebri agent. Malik choked on the charcoal flavoured air and gripped his chest, pressing his bandolier of throwing knives into his ribs. He flailed for his staff and scrabbled upright, launching his extra sense out as far as he could cast it.
Six other Tenebri mages were closing in. Malik backed off, picking the one route with none of the sickening specks of foul energy guarding it. He could confidently dispatch one or two, but that many with the backup of unenhanced soldiers too… That was a losing battle from the start.
Fallen branches cracked and leaf litter squelched from every direction. Malik ducked a lightning-ravaged trunk and darted between a pair of bushes. Cries of alarm rang out, echoing and muffled and impossible to pinpoint. He could sense the magic, but not the powerless men. Fascinating that they suddenly became the looming threat.
An arrow struck the flap of his rucksack and tumbled to the ground. Malik flinched and dodged, putting another tree between himself and the archer. He changed direction again. Shadows flitted in distance. He bolted.
He fell. Jagged rocks punched every part of his body as he smashed into ledges and outcrops. Blood filled his mouth and nostrils, a white-hot pain tore through his right leg and made him cry out through the coppery tang coating his tongue. He couldn’t die. That would be selfish and irresponsible.
Finally, Malik came to a halt, sprawled at the bottom of the horrendous landslip. The only things he could hear were the rocks still clacking and settling on the floor and his own laboured breathing. At least no-one would follow him down here.
Getting his tremoring arms beneath him wasn’t as awful as he suspected it would be. Moving his leg was a colossal mistake. Agony blitzed from his wound, dropping him helplessly in the dirt.
Please don’t be broken.
He knew what was required. Understood theoretically what it would take to heal himself. But instead he curled up in his oversized jacked and tried not to sob.
“Are you awake, sir?”
His knives were gone. Malik knew before his hand slammed into his bare chest it would come away empty. He sat upright, gasping at the aches that peppered his every movement. He was warm. His leg had been splinted. He was wrapped in a cosy blanket on a slightly too soft bed.
“Where am I?” He blurted before taking in the girl sat next to him. “And where are my books?”
“I found you. You’d crawled to the edge of the village, sir. Really hurt. I helped you best as I could. I’ve not took your books.” The girl worried at a piece of curly, dusky hair dangling in front of her face. “They must be in that bag of yours, over there.”
His pile of gear seemed mostly intact, other than the myriad of scuffs covering everything due to his fall.
“You have my sincere thanks,” Malik said, scooting to the other side of the bed as best as he was able to with the impediment of his leg.
“Oh, do stay still,” the girl begged, “I’ll get you whatever it is you’re needing.”
“I simply wish to check their condition…”
Before he could finish, the girl moved. Her hands pushed the large wheels on the sides of her seat that Malik hadn’t noticed yet and her chair glided smoothly across the room. As her lower half came into view he could see that under her flowing skirt her legs were withered and propped on a bar to keep them from dragging on the floor.
“I didn’t mean to inconvenience you.”
“Should have thought of that before throwing yourself down a cliff then, shouldn’t you?”
“I’ll be more considerate next time.” He smiled and accepted the bag as the girl laid it gently next to him. Like the outside of his belongings, his books were beaten up but mostly serviceable. “I am grateful for your assistance, I’ll be on my way soon, I promise. And if you need any help in return?”
“I’m going to be just fine,” she drummed her fingertips on the arch of her wheels, barely containing the nervous energy coursing through her body, “I only got here recently, but there’s a magic man nearby. He’s said to be the cure for every ailment. I’m going to walk.”
The word ‘magic’ tickled at Malik’s extra sense, made it flood out and explore his surroundings for the first time. An intense Tenebri presence flickered at the limit of his reach.
And it wasn’t the only one…
If you enjoyed this story, I have one featuring Asher from Heirs of Power, about a childhood event, and one with characters from a future series with a fairy, a half-elf, and some dream magic. You can check them out using the buttons below!