The following is a sample chapter of my novel, The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle, available in paperback and for kindle at Amazon.com. Note: all content is copyrighted, and although the following sample is available here for no charge, it is not free to share or use in any manner other than linking to this page. Thank you.
The rapier was the most difficult to parry. The Asian Sentry was using her weapon’s advantages in such close quarters to its fullest potential. And damn she was furiously fast. Safiya had already taken one wound to her right thigh and a slash to her elbow on the same side. Natalia had fallen back with a terrible slash across her stomach.
Majd fared much better, but the sheer size of his blade prevented him from being effective.
The man with the pair of gladii hung back wisely allowing the woman to do her work with fatal efficiency. The pair knew their work well, much better than had the now deceased Tiberius.
As soon as the three of them tried to flee, the pair of attackers were upon them. Natalia believed that she would have been able to best defend them by taking up the rear guard. The slash to her abdomen took mere seconds to occur. Safiya was only barely able to leap around Natalia in time to parry the fatal thrust before Majd could reach up to pull the older woman away. They tried trading the defensive position back and forth, but it proved monstrously difficult against the fierce Asian woman. Only Safiya with her axes had any sense of an effect against each attack; although, she was failing fast.
Each axe blade rested close to her hands in order to retain a better sense of balance to them. It limited her reach, but kept the swings more controlled defensively.
Again and again the woman attacked barely giving Safiya a moment to catch her breath. Fortunately, she remembered her sparring duels with Cadence. The young girl was tremendously more agile and quicker than this woman appeared to be. It was still more than she could truly handle. Experience was just enough to keep her alive for the moment.
She wished that Cadence was there to help her.
A stinging pain shot across her right arm. She had left it unguarded a mere moment as she let her thoughts drift away from the fight. A scream escaped her lips as she blocked the next cut. Time was failing her.
“Focus, Safiya!” Majd yelled. He set Natalia down. The woman was growing pale from the loss of blood. Ahead of him the young girl struggled to block, dodge and parry each strike in the onslaught. Majd felt emasculated and helpless as he watched the girl’s defenses erode.
Unsheathing his sword, he quietly muttered a prayer to himself before readying to rejoin the fight. The plan, unlike that of Safiya’s, was to simply block the attackers just long enough to allow the young girl to get away. He had no hope for either himself or their elder, Natalia. Safiya wouldn’t see it that way, but he would have to find a way to make it happen.
“Quit toying with the little girl,” the not-so-calm man standing behind the Asian assassin said with irritation boiling in his voice.
“Let me have my fun. She’ll fall soon enough,” the woman said calmly. Her breathing was unaltered by her speaking. “These three are all that remain anyway!”
Safiya however was struggling to breathe. Pain rippled through all of her muscles trying to maintain the speed necessary to defend while the blood continued to drain her energy at an even quicker rate. Each gulp of air burned nearly as much as her wounds as she parried, then blocked, and blocked again.
Just as she stumbled in a way that benefitted her in dodging a thrust, shouts came from below. She didn’t recognize the voices at all. She felt hopelessly defeated as they came closer dragging all of the energy from her.
“We came as quickly as we could!” one of the two men said. They were older and had already been wounded severely. One held a pair of short swords and the other a rapier. They immediately charged past Natalia and Majd who stood about to charge himself, but now confused by what was happening.
As one thrust edged near enough to slice through Safiya’s torso, the man with the rapier deftly lunged forward and parried the shot.
“Ferdinand! You bastard!” the woman hollered in frustration as the man shoved Safiya to the side.
“So sure you were rid of us earlier were you?”
“Shit!” the Asian woman’s friend cursed. “Hannah, fall back and let me handle this!”
“I can best him this time, Artyom! I swear it.”
Kneeling beside Natalia, the other man looked over the elder’s wound. Slowly, Safiya crawled over letting exhaustion dictate her speed. Majd snapped out of the sense of disarray to help her. “You never were good in these situations,” she quietly mused to her friend as he picked her up.
“Too much pressure,” he said in return. “You expect too much of me.” A worried smile was on his face.
They went over to the man who was looking over their elder. “There isn’t much time left for her in this form, I am afraid,” the man said gravely.
“Who are you?” Safiya asked.
“Paul. And that is my partner Ferdinand easily beating back your Asian witch Hannah there. If you have not already figured it out, they are like us, but have decided it’s better to hunt us than demons.”
“We’re thankful for your help, Paul,” Majd said.
“Don’t be thankful yet. You both need to get out of here. Take Natalia here and leave quickly, before more of these black knights show up.”
The sound of steel on steel repeated like a clattering of a drawer of utensils being dropped to the floor. The pair could barely work through the speed that Ferdinand exhibited with his rapier.
“How do you know Natalia?” Majd asked.
“Black knights?” Safiya asked interrupting her friend.
“It’s what I am calling them. They are Sentries who’ve turned. They are following something truly evil we haven’t figured out yet. They are only a pittance of the crowd you’ll meet soon enough if you don’t get out of here.”
Behind them the duel continued with Hannah’s partner trying to work into the fight, but he was repelled each time by Ferdinand’s advance. Safiya admired the man’s skill and speed despite the obvious wounds. She felt a pang of disappointment in herself that she didn’t fare the same.
“We understand!” Majd said, picking up the two women as best as he could manage. Although very week, Safiya was able to move with only a little help.
“Where will we go?”
“We’ve got a black sedan out there. There is a man waiting there for you. We came here to save who we could. You three are all who is left. Ferdinand and I are much too far wounded at this point to worry about, and besides, our mission is nearly complete. We were sent to draw these bastards out and now they’ve begun a more aggressive campaign. They’ll have to take more of us head-on now. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to die before they get us. Now GO!”
“What?!” Safiya yelled as Majd pulled them away from Paul and down the stairs.
“I wish to see you on the other side!” Paul yelled as they went out of sight.
Safiya felt a chill run down her spine. She hoped it didn’t mean what she thought.