Note: I will be posting a chapter from The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle each day until the book has been fully posted. I am doing this as a way to entertain those who have been coping with the new life of social distancing, social isolation, and quarantine in the world right now in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once complete, I will hold the book on in full on my site until 1/1/2021. On that day, it’ll no longer be accessible for free.
I ask people to share links freely while the book is available, but please do not copy or do anything else without expressed permission from me, the copyright holder.
If you would like to skip ahead, you are always welcome to purchase a copy, just click the link HERE (or click up top at the menu bar) to go to the book’s page where there are links to where it is available in both print and ebook. Enjoy and I hope that you and your family are doing well!
The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle
by Jeremy C Kester
(c) Jeremy C Kester – All Rights Reserved
There were a few screams that came from below as Majd held Natalia and Safiya back. They were at the entrance to the stairs that led out of the side of the building. It was a dangerous choice in the way that they would exit, but it was the only one that hadn’t been compromised.
Safiya gripped a pair of small axes, her hands positioned near the center of the handles allowing her more control. They were not her weapons of choice, but the possible need to fight in such close quarters warranted it. A gladius hung neatly sheathed to her side.
In Natalia’s hand rested a katana that she had been entrusted. Her training as a Sentry had taken place in Japan where she took a liking to the weapon. She wouldn’t be able to swing the weapon as skillfully and thus would only be able to thrust it in stabbing motions. The hallways would be too tight to manage.
Majd held a pair of daggers with his broad Ottoman Scimitar tied to his waist.
Smoke billowed through the stairwell and connecting halls. A bomb had been used to breach the building in the initial attack. Surprisingly there was no gunfire, only the screams of blood and death that one could expect from such a violent incursion. Sentries taken by surprise on the lower levels were being cut to pieces. When the blast occurred, they all assumed that it was the work of the rebels in the area, the religious zealots who would have loved dearly to turnover such a place.
They were wrong.
When he was sure that it was as clear as it could be, Majd stepped forward careful to look in every direction that he could. No signals came from below and he knew that they would be safe for at least a moment if they continued.
Both women followed. In the moment Safiya noticed that her heart was racing. She didn’t know why she was so frightened, but there was something about what was going on that wasn’t right. Whether it was the sound, the timing, or the general atmosphere of what was happening she didn’t know. Either way, she was afraid.
Not a word was spoken as the three took steady, quiet steps onto the stairs leading down. Natalia raised her one arm to her face letting her guard down. Safiya thought it strange that although she wanted to do the same to stifle the choking dust that was flowing into her lungs, readying for an attack at any moment was far more important. She wondered why her elder had taken so much trust to leave herself, if only slightly, more vulnerable to attack.
A cough rumbled up from Safiya’s throat. She bit hard to attempt to suppress it. The sound felt a lot quieter than it was. Shouts erupted from all around them as it appeared that the cough alerted the intruders.
“Come on,” Majd whispered. “We must be quick.”
It felt like they were in a full run as they went down the stairs. Several times Safiya thought that she was leaping down the flights rather than placing her feet on any of the steps. Being more deftly skilled and athletic than even the most skilled of normal mortals, they should have been able to outrun their pursuers with ease provided that they were only being chased from behind. But sounds of footsteps were gaining on their position getting louder every second. Shouts were also emanating from everywhere, both in Arabic and in English.
Thoughts littered her mind in how it was strange that there was any conversation in English at all. No gunshots ever were fired either. It was also odd that the pursuers were so close. Nothing of the situation appeared to fit. Rebels left Muslims who adhered to strict customs to their own business. And the small group of Sentries that lived there were diligent to no end to ensure that they never attracted the ire of those groups that would seek to do them harm.
And this attacked appeared unprovoked.
On one of the landings, she took pause to look up. She saw the reflection of what looked to her like a sword coming down from a few flights above her. She narrowed her focus before Majd yelled from below, “Safiya, come on! Run!”
“Hold on!” she yelled as she dug in her heels readying for the impending attacker. She watched closely as the figure came closer. Her heart began beating faster.
“Do not interfere!” Natalia yelled up to the young woman. “We must flee!”
“No!” Safiya yelled in return.
Below, Natalia and Majd stopped their descent. They were confused by their companion’s sudden change. Why was she defying them? Majd move to climb back up the stairs once more before Natalia gripped his arm and made him stop. “No,” she said calmly. “We do not interfere. She will make her own choices and suffer to their faults.”
“I cannot leave her up there, they will kill her for resisting,” he said, his voice strained with worry.
“That is her choice. We must preserve ourselves and flee.”
“No,” he said, his eyes determined. “We wait here then.”
Natalia huffed and lowered her weapon. She felt no fear, only her aggravation with Safiya’s defiance. Why was the girl stopping? Did she not understand that she was not to interfere with mortals and their ways? Did she not know what the consequences were to do so?
It wasn’t until the first strikes of steel against steel that Natalia realized what was going on. Her eyes widened and she sprinted up the stairs. “Come! We must fight!”
Safiya felt the weight of the Sentry in front of her. Her eyes were still widened with shock at the realization as to what her trepidations actually were. They were being hunted by other Sentries!
Her axes had locked the filthy man’s blade when he swung down. She tried to push away enough to loose one of them so that she could attack. She needed just a moment to leap down. Being attacked from higher ground was difficult on the best of situations, but defending against one who possessed much more power than she did was suicidal.
She needed an opening.
“They are down here!” the man yelled. She felt his hot breath as she struggled to maintain her footing. With the amount of dust already collected on the ground, her foot began to slip back further. She stared into the man’s eyes resentfully. Anger at her decision to stay for the moment singed her thoughts. Trying to assess the situation though, Safiya examined the man. He was taller than she and much more muscular. Much like his size, his strength dwarfed her own. His eyes were a dull green…
What was it about the eyes that didn’t fit? Something about them wasn’t right. They had been altered; they were different, darker.
And why wasn’t he advancing or trying to create an opening for himself? Why was he letting her lock him like that?
His sheathe was strapped to his side and the rest of his attire matched what one would expect of any religious radical, much less any Muslim for that matter. Again she was drawn to his eyes. There was a hint of what was wrong in there and she found it impossible to track what that was.
She had to focus.
Above the pair, she heard footsteps coming down. They were not as swift as the first pursuer she was engaging as though they knew that the chase had ended for the moment.
“How many are there, Tiberius?!” one of the men shouted.
“I have one!” the burly man replied. “We’ll have your souls, scum,” Tiberius hissed coolly.
A chill flowed through her body carrying a fear like nothing she had ever sensed before.
Below her, she found herself surprised to hear more steps. Unsure of who’s they were she took her chances and loosened her footing allowing the man to slam her backwards towards the wall behind her.
Right as she hit, she was able to look to the side to see Natalia, blade held close to her body, swing her katana from below, edge facing up, in a clean swipe that separated the man’s right arm from his blade. It was a deft move that surprised the young Sentry as to its pure strength and agility from one of the elders of her kind.
The man let out a cry of surprise and pain as a flash of crimson sprayed across Safiya. She felt the warmth of the liquid on her face as hot as the man’s breath.
Taking the opportunity it afforded her, she dropped releasing the blade from the hold of her axes. In her left hand she loosened her grip enough to spin the axe such that she could lower her hand to the bottom of the handle then she swung letting all of her fear channel through her arm until the edge of the axe met the man’s lower leg.
Blood splattered again as the deafening sound of crunching bone echoed in the hall. Tiberius buckled over screaming in agony while he swung his blade aimlessly hitting more of the walls than even air. Natalia quickly dodged it as Majd leapt along the side of her, his scimitar thrusting in a curled fashion allowing the point of his blade to slice through the man’s throat silencing him.
Before they could recover, two more Sentries were at the top of the stairs above them glaring down, their weapons drawn. The one on the right, an older male, held in both hands two gladii. The other, a woman of Asian descent and only a handful of years older than Safiya and Majd from what could be seen, held a rapier and dagger. A cool, evil smile curled along the woman’s lips. Their eyes caught Safiya again, but she fought to ignore them.
“We must flee, child,” Natalia whispered grabbing Safiya on the wrist.
She nodded, her skin trembling underneath.
If you would like to skip ahead, you are always welcome to purchase a copy, just click the link HERE (or click up top at the menu bar) to go to the book’s page where there are links to where it is available in both print and ebook.