Week 3 Finalist

Author: Kayelle Allen
Category: Unknown

The scent of blood rose in the night, rank and heavy on the wind. “Pure carnage.” The moans of the dying rang like the music of hell. It brought a tight smile to Viator’s mouth. “You’re sure none are ours?”

His adjutant saluted. “Yes, your lordship. All enemy.”

“Good.” He fingered the gilded cross around his neck. “You have flame throwers. Use them. Waste no time on the injured. What about the women?”

“Already off the field, my lord. Under lock and key.”

“Good. See they stay there.” He dismissed him as two men approached. The elder, Captain Handoval, strode toward him.

“Viator, I want a word.”

“Do you?” He clasped hands behind him. “Why? I already assigned you more plunder than you earned. Surely your men have their fill of whiskey.” He let his gaze go past Handoval to a young man on the fringes of the firelight. “Not enough casualties to warrant promoting your son-in-law. Let me lose half the Network first.”

The man bristled. “There’s trouble on the far side of the camp. One of your men is unarmed, and a peasant’s after him with a knife.”

“If he can’t he defend himself against a peasant, perhaps he’s one of yours.”

“It’s Mykin Kankill.”

Viator threw back his cloak. “Wasting your time. He’s my best man.”

“As you say, he’s yours. Perhaps he’s not worth rescuing.”

“Kankill doesn’t need rescuing from anything.”

Handoval tapped a foot. “Your own soldiers are laying wagers how long it will take him to die.”

Viator regarded him with arrogant disbelief, weighing the matter in his mind. “Very well. Let’s go watch him trounce a peasant.”

The crowd of soldiers parted as Viator made his way to the ring of officers at the center. Inside, awash in the light of hand-held beacons, the broad-chested Kankill gave way before his petite attacker. Fatigue aged his face and sweat soaked his uniform, already bloodied from battle. If the man noticed his watchers, he made no show of it, pressed to full advantage by the peasant woman. She circled him like a cat, blonde hair loose, straight as a man’s and cut ragged above the shoulders. Like most peasants, she wore a shapeless tunic and pants.

“She’s skinny as a gun barrel,” someone commented. “Why’d he want her? Looks like a man and fights like a demon.”

“Aye,” put in an enlisted man, spitting in the dirt, “but ye don’t see no sweat on her.”

Viator narrowed his eyes. Kankill did look a bit harrowed. “How long has this gone on?”

“A quarter hour,” Handoval commented. “I’d have stopped it, butโ€ฆ”

Viator silenced him with an upraised hand. He resisted the urge to step into the ring. “He’s letting her get over confident.”

Handoval’s son-in-law chuckled, but ducked out of sight when Viator glared.

Kankill tripped and hit the ground hard. The woman leaped. They rolled, over and over, Kankill’s greater weight giving him the advantage. With furious determination, he forced the weapon from her left hand, gripping her wrist. He slammed one huge fist into her face. She lay sprawled, vanquished.

Amid cheers, the victor dragged himself to his feet and leaned over, hands on his knees, panting for breath. Sweat dripped from his face.

“Well,” Viator commented, joining him. “You won.” The woman’s skin was white as death. “Worth it?”

Kankill lifted his head enough to look up. Sweat dripped into his eyes. He rubbed the back of his arm across them. “Aye.”

“No pleasure in it? Isn’t she your type after all?”

Even in the throes of exhaustion, Kankill managed a joke. “No, lord.” He threw back his head, noting as if for the first time, the crowd of onlookers. He nodded toward the woman and wiped his face on a dirty sleeve. “I took her for you.”

The crowd guffawed, until Viator directed his gaze in their direction. Scalp-tingling silence replaced it. Starting from the rear, the circle dispersed.

Kankill himself fell back as Viator’s gaze reached his. “Forgive me, Lord. No disrespect meant.”

“Fine. Since you have no use for her… I could use a scrubwoman.” Viator gestured, and two of his men lifted her. “Is she heavy?”

One dropped her feet and the other tossed her over his shoulder.

Reaching his tent, Viator entered to hold the flap. “Chain her. Over there.” He motioned to the foot of his bed. A loop of chain clinked into place around her throat.

As the guard left, his personal servant entered and stole a peek at the woman. Viator tossed him his cloak and seated himself in a canvas chair. “You may go, Taxus. The better food and drink’s in the officer’s mess. They all know you’re my man. No one will bother you.”

“Aye, sir! Thank you, sir!”

“Post guards away from the door.” He stretched in the canvas chair and yawned. “There’s only clean up to be done now. Tell the men I’ve turned in and have no wish to be disturbed.”

He winked. “Aye, your lordship, that I’ll do.” He wiped a hand across his mouth. “If you need me, sir, gi’ us yer whistle.” Stealing one last glance at the woman, he hurried from the tent.

She lay still and pale as a corpse. “Lord, what a repulsive wench.”

He made himself a pot of coffee and nursed a cup while he made his report. It took some time to make connections to proper ports, and more still to remember passwords. In all that time, the woman didn’t move.

“He’s killed her.” He squatted beside her body to feel her throat for a pulse. Her eyes flew open, startling him. She used the opportunity well; his weapon aimed itself at him in her hands.

“Move and I’ll kill you.” She pushed herself into a sitting position, gaze trained on his face. “I know how to use this.”

“No doubt.” He sat facing her, arms resting across his knees.


13 responses

1 10 2007

Kayelle – The dialogue between the men is very masculine and believable. I love the action you’ve shown, as well as the conflict you’ve established between Viator and the heroine, plus the kick-ass heroine herself. ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to see how these two come together. Great job.

2 10 2007
New winners announced « Chase the Dream Writers Contest

[…] winners announced 2 10 2007 It’s time for the weekly announcement of our finalist and mini-critique […]

2 10 2007

Great story, intriguing plot and pacing just right. Loved the masterful hero and strong heroine. Would love to see the fireworks between them as the story develops. ๐Ÿ™‚

3 10 2007

Kayelle, this is gripping. You’ve set your stage well, drawing us into the story with details and sensory language, but not overdoing it. At this early point, I don’t want to know about the political reasons for this battle, or the cultural background that lets one commander so easily dismiss the captives to be destroyed with a flame thower. Those explanations would only slow down the story if you shared them now (though eventually I’d love to know all about the world you’ve created).

You’ve done such a good job with painting the scene that you’ve made me willing to accept Viator as a hero — regardless of what I’d normally think about things like ordering people burned with flame-throwers. And that’s a feat!

3 10 2007

Great story Kayelle.

Whew! Excellent 1000 first words, I think all of us will be begging for more. As I read the opening lines, I wondered how could this possibly become a ‘romance’ when, pow! We meet the feisty heroine. I imagine there will be many battles of the wills between these two in your coming chapters. Nicely done.
Congratulations on becoming a finalist!:-)

Donna D

3 10 2007

Loved it!! I would definitely read on, kayelle!

3 10 2007
Marcia James

Very exciting story that grabs you from the first lines! Congratulations on finaling!
— Marcia James ๐Ÿ˜‰

4 10 2007

I like the edge you have built into the hero and the capable heroine! Looks like the intro to a gritty, sexy love story. Congrats on being a finalist! Best, Marie

5 10 2007
Kayelle Allen

Thank you for the honor of being chosen – and the terrific critiques you’ve all offered. I appreciate the feedback.

7 10 2007
Vivienne Westlake

I also agree with Leigh. At first I was wondering if Viator would really be the hero, but by the end of the 1000 words, I found myself liking him and admiring his sense of strength and commanding presence. You can also see that although the heroine is not considered traditionally pretty, her spirit and courage make the men admire her. You’ve crammed a lot of description into a short space, but it manages not to feel weighed down or heavy. Things move together very well. Good job!

9 11 2007

Flat-out fabulous. Crisp and compelling. Congratulations!

5 12 2007
Elaine English (agent)

Your dialogue is very strong and gets the reader right into the story very quickly. I had some trouble fully believing the scene with the woman. Why would Kankill fight this woman and then give her over to the VIator? And when he did, why wouldn’t the VIator take precautions to protect himself, partcularly after he’d been told what a vicious fighter she was? I admit that I’m not much of a science fiction reader, so maybe that explains my confusion.

12 12 2007
Cheryl Ferguson (agent)

I enjoyed the visuals–experiencing a “you are there” effect. However, there were unanswered questions that pulled me from the story.

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