There are certain scenes that stay with you, that you can remember detail for detail off the top of your head. Especially in the case of an author, there are scenes that are so important to you, that you never forget every last thought and feeling that swirled through your body as you were writing a particular moment in your story.
The passage featured here is one of those scenes, for me. The night when I first wrote this section for Book One in The Legend of Light, The Echoes of Light, is burned into my memory, even though it was more than five years ago. In this excerpt, you’ll get a glimpse of the action as main character Alamor goes toe-to-toe with a huge, vicious creature that he later comes to know as a “Strife Wing”. He’s not simply fighting for his own survival, but also for the survival of his closest friend, Princess Raissa Hokara; that unbreakable determination to protect her drives him to fight with greater fury than he ever knew before, even against an adversary so monstrous.
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Before Alamor even turned, he and Raissa heard an agonized cry from outside of the temple. They then heard some of the royal guardsmen shouting to one another, until all of their screams filled the air.
Moments later, they saw the temple’s front doors burst inward. The tall wooden frames splintered and shattered as some huge shape outside tore them apart. Chunks of rock from the archway above tumbled down with them. When all of the carnage ceased, the entrance of the temple was a towering heap of debris that trapped Alamor and Raissa within.
There was silence. It was an eerie hush after the frightening sounds that had just filled the air around them. Alamor promptly took hold of his sword and shield as his eyes sat fixedly on the wreckage ahead of them.
“What was that, Alamor?” Raissa asked, fear laced within her words.
“I don’t know; just stay behind me,” Alamor answered, mustering the resolve to sound confident, even though he was just as frightened as the princess was. He glanced about the empty chamber. “Do you know if there is any other way out of here?” he eventually asked.
“Aside from breaking through one of the windows, that entrance was it,” Raissa explained bleakly.
Alamor briefly glanced at the windows. They sat some fifteen feet above the temple floor within the walls; there was no hope to escape through any of them.
Alamor’s features tightened. He had no idea what had suddenly descended upon the temple, or what had seemingly slaughtered Raissa’s guards outside and closed off their only way out to the rest of the city. He had even less of an idea on what he needed to do to keep Raissa safe.
There was very little time for him to think before the sound of shattering glass tore throughout the chamber. Just as Alamor and Raissa looked back, they saw a huge, winged creature burst through one of the windows. Alamor immediately placed himself in front of Raissa just as the creature landed before him.
It was a strange beast nearly three times his height, with a slender frame that was vaguely human. Mats of beige fur ran over tan skin along the sides of its torso. It had a long, whip-like tail that was covered in spines. A pair of long legs formed into twisted talons, while two wings unfolded from its chest in place of arms. The wings were covered with saffron plumage, its pinion tipped in bright blue. Its face was as if a woman had been given the snout of a beast, with protruding fangs and a pair of thin, white eyes that stared balefully at Alamor and Raissa.
It threw back its head, swinging a mane of cinnabar hair and uttering a shrill screech from its fanged maw that echoed throughout the chamber.
“Raissa, go hide in the vestibule!” Alamor shouted over its cry, adrenalin suddenly racing throughout his body.
“You’ll get yourself killed!” Raissa exclaimed. “You can’t fight this thing all by your—”
“Now!” Alamor commanded.
Raissa provided no further argument. She ran to the safety of the vestibule just as Alamor ordered, although her eyes never left him or the monster.
Alamor did not even look back at the princess as she fled; his fiery eyes were locked solely onto the winged beast in front of him. Unprecedented vigor stoked his skin.
He was the one thing that stood between the beast and Raissa. He was the only person who could protect her, now.
He would not fail her.
No. Never again.
The winged monster drove toward Alamor with another horrible cry. It beat its wings and lifted itself off the ground, swiping at Alamor with its long talons. He leapt out of the way just before the claws ripped through the purple carpet down to the stone floor beneath. The creature quickly lashed out again, swinging one talon in a furious swipe. Alamor ducked underneath as the monster’s nails passed mere inches over the back of his head.
When he straightened, he saw another talon coming toward him. He lifted his shield and deflected it off the steel surface. Despite the jarring impact of the blow, he somehow maintained his footing, and immediately replied with a powerful slash. Alamor felt his blade score over the creature’s talon and dig into its skin. The winged horror drew back with a shriek, stepping gingerly on the leg that Alamor struck.
Alamor charged ahead, but he only took three steps. The monster aimed its wings at him as a salvo of feathers shot from its plumage. Alamor lifted his shield purely out of instinct, and he soon realized that it likely saved his life.
The feathers that raced from the monster’s wings were stiff and sharp, like a storm of flying daggers. Most either bounced off Alamor’s shield or lodged into the floor around him, but at least two managed to sneak around his defenses. Even though they only nicked him, the barbed feathers cut clear through his armor and cleaved his skin beneath.
Alamor dropped to one knee as his teeth grated together. His beastly adversary seized the opportunity and swung one of its massive wings. Alamor was lifted clear off of his feet as he was batted aside, and skidded across the floor once he landed.
Alamor forced himself to his feet even as one side of his body nearly went numb. He rolled out of the way just as the winged monster tried to pounce onto him. He hastily shuffled away, and the duel between he and the monster went on. He danced across the temple floor, slipping away from many of the monster’s swipes, striking back with his sword when the opportunity appeared. Even when his agility could not keep him from the creature’s reach, his steel shield was there to hold it at bay, and often provide him another chance to lash out with his own attack. They battled back and forth, a waltz between malevolent ferocity and Alamor’s unflagging will to protect Raissa.