Chapter 3: The Last Spell Sword
Rowan stumbled to a halt and braced her hands on her knees as she caught her breath. The path ahead turned sharply and began a steep descent toward where her home was located. She stood up straight and cautiously approached the edge until she could see down the slope. The path that lead to her home from the beach was like a pale ribbon amid the green of trees and low ground covering foliage. At first glance it looked quiet, but as Rowan waited and watched, she gradually detected movement.
In the trees below the house she saw men moving and the glint of sunlight on blades. She scanned the house – no sign of her mother; she must be inside. Then she saw more movement behind the building.
They were surrounding the house.
Rowan ran headlong down the steep path. She drew her sword; didn't care if they saw her coming. She had to get to her mother before they did.
The path twisted and turned and she scrambled as much as she ran, her feet sliding on loose pebbles. She reached the bottom of the slope and ducked into a cluster of shrubs, crouching to listen, straining to hear over her breathing. There was no sound, maybe the pirates, being intent on the house had not bothered to look up the slope.
Rowan lifted her head, peering toward the house. She glanced to the front, then the back; three pirates were crouched, sneaking up to the back entrance through the garden. She checked the front again but it was still quiet.
Staying low, she made her way to the back of the house, creeping through the garden behind them.
The pirates, wearing an assortment of weapons and armor stalked along the path ahead of her and Rowan moved closer. Then a soft crack sounded under foot and Rowan looked down in dismay at the branch she had stepped on.
It wasn't a loud sound, but it was enough to warn them. The man closest to her glanced back and cried out warning to the others.
Rowan stood up to her full height and hefted her sword as the men jumped at her.
She didn't wait for them, but closed the distance, cutting inside of the wide sweep of the first pirate's blade. He dropped his sword as she sliced through his leather wrist guard into his arm.
He cursed at her in a language she didn't understand, pulled a dagger from his belt and aimed for her chest. Rowan parried the blow and pivoted her blade, stabbing him in the throat.
He dropped at her feet and she leaped over him to meet the next enemy.
Metal clanged loudly as she deflected his sword. Rowan spun and shifted her guard, smashing the hilt of her weapon into his chin. His teeth cracked together as his head snapped back. Rowan shoved him hard into the next pirate as he charged her. The two collided; one dropped unconsciously to the ground as the other staggered, trying to recover his footing. Rowan took advantage of the chaos, stabbing the last pirate in the chest. She placed her foot against his torso and heaved to free her sword , then ran up the steps to the door.
Her mother opened it just as she reached for the handle. "Rowan! What is happening?" Her mother's blue eyes were wide as she looked past her daughter at the bodies in the garden.
"We are under attack." Rowan pushed her mother back into the house and shut the door. It did not have a lock so she grabbed a chair from the kitchen table and jammed it under the latch. I would not hold for long.
"Who?" Rowan's mother transformed. Her shocked surprise replaced by a fierce scowl. "Pirates?"
Rowan looked her mother in the eye. "An entire ship full. And many of them, if not all, are headed here. I have only seen a few so far but the rest are likely in the trees below."
"I ran up to find Andin in the quarry; sent him to get Dell and the others at the outpost." Rowan walked through to the main room and to the entry at the front of the dwelling. She looked through the wooden fretwork of the door and saw them approaching up the path from the trees.
Turning back to her mother, she said, "Find one of the old swords and prepare. They are coming."
"Rowan?" Her mother's gaze was pleading.
"I will hold them here, we have a better chance of fending them off if we stay in the house where they cannot surround us."
Her mother nodded and ran up the staircase to find a weapon.
All Myrians were trained to defend their Island from attacks like these, but Rowan's mother had not practiced with a sword for many years.
Rowan looked down at the blade in her hand. It was one of a kind on Myris Dar - the last spell sword. No one knew when or how the sword was made. Her mother had wielded it before Rowan, but had never taken her training to the level Rowan had reached.
Rowan whispered the words to activate it and the weapon leaped in her hand. It began to hum, spreading warmth and strength up her arm. With the hum came an increase in the sharpness of the edge, allowing it to cleave effortlessly through things a normal sword could not.
She looked back out at the path. The pirates were close now – twelve at least, but she glimpsed more beyond.
"On this day when blood is to be shed, let my arm be strong and my sword be true, in the defense of my land, my people and myself..."
Her mother, stepping up behind her, echoed the last words of the pledge with her.
Rowan glanced back and their eyes met. Still a beautiful woman, her mother gripped a sword and held a round shield in her left hand.
Rowan turned to face the entrance as the first of the pirates cast his shadow upon the door.
"Hurry Andin," she whispered.
Copyrights: ©Kindrie Grove Studios Inc.
All art work and illustrations by Kindrie Grove. All written content and characters related to The Stone Guardians Books by Kindrie Grove. All rights reserved.
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