Authors: Brock E. Deskins
Brock E. Deskins
Copyright ©2015 by Brock E. Deskins
Dingo Dog Publishing
Cover Illustration Copyright © 2015
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This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Books by Brock E. Deskins
THE SORCERER’S PATH
THE TRANSCENDED CHRONICLES
OTHER BOOKS BY BROCK E. DESKINS
(Three years later)
The shrill sound of whistles blowing and the coarse shouts of men roused Garran from his sleep. He blinked until the bed’s canopy came into focus, rolled off the plush surface, and began pulling on his clothes. The woman next to him stirred and sat up.
“What in the world is that racket?” she asked.
Garran turned his head to face her as he laced up his boot. She was a stunningly beautiful woman with olive skin, blue eyes, and shimmering black hair.
“I suppose that depends. Who are you again?”
Her face twisted in playful annoyance. “Sofia.”
Garran blinked stupidly.
“Sofia Herran…” Again, Garran’s face betrayed not a hint of recognition. “I am the wife of Ambassador Herran, attaché to King Gervasio Nels of Urqua and his personal representative here in Osage.”
“Oh hell, am I still in the embassy? That clamor is definitely about me then.”
“Why are they after you, other than sullying the ambassador’s wife?”
“I stole some documents from your husband’s office last night.”
Sofia narrowed her eyes. “Who are you really? You are obviously not one of Osage’s cabinet ministers.”
Garran leaned over and kissed her passionately. “Garran Holt, master agent.”
“I don’t think agents are supposed to go around telling people that.”
“What’s the use of being the best agent in the world if I can’t tell anyone?”
“You had best leave before I start screaming.”
Garran frowned. “You would betray me to the guard?”
“It would be unpatriotic for me not to.”
“What about last night?”
Sofia sighed and shook her head. “It is the fine line between pleasure and politics.”
“I hope I provided you with enough pleasure for you to give me a head start.”
She shrugged. “A few seconds. You best hurry.”
“Your indifference wounds me, my lady.” Garran opened the door to the bedroom a crack and peered out.
“Garran, if the guard does not catch and hang you, I hope you will come see me again.”
Garran pulled his head back into the room. “I wouldn’t miss the opportunity for the world…Sarah.”
Sofia smiled and began screaming for help. Garran flashed her a look of disappointment before bolting from the room. Pounding feet and clattering armor erupted behind him as he raced down the hallway. The hall opened to a long balcony overlooking a marble reception room three stories below. He could hear several sets of feet pounding up the stairs to each side, cutting him off from the lower levels.
Garran grabbed at the spark of power deep within him and urged his body into its transcended state. It responded, and he could now discern each individual footstep as they struck the marble floor. He reached the balcony and saw half a dozen men near the top of the stairs to both his left and right. With no other option except to cut his way through them, Garran leapt onto the banister and launched himself across the open expanse.
He struck the far wall with a resounding thud but managed to grab ahold of the thick, floor to ceiling drapery covering the enormous windows. Clinging to the fabric ten feet above the floor, he slipped back into normal time and began sliding down.
“You have all just witnessed the glory of Garran the Great, agent extraordin—merciful hell!”
Ominous ripping cut short his boisterous crowing, and he plummeted to the floor. Air exploded from his lungs when he struck, and stars filled his vision. Everything went dark when the drapes landed on top of him and blotted out the world. Garran climbed to his feet and fought free of the heavy fabric only to find himself ringed by a dozen swords poised to plunge into his neck.
Garran raised his hands over his shoulders. “Okay, fellas, let’s not do anything rash. I have what you want right here. I am going to reach into my coat…and retrieve…my…flash bomb!”
He hurled the ceramic globe to the floor. It was still very early in the morning, and the revealed window did little to illuminate the dim interior. The light of the flash bomb burst like a tiny sun, dazzling and disorienting the soldiers. Garran clamped his eyes shut before the sphere struck and threw himself through the window behind him.
The glass shattered and came crashing down, lacerating him in a dozen different places. Garran landed in some shrubbery, rolled to his feet, and took off at a sprint. Shouted curses and shrill whistles chased him through the shattered window. More whistles took up the chase, and men on horseback thundered down on him as he raced through the streets.
Men ran at him from every direction. Some wore armor, some did not, but all held a weapon in their hand. Garran spotted the stone arch leading out of the embassy grounds, but three mounted soldiers stood before the closed iron gates. He transcended once again and drew his reaping blades as he sprinted at the riders. Even the powerful and swift horses moved as if mired in deep mud in his augmented state.
Garran’s custom-made reaping blades hinged at the top, and the blades folded against the handles to make them less cumbersome. They flipped open with a flick of his wrist. He could have killed the men on horseback with little effort, but there were rules to the spy game. One of them being that you avoided wanton slaughter in the course of your duty. Unfortunately, the same rules of restraint did not hold to those trying to stop him.
Garran ran between two of the horses and slashed at their cinch straps. The leather parted easily, and both riders and saddles rolled off their mounts’ backs. He hooked the third rider with his blade and pulled him from his seat. Garran then hoisted himself onto the saddle, pushed off the horse, and leapt onto the top of the wall.
More men and riders stood waiting on the other side. Garran jumped from the wall onto one of the horse’s backs on the far side and hurled its rider to the ground. The world flashed back into motion as Garran put his heels into the animal’s flanks. Shouts and the thundering of hooves pursued him through the streets. Crossbow bolts flew past, some so close he could hear their angry buzz in his ear as they sped by.
He pushed his mount through the streets, heedless of the few citizens who found themselves in the path of his predawn flight. Either they leapt away or he bowled them over as he desperately fled his pursuers. At least two dozen riders followed him out of the city and into the open country beyond the walls.
“Ow, holy hell!” Garran yelped, looked down, and saw a quarrel sticking out of his right calf.
There was no time to deal with the injury now. If he did not escape into the mountains ahead of the Urqan riders, it would be the least of his wounds. Garran plowed through the stubbled stalks of a harvested wheat field and spurred his mount up a deer path leading into the foothills.
The agent pushed the horse onward. He had gained some distance on his pursuers, but his mount was blowing flecks of foam with every labored breath. Driven beyond its endurance, the animal shuddered and collapsed beneath him. It did not matter. The riders would soon lose much of their advantage once he reached the higher passes. It was a good thing the soldier had a bedroll strapped to the saddle. Garran could see the snow already dusting some of the peaks he would have to cross. He also salvaged two days’ worth of rations from the saddlebags and a coil of rope.
Garran sat on a rock and took a minute to examine his wound. The bolt was sticking out of the back of his calf with the head buried in the bone. He cursed the sharp pain lancing up his leg when he tried to extricate the quarrel. Garran grabbed a small stick from the ground, placed it in his jaws, and clamped down. His muffled screams sounded through the forest as he worked the steel-headed shaft out far enough to direct it away from the bone and shove it the rest of the way through his leg.
He tore a strip from the blanket and used it to staunch the blood flowing freely from the wound. The sound of horses drew his attention back down the hill. He had lost some of his precious lead and desperately needed to gain it back. His injury sent waves of pain shooting up his leg. He unconsciously patted his breast pocket for the reassuring feel of the bottle filled with laudanum. It was all he could do not to stop and partake of it to ease his suffering, but he could not afford the time it would take nor the effects it had on his ability to transcend. He would have to suffer through the agony for now.
Garran forced his injured leg to obey, and it did, albeit with a painful, limping, shuffling gait. The terrain became steeper and less admissible the higher he climbed. His pursuers would have to abandon their mounts or try to follow him using the lower passes and trails. He was relieved to see several riders pass through a clearing a couple hundred feet below him. Garran breathed a sigh of relief just before a crossbow bolt thwacked into a tree inches above his head. The embassy guards had apparently chosen both options.
Shouting followed several more loosed bolts as they zipped past Garran’s fleeing form or clattered against the rocky ground near his feet. He scrambled farther up the slope until he found a narrow trail carved into the mountainside by innumerable hooves over the years. Maintaining his footing on the precarious path was an effort of extreme concentration given its narrowness and his hobbling gait.
Garran rounded a bend in the trail and came to a halt. A ram stood in the path perhaps two-score feet ahead with a defiant look in its demonic eyes.
"Excuse me, goat, but you need to back up.”
The bighorn sheep, being either territorial or insulted by Garran calling it a goat, responded by lowering its horned head and pawed at the ground.
“Oh, come on, don’t be a dick. I can’t go back the other way!”
The ram charged, and Garran scrambled to find purchase on the rock overhead. Fighting the animal, which must have weighed nearly four hundred pounds, was not an option. Even uninjured, all the animal had to do was bump him to send him tumbling down the slope. Even if he survived the fall, he would be in no condition to flee his enemies. He managed to hoist himself up off the trail and clung to the mountainside just beyond the ram’s reach.
The big buck stood on its hind legs and stabbed at Garran’s feet with its enormous, curved horns. Garran tried to lift his legs higher and nearly fell. The ram stopped rearing, turned in the direction from which Garran had come, and stamped at the ground. His pursuers had caught up with him, and the ram was no more pleased with their intrusion than he had been with Garran’s. The ram charged.
Garran could not see around the bend, but the shouts and a pair of screams abruptly cutting off seconds later was a good indication that the ram’s territorial defense was effective. He was not about to hang around until the soldiers and foreign agents managed to bring the irate animal down with their crossbows and shambled along the ledge as quickly as he could.
He broke into a loping jog as soon as he had more than a scabbard’s width of ground beneath his feet. Barely a mile from his run-in with the bighorn, a deep cleft with water roaring through the divide blocked his path. There was no way over it, and down was a treacherous option. He would have to double back nearly half the distance he had covered, but the sounds of his pursuers ruled out that option as well.
A fallen tree spanned perhaps half the distance across the small gorge, its limbs shorn off during its travel down the creek before much higher waters deposited it near the top. Garran gritted his teeth against the pain in his leg and broke into a transcended sprint. Garran moved so fast that the tree only dipped down a single time and helped catapult him into the air and across the gap.
Even with his additional inertia, he fell short of the far side and slammed into the cliff face. His hands scrabbled for purchase, and he barely managed to arrest his fall. Garran reached down to his belt with slow, deliberate movement, flicked open his reaping blade, and used it like an ice axe to bite into the ground just over his head and pull himself up.
Garran lay panting and hissing at the pain in his leg. A crossbow bolt struck next to him, sent up a small spray of scree, and skipped off the ground into the trees. He rolled to his right and pressed his back against a large boulder. Several more quarrels zipped past and ricocheted off the boulder before the men accepted the futileness of their efforts.
He pulled out a tobacco twist from inside his jacket, dipped it into his bottle of laudanum, and lit it with a sulfur stick. The laudanum interfered with his ability to transcend, but the pain in his leg was more than he was willing to bear. He was also too exhausted to make another attempt anytime soon. His few short transcendings had fatigued him and left a deep gnawing in his belly. Garran rummaged through the saddlebag and found some trail rations.
“Give yourself up, Holt!” Someone called across the gorge.
“Jump over and come get me, you dickheads!” Garran shouted back. “How do you know my name anyway?”
“You told half the damn people at the party. Not very bright for an agent.”
“It is when it’s less known than any of my aliases. Even then, I got your documents, so what does that say about you?”
“Give us the documents, Holt, and you can go free.”
Garran raised his middle finger over the top of the boulder. “I got you documents right here.”