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A Time of Courage by John Gwynne

A Time of Courage by John Gwynne

Author:John Gwynne
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Pan Macmillan UK


CHAPTER FIFTY

BLEDA

Bleda stared at the giant. She was shaven-headed, apart from a ridge of black spiky hair running down the middle of her head.

‘Dun Seren,’ she said, her voice like rusty iron. ‘You said Dun Seren. You said the Order of the Bright Star.’

Other figures loomed behind her, more giants, heads shaved, clothed in mail, leather and fur.

‘Yes,’ Bleda said. ‘I am allied to the Order of the Bright Star.’

Screams filtered into the cave he was half in. The pounding of hooves and a Cheren rider appeared, horse rearing, his bow drawn. He hesitated a moment, seeing the cave opening and a giant leaning over Bleda, but only for a heartbeat and then his arrow was leaping from the string of his bow, straight at Bleda’s chest.

The giant swung her arm, a huge round shield covering Bleda and Yul. The arrow punched into it, a spray of splinters near Bleda’s face as the arrowhead pierced wood. Bleda heard a scream cut short, the splatter of blood and the Cheren warrior crashed to the ground, lifeless eyes staring at him.

The shield withdrew, the giant stared at him again, a spear in her fist dripping blood.

‘Help us, please,’ Bleda said.

‘Do giants still stand with the Order?’ the giant asked him.

‘Aye,’ Bleda said. ‘Ethlinn, Balur One-Eye . . . Alcyon.’ They were the only giants Bleda knew well enough to recall in an instant.

The giant recoiled, her face twisting in a scowl, Bleda thought she was going to kill him. Instead she stood, said something to the giants behind her in a language he didn’t understand. One of them raised a horn to his lips and blew, the sound deep and ominous, echoing through the cave and out into the ravine.

Other Cheren riders rode at them, reining in their mounts, bows nocked and drawn – warriors searching for Bleda and Yul. At the sound of the horn they hesitated.

The giant stepped out in front of them, her shield high, and threw a spear. It pierced a rider, hurled him from his horse, flying through the air to crash into another horse and rider behind him. The giant took a few long strides forwards, startlingly fast, at the same time pulling a one-handed hammer from her belt and hefting it. She smashed it into the chest of the second Cheren rider, the sound of bones shattering and the rider disappeared from her saddle.

‘With me,’ the giantess cried over her shoulder.

‘Kill the ones in blue,’ Bleda shouted to her. ‘Those in grey are with me.’

She nodded.

Other giants issued from the cave, striding over Bleda and Yul and out into the ravine, just as the charging ranks of Cheren and Sirak met with a deafening crash. Along the ravine other granite doors opened, more giants emerging from them. The giants bellowed a war-cry and charged, wielding long-hafted hammers, axes and spears. They slammed into the flank of the Cheren like a wave into kindling. Cheren warriors and their horses fell in an explosion of limbs and blood.



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