17878265 by David

Book: 17878265 by David Read Free Book Online
Authors: David
Nevertheless, anxiety told him that was unlikely to happen.
    Loric had just begun to think those bandits had turned back in spite of his misgivings when several riders came bounding over the hill he had just descended. Worse yet, they were gaining on him. He urged Sunset on, “Yah! Yah! Com’n, boy!” It was no use. His pursuers were lightly clothed and unburdened by saddles, bags or armor. He had half a notion to ditch provisions, but that idea came too late. One of the bandits closed on Sunset’s left flank.
    Loric brought his shield up to parry the expected attack, but the villain leaped onto him rather than bringing his weapon into play. The young traveler nearly toppled from his horse in his surprise, but he remained upright nevertheless. The bandit slid onto the saddle behind Loric.
    From there he groped for his throat with greasy, grimy hands. In response, Loric brought the pommel of his sword against the bandit’s knee with a loud crack! He followed his attack with an awkward backhanded shield bash. It was too late to find its mark. The bandit ducked the worst of the blow and grabbed Loric under his shoulder to pin him back.
    The rogue now had the positioning he needed to thrust Loric from the saddle, but he chose against unseating his opponent. Instead, he fumbled at his belt for an unseen weapon. Loric never gave him a chance to find it. He squirmed sideways to unbalance the villain. Then he brought his pommel-loaded fist up to meet his enemy’s face. The ruffian grabbed a handful of Loric’s long thick hair and again fumbled for the hilt of his weapon--a dagger, which was now fully visible to the young traveler from Taeglin. Loric fought back by clamping his teeth down in a hard bite upon the bandit’s grimy wrist. The outlaw writhed in pain, trying desperately to pull away, but his tenacious counter-assailant would not let go, despite the foul taste of dirt, flesh and blood in his mouth. The rogue finally gave a violent tug at his arm, just as his tormentor released his cutting grip to spit away the foul taste of his filth. The fiend tumbled from the saddle, but he grabbed onto Loric’s leg. He hung on for a quarter mile before Loric finally kicked him loose.
    He rolled off the road, bounced down a gully and slammed face first into a tree.
    Loric let out a shout of triumph and righted himself in his saddle. He lowered his head and rode. He had to trust in Sunset and hope that none of the bandits could ride him down before he reached the safe haven of Moonriver Castle.
    That is too far to ride like this, he thought. I will kill Sunset this way, and I will die with him.
    He wondered if it would not be better for him to turn and fight to his glorious end, but the voice of reason warned, You will fight bravely, but you will die a fool.
    Loric was tempted to look over his shoulder until the urge finally overwhelmed him. He was pleased to see that his nearest pursuers were too far off to trouble him for the time being. The closest of Razor’s rabble was still five horse-lengths behind him. However, he was fast closing the gap. The rogue had a spear, which was beginning to stretch out toward Loric in anticipation of reaching killing range. It was drawing nearer with each passing stride.
    From above, rain was pelting Loric. From below, puddles were splashing him. He
    periodically checked the distance separating him from his foe through eyes that were blinking away driving rain. Despite the visual challenge the stinging spray caused him, Loric located his approaching enemy in time to shield his side from the villain’s thrusting spear. It bumped the metal barrier and slid harmlessly to the side. The bandit lagged behind five strides.... then he came again on the other flank. Loric turned his torso sideways to sword parry the many short, jabbing pokes his enemy made at him. The rogue wrapped both hands about the spear and thrust again with all of his might. Loric struck the weapon’s shaft a mighty blow with his

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