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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 87: Kondor 29
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 86: Slade 28
Kondor jumped back out of reach of the sword. "Whoa," he said. "Hey, man, get hold of yourself! I'm on your side!" But the man stumbled forward and swung again, Kondor sidestepping and parrying with the bow in his hand.
The commotion had gotten attention. Several well-aimed arrows whizzed past Kondor and found his attacker, who collapsed, and fell from the walkway to the ground inside. Kondor muttered a curse under his breath. It appeared the enemy used some kind of drug on their arrows, something to cause madness, to give its victims a last surge of strength and a violent fit.
Talwin had walked over. The priest was waving his arms around, pointing and gesturing, clearly talking to the men below. They picked up the body and carried it to the waiting bonfire. He lit it as they placed their fallen companion on the wood.
Kondor had to give the enemy credit. These people really believed that they were fighting undead monsters, bodies of the dead magically re-animated and sent against them. The choice of staging ground, the look of the enemy, the decision to fight at night, and now the use of a drug to stimulate fits in the dying all combined to enhance the illusion. It preyed upon the superstitions of these people, and brought forward their deepest fears. Even knowing that what he saw had to have some natural explanation, Kondor felt that fear, a nervous undercurrent that was with him constantly, a nagging feeling that he was trying to kill something that was already dead.
The man who had attacked him wasn't the only one injured. He should do something for the others. If they were affected by the drug, too, it would be a messy situation. Were there time, he would try to isolate the drug and find a counter agent to it; but time he did not have. He would have to guess, to use something general, and hope it worked. Setting aside his bow and arrows for others to take up, he moved along the wall seeking the injured. Talwin would, no doubt, care for the dead.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #55: Stories Winding Down. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: