Sanctuary – Snippet 08

So were its fangs and talons.

Chefer Kolkin rose before the Liskash. That was his first mistake. The monster, which had been crouched over the Liskash and ready to tear it into pieces, immediately had its attention drawn to him.

And immediately charged him.

The charge was terrifying. Unlike any lizard Chefer Kolkin had ever encountered, of any size, this one rose on its hind legs and surged forward with its front limbs spread apart and raised, its talons ready to slash.

Or grapple. Chefer Kolkin had no idea what the beast’s fighting tactics were — and had no desire to find out. So he lunged forward with his spear, aiming below the armored chest for what he hoped was the softer and thinner hide of the monster’s belly.

His aim was true and his guess that the creature’s belly was less well protected than its chest was correct. But “less well protected” is a relative term. It was still like striking armor with his spear head. The blade penetrated only a short distance before the monster jerked its torso sideways, causing the spear to leave nothing more than a shallow cut that didn’t pierce the body chamber.

That sideways twist also unbalanced the creature, so it didn’t slam into Chefer Kolkin with the driving force that it had obviously intended. The veteran Mrem warrior was no stranger to battle and twisted his own body out of the way.

But as it passed him, the creature struck with its taloned paw, slamming into Chefer Kolkin’s left shoulder. The warrior’s own armor kept the talons from shredding the flesh beneath, but he was knocked off his feet.

On the ground, half-stunned, Chefer Kolkin saw that the monster had also stumbled and fallen. But a moment later it was back on its feet and spinning around to charge again — this time crouched on all fours, it seemed. Which was logical enough, given that Chefer Kolkin himself was sprawled flat on the ground.

The creature surged forward. Desperately, Chefer Kolkin tried to interpose his spear. But he knew he wouldn’t have time.

Suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, the Liskash was there. Now standing, blood oozing over much of its body, holding a big rock in its hands. Apparently it had lost whatever weapons it once possessed.

The rock did splendidly as a substitute, though. The big Liskash threw it down with great force, striking the monster’s skull. The impact flattened the creature and seemed to daze it somewhat.

Somewhat. A sideways blow of a front limb struck the Liskash’s lower leg, tearing another gash and sending the Liskash sprawling.

By then, thankfully, the rest of the Mrem warriors had arrived. The Zeg half-brothers had their spears ready, holding the monster at bay, while Puah Neff and Zuel Babic came to Chefer Kolkin’s side and began tending to him.

The monster was coming out of its daze quickly — if it had been in one at all. Thwarted in the direction of the Mrem by the spears of the half-brothers, the creature turned its attention to the Liskash.

Who, for its part, was now all but helpless. The Liskash still seemed to be conscious, more or less, but that last wound — or simply accumulated damage and exhaustion — had left it unable to do more than feebly try to lever itself up on one arm while, with the other, it tried to find a rock with which to defend itself.

The monster crept toward it. But then, suddenly, a second Liskash interposed itself. A considerably smaller Liskash — and one who seemed to possess no weapons at all. What did it think it could do?


There was no chance Sebetwe could control the gantrak, even as battered and confused as it was due to Herere’s incredible fight and the completely unforeseen intervention of the Mrem. But he thought he might be able to keep the gantrak stymied long enough for…

Whatever. Perhaps the Mrem would finish it off. Perhaps Herere could be rescued once the rest of the Liskash arrived and they could flee.

Whatever. He had no great hopes or expectations.

He tried to apply gudh. But, as he expected, it served no purpose. The great predator’s mind was simply impervious to mental bludgeoning.

And thankfully so, all things considered. If Liskash nobility could control the world’s most terrible predators with their minds, they would be even more powerful than they were. But that sort of sheer will simply didn’t work well on hunters, unless they were small or young.

So, it would rest entirely on Sebetwe’s bradda. To make things worse, he hadn’t had time to do more than the first of the needed exercises — and certainly didn’t have time now. The gantrak was less than two body lengths away and about to charge.

Sebetwe began with a spike of pure glamor, doing his best to surround himself and the recumbent Herere with an aura that would make the monster wonder — leave the creature puzzled, at the least, hopefully tinged with a bit of awe.

It was the greatest such spike he’d ever created. By far. Why? He had no idea. Perhaps it was the peril of the moment. Perhaps it was the exaltation of trying such a feat against such a creature. For all he knew, it was simply caused by the lightheadedness brought on by the rarified atmosphere.

Whatever the cause, the gantrak’s forward creep stopped immediately. The monster’s head came up. Its two forwardly-focused predator’s eyes scrutinized Sebetwe intensely. Somewhat in the manner that such creatures studied their prey, but more like…

Sebetwe’s concentration was almost disastrously broken by a laugh. But more like a possible mate is studied.

He did not want that much glamor! Again, he had to force down a laugh.

The humor swelled his self-confidence. Now, through the veil of the glamor’s aura, he began to insinuate other emotions. The key one was kinship. Gantrak were not pack hunters. But they did mate for life and spent years raising their young. That was enough, he hoped — and blessed be whatever gods and goddesses did exist and never mind what the teachings said — for the tie of kinship to take hold. Long enough, anyway, for whatever else…

Might happen. He still hadn’t given that any thought at all. Any more than he’d been able to think about Nabliz’s situation. The last he’d seen, Nabliz had been trying to control two hatchlings with a snare in each hand. Good luck with that!

The arrival of another Mrem on the open space barely registered on him at all.