Not sure I need to do a lot of context build up for this. It’s a fun action sequence from War of Nytefall: Loyalty. There is an increasing difficulty in doing these without spoilers though. Then again, most of my books have been out for a long time, so there might be some wiggle room. After all, part of the fun of reading adventure books is the journey. Might even be more fun than the destination. Here we go!
Mab stops beneath the curved entrance to Nyte and pulls the ratty night cloak further over her face. Stepping aside to let a wagon full of unconscious fresh meals through, she cannot shake the feeling that the city is quieter than it should be. All of the sounds are familiar, but her keen senses pick up a stiffness to every citizens’ step. Conversations cover nothing more than casual topics instead of the Duragian attack and the fear-fueled scenarios people would imagine after such an event. Getting a brief glimpse of the castle, she can barely make out flames against the wall and catches the scent of burning flesh when the wind shifts in her direction. Changing from the cloak to her jacket, Mab does a quick count of the guards in case the situation is worse than she or Clyde imagined. None of the armored vampires move as she enters the city, but there is an immediate wave of tension that hits her like an avalanche. Sniffing at the air and scanning the rooftops, the burglar continues walking and fights the urge to grow her claws. Thinking she needs an escape route, her eyes pick out a handful of alleys that have clear entrances and are within sprinting distance.
A series of echoing booms forces Mab to stop and she looks to the sky where glowing orbs are arcing towards her. She takes a moment to gauge their direction before rushing forward and diving to the side, the solid spells embedding themselves in the street. Instead of exploding, the strange globes emit rapid bursts of light that erase all of the surrounding shadows, including her own. Citizens scream and run into the buildings, none of them realizing that the orbs are devoid of holy magic. As the locals abandon the street, armored guards rush from around every corner and archers leap out of the alleys to land on the rooftops. The vampire warriors aim their weapons at Mab, who starts to carefully put her hands over her head. The idea of killing those who might be following someone’s misguided orders turns her stomach, but the insistent voices in her head scream to see blood. They are silenced by a loud thud that shakes Nyte, the heavy gates having slammed into place to prevent a retreat.
Falling to her knees, the Dawn Fang lets the soldiers get closer and watches as the front line lowers their weapons. Pushing up on her toes, Mab rushes into the warriors and uses them for cover from the archers. She aims for legs and arms to cripple her enemies while arrows rain down on the tightly packed vampires. Thinking that the projectiles are poisoned, she slams into an orc and lifts him over her head as if the large man is a shield. Her muscles strain as she hurls the screeching swordsman at a group of archers, the flailing body knocking all of the smaller guards down. Knowing that staying still for too long can get her captured or killed, Mab depends on her speed and reflexes to fluidly move around the street. While lacking Clyde’s brute strength, she is still able to send people flying with her kicks and repeatedly tries to dive into one of her enemies’ shadows. Every attempt is met with failure when the orbs embedded in the cobblestones release a pulse to erase her escape. Frustration begins to settle into her mind, which results in her becoming less cautious and delivering wounds that are nearly fatal. Heads are nearly lopped off and hearts are left dangling out of chests, the brutality causing the soldiers to begin a cautious retreat.
The victory is short-lived when Mab realizes that the thinning crowd means she is now exposed to the archers. Arrows bounce off the stones as she runs in random directions and tries to think of a plan. Passing over one of the orbs, she feels an uncomfortable pull on her body and flashes a wicked smirk as she circles back. She drives her claws into the solidified spell and yanks it from the stone, which releases a wave of sweltering heat. Without a second thought, Mab hurls it at a squad of archers and ducks as the globe explodes in a blast of light. She watches the blinded soldiers stumble around, but they recover within seconds. Deciding that it is better than nothing, the burglar races through the street to throw the rest of the orbs and try to eliminate the shadow-cancelling light. It is not until a few minutes have passed that she realizes the spells are regenerating, so she throws a final globe before concentrating on avoiding the endless barrages of arrows.