I noticed that I’m taking larger chunks of story for the War of Nytefall: Ravenous teasers. One reason is because a lot of the scenes don’t have clean break areas like previous books. There’s a lot of depth and context. This is an all action scene too, so I had to find a good cliffhanger. I was going to do the set up scene today, but realized I’d have to alter it to clear out a lot more spoilers than I’m comfortable with now.
The guard’s high-pitched yelp is muffled by the void that swallows him, which is followed by a savage punch to his head. Dazed and gradually losing consciousness, he is vaguely aware of being stripped of his armor and weapons. Fuzzy figures are at the edge of his vision, a few coming into focus as hideous monsters with hungry stares. Spun around like a top, the man desperately flails at his attacker, but all his strikes are blocked by an arm covered in smooth scales. He thinks he sees brown hair before his pants are pulled down and used to hogtie him. A punch to the stomach knocks the guard out completely and his limp body is tossed through a portal where it lands in a broom closet. His equipment joins him a moment later, the metal armor clattering to the stone floor and knocking over a rack of cobweb-laced mops.
Instead of following her victim, Mab emerges from a shadow in the middle of the temple courtyard. Lurking beneath a statue of Gabriel the Destiny God, the Dawn Fang watches as the remaining guards make their rounds. Being in the middle of morning prayers, several priests and worshippers stand on the other side of the garden’s centerpiece. Even though any one of the mortals can turn around and spot the burglar, she does very little to hide her presence. Rubbing at her nose and scratching at her moist lips, Mab stays partially exposed for no reason other than wanting to see if she will be discovered by the Tri-God’s followers. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees an archer patrolling along the turreted wall is gazing directly at her and slowly drawing an arrow. She tenses and prepares to leap away from the shot, but the man relaxes when a flock of pigeons erupts from inside a circle of towering hedges. With a sigh, the slender Dawn Fang sinks into the shadows enough that only her face is exposed where the pedestal of the statue meets the dirt. She considers wiping away her boot prints, but leaves them as evidence of her presence.
Leaning back, Mab disappears into the void and drifts among the monsters that have become her pets. Reaching out to scratch the chin of a cat-faced bird with eight-foot long talons, she stares at the collection of white dots in front of her. No longer needing to peer through to see what is happening, the burglar can perfectly sense what is on the other side of each portal. Her vision is limited to whatever is in view of the connected shadow, but it is enough for her to get a sense if she will be seen or not. Picking her next exit point, the Dawn Fang ignores the whispers of spirits that have been begging her to return to Nytefall. The distant cry of a baby momentarily snaps Mab out of her trance and she looks around to locate the source. She hisses angrily when she spots a frog-like creature, which is no bigger than her thumb, making the noise. Throwing a knife at the beast to drive it away, she blindly grabs one of the dots and dives through the opening without looking.
Without a sound, the burglar lands at the entrance to the treasury, which has double doors covered in enchanted gemstones. The three guards are surprised by Mab dropping from the ceiling and scramble to lower their spears. One is swiftly taken down with a punch to the nose, his slumping body casually tossed across the hallway. The others stab the Dawn Fang in the hips, but she extends her claws to slice the weapons in half. As the mortals draw their swords, she pulls the metal-headed shafts out of her flesh and drops them to the floor. The injuries heal within seconds and she pauses to run a finger across her lips, the sharp nail subtly grazing where her nose connects to the rest of her face. Dodging the guards’ expert swings, Mab examines the doors that sparkle in a distinct pattern. Flaring out her hydra-skin jacket to confuse her attackers, she makes them think she is going to strike, but darts behind them to get a closer look at the gems that hold a variety of traps. Satisfied with what she sees, she flips high into the air at the same time the warriors lunge from both sides. Having become frustrated, the pair stumble and drop their swords while avoiding a painful collision. The vampire catches them by the back of their helmets and slams their heads together with enough force to split the metal domes. Without touching the floor, she clings to the dazed mortals and swings to get enough momentum behind her throw.
The hapless guards crash through the entrance and the treasury doors explode with a deafening roar that shakes the entire temple. A series of elemental traps erupt from the shattering gems and bounce around the hallway leaving scorch marks along the marble. Hearing shouts from both directions, Mab rushes into where she hopes to find piles of wealth that she can greedily shove into the void. While there are coins and gems neatly arranged within a massive sea of shelving units, she immediately learns that the two-floor treasury is home to a battalion of warriors and battle priests. Vigilant archers aim from their perches on the spiraled pillars that are placed around the circular chamber. Paladins wearing armor that is emblazoned with the rearing black unicorn and soaring hawk symbol of Gabriel draw their weapons as they advance towards the intruder. Chanting emanates from the robed figures who are on the second floor, the distance making it difficult for Mab to reach them before their spells are unleashed. Taking a step back, she sees that more mortals are rushing down the hallway from both sides. She tries to slide her foot into her own shadow only to find that a barrier has trapped her in the temple. Risking a peek at a nearby window, the burglar notices that the sky is coated in a telltale pink shimmer of multiple wards. A breeze brings the scent of powerful holy magic that twists the cornered Dawn Fang’s guts into knots.
Baring her fangs and claws, Mab prepares to fight when another quake rocks the entire temple and the barrier cracks. Still cut off from the void, she snatches an emerald from the nearest shelf and sprints at the warriors on her right. The archers fire several volleys that follow her, but only three of the arrows hit their target in the side. Destructive spells pound the area where she was standing, but her sudden movement prevents most of the priests from redirecting their attacks. A handful of fire and ice blasts veer towards the retreating vampire, who crashes into the armed guards. Elbowing and kicking her way through the tightly packed squad, Mab feels the heat and cold from the approaching orbs. Unable to avoid the spells, she hurls people over her shoulder and into the path of the attacks. While flames and blizzards churn to create a temporary wall between her and many of the Gabriel followers, one of the icy globes gets through the chaos and strikes the burglar in the back of the leg. The limb freezes from the ankle to the knee before she shatters it to save the rest of her body. Forced to hop and jump along, Mab is swiftly tackled and buried beneath a large pile of armored bodies.