After introducing my main character, Niiko, in a #FridayFictioneers story two weeks ago, I decided it was about time I showed a little more of her story. I picked a brief excerpt from what is currently the fifth chapter, “The Titan.”

As this is my first novel, I’d love to gather some feedback on something I’ve been writing for years. Please bear in mind that this is the first draft, so there is still plenty of room for improvement!

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Jin stared down into the valley, watching as the lifeless corpses of his friends were rising to join the ranks of the undead pouring up the slope toward him.

     He was petrified.

     “Arrows!” someone called out behind him.

     Like a swarm of angry bees, the arrows flashed over his head and down into the mass of rotting flesh and teeth below. Some found their mark, piercing the hearts of a few dozen who fell dead. Can you call them dead? They were already dead before, Jin thought. A surreal moment washed over him, pulling him from the madness that threatened to engulf him.

     The throaty wails of the oncoming horde snapped Jin back to the horror before him. The scourge of undead swept up the hill relentlessly, some now with arrows stuck in their arms, legs and faces. They seemed to feel no pain.

     Something struck him in the face, knocking him to the ground.

     When he opened his eyes again, his vision swaying as it tried to right itself, he could have sworn he heard a cackling from within the undead racing up the hill. He touched his head, blood, he realised, bringing his crimson-stained hand down before his eyes.

     A gurgling, wrathful scream preceded the mess of torn blue flesh and cold, dead eyes that sprang up the hill and landed in front of him.

     The creature had a thin layer of decayed blue skin draped over its skull and rib cage, a few strands of dirt-covered hair protruded from its head. Torn, blood-soaked breeches covered what they could of its legs, themselves almost completely devoid of flesh save for a few scraps that clung to the bone and rotting muscle beneath. It raised its clawed hands to strike…

*

     Niiko raced toward the blonde haired young man on his back at the head of the defenders, the creature standing over him pulling back its arms to tear the poor man to shreds.

     Without thinking, she unsheathed the sword from her back and tossed it in the direction of the Blighted warrior. The blade spun end-over-end, gathering speed as it cut through the air before thudding into the creature’s side and knocking it off balance.

     With a scream of exertion, she leaped forward and swung her axe with all her might.

 *

     Jin looked on in disbelief as the stranger’s axe bit into the creature’s chest, cutting into its heart. The woman grabbed the hilt of the sword she had thrown and kicked the Blighted with such force that it ripped free of the two blades and went hurtling down the hill, knocking down the nearest of the oncoming undead.

     “On your feet, soldier,” the woman’s soft voice seemed to float through the rain as she turned toward the horde, her weapons held by her sides in an iron grip.

     The woman’s hood had slipped down, her bright red hair waving in the biting sea breeze. Her dirty grey cloak flapped to one side, her toned legs stood apart and her boots dug into the muddy ground.

     Jin reached for his sword, lying on the floor beside him, and lurched to his feet. He was ready for a fight.

 *

     The smell of rotting flesh filled Niiko’s nose as the first wave of undead washed over the survivors atop the hill. Faces of ragged, torn flesh rose and fell before her, blades flashed and metal sang, black blood spilled and tormented screams rang in her ears in the heat of battle.

 *

     Despite the insanity that surrounded him, Jin saw the woman as a whirlwind of fury ahead. Her sword and axe glided through dark flesh with ease, leaving a pile of corpses around her and more were sent rolling lifelessly down the hill.

     Those ones won’t rise again, thought Jin as he parried another creature’s blade, every strike is precise, she punctures every undead heart within reach. Following the red head’s lead, he followed the recoiling movement of the parried Blighted with a thrust of his sword. It crumbled to the floor from the gaping wound left in its heart.

*

     General Alvaro stood atop the battlements above Leynas’ gates, his fingers gripping the stone tightly enough to whiten his thick knuckles.

     He was a strong, thickset man of sixty years. His features had been worn by a lifetime of war, battling his way through the ranks. His face carried echoes of the wins and losses throughout his career, all manner of scars faded within growing wrinkles and his receding grey hair was a reminder of his increasing age.

     His piercing, icy blue eyes focused intently on the young woman carving a bloody hole in the attackers’ lines. Who was she? Where did she come from?

     Her power was incredible, something the General had never seen before.

 *

    “They’re retreating!” somebody was shouting behind Jin as he leaned over, resting his hands on his knees and trying to catch his breath.

     The young woman still faced down the hill. Jin could see that she was breathing heavily from the way her body gently rose and fell, yet her posture showed a refusal to relax.

     His ears were assailed by a horrific shrieking sound from across the valley.

 *

     Niiko grunted, stifling a scream as the fierce sound seemed to cut into her mind. She fell to one knee, dropping her weapons beside her as she clutched the sides of her head in a desperate attempt to stop the pain.

     Yesssssss, the voice hissed inside her head.

     “No!” she roared, unaware of the men and women around her.

     You’ve had your fun, whelp, the demon spat.

     Niiko refused to give in, clutching her head ever tighter in the vain hope that she could remain in control.

     Now it’s my turn.

 *

     Alvaro watched as the young woman cursed and thrashed on the ground, the sight was making his soldiers nervous. He had to do something.

     His eyes were drawn to a sudden movement across the valley.

     Loud cracks accompanied the sight of a giant beast swatting aside trees at the edge of the Dead Forest on the opposite side of the valley. Its long arms were themselves as thick as tree trunks, almost as tall too as they nearly reached the floor. It was no more than shadow in the darkness of the rain clouds, but Alvaro could see that it stood on powerful squat legs and its eyes seemed to shine through the veil of grey rain, two bright violet flames glaring at the gates of Leynas.

     The General sucked in a long breath.

     “GIIIIIAAAAANNNNT!”

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Copyright © G. Bailey 2011

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