(excerpted from Weird Luck, book one in the City of the Watcher trilogy)
…Apraxos stood motionless, his mask facing directly at Aleck. “Herald of evil, you will never leave here alive!”
Deep, heavy laughter emanated from the huge man on the couch, who also stared at Aleck from his frozen posture.
“Get the stuff!” shouted Akaz from below.
Aleck stood, weak-kneed. His body felt fragile. The Token must be taking its toll upon me. If he spat it out now, though, he would be killed — or worse. He wondered how it would feel to have his soul eaten.
Apraxos stood immobile, hunched and tensed as though ready to pounce. The Circomangkus, an intricate golden sphere, hung from a long chain around his neck. Spears from all directions floated towards Aleck on the air. Taking a deep breath, he ducked around them and ran directly up to Apraxos. He grabbed ahold of the amulet and whipped the chain, trying to flick it over Apraxos’s head. It caught under his hood. The pale mask smirked at him. The uniformed giant laughed on.
“You will never leave here alive!” boomed the amplified voice of Apraxos. With one hand he began gradually reaching towards Aleck, and with the other, for the amulet’s chain. Aleck tugged hard, and Apraxos toppled forward. Aleck jumped aside and let him drop. Apraxos shrieked behind his mask as his body rattled to a stop, rigidly perched on toes and fingertips. The sound echoed throughout the Circus, but as Aleck extracted the chain from the hood, Apraxos’s voice abruptly fell to normal volume. “Before I am finished, you will beg me for the release of death!” he screeched, face-down in his frozen posture, awkwardly propped on arms slowly collapsing.
Shivering with terror and weakness, Aleck hurriedly patted the sorceror’s robes. He felt nothing but heavy clothing and skeletal body. “Akaz, I can’t find the Skull!” he shouted.
Apraxos cackled. “I have sent it down to the House of the Watcher, whence you will never retrieve it!”
A rumbling voice came from the man attired in black. “Why don’t you kill us, boy, now that you have the chance?” He sat on the edge of his divan, smiling at Aleck.
“Don’t!” shouted Akaz. “Shut up, Goromath! Aleck, if you do anything more to them, it’s bound to backfire! Just get the rafts and get us out of here!”
“How can you all speak to me, when you can’t even move?” shouted Aleck, drooling around the Token. He felt like his knees would soon start to buckle.
General Goromath laughed. Holding the amulet, Aleck closed his eyes and visualized the rafts flying to him. He opened his eyes to see the rafts speeding towards the balcony: like the Herax he had kicked in the face, and like Apraxos when he fell, the rafts moved as fast as Aleck could. Warriors were flung off, to tumble slowly, like falling leaves; Nubiles were dragged through the air by their neck-chains. Blood Eagle stood his ground, leaning forward into the wind.
“No!” shouted Aleck.
Akaz and Goromath both laughed.
“What?” asked Apraxos, unable to see. He slowly began to turn over. “What are you laughing at?”
“No,” Aleck whined through clenched teeth, as he watched the warriors gradually descend.
“That bit of slapstick I must confess I did not expect,” laughed Goromath.
“There goes your tournament,” shouted Akaz from below.
Goromath laughed. “I had no attachment to any specific outcome,” he said, “beyond the general category of ‘entertaining bloodshed.’“
“I reckon you win, then,” said Akaz.
“Indeed,” replied Goromath.
“You’re still a piece o’ shit,” said Akaz.
“And you, an insolent cur,” replied Goromath.
“Whoop-dee-fuckin’-doo,” said Akaz.
“What is happening?” shouted Apraxos. “What has happened?”
“It looks like Blood Eagle is escaping,” said Goromath.
“Fool!” shrieked Apraxos. “You must kill him!”
“I shall do my best,” chuckled Goromath, making his first motions towards standing up. “But I fear I am at somewhat of a disadvantage, under the circumstances.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” said Aleck. He stopped the rafts in midair and sent them back, easily sweeping up all the warriors out of the air, lowering them to the stands, and tipping them gently off into the aisles. He kept Blood Eagle and the Nubiles.
“Such compassion!” laughed Goromath. “Boy, you are a questionable asset to your prophet’s military venture. I am now even less frightened of you than I was. Though I am well amused, and offer no complaint. Despite the lessening of the aforementioned bloodshed.”
Aleck stomped over to where Goromath reclined, stood craning over him, and drooled copiously onto his face.
“Faugh!” roared Goromath.
Aleck put his face up to Goromath’s and screamed as best he could around the Token without spitting it out, “Fuck you, you faffist fucking fuck!” He sprayed some.
That took the last of Aleck’s strength. Shaking with weakness and anxiety, he brought the rafts up to the edge of the balcony and climbed onto an empty one. Looking over the edge, he lowered his raft and scooped Akaz roughly onto it, the frozen wolf tumbling like a toy.
“We will destroy you!” shrieked Apraxos.
“Indeed,” growled Goromath.
“Fuckin’ kill you,” whined Aleck.
“To the river,” whispered Akaz….