A Wolf Slayer Saga #1
Initiated onto the Warrior's Way as a boy, Valka earns his name of Wolf Slayer by using his sword to kill the vicious wolves infesting his father's estates. Becoming a master swordsman, he fights his way across the ancient world, finds romance with the King's daughter, then faces his greatest challenge when he battles the dreaded Dragon of the North.
The night was crystal clear and so cold the air seemed as if it might shatter. Moonlight danced and shimmered like witch fire over the snow-covered ground. It was past midnight, and Valka shivered and hugged himself within his wolf-pelt cloak and pressed the sword he held in his left hand to his chest. Surrounding him were vast farmlands, barren with winter. In the distance, a village slumbered beneath a shroud of white powder.
His grey eyes studied the shadows within the dark, tangled forest running in a jagged line from west to east and extending southward for many leagues. A cold wind moaned through the trees and underbrush. The bell-like chiming of the ice-fanged branches as they clashed provided a pleasant undertone to the frostbitten night.
After what seemed like an eternity, Valka caught a whisper of paws shuffling through the snow. “At last!” he breathed.
Stepping forward, he shrugged the cloak from his broad shoulders and let it fall to the ground. Moonlight glinted off the black leather tunic encasing his deep chest and ran like frosted flame along the edge of the sword he unsheathed with a flick of his wrist. As he held it up to the light, the twin dragons etched along both sides of the curved blade burst into life, coiling and spitting fire.
The sound of paws crunching the snow, yelps and growls increased as the pack approached the edge of the trees. Then they came into view—sinister shadows slinking within the darker shadows of the forest. At the tree line, they paused and cautiously thrust their muzzles into the open, sniffing the wind.
Wolves—huge, dark, shaggy, gaunt from winter. Their eyes blazed in the moonlight, and their sharp fangs glinted like daggers.
The wind was blowing toward Valka, and the beasts had not yet noticed him. Then, as they began to move toward the village, he brushed back his shoulder length black hair, lifted his sword above his head and stepped forward. At twenty-one, he was inches above six feet, and his long black shadow fell like a portent of doom across their path. The lead wolf swung toward him with a growl. The others stopped and snarled, their hackles rising menacingly as they tested the air for signs of other humans. Catching none, they became bolder and turned to face him.
Followed closely by the pack, the lead wolf moved toward Valka. Its eyes flamed eerily in the frosty light, and long strings of saliva dripped from its bared fangs. Lowering its massive head, it growled deep in its throat and gathered itself to spring.
Digging his boot-heels into the snow, Valka braced himself for what he knew was coming. As he watched the beast inch menacingly toward him, tremendous power surged up his spine and spread out over his back and shoulders, making him arch forward with eyes distended and teeth bared. His sword cleaved to his hands, becoming their extension, like a long glittering claw.
Like the ravening wolves stalking him, Valka had become a beast of prey, and his blood raced with the lust for battle. A growl rumbled up from his chest as he leaped to meet the advancing wolf. They collided in mid-air, and Valka thrust the point of his blade into the beast’s throat just below its gaping jaws.
While still in the air, Valka freed his sword then swung around and cut off the wolf’s head, sending it spinning through the air on a jet of crimson. By then, the other beasts were upon him. Howling with fury, they swarmed around him, slashing at his legs and arms with their fangs in an attempt to drag him down.
Although he was rapt in the ecstasy of battle, Valka’s brain was crystal clear, and his body was under perfect control. Without pause, he pivoted and sheared through the skull of another wolf. As blood and brains splattered his boots, he plunged his blade into the chest of another. His sword had become a Demon of Death, and it flashed and burned like the flames of Hell. Moving with the speed of a panther—leaping, pivoting, lunging—Valka fought with greater ferocity than the wolves surrounding him. The red-churned snow became a grisly swamp of blood, brains, severed limbs and mutilated bodies.
Then, as suddenly as it began, the battle ended. Deathly silence descended like a shroud over the clearing.
Valka looked about and found himself standing in the center of a circle of blood-drenched snow, littered with the grisly remains of what could no longer be recognized as animal.
Shaking from reaction, he moved out of the pile of mangled bodies and into an area where there was clean, fresh snow. Kneeling, he scooped powder up with both hands and with loving care used it to clean the gore from the hilt and blade of his sword. Sheathing it, he set it aside, then washed his hands, face, tunic, leather trousers and boots. Satisfied, he walked to his cloak, picked it up and threw it around his shoulders.
Then he started across the fields toward the village.