Dalacroy crouched in the reed bed while flies swarmed around his sweat-soaked body.
Nauseated by the stench of decaying plants and rotting wildlife, he gnawed his hand,
stifling a cough, mumbled, “I left the northlands for this?”
To his knowledge he was the lone survivor of the caravan escort. In their wisdom
the caravan masters had hired a local Yakuli guide to lead the merchants through
a seldom used and dangerous path.
The guide had betrayed them.
The nomads sprang their ambush, and Dalacroy had seen Captain Nacheev, the escort
commander, fall with an arrow through his throat.
The encounter itself was fierce and brutal, Dalacroy spilling his share of blood
in the struggle. But it wasn’t long before he’d realized the battle was lost. The
mercenary abandoned his mount and sought refuge along the riverbank, cursing the
caravan masters. They had gambled on this dangerous route and lost.
Now Dalacroy hid, watching and waiting.
Fifty paces from his concealed position dozens of Yakuli raiders wandered through
the scattered remains of the caravan, looting wagons laden with trade goods, rare
wines, exotic silks and rich spices.
Twisted corpses of fallen guards and fat merchants lay among the black-robed bodies
of their attackers in a tangle of blood-splattered armor and colored silks. Cries
of despair echoed in the distance – female slaves from the caravan.
Carrion birds circled lazily in the cloudless sky under a blazing sun. Far below,
the raiders worked slowly and methodically through the bodies, trading shouts, insults
and good-natured banter. The banter turned cruel when they chanced upon a live merchant,
or mercenary. These they looted and killed slowly, in imaginative ways.
Dalacroy accepted their fate with a small measure of regret, feeling a special loss
for Captain Nacheev, a man he had come to respect. But, since leaving his father’s
business to become a mercenary, he’d learned that making friends among fellow sell-swords
‘The Marsh God’ ... was a rip-snorting, straight-up S&S tale of the kind we’ve seen very little of since the 1970’s. -John C. Hocking, author of Conan & the Emerald Lotus
... well written, fast paced exciting action and great atmosphere. A good start tale that just leaves you drooling for more.