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Deb Howell, 28 Jun '12

The two men stood, nearly nose-to-nose for what seemed an eternity. It was Jonas who lashed out first. It was just a shove, but what a shove. Braph went flying back.

But, he didn’t crash to the ground. He managed to control the fall, land on his feet and propel himself back at Jonas, and then it was Jonas’ turn to be hurled back.

Their little group scattered as the Syakaran came flying at them. The boys managed to keep the horses from bolting as Jonas landed and skidded between them on his back. Llew realized Braph must have used to magic to land so gracefully. This wasn’t going to be a fair fight.

In the few moments it took Jonas to right himself and run back at Braph, the magician flicked the latch on his bracelet device, popped out a still-good pink crystal and replaced it with one of Llew’s purple ones. Her chest constricted. If he really was more powerful now, she couldn’t see how Jonas could win.

Cassidy stepped up beside her, bow in hand, quiver of arrows on his shoulder. She looked at him with the question: He didn’t think he was going to get involved, did he? He might hit Jonas. And, if Jonas couldn’t better Braph, what made him think he could?

“If he finishes Jonas, we’re next,” he said, his attention firmly fixed on the fight.

The Syakaran and the magician fought weaponless, testing themselves against one another. Llew doubted it was a fair fight, though. Jonas only had his strength and speed. Braph had those, as well, but he had a myriad other ways to direct his magic, too, as he soon demonstrated when he flung Jonas back and had him writhing on the ground, while Braph simply held out a hand, directing his magic.

Sweat beaded on Braph’s brow, but Llew’s eyes and concern were locked on Jonas. She didn’t understand what was happening to him, but it was clear he was in agony. His body flailed, arched, and spasmed, and he screamed.

Braph caught her eye and a smile lifted his lips.

“Do you have any idea how much electricity the human body generates?”

Llew looked at him blankly. She had now idea what he was talking about. Braph’s face fell when he realized that was the case.

“You’ve seen lightning before, right?”

Llew nodded.

“Well, something akin to tiny bolts of lightning are firing throughout the human body at any given moment. Thinking of your mother?”

Llew couldn’t help it. Memories flooded back.

“Electricity creates those images—”

Llew saw her mother in her mind’s eye. Jonas growled through his teeth as his body shook.

“— smells—”

Llew remembered the smell of her mother close, sandalwood and jasmine. Jonas writhed in silence, limbs flailing, then his whole body contorted into a foetal position.

“— and sounds.”

Llew remembered her mother’s voice, singing to her when she was sick. Jonas screamed.

“And when you run. That’s electricity making your muscles move.”

It sounded like nonsense. Jonas spasmed and thrashed on the ground and tears streamed down his temples and into his hair.

“Magic is excellent at turning up what’s already there.” Braph looked down at Jonas with pride in his work, then tilted his head in curiosity. “I’d love to know what’s going on in his head right now.”

Jonas’ thrashing eased. With a brief flash of annoyance, Braph flicked the switch and the spent crystal flew out of the wrist device while Jonas whimpered on the ground before him. He pulled the next purple crystal from a pocket, but in that moment, Jonas clambered up and flung himself at Braph, crashing to the ground on top of him and sending the crystal flying from his brother’s hand.

Llew watched the crystal and ran for it. If she could keep it out of Braph’s hands . . .

Jonas’ momentum carried him over his brother and he rolled and landed in a crouch in the middle of the road, his body still shaken by tremors.

Llew’s hand was just inches from the crystal when Braph snatched it up. She ran into him, bounced off and crashed to the ground. He gave her an “I don’t think so” sneer and clicked the crystal home. Llew felt sick.

She watched as Braph continued his assault on Jonas’ nervous system. But Jonas was fighting it. His shaking was barely controllable, but control it, he did. He kicked Braph’s feet out from under him, sending his half-brother crashing to the ground beside him. Braph’s concentration broke, and Jonas’ tremors stopped. Jonas leaped up, dragging Braph up by the collar with him, and laid into him with a punch backed by immense power. Braph flew through the air again. Jonas drew two knives from his vest and followed him. But before Jonas could use the blades, Braph flung the hand girdled by his device out and Jonas was fired back at his friends, crash landing against Hisham, sending both men into a heap on the road.

Braph strode down the road, anger and determination etched on his face. He flicked back his long leather coat, first one side, then the other, and drew two new contraptions - all Llew could see were metal tubes that Braph held by some sort of grip.

Jonas extracted himself from Hisham and stood, and one of Braph’s machines flashed fire and thunder echoed around them, and Jonas fell back, blood erupting from his chest.

Time slowed.

Llew began to turn her head, heard herself calling Jonas’ name. Another flash, another boom, and a second spurt of blood leaped from Jonas’ torso. Llew heard herself, but couldn’t form a coherent word.

Another thunderclap and Cassidy went down.

Llew heard a whistle and a crossbow bolt hit Hisham. He stumbled back.

Before he Hisham fell, Llew turned to Braph and his assistant. She saw Alvaro lower his sword, trying not to be the next target. She screamed for the carnage to stop. Her ears were ringing. She screamed again.

And then she was standing facing Braph, breathing heavily and filled with rage.

Nilv’s crossbow was empty.

Braph dropped his weapons, narrowed his eyes. “Come get me” he seemed to welcome her. What did he have left in that crystal?

Comments · 9

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  • Deb Howell said...

    A fight scene from my WiP. How can I make it more awesome? Are there better word choices I could make? Better moves I could use?
    In this world, guns didn't exist until Braph invented them. It's set in a fantasy/steampunk/wild-west kind of world (but, as I meantioned, guns are very new). The only magic that exists naturally is contained in people like the characters Llew (who can heal) and Jonas (who is super fast and strong). But, Braph has used Llew's blood to make a crystal which fuels a device he wears on his wrist, which allows him to do almost anything. Perhaps someone with more immagination that I can give me some more ideas for things Braph could do to Jonas. Jonas can take it.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    I loved this. I read Hull Zero Three last, and I'm reading Robots and Empire currently so all very sci fi, after reading this I'm now yearning to read more fantasy.

    I thought the pace was excellent for the scene. I'm not sure what more you might want to do physically to Jonas! But so far Braph seems only intent on physical torment, perhaps he could try playing on Jonas' emotion, maybe making him witness someone else in the group being hurt.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Charles Sadler said...

    Really enjoyed it, thanks for sharing.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Deb Howell said...

    @Anthony Blackshaw Thanks for the comment. That's a pretty awesome complement if I have encouraged you to return to a genre (o: I may need tp play on the emotional torment that is being afflicted (although, I plan to revisit it at another date). Because every electrical impulse in his body and brain are firing, I figure he's got some pretty funky things going on mentally. I might have to do a little neuroscience study to really think of all the implications. Could be fun!

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Deb Howell said...

    @Charles Sadler Thanks. Nice comments help my confidence - yay!

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Charles Sadler said...

    I love some fantasy, David Gemmell and Glen Cook particular favourites. Keep at it mate ;)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Deb Howell said...

    @Charles Sadler I've got one Gemmel book, really liked it. I must add more of his stuff to my to-read list. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    I didn't realise until I read your comment that this was just a section, but as I was reading it I was thinking I wanted to know more! Intriguing stuff. I liked the conversation between Llew and Braph, the switching between her memories and the speech. I don't really know much about Jonas or why he's being attacked, but I assumed that must be explained in your wip somewhere else. That's the only thing really, loved the fight scene, maybe he could get thrown around a bit more or fight back a bit more because it's v one sided with Braph being more powerful, but I wanted to know about Jonas to care about him more, but obv the wip will deal with that. Great writing :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Deb Howell said...

    Thanks, @Jessica Cambrook. Yes, I think I would like to beat Jonas up a bit more here (I'm a mean and horrible writer - the more pain and upset my characters feel - esp those I love - the more glee I feel!). I might play with it a little more.
    The positive comments here are boosting my confidence in the story, at the very least.

    • Posted 5 years ago