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By Lawrence Watt-Evans

The overman named Garth sought immortal reputation. The oracle advised him to serve the Forgotten King to get that repute. yet this King despatched Garth after a basilisk whose gaze may possibly flip males to stone. What sane use might an individual have for a monster like that?

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Connected to the face used to be a lean physique wrapped in gray furs and seated upon a beast completely in contrast to Garth’s personal, a brown beast with an extended, slender muzzle, nice around eyes on each side of its head of a brown a coloration darker than its disguise, a surprise of lengthy black hair beginning among its ears and working down the again of its neck. Garth took this in immediately, with none wide awake response; certainly, just like that strange creature and its barbaric rider burned itself into his brain to the short-term exclusion of all else. The rider had epidermis burnt brown by means of the solar and wind, yet nonetheless paler than the overman’s personal. He had soiled, ragged black hair trailing to his shoulders; his gains have been contorted into an expression that conveyed not anything to his inhuman observer; and his correct arm used to be raised above his head, clutching a protracted, curved, dull-gray sword, which was once sweeping down and to the facet, a movement that, whilst mixed with the ahead cost of his mount, may carry the blade sweeping into the eyes of Garth’s warbeast. This all flashed earlier than the overman in seeming sluggish movement as he sat frozen in astonishment; then time began to resume its general velocity as he introduced his personal blade as much as meet and parry the assault. It was once in simple terms after he heard the conflict of metal on metal, heard the warbeast roar in anger, felt it relocating below him because it swung its head apart, and felt himself slipping from the saddle that he learned the attacker used to be now not by myself; at the least a dozen of the unusual animals and their barbaric riders have been forthcoming from a dozen instructions. the mix of utter unbelieving astonishment, the unexpected thrashing of his mount, and his personal sideways lunge in parrying the 1st assault did what it is going to usually take a number of males to do; Garth misplaced his stability. instead of struggle to regain it, which might waste worthy seconds, he swung his legs loose and slid to the floor, status beside his beast. This motion additionally served to protect his rear, because the hairy bulk of the animal used to be virtually as impenetrable as a stone wall at his again. thankfully for the overman, his rivals have been disorganized, attacking with none order or plan; while he hit the floor he stumbled on one dealing with him all yet immobile, whereas the others remained out of achieve. by no means one to overlook a chance, he drove his sword ahead with the entire energy he may perhaps deal with on the severe achieve essential to hit a fastened warrior; it was once enough. the purpose of the blade ripped throughout the man’s fur jacket, throughout the rusty mail beneath, and into his chest. He let loose a gasping moan, and his eyes sprang broad. Garth guessed he had pierced a lung. His face grim, the overman withdrew his blade, unleashing a gout of blood from either the wound and the man’s gaping mouth. The barbarian fell ahead and to the left, tumbling messily from his mount, which shied away in terror, eyes rolling. at the same time the guy died, Garth heard screams, one human and one hideously inhuman; the warbeast used to be protecting itself. Its low growl can be heard because the screaming subsided, yet Garth dared no longer take some time to appear to work out what was once occurring; he used to be back beset, this time by way of a yelling maniac charging at him with saber swinging.

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