Hey kids! It’s me… your fearless Goat Leader. The second novel in Langley’s GUY FAWKES series is due for pre-release next month, and he has kindly provided a short excerpt for us to sink our teeth into while we all eagerly await its release!
If you’ve been living under a rock this week, we’ve been celebrating the wonderful works of indie author, Benjamin Langley – be sure to check out his books, they’re pretty awesome! Website link below:
BENJAMIN LANGLEY’S INTERNET VORTEX
After his exploits in York, in Guy Fawkes: Demon Hunter Book 2 – A Dream of Demons Guy faces to catch up with his friends in Durham. Alas, in this excerpt, he encounters a little trouble on the road.
A few miles north of Bedale, where Guy had stopped for a rest and a bite to eat and to allow Pewter the same, a felled horse lay on the road immediately before a small wood. It was a little after midday. The sun was high on one of those spring days in which the clouds passed as lone travellers meandering on a breeze.
The awkward position of the collapsed horse, a black stallion, made Guy slow Pewter long before he reached the creature. Questions flooded his head. What had happened to the horse? Where was the rider? He dismounted, tied Pewter to a tree, and approached on foot. The black horse was facing away from him and motionless. Flies buzzed around the head, and as Guy closed, he realised they were drawn to a pool of blood. Guy studied the stallion closer: a severe gash in the neck had felled the beast.
“Mister, thank God, please help…” a young woman ran from the shadow of the trees towards him. He placed his hand on the hilt of his sword, and she slowed. Her ragged brown dress had a tear across the middle, and mud streaked her face. She pointed to the horse. “A madman, mister. He ran from the trees and put his sword to our poor horse’s neck. He dragged my brother into the woods.”
Guy looked into the trees, but the contrast between the bright sky and the darkness of shadow within the trees made it impossible to see anything.
“Come on! Help him!” Her eyes darted from Guy back to the woods.
One way or another, Guy had to pass through the trees. He took a few cautious steps, the girl close beside him.
She paused before crossing the line of shadow. “They must be in here.”
Guy drew his sword and moved into the cover of the trees. Guy had missed the scent of woodland and drew in a deep breath, but in doing so, he set off the pain receptors in his nervous system. The smell coming out of the woods recalled a sensation from his dreams, an unpleasant recollection hidden in the depths of his awareness. Yes, there was a demonic odour within the woods. Whatever had dragged off the poor girl’s brother meant ill. From nearby came a scrabbling sound, as if a creature, a wild pig or a badger was digging for something or attempting to burrow deep underground.
Guy brought his sword close to his face and whispered the words to give it power. As the blade grew, the girl gasped from behind him. Few must have seen metal expand in such a way. He took a few more steps, closer to the sound: snuffling now accompanied the digging. From behind an ancient oak, dirt and twigs flew into the air.
“Was it a man that attacked your horse, miss, or was it a beast?”
The girl didn’t respond.
“Miss,” Guy whispered.
Then came the thudding of her feet on the ground. Guy turned, but too late. She was upon him. Guy had no time to lift his sword, no time to adjust his feet, and when she shoved him there was nothing he could do to stop himself falling to the ground.
The girl stood on his wrist and kicked his sword away. “Now!” she called as she took cover behind a tree.
Hooves thundered on the ground and the undergrowth rustled. The girl made a high-pitched and manic laugh.
Acting on instinct, Guy rolled to the left as a boar burst through a low shrub close to the oak tree. It threw its head forward, lunging with its tusks at the space Guy recently occupied. It disappeared back through the bush. Guy scanned the ground for his sword, hurried to grab it, and muttered the words to enchant it again. He glanced at the girl. How could he have been so foolish? Lured in to help a damsel in distress only to find himself ambushed! It was so obvious now: the tear in her dress ran not with the cut of the cloth, as it would if someone had grabbed her. She, or her companion, had cut the dress to make her a more convincing victim. He could almost see the fingerprints where she’d deliberately smeared dirt on her face. But worse, her eyes were ringed with orange, indicative of demonic possession. The stench of evil cloyed in the back of Guy’s throat. She’d have to wait. A greater menace lurked on the other side of the tree.
Guy hurried forward in an arc to come around the side of the oak, keeping the demon girl in his peripheral vision. What he thought was a boar was only half that–a half-man, half-animal hybrid, his teeth twisted into the shape of tusks. In front of the creature, a mutilated body lay, part-consumed by the boar-boy.
Guy held his sword out, stepping back and eying the girl. “I’m guessing this creature before me is your brother, the man on the ground, the owner of the horse, and his poor victim.”
When the girl spoke, her voice had become deeper and gruff. “You’re a smart one, maggot, but you forgot one part.” The girl stepped closer, as the boar-boy raised his head to look at him with diseased eyes.
“What’s that?” Guy answered as he scanned the environment.
“Your part as the next victim.” She bared her teeth, a row of blackened and broken shards.
It was clear what had become of this pair. Together, they’d attempted to conjure a demon, no doubt to gain wealth or power. That was often the root. They must have tried to turn a wild pig into a familiar creature or use it as a sacrifice. But whatever they’d summoned did not wish to acquiesce with their plan, perhaps considered them too insignificant to bring pandemonium into the world. So instead, the demon had fused the man with the sacrifice, and taken possession of the girl’s body. A tale as old as time, but not one often shared in polite company. Maybe it should be.
Boar-boy rubbed one foot into the ground several times and lowered his head while the girl bounced to the rhythm of her lewd laugh.
Boar-boy burst towards Guy. There was no time to raise his sword. If he got a blow away, he’d still be knocked to the ground and pinned under the body, only to be stuck by his demon-possessed sister.
Guy dived, and the creature rushed past. Guy’s bones cried out when he hit the ground, the memory of old pain augmenting new. Again, his flesh was aflame, and, still, the sister laughed. Guy shuffled back to a tree and used it to help himself up. The girl’s face had shifted, taking on demonic features, the flesh sucked inside, the cheekbones high, the mouth gaping. “Again!” she cried. “Squash the Sapien insect.”
Boar-boy followed orders. This time Guy was ready. He pushed himself back onto a low branch at the height of his backside, pushing back, hearing the branch creak, and feeling the force build behind him. He waited until Boar-boy began his charge. Every instinct begged Guy to flee. Instead, Guy waited until his adversary closed. With it only a yard away, Guy twisted aside, releasing the power of the bent branch, which flew forward, thwacking Boar-boy in the face and knocking him onto his side. Guy dashed forward and ran the blade across the creature’s neck.
“No!” cried the sister. “Scrabbling beetle! Beetling scab! Die!”
Whatever demon this was, it consisted entirely of rage. There was no strategy. No doubt they had feasted on travellers for some time and faced little in the way of challenge. Guy would use her momentum against her. As she sped towards him, he positioned his sword, ready. When she was but a few feet away, with a simple swing her head and her body were twain.
Despite this separation, the head continued to scream. Guy plunged his sword into her heart, silencing her as he released the demon back to the underworld.
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