In the spring month of Chithirai, in the Fourteenth Regnal Year of King Vel Pari’s Rule, the wheels crushed the blooms and cut a new and dangerous path for Parambu Nadu. Cursed I was to witness the anguished cries – Kabilar

The chariot swerved from side to side and trundled up the dusty rise. I glanced back at the soldiers in the dip. They had dismounted and were on their knees. In quick succession they drew and let loose arrows. Two more brigands flew forward as their horses succumbed to the volley and buckled at the knees. A soldier caught up with our carriage and shouted at Pari.

‘Flee my king, flee!’

There was a sharp hiss of air. The man grimaced. He toppled off his saddle. Rolled on the dust. The arrow in his back snapped.

More howling attackers, their black tunics fluttering around them, bored down. They smashed into the line of archers. Lancers skewered the kneeling men. They clutched their torn torsos and toppled back dead. Without breaking gallop, the brigands waved swords above their turbaned heads, and charged towards us.

Pari urged the team of horses. The wagon flew over the ground and crushed and scattered the gravel. Though I wedged my feet into leather straps nailed into the floorboard, it took all my concentration to maintain balance. I clung to an upright and held a small round shield in the other hand; but otherwise, I was of no help to my friend.

Again, Pari snapped the reins but the horses, their tongues lolling and heads bopping in rhythm, were tiring. The weight of the heavy chariot, built for ornament rather than for war or speed, was fast depleting the thoroughbreds.

Rested and strong, the brigands’ mounts closed the gap with every bound. The lead attacker drew abreast, squeezing himself between the royal cart and the blur of shrubs fringing the path. The man reached to grab a handhold. Pari leaned his chariot and smashed into him. The screaming rider and his neighing horse crashed into the ripping thorn filled brushes. More attackers appeared on all sides of our trundling carriage.

‘Kabi, the gold,’ shouted Pari. ‘The gold!’

‘What?’ I shouted back.

‘The gold. Throw the gold.’

I snatched the bag of gold and swung, scattering the coins at the attackers. It made no impression. Highwaymen would stop in mid-fight to reach for gold. But our ruse failed.

The riders were after bigger bounty. Royal ransom. Royal blood. Pari’s blood. They persisted in their pursuit. One rider pulled ahead, intending to leap onto our lead horse. Pari tugged the reins and leaned to a side, and the horses veered just as the man leaped. He slipped and rolled on the dirt and missed the clattering chariot wheels by an arm’s length.

‘Attention!’ Pari shouted.

Another rider gained. Reaching forward, he raised and brought down his sword. My shield took his blow. The impact sent a painful shudder up my arm to the shoulder. And I fell.

‘Deflect! Deflect!’ yelled Pari,

I scrambled to my feet. The rider too had recovered from his downswing. Again, he raised his arm and delivered a slash. I swung my shield. Not versed in martial mores, I reacted, fought for my life. The man made to swipe his blade across my side. Panic stricken, I lunged forward and hit his face with my shield, catching him in the mouth. His eyes popped, and he fell back off his horse. I blanched.

‘I killed him. Oh god. Did I—’

‘Well done!’ yelled Pari. ‘Hold tight.’

He guided the carriage away from the path and into the trees. We hurled over thick roots in joint jarring bolts and shakes. One slip of the digging hooves, and a broken leg would send us headlong into the ripping ground.

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2019

Continued Friday 16 August 2019

16 comments

  1. My Dear Eric,

    Superb! Riveting, exciting, enthralling. I, too, was captivated, held in the moment, riding along with the tumult and wonder and fear that permeates your characters. I felt as though I was a character, experiencing the sheer horror and adrenalin that courses through anyone so engrossed in battle. Kudos to you!

    I, of course, will continue to read with anticipation all subsequent chapters. Truly, a tour de force of emotion and being ‘in-the-moment’, captured vividly with description and emotional upheaval.

    Thank you for taking your readers on such a wild ride! I look forward to your next installments.

    warmest wishes, my friend,
    Paul 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. Dear Paul,

      What can I say other than “overwhelmed” by your superlatives. Glad to have you so invested in the story. Your words fuel my journey as a writer. Perhaps, one day I’ll be recognized as an author.

      All good wishes, my dear friend 🙂
      Eric

  2. I was right ‘there’ in the story and the action, Eric. Thanks to your descriptive prose, I could feel what was happening. The pace is great and your words evocative. Bless Jane for her help, Hugs and here’s to your creative imagination and pen, my buddy. Xx hugs xx

    1. Hello again, Jane 🙂

      Thank you for reading and the kind words of encouragement. Yes, Jane is supportive. I can do with all the help I can get 🙂

      L & H 🙂
      Eric

      1. Thanks Eric, but I shall also buy the book and get it signed by you when we meet
        It is important that we make our history available in a readable and enjoyable form – keep up the good work, maybe one day I will follow your footsteps

  3. This is one read where I felt I’m galloping faster than the horses. There was no time to pause, maybe I forgot to breathe, lol. You kept the momentum. Very exciting scene. Looking out for the continuation.

    1. Hello Windy 🙂

      Fight scenes are always challenging… and to write it in the first person, even more so, I reckon. Thank you for reading and your support.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

  4. What a battle! Your narrative is fast paced and evocative. It is well done. The staccato adds to the drama however i have two suggestions.

    You might want to look at this sentence, as it tripped me up.
    ‘The weight of the heavy chariot, built for ornament than war or speed, was fast depleting the thoroughbreds.’ You could add “more’ before ‘for ornament’ or ‘rather’ before ‘than.’ Then, which ever you pick your might add ‘for’ before ‘war’.

    The other sentence which gave me trouble was: ‘ And the wagon flew over crushing scattering gravel.’ Here you might consider dropping the ‘and’ and adding whatever it is that the wagon flew over. perhaps the ground.’

    Keep them coming!!

    1. Hello Jane dear – thank you!

      How very lovely that you took the time to point out areas for improvement. I very much welcome this and have often asked readers to critique. But most people are too kind or perhaps afraid to give feedback lest this is not taken well. But for me, I look forward to readers pointing out my errors. In this regards, I wear a turtle’s shell for skin.

      Thank you, Jane – I’ve corrected the two sentences. Much appreciate your help. The revised sentences – I also spotted a few more – are in blue font.

      I hope you will keep reading these sequels and provide your valuable feedback.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

  5. Those were the times often cited as the “good old times.” But they were far from it for the majority of the population, and even for kings they came and went depending on their fortitude or political skills. Keep them coming Eric. 🙂

    1. Very true, Ian

      I suppose we tend to romanticize the past. Many of the comforts we take for granted now were non existent in the ancient days. The ordinary people lived harsh lives.

      Hope not to disappoint with the sequels to come.

      Cheers! 🙂
      Eric

Leave a Reply to Jane Stansfeld Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: