Nearing the finish line! I had to take a hiatus for a bit to view my plot from a distance, as I felt I was losing sight of the forest for the trees. It worked. I’m now 72,000 words in, and will wrap things up at a total of 85-90K words. I’ve also retitled the project Warrior of the Lost Age, it rings better I think. Here’s another excerpt for your enjoyment …
Yorgash Yuul marshaled the horde before Azharion’s eastern walls at dawn.
Over thirty thousand Yarguun massed on the slopes below the city, every one a warrior seven to nine feet tall and flaring a crimson crest of feathers that ran from his brow to midway down his back, so that to a watcher on the walls it seemed the coral rocks had come back to life with myriads of waving red polyp-blossoms. Banners laden with trophy skulls of orruk, sithan, varaaz, even Yarguun and human danced over their heads, and the coppery sunlight was thrown back in blinding glints off their hooked iron weapons. Drums pounded the thundering prelude to battle.
Cannon roared from Azharion’s walls, but the balls mostly fell short, and Yorgash Yuul drew the horde back a hundred paces.
Shouts of derision erupted from the defenders, and Yorgash Yuul rippled his feathers in amusement. Let them laugh. He had learned enough of human warfare that he knew how the horde would look to their eyes. The Yarguun had no airships, no cannon, no siege engines. They didn’t even carry ladders. To the defenders, the horde attack would seem nothing more than a massive jest.
Unless the horde possessed some secret weapon.
On his signal, warriors of his own Hakuur tribe dragged forward an assemblage of crystals resembling a spiky globular cactus. The drummers struck up a new and even more ominous beat, and he made a show of twiddling the crystal spikes as if setting up the device. The morning sun struck fiery glints off its thousands of facets, and the device began to glow with its own light, growing brighter and brighter until it was a miniature sun in its own right. There could be no mistaking it for anything but the horde’s trump card.
As expected, the defenders responded by launching their own reserve weapon. A flock of aircraft rose above the city like carrion lizardbirds defending a carcass. Two great wind-dromons led the fleet, flanked by several frigates and patrol corvettes, their multiple banks of wing-sails beating against the contrary air current, while on all sides of them darted agile ornithopters and even little airskiffs each carrying only a pilot and two or three archers or arbalesters.
Now there were some cries of fear and dismay from some of the horde, for centuries of helpless massacre had taught the Yarguun to fear the humans’ terrible airships.
“Steady!” roared Yorgash Yuul. “Hold your positions and behold the power the Speakers of Yargul have granted us!”The tribal chiefs echoed his order, passing it up and down the ranks, and they stilled. The aircraft began their attack dives, their commanders so contemptuous of their barbarian targets they did not bother to maneuver for a flanking position but instead coming on dead ahead for a frontal assault.
Arrows, bolts and musket balls began to rain down from the leading aircraft, tearing bloody gaps in the leading lines. Then the huge cruisers were almost overhead, their belly hatches swinging open to unleash the inevitable rain of bombs.
But that was the very cue Yorgash Yuul had awaited. “Now!” he yelled with savage exultation. He turned the control stones. The device’s inner fires winked out, to be replaced by an energy field, barely visible save for a slight shimmering of blueness that ballooned into an enormous hemisphere enveloping the entire horde, reached well into the city itself, then encompassed even the highest elements of Azharion’s airfleet.
And their levitators died.