Extract from the battle with the Chalca

Then Jaguar recognised Two Sign wading towards him through the frenzied action and felt a sudden thrill. Far out on the flank he must have seen the plight of the macehualtin and, knowing that his knights were in control, he’d left them to it, electing instead to help the common warriors. Two Sign was Tlacaelel’s right-hand man but he was also a fighting legend. He had crossed from shore-to-shore and seen the broad expanses of their land. He’d led successful missions from the wilds of Toltec to the borders of Oaxaca and even as far afield as Zapotec. Some even claimed he’d led an army of one hundred of Tenochtitlan’s finest jungle fighters to some distant ruins called Palenque, allegedly in search of gold. Through the ducking, wheeling crowds, Jaguar watched Crocodile’s adoptive father carve his way towards them.

A tall man came at Two Sign, all teeth and spittle, long arms wheeling. The Eagle warrior took the first blow on his fast disintegrating shield and parried the next with his own sword, turning it aside. Quick as a flash the tall man launched a backhanded blow. Two Sign nudged it safely up and over and then had to dance back as the rangy man jabbed at him with his shield. Jaguar saw Two Sign wait. A thrust with the shield, and then another. The Chalca used the length of his arms to keep Two Sign on his back foot. Suddenly the Eagle Knight hooked his shield behind the other as it came at him again. He wrenched the man towards him and calmly inserted his sword into the space between shield and neck. Gangly arms dropped the sword and shield as the stricken warrior clamped his fingers to his jugular in a futile attempt to staunch the wound.

Before the ambush

This blog is really starting to be useful. Thanks to Geoff for reading the first section and coming up with some great editorial comments! Thanks to Safder for the encouragement too. Scene two from chapter one will be posted on Thursday. In the meantime, here is a short extract from chapter two.

Jaguar watched his friend examine his sword, checking each of the blades in turn to make sure they were tight. He felt queasy and decided to check his own weapon in the hope that it would calm his nerves. He slung a bag from his shoulder and took out the shield and his own sword. Jaguar’s was the traditional style, with none of the garish embellishments that most warriors favoured. Some carved the wooden hafts and tied colourful feathers to the head, but Jaguar’s father had shown him that clean lines and unfussy design allowed a warrior to check the weapon for faults more easily. He turned it over in his hands a few times, feeling the balance. It was a beautiful piece of work by Achcauhtli, the clan’s armourer. Six razor-sharp shards of polished obsidian gleamed even in the gloom of the ravine. The cutting stones were mounted in two rows of three, set on opposite sides to give a clean slicing action and to allow the weapon to be carried safely.

Jaguar cursed himself, irritated because of the fear that crawled over his skin.

Suddenly, Archer Eagle pulled back from the rift opening. He made a flattening motion with his hand and the warriors shrank back further into their hiding places. The enemy was close.