When Crows Cawed

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


As many of my readers may have noticed, this is a part from my short story, "Crows Amidst Giants". "When Crows Cawed" is a full novel version written from that short story, and most of the novel's
prologue are the same as the short story, albeit with some rewrites and changes. Enjoy!

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Prologue 1

Submitted: September 06, 2019

Reads: 235

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Submitted: September 06, 2019

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The huge blade scraped against the gravel, then it whipped forward. Blood erupted across the giant’s hamstring as it fell on one knee. It keened horrendously, then swept a hand at the swordsman. He ducked, its claws raking a forceful gale through his hair. The blade leaped up, plunging through the side of the muscled hand.

 

The giant howled, thrashing its gory hand, maddened by the length of steel in its flesh. The blade dislodged. The swordsman was flung free, crashing against the trunk of a tree. He collapsed.

Is this my destiny? He wondered as his consciousness dimmed, to be slain by the monsters that had taken away so much from me?

The earth shook as the horde of giants charged the unconscious man. Their eyes glowing orbs of red, blood-curdling roars thunderous, their massive clawed hands reached for the swordsman.

 I must survive, He jerked, gritting his teeth against the throbbing pain in his head, Momoko, Ryushi. Daddy promised that he will return. Just wait for me…

His eyelids snapped open. Claws inches from his face, he ducked and rolled as the tree was smashed to splinters. He lunged, but a gigantic foot slammed against the earth in front of him, sweeping up a cloud of dust. Dirt and grit went into his eyes, and he stood helpless, blinded as the fume settled.

The swordsman gazed up. Towering above and around him were giants, half a dozen of them. Their fangs gleaming in the night, he heard guttural cries as the giant shook the earth with each of their advancing steps. And they are getting closer.

The world became dark as the shadow of a hand loomed over him. He glared at it as the hand swooped toward him, whipping air against his face.

May Lord Karasu Tengu, the ancient god, bless me with his power once more…

The swordsman leaped…

 

…and a pair of black feathered wings erupted from his back. He swopped along the giant’s arm, his blade held before him like a spear.

“Wruaghh!” With a roar that thundered across the sky, the swordsman rammed his blade into the giant’s eye. It thrashed and reached up a hand to claw its own face, desperate to get to him.

He flew past the gaps between its fingers, and with all the strength in his arms, slashed across the great arteries along the abomination’s neck. A river of blood rained down upon him as he flew away, a gore-encrusted bird of prey.

A giant whipped its hand toward the tengu. He spiraled sideways, dodging the blow. The tengu swordsman swooped back and plunged his blade into the giant’s abdomen, then shot upward like an arrow, slitting the fiend’s stomach open.

Guts and intestines spilled out as the giant collapsed, crushing the blazing remnant of a house.

The swordsman fled, diving with great speed away from the cluster of giants, heading toward a nearby town.

His hands were shaking. He gritted his teeth, trying to bring his temper under control, trying to suppress the urge to swerve back and slaughter all those giants, or die trying.

Only a fool would face a horde of oni that size alone… Even for a blademaster tengu, it’s a crazy risk.

Besides, there seemed to be something more to the action of these giants than that of simple hunting raids.

The tengu gazed at the giants clumped along the perimeter of the burning town.

The thatched roofs were set ablaze, the wooden buildings torches that casted a ruddy glow against the backdrop of night.

They aren’t scattered around as much as they should be. Those large ones seemed to be clustered… near the center of the town?

He swooped down, feeling gusts of wind whipping against his face, hearing the wind roaring in his ears. He came to a halt upon the tiled roof of an untouched building, scanning the entire town with the eyes of a bird of prey.

Just several houses away from the one he was perched on, a man was running, his face twisted in horror as an oni lumbered after him. The giant snatched him up.

The man squirmed, weeping and screaming as the oni’s grip tightened, as it lifted him up toward its open mouth. The tengu tensed, his knuckles white against the hilt of his sword. He shifted into a crouch, ready to spring forward and take flight.

A humongous fist slammed against the clay-tiled roof. The tengu barely managed to soar away as the entire rooftop collapsed, reducing the large building to a pile of wooden debris.

Even before he took in the look of the oni that had assaulted him, the tengu snapped his vision back towards the man flailing within the giant’s grip.

The man’s screams were abruptly cut off as the oni’s jaws chomped in on the upper part of his body. It jerked its head backward. Blood and gore erupted as the man was torn in half, his upper portion in the giant’s mouth, the lower still in its grasp.

With sickening crunches, the oni chewed the man. Its throat moved up and down as it swallowed the remains.

“Nooo!” The tengu hollered, face livid as he yanked out his sword. He swooped toward the oni like a bolt of lightning, ramming his blade into its throat. The giant gulped as blood streamed down its neck.

With a choking sound, it spitted up mushy remnants of the devoured man and toppled over. 

That was when he spotted it. At the center of the town stood a tall woman, radiant in her unearthly beauty. Crowning her head were swirls of flaming scarlet hair, her body clad in a sable battle robe. She was commanding the oni forward, several of the giants forming a perimeter around her position.

She is the reason why the oni rallied as they do, The tengu gasped, his eyes never leaving the lady in black, The oni hime, the giant princess. I thought she was only myths and legends…

The swordsman made a swift glanced backwards. Fortunately, the giant that had sneaked up on him earlier was nowhere to be found, presumably chasing down the survivors. He felt as if a hand had been clamped around his heart, and the tengu could hardly breathe,

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. He wept, streams of tears coursing down his blood-splattered cheeks. I am at my limit. I wish that there was something more that I could do…  Gliding silently, the swordsman circled around the back of the giant protectors.

He ducked behind a building’s tiled roof, his eyes fixated upon the form of the oni princess. Standing just next to her was a giant, its club held ready by its side. Both of their backs were toward him.

Lord Karasu have blessed me with a golden chance to alter the currents of this war. His thumb nudged against the pommel of his sword, while another hand wrapped tightly around the hilt.

I will end all this. Once and for all. He lunged.

Before the giant could hear him coming, the tengu hacked at the back of its neck. Crimson blood erupted as the blade parted flesh, as the tengu felt his blade went through muscles and bones, to finally cleaved through the spinal cord beneath.

As the oni toppled, a massive club lashed through the air at the swordsman. He twisted, but the length of wood still clipped the border of his right wing.

The tengu howled. He fell onto the roof of a nearby house, his wings folded awkwardly beneath him. The giant lifted up its mace, then it lashed down with a bone-jarring roar.

The tengu rolled out of the way as the section of the roof collapsed. He half sprinted, half swooped across the rooftops, his feet flying over the tiles just before the giant smashed them asunder.

The tengu glanced backward. He gasped at the oni’s menacing grin, its jaws dripping saliva on the roof tiles just a few paces from where he is.

It’s getting closer.

The tengu swept his gaze to the path ahead, and saw…

…an oni towering before him, its club swung back, ready to strike.

“Wruaghhhh!” The swordsman yelled as he felled flat against the roof. The air stirred violently as the club whipped by just inches above his head. The club went full force against the face of the oni behind him, smashing its head to bits, scattering blood and brains across the rooftops of nearby buildings.

With an inhuman roar, the swordsman leaped off the side of the building. He raised his blade up, and plunged it through the heart of the oni Oni before him.

Only one more… Only ONE more! He swooped, black feather wings spreading, at the face of the last giant guardian. Its mouth was gaping open, gleaming fangs rushing forward to devour him. Just before the oni’s jaw snapped close, the tengu veered downward and thrust his sword up the flesh of its chin.

The giant screamed. Grunting, heaving with all the strength of his arms, the tengu severed the giant’s neck from chin to collarbone. Jumping off, he dived, a blot of shadow swooping down at a blinding speed. Heading for his target…

They collided in a blind tangle of limbs and bodies. The oni princess and tengu went sprawling, thrown into separate directions. The princess pushed herself up, hand placed on the hilt of her blade. She glanced upwards…

Only to be staring right into the tengu’s steely eyes. He held a blade at her throat, and the princess bled from where steel met her skin.

“Your Majesty, oni hime, there is a place you will have to go with me.”

His voice was colder than the blade in his hands.


© Copyright 2019 S. K. Inkslinger. All rights reserved.

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