As y’all know, I’m letting my spooky shine this week by sharing some bloody battles!
In this scene, we follow Vex as he leads his soldiers in what becomes a messy massacre. Please enjoy this excerpt from Chapter Nine of Submerged:
Vex was surprised at how easy the battle was. Battle wasn’t even the right word. It was a massacre. Yes, a massacre, shouted the voice. Stop it! Stop the bloodshed.
Vex shoved the voice aside. He was Vex now, destroyer of men.
The ragged screams of the hundred or so dying people before him did little to stop the efforts of his swinging khanjar. He ignored the piteous sounds, instead focusing and finding pleasure in the resounding crunch of his bhuj axe whenever it crushed bone. Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind the voice shouted for him to stop, that he was wrong. But that voice was weak and easily silenced.
The people on the outer deck of the sea vessel were ill prepared. It’s why they planned the attack when they did. But it seemed the timing was even better than they had planned for. The sea people had been in the middle of a celebration of some sort. There was even a feast waiting for his men!
He and his two hundred men had brought their dhows up along the side of the sea people’s ship. Vex had had a hard time accepting that their presence would be masked, but they had seemed invisible to those keeping watch. It wasn’t until his men were all aboard that the sea people had been alerted to the invaders. Those on the outer deck would have been dangerous under ordinary circumstances. Intel on the sea people told him that these folk were not gifted in the way of water. They had watersense, wei he believed they called it, but they lacked the ability to control their vast ocean home. He didn’t know where he had learned that information. In fact, he had no memories at all. But who needed memories when there was war and death?
He lunged forward, a deep guttural cry tearing from his throat. His khanjar had swung high and connected with one of the sea people, embedded in the man’s skull. His blood was hot when it sprayed into Vex’s eyes. He wiped the blood away with his arm and wrenched his weapon free, turning toward his next victim.
Warning cries and alarms sounded his arrival, but by then it was too late. His men were already on board.
A soldier rushed toward him, his trishula forward and ready. The soldier was angry, blinded by the rage he felt at watching his comrade mercilessly killed. Vex sidestepped him easily, knocking the soldier on his spine with the butt of his khanjar. The soldier fell to his knees, his back arching in pain, and Vex swung his bhuj axe at his neck, severing the head from his shoulders in one mighty blow. The body fell to the ground, twitching before it even began to bleed. Vex stepped over the man and farther into the fray. This body grew tired, but Vex never grew weary. He ignored the signs of exhaustion and pushed forward.
Those with water powers were arriving. A wave rose up from the sea and pushed into several of his men, knocking them off the boat and pulling them under into the depths below.
“Fire!” Vex signaled the command as well, pleased to see that his men were already setting small fires to the ship. Let the people worry about using their water power to put out their burning ship. He swung his khanjar at another attacking soldier, splitting the trishula in two from the might of his short sword. He kept the downward momentum of his swing and severed the man’s leg below the knee. The man cried out and fell to the floor. Vex implanted his khanjar into the man’s chest.
More of the sea people rushed the deck from the lower levels of the ship. The voice inside his head screamed, but Vex smiled broadly. Good, let them fight. He preferred to give them a fighting chance. He didn’t care for the massacre, their stealthy approach had already left a sour taste in his mouth, and he turned to the on-comers, lifting his voice in a guttural battle cry.
Some of his men fell. He watched as one of the sea people pushed water into the face of two of his men. They thrashed at the air with their hands before toppling down. Drowned. Vex tackled the water user to the ground, satisfied when his fist crushed into the man’s sternum, reveling in the feel of it collapsing under his hand. He finished the job with a quick slice from his khanjar before leaping to his feet, ready for the next attacker.
He was having too much fun. He needed to remember his objective. His khanjar sliced off a man’s arm and he shoved him away with a swift kick to his ribs, moving away from the man in search of the Sea King.
His orders had been clear: damage the ship, injure and kill as many as he could, take what he wanted, but kill the Sea King. The need to fulfill his objective pulled him forward, his steady pulse keeping time against the golden chain at his wrist. His sharp eyes scanned the deck, raking over the twisting bodies locked in combat, searching through the blood and gore amidst the fires and gushing water. Where was he? Surely the man wouldn’t hide below deck while his people were massacred?
He stepped over a twitching body, planted his boot into the back skull of another that was trying to rise, and smiled when he found his prey. There. The Sea King stood off to the side, pushing water over the fires of the ship, drowning at least a dozen men, and fighting off two others with his twirling trishula. The man was ferocious in battle, easily the best fighter he had ever seen. Vex smiled. He ignored the screaming in his brain and focused all his attention on his objective.
He rushed toward the sea king, scarcely taking the time to behead yet another soldier that dared to attack him. His vision tunneled. Kill the Sea King. Kill him.
He was almost there. A soldier stepped up in front of him, blocking his view and preventing him from going any farther. Vex growled his frustration and faced his new foe, scowling down at him. He was a boy, maybe seventeen or eighteen. He would soon be a dead fool.
Vex planted his feet and swung his khanjar at the youth. The boy ducked and Vex’s sword whistled as it cut through the air. He pivoted on his heel, using the force from his swinging weapon to turn him in the same direction, not losing momentum as he swung his khanjar at the boy. The boy raised his trishula and caught Vex’s khanjar with it, effectively blocking Vex’s attempt at decapitation.
The boy was strong. Vex smiled and gave the boy his full attention. The Sea King could wait.
The boy soldier swung his trishula at him. Vex parried and sliced down at him, causing the boy to jump back to avoid being cut in half. Vex choked back laughter. He would enjoy killing this one. The boy pushed his trishula toward Vex’s stomach, at the same time a spray of water hit Vex in the face, pushing up his nose and into his mouth. The boy had water power too. The water pushed its way deeper, blocking his air passage. Vex focused on the beating of his heart. The key was to not panic. Break the boy’s concentration, and he would lose his control of the water. Vex swung his khanjar in a sideways motion, changing its direction at the last moment so that it sliced down and into the boy’s foot.
The boy yelped in pain and lost control of the water. Vex inhaled sharply, ignoring his burning lungs. Kill the boy. Kill the king. He rushed at the youth, swinging his khanjar while the boy was still distracted by his bleeding foot. Enough playtime. Vex would finish him now. He swung his khanjar down at the boy’s exposed neck…