The ring of eman vath, p.33
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       The Ring of Eman Vath, p.33

           Hal Emerson
Chapter Three: The Giant and the Girl

  The Prince wasn’t sure what happened next. All he could remember were brief flashes of images, scents, and sounds. He’d wake to see glimmers of light, and then blink and find himself in a shadowy world of darkness. Flames from torches once, and then a sickening blow to the head that caused the world to heave and spin. He smelled horse sweat and the stink of unwashed bodies. Felt something on his wrists, keeping his hands from moving. A pounding in his head, a sickly sweet scent in the air and salty, metallic stickiness on his lips.

  He opened his eyes and found himself in a strange new world. It was a forest clearing, of that he was sure, though he’d only seen pictures such as this in books and dreams. He was laying on … grass. He couldn’t see the green color of it - green, yes, grass is green, I’ve heard so - because it was dark, but he could feel it, could feel the dirt at its base, could smell it - what a smell! He heard water flowing past him somewhere to his right and saw a deep ravine cut roughly into the ground, at the bottom of which must be flowing water … a river. He tried to turn his head, to see more of what was around him, more of this impossible world, but a bony hand reached down and forced him to look the other way, not letting him move. Fear seized the Prince, true terror, for perhaps the first time in his life.

  The hand was rough, with nails that were filed to look like claws that dug painfully into the side of his head. The other hand reached down and roughly pulled at the front of his robes. There was a prick of something being stuck rudely into his skin, and the Prince let out a gasp of pain as fire flooded his veins. It cleared his mind momentarily, and he looked up.

  The clawed hand was gone, and a group of men were moving away, disappearing into the distance on horses. There was one man left, watching the Prince with amusement. The Prince, not knowing what to do, started to crawl toward the man, pulling himself forward with jerky, half-formed motions. He tried to speak, but a choking, gasping sound was the only thing that managed to escape his throat.

  The man laughed. He stood up, came toward the Prince, drew back a heavy booted foot, and smashed it into his chest.

  The Prince cried out with pain as his ribs broke. The boot pulled back once more, swung forward, and again the Prince felt red-hot daggers of pain pierce his body, shooting up and down his limbs in time with the poison quickly killing him.

  Killing him. The Prince was going to die.

  Darkness closed in on him, and the Prince’s vision narrowed. The boot swung back once more, the man laughing still. Instinctively, the Prince grabbed the leg as it swung into him, and clung to it.

  The Prince wasn’t sure how he hung on, but he did. And slowly his shoulders and chest began to itch, as if with a heat rash. The fire searing his veins seemed to pause, questioningly. There was a cry of pain from the man, and the Prince pulled on the leg; the man overbalanced, and fell to the ground. The Prince, with a jerking, unseeing grope, found the man’s throat, and began to squeeze. The fire in his limbs began to recede, flowing quickly back to the point where it had entered his body as the breath and life began to drain out of the man beneath him. But the Prince wasn’t strong enough, and with a harsh kick that smashed into the Prince’s already broken ribs, the man succeeded in dislodging him, and the fire of the poison returned with a vengeance. The man left, fear spurring him onward in a shambling half-run, but before he’d gone more than a dozen paces, he tripped and fell into the partial-hidden ravine. He screamed, but the cry was cut off by a harsh crack! and then all was silent. The Prince lay there, gasping for breath, his chest heaving but unable to fill his lungs properly, his shoulders and back burning as he reached desperately through the Raven Talisman in the hopes it would save him. He tried to rise, but the effort sapped any strength he had left and he fell back to the ground, colors swirling senselessly about him before fading to the gray-black shadows of unconsciousness.

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