THE SHADOW-HEEL CARNAGE
Pacel’s legs found more purpose in his running. Straying low twigs and bushes brushed against his face and his sides. Briar stuck to his sleeves like limpet, pricking his skin like a mass of tiny needles. He gained nicks in this process. Blood seeped through his torso and chill wreathed in his soul. Breathing hard, his throat was dry, Pacel’s brow creased in concentration as he maneuvered his way swiftly over the dark path. The jumping and darting had his shoulders and back aching. Even the heel of his feet felt sore and his neck made a cracking sound as if something had snapped inside. He could not hear the snarl of the shadow-heel now. His own gasping breath, cast white plumes over his chest and noisy enough to smother its growl. But he did not need to hear it. With Larender dead, he was the creature’s target now…
His lungs barely sustaining him, Pacel stopped and heaved a deep breath. Pacel caught movement in the surrounding trees. His heart thumped. The beast, he thought, spying some unknown image at the side of his eye. He was about to look back, when it leapt. Then sunlight filtered through the dappled shade of trees and the beast shrunk away as if it had met a bolt of lightning, its hide rustling like dry straw on fire.
Sunlight! Lord Pacel noticed. The edge of the woods was before him. The beast was still following, but doing its best to stay away from the lit parts of the forest. If he could lure the monstrosity into the open fields of Silvercarp, it would be roasted in the