The Godhunter – Excerpt
A strange sound penetrated Gethel's daze. He yanked on the reins and Kotmu's head came up with a snap. The pack llarmals slogged to a stop, heads held high on the top of their long necks. Kotmu let out a long suffering groan and he shushed her. "Enough! Listen." Kotmu's fur lined ears swiveled forward and her head swung to the right. Gethel wasn't crazy. Kotmu heard it too.
Somewhere ahead, a child screamed.
The pack llarmals blew out breaths and made soft chirrups. They were nervous, but not panicked. Gethel shoved the hood off his head and listened.
The scream came again, high pitched and terrified. It was definitely a child. Gethel looked at the pack llarmals with their heavy panniers then made a quick decision. He pulled the ring that held their leadropes from his back saddlering, attached a dragweight and let it drop to the ground. The llarmals would stay put, he hoped.
Gethel kicked Kotmu repeatedly until she got the idea to run. It took a few strides for the big llarmal to get herself untracked, the broad leathery feet dug in and they plunged down the trail at a hard gallop. He'd forgotten how fast a full-grown riding llarmal could go. They entered the side of the meadow and were halfway through before Kotmu skidded to a halt, ears pinned forward. Between his knees Gethel felt her stringy muscles tense for flight as she blew a long snort of breath that clouded in the chill air.
At first Gethel didn't see what scared the normally complacent llarmal. A scream came again, desperate now, and his eyes flicked to the source. Sprawled on the ground were a man and a woman, both dressed in fine silken robes and sprawled in a most undignified manner. A child tugged at the arm of the man, then the woman. The figures made no response. Gethel got a bad feeling about exactly what was wrong with them. The child dropped the man’s arm and screamed again then ran back and forth near the tree line, swinging his arms at what looked like pieces of cloud and attempting to disperse it. The child gave up and moved towards a section of meadow where the landscape shimmered with what looked to be a door, set in the middle of nowhere. The garden scene within the doorframe shivered and rippled like water after a rock disturbed the surface. Around one edge a thick, grey mist billowed. Black smoke poured from the other side. As Gethel clung to Kotmu's reins the two vapors coalesced into a man-like shape, with bulging muscles and a wisp of trailing smoke where the legs should be. Its face was a terrifying mix of man and haze, polished horn and ember-bright eyes. It roared a sound of fire crackling through a dry forest.
It was a ghul. A demon.