An action scene from The Bones of the Earth

The following excerpt comes from Chapter 8 of The Bones of the Earth. Javor and Photius have been taken in, temporarily, by the village of Bilavod, just before it comes under the attack of a band of Avar raiders. Photius shows the villagers how to prepare defences, and Javor trains some of the young men in fighting.

“Bilavod” means “white water” in some Slavic languages. Photo by Tomasz Biskup on Unsplash

Sunset came, gleaming sullen and red under the clouds. Then a cry rang out from the watchers around the stockade. “They’re coming! I see torches in the trees!”

Javor ran to the log wall, loosening his sword. It was true: firelight flickered in the forest until the raiders rode hard into the clearing before the holody. In the sunset, their torches lit up the sky.

There were many more than before, close to fifty, all mounted and masked. They carried torches, spears and long, broad swords. Hach, the archer, took a position prepared for him: a small opening in the stockade, narrow on the outside wall but offering him a good view of the field. Photius took the arrows that had been soaking in potion, dipped one in another liquid and immediately gave it to Hach. With only a quick glance at his target, Hach let fly. The arrow sped to a raider in the front row and hit him full in the chest. As the man fell from his saddle, his body burst into flames. Hach shot again: the arrow hit a raider’s shield, but also caught fire, which spread to several others. Soon several raiders were on fire, slapping themselves to extinguish it. Their horses panicked and broke away, screaming, carrying their riders into the woods again.

The Bones of the Earth is Book 1 of the Dark Age trilogy. Find out more about it.

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