Turning back to the man on the ground, she once again had
to wipe the gathering flakes from his face.
She attempted to tug him to a sitting position, thinking she could wrap
her mantle around them both, and lend him what little body heat she still
had. When she went to lift him, she
realized he still had his broadsword lashed crosswise over his back. Finding the strap’s buckle on the center of
his chest, she released it.
Then, froze as
the howl came.
It was close by.
The man groaned as she urgently rolled his dead weight, enough to drag
the sword out from under him, and then dropped the leather sheath as she freed
the blade. Holding the sword in her
right hand, she used her left to release the clasp of her mantle. She would need her arms free to swing the
sword. Keeping her eyes fixed upon the
trees, she dragged her woolen cape over the man’s unmoving body.
The deep growl sent a chill to her marrow as the threat
of the snowstorm had failed to do. Low
tree limbs rustled and then parted as the set of glowing yellow eyes peeked
through the wintry foliage.
Swallowing hard, Skena brought the sword up, preparing to
swing, and praying she had strength enough to wield the mighty sword true.
Skena stood trembling, from the cold, aye, but more so
from dread. With the specter of famine
looming across the land, she feared wolves would soon be a threat they would
face. Foolishly, she had hoped the
menace would not come this early in the season.
Swallowing to moisten the dryness in her mouth, she watched the feral
eyes narrow on her, judging how much a threat she presented holding the
sword. Plainly, she posed nary a concern
to the creature. Shoulders lowered,
teeth bared, he edged forward, a low growl of intent rising deep in his
throat. The animal scented her
fear. Her weakness only emboldened
Keeping her attention on the black wolf, her eyes quickly
scanned to see if there were others coming up behind him or circling
around. Where you found one, usually
there lurked a small pack. Her luck
holding, thus far no other pairs of bright eyes appeared; no dark forms skulked
through the unmoving undergrowth around the dense pine trees.
“Oh, please let him be a lone wolf,” she offered her wish
to the Auld Ones, before whispering
dark words to weave a Charm of Protection,
drawing upon what little powers she possessed to sustain her through this
Not a small woman,
her Ogilvie blood showed in her tall body and strong bones. Even so, to hold the heavy broadsword—which
took years for a man to master—was tiring.
Her arms vibrated; tremors racked her muscles. A mix of terror and cold. The winter storm slowly leached all the
strength from her body. She fought
against the quaking, still the sword wobbled in her grip.
Baring his fangs, the wolf crept slowly forward, more
daring with each step. Skena had trouble
keeping her vision clear. Falling flakes
and those kicked up by the spindrift continued to stick to her long lashes,
adding moisture to the tears she valiantly labored to hold at bay. It was vital to see the wolf when he leapt,
in order to time her swing. She sucked
in a hard breath of terror. The creature
was so much bigger than she expected!
“Off with you, evil foal-chû. You shall no’ be making a meal of this
warrior or me.” She spoke false courage,
hoping the sound of her voice might frighten him into backing off. Instead, his body coiled, preparing to
So intent upon the wolf, Skena hopped slightly when long
arms enclosed about her. Startled and
yet unwilling to take her eyes off the black creature, it was several
heartbeats before she comprehended the stranger had awakened and was on his
feet. Suddenly, in his strong embrace
she was not so scared.
“Be still, my lady.
I lend my strength to your swing.”
The warrior’s cold hands closed over hers. He leaned against her back; his powerful
muscles caused her shaking to lessen.
Skena had little chance for the details of his nearness
to filter through her thoughts, for with a feral snarl the wolf leapt at
them. Frozen in terror, she was unable
to move, yet she felt the warrior wielding the sword. Bared teeth snapped close to her throat. She cried out and then flinched when the
great blade caught the beast in the neck.
Blood splattered across her clothing and her face. Its heat shocked her. Numb with the horror, she stared at the
animal writhing on the ground. In the
gathering darkness, the pooling blood oddly appeared black upon the pristine
snow. The coppery smell set her stomach
to roiling; revolted, she choked back rising nausea. Her grip slackened about the hilt.
The knight’s fingers closed
tighter around hers. “Nay, my lady,
never leave a wounded animal alive...sometimes, not even a man. ’Tis when they are most dangerous. They risk all for they have naught to
One Snowy Knight, Dragons of Challon, Book 3
Coming July 2018
Prairie Rose Publications
#DragonsofChallon #ScottishRomance #MedievalRomance #Historical Romance