Gumbee Writers’ Fight Scenes , Part 8, Jaq D Hawkins

I’ve been working with a style of writing fight scenes that uses changing POV to progress the fight along as different characters pick up the baton and carry the action forward. Below is an extract from Demoniac Dance that serves as an example of this method, although we only see two POVs when there are three involved in the full scene:

The goblin sword swung and met with the commander’s sword in an arc that denoted the start of what was effectively a dance of battle. At the same time, Anton became aware that the magicians among the men on his side had moved close to his vicinity and were sharing in this dance as they engaged the foreign men in battle. The goblins fighting by their sides shared the rhythm of the dance in harmony, probably for the first time they had co-operated with humans in many centuries. Some of the opponents before them entered the rhythm as well, none more so than the commander.

Anton’s eye caught a glimpse of an amulet at the commander’s throat. It was identical to the one he wore himself as well as the one he had given to Haghuf so long ago. By this Anton knew that the commander was a magician, as were some of his elite guard. They could feel the rhythms of the earth pulsate through the movements of battle just as Anton and the goblins did. Other men further from the crush of the fight fought with what skills they had learned, but the psychic connection that kept the goblins operating as a unit was perceptible only to the goblins themselves and the magicians on both sides.

Captain Kantor had not expected this. What should have been an easy conquest had been hindered by unknown predatory creatures in the river, surprise attacks, nothing short of dragons attacking from the skies and now this alarming troll army. What else did the leader of the farmers and craftsmen have in store for them?

He had seen the amulet at the first ring of their swords together. Even the sword of Count Anton looked like something that had manifested out of ancient legends. He would not allow his doubts to show in battle, but inside Kantor was feeling overwhelmed. Even the warrior women, though they had taken few of his men, had been disconcerting with their sudden furious attack and their unnatural blue faces. They had disappeared as if by magic as the dragons attacked. This too was disturbing. Kantor was becoming concerned that the magic of Count Anton might be far superior to his own.

Suddenly one of the big trolls stepped between him and Count Anton. Anton’s sword was mid-swing and might have fallen hard on the troll, but it glanced sideways and did not connect. Kantor admired the skill that could control a weapon with such instant perception and redirection. He took the opportunity to fall back and put some distance between himself and Count Anton. At that moment, he preferred to fight the trolls.

Anton had been sure that he was about to finish the commander. He gave himself completely over to the magic that flowed through him, through the sword, through the earth – and had let the movement of the blade come down in what should have been a bone-crunching blow that could fell the largest of the goblins that fought beside him. Then Kahjak himself had stepped in front of the blade when it was too late to divert the blow. For a split second Anton feared that he would kill the goblin and bring confusion to the battle that would surely end in Those Who Protect turning on all the humans with disastrous results.

The sword diverted its motion as if there were a force field around the goblin that it would not penetrate. It was as if his own will had been overridden by a conscious energy within the sword itself. Before he had much time to think about it, he was engaged with more enemy swords from the throng, but the commander had disappeared behind an onslaught that Kahjak was pushing through the centre of what had been their reorganised force. Anton saw the strategy, the goblins were splitting the army and pushing half of it towards his own men while the other half were cut off from them.

Anton turned to see a muscular female goblin fighting near him, noting her presence to himself for later reference. The other goblins didn’t appear to notice. She fought among them as an equal. Out of curiosity he made his way closer to her while clashing blades with any of the enemy that stood between them. Suddenly she whirled around and met Anton’s eyes as the blade came crashing down towards him. At the same moment a sword slashed towards her from behind and Anton called out in the goblin tongue without thinking.

‘dniheb uoy!’

The blow that had been intended for Anton sailed in a complete 180 degree arc that slashed the head from her would-be assassin’s shoulders. Her eyes turned back to Anton momentarily as she nodded an acknowledgement, then carried on fighting the enemy humans. Anton made a mental note to himself to never sneak up on a goblin in battle, especially a female. They appeared to be more psychically sensitive than the males.

Kantor felt himself being herded along with his men, pinched between the trolls and the men that had come to fight for their homes. His own men were falling fast. Blood dripped from the swords of the massive green warriors that assaulted his forces, the blood of his own men. The men among the enemy fell easily, but he saw no green bodies among those that lay on the ground. The trolls were much bigger and stronger than his soldiers and at least as well trained. Their only hope lay in a complete retreat and in the soldiers on the other side of the street that the trolls had divided escaping to regroup with them later when they could plan according to their new knowledge of the opponents they faced.

Kantor reached for the horn at his side and blew the retreat signal, but just as he did so those damnable blue women attacked again, spearing his soldiers as they ran or engaging with some who stopped to fight only to have his men dropped with arrows from yet another new threat that crawled across the roofs of the buildings. He looked up to see another form of green creatures, ones who were strangely exotic in appearance. They were as tall as men but of a slim, muscular build that was very different from the hefty trolls. They climbed across the thinnest ledges of the buildings, placing themselves on crumbling window ledges or decorative masonry as if they weighed nothing and had the balance of a spider crawling across a wall.

The green skin was tattooed with unreadable designs. The graceful pointed ears were pierced and adorned with rings of gold, sometimes with small stones that glittered in the grey cloudy light of this misty land. They had large, strangely beautiful yellow eyes with a look of intensity in them that turned Kantor’s blood cold. Something about them brought more terror to his heart than the massive trolls as the unnaturally accurate arrows zinged from their bows, each one landing in a specific target’s chest.

These were assassins, not mere snipers. Kantor began to accept that his mission and his army were doomed. He looked for a place to hide. The least he could do was to survive and report back to the king what had happened. He might even attempt a rescue of the king’s worthless cousin if he lived to make the effort.

Anton heard the word whispered among the goblins closest to him, Dunai!

He worked out that the archers that had appeared on the roofs and windows of the derelict buildings were of this tribe, but he had no reference to draw from to understand their significance. They reminded him of Ja’imos with their tattoos and piercings as well as the slim, muscular build of their species and the accuracy of their archers. Some of the newcomers mixed in with the larger goblins, fighting near enough to Anton to get a close look at them. Some had fair hair, but not the white hair of the Kol’ksu … or of Talla. Anton had seen few of such goblins on the rare instances when he had been allowed to participate in The Dance and had wondered about them at the time.

As the battle progressed, Anton followed the surge to the left, away from the men of his camp where more of the smaller goblins were appearing. He found himself fighting very close to one of the elf-like goblins that seemed familiar. The goblin turned as the thought occurred and dipped his sword in a salute, smiling momentarily before resuming the dance of battle that was pushing back three of the enemy soldiers with the expert whirling of his deadly blade.

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3 Comments

Filed under Gumbee Fantasy Writers' Guild

3 responses to “Gumbee Writers’ Fight Scenes , Part 8, Jaq D Hawkins

  1. marcuspailing

    Nice. Overall I think you handled the changing POV well, Jaq. At the beginning I was a bit confused, but I realised that that was because I didn’t know the relationship between the characters. So in the context of the story as a whole I don’t reckon that would be a problem.

    What a great bunch of fight scenes, eh? I’m looking forward to seeing all our ‘poignant’ scenes, and how we all handle them!

    • Me too. I’ve even managed to sneak some intercourse into mine, though it’s just in passing. Not very poignant.

      Enjoyable read, Jaq. I’ve loved reading all of the different approaches. Very insightful!

  2. Thanks, both of you. I must remember to submit one for the next round!

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