A crack of thunder snapped Galwynn’s attention upward, toward the turbulent skies above Lewis manor, where an invisible armed conflict was raging.

The warfare in the sky had broken into small, personal battles. Most of the battles were being fought on foot now, and bodies from both sides lay on the cloud tops either groaning painfully or keeping a tragic silence. 

Lt. Nimbus saw Duke Northstorm in the distance, while his prey’s close aides, the Illwind brothers, covered his flanks and fended off pursuers. Nimbus was rushing to confront them when his approach was cut off by a brutish soldier wielding a bloodstained pike. The enemy soldier’s frame was as broad as a tree trunk, and his huge hands were as gnarled as branches. The scratches on the soldier’s armor and the scars on his face declared him to be a combat-hardened veteran. And the feral slit of his eyes proclaimed him to be merciless and without pity. 

Nimbus’s enemy savagely thrust his spear point forward and wove a pattern in the air meant to snake around Aaron’s defenses. The spear point was as cold and sharp as the frigid air at the northern end if the world, and a deep thrust could freeze the very life out of a man. Aaron deftly parried the spear point with the blade of his lightning-sword. And when his hot blade scraped the length of the cold spear, a harsh sizzle like the wail of a banshee screeched forth. 

The enemy soldier was confident, knowing that the superior reach of his pike gave him the advantage. He relentlessly pressed his attack, giving Lt. Nimbus no respite. 

Aaron, struck, parried, turned, and then struck again. Warfare is hard work, and Aaron could feel himself growing tired. Strike, parry, turn, strike, parry… The pattern had become too predictable, and the enemy soldier took advantage of its regularity to put his spearhead where Aaron did not expect. The spearhead grazed Aaron’s left shoulder. The wound was not deep, but Nimbus could feel its coldness shoot painfully down his arm. Aaron’s shield-arm dipped, and he leapt back several steps just in time to avoid the cloudburst of spear thrusts rained down on him by the enemy soldier.

Time and time again, the veteran thrust the cold, hard, point of his pike at Nimbus. The lieutenant fell back steadily, feebly countering the pike’s spear head as it whooshed through the air. The enemy soldier grunted with satisfaction. He knew it was but a matter of time before he could end the faltering Legionnaire’s life.

Suddenly, that moment seemed to come. Nimbus took a misstep, struggled to maintain both his balance and his defenses, failed to keep either, and then awkwardly stumbled back. Seeing his opportunity, the enemy pikeman charged forward yelling a bloodcurdling battle cry. The veteran’s bulk was moving too fast to stay his progress when nimble Nimbus, who had never really lost his balance, lithely twisted, stepped aside, and then made a quick slashing strike with his sword. In a lightning’s flash, the soldier lay wounded and moaning on the ground.

Nimbus clutched his wounded shoulder as he kicked his opponent’s weapon out of reach, and then turned back toward the combat. Knots of soldiers were locked in skirmishes all across the battlefield in the clouds. And somewhere among them, was Duke Northstorm.

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