Excerpt of The Cry of The Icemark by Stuart Hill
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Her sword lay close by and, grabbing it, she leaped to her feet. The creature
stopped and drew back its lips over enormous teeth, almost as though it were
grinning. Thirrin didn't hesitate; shouting the war cry of the House of
Lindenshield, she attacked.
Before it could react, her blade bit deeply into its shoulder and it fell
back, surprised by her ferocity. But then her boots slipped on wet leaves, and
she crashed to the ground. Immediately the creature pounced and, wrenching her
sword away, it sat astride her, its massive weight crushing the breath out of
her lungs. Thirrin's fighting spirit still roared within her, though, and as the
creature lowered its jaws toward her throat, she punched it hard on the nose.
The werewolf shook its head and sneezed, taken completely aback.
"Make it quick, wolfman, and make sure all the wounds are in front. I don't
want anyone saying I died running away," she yelled, managing to keep the terror
out of her voice.
The creature lowered its head toward her face again, but this time its eyes
were filled with an almost human expression of puzzlement. It stayed like that
for nearly a minute, seeming to scrutinize her. Then, without warning, it threw
back its head and howled, its voice climbing to a high chilling note before
falling slowly away to silence. It looked at her again, its eyes so human that
Thirrin felt she could almost talk to it. Suddenly it leaped away, leaving her
to gasp for breath, its enormous weight gone.
Slowly she struggled to a sitting position and watched as the werewolf picked
up her sword and drove it point-first into the thick forest litter. Then it did
something that amazed her: The huge creature bowed, folding one of its arms
across its torso while the other swept out before it in a delicate gesture, like
the most fashionable of courtiers.
Despite everything, Thirrin almost giggled. The werewolf threw back its head
again and a rough coughing and growling noise burst from its mouth, as though it
were laughing. Then it ran off through the trees, leaving nothing behind but
Thirrin climbed to her feet and collected her sword. She was trembling with
shock, but fascinated. Why didn't the werewolf kill her? Could such creatures
think and make decisions? And if so, did this one actually decide to let her
She was astounded. Everything she'd ever been told and all of her beliefs and
ideas about the Wolf-folk were shaken by this. She'd always thought they were
mindless killers, as unthinking as any other primitive and evil creature from
beyond the Icemark's northern borders, and yet the wolfman had shown...what?
A crashing and thrashing in the trees interrupted her thoughts, and she
leveled her sword, ready for a renewed attack. But it was only her soldier
escort. He'd regained control of his bolting horse and had come charging back,
ready to die in her defense. Better that than die as a punishment for not
carrying out his duty properly.
Thirrin had to endure almost ten minutes of him checking her over for
injuries and a long and detailed explanation of how he'd had no chance of
controlling his horse when it bolted. But at last she was allowed to mount his
horse, and they started the slow journey home. She thought through everything
that had happened. Could she really just reject all she'd ever accepted as true
about werewolves? As she continued her journey home, her quick mind continued to
puzzle through the amazing possibility that the Wolf-folk were thinking, even
After a few minutes of Thirrin riding pillion, her own horse reappeared out
of the trees, whinnying with relief to see them.
"Some help you were," Thirrin said grumpily. "I should have let the wolfman
From The Cry of The Icemark by Stuart Hill, pages 1-11 of the hardcover edition. Copyright 2005 by Stuart Hill. Fist published in the United Kingdom by The Chicken House. Published in the USA by Scholastic Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.