Partial scene from Stain of Corruption (Dubric #4). First draft, many changes certain.
Goddess, I hate head-on assaults, Albin thought as he dragged a finger over the keep's outer most wall. A wall they'd have to blow through. "How many nippers?"
"I counted seventeen," Kara said. "They're hungry."
Always are. "How much bait did we bring?"
Etz muttered, "Three tubes."
The band grumbled. Everyone knew each tube distracted two, maybe three nippers if they were lucky, leaving at least a dozen to fight and kill.
"We blew our stash fighting Braegen last moon," Ets said, standing. "I can break it into hunks. Might slow 'em down a little."
Albin met Liam's gaze and saw the same resignation he felt. "Do it," Liam said. "Get your cleats on."
"It's nipper stompin' time!" Ailger said, grinning.
"No. Not yet." Oriana pushed away from her corner and strode to them, "It's just a bait in a fucking trap."
One lone drop of blood landed on the parchment and splattered. Ori cussed and wiped at the base of her nose, leaving a red smear across her knuckles. "All the shields, the runes, the wards... They're just hiding more traps." She paused to meet Albin's gaze. "Terrick isn't even here."
A chorus of aggravated cursing rose around them while Albin drew Ori aside. She wiped another drop of blood from beneath her nose. "What'd you just do?" he asked.
"Pushed through something I probably shouldn't have," she murmured, her voice soft. "This isn't fire magic. It's white." She paused to pull a cigarette from her pack, and her bloodied hand shook. "Fuck, Albin. Someone on our side set this shit up."
Albin flicked a match and lit it for her. "Who?"
"I don't know," she whispered. "There's no mark. It's clean. And it's definitely white, hidden beneath the fire." She took a long drag and let it out, her hand steadying. "I wouldn't have seen it if we hadn't stopped to plan. If you hadn't come along..."
You'd be dead, because someone you're supposed to trust is willing to murder you. He gave an encouraging smack to her upper arm, just like he would when reassuring any of his team. "Did you find anything useful?"
"Yeah," she said around another drag on the ciggy. "Terrick's holed up about five miles west of here. There are troops. Beyond that, I dunno. It's just too far away."
He smacked her arm again. "Then let's get closer."
"Gear up," he said, turning to his team. "We're heading west."