An Excerpt From

ALMOST A MYTH

Chapter One

The wind had crossed many miles of desert to scour the faces of the men who walked through the deep sand. Covered in layers of white, none of them spoke as they heaved and struggled. “If you cut me loose,” said the tallest of the group, gesturing at those in front of him, “we could make better time.” He was ignored—not one of his captors turned or even hesitated. He bit back the next plea. It was no use, words were useless here. These men knew only to follow. No matter what he said or threatened, what awaited them if they disobeyed… Yet he did not resign himself to his fate. He ran his tongue over his teeth and tasted grit. He kept walking.

Several days passed. Still they walked, even through the searing heat of midday. He grew deeply weary. There was a swallow or two of warm liquid in the morning and when they stopped at dusk. It seemed to fuel the men who held him captive. He wanted solid food, but none was offered. His thoughts went back to the time before the desert, to a warm bed and a willing woman. A crash, the sound of shuffling feet as he lurched up into consciousness and a man clinging heavy on each of his arms and legs. Large men, whose faces were covered. He threw one of them against the wall beside the bed. He used his free hand to punch the man holding his left arm in the face. The pressure on the arm released. With his knife, brought from under his pillow, he stabbed down into the back of the neck of the man on his right leg. This one died in silence and a gush of warm blood. Then a stunning blow to his face, spinning and darkness. He woke in chains and in this desert. That was, how many days ago? Three? Four?

He looked carefully at his captors when they stopped. Flat black eyes stared back at him impassively. They showed no sign of the tiredness he felt. He shrugged to himself. Tired or not, he had to act. He had waited patiently for an opportunity. He had tried to talk to them. He had even bargained, but only in a half-hearted way. It was not who he was. The farther they walked, the worse his situation became. His enormous strength was going to ebb away. His ability to find his way back to the city alone was being eroded. Four men—he had faced that many before. More. But this time he had no weapons, and he was shackled.

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