Excerpt from "Manglorious vs. the Tiger Women" (1979)

A sudden movement in the darkness caught Kaileetha's eye, and suddenly she jumped in front of Manglorious.

"NOOOOOOO!" she screamed, as the spear pierced her back and emerged through her sternum. She took a step forward, tottered, and fell limply to the cold stone of the temple floor.

Instinctively, Manglorious spun and hurled his Valgarian steel broadsword in a wide arc. It caught the tiger-woman squarely in the throat and did its grisly business. Her head and body collapsed to the floor separately.

Manglorious dashed to Kaileetha's side and knelt. Her hands clushed ineffectually at the haft of the spear protruding form her sternum. His large hands quickly snapped it in two and removed it — but he could tell the wound was too grave. No healer's skill could sew a wound so grave. He gently cradled her head and shoulders in his mighty arms and buried his face in her raven hair.

She looked at him, with pleading green eyes full of tears, and her full lips moved wordlessly, trying to convey with one last breath the feelings she had spent years denying, to no avail.

And then Kaileetha was no more.

He closed her eyes, kissed her once, sweetly, on the lips, and slowly lowered her body to the ground.

"Ironic," said Celidh, who had momentarily ceased her struggles against the orichalcum chains binding her to the dark altar. "She spent her whole life striving to be something she could not — a man. Yet for one brief moment she loved as a woman, and it was her undoing."

Manglorious did not answer, but his noble brow furrowed with annoyance.

Celidh tried to reposition the torn, diaphanous ceremonial robe to preserver her modesty and turned her piercing blue gaze on Manglorious. "Quick, cut me loose. Soon Alnea and the other tiger-women will realize something is wrong, and two can not stand against two hundred."

"In a moment," he said, drawing a wicked-looking dirk from his belt and rising from the ground. His eyes burned with an inchoate anger that seemed to illuminate the stygian darkness with the red light of rage.

"First I have a wizard to kill."

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