Now that it is finished, I am free to pursue my next story idea, which already is taking shape in my mind. Too fun when the muse takes hold!
Dawn came hot and dry to the cracked slopes of the Alzerdan Fortress. The liquid gold of the waxing sun alighted majestically upon the ancient walls of the War-City, as if to pay respect to its long vigilance against the verminous hordes that threatened from the southern jungles.
Today, two riders approached along the precarious path to the city. In front, upon a dappled stallion, rode a flamboyant youth called Aravir, sitting anxiously forward in his saddle as if to urge his fearful mount ever faster along the narrow path. The youth’s brown locks were swept up and back from his brow by a rising hot wind that threw itself against the canyon walls they climbed. Most times would find a wry smile and bright eye upon Aravir’s face, but today it bore the shadow of grim tidings.
His companion, a Correan Exarch called Valin, rode some lengths to his rear to avoid the dust and grit kicked up by Aravir’s courser. Valin sat tall upon a snow-white charger, the simple traveler’s linens he wore snapping vigorously in the updrafts. While less accustomed to affectation than Aravir, an expression born of great sadness also darkened Valin’s eyes. In the sharp angles of the dawn sunlight, his noble features and oft-kind face instead looked to be carved of stone.
Neither had spoken a word until at last they reached the top of the Alzerdan Road and answered the hail of the lone gatekeeper. When they had reached the third gate and stood within the innermost courtyard of the War-City, they dismounted in the presence of perhaps two dozen Bronze Falcons arrayed in the burnished panoply of steel and brigandine for which they were famous, their helms each a unique visage of the raptor from whence they drew their name.
In times past, the Falcons had been the pride of the Skara Cities, their ablest warriors and the heroes of the land. But in these days of corruption and decay, few among the ducal court spared tribute for the Skara Kings to maintain the noble bastion, and so their numbers had fallen to less than four score.
As a single groom led away their horses, Aravir and Valin strode forward to grasp the hand of Dhomen, the Captain of the Guard, a broad shouldered, raven-haired man who was stern of face but quick-witted and beloved of his men.
After exchanging terse greetings, Dhomen said, “It is good that you have come so quickly. I have sent for Graxx and the one called Chlorroh as well, but they’ve not been spotted by any along the southern roads. I only hope that they arrive before the fever takes Yakute.”
Before Aravir could reply, he caught sight of another soldier running down a stair just beyond them. From the darkness within emerged a scarred and ugly but never
unwelcome face. “Kainen!” cried Aravir, as he rushed forward to embrace the amber-cloaked man.
Valin waited for his turn to greet his old, scarred friend, smiling openly at the wicked array of weapons which were ever-present upon Kainen’s black-enameled armor. Whatever injury or sorcery had made a nightmare of the left side of Kainen’s face had also turned his voice to a rasp—but to the ears of his friends, it was a pleasant sound. In broken speech, Kainen said, “You waste no time; Dhomen only sent for you a week ago and here you are.”
Aravir replied, “Aye, good fortune found me in Skara Cam when I received his summons. Our friend here,” Aravir indicated Valin with a nod of his head, “who knows by what ways he travels or where he came from (it could have been Carthiem for all I know), but he met me on the road only yesterday. Perhaps he calls the desert wind to carry him.”
Valin paid no mind to Aravir’s jibe, but rather smiled at Kainen and said, “Desert wind or no, I came when I could.” He turned to Dhomen and said, “Lord Captain, if you would be so kind, I should like to look upon our stricken friend.”
Monday, September 11, 2006
A bit of work on the fiction front
After glancing at my blog for the first time in weeks, I realized how dusty it had become. To add to the usual busy-ness of a husband, father, and church planter, I have been furiously working on a short story (which has really taken up virtually all my free writing time I often devote to blogging...).I am now finished with my second complete short story ever. It is not good, but it is finished. It is a fantasy story relating events surrounding a reunion of a group of friends, one of whom has fallen ill in a distant citadel. It is populated with characters I dimly recall from around the Dungeons and Dragons table of my youth. The story was easy and and fun to write, and I was glad for the practice.The finished product weighs in at a bloated 9000 words, so I won't be posting the whole thing here. Suffice this for a sample: