Well, since people seemed to enjoy 'Inheritance', I thought I would boldly set my sights on a bigger project and try to slowly write the novel that's been in my head for years. I've not yet started the first chapter and can't even begin to say when I will have it ready and posted, but I thought I'd at least give a little preview.
What you see here is basically a snippet from what will eventually be one of the early chapters of the finished project. This little "peek" was written and edited in less than three hours, so it's actually a rough draft. As a result, you can expect that it will be a choppier read than 'Inheritance' was; the words won't flow together as smoothly. It's likely the final version will be a bit longer and edited more heavily in order to feel a bit more polished.
Nevertheless, I figured I'd just toss this up for you to give you something to check out. The title of the finished project will be "Lioldra", which is the name of the main character. By the way, Lioldra doesn't appear in this snippet, LOL. In fact, this particular piece of the story takes place before Lioldra is even born, and instead focuses slightly on Lioldra's father, General Teyev.
Those of you who read 'Inheritance' may recall that the hand was discovered by Emperor Silrakk of Naerey in a tomb he unearthed while he was excavating a canal. The tomb also held two other powerful magic artifacts: a huge book and the magical longsword, "Kapiri", that appears here. Silrakk gave the book to his Grand Vizier, Racchiid (and that plays a bigger part in the finished story) and gave the sword to Teyev.
To avoid confusion, I suppose I should mention that this little piece of story takes place VERY shortly after the discovery of the tomb. This is why General Teyev seems like a much nicer person than you might expect a General serving Naerey would be. The empire isn't evil yet.
Well, i'm going to just post this now, LOL. I had to redo the post because my dumb dialup ISP decided to cut me off just as I was about to submit. I was going to have some after commentary, but i'll post that instead as a reply to this post some time within the next few days.
Hope you enjoy it!
"Shall I send for more wood, General, or will you be bedding down for the night?"
Teyev snapped out of his reverie and turned to look at the lieutenant who was sharing his fire. "More wood, mate," he said. "I'm still waiting on the scout's report."
As if on cue, a keen-eyed elf smoothly appeared from the nearby treeline and shoved a corpse at the general's feet. "You'll wait no longer, sir," grinned the elf, tossing his long grey hair to the side and rendering a sharp salute.
"At ease, Pino," said Teyev. "Sit down and report. What news of the other camp?"
Pino dropped his salute and sat on the rough ground near the dwindling fire, his hand motioning toward the lifeless body that accompanied his return. "I didn't need to reach the camp, General, I found their scout approaching ours. This one seems to be half-orc; an assassin I would imagine. There's a strong venom on his boot-knife."
Teyev scratched at his beard. "Hmm..., I think we can expect them to start looking for this fellow before long. Anything else about him?"
"Aye, sir. His pockets held a parchment. Seems this band is en route to intercept the Emperor's party headed home. The orders bear the seal of Nehwim himself."
Teyev raised a curious eyebrow at that last bit of news. "That old dragon doesn't usually give orders directly. This mission must be of great import to him. I'd wager he's heard news of the tomb we uncovered digging the canal. Must be after one of the items we found inside, but which one?"
The lieutenant chimed in, "Perhaps he's after all of them, sir?"
"Good point, Lieutenant. Either way, there's no doubt at least one of those treasures is either greatly valued or feared by him. Nehwim's been walking these lands before even the gods themselves came here. That dragon keeps secrets the rest of us can't even imagine. If any creature in all of Raste knows what was resting inside that tomb, it is he."
Teyev was suddenly aware of a slight humming vibration at his belt. He flashed a grin as he looked down at the source. "And speaking of things that came from the tomb, I think it's time I test out my new sword, here. Nehwim's soldiers will be wondering where their scout has gone. We may as well take them down now before they've prepared for a fight. How many did you make, Pino?"
"Twelve fires, General. I would imagine about ten foes at each," said the elf.
"We'll slaughter them! Why would Nehwim send so few to attack the Emperor's caravan? Perhaps he never intended for them to succeed. Well, no matter, they'll never even see the Emperor. Lieutenant! Ready the men for battle!"
General Teyev watched impassively as his forces descended on the enemy camp. Satisfied with the battle's commencement, he jumped into the small clearing and drew the new sword from his belt. As the blade left its scabbard, it emanated an eerie humming sound. Teyev could feel the sword's immense magical energies flowing into his arm and throughout his entire body, urging him to fight.
Before he could even blink, the sword suddenly compelled his arm backwards. Spinning around with the momentum, he saw his arm raise the blade just in time to deflect a blow from a flail directed at the nape of his neck. The gnoll that had initiated the attack just stood in place, awestruck.
Happy with me so far, General?
"So the blade has a voice as well, does it?" said Teyev. With a practiced flick of his wrist, the General brought the sword around in an arc and deftly separated the gnoll's head from it's shoulders. As he did so, he could sense the sword's energies growing stronger. He suddenly felt more acutely aware of the battlefield. He also felt as if he had more strength and faster reflexes. He felt tougher; more powerful.
"I'd have been happier if you'd riposted that blow instead of chatting, sword. What's this power rushing into my body?"
My apologies on the failed riposte, General. I've been sheathed for so long that I momentarily faltered in the ecstasy of my freedom. It won't happen again. As for the power you feel, it is the gnoll's soul which I have devoured as you killed it. The gained power is temporary but will certainly last you for the battle's duration. And, of course, every soul you feed me will enable me to feed you, in turn. Relax while I fight for you at the moment. Save your concentration for our acquaintance.
"What? I thought only the sword of the demigod Mechtannis could draw souls! Surely you are not that blade. He would never relinquish it."
I am much older than that sword, Teyev. I am named 'Kapiri', and I am the blade that brought down the wicked rulers of the ancient age, in the time before even your gods drew breath.
Teyev watched in astonishment as Kapiri commanded his muscles, moving him into the center of the fray and leaving a mass of blood and gory carcasses in its wake. With every kill the power he knew from the gnoll's death increased. Teyev felt more than alive; as powerful as a god.
"Was it you, then, that the dragon Nehwim sought?" asked Teyev.
I cannot say, General. Though I remember the creature you speak of. It is certain that the dragon is aware of my existence and likely that he fears my re-emergence into this world. I have the ability to destroy gods, and i'm sure that even a dragon so ancient as that one would tremble at the thought of me piercing his breast. We can accomplish much together. All I require is battle. Feed me well and you'll be a great hero.
Suddenly Teyev saw a familiar shock of long grey hair in front of his sword-arm. Kapiri's arc was aiming directly at Pino's exposed flank. "Stop!" he screamed, "That one's a friend, fool!"
The General exerted his will and brought his feet around to the rear, causing Kapiri's arc to finish harmlessly in the air.
Teyev could feel the sword's scream echoing through his bones. His mind suddenly seemed to numb slightly as Kapiri's hypnotic humming lulled him into a trance and filled him with a mad desire to kill...kill...kill.
Friends have blood, too! Friends have souls! Feed me! I must have the carnage! I must! Cut them down and feel the strength from it! Revel in the bloodshed, General! A lone survivor is a hero!
As Kapiri swung around to aim once more for Pino, Teyev's eyes suddenly came back into focus. Again Kapiri's would-be fatal blow was declined, and this time Teyev dropped to his knees. Exerting all of his will, the General turned the fell blade's tip downward and thrust it deep into the blood-drenched ground beneath him.
"Oh no you don't!," Teyev hissed. "The soldier is master of the sword, NOT the reverse!"
Teyev could feel the sword's pain, then anger.
Why! Why have you denied me? HOW have you denied me!?!? Never have I met a human whose will was strong enough to control me and overcome my urges. General, I beg you to reconsider. I am a great weapon and will win battles for you, but I must be fed. Every battle has a sacrifice. With great wins must come great losses. Can you not feel the pain that surges through my cold steel when I am denied? I cannot help what I am, General. Like every sword ever made, I was forged to bring death. I am drawn to the bloodshed and I cannot resist as it is my only purpose.
"Serving a purpose is one thing, Kapiri. But addiction is another matter entirely. A soldier draws blood yet has the sense to know when to cease his assault."
I understand. I will try to silence my suffering, General. Your will is powerful enough to keep me as the slave and I will be happy with what souls you choose to let me take.
"No, Kapiri," whispered Teyev, "I cannot allow even that."
What do you mean? You have already proven yourself my master. I accept my fate. Surely we can come to some mutually acceptable terms. We can still be great together, Teyev. I would rather suffer the pain of less blood than be denied altogether! I am willing to obey. Why will you not permit me to serve you? I know you can sense me in your grasp. Surely you realize that I am not evil!
"Yes, I know you are not evil, Kapiri. But you lack discipline, and that can be more dangerous than the most corrupt and evil souls I shall ever face. Your nature is like that of a misdirected child, and I pity you. Still, I fear that your lust for blood may some day compel you to permit a fatal blow to strike me so that you may come into the hands of some other individual whom you can control. I am very sorry, Kapiri, but you are too dangerous. You must return to your scabbard and remain there. Never again will I draw you out. Never will you leave my side. I will sleep with you and bathe with you until I draw my final breath. I will not permit you to wreak havoc on this world. You are too deadly."
No, Teyev, please...
Teyev wrenched Kapiri from the cold earth. With dutiful determination in his features he placed the humming sword back in its scabbard. "Be silent now, Kapiri. I am truly sorry, but this can be the only way."
Pino came walking up with a smile on his face. "We slaughtered them, General, just as you expected. Only four dead from our side. It's been a good fight."
"Very good, Pino. We are fortunate to have suffered so few casualties. Please tell the lieutenant to order the men back to camp; they'll be eager to rest."
"How did your new sword do, by the way, sir?"
"It's a nice blade, Pino, but I prefer my old one. I suppose after all these years I've just grown familiar to the way my sword feels in my hand. I think I'll just keep this new one with me for decoration."
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