From the Archives: Call to Arms

I forget just what the name of the story was going to be, but the first chapter was “Call to Arms.” So that’s what I’m calling it. This one dates from before 2000. The concept was a simple high-fantasy story told in series of episodes (like pretty much everything I’ve written.) The end result would probably have ended up not being a novel, but SEVERAL novels. The first 11 episodes are all drawn out in my notes. After that I guess I was just going to wing it and let the characters write their own damned story (like pretty much everything I’ve written). I have a LOT of backstory… a history of the known world that goes back several thousand years. Obviously I wanted a firm grasp of the setting. It’s enough information that I’m tempted to post it… maybe.

Anyway, my notes tell me that what follows is the first chapter and a half of the story:



Episode 1: Call to Arms

Travis Fourwood sat astride his horse and gazed at the trees around him. He was just far enough from the lumber cutters that the sound of their work didn’t reach his ears. They’d be here soon, though. Maybe tomorrow, or the next day. The boy looked at the trees and wondered what they’d be by this time next year. Would that pine be a part of some new house? Would the skilled hands of a carpenter shape those oaks into furnishings or that same house? Or perhaps the trees would make their way to the shipyards far to the east. Would these same trees sail up and down the coastline, bringing travellers and supplies to the shipping towns. Or would they set off across the ocean to whatever lay beyond it?

Travis knew the possibilities were endless, but his mind still tried to name them all… to touch and see and taste them, as if their destiny was his own, and not that of a simple copse of trees. Perhaps it was because he KNEW what his future would be. It wasn’t a mystery. He was already such an intricate part of running his father’s lumberyard that it was inconceivable that he’d do anything else. Inconceivable to his father, at least, espescially since his brother had failed to return from the north.

Travis sighed and cursed himself. He’d let thoughts of his brother intrude on his reflections… and now he could think of nothing else. Sometimes he forgot, and caught himself wondering what his brother was doing. What stories was he telling the maidens in town? Who was he entertaining with his boasts and his smile?

But that was no more. His brother was gone; the war had taken him.

Travis heard a rider approach, and turned to see who was coming.

“Whoa!” said Rhodrik. Baron DeKane’s son brought his horse to a halt beside Travis, and both boys clasped hands. They entertwined their fingers in that silly secret way they’d made up years ago. Though they were the same age, Rhodrik was larger and stronger than Travis. Travis looked younger than his sixteen years, while Rhodrik looked much older. The baron’s son could almost pass for a man of twenty.

“Rhod,” said Travis. “What brings you out into the woods?”

“Looking for you,” replied Rhod.

Something was amiss. Rhod was figiting his his saddle, and his ruddy smile flashed on and off like a signal lamp… like he couldn’t decide whether to be happy or solemn. Travis watched him… taking in the details and trying to see if this was another one of his friend’s jokes.

“What’s going on?” Travis asked warily.

“Father got a message by royal courier this morning. They want to talk to us together.”

“What about?”

Rhod’s smile steadied and widened. He was practically giddy.

“They wouldn’t tell me, but I’ve got a pretty good idea what it is.”

“Well, then?”

“War, Trav. We’re going to war.”

“FATHER!” yelled Travis as he burst into his father’s study. “Father SAY it isn’t true!”

Elden Fourwood was not alone in the small room. Baron DeKane sat with him, his corpulent body barely fit in the confines of the guest chair. The baron’s jewelry glimmered in the lamplight. The two men were the richest in the township, though Elden’s wealth was mostly in the form of land. Even though Elden paid his hefty share of taxes to the Baron, the two were still close friends. Almost as close as Travis and Rhodric.

“What?” said Elden. His wrinkled grey head turned from the baron to Travis.

“The war! The third calling! Tell me it isn’t true!”

“I’m afraid it is, son,” said Baron DeKane. Each boy was called ‘son’ so often by the other’s father that it didn’t even register any more. “The decree came this morning. All males of fighting age must leave immediatly for Fort Remmik. I though I’d better bring the news to your father in person.”

“Thank you, Sovin,” said Eldus. He didn’t seem grateful, however. He waved for Travis and Rhodric to enter the study. “Why is this, baron? Haven’t we suffered enough?”

“The Rezui continue their push into our kingdom,” the baron said with a sigh. It was obvious that he hated the words even as they left his mouth. “The king needs men to fight at our borders.”

“And fight I shall!” said Rhodric. Travis halfway expected him to draw his sword and swear a blood oath right there in the study. The baron quickly silenced him, however.

“Quiet, son.”

“Yes, sir.”

“More men?” continued Eldus. “We’ve had TWO callings already. The first was voluntary, but the second took every available man of fighting age in the townships!”

“Except those of noble blood, and those from families who’d already lost sons in the first calling. But there are no such exceptions now. From what I hear, we should consider ourselves lucky that you and I won’t be out there fighting.”

“I’d GLADLY do it, too!” Eldus rose from his chair. “I’d GLADLY go and die in my son’s place! Is that allowed? Can I change places… substitute myself for Travis?”

“Father, no!”

“You’re far too old and you know it,” said the Baron. “And so am I. But if there was ever a fourth calling-”

“It’ll be to late,” said Eldus as he sat down. “I’m an old man, baron… just like you said. I’ve lost a wife and one son. I don’t want to lose the other.”

“You won’t lose him,” said Rhodric. “Not while I am there to protect-”

“Hush, boy!” the baron snapped. He was clearly as upset as Eldus.

“My boy is not a fighter,” said Eldus. Travis wasn’t sure, but it looked as if his father’s eyes were leaking. “He isn’t. He takes so much after his mother… reminds me so much of her. Such a sharp mind… and I’ll NOT have it BASHED OUT BY PETTY MERCENARIES!!!!”

“Eldus, calm down.”

“Calm DOWN!? These are our SONS we’re talking about!”

“Others have lost their sons.”

“Others like ME! Baron, PLEASE! is there nothing you can do here?”

“My son leaves to risk his life as well. Do you think I love him less? If there was something I could do, I’d be doing it now instead of talking to you.”

Eldus shook his head in disbelief and frustration. Travis knew how he felt. He could hardly believe it.. how could they ask him to go and fight after his brother had volunteered and died in the first calling? A knot of cold anguish formed in Travis’s throat. He was afaid and angry… probably the exact opposite of Rhod, who was so eager that he looked ready to explode.

“Father,” Travis began. His voice was no louder than a whisper. “Father, I will go. I’ll go and fight with the others.”

“I’m afraid it isn’t optional, son,” said the baron. “You’ll both be going, whether you like it or not. And whether WE like it or not, Eldus.”

“Damn them,” said Eldus. “Damn them to hell.”

“Don’t say such things. There IS a war, and it must be fought by someone.”

“Then let them take ME!” Eldus was crying now. “I’d rather die than lose another son.”

“Eldus, I… I don’t know what to say. I am sorry. I’m sorry that I do not have the authority to stop this. I truly am.”

“I don’t blame you, Sovin, you know that.”

“I have done one thing,” said the baron. “I’ve sent a message. I’ve called in a favor… the last one I’m owed, I’m afraid. Travis and Rhodric will serve together. They will not be separated.”

Rhodric looked at Travis and smiled from ear to ear.

“You hear that, Trav? Together! You and me against the Rezui!”

Travis nodded silently. He felt better knowing that his best friend would be by his side, but he was still in no mood to rejoice. There was nothing to rejoice about.

“They can look after each other then,” said Eldus. “At least there is that.”

“I’m sorry-”

Eldus shook his head and held up his hand, meaning he’d hear no more apologies from the baron.

There was a solemn silence in the room, and then the baron spoke once more.

“The boys are to bring whatever horses and weapons their families can provide.”

“They can take everything,” replied Eldus. “Does the king want my heart as well? They’ll have it when my son leaves me.”

“Don’t burden yourself. I’ve got weapons and animals to spare. Better quality than anything the soldiers are likely to give them… epsecially since the Rezui took the northern armory. If you’ll bring Travis to the mansion in the morning, I’ll stock them with supplies. Everything they’ll need. They can leave together from there.”

“Thank you, old friend.”

Baron DeKane rose from his chair with a grunt.

“I shall see you in the morning, Eldus.”

“Just after dawn.”

“Come along, son.”

Travis and Rhodric shook hands, and Rhrodric followed his father out of the room. A few minutes later, Travis heard their horses galloping away… back to DeKane manor.

“Well, son,” said Eldus. “I guess you’d better get your things ready. Looks like you’re going on a trip.”

The next morning, Travis’s father woke him before dawn, and together they rode to DeKane manor.

True to his word, Sovin DeKane had horses and supplies ready for the two boys to make their journey. Two of the baron’s best stallions awaited them. Strong and fast, the steeds would get them to Fort Rellick in good time. Eldus objected at first. He knew good and well that, after they arrived, the horses would probably be taken away and given to some officer for a personal mount, but it didn’t matter to the baron. He’d give his son… his TWO sons… only the best.

Each boy had both had a longsword and a saber of the best quality metal available in this part of the kingdom. The weapons were almost too expensive to fight with, but their edges were sharp, and the metal sturdy. They had padded leather armor, metal-studded boots and leather gloves…. all of exceptional quality. All of this stood a good chance of being confiscated later, but at least they’d have it until then.

The boys greeted each other, and busied themselves loading the supplies into the saddlebags. The fathers stood back and watched their sons prepare to go off to war.

When they were nearly ready, the baron called Travis aside. They walked out of earshot of Rhrodric and Eldus.

“Son,” said Baron DeKane. “My boy is a fighter. And a damn good one… for a boy at least.”

“Yes, I know sir,” said Travis. “I’ll be hard pressed to keep up with him.”

“That’s not for you to do,” replied the Baron. “You’ve got a good head on your shoulders… just like my boy. Only difference is you actually USE yours. You’re as wise as my boy is strong.”

“Thank you, baron.”

“I’m not saying this to flatter you, boy. There are times to think and times to fight. You’re smart enough to know the difference, but we both know Rhoderic isn’t. You watch out for my son. Don’t let him get into something he can’t get out of. Do you understand?”

“I think so, sir.”

Meanwhile, Eldus had stepped forward and was having words with Rhodric.

“I want my boy back in one piece,” he said. “And your father wants you back the same way.”

“We’ll be fine, sir. Don’t worry.”

“Once you have a son of your own, you’ll realize how ridiculous it is for you to tell me that.”

“Sorry, sir.”

“Listen to me now… You’re bigger and stronger than my Travis, but he’s got you beat on a couple of things as well. I think you know what I’m talking about.”

Rhodric smiled and nodded.

“You be what he isn’t, and let him be what you aren’t. Keep each other safe out there. And bring my boy back to me.”

“Yes sir.”

Travis returned, and they finished packing in silence. Rhodric’s mother came down to see her son off. Travis couldn’t look at her tears. He put on a brave face… trying to look half as brave as Rhodric. Then, after final goodbye’s were said, they two boys set off for war.

——-

Episode 2:

Travis and Rhodric, best friends and the sons of the two richest men in Mattox township, recieved their summons to join the fight against the Rezui. They said their goodbyes, and set off for Fort Rellick.

The journey to Rellick took only two days, which seemed both maddeningly slow and agonizingly long, depending on which boy was giving his point of view. Rhoderic was impatient for action, as if his life would not be complete until he’d fought his first battle. Travis was just the opposite. Stark fear had given way to a nagging uneasiness… a forboding that would not leave him no matter how hard he tried to force his mind to other things. Rhoderic was not helping. Neither boy knew much of anything about the war, but Rhod felt free to share every rumor and wild tale he’d ever heard about the Rezui and their army.

“Giants,” said Rhodric as the two boys rode. “I hear the Rezui have giants. Fifteen feet tall with skin like rock and fists like boulders.”

“You sound like you’re looking forward to meeting one,” said Travis.

“Absolutely,” replied Rhodric. “Aren’t you?”

“Not if said giant is going to swing a sword at my head, no.”

“Giants don’t use swords.”

“Really.” said Travis with complete dis-interest.

“War-hammers. Huge bastards… can crush a man flat, even in plate armor. And enormous battle-axes that can-”

“Thank you, Rhod. I think you’ve said enough about giants for now.”

“You’re right. That’s now what we have to look out for anyway.”

Rhoderic said nothing more. The boys rode in silence for several minutes, until finally Travis’ curiosity won out.

“Okay. If not giants, then what?”

“Magic. The Rezui have more mages than we do. Hundreds of them.. enough to put one in almost every fighting unit.”

“Impossible,” said Travis. “There aren’t that many mages anywhere in the three kingdoms, let alone in
Rezui by itself.”

“That’s what I hear. That’s why they’ve been so successful at pushing into our territory. Magical support makes a huge difference.”

“So what are we supposed to do about that? I’m not going to go charging into a hail of fireballs just because some idiot orders me to.”

“They must have something figured out by now,” said Rhodric. “They wouldn’t be sending us in if they hadn’t.”

“Rhod, did you even think about that before you said it?”

“huh? What?”

“They made a third call for soldiers because they’re desperate. The only thing the king has figured out is that we’re going to lose. After we go off and get slaughtered, that’s it. The war is over and we lose.”

“Don’t be a pessimist, Travis. I’m sure they’ve got some massive assault planned and they need a few extra swords to push forward for victory.”

“I hope you’re right,” said Travis. “Because I meant what I said about charging into fireballs. And the same applies to rampaging giants, too.”

“So you’re saying you won’t fight?”

“Of course I will. I don’t want the kingdom to fall any more than the king himself does… but I’m not going to throw my life away for nothing. I’m smart enough to recognize the difference between sacrifice and suicide. And if suicide is what it comes to, then I’ll just say ‘no thank you’ and be on my way.”

“Doesn’t work like that, Travis. They kill you for desertion.”

“What do you think a fireball to the chest would do? Or one of those giant war-hammers?”

“Won’t happen,” said Rhod. “I’ll be there to protect you.”

Travis looked over at his friend.

“You don’t think you can die, do you?”

“Of course I can die,” said Rhodric. “But it just won’t happen any time soon. We’re going to war… and we’re going to win. They we’ll go home and you can get back to your puzzles and books while I spread tales of my valor and courage throughout the township. I’ll slip a word in for you, too. I’m sure we’ll BOTH distinguish ourselves.”

“Yes. Two of the most distinguished corpses on the battlefield. I just hope they don’t accidentally put YOUR severed head back onto MY charred body when they ship us home.”

“You’re morbid, do you know that?”

“I’m morbid?” said Travis. “You’re the one talking about fifteen foot giants with war hammers and battle-axes…”

The boys arrived at Fort Rellick near noon of the second day. It was a tiny place… a small wooden structure never meant to house more than a few men. It was built as a supply station on one of the many royal roads, and it was essentially serving that same purpose even now. There were about a hundred men camped outside, surrounding the fort like a moat. All of them wore some semblance of the red and blue Cordille uniform. Some had the entire outfit, complete with gold tassels and wide leather belt, but must wore only a red shirt and whatever pants they had shown up with.

Rhodric and Travis walked through the crowd, drawing only a few stares from the men. Most of them seemed so young. Some were already wounded. The older ones, who more often than not were the ones wearing the full uniforms, walked amid the crowd brandishing swords and barking orders. The scene made Travis nervous, and only seemed to excite Rhodric.

They approached a large table that had been set up outside the fort’s front gate. They identified themselves, and while one officer looked for their names on a large sheet of parchment, another pulled two red shirts out of a crate and handed them to Travis. A third man insisted that they empty their packs and let him inspect their equipment. Neither boy wanted to, but it wouldn’t look good to balk on their first official order. Just as the boys expected, the horses were taken from them and given to a mounted regiment that was in desperate need of strong mounts. The soldiers took the armor as well, though they didn’t tell the boys what they did with it. Travis and Rhodric kept their rations and weapons for the moment.

“Report to Jonill,” said the man with the parchment. “Around that way.” He pointed to the west side of the fort. The boys nodded, took a final look at their horses and armor, and started walking. They came to a small group of young men who were sitting in a circle around a small, but very animated officer. He was busy demonstrating some sword-thrust techniques when he saw the boys arrive. It looked like Travis, Rhodric would make this squad an even twenty in number, not counting the officer.

“I’m Captain Jonill,” said their commander as he looked them over. The newcommers stood in the center of the men. Jonill paced back and forth before them. “So you’re the last of the leftovers, huh?”

“Leftovers?” said Bradley. The boy looked older than Travis, but not by much. His face had an innocent quality to it.

“Third called. Got excused from the second calling for some reason. What was it?”

“I lost a brother in the first assault,” said Travis. “He was a volunteer. First calling.”

Jonill nodded and moved on to Rhodric.

“What about you, boy? What’s your excuse?”

“I am Rhodric DeKane. Son of Sovin DeKane, Baron of Mattox Township.”

“Nobility,” Jonill spat. “I guess that explains this-” The captain grabbed the hilt of Rhodric’s sword and pulled it from the scabbard. He whistled as he examined the fine metal. “Almost a shame to put blood on this one. Here-” He tossed it back at Rhod, who snatched it from the air and sheathed it with a practiced florish.

“Didn’t say put it away, boy.” said Jonill. “You… back away.” He pointed at Travis. The boy stepped back, but didn’t join the other soldiers in the circle. Then, Jonill drew his sword. It was obvious from the dents and scratches that Jonill’s sword had been well used. “We need fighters. That’s what I asked for… and I hope that’s what I got. We’ll see in a second.”

“All right.” Rhodric drew his sword and smiled at Jonill. “You ready?”

“You gonna ask a Rezui bladesman if he’s ready, boy?”

“You’re not a Rezui bladesman,” retorted Rhodric.

“No, but I’ve killed more than a few. Enough to know that surpsise can make all the difference in-” Jonill attacked in mid-sentence. He made a straight-lunge, which Rhod easily avoided despite being taken by surprise. The boy dodged to one side and struck out at Jonill’s extended arm. Travis could have sworn that Jonill was about to lose a limb, but the captain twisted suddenly and thrust his body at Rhod, who had to jump back to avoid a collision. Before Rhod could make another strike, the captain swung his blade at his midsection. Rhod blocked it. He blocked the next two as well… but they came in such rapid succession that he had no time to make an attack of his own. Jonill swung at Rhod’s head. Rhod blocked and tried to execute a spinning slash… halfway thorugh the maneuver, Jonill kicked Rhod in the back. The boy fell face-first to the ground-

“OOOF!!!” his sword flew from his hand and slid across the dirt, coming to rest near Travis.

“You’re dead.” Jonill had the point of his sword pointed at Rhod’s back. “You’re good… but you’re still dead.” Jonill sheathed his sword and extended his hand. Rhod clasped it, and Jonill helped him to his feet. “You fought better than I did when I first joined. All you need is practice. Work on your speed. You can spar with some of the other men on the march. For now, sit down and be quiet. You-” Jonill pointed at Travis. “C’mere.”

Travis came forward and drew his weapon, which was identical to Rhod’s.

“Ahh… another fancy sword,” said Jonill. “You fight as good as your friend?”

“No,” said Travis. He’d sat through enough of Rhodric’s lessons to know the right end of a sword to hold, but he could count the times on his fingers that he’d actually held one.

“Well ya got the grip and the stance right. That’s a start.”

Captain Jonill stepped forward and made a powerful slash. Travis blocked it-

CLANG!
Thump.

-and his sword was on the ground.

“huh?” said Travis. He rubbed his hand, which was throbbing painfully. Jonill had knocked the blade right out of his grip… which he THOUGHT was pretty strong.

“Damn, boy! You don’t have an ounce of strength in ya!”

“Sorry.”

Jonill turned to one of the other men.

“BOYD! Throw me your bow!”

A scraggly-looking man stood up and tossed a crossbow to Jonill. A bolt followed. Jonil caught both and handed them to Travis.

“We need another archer. Ever use one of these?”

“Once,” said Travis. Actually it was only because Rhodric insisted he try it. His aim was so horrible that he never tried it again. Until now.

“There-” Jonil pointed to a tree just outside the circle of men. “Hit the center of that tree.”

Travis shrugged and drew the bolt into the crossbow. Jonill watched him intently, and seemed satisfied that at least Travis knew how to load the weapon. Travis raised the bow, took careful aim, and fired.

The bolt flew past the tree, missing it entirely.

“Hmmm….” Jonill snatched the weapon from Travis and tossed it back to Boyd. “Not a fighter OR an archer.”

“No, sir,” said Travis.

“Well, you’ll be working on both. You’ll train on the way. The more ya train, the more likely you are to survive our first fight. That goes for ALL of you.”

“And when will that be?” said Travis. “Our first fight?”

“Glad you asked.” Jonill sheathed his sword and motioned for Travis to have a seat with the others. “We’re going to Brockston, where we’ll join up with a few dozen other squads. They left ahead of us, I held us back hoping to get some more fighters.” Jonill gave a sarcastic glance to Travis. “We’re to try hold the border while the bulk of the remaining forces launch a major offensive.”

Travis raised his hand.

“What, boy?”

“Sir, the northern border of Cordille is just north of Amity… not Brockston.”

“It USED to be north of Amity. The Rezui have taken everything from there down to Rock Ridge. Their next push, will swallow the Ridge and everything past it… down to Brockston. That’s where we THINK we can stop them.”

A murmur circuilated among the men. Most were hearing this news for the first time.

“That’s almost half the kingdom!” said Rhodric.

“How soon?” said another boy.

“Their last push succeeded, but it cost them. The Rezui are resting and re-supplying. Moving in more giants and mages from wherever they’re getting them from. Should be a few weeks before they’re ready to move… By then we should have enough men in place to hold each of the major towns. Ours will be Brockston.”

“What about this major offensive you mentioned?” said Travis.

“Not for you to be concerned about. Our objective is to hold Brockston”

“What if whatever it is doesn’t work?”

Jonill cleared his throat and glared at Travis.

“Lesson one… for all of you. A soldier must concentrate on what he’s doing here and now, NOT on what somebody else is doing halfway across the kingdom. Enemy soldiers will be in YOUR face, boy. If your mind is somewhere else-

“I’m not a soldier,” said Travis. “I’m here because I have to be. Not because I want to learn swordplay and go out to get my head lopped off. All I did was ask a question…. same question that most of these other men want answered too. If you don’t know just say you don’t know and move on.”

“You’re a smart one, aren’t you boy?” Jonill said. “Well you keep your attidute to yourself. You mouth off to me like that again and you’ll regret it.”

Travis looked away and didn’t bother with any of the twelve sarcastic comments that came to mind. Jonill seemed like a nice enough man, and he certainly knew his swordsmanship. But if it’s one thing Travis could not stand was being treated like an idiot or a child. Obviously, being patronized was standard in the military… which was yet another reason not to like this.

“We move out in one hour,” said Jonill.

Brockston was a six day march, but Jonill tried his best to cut it down to five, or even four. Each day they awoke before dawn, ate breakfast, and kept a rapid, almost frantic pace from sunrise until a few hours before sunset. Some days they stopped to eat lunch, other days they didn’t. Once camp was set up Jonill led the squad in a dizzying routine of sparring and swordplay. Rhodric honed his skills, which were already better than most of the other boys. He gained some of the speed that Jonill said he needed, but he was still nowhere near as fast or accurate as the captain. Travis practiced along with the others, but all he accomplished were callouses and blisters on his hands. Knowing the movements didn’t make up for an utter lack of physical strength and coordination. Travis went to bed sore each night, and dreaded the next day.

His archery, however, did improve. Travis was no marksman, and would probably never be, but by the fourth day he could hit a target better than most of the others. His improvement was mostly due to a young boy named Braly, who had been quite a marksman in his villiage. Braley taught Travis how to aim, and gave him little pointers and techniques to steady his arm. Like Travis, Braley was a terrible swordsmen, and didn’t want to be a soldier any more than Travis did. But at least the boy had some useful combat skill, which is more than Travis could say for himself. The two became friends, and often told stories and jokes to keep each other’s minds off of what was coming.

Surprisingly, Rhodric seemed to be doing the same sort of thing… with Captain Jonill. Jonill’s appreciation for finally getting a semi-trained fighter in the squad quickly grew into a master-apprentice type of relationship. Rhodric practiced solely with Jonill, who taught him some advanced moves and attacks that were well beyond what the other boys were learning. Rhodric didn’t have time to perfect them, but just knowing them would give him a significant edge against an untrained fighter.

The squad kept up their ridiculous pace until late on the forth day, when they arrived at Brockston. The men were tired and hungry, having marched straight through lunch for the second day in a row. They came to the town’s main road and followed it into the villiage.

The streets were deserted.

“This doesn’t look good,” Travis whispered to Bradley, who was marching beside him.

“Yeaaah,” Braley looked around around. No thankful civilians waved from the windows, no curious children ran to meet them. There was no sign of the dozen or so other squads that were supposed to already be in place to protect the town. There was no one there at all. “Spooky.”

“Eerie,” added Travis. He wondered what Captain Jonill was thinking. Was this what he was expecting?

Travis looked for Rhodric, and saw him in his usual place… marching up front right behind the captain. Travis watched as Jonill whispered something to Rhodric, and they both looked around at the deserted streets.

“Hold,” said Jonill. Everyone stopped marching and stood in place… right in the middle of the street.

“Uhhh,” Travis raised his hand. “Is this a good idea? Standing out here like this?”

“Quiet, boy,” was Jonill’s terse reply. Jonill started sniffing the air and frowning. Rhodric turned around and shrugged. The baron’s son had no idea what was going on, but Travis had a nagging suspiscion,

Travis took a deep breath, and tried to smell what was upsetting Jonill. At first he smelled nothing, but then he caught a scent. A whiff of some wild, musky odor. Sharp and unpleasant… and totally unfamiliar.

Jonill continued to frown.

“What’s going on?” said Brawley. “Why are we standing here? What’s that smell?”

“Brawley,” said Travis. “I think we just walked into a trap.”

[end of file]

Oh yes, it was a trap. I forget the exact nature of the trap, but I do know the outcome. Most of the squad is decimated, with the main characters, the captain, and one other person as the only survivors. They meet up with the remains of another squad that met a similar fate… this squad happens to be composed of prisoners who have been pressed into service in exchange for freedom (or something like that). Together they form a fighting force and… somehow, for some reason I can’t remember… end up making a major offensive against the source of the enemy’s magical support. There is some kind of fortress where the enemy has discovered some ancient… something or other… and they have to destroy it. They do, but in the process they get teleported into the ancient catacombs beneath the fort. There, they discover even more ancient power and deal with some evil crap… a lot of the group dies, and those that survive escape the catacombs only to find that they have NO idea where they are. Apparently, they may not even be on the same continent as they started, and it is a looooong way home. That’s pretty much the set-up for the series.


4 Comments

  1. Loki, October 11, 2007:

    Oh come on now…you can’t end it like this. So unfair. :(

    Loved what I read of it though.

  2. DarkIcon, October 13, 2007:

    Aww, c’mon, don’t make a guy feel bad! I told ya what the rest of the story was!

    It is kind of odd that I spent this much effort in a story only to abandon it in just as it gets good. I think this one was a victim of the “something better came along” syndrome. But my notes go VERY deep into the history of this world (going back several millennia), so obviously I intended to do something major with this, probably more than just this story. Those ideas will probably turn up in other projects, if they haven’t already.

  3. Loki, October 13, 2007:

    Understandable. Shit happens. I have abandoned two series of stories because something else came along. First my Blackheart Chronicles and then the Loki Cycle’s.

    The notes from both are about 15 times as big as the story itself from what i have written.

    back to this story though….can i at least read the notes to see where you were going with this? :P

  4. DarkIcon, October 13, 2007:

    Done

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