As the title suggests, I’m massively behind between trying to balance work and my novel. Along with trying to post updates when I can. Outside of that, Everything is going relatively well. I have five chapters left to update and revise. Downside that is still about 60 pages. Even though I have realized two things as I do this. The first being I have underestimated the importance of coffee/caffeine in this process. While the second is much cheaper. I need to invest in large, heavy duty paperclips/binder clips. If only to keep what I have done, and what isn’t done separated.
First Chapter preview below (ignore the indent problem, it is how WordPress set it up):
I saw my fallen comrades rise from their snow covered graves. Their bodies still clad in battle damaged armor, their weapons still held in place by in their dead hands. Snow clung to their bodies as they moved,seeming to have little effect on my proud fallen brothers. The few of us that remained alive after the battle with bandits, dealt with them as swiftly as we could still dealing with the surprise of our fallen rising. By the end my steel sword was clad with equal mix snow and dried blood. Something told me, deep in my bones that whatever was happening here, this was just the beginning.
That night we sat around a fire as the snow and night fell around us. My eyes scanned the area, ever vigilant for the dead. I pondered silently “How could Disoth do this? Why would a god of death raise the dead?” My eyes moved to the faces of my three remaining comrades, they seemed to be having the same thought. As the night wore on the cold intensified until I felt it in my bones, despite the warmth of the fire. I scanned the area as night dragged on, getting colder as the snow calmed to almost nothing. Something was walking through the snow, making it crunch heavily underfoot. The louder the crunch got the tighter the grip on the handle on my sword got. As the moon started to fall I spotted a solitary figure, standing in the snow. The figure was leaning on,what looked like a wooden staff at this distance. I watched the figure in silence pulling my sword from it’s leather sheath. The man slowly approached leaning on his staff to support himself as he struggled against the thick snow. Slowly and as silently as I could I made my men alert to the strangers presence. They all glared at me but spotted the solitary figured realizing why I woke them from their sleep. I made sure they kept their weapons sheathed, watching the solitary figure in silence. Within moments the figure noticed our state of alert,and approached faster. The tip of his his staff glowing a faint white in the process.
I shouted “Ready your swords now.”
They didn’t question my command, as they removed their swords ready to fight to the fast approaching stranger. The stranger noticed our weapons, pointing his staff towards us releasing what ever he was gathering. In a instant I felt bound by unseen forces, stronger than steel.
The stranger appeared to be grinning, under his white beard as he remarked “Better. If I wanted your group dead I would of done it from afar. Now tell me what are you doing here?”
Silently my eyes darted over this mysterious stranger. The man wore a dark blue robe, that must have been warmer then it looked. In his right hand he carried a staff, that was taller then he was. The staff was empty of color, outside of gemstones that seemed to run up the entirety of the staff. Whatever material contained the stones must have been transparent, and much stronger then it looked from where I was bound. Then it hit me, the man was a wizard. He was a far from Arcania. A hood that was attached to the robe covered his face, outside of a white beard that poked through.
I felt the gaze of my comrades on me, waiting for me to answer this strangers questions since the position of command, was thrust onto me after our leader’s demise. With a growl I answered “Chasing bandits, and burying our risen fallen. Now you answer my questions. Why did our fallen rise? Who are you?”
The stranger responded “My name is Aegis the Wise, Sorcerer of the Forgotten Kings. I may have a theory on why your fallen have risen, but it is grave news if it’s true. You killed them right?”
I nodded before asking “What is your theory Aegis?”
Aegis answered “I hope I’m wrong but, one of the sons of the Forgotten Kings was a skilled and powerful Necromancer. Which is why he and his family banished centuries ago. He vowed his family would get revenge before he left, in a swift, and violent revenge. If not by him, then by his line. His line is still going like some of the Forgotten Kings families. They have just been have been replaced by their sons, and their son’s sons, and the son’s of their son’s sons. Now introduce yourselves,” as I felt the unseen bonds on us release.
I looked at Aegis as I put away my blade back in its sheath. He seemed harmless enough for now, and partly because I was curious as to why he was out here. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw my men do the same following my lead. I spoke my name is “Nicholas Ironheart, leader of what remains of this group since the skirmish with a group of bandits killed our leader, breaking the unspoken peace. Now the anthropomorphic white wolf at my right, is named Arngir Lupaninan. Harm us and, he will rip out your throat,” as he flashed his fangs at Aegis. “The man beside Arngir is Lucas Ings, our groups bowmen and chief scout. His protege Ian Ophile is the young man on my left. We had a few others but, the bandits killed them. We were poorly informed as to the bandits numbers, causing the skirmish to become a slaughter. ”
Aegis’ gaze looked us all over. Noticing our black and red leather armor that we were all wearing, custom fitted for each of us. He studied Arngir more carefully than the rest of us as if he saw someone or something familiar within him. Arngir seemed unconcerned by Aegis’s lengthy gaze.
Aegis queried “You have come here from the mountain kingdom, of Raifare correct?”
Lucas answered “We did,” his fingers running over the cross-guard of the small curved dagger he kept at his waist. His unease was obvious to me.
Aegis smiled as he asked “Are the old dwarven ruins still buried deep inside the mountain? Still locked by a method long since forgotten?”
I answered with a question of my own, “They are, but why does that matter?”
Aegis responded “The dwarves built many powerful magical artifacts with help from the elves. Along with a vast library of scrolls and books holding the secrets of magics only remembered now by the elves and the Great Order of Magi. We should go see the bandits you killed. What is dead should stay dead.”
Arngir asked “Why should we care? Bandits are nothing more than criminals to broke or too stupid to live by the law. They deserve what cursed fate death deals them.”
Aegis seemed unphased by Arngir’s blunt statement before responding “You should care, all of you. The more recent the death the easier it is for a necromancer to raise them ,nd use them to augment their army of the dead. Now unless you burned them to ash ,they can still be brought back until their bodies are burned to ash.”
I restrained Arngir as he growled in his throat at Aegis.
With haste I commanded “Restrain yourself Arngir, we have seen our fallen comrades rise and fall again by our blades. Now keep your anger and grief in check. We have to work out what to do outside of informing our king about this problem.”
Arngir glared and growled at me, briefly flashing his fangs at me. He quickly regained his composure staring at Aegis.
I commanded “We should move once the snow lets up, it will more difficult to move now.”
Aegis remarked “I agree, if I wasn’t a sorcerer, I would of had difficulty spotting you in this falling snow. This blizzard hopefully will end soon, if I didn’t know any better someone is manipulating this blizzard, augmenting the storm’s raw power. We need to find a more permanent shelter I think. We can talk once more when we are out of the cold.”
Lucas said “I agree Nicholas, this storm doesn’t feel natural. I’m starting to feel the cold in my bones. There should be a Grayhok Clan outpost station nearby, we can take shelter there, until the storm dies away.”
Arngir sniffed at the air, as the snow around crunched with the sound of footsteps, rushing through the snow. Aegis scanned the area toward the sound. His staff glowing with arcane energies,using his staff he was able to project a pale blue light over the landscape. Watching some I placed my hand on the hilt of my sword, readying myself for a fight should it come to that. There had been strange things spotted of late from what I was told.
Arngir growled “Trolls. Their scent is heavy in the air, like rotting flesh. Large numbers, I think otherwise the odor would be less noticeable,” as he removed his twin curved, double edged blades from their sheaths.
I looked and saw Lucas, along with his squire Ian ready their long-bows. Arrows already knocked and ready to fire. Aegis turned and looked at the pitiful remains on the fire. Somehow he called the flame to his staff. Readying for a fight or preparing a plan it was difficult to tell. I glanced down at the handle of my sword, before quickly switching to my battle axe. It would have a sharp edge since, I hadn’t had the time to freshen the edge of the blade. The scent got heavier in the air as the footsteps increased in both volume and speed, as if they were running from something bigger. Aegis seemed to notice this as well and projected the flame in a large burst of heat towards the rapidly encroaching footsteps. Multiple deep, piercing scream like sounds started to emanate from the area. They blended into a murderous sound, that broke the still silence of the storm. The ground started to shake beneath our feet as the screams of pain increased in volume. Aegis cut the flame that was erupting from his staff, peering back at us. The screams fell silent, as the snow continued to fall around us. Lucas shivered his breath visible as his eyes moved upwards, close to the top of the treeline.
I demanded “Aegis can you cut a path from through the storm. I would rather not see what could get a large number of trolls from their cave hideaways.”
Aegis nodded in agreement and chanted in a language I didn’t understand filling the air with strange rune like symbols, each symbol glowing with energy as it was made. The symbols grew brighter and brighter before, fading.
Aegis commanded “We can navigate towards the outpost Lucas mentioned earlier. The spell won’t last long, we should move quickly.”
We all kept a constant vigil as Lucas led the way towards the outpost. With Aegis and the rest of us moving behind him quickly, doing our best to stay warm. The snow never let up. It felt like it was intensifying with each step.