Posted in Series, writing

Tallest Trees of the Land

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 16

“Keep moving.” Shiloh grumbled, his patience wearing thin. The mountain trail wavered back and forth, following the curvature of the rocky hills and crumbling outcroppings. The frozen snow crunched loudly under the heavy tread of the horses as they trudged slowly onward.

Zethurus slumped forwards against the mane of the animal. The rope bonds wrapped around his wrists had been tied down to the saddle, with one end trailing off for Shiloh ahead of him to hold onto. The mage’s horse moved as if reacting the the rider’s own apathy.

“Excuse me if I’m not eager to head so quickly to my incarceration, and likely worse.” Zethurus sneered. “Do you have any idea what they’ll do to me here?”

“Not a clue.” Shiloh mumbled, keeping the rope just taught enough for the horse behind his own to stay at attention.

“Me neither.” The mage grumbled. “But it can’t be good. Are you willing to bear the weight of your guilt after having brought me to some horrible fate?”

“Me, I’m following orders. It’s you who sealed your fate long before we set out. Why take up dark magic if you know the consequences will be so dire?”

“One does not take up dark magic, it’s the magic that draws itself to you.”

Shiloh sighed and tapped at the side of his horse to speed up its gait. “Trying to discard the blame from yourself will do you no good. I assume your… Arcanus, you called them, will know how to respond to your wordplay.”

In the distance, the sharp, triangular shaped canopies of towering timbers began to come into view. Arkyan was a small city, wedged in between the northern stretches of the Sing mountain range to the west and the sea to the east. In this part of the province of Tulefore, the trees grew like no other; bark rugged and thick, surrounding trunks that were as thick as wagon wheels or greater. It was deep in the forest where the city had been built atop the Aegien river that flowed down from the North.

The path met with another in a fork that continued under the wide canopies and eventually towards the city, where the group of two horses and two men were headed. Under the shelter of the thick intertwining branches, the ground had escaped the thick deposits of snow. Continue reading “Tallest Trees of the Land”

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Posted in Series, writing

A Summons

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 15

It was mid day, the sun had disappeared from the sky, leaving only hints of its existence at the edges of the dark clouds. With dirty fingers, Scarborough shoveled the gray paste that once was potatoes into his mouth. A lone snowflake landed in a smear of mash inside the wooden bowl. The skinny man pulled his arms in close by his sides as he scooted the round of wood closer to the fire.
“And I finally thought spring had come.” Bently remarked, looking up from his lunch towards the sky.

 

By dinner, a layer of snow had coated the settlement. The frigid weather had driven everyone inside, save Kensley who had donned the suit of armor in order to more comfortably wait guard outside the general’s hut. He could slowly feel the melting clumps of snow congeal and freeze into ice atop the cold metal of the armor, cracking each time he moved a centimeter.

In the still of the falling snow, a faint flapping of wings drew nearer. Kensley tensed, listening closely for the sound. A small animal fluttered in the air around him, before taking a perch on the edge of the tent’s entranceway. The lieutenant turned his head up to get a look at the small white and black speckled owl, who stared down at him and taunted with the clicks of its beak. On its leg was tied a small scroll of wound-up paper.

Kensley offered up his wrist, and the animal jumped down with a wave of its wings. He stared into the unblinking eyes before pushing aside the hanging fur blocking off the entrance and stepping inside. The animal instantly hopped down and drifted to a spot by the fire pit. With a shake to shed the moisture off its feathers, it returned to its relaxed state. Continue reading “A Summons”

Posted in Series, writing

Coldfront

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter Fourteen

The evening brought a cold front in from the west, turning the moisture sitting atop the roofs of the buildings into crystals of frost. Kensley shot up from his bed, hearing the echo of cries outside. The cold air clung to his bare shoulders as he peered out the window above his cot.

The daylight had yet to show itself. In the dim torchlight outside, the perfectly aligned formation of soldiers posed with their swords and shields in defensive positions. Kensley yanked a fur covering off the hook on the wall and fumbled around in the low light searching for his shoes. A cold draft crept in under the doorway and across his feet. He shivered as his toes found the cold leather interior of the flimsy boots.

Holding his arms, Kensley closed the door lightly behind him and wandered out to look upon the formation still mid-training. Boughlin stood at the head of the group, miming directions to them, as Edrian looked on.

“This is quite early, is it not?” Kensley mumbled as he approached the general.

“This time, or not at all.” The General grumbled. “Else we risk being seen by Tuleforian spies. Imagine what we would forfeit should they know of our numbers.”

“I can’t imagine.” Kensley interrogated. “What exactly would we forfeit? You’ve kept us at arm’s length ever since we returned.”

Edrian folded his arms behind his back before letting out a long sigh that produced a wispy cloud of condensation. “I’ve already said too much. You will be informed when the need is there.”

“Sir, with all due respect, I must wonder if you would take this same stance if I were Mandabus… the Captain, sir.”

Edrian frowned and looked at Kensley out of the corner of his eye. “You are a born leader, I’ve seen, just as much as that man. But leadership isn’t the only thing important in waging a war.”

“A war, sir?” Kensley hummed and looked back out at the men. Their arms had been put away just as the light of the day had begun peeking over the horizon. “Should I remind you that we left the Tuleforian settlement in no shape to mount a counter attack any time soon.”

“Exactly.” Edrian grumbled. “Tulefore is a vast empire, strong. Nothing to take lightly. This is their home front. But chip away at the base of any boulder, and it will eventually crumble.”

“Sir-” Kensley stuttered as the General began marching back up in the direction of the crag where his quarters had been built. The formation of soldiers had split, and the men had slowly begun returning to their quarters.

Continue reading “Coldfront”

Posted in Series, writing

Alive in the Dark

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter Thirteen

The tiny hut at the edge of the settlement had begun to reek with the odor of death. The only people who came into a ten foot reach of it were the guards ordered to keep watch.
It had been a week since the capture of Mandabus. One week of nothing but tepid silence from the unknown man inside of the impervious set of armor. Despite any attempts to remove it or get a word out of the man, none had been able to get through, both literally and figuratively.

“There must be some point at which he breaks.” Terren insisted. He looked across the table at his sister, who tapped her fingers on the wooden surface impatiently.

“Do not take the power of such enchantments lightly.” Zethurus butted in. “The armor could likely sustain him indefinitely.”

Kiaren pounded on the table. “If you were worth your salt, mage, you should have been able to do something about that already! It’s his mind that will break first, but even then the man could go on for gods know how long.”

“I can’t stand the smell.” Terren complained. “We can either hope to get some information out of him, or dump him in the sea.”
The commander sat back in the chair and examined her dirty fingernails. “Is there anything we could offer him to appease him, get him to cooperate if just a bit?”

“Obviously, the only answer is to offer up the life of your wizard, here.” Terren taunted and stared down Zethurus.

“I hope you realize that he has bowed to some sort of animalistic tendencies. There will be no reasoning with it.” The mage interjected.

“Tell us again of how you defeated him.” Terren argued.

“Enough!” Kiaren raised her voice, stopping both the others. “It’s been four days now since anyone has stepped foot in that awful room. Just maybe it has been enough time for his rage to abide.”

“Just don’t allow him to see the face of our mage.” Terren added.

Continue reading “Alive in the Dark”

Posted in Series, writing

Army Standing

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter Twelve

Down by the river on the Xiandolan front, the sound of swords clashing in a sparring match filled the air. Kensley swung and thrust with his longsword, the weapon grasp in one hand with the other tucked behind his back.

Scarborough followed the movement of the attacks, while continuously stepping backwards to keep his distance. “You should strike while you have the chance.” Kensley taunted, while continuing his assault. His long dark hair flowed back behind him, and the baggy linen shirt moved listlessly as he calmly proceeded the steady attacks. “Not all battlefields will have the luxury of the space to retreat.”

The tip of one of Scarborough’s sword clacked against the broad dimpled edge of Kensley’s. “Maybe I’m waiting for you to tire yourself out.” He returned, and continued back-stepping slowly.

The clouds of breath exited Kensley’s mouth as rhythmically as the swings of his sword. “You may never know when that’s coming, for either combatant. I know you’re faster than me. Use that to your advantage.”

“It’s hardly an advantage if your opponent is already aware of you, even less so when having twice the range.” Scarborough said through short, shallow breaths. Continue reading “Army Standing”

Posted in The Author Himself, Updates

Happenings in Writing Land

Hey greasers, I hope you’ve been enjoying Of Armor and Bone.  I’m interested in the story continuing to come to fruition.  However, if you have been following this blog or the NaNoWriMo community for a while, you’ll know that it’s time for another writing camp.

I lucked out by being able to start this month with a four day weekend, but I also came down with the flu.  It’s very much a non-jovial April Fools.

My job as Technology Teacher at an elementary school allows me to see a new generation bloom into creativity in a similar fashion.  To foster interest in writing, I allowed my fourth and fifth grade students to volunteer to write with me in the Young Writers Program in association with NaNoWiMo.  I’m excited to see the results.

While writing two consecutive stories is beyond my abilities, I am still editing the third and final installment of my Mars Trilogy, and I hope to have it out some time before summer- hopefully sooner.

Posted in Series, writing

Dull Edge of Sealed Power

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 11

The first stoking of the central pyre that morning had fallen to Shiloh. He had risen earlier than normal, even before the sun had begun to show itself. The ground around the central fire had been padded with excess straw and blankets and firs to provide a place for those without a bed to sleep. The families that were still intact huddled around each other for warmth as the heat from the fire slowly dispersed.

The guardsman followed the lit torches down to the front gate where the firewood had been collected and stacked to dry. The dark, rigid silhouette of the Lieutenant stood silently atop the platform that overlooked the road coming from the capital. “Sir, please allow yourself to rest.” Shiloh announced.

“You have no matter ordering me.” Terren reproached, unmoving.

“’Tis not an order, Sir.” Shiloh sighed. “But only a persuasion.”

Terren shifted back and forth with his eyes still turned outward towards the dark landscape, only lit by the pale moonlight. “I must await my men’s arrival. Until then, I should not rest.”

“They would not make such haste unaware as they are of the current situation.” Shiloh presented, unperturbed. “No reasonable group of men would travel at such an hour otherwise. If you should want, I can wake you when they arrive.”

Terren turned around to loom over the camp. With a swift movement, he dropped down from the platform and onto the ground with a dull thud. Shiloh crouched down by the wood pile to hoist a pair of sectioned logs under his arms. As he turned back towards the fire pit, he could make out the Lieutenant stiffly making his way up to the makeshift lean-to where the Commander and the other high ranking officers had taken shelter for the night. Continue reading “Dull Edge of Sealed Power”

Posted in Series, writing

The Welcome Home

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 10

The barely warm rays of sunlight had soaked up the morning fog and pushed the day towards noon. The rocky expanse and yellow grass of the Xiandolan plains greeted the group long in the distance. The trees had long since thinned out, and the rocky outcroppings of the mountain had shifted around to the other side of them.

Kensley led the group with a silent stride. His face mask poured out bursts of white fog with each steady breath. Around his eye holes, he could see the ice crystals form as condensation collected and froze on the cold metal exterior of the armor. Inside the suit, he could feel no more than the slight warmth from the sun on his back.

The watchtowers of the settlement stared down at them from atop the rocky hillsides. “Up this way.” Bently alerted them with a hoarse voice, the first words exchanged in some hours. “Some old goat path.” He gestured up the hillside, where the thin grass and moss had been warn down in a thin wavering strip of dark dirt.

Kensley nodded in agreement and changed course. The armor plates clinked as he leaned into the slope to steady himself. As they moved single-file up the rocky ground, Kensley scanned the defensive structures that began to come into view. Up above in one of the towers, an exhausted looking guard, huddled in a thick layer of yak fur and leather, lazily peered out towards the horizon.

“You, look alive!” Kensley’s voice boomed, shaking the watchman alert. “Call for the general, immediately!” Continue reading “The Welcome Home”

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Zethurus

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter Nine

The cold gray morning had settled over the forest. Zethurus’s meditation had taken him through the cold, pitch black night. A tingling up his shoulders and neck alerted him to some life force in range of his shelter incantation that cloaked him from outside contact. His eyes shot open in time to hear the rusting of dead leaves on the forest floor.

A lone skunk slinked by through the muddled vegetation, bringing with it a faint trail of pungent odor. The black-and-white striped animal quickly disappeared out of sight on way to return to its burrow for the daylight hours. Zethurus exhaled a long breath of relief. He slid down off the stump he had been resting on for the night. His legs had become stiff and the part of his cloak he had been resting on carried a spot dirtied by the dead wood and moss.

The horse nibbled on yellowed vegetation quietly. With one of its hind legs lifted in the air, it gently poked its head around to scan for any premature green shoots budding up from under the dead leaves. The wizard scanned the area, looking for any other signs of life. With a wave of his hand, he dispelled the incantation. The cold air caught in his lungs and sucked the warmth from inside his body.

With a few steps forward, he placed his hands on the horse’s neck and bunched up parts of its mane between his fingers. “Alright, you damn animal. Just a bit farther, and we should be free from this mess,” he said, tugging roughly at the thick hairs. The horse flinched slightly and shifted away. Continue reading “Zethurus”

Posted in Series, writing

Separate Ways

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 8

The forest was cold with a piercing wind. The moon had just begun to peek over the horizon, and the final moments of dusk were beginning to fall. The three soldiers marched in single file while their feet crunched the gray and brown dead leaves from the trees above.

“Ugh, what I wouldn’t give for a nice hunk of meat beside a warm hearth right now. Though… after today I’m surprised I can still move at such an hour.” Scarborough remarked. He shook his head and stretched his hands out in front of him. “It can’t say that it’s just my imagination… that I haven’t felt a single ounce of fatigue.”

“Now that you bring it up…” Kensley said with a nod as he lead the group. “You’re right. We haven’t eaten all day, carrying around these sets of armor, weapons.”

“You think it’s an effect of the enchantment?” Scarborough asked. “Or you think it could be the adrenaline… the rush from spilling blood?” His devilish grin was hidden by the helmet.

“We’ll see if it catches up to us when we return home and disrobe.” Kensley hummed. He glanced back at Bently, who remained in between the two of them. “You’ve been quiet, Ben. Is all the action finally hitting you?” Continue reading “Separate Ways”