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A Night of Stars

Short story By: S Alfred H
Fantasy



Joseph Walker, a small soul in unforgiving Northlord, finds himself at the mercy of a band of Star Pirates. He himself believes he has met his end... but the Stars believe different.
Chapter 1 of 'A Night of Stars'


Submitted:May 16, 2012    Reads: 39    Comments: 4    Likes: 2   


Some information about the book:-

Extracts from 'A guide to our world' by Frogon Frisgelli

"A Baron, Bane, Bard and Balion are not physically different of each other. Each however, carries their own blood from the four original families whom came with the beginning of civilisation."

"A Howler, being a Baron pacifically, who through a religious calling (be it spiritual or by divine order from the Stars) listens to the winds whom they believe are the voices of the stars to discover their biddings and wishes."

"A Gazer, being a Bane pacifically, has the same callings as a Howler, but who look directly to the stars and the signs they form in the night sky to discover their biddings and wishes."

"A Moon age being the time from one full moon to the next..."

"The Orange Canal as it has come to be known was formed at the coming of civilisation. It spilt the: North, South, East and West from coast to coast- making the different realms. It wasn't until the first Kings that the eight bridges were built to join the four realms. However, each realm continued to rule themselves before and after the bridges comings."

A Night of Stars

1st Chapter

Star Pirates!

"Name?" Breygan Crozguard demanded from under the rag of fur that covered his freezing blue lips. Crusty ice had already ventured deep into the tangles and twists, and now its prickling bitterness was piercing his face.

"J… Joesss… Joseph Walkkk… Walker," Went a sadistically shivering voice at the Star Pirate's booted feet. He took a step back and looked down at the winter floor, only to see Joseph Walker half buried in snow. The godforsaken boy was only wearing a skinny shirt and sack pants torn at the ankle. He was knelt down, hunched over for blankets of snow to collect on his arched back. The way he was shivering made the earth look like it was rumbling. His hands were grasped tightly together like two lovers; only it was the black and blue in the boy's fingers that showed it was really desperation- and desperation only- that joined them.

Crozguard tried to look at the boy's face. It was mostly hidden, looking down wistfully at the snow. Only rich brown hair was showing with its waves and curls lapping across his head like the sea would do to the sand. Only, the waves began to break on the boy's heavy eyebrows, them being rocks to protect the pools of his slivery green eyes. Yet the sea had frozen, waves forming icicles and the curls glaciers of white.

Joe looked up at the beefy Bane of Westward standing above him. He was his capturer and even worse… a grisly Star Pirate. His face had become scorching red after his drunken and feasting hours… but the cold had infected the enflamed skin, turning it to a sickly, blotchy purple. Not only that, but the fur rag that shielded the Star Pirate's lips and chin was a match with the rest of his furred clothing. Its millions of hairs flapped around in the windy gale of snow- making him look more like a bear than a pirate.

"Age?" Crozguard commanded without a tone of sympathy towards Joe's freezing limbs.

"Sssss… Sixtee… Nn. Sixteen." Joe stuttered from him numb lips. It felt like they we not moving in synchronisation with his speech, but slurred and garbled like a drunken. His breath, sticky with the last reserves of heat in his body slipped from his mouth at the utter of his age. It tuned into a cloud of smoke, silvery as it passed under the stars and moon of the night. The steady path of the untouchable danced in the wind, starting as a single stream and then spreading into what seemed like a delta of sliver ribbons.

"House?" Crozguard requested.

"B… Baron." Joe replied again. His lungs were now filling with the bitter air. His poor heart was galloping faster than any horse.

For the first time Joe scrutinised his surroundings. He couldn't keep his pooled eyes open for long however, at the anxiety of them freezing over. An army of weathered trees surrounded him, the falling snow trying to defeat them but failing. Even though the woods themselves were abstemiously silent, it felt like a constant bloody war was raging in their braches. Above them the sky was patched with clouds blackened against the night sky and then places of nothingness with only stars to break the void.

However, the forest was far from empty. Just beyond where he knelt a clearing of tents and countless cages had collected. Above the trees soared something Joe had never seen before. A mighty Galion was ringing the air of the night sky, its sails like sheets of ice surrounded made up of the falling snow. The wood was a mahogany colour, with gnarled golden frames around the thick glass of the Captains Quarters. All cannons were extended out into the open- like dogs ready to pounce- Joe wondered if their metal skin was as cold as his was.

"Get up! You're comin' with us boy." Crozguard barked through the snow. To him Joe seemed like the perfect catch. Of a prime age for fighting and labouring he would go down a treat with any potential slave drivers. The boy had been close to the nearby Baron village of Hobcross when Crozguard had seen him. On his own picking blue and gold mushrooms from under a small sheet of snow; up in Northlord where the Barons lived there was always snow. Crozguard hated it, although it did keep the drink cool!

Joe felt Crozguard's giant hand retch him like a bolt out of the snow. He didn't know why the man wanted him. He'd been picking mushrooms for his Master, Yorick Norville, when he'd been slung up and knocked out. His only comforting thought was that maybe somewhere his Master, being the Royal Howler, had set up a search party in light of his absence. If Norville was anything he was compassionate.

"Im ccc… cold. Please… do you h… have anything fo… Rr… For me." Joe pleaded. He'd never sounded so pathetic in his life. Then again he'd never been so much at the mercy of another before.

Crozguard grunted and removed a layer of his fur clothing, thick with a new coating of ice. He threw it at Joe who huddled it like a parent huddled a baby. It smelt strongly of smoke and drink. He was about to mumble a shallow thanks when Crozguard muttered, 'So long as you're not dead when it comes to sellin' ya.' Joe let the cold seal his lips shut.

As they entered the clearing, absent of trees and even shrubs, Joe saw he was not the only Baron they had captured. A group of fifty were all huddled together- some in cages and some in chains. Joe had often heard stories that whenever the Star Pirates stormed Northlord, any compassion they had was frozen away. So far the story had become reality.

In the absence of the trees, Joe could see the Galion more clearly. The ship had been in water once as thousands of Barnacles coated the bottom half of its hull like blisters, along with short slithers of seaweed. Although, it wasn't the Barnacles Joe cared about. The enchanting sight of seeing two green dragons chained as simply as horses to the front of the ship sent shivers down his already shivering spine. Their wings were blankets of ripped skin, heavily beating the powdered snow away. If the Dragons had not belonging to the Star Pirates Joe would have relished the view.

It was then that he noticed long iron chains had been lowed from the ship to below the trees and into the clearing. There, each one had been attached to the cages filling with unwilling Barons. The chains then strained, hauling the cages up to whatever horrors lay on the deck of a Star Pirates ship. Joe new that was his final destination and it filled him with a new fear.

Crozguard dragged the warm coat from around his shoulders and pushed him over to the crowd of chained Barons. The ground snow had covered stray roots unearthed from their home, and they caused Joe to stumbled, falling to their mercy. His head hit first, felling like the ground was a freezing fist. His muscles suddenly felt as though they could not go on. They acted like they had been through a war were they had lost to nothing but the bitter cold. The warmth of the fur left him and the snow once again prevailed. Tears that he had held back for years began to swell in his eyes. The dam of his bravery had broken.

There, lay in the snow, he thought back to when he had been ten. Back then he had been with his mother and father. Their hair was waved like his and his father's green eyes and mothers silver eyes had joined to make up his own.

The three of them had lived on a farm perched on the furthest hill from Darvon, not being poor but far from being well-off. Joe could recite every morning as well as he could recite the chores he now did for Yorick Norville; having to get up at dawn with his Father to collect the Shine Honey from the Ferflys and them having to milk the Cows with his Mother at dusk.

After the milking, when the sun fell from the sky, the green lights would come out. They would flash across the sky like the tail of a dragon but with the elegance of noble Barons. His father would tell him of how the North Stars sent the lights to show when they had a marriage or death- but Joe just saw they as a message of beauty.

"Help." He found himself muttering as he lay on the snow. "Help."

Crozguard ripped him back up with a grunt of 'shut it!' Joe found himself back in the real world. He looked to the sky for the green lights- there were none.

The Pirates copped him into the group of freezing Barons, looking like penguins huddling to keep warm. A vein of chain ran through the heart of the group- fastening every hand together like a tree trunk would its branches.

A few more chains dropped from the ship and grabbed a few more cages like bony claws. As every cage went up, a new empty one came down and the Baron tree lost a few more branches.

Crozguard kept hold of Joe whilst he grouped together a few more Barons with his bear-like arms. A cage appeared in front of them. The bars were like crowned teeth ready to eat a new set of prisoners. Crozguard pushed Joe closer and closer to the cage; he could now see the moonlight reflecting on the bars making them look as sharp as freshly forged swords.

Suddenly Crozguard remove his grip, almost a little too hastily. Like he was scared of something. The group around him started to mutter, spacing themselves. A wind of oddity had caught the Baron branches. Joe could only think of what it could be that it had distracted them from their certain doom.

"THE STARS ARE FALLING!" Crozguard thundered, filling the entire clearing with his voice and rattling the trees of their snow. There was a collective movement were every head- Baron and pirate alike-looked up to the sky. What came next were screams, again from both Barons and pirates. Joe didn't scream however, he just continued to stare at the sky.

The patches of snow cloud had been unthreaded from the night and had left it clear. But the once still stars, suspended in their positions of might… were moving! They shot across the sky like great eagles on fire. Yet the fire was not red and blood-like, it was silvery blue like the colour of the cold North.

Not only had the stars begun to fly like comets, scarring the sky, they had begun to dive downwards, eagles that had seen their prey. A dozen of them were swarming upon the clearing like flaming arrows falling onto an enemy. Half of them collided with the Galion. A noise that was like a thousand women screaming and a million men howling for battle erupted. The music of the clash of swords exploded and then the silence of the dead followed. The stars had passed from deck to hull. Six gaping holes had appeared among the Barnacles, setting them to fire.

The other half went to the Dragons, stabbing them like giant lances. The beasts could not even yelp. Two more stars engulfed the chains attaching the great winged beasts to the ship. They snapped as easy as thread and let the lifeless dragons fall along with their master Galion.

The fall was short but by the time the Galion landed at the edge of the clearing it was a ball of flames. Its earth-bound touch sent a wave of snow, not cold but warm with destruction, across the clearing.

A procession of comets took to the sky in victory of the fallen ship. Their tales whipped the other stars still and when they had passed into the horizon all was peaceful. A silence hung in the air for a few seconds. The pirated had gathered on one side of the clearing and the Barons- having freed themselves with fallen weapons- on the other. The two armies took a second to digest what had happened- then charged!

For Chapter 2 in 'A Night of Stars' check my page. Its called 'A Night of Stars: Chapter 2'





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