Chapter Prologue : Prologue

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 90
Comments: 1

 

The wind howled through the Vale. The creaking of ancient oaks on the border of the Dark Wood punctuates the whipping of wind through the canopy above. Crouching by a fast moving stream, the Stag drunk deeply of the icy waters, ears twitching at the sounds of the gathering darkness. The crack of a dry branch across the stream causes the animal to snap its head up in alarm. A sharp whip of air and a flash of movement frame the last moments of the aging beast, as the hunter’s arrow pierces its shoulder and punches through the lungs to collide with a dull clunk in a nearby tree. Jolting from the pain the Stag bolts for a short distance, the adrenaline pumping through its veins lending its body false strength before it collapses in a heap, not 15 yards from where it took its final drink.

 

A muscular humanoid figure materialises from the low shrub across the stream, a primitive yet functional bow in hand. With the sure stride of a hunter born of a race of warriors, he lopes with an even gait across the narrow boulders, sticking out of the water to where his prey was felled. Smiling to himself and looking skyward, the Hobgoblin takes a few deep breathes to lower is heart rate and calm his mind. Kneeling down in the course mud of the edge of the bank, he pulls an obsidian knife from his belt and sets about the gruesome but necessary process of butchering the old Stag.

 

Thinking inwardly as he started to gut the animal in a practiced fashion, the hunter contemplated the war. The humans were holding up well for themselves, even after 5 years of near constant bloody battles. Pausing his contemplations, he makes a guttural grunt as with no small effort, he rips the heart from his kill. Holding it up in the twin moon light, he inspects it briefly before sinking his fangs in, and drinking deep of the warm blood. Invigorated by the nourishment, he finishes up the nights work and shoulders the carcass. This would be one of many killed in the Dark Wood this night, his brothers too were abroad on hunts of their own to feed the ever growing Horde.

 

Elsewhere a short time later…

 

Lord Tristane sips his morning tea on an expansive oak balcony jutting out the side of the northern keep. He overlooks the fog of night slowly recede to show Oakenfall in the golden light of morning. He breathes deep of the morning air, the familiar smell of damp grass mixed with the wafting aroma of freshly baking bread does little to calm his racing heart. His men do reasonably well on all fronts of the war but the latest assault against Grey Bridge, not 3 days ride to the east, reminds him that the enemy is closer than he would like.

 

The war has been long and tiring. For 5 years the creature going by the name of Draven, has led the Horde to many victories against the Armies of the Vale. It simply should not have been possible! The Hobgoblin tribes have always warred with one another too much to unify in the way that they had. The foul creatures have always ventured out of the foreboding expanse of the Dark Wood, but were always easily turned back by the garrisons of the Vale, or when they ventured to far into the Spine mountain range to the east, The dwarves and Elves inevitably turned them on heel. He sighed deeply, Grey bridge is close to falling, The garrisons south of the Dark Wood report giant attacks with ever increasing determination and without reinforcement from the Capital they too will fall.

 

Far to the North…

 

Thunder rumbled and lighting raked the sky above, as the wind roared and the rain pummelled the sides of the cyclopean Barrow, known in hushed whispers by the locals as Hightower. The massive dark stone edifice had stood on the northern cliffs, gazing out in silent vigil over the Sea of Souls for as long as there had been men on the continent, and quite possibly longer than that.

 

Crouching by a meagre fire in the entrance, just past a gargantuan stone slab that acted as a doorway of sorts, was a weary traveller recently run aground in the relentless storm. The powerfully built man was draped in furs that did little to keep him warm, as he shivered and tried to absorb some semblance of heat from the flickering fire light. Gazing into the stygian gloom of the Barrows outer sanctum, the man known as Skad contemplated his options. The journey across the sea from Varangia had left him drained and hungry. His ship had gone aground just north of Hightower 2 days past and in that time, the howling wind and non-stop deluge had only gotten worse.

 

His crew had been sent south to bolster the Hobgoblin war effort against the long-time enemies of Varangia. A crew of 50 men reduced to just 1 in the space of one bad night. The journey had been going well, spirits were high and much plunder had been promised by his Jarl. On the 9th bell, just as he was finishing his watch on the fore deck of Akkeri, the tempest grew in fervour as a rogue wave hit the ship portside, causing the Akkeri to keel over, spilling the crew into the icy waters below. He had passed out shortly after that, finding himself cold, bleeding from several minor wounds, and half submerged on a beach head, surrounded by the broken bodies of his crew. How he survived was beyond him. Shivering and broken, both in mind and body, Skad wandered in the ever increasing storm to where he now found himself. Alone, cold, and without hope.

 


Submitted: June 11, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Wade.A.Green. All rights reserved.

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Wade.A.Green

This is a work in progress, I am working on more chapters as we speak! If you like what you read, flip me a message I would love to hear from you.
vulknutfiction

Tue, June 14th, 2022 8:07am

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