I wrote a lot of words today. It’s November, after all, and that’s the point. I’m not going to put it all up here, just the first chapter. I’m tempted to put Chapter 2 up as well; it’s quite a bit racier and reintroduces us to Bixby, a nice guy, good with an ax, happy to let others do the thinking. I should probably read this over before posting. Maybe tomorrow. If you’re actually interested in the next chapter, let me know.
This excerpt represents less that 20% of my writing for the day. Wow!
The Quest for the Important Thing to Defeat the Evil Guy
Part 1: The Gathering of the Good Guys
The lone rider clattered up the road to the castle, his black horse’s iron-shod hooves striking sparks in the darkness. A watchman above sounded a horn at his approach, the long note echoing through the rocky valley, until it was defeated by a peal of thunder. When the horn sounded, dark, misshapen forms rushed to the capstans, driven by snap of their masters’ thirsty whips. The creatures began to chant in hollow, tongueless voices as they leaned into their task. With a groan and a rumble the black iron portcullis lifted, and the rider passed through without pausing. More whips bit flesh and the portcullis lowered once more.
The dark rider pulled up at the massive oaken door of the main keep, his horse quivering from exhaustion, coated with sweat, foam coming from the mighty steed’s mouth, the fiery glow of his fearsome eyes diminished. It had been a long ride.
The rider dismounted. Servants swarmed around horse and rider, bowing and scraping as they took the reins of the devil-horse and opened the door for the rider. From his saddlebags the dark rider produced a bundle. Cradling it carefully, shielding the precious object from the rain, he strode into the castle.
“The master awaits,” a slightly taller, slightly less missapen servant said in a voice that bubbled with fluid. “He is in his laboratory.” The servant made no attempt to escort the dark rider; it would only slow him down, and slowing a dark rider down was a good way to die unpleasantly. The dark rider nodded and began the climb to the top of the improbably tall tower in the center of the castle.
The master was seated at his reading table. He looked up when the dark rider entered. “You have the book,” he said in a rich baritone voice.
“Yessss, Masssster,” the dark rider said, his voice the whisper of a winter wind passing through the bare branches of a graveyard tree.
“Bring it to me.” the Master closed the book he had been reading and made space for the latest addition to his library. The dark rider crossed the room in three strides, then carefully unwrapped the book. With a bow he offered the book. The Master lifted the tome off outstreatched hands. “It’s beautiful.” He ran his fingers over the gilt lettering on the cover. The book was bound in soft leather – human skin, the master was willing to bet – reinforced with brass at the corners. It was difficult to believe, looking at it, that it was one of the oldest objects in the world, old when the mountains themselves were young. Almost nothing remained of the ancient civilization that had created the book, mighty as they were, time proved mightier yet. The book smelled of time, it radiated age. The master wasn’t sure it the book was vibrating gently or if that was just his nervous fingers. The room brightened and a bare instant later a crack of thunder shook the tower. Neither dark rider nor master seemed to notice.
“You have done well,” The Master said.
“Thank you, massster.” the dark rider whispered.
“Any word of Trabant?”
“No, Massster. Not that I have heard.”
“He’s up to something, I’m sure of it. Go, then, and help your brothers.” The dark rider bowed and backed out of the room.
Alone, the master centered the great volume on his reading table. A simple incantation released the catch, and he opened the volume. The paper crinkled and a musty smell greeted his nose, but there on his desk were pages that no man had seen for thousands of years.
The master frowned. The page appeared to be gibberish. He had studied all the fragments of the language of the ancients that he could get his hands on, but this text was different. Code, The Master thought. The power that this book revealed would be carefully protected. Code, or simple misdirection? With a wave of his hand he extinguished all the candles in the room, plunging himself into darkness.
Now the master smiled. Floating in the air in front of him, blood-red squiggles twisted and danced, forming themselves into words. Lightning lit the chamber and was just as quickly gone, and as the thunder rettled the shelves the master read the opening dedication:
Mightier than the pantheon!
“Cower in fear, all who read these words, stand in awe of the Important Thing, who’s true nature can only be revealed to the few capable of weilding such tremendous power. Within these pages lie great power and great responsibility.
Chapter 1: What is the Important Thing?”
The master rubbed his hands together in anticipation. At last! He held the key to the important thing, whatever it was. Soon the world would bow before him!
The next words written in the air were like a punch to the gut:
“FREE SAMPLE ONLY. ENTER PASSWORD TO CONTINUE. PASSWORDS MAY BE PURCHASED FROM S’RNGRVE & S’RNGRVE, YOUR ONLY SOURCE FOR THE FINEST TOMES OF UNTOLD POWER.”