Here’s the first scene of my short story, Night Of The Taking, a minor first entry into the Fractured Tapestry series preceding the upcoming debut novel. If you enjoy the first scene, you can read the rest for free by downloading it from Amazon via this link. Enjoy.
Agony tore through Lonaris’s abdomen. The cries of the dying rose all around him as he clutched at the wound in stunned disbelief. He sank to his knees and stared mutely at his attacker – his friend – but Hakhos showed no remorse as the scimitar lowered to his side. Lonaris turned in search of Epheema to find her lay beside him in the grass, the last of her lifeblood spreading out from a ragged hole in her chest. A cry of anguish welled up from his core and erupted into the night. His strength faded and he slumped down beside his wife. His bloodied fingers reached out and touched her cheek.
“My love,” he whispered. “What have they done?”
But Epheema had no answers as she stared sightlessly up at the stars. A blur of torchlight flickered all around the plain, silhouetting the standing tribesmen and glinting from their weapons. The death-cries of his kin were already diminishing, replaced by a shout of triumph from the tribesfolk.
Hakhos loomed over him, his weathered features carved in shadows and flickering with amber. His eyes were a cold contrast to the torch in his hand, but were fitting siblings to his bronze blade.
“Why?” Lonaris demanded.
Hakhos sneered. “You made us do it, Lonaris. You and your kin, with your hair like blood and your skin like bone. We tried to live with you.” He spat on the ground. “I was a young man when my tribe was welcomed into Midhallow by your ever-placid Retainers. We thought you were demigods, aspects of Banael, the great sun. We believed that Cherak’s heart and Khariali’s soul had returned from the Void to dwell again upon Verragos. And we believed that those Retainers were the gods’ servants.” A hateful bitterness hardened his features. “But the crimson fire in your eyes is not god-born. We know that now.”
Lonaris swallowed the acrid taste of blood. “You were told from the start… The Volami are – were! – no different from the tribes. You accepted this, after a time. We lived as equals.”
Hakhos shook his head. “Not quite as equals. How long would it be before you turned against us? We may be simple folk but we are not stupid. We knew of the secret meetings among the Volami. It’s been thirty years since Midhallow rose from the dirt. Thirty years, and still parts of the city are forbidden to us, the doors kept locked by your hallowed symbols. We lived beside you, but we could never understand you.”
“Yes, Hakhos, and what you did not understand, you destroyed.” A fit of coughing wracked Lonaris, and blood frothed at his lips. When it was over, he looked wearily at the tribesman. “You may have left the plains, but the warring ways are still with you. When did a Volami ever lift a finger against a tribesman?”
Hakhos shrugged. “Perhaps never. But I’m old now, and you haven’t aged a cursed day. None of you have, none but the few children among you. And no Volami has ever died, until today.”
“By your hands! Children, Hakhos! Women and children! My own Epheema, curse you! She was one of your people. She was your friend. She loved you like a brother…” Lonaris’s vision blurred, his senses dulling as the wound in his middle pooled blood around him. The grass was warm and comfortable, but his anger fought against the fatigue. “You killed her. For what? Because she chose to marry a Volami?”
“I did not kill her!” Hakhos pointed his blade at Lonaris. “You did that. You condemned Epheema the day you enthralled her and took her into your bed.”
Lonaris barked a laugh. “Look around you. What do you see? A slaughter of an entire people. You disgust me. Congratulations, child murderer. I hope you rest easy tonight, knowing how easy it was to kill so many supposed gods, not one of whom fought back.”
“The Volami were demons. It took us time to see it, but we did, and we struck first. Goodbye, Lonaris, old friend.” The tribesman leaned down and the scimitar slid between Lonaris’s ribs.
Thank you for reading this excerpt. I hope you enjoyed it enough to continue reading the full short story. To do so, download it for free from this universal Amazon link.
Whether you love it, like it a little, or loathe it, I’d welcome you sharing your thoughts to the public by way of a brief Amazon review.
I hope Night Of The Taking has whetted your appetite for the upcoming novel, which has been fully written and is currently in the beta-reading stage. More news on that to come soon. 🙂