Because I’m working on my other novel, I have this story I started and have not had time to work on . So for some crazy reason I’m going to post what I have here in hopes that an audience will encourage me to write on it more.
The working Trilogy is called The Phoenix Cyle and the first book is Burning.
Kerse tumbled down the hill. He stood up and started running again. The grass slapped his legs and bit his face and arms as he plunged through it. He glanced back and Whomp! Kerse fell backward. His chest stung. A log lay in front of him hidden mostly by the grass. It could hide him too. He planted both hands on the log and hoisted himself over. His heavy breathing seemed to echo in the silence. A beetle eyed him suspiciously from the ground and he grabbed it. The crunch of the beetle in his mouth drowned out his breathing. Slowly he crawled to the end of the log and peeked around. At the top of the hill he saw a Rider looking over the grassy meadow. Kerse could see the blood dripping off the Rider’s sword. He flattened himself against the rugged bark and held his breath. His little gnome body froze with fear.
Slowly the Rider turned his horse and disappeared back down the other side of the hill. Kerse didn’t move for a long time. Then, exhausted he crept around the end of the log and curled himself up inside the hollow. They should be gone tomorrow. Tomorrow I will go see if anyone is left. The strain ground him into a long weary sleep.
The sun prodded him through the grass and Kerse groggily rubbed his eyes. The memories of the day before flooded into his mind, the screaming, the pounding hooves. He jolted awake hitting his head on the log. Ouch! He rubbed his head. He crawled out of the log and slowly made his way up the hill keeping low to the ground. At the top he stood and looked down on the valley. The smoke from his village still drifted into the sky. He could see no Riders but he skirted around to the trees anyway. He moved slowly, listening for sounds of the enemy. But he heard nothing.
When he finally got close enough to see the village clearly his heart sank. His stomach churned and he vomited. Male gnomes meant nothing to them. Only the females carried the spark within them. They heard stories of gnome villages to the northwest that were overrun by the Riders. Only the few out hunting survived to see the aftermath. Men slaughtered and the women missing. But no one felt hope for the women. They had a crueler fate than their men. The spark kept the Riders alive. Long past dead, they gave their souls to the demon overlord Detrimonck to remain on earth and plunder and reap destruction. However, to remain more than a pile of dust, they had to consume living spark. Kerse shuddered and vomited again. They brushed aside the stories for so long. Surely Riders would not dare venture this far south. They had to cross Pelevor to get here. The orcs and malocks that lived there did not like Riders. Living in well-guarded caverns made them difficult to harvest for the Riders, despite many attempts. And the elf and human outposts along the river Flord would also deter them. Certainly they could not overrun those. But somehow, in those years since the first stories came, something changed. They came. In broad daylight they attacked.
He knew his father and brother would be among the dead. The wild dogs could surely smell the stench by now. In a few days little would remain but the blackened earth and shells of homes. His mother and sisters, if still alive, would be eaten that way to satisfy the Riders. Kerse dry-heaved a few times at the thought.
A howl broke the morning air. The dogs had arrived. He would return in a few days to find anything that remained. Kerse returned to the log and carved the names of his family in the bark with his knife. For the rest of the day he hollowed out the log more and wove a blanket from the grass. He tried to eat the bugs found in the rotting wood but had no appetite. When night fell, Kerse cried listening to the distant howls of the dog packs.
He awoke to the sound of sniffing. Heavy sniffing. Kerse grabbed his knife. Had the Riders returned and hunted him down? Did his grief make him careless? The log jolted with a bump. The sniffing stopped. His heart raced and he slowly adjusted to an attack pose. The sniffing started again. The dim light told him the sun hadn’t risen yet. The rustling of the grass next to the log sounded confined. Whatever smelled him, came alone. He saw the nose of the dog as it rounded the end of the log and he timed his jump carefully. As soon as the eye of the dog reached the entrance to the log, he jumped kicking the animal as close to the eye as he could. This launched him out of the log and into a better attack position. It also startled and wounded the dog. He lunged for the throat of the animal, plunging his four-inch blade to the hilt and slicing outward. The dog’s yelp gurgled into nothing as it collapsed and died.
Kerse sat down in front of the corpse. His strength now completely depleted from the attack and having not eaten the day before. He looked the dog. No wonder he hit the trunk. The dog’s eyes had already been clawed out. He apparently lost the fight for a gnome carcass. The thought still made him slightly ill. But if this dog found him, so would others. And now a rotting corpse would also draw their attention. He had to go back to his village today. The dogs should be sleeping after glutting themselves all night. And his little knife would be woefully inadequate against anything more than a single dog. He must go now, take what he could and move south. He knew another gnome village lay just over a day’s walk away. They needed warning. He wished someone could have warned his village.
After cleaning his blade on the dog’s fur, he set off back toward his village sticking again to the woods but steering clear of his previous path in case other dogs decided to follow the first. When he reached the edge of the village, he decided that the best place to find a weapon would be in Jelath’s hut. He was the best warrior in the village and had many types of weapons.
Kerse moved slowly around the backs of houses and kept away from the road. He tried to not look at the remains of those he knew as he passed the lumps of torn fabric and bone. Finally, he reached Jelath’s and slid along the wall to the front of the hut. He came to the street and slipped around the corner. He froze.
A dog stood with his back to Kerse. It chewed on someone, or the remnants anyway. He couldn’t get back around the corner now. He decided to go for the door and hope he could get in and the door closed before the dog had time to react. His heart rate quickened and he tensed himself. Now!