An excerpt from book 4 in the Half-Elf Chronicles series! We join the characters aboard the Rat Raft upon the high seas with a great danger closing in!
Yurl let go of the wheel and turned toward them. “It is all clear sea back to port. Whatever magic or curses so many believe in, we must’ve escaped. Or maybe the good ole’ Rat Raft is too fast for your sea monster!”
There was a sudden ear-splitting sound that caused everyone to drop low on the deck. Brethor looked over to the skeletal-ridden monstrosity of a wall and noticed massive tentacles cresting over the top. At first, there was just two and then came three and then six and then eight.
“Make ready the crossbows, men. Port side crew, to the starboard with spears. We’ve fought a tentacled beast before. Let’s turn this one to meat too!
Jesia now stood with the others, staring at the large tentacles snaking their way over the wall. A massive mass of flesh appeared just over the top. It was like a mix of a large crab and a red mushroom of sorts. From its head crawled the small tentacled creatures they had fought in the temple. It had no eyes they could see. Another piercing sound, this time louder, caused them to all cover their ears.
Brethor’s ears rang. He went to Yurl.
“You have fought creatures like this?” He pointed.
“A tentacled beast is a tentacled beast.”
“That is a leviathan like the ancient stories, that is no mere tentacled beast!”
The ship was now parallel with the creature. Veora walked along the deck near the crossbows. She raised her staff, and a green flame grew brightly. At the moment of its pinnacle, she fired it, and a barrage of crossbow bolts followed with it. There were multiple strikes along its form, but the creature seemed to care little. The few bolts that stuck seemed to slip off as the creature dropped into the water and slid under the surface.
Yurl turned the ship.
“Winds of the sea, quickly!”
Several men ran to the back of the ship. Brethor assisted them in assuring the flow out the back was good. Yurl got in place at the helm just as it seemed they had run aground.
Multiple tentacles shot up around them and slapped at the deck. The creature’s body itself was visible on their port side, but the tentacles were the main enemy the crew was worried of. The ship was tossed from one side to the other. It was difficult to walk. As the creature seemed to pull the ship to one side, those manning the crossbows fired into its form. There was a loud roar under the surface, and the entire ship vibrated.
Jesia unleashed several explosive fiery spells at tentacles attempting to wrap around the ship’s center masts. She wasn’t sure how much damage was done, but they at least released. Brethor slashed at one of the tentacles, and another few of the crew managed to pin one down and cut it in two, but from any area the tentacles were sliced, more tentacles grew.
Veora summoned shadowlings to attack the creature itself. The little black creatures ran along the deck of the ship and leaped to the tentacles, following them back to the actual Leviathan and stabbing it over and over. She lifted her staff above her head and made a large green orb around herself. As it expanded out in a wind-shifting blast, she yelled, “Arise!”
At first, none could tell what she had done, but soon, the water brimmed with dead men clawing at the Leviathan and distracting its many tentacles. The ship was released for the moment, but the ropes were damaged. It couldn’t move away.
“My spell will not last long. I do not have the moon to give me more power and not the time to cast a longer enchantment.”
As Veora’s summonings attacked the creature, the crew worked to replace the ropes as quickly as they could. They had little time to escape the Leviathan.
Kealin reached the surface and coughed over and over as the tentacles of the plant reached air and immediately retracted out of his nose. He was expelled from the caves onto a rocky beach and had a sight of the gateway where they had come through aboard the Rat Raft. The air was still bleak, and the island he had ended up on was very small. It made sense why he didn’t see it coming in.
He looked into the hole he had emerged from and noticed it had vanished. Stone now covered what was before a passage. He stumbled about on the beach and then felt a deep rumble. He listened and could hear shouting. He looked around, confused at the moment at what he could do and wondered if Yurl and the others had gotten into trouble. He then remembered his hammer he had gotten from Ruak, and his Glacial Sea friend.
He took out the hammer and struck the rocky beach water. In the waters behind him, he saw a flash of light that quivered. At first it seemed it wasn’t working but then, just as before, Tulasiro emerged.
My friend, thank you for coming.
Good fish. Tulasiro worried for many. Death. The journey here…rough.
Kealin patted the narwhal on its head. I know. After our parting at the battle, I wasn’t able to get back to you. I hope you have kept well. These waters are not of the normal seas we have been in before.
His boat floated over to him, and he boarded.
We must get to a ship just around the corner. Go toward the gate in the water.
This place . . . Dark . . . There is something underneath.
I know. Keep moving, my friend.
As they passed the area where the ship had been, he saw no sign of the ship. He pointed toward the gate.
“Something must have happened,” he said out loud.
Tulasiro pulled them with great haste straight out of the gateway, and Kealin looked to their right to see the horror unfolding ahead. The ship was again under direct attack. The creature had pulled it up out of the water, and he saw blasts of green fire and electricity going into the creature. He drew his blades.
I am coming for you, he said toward the creature ahead.
The voice he had heard in the temple spoke again. I am eternal. I am ethereal. I devour.
At once, the creature itself switched its position, holding the actual ship and lifting its own monstrous body out of the water. Near its bottom was a massive eye that was black with a glowing silver ring. The creature shrieked, and waves of energy pulsated from its eye in a wave of white, sending massive waves toward Tulasiro. The narwhal was untouched and continued swimming even though Kealin struggled to hold steady on his boat.
Make a pass, Tulasiro.
The narwhal towed him around the right side of the ship as he drew his blades in preparation. It was obvious that some on-board saw them coming, for before long, he heard Jesia’s voice.
He looked up at her as she held on to Brethor, who held on to a rope dangling from one of the masts. He turned his focus to the tentacles and made rapid and deep slashes, one after another, as they rushed down the side of the ship. Though he made multiple slashes it was no good as more tentacles grew in the severed one’s place.
“I am eternal. I am ethereal. You must all die.” The creature spoke so that all could hear.
Kealin lifted his hand up. “I have the ring of the archwizard. You must let us pass!”
“You may pass, but the ones who defiled my ocean cannot.”
Kealin’s weapons did nothing to the creature. But he had something new. He had Vrikralok. He drew the god-blade.
Tulasiro, take us by it again.
The narwhal pulled them around, pounding her tail, sending shocks of thrust underneath Kealin’s boat. The Rat Raft was still in limbo, and now he could see both Jesia and Veora casting spells at the flailing tentacles smacking the ship and knocking many of the captain’s crew overboard.
Tulasiro began firing blasts from her crown, striking the tentacles as they came toward her attempting to slow her pace. Kealin took the blade known as Vrikralok in hand and slashed the nearest tentacles. The ends he cut off burst into white flames and fell into the sea. The creature became enraged and released the Rat Raft.
It began to drift away as the creature came upon the water with its body. Tulasiro dove down, attempting to avoid the tentacles, and Kealin jumped upon the body of the beast, stabbing his blade deep into its tissue. He twisted, and with a ripping tug, he pulled the blade back out. Black blood bubbled forth, and the creature flailed, throwing him into the sea.
Tentacles swarmed his body, and he felt a blast of water strike his back, knocking him out of their reach. Tulasiro had left the boat and now circled around Kealin as the tentacles swarmed around him. She bit one and sent a blast of magic at another. Kealin then saw his actual boat; a tentacle had grabbed it. He grabbed hold of one of the tentacles, twisting his body up onto a meatier part of it. Hundreds of suctioning mouths attempted to grab hold of him, but he managed to run up far enough that with a leap, he drove his blade into the creature again. This time the tentacles grabbing him recoiled back and began to shake.
The Rat Raft was at the wrong angle to use its crossbows. Jesia sent several blasts of ice, striking the creature, but they seemed to do nothing.
The Leviathan began to roll. Kealin felt suddenly wrapped up in the creature’s grasp. He kept hold of his blade as he was plunged into the sea. He opened his eyes to see thousands of the tentacled creatures from before. They slapped at him, made hissing sounds, but did not dare approach their master without its call. The creature had taken this attack by Kealin personally, for now. He was ripped out of the water and held by multiple tentacles suspended above the ocean.
He stared down at the Leviathan’s form. He still held his blade, but there was a small tentacle trying to pull at it.
You betray me, ringbearer. I of the eternal sea of dread will destroy you. He could feel his arms stretching and his body aching. He looked down to see Tulasiro swimming away.
You have no friends. You have none that are pure. You will go to the one called Vankou.
This is one of the many exciting battles in the Half-Elf Chronicles! You can check out book 4 below!
A FATHER'S MERCY
Saints of Wura Flash Fiction
“Tell me, daddy. Tell me about before it came.”
The father had led the young girl to a trickling stream. She had always loved the river. It was on the edge of their land and a spot where they could see the stars. He started a small fire and laid her down to where she could just touch the water rolling over the rocks.
“Before? How long before, dear child?”
She smiled and looked up at the starry sky. “At the beginning, before we went to the trees!”
Her father began to light a fire with the small amount of kindling he had brought with them. He stacked wood and after the flames caught, tossed other sticks on top of it.
“It was a grand time. The gods were within the world. We were new to it as well. Magic was alive and strong, flowing through the air like fairies do near our home.”
The little girl smiled as her father paused. “Keep going!” she begged.
He set a pot of water with several herbs on the burning wood. The fire was not large, but they did not have much time. He had to be sure the fire was hot enough to infuse the water. He had picked a lovely bouquet of chamomile earlier in the evening. His daughter loved chamomile. She twiddled a flower near the edge of the stream and wasn’t watching him. Before the left, he had ginger from the woods near the old city and a small bag fairy dust that remained behind as the last fairies disappeared.
He also had some extra herbs, he hid those from his daughter. He was careful to add them in between her glances toward him. She laughed as she tried to take a peak at what he was putting in.They liked to play a game where she guessed what kind of tea and he would make tonight no different.
As the water began to slowly steam, she twirled and danced before him.
“Daddy! What other stories can you tell me about then?”
He pondered for a moment, staring into the slowly bubbling pot. He had many fond memories and he fought back tears as he thought of his love, the girls mother, already taken from them.
“Before it came, your mother use to take you to the fields near the glowing trees. It was nights just liked this, where the summer wind blew through her hair and your giggles filled the air, we would spend time beneath the heavens.”
“I remember that! I remember the moon being so bright!”
The world had become less of a place since then. It was dangerous to be out at night, especially, on nights with moons like this. They were always looking for their kind of people. They were always hunting for elves.
“Daddy, daddy, what else can you tell me?”
The tea was done. He had two wooden cups that he poured the herbal tea into before sweetening with a dab of honey.
“I will tell you, but first I wish you to drink my tea and for us to play our favorite game.”
“I know what you want and I saw you sneak in ingredients! I can still guess it!”
He smiled at her as she sipped it. She took one sip and grinned. “Chamomile! My favorite!”
He laughed, “Very good, my child.”
She took another sip and he forced a smile, holding back his own tears. Her back was to the fires that had begun in the distance.
He laughed and then gulped, “Very good.”
The fires spread quickly. The elven homes built into the great woods were burning. They would soon come towards them. His daughter began to sit up but he placed his fingers to her lips and shook his head.
“Drink more and tell me what you taste.”
She took another large sip. “Honey and… daddy?”
She had laid back flat and turned towards the river. She reached out to the stream.
“Yes, my child?” I ask, but I already know.
“I can feel something, something inside me. I will never grow as others. I feel... do… do I… go to… mommy… now?”
He placed his hands on hers. It had taken hold in her some time ago. The sickness, the plaque of their people that had already claimed so many. But it was not what took her now. He feared those that hunted them. They were coming. They had come for so many of them already. The two elves could not escape the horrid genocide against their kind.
“Yes, we both go to mommy.”
He took a large gulp of his tea as he watched his daughter’s hand fall into the water as her other released her cup, spilling her tainted tea on the ground. She had always loved the river. He made sure she was near it when they were both to see their last. He laid his head on her chest as he saw them staring at them.
His vision faded.
A stout legionnaire stood above the father and daughter. He sheathed his sword.
“These elves are already dead. Move to the next village and for the glory of men, we will destroy all of them before their sickness spreads. The gods be with us. We kill them to protect our own.”
The legionnaires left the two elves. Heading further into the lands to seek out the last of those they deemed evil. The magic in the world was fading and would soon be gone.
The race of men had used the perfect poison and many more would die before the end.
Thank you for reading this week's entry! Join me next week for another flash fiction story!
Blood of Harrodarr
Saints of Wura Flash Fiction
I hear the crunch of boots trudging through the snow. My friend is coming. I push the lock bar to the side and open the gate. At least there will be one that will share this place with me until the end.
In the middle of the road appears a stout dwarf, a proud warrior and veteran of many battles.
My friend. One of my last friends. I hear the snap of bowstrings.
He is tired. He begins to run, blood already running down his face and a steady stream rolling off his arm. Three arrows slam into his back and he stumbles and falls just before that gate. I reach down and grab him under his armor. When I go to pull him into the gateway, he slaps me.
“No! Shut the damn gates! We have the lower traps set and the doors to the keep are sealed! It is done.“
Gimror draws a small ax and smiles, “Let the bastards come for me. I will split their pretty faces!“
I release my grip and nod to him, “Fight well, brother.“
“I will. Try not to die before me!“
I close the gate and lock it back. Gimror shouts from the other side of the gateway and then I hear several thuds as more arrows strike my friend.
I stand upon the upper summit of the great dwarf city of Harrodarr. This is the last tower. The perimeter defense in the mountains where our war-drums vibrated into the rocks beneath my feet ended only a few hours ago. Those dwarves were the last upon the stairs to the mountain pass. The enemy cannot yet reach my spot. But when they do, I will do what is necessary.
We last defenders are the Hammersong. The Dwarven High Guard. Our home has been under siege and now the wretched forces of men have assailed our holiest grounds. My only happiness is that some time ago those unable to fight fled this place. Many went with them but we could not leave our sacred city to burn without dwarf blood to flow into the halls in a last defense.
For five nights we fought to hold the lower stairwells and now the gateway is all that remains. Some remain within the inner sanctums but I cannot say for how long. I have command of the outward traps. A duty I shall fulfill. The last duty of my life.
Horns sound in the deep and I hear the scalding flames of the forge fires rush down the northern cliffs burning those that tried that doorway. That was Rufidor, my second cousin. If I know it, he barreled hammer first into the shield line after switching the release valves of our molten smithing rivers. He joins his brothers and children that died yesterday.
The northern way into the mountain is now sealed under hardening rock.
I see their banners cresting near the convergence of the rivers. They come. All the snarling chest suckers. I must release the first traps.
With switch in hand, I twist the knob. A rope snaps on a distant hill and a trio of boulders drops springing down the mountain. The entire attacking force halts for a moment. They are like ants frozen by an object in its path.
Hacking. I hear hacking.
I look over to the doorway and see the wood shaking. Someone is trying to get in.
The legions of men are at it again. They are now halfway up the stairwells. I flip another switch and the Dragonfires ignite. A boiling blast of arcane fire, mixed by our very own Dwarf-Wizard Rumthul! The smoke rises and I smile. I swear I can hear the sizzle of their flesh!
The hacking continues.
As the legions are forced to wade through the slurry of burning bodies, I prepare for another trap. We had saved this one. It is the Crystal Guardians of Harrodarr!
The men reach the upper level of the stairwells now. There are so many but it is the last of the magic in the mountain that shall play against them. In an electrifying brilliance, the storms of the dwarves shoot out from carved crystals and take down wave after wave of men.
But it is not enough.
They still come for we… are evil. Or so has the hammer been measured to us in their eyes.
The hacking continues. I see a man’s face through the splintered wood. Looking back over the walls to the stairwells, I know they’ve reached the gates. I wonder how long they will hold?
I take a small ax in hand. They are still hacking their way in, but I am ready. As the gate frame shudders and falls, I take a breath ready to fight them. But it is not yet time.
A flurry of arrow fire strikes the doorway. I glance to my left and see Eriva, one of the elves from the south. She releases a continual barrage taking down each of the attackers until at last they are all dead.
In that moment, she pauses. Lowering her bow, I catch the light of a smoke hazed moon pierce through her hair and forget all the past sins of our two races. She is truly beautiful. I remember all the fighting between dwarves and elves. Why had we wasted so much life at war against one another? I spot blood and see a horrid gash on her lower leg.
“Eriva? You have been struck!”
“I have but the halls of Harrodarr are ready. The enchanted vines of my people guard the inner sanctum. None of men shall defile this place for some time.”
The elves and dwarves had fought for years but as men deemed our use of magic as reasons for the problems of the world. We became evil. We were dragged into the streets and tortured. Our paraded bodies taken to the capital cities and spat upon. Many have died but some have escaped to a sacred Snow Dwarf refuge. A place for all peoples. A place I hope my son has reached.
Dear Slatnichor, how I will miss you.
“They are coming,” Eriva says.
Her bow is taut and I take a second ax in hand.
This path to our hold is not easy to reach. Up the mountains, a perilous journey made worse by coarse icy winds and avalanches. These warriors that approach were sent for one purpose, to destroy us. We are the last defenders and now our enemy charges through the broken gateway.
The elf releases her shot. I throw my axes. Three men fall and I take my double-headed ax in hand. Its name is Blackblood, named for the orcs that it was forged to fight. Now it will be bathed in the red blood of men.
A spear pierces Eriva and she falls stammering towards the enemy as she draws her own blade. She rises to continue forwards when an arrow pierces her eye.
Hammersong strong, I die for my people, her people, and all of magic that have been persecuted to this end. May our descendants avenge us.
I burst into a sprint and lift my ax above me. This is the end of my story.
“I am Rornichor, last of the Hammersong. May I be avenged!”
Thank you for reading! Join me next week for my next #Taverntales entry!
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