Enjoy this 3 minute read from Chapter 1 of my next epic fantasy release, The Veridian Wars.
Grigor considered performing the ritual of protection, as was required on this eve, to safeguard those he cared for from the daemons that would breach the Malfren gates. The gates that would weaken and warp when the sun went to its lengthy rest. Not that there were many for Grigor to pray for. He could count those he cared for on one hand, and there’d be plenty of fingers spare.
Invoking a protection prayer was not exactly possible right now. Not an oak in sight, and the spruce would not fool the Guardians. If one of the others looked over to see him uttering words to himself while burying a cutting into the ground, they would know immediately what he was doing. He was too old to face the consequences of high treason.
Flur, the mare who’d pulled their cart all the way from the Capital, nickered as she stared at the horizon. Grigor glanced into the sunset suddenly obscured by two figures drawing close to their camp. One tall, broad, and stalking in a familiar soldier’s gait – Captain Arenas. The other much slimmer, and walking quickstep to keep up – Vicon. A golden glint sparkled from the thin man’s earlobe where a stone dangled from a silver loop. Vicon had told Mal the trinket was amberstone, but Grigor saw through the lie. That stone was veridian. Contraband, unless it was registered with the censor’s office in the Capital, and taxes paid for the privilege of owning it.
Grigor studied Vicon as he spoke with the captain. Much about him seemed amiss. He resembled a thief. Every thief Grigor had known had greasy long hair, sharp dark eyes and a sharper nose, as though it helped them to sniff out treasures, and a thick air of dishonesty surrounded them – doubly so with this one. Grigor very much doubted Vicon paid the high tax for the indulgence of wearing veridian. Even gold veridian.
“What are we all doing here?” Grigor muttered to himself as he eyed the two leaders of this ill-tempered troupe of soldiers. He grunted as a probable answer took shape. An answer that pointed to more crime. Crime that would risk his freedom.
Mal had tried to suggest something similar once, before one of the others, Larzus, had told him to shut his mouth. Now Grigor wondered if Mal wasn’t so stupid after all. Perhaps it was just a cruel trick of nature to give him that dimwitted appearance. But when he glanced at Brutus and Torus aiming pieces of hard biscuit at Mal’s open mouth as a way of passing the time, Grigor wasn’t so sure.
Grigor kept all such thoughts to himself, as was his way. He barely spoke, which had given him yet another nickname of ‘the mute’. He’d shrugged when Larzus had first come up with it, giving rise to chuckles from the others, and he added it to his mental tally of other epithets he’d acquired over his years in the Solan Military. ‘One Eye’ being the most popular.
“Soldiers, gather here,” Captain Arenas shouted.
Grigor frowned. Arenas was always shouting. He was no Titus. But Grigor obeyed, carefully returning the scroll to his knapsack and getting to his feet. He strolled to the campfire where the others waited.
Arenas threw him a frustrated glare, which Grigor ignored as he lifted his chin to listen for orders.
The Veridian Wars is a standalone epic fantasy novel and is now available for preorder. Get 10% off when using the coupon code: VERIDIAN
Preorder here: https://aderynwood.com/b/SW1p9