Enjoy this 3 minute read from Chapter 1 of my epic fantasy, The Veridian Wars.
This chapter is a 'author's cut', so the first half did not make the final book. I've posted it here for interested readers to enjoy some extra material.
Twilight found the party of eight boarding the sole ferry of Nomans Lake. Some of the planks moved when stepped on, as though the nails had rusted.
Grigor waited until the very last to board, taking the opportunity to appreciate the firm, unmoving ground of the rocky shore. On the other side of the lake, the steep and unforgiving climb of Black Mountain awaited them.
He’d never set foot on the mountain, though he’d read about the Realm’s attempts at conquering those ranges. Black Mountain had got its name not from the dark colour of its rock face, or the vast shadow it cast, but from the deep, black tunnels of its interior and the creatures that dwelled there. Grigor had no doubt of what those tunnels were made of. By and by he grew certain that substance was the very reason for this senseless expedition. Why had Titus agreed to send him?
“Hurry, Grigor,” the captain shouted.
Grigor’s stomach clenched at the mere sight of the shifting lake waters. He never could handle travel over the sea. He boarded the narrow plank, trying not to look down into the inky depths.
As soon as his foot fell upon the boards a familiar queasiness descended and he knew he’d not be rid of it until he returned to solid ground.
The ferryman was short and stood patiently waiting for Grigor to board. Grigor was going to simply walk past him and make for the bow where he would watch the horizon in an effort to escape more sickness, but the ferryman reached out and clasped Grigor’s arm with a small brown hand.
The little man smiled up at Grigor, exposing square teeth. “You are welcome where your companions are not.”
Grigor raised his eyebrows. The man had Hauflin blood, and a lot of it, for as well as being so short his eyes seemed to shift and change colour like the waters of the lake, and his skin took on the hue of its surroundings so that the little brown hand had darkened to black, the colour of Grigor’s leather gauntlet.
“You will survive this,” the ferryman said. “Be not afraid.”
Grigor wanted to ask more, but the man slowly shook his head with a stoney stare, then removed his hand to grasp the ferry pole and push off.
Grigor moved steadily to the ferry’s bow. The uneasy feeling about this dubious expedition now growing eightfold. He’d never wanted to come, but Titus had assured him this would be his final mission, and when Grigor returned to the Capital his request to finally buy his freedom would be sanctioned. But the Hauflin’s words made him uncertain. Just as the soothseer’s words had when Melva took him with her for a telling. “You will survive mountain,” the seer had told him. “You must not be afeared.”
He’d brushed aside the old hag’s prophecy, telling himself he didn’t like the black of her eyes, that she was an eater if ever he’d seen one, ignoring that feeling in the deepest core of his being, where he discerned truth from lies as easily as any man detected light and shade.
Grigor clutched the pommel of his sword resting in its scabbard and turned back to watch the ferryman now weaving, back and forth, the long paddle that propelled this ramshackle vessel. You will survive this. The little man’s words haunted him as he looked up at the towering mountain in the darkening night
“You look like shit, Tiny,” Larzus swaggered up with a smirk. “Worried about the ghouls?” He nodded at the mountain.
Grigor closed his eye and inhaled a deep breath of icy air. It seemed to alleviate the nausea for a moment so that he could open his mouth to speak without risking his rations spraying the deck. “Don’t like… seafaring.”
“It’s a lake. And it’s as flat as my mother-in-law‘s humour.”
Grigor grunted, keeping his gaze fixed on the horizon, just visible now.
Get The Veridian Wars: https://aderynwood.com/b/SW1p9