|Rethuel; found on Pinterest|
Seventeen Years Ago:
“This is a waste of time,” Draygan growled. The dim fire glinted dully off his subtly patterned, scale-like skin as his black hair splayed over his bare arms. “One name, Tharib. One word.” He limped about the fire and glowered at the prisoner held in the iron grip of two of his Maligents.
The man glared back, panting through clenched teeth, sweat and blood streaking his face in the stark moonlight.
Draygan hefted his barbed flail from one hand to the other as he leaned close. “Where. Are. Lysander. And. His. Family. Lodging.”
|Tharib; picture from Pinterest|
The Auloran didn’t reply.
Draygan whipped his flail over his head, sending the weighted ends slashing across the man’s chest. Tharib gasped as he buckled forward, only keeping his feet because of the tight grasp of his captors.
The firelight sparked off the red flecks in Draygan’s eyes as he crossed his arms, waiting.
“You can’t win.” The man raised his head, his lips tight but his eyes defiant. “You’ll never win. The Prince has already defeated you.”
“Then why are you here?” The red flashed in Draygan’s eyes and he snarled out the words as he struck at the prisoner again. And a third time. “Why hasn’t He saved you from me?”
“He already has,” Tharib gritted his teeth. “The worst you can do is kill me.”
“Indeed?” Dragyan sneered. “Saved you from what? That will be the question soon. Doubt will replace the faith in your land. And if the people don’t call to Him for aid, then what aid will He be able to send, I wonder?”
The prisoner’s jaw clenched. “You have no power over the faith of the Prince’s people.”
“And you, Tharib, have very little understanding. Surely you’ve heard of the new interpretations on your sacred Declarations.” Draygan leaned close, hissing out the words. “Surely you know the implications of what they say. Your precious accounts of that ancient history will vanish. And without them the Prince will be nothing more than a legend to your children. Which brings be back to our purpose here.” He straightened, twisting the flail in his hands. “Children…or rather, your son. You seem to think you can bear any pain we inflict…doubtful, really, but I haven’t the time tonight to test the theory. The real question is, could your son bear as much as you?”
Tharib clenched his jaw.
A footstep whispered from the shadows beyond the small hollow and another Maligent appeared. Draygan glanced toward him, and the Maligent nodded.
“Shall we fetch him?” Draygan questioned, turning back to his prisoner. “Your Havrain is what…ten? Eleven? He’s sleeping not far from here, I believe, but it would be a pity to wake him for no reason.”
The man gritted his teeth. “You don’t know where he is.”
“No?” Draygan beckoned to his scout and the Maligent tossed him a pendant. “How about the lad in a small dwelling a league away?” Draygan dangled the medallion from the chain before Tharib’s face. “The place we found this? Think carefully, because I assure you, if we are forced to take the trouble of bringing him here, your Havrain will face the lash whether you speak or no.”
Even in the darkness, the man’s face paled and he grunted, jerking against his captors.
Draygan bent closer, his eyes burning. “Where is the Captain camping this evening?”
Tharib closed his eyes and bowed his head, breathing heavily through clenched teeth.
“The Captain!” Draygan demanded, catching the prisoner’s hair and jerking his head back up. “Or shall we fetch your son?”
“No…” The man’s voice broke and he let out a low groan.
Draygan tightened his hold. “Lie to me, and we’ll kill your son before your eyes.”
“By the Gihon.” Tharib’s voice was barely a whisper. “Where the Blackwood and the river meet.”
Draygan’s eyes glittered as he stepped back and sheathed his flail. “Thank you, Tharib.” He considered the man thoughtfully then nodded to himself. “Bind him and leave him for the beasts,” he ordered, turning away. “Then meet me with the others. I have an oath to fulfill.”
|picture from pinterest|
When the day to start his pilgrimage and find the King’s armor comes, Cyth soon realizes that it will take more than stealth and strength to continue forward and escape the deadly Maligents. But with his faith in the Prince crumbling, the Maligents advancing on Aulora, and himself suddenly helpless in their clutches, Cyth must discover what he truly believes before it’s too late.
|A collage I made for King’s Armor|
And here…here’s a taste of the first chapter:
Maybe I shouldn’t have been even slightly concerned. There were all kinds of things which could make a patrol of fifty men late when they’re riding along enemy borders….even if said enemy has been peaceful for a number of years.Maybe I should have worried more. Years of peace were no guarantee that we’d stay at peace. Actually, it was more of a countdown to the next time Draygan and his Maligents would attack. Anything could have happened to hinder the patrol, and ambushes were far from the bottom of the list.Whatever the case, Father and the others were supposed to return yesterday.I straightened and shoved against the parapet lining Nyssa’s thick outer wall, propelling myself backwards into the middle of the broad walkway.Yesterday.And Father had never been late before.
and glowered down at prisoner two of his Maligents half held, half supported.
|Analissa and Cyth (picture found on Pinterest|
I brought Analissa, Kallen’s twin sister, into King’s Armor part way during my first draft of the story. A big reason for her creation was the absence of any other female characters in the book, but soon I couldn’t dream of the story without her presence.
I’m reading through King’s armor this week and then, after another quick polish, I’ll be open if anyone would like to be a beta reader. But, for today, I’m posting (or rather, reposting from my old blog) a scene from chapter three in King’s Armor. Cyth is in the Sanctuary of the Prince right before setting off to find the King’s armor, and he’s looking over the pictures on the Sanctuary walls which depict the story of the Prince.
Slowly I relaxed in the cool dimness of the Sanctuary as I brushed my way past empty marble benches and through the row of pillars flanking the right side of the room. Tall narrow windows permitted streams of sunlight to map out paths on the stone floor. Along the insides of the great pillars, ingeniously placed oil lamps lit up intricate murals on the wall before me.
I gazed at the familiar pictures, drinking them in. I loved the first illustration, a lush green valley overshadowed by a great mountain and protected with encircling spurs. On the wall above, broad strokes boldly stated:
The True Declarations of Azriel, First High Captain, Chief Protector and Leader of the Prince’s people, Servant of all; sealed and approved by the Prince, our Defeater of Draygan, Son of the High King of the Windy Mountain to Whom our allegiance is owed.
I shivered a little and pulled my cloak tighter about me. To the side of the valley were the opening words of the Declarations.
In the beginning, the Great King gave us homes in a lush valley….Our duties were simple: care for the grounds and keep them. For if watched, our enemy Draygan would never attack.
Draygan and his Maligents. He and the other Maligents had been Valirs once, before they rebelled from the prince. Though they’d lost the ability to change form, they were still immortal, impervious to the decay of age or sickness.
The picture changed as I slowly moved down the wall. An aged Stranger came with tales of a spring that would make the people as wise as the king. He assured them the water was only a short distance from the valley. Draygan never attacked; what harm would an afternoon’s leave do?
My steps quickened as the words of the Declaration continued to mingle with the paintings. There were the men and their families, following the Stranger into the wilderness. Then there was the Stranger again, standing by a muddy pool, his head thrown back as he laughed at the men he’d fooled.
The despair on the men’s faces, as they turned back and crested a hill, only to see black smoke rising from their land, was so tangible I felt I could hear their cries of anguish. Then the scene changed. They were running, panic stricken, not daring to return to the King they failed. I knew what happened but still my feet dragged as they took me on. The Stranger, now revealed in his true form as Draygan, surrounded the people with his Maligents, ready to slaughter them.
Then the Prince appeared, the Maligents parting before him in awe. The compassion and love in His gaze made my heart ache.
The next picture was dark, almost black. Men were shoved back into the wood while the Prince offered His life for the people. Azriel’s words, emblazoned in gold, burned into my mind.
To my lasting shame, I hid myself along with the others. We hid ourselves, while the Enemy killed our Prince.
Draygan’s laughter lingered long over the Prince’s bloodied body as he stalked away, and slowly we crept from our hiding places. Suddenly, from the shadows, another figure appeared. The King bent over His Son and I saw a tear glimmer on His face. Then it was gone. The King placed His hand on the Prince and for a moment the night was silent.
I moved quickly on. The next picture was my favorite. The King lifted the Prince to His feet, alive and well. Victory flashed from their eyes as they turned on Draygan who cringed in the shadows.
By then, I was at the far end of the Sanctuary. Draygan was fleeing, forever trapped in the human-like, yet hideous form of the other rebel Maligents. The people knelt before the King and Prince, pleading for forgiveness. Forgiveness that I could tell, by the look in the Prince’s eyes, was already given. Once more I skimmed the final words of the great story.
The Prince told us the way to the Secret Valley would be sealed off. We must live in the Upper Lands while He purified our home, but He promised that one day He would come and bring us back, defeating Draygan once and for all in a great battle.
I sighed. Many of the elders still believed in the Prince, and others claimed to trust the truth of the legend too. Why couldn’t I just do the same? How I wanted to, and yet I couldn’t fit the proven Eastern Beginning, which claimed there had been no disobedience of the people involved in Draygan’s attack, with the Declarations. Draygan’s attack was a judgment and the Prince’s death a sacrifice, I could almost hear Duard speaking the words. But with the Eastern Beginning it is the King and Prince who gave Draygan his power and so it was Their fault he attacked in the first place.
“Good evening, Cyth,” a deep pleasant voice sent low echoes dancing up the walls and vaulted ceiling.
I jerked, startled as I turned to face the head teacher. “Slade! I didn’t know you were here.”
“I just came in. You look ready to travel.”
I didn’t respond, but glanced again at the murals.
Slade followed my look. “Rather old-fashioned now, aren’t they?”
“I suppose so,” I sighed. “Although you can’t call them too old. Even though your father was the first to teach the Eastern Beginning, it wasn’t until your travels and proofs that people began taking it seriously.”
“A lot can change in twenty years.” Slade smiled. “But the truth spreads quickly.”
“You haven’t convinced everyone,” I retorted.
“Well, there is Duard, and a few others,” Slade conceded. “But despite what some say, there is no lie in historical artifacts. You know about the ruins in the Kazab swamp, the parchments and pottery shards that prove our forefathers were already living in the Upper lands before Draygan’s attack. But what about you?” His tone lightened. “It’s about time you decided where you stand on the issue of beginnings.”
I shrugged. “I’m still working it out.”
“You know you can always talk to me…or your father for that matter.”
My father! I shot a glance at the light slanting through the window. I’d lingered at the paintings longer than I’d meant to. Hurriedly I bade Slade farewell.
I shoved the great doors open and dashed down the steps and across the Form. As I hurried through the nearly deserted streets, my mind drifted back to Slade’s words. ‘It’s about time you decided where you stand on the issue of beginnings.’He was right, and yet how could he understand that it was so much more than beginnings? That it was about the integrity of the Prince Himself?
Cyth, the main character of this book, is 19 and the son of Lysander, Captain of the People. His mother was captured and killed by Draygan, the Aulorans’ deadliest enemy, when Cyth was only a few years old.
Cyth lives in Nyssa, the capital of Aulora. He is a good swordsman, though not such a good tracker. His best friend is Kallen, the nephew of a blacksmith (which blacksmith also happens Lysander’s second-in-command). Cyth is also courting Analissa, who is Kallen’s younger twin sister.
Cyth’s father, as well as Kallen and Analissa believe in the Prince, but Cyth harbor’s grave doubts. He’s accepted Slade’s account of the Eastern Beginning (which differs from the Declarations in it’s account of the Prince) and now he can’t make what Slade has claimed fit with what the Declarations say about the Prince.
This books is an allegory dealing with creation vs. evolution and the effect evolution has on the Armor of God (with the Eastern Beginning standing for evolution while the Declarations are symbolic of the Bible.