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  1. #1
    Nolan Wilson

    New member, New taste: Prelude, pt2

    One large tree in the small grove ahead of Rhett Casgol had a long ochre slash painted upon it, and he knew instantly that he had found the pre-arranged meeting place. His horse’s bit jingled lightly as he hitched its reins to the painted tree and looked to the full moon warily. It was still rising in the sky, silver light shrouding the night’s sparse clouds. He knew that he would have enough time to return to the citadel so long as Tarop kept the meeting short.
    Rhett threw the large bag tied to his saddle over one shoulder, taking care to be as quiet as possible. His fellow men at arms called him ‘Silent Snake’, and he lived up to that name as his other hand flicked to his blade with silent speed.
    He strode past the first few young and slender trees and emerged into a small rock strewn clearing. The pearlescent light of the moon was sufficient for lighting the small treeless area and he could see the shadowy figure sitting alone in its middle, upon a short tree stump.
    Tarop rose to his feet from his perch and cast back the hood of his black robe, closely set grey eyes studying Rhett silently as he approached. He was a small man who bristled with power and carried himself with an air of authority. Power he had, but of authority, he had none over the man that approached him.
    Rhett stopped close enough to Tarop to smell the dirty sorcerer, who probably had not bathed in a month. His new companion was likeable enough, he supposed, but he got the distinct impression that Tarop would betray him if the circumstances were to turn in the greedy little man’s favor.
    “Where is he?” Rhett asked bluntly, there was no time to waste.
    “Right here,” the slight little sorcerer told him, pulling back a small pile of new-leafed branches to reveal the prone form of a man beneath, tied, blindfolded and gagged.
    The bound man tried to thrash around on the ground as the branches were removed and Rhett kicked him once in the side of the face. The prisoner went limp, his head rolling to one side and sweat beading on his brow.
    Tarop smiled at Rhett’s harsh action, revealing his missing front teeth. “Did you bring the chains?” He asked Rhett in a reedy voice that was barely a whisper.
    Rhett grunted lightly as he took the heavy bag from his shoulder and it jingled loudly as it slumped to the ground at his feet. He hated Tarop’s voice. The man never raised it above a whisper and Rhett often noticed him talking quietly to himself. He had no doubt that Tarop had begun to lose his mind.
    Tarop’s hands immediately dipped into the bag and came out with a pair of chains that he used to fasten his prisoner’s ankles firmly to the tree stump that he lay against. His hands dipped again, but came out with only one more chain. “I told you four!” he spat at Rhett, forcing the soldier to take a step back from him.
    “Well, three is all I brought! I must have misplaced one,” Rhett told him firmly, his hand slithering to the golden pommel of his sword, where his fingers stroked it gently. He steeled his short temper, setting his jaw and biting back his anger.
    “You’ll just have to make do. I thought you were a wizard…what do you fear?”
    “You’ll find out I suppose…” Tarop said quietly as he clicked the last shackle around his prisoner’s left wrist and fastened it to the tree stump as well.
    Rhett gazed at the man lying unconscious at his feet and wondered briefly where Tarop had found him. It was a fleeting thought that mattered not, of course.
    “How long will it take?”
    “I don’t know,” Tarop told him with a flourish of his dirty hands, quickly producing a small silver-bound tome, seemingly from nowhere. “I’ve yet to try making a connection with the Arcanna.”
    Rhett blew out his breath in frustration. Curse the man for dragging him from the warmth and comfort of the citadel for something that he had yet to even test!
    “Patience…” Tarop growled at him as he fingered through the pages of the tome with a grubby hand. His long black hair had come loose of its perch inside of his black robe and it stirred faintly in the breeze as a sudden burst of light materialized. He held the small globe of magical light in one palm and the book in the other. “Here it is. Stand back.”
    Rhett backed away from the man in chains and drew his sword, which caused Tarop to eye him warily from the corner of his vision as it rasped free. He held himself at the ready as the sorcerer bent close to the prisoner.
    Tarop whispered quietly to himself and bent low to place a hand on the chest of the man at his feet. Suddenly, he gasped and let out a grunt as his body convulsed. The man at his feet began to contort and he quickly stepped back from his thrashing prisoner.
    Rhett’s small brown eyes popped open in amazement as the man began to change. His skin grew suddenly dark and began to grow fur as his skeleton shifted its shape. His skull seemed to grow longer, ivory-white teeth enlarging from a now-protruding bottom jaw. The ropes that bound the man snapped away insignificantly as he grew to nearly four times his original size.
    The man’s thrashing lasted but a moment and the form of a wolf, bound and chained, remained. The wolf opened its eyes and lifted its furry bulk to its feet. The beast’s chains suddenly jingled loudly as it lunged forward, only to stop abruptly as the steel bindings held tight.
    Rhett’s heart pumped furiously within his chest as fear took him by surprise, but he almost felt giddy at the same time. He had found the weapon that would claim Ishamere for him, and he would gain much of the Nar-kesh’s favor in that endeavor. He felt the Fire Arcanna at the back of his mind, beckoning to him, but he ignored the sudden impulse. He would not destroy the creature unless the action was a last resort at safeguarding his life.
    Sudenly, the beast lunged again, this time much faster, and alongside a mighty roar, Rhett heard the unmistakable sound of chain snapping. He held his blade high and stepped back from the creature before him as it snarled in fury, jaws clicking loudly as they snapped together rapidly.
    “Four chains, I said!” Tarop screamed at him hoarsely as he took a step back as well. His hands moved in front of him as if he would embrace another of the Arcanna.
    The beast was now held by but two chains and its lips curled back, fangs bared as it crouched once more. Its muscles bunched beneath its fur and seemed to ripple like the surface of a lake in a sudden gust of wind.
    Rhett leaped forward as the beast sprung and met it with the stinging cold steel of his gilded short sword. He felt resistance as the blade passed through the creature’s flesh, but the beast struck him with a raking paw, and he knew that he had been wounded as he was battered backwards.
    It took him a moment to lift himself to his feet once more, his head foggy from the impact of the man-wolf, the rich aroma of freshly spilled blood suddenly strong in the air.
    What power! The beast would be a formidable weapon indeed, but he knew that he would have to break it first. He gazed at his arm and could see the thick parallel lines of bloody wounds marring his shoulder and the front of his chest. Blood now flowed freely down the front of his tunic.
    A flash of light had Rhett holding his hand in front of his face protectively as a fork of lightning shot from Tarop’s palm and dealt a devastating blow to the raging wolf.
    The beast staggered, one side of its coat charred black and hairless. The moon’s pearlescent light caught the creature’s gaze and its eyes flashed yellow as it howled, lunging hard at Tarop, who raised his voice in a blood-curdling scream as the remaining chains ripped free of the tree stump.
    Rhett moved fast, placing himself between the singed man-wolf and the cowering sorcerer. “Stop!” he yelled as he pointed his blade at the approaching beast. “Stop or I’ll slay you!” He stood his ground firmly with his feet planted widely, though it was an effort for him not to put a hand to the stinging wound on his torso.
    The beast ceased its charge and began to pace towards him slowly, its lips remained pulled back into a snarl of defiance, revealing canine teeth that were nearly a hand long. It crouched for another attack and Rhett realized that he might have to strike it once more.
    There was no doubt in his mind that whatever was left of the man within the wolf could still understand what he was saying.
    Tarop suddenly charged, one arm in the air behind his head, gnarled and dirty fingers curling around an intense orange ball of flame that only grew in size as he ran forward.
    “No!” Rhett yelled at the sorcerer, too late.
    Tarop said nothing as the powerful beast’s muscles bunched tight, and it flung itself into the air with jaws snapping. He threw his arm forward and met the enraged animal with Fire in a sparkling explosion of gleaming yellow sparks and red flames.
    Rhett held an arm over his face as the exploding fireball showered him with sparks, and grimaced in pain as a few found their way into his wounds. He lowered his arm and frowned at Tarop through his sun-spotted vision.
    The sorceror was on a knee, breathing heavily, and he tried to stand, only to stagger back to one knee. His right arm was severely burned and his melted robe and skin still smoked and crackled.
    Rhett ignored the pungent smell of burning flesh as he helped his companion to his feet and lent him a shoulder. “You shouldn’t have killed it!” he berated the sorcerer in a firm tone, though he held him up gently as he gazed at the smoking remains of the massive wolf, now only chunks of flesh and blood.
    “Had to…” Tarop said quietly. “I drew too much of the Fire Arcanna…bloody arm!”
    “What am I to do now that you’ve killed my weapon?” Rhett said, holding Tarop firmly when he stumbled. “How will we gain the Lord of the Night’s favor without it?”
    “Relax.” The magician nearly fainted with the exertion of his attempt to remain standing, and Rhett eased him to the ground, where he ripped a strip from his twilight cloak and began to wrap it around Tarop’s arm. “It was just a test…”
    Rhett looked at Tarop as the sorcerer raised his head to look at him, and swore that the small man’s eyes turned yellow for a moment. “Then, that means…”
    “We can create as many weapons as we need,” he said with a crooked and gap-toothed smile as he allowed Rhett to help him to his feet once more.
    Rhett listened to his companion. Even though Tarop’s was a voice that he despised, he smiled at his words and knew that soon he would be Dalonia’s king.

  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude, pt2

    You should reformat this with an extra space between paragraphs and repost a shorter excerpt.

  3. #3
    Nolan Wilson

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude, pt2

    thanks rogue. I would like to, but i'm waiting until i send out any pieces of my manuscript. When that happens i will change my script to courier as it should be as well, but for now...at 114,000 words, it's a lil long.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude, pt2

    huh? I was referring to posting here. You can't change fonts in this forum.

  5. #5
    martin shaw

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude, pt2

    Explanations for something that doesn't need explaning (A tree stump is already short). Can you shackle a tree stump to stop someone getting away, after all it is just a stump; you could overlook this small mistake if it wasn't for the first one.Ok, so he's shackled, but then you say the ropes snapped away. I would say it is better to be either shackled or tied, its a little bit confusing to be both.

    Not bad, I like your discriptions, but in my humble opinion it needs a little more work because of the obvious mistakes like the ones above.

  6. #6
    Nolan Wilson

    Re: New member, New taste: Prelude, pt2

    thanks for your opinion, martin. I do appreciate it, truly. You must understand, however, that i live in logging country, where the trees that were fell 30-40 years ago were cut by hand, using springboards, and the stumps are so tall that you must climb to reach the top of them. Also, if you read into the beginning of the encounter a little more, you would realize that the subject of the transformation was tied with ropes before the shackles were placed upon his ankles and wrists. Thus, as he was transformed, the ropes broke away, yet the shackles held. Finally, i suppose i have to agree with you on the point of shackling him to a stump. Perhaps i should elaborate on the chains encircling the stump, or perhaps the links of the chain could be spiked deeply into the stump...etc. I love the critique though and know that a writer can never quite get enough constructive criticism!!!

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