Blue Diamonds (Book One of The Blue Diamonds Saga)

BOOK: Blue Diamonds (Book One of The Blue Diamonds Saga)
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Blue Diamonds

By R.E. Murphy

 

 

For Mom and Dad, my Sun and Moon,

Who gave me Life and Instability.

For my Son, my Earth,

Who I will toil over for all my days.

For my Wife, my Gravity,

The only one capable of keeping me together.

 

And the readers, adventurers are we.

Contents

Contents

Foreword:

1) The Prince and the Cleric

2) Fort Hammerheart

3) The Cleric's House

4) Gathering Troops

5) Scuttle

6) The Boiling Sea

7) Top of the World

8) Ambrosia

9) Berwyn Town

10) The Chase

11) Forest Fires

12) The King's Duty

13) Chasing Smoke

14) The Archmage

15) Into The Fog

16) Stepping In

17) Scuttling By

18) Flare Fight

19) To the Rescue

20) Breach

21) The Crossroads

23) Victory

24) Celebration

25) Free Birds

Dear REader,

Copyright & Acknowledgments

 

 

 

Foreword:

Some memories are clever. They can hide behind odors, tastes, or even music. I've had a forgotten memory snap back into my life after biting into a slice of bittermelon. It's what I was eating when my father told my mother that he was leaving, and that was the last time that I saw him. I must have forgotten that bittermelon was my favorite fruit, or at least I’m thinking it might have been before that dark day.

Some memories make such strong impressions that mental pictures flash for years with tremendous detail, whether you want them to or not. A fine example would be the first time that I was ridiculed and shamed as a child. I can't recall their names, or even the reason they were being cruel to me, but I can tell you how many boys were there that day, and even what clothes they were wearing. The image is burned into my mind for better or for worse. Greater wizards than I have gone mad trying to wipe these types of images from their mind with little success. More often than not, the attempts ended with them removing more memories than they intended.

Still, there is another kind of memory. The kind that weren’t yours to begin with. The kind that are brought about by magic. These memories are only forgotten in death. Many years ago, and essential to the story you are about to read, a memory of this very sort was unintentionally given to me.

Magic is fickle, and over time it can become completely unpredictable. When my king handed me that old parchment, he had no way of knowing how the ancient powers embedded into it would react to the touch of a wizard.

A protection rune on the scroll preserved the blood-written words that covered it, which upon touch sent me soaring hundreds of years back in time, and when I was there I was forced to experience a piece of history much more intimately than I would have liked. When I was given my ‘memory’ I was unexpectedly thrust into another person’s body in some strange land merely moments before a raging battle ignited. It was jarring to say the least.

I have relived the memory through meditation countless times since that evening and from every perspective imaginable. I've watched the battle. I’ve been in the battle fighting for each side on numerous occasions. I‘ve even fought for both sides at the same time! I’ve been every warrior, dealt and received every blow and felt every drop of blood fall. I have watched from the trees. I have been the trees. I have been the beast in the night.

Yet in all the time that I've relived my visions there is one thing I have lacked to do, and that is to make a private account of it all. My "partner" has been nagging me to do so for a while now. I suppose it is time to give some of this missed history to the history books. If nothing else, it may help my mind let go of the invasive dream.

The following is my personal report, on how the four gemstones that stirred so much trouble for the kingdom of Somerlund came into existence. It is followed by a thorough documentation of how the quest for the diamonds played out. The City of Somerlund Historical Society, by way of hundreds of interviews and mind melds, has fervently put the documentation together into narrative form, so that the story could be told for generations to come.

It has my complete approval on the subject of quality, truth, and being a great story in general.

A General, A Sorceress, and the Origin of the Blue Diamonds

B. Wizard,
witness

 

It was late, but they stowed their yearning for sleep. They were deep in the Evernight Forest. It was the dense patch of wild northeast of Somerlund, their great city of lights. They traveled deeper than any adventurer of their day claimed and beyond the interest of the most reckless explorer. For good reason too, considering that the Evernight was a forest of nightmares where only the most ferocious predators thrived. Even the trees of the forest fight to survive here.

Thick, wide banyan trees hungrily grew outwards with wide reaching branches. After the branches have stretched as far as they can their ends split into hanging, grappling roots that reach down to strangle weaker brush and start a new tree. Sometimes the roots would take a young sapling and caress it in an eternal loving bite. There was a never-ending battle to conquer the soil because little of it could be found between the coiling, constricting roots that carpeted the forest floor like black snakes. Overhead was a similar image created by interlocking foliage. The living ceiling was so tightly woven that it created the feel of walking through a tunnel. The eerie feel of the forest brought out a nervous energy amongst the group, but not much more.

Tonight neither fear nor superstition could deter these men from pushing forward. The Imperial Knights of Somerlund were without question the greatest warriors of their time. They would plow into the depths of hell if their Lord willed it and on this day their Lord and Commander willed just that.

The Commander pushing them into oblivion was General Williamdale Bryon, one of Somerlund's most famous war heroes. The man had never lost a battle, and once there were no men brazen enough to attack his city, he began seeking out the perversions of nature. In short General Bryon became a monster hunter. Tonight he hunted the vilest monster of all, the dragon.

The general, along with the company of a powerful sorceress was credited for the slaying of four dragons already, and for the last few weeks had been fervently chasing the last of the powerful beasts into the Evernight. Through fire or ice the general would not stop. He would give chase to four hundred more dragons if he needed to. His obsessive war with the beasts was more the personal sort rather than the dutiful variety.

As a young boy Williamdale had the misfortune of witnessing first hand the destructive power of a dragon when his village was attacked by one of the winged lizards. It was an experience that would ultimately map the course of his life, and it was an experience that he would never allow himself to forget.

During a walk home following a day of fishing his singing caught in his throat when he noticed a thin sheet of smoke blanketing the forest floor. At first it wasn’t much more than a curiosity, until he noticed that it was thickening as he drew nearer to home. He wanted to dismiss it for a fog, but knew better when he smelled the burning odor that also intensified with the walking. When he heard the crackling of flame Williamdale took off in a sprint, dropping his catch of the day in a heap.

The moment the path broke out from the forest and onto his town’s main road his world was turned sideways. A blast of oven-hot air caught him off guard and slapped his face like a heavy, hot towel. The scene alone stopped him in mid stride, his knees barely holding him up. At the far end of the road the town hall was a giant rose of flame that morphed the rest of the town into a silhouette of rooftops fronting a backdrop of dancing red, yellow and orange. Just above the rooftops was another silhouette. The dragon hovered there, all wing and claw, raining bouts of fire over both house and villager.

Just twelve years old and the runt of his family, Williamdale was cowered behind a nearby oak. He clung to it as if he might be swept away by the gusts of wind coming from the dragon’s pumping wings. He peeked around to watch as his friends and family scatter from the monster. He saw fleeing women clutching the hands of children, elderly dropping to their knees in surrender and brave men throwing anything within their reach at the monster looming over them. Spears, rocks, pitchforks, and hammers alike took to the air, all of which the dragon slipped effortlessly.

As long as twenty horses and with bat-like wings spreading to at least twice that, the dragon tread the air above as it systematically picked off people with showers of red death. From behind his tree Williamdale had a full view of the dragon’s slaughter. It started with the brave men, who try after try weren’t able to hit the beast with their projectiles. Young Williamdale imagined a fly in the rain, how it never seemed to get struck by the millions of drops falling from the clouds. Like the sixth sense Mother Nature had given the elusive fly, she evidentially also blessed the dragon.

After the retaliating men were defeated it progressed to the women and children as if to mock how close they’d come to escaping the onslaught. Killing them while in the midst of running seemed to please the dragon as if it was some twisted sport. After each victim an air splitting scream erupted from the beast as if in declaration to the Gods of a forgotten era.

As painful as it was to watch, Williamdale could not pull his eyes away as his family perished. Tears streamed down his cheeks, but shock kept his mouth shut and his body still, frozen to the tree trunk he’d become one with. He gripped the bark so tightly that blood began to stem from cuts on his hands and cheek.

The elderly were barely a second thought for the dragon as it swooped down and easily whipped the lives from them with a flick from a tail that ended in a cluster of spikes. The gruesome spikes matched the mane of horns running down the dragon’s head and spine. Some cast prayers to their god fully content with death, while others merely wept or screamed in madness.

By this time Williamdale’s focus had shifted elsewhere. In a stable that was already half engulfed in flame stood his pregnant mother weeping under the protective embrace of his father. Beside the stable was a two-story heap of crumbling cinder that was once their house. They were just a stone’s throw away from him. The doors of the stable were wide open, like arms ready to hug and usher him into the stable. He thought to run to them, but his body defied the thought. He wanted to call to them, but his voice did no better than his body.

Then it was too late. The dragon suddenly landed in the pigpen directly between he and his parents with a great muddy crash that splattered filth over him and his tree. Once Williamdale's heart could beat again he was relieved to find the dragon didn't land to eat him, but rather to snack on some fattened hogs. Moments later he had another realization. The choir of screams that filled the air earlier had ended. The thought brought on a very short-lived moment of sorrow.

Twice the dragon’s tail came within a few paces of Williamdale’s tree as the beast writhed in the sty, and it was all the boy could do not to cry out. After what felt an eternity of waiting for the dragon to leave, what Williamdale saw between the dragon’s legs pulled the breath from his lungs and the feeling from his skin. The roof of the stable had burned for too long and began to give in. The wooden support beams groaned loudly as fiery debris began to rain over his parents.

His brain screamed for him to let go of the tree and run out to distract the beast so that his parents could have some window for escape. Again his body refused the request and remained frozen.

As if mocking the thought, the dragon ripped into another hog, snapping its jaw hard onto its fat torso. It shredded the swine in half with a quick jerk of its powerful neck. Williamdale could not pull his eyes away. It was more blood than he’d ever seen.

All he could hear was the squealing of the pigs as the stable roof collapsed over his mother and father in a blanket of orange, red and heavy timber. As his parents vanished he watched the dragon dine and revel in gore.

That was the day his legacy was born. The day Williamdale Bryon lost to fear, and swore it would never happen again. From that day forward he devoted his very existence to vengeance. He waged a personal vendetta on these ferocious monsters, as well as any creature deemed dangerous to mankind. Despising the fear that held him from action that fateful day Williamdale grew to be a fearless, as well as merciless warrior who quickly rose through the ranks of the Somerlund army.

Now, forty years after that fateful summer he has slain all but this last dragon. With a wounded wing it slithered into the dark Evernight nearly a score of days prior. Haunted forest or not, it would not matter. He would find and slay his foe, no matter where the hunt would lead.

Williamdale’s company stopped for a much-needed bit of rest after keeping high pursuit of the beast for ten consecutive days. His infamous knights sat quietly, cherishing the rare break granted by their leader. Most just sat wherever they happened to be standing and planted their backs against a tree or whatever would give rest to their tired bodies. There was nothing soft in this dark place, so most soldiers didn't even bother removing their cumbersome armor. Silence quickly overcame them, inspired by a combination of paranoia and fatigue.

As the general walked through the garrison he could not help but to feel a great sense of pride sweep over his heart. What tireless bravado his men had shown him these last few weeks, relentlessly rolling through, over and under all obstacles without so much as a complaint. Yet for all this he would not let them pitch their tents. No, they would not be lowering their guard for more than a few hours at a time. They had injured the beast beyond the ability to fly. Now it was a matter of following the path of broken foliage and being cautious enough to avoid an occasional desperate barrage of fire. An injured animal, he knew all too well, was a dangerous animal.

After checking his men for any sign of serious injury he shifted focus to a lone silhouette standing apart from the camp. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Even now, in the little moonlight that seeped through the canopy. Her long white hair danced as the breeze wrapped her body with her dark, silky robe, accentuating the slender curves of her lithe body. He often wondered whether her white hair was a sign of her true age and her soft round face only a magical glimmer. Some say she casted a spell of immortality on herself, others that she was a ghost, and still others claimed that she was a traveler, visiting from the stars and beyond. Either way, to Williamdale she was a mesmerizing sight to behold and the angelic sheen of her skin was enough to make the general ignore all the rumors. He’s had his share of foreign women, why not one from the stars? To him it only seemed natural that one of such great beauty would wield such great power. Although even with all of her beauty and elegance he learned quickly that she was no angel.

As he was easily the greatest warrior of his time, Ambrosia was undoubtedly the most powerful sorceress of hers and it became most apparent during battle. He'd ripped out a dragon's cornea with his teeth, strangled a mountain giant with his bare hands, and he even crushed a grizzly bearcat’s skull with one mighty swing of a spiked gauntlet. Yet in spite of such an impressive resume he knew that he couldn’t handle Ambrosia in a duel. The General saw her wrap lightning around a castle like a bow around a gift, raise gales with her voice strong enough to flatten a stone tower and whisper a demon's rage away as if she'd raised it from a pup. In her he saw a living example of perfection through practice, with the joke being that she had four hundred years of practice.

Williamdale quietly walked to her side from behind, knowing that he needn’t announce his presence. She always knew when he was near.

“The beast has stopped,” whispered the sorceress. She scowled at the patch of broken, black wilderness ahead of them as if the dragon was staring right back out at her. Squinting, he only saw pitch.

“He rests?” said Sir Williamdale, yet he was hardly hopeful.

“No, but his wing is still hurt.”

Her tone went serious as she turned to him, “Commander, we must finish this quickly. The four must be safeguarded, I do not need to tell you how disastrous it would be if…”

His eyes drifted to the jewelry box that she cradled to her chest, much like a mother her newborn.

“What are you doing with that? We agreed to send it back," said Sir Williamdale.

He shuddered at the power that was within a foot from him. The box should have been traveling back to Castle Somerlund three days prior, along with the men that he assigned. He held his tongue, although his posture screamed bloody mutiny.

“Agreed?" she said. "Is that what you call it when people follow the orders you bark out? Did you really think I would trust your soldiers? They were simply a decoy. Only a fool would trust some low-level brutes with something this valuable.”

The general continued to glare at her, not quite sure of how to react to the news. He felt deeply betrayed. Not telling the soldiers was one thing, but withholding the plan from him was something else.

“I peeked in the hearts of your men," she added. "Die by your side they might, but when they aren’t at your side, that is a different story."

"And what do you see in my heart, woman?" he asked.

"Anger," Ambrosia chuckled.

"Oh anger to be sure," she continued, "but also understanding. You understand that I'm right, but you need to be in control. You're angry, but mostly because you have to look past how I changed the plans, because you need me. You'll need me when it comes time to slay that lizard hiding in the bushes over there."

BOOK: Blue Diamonds (Book One of The Blue Diamonds Saga)
9.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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