The Elementalist (The Kothian Chronicles Book 1)

BOOK: The Elementalist (The Kothian Chronicles Book 1)
2.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





The Elementalist.

Book One : The Kothian Chronicles

Copyright© Andrew G. Wood










All Rights Reserved.







Kothia was a land that had suffered its fair share of troubles. Ruled by a monarchy, it had however known more peaceful times over the past fifteen years. In a world with strange creatures and wielders of magic, its leaders were always alert to any danger that may try to disrupt that peace.


To help avert trouble, laws had been passed by the previous king. These harsh measures were deemed necessary, and although not everybody agreed with them, they were carried out with ruthless effect, with any strange creature, not native to the lands was to be killed. Moreover, any human, man, woman or child that showed signs of any magical ability, was to be put to death without trial.


This latter had often meant people accusing others for no better reason, than them not being liked, and as a result, hundreds of innocents had been barbarically put to the sword, or hung by angry mobs. However, ten years ago, when the present monarch took the throne, he saw fit to amend that law. Now those that showed signs of magical ability were to be captured, and instead of being immediately executed as had been the law, they were now taken to the nearest large town. Here the local mayor had been given authority to reside over a jury, to determine the charges of magical ability. If they were proved to be unfounded, then the person went free; if proved guilty, then they were publically hung as soon as possible.


The reason all these measures had been deemed necessary was due to the actions of a dark magician known as Galdor. This man had caused both Kothia, and its neighbour Bosaria, into a war with each other. He had played the two against each other, using magic to influence people, and creatures to attack villages on both sides. Both nations had ultimately blamed each other for the attacks, and as a result, war was declared.


Only when Galdor deemed the nations weak did he then make a move to take over both, using an army of beasts and men, he marched on the capital of Kothia, Berxsley. It had only been the two countries leaders, realising they had been duped into war, that had eventually seen the magician defeated. Only once they had united their forces were they strong enough to stop him.


Since that time, to ensure a lasting peace, both nations adopted the laws, and although it was outlawed, and still punishable by death, magic still existed. Those who could wield it were naturally few in number, and often forced to live their lives, always looking over their shoulder. Not all magicians were bad, before the war, many had used their skills to help others. Healing especially had been commonplace, with a well-trained magician travelling from village to village often being a welcome sight. It was hoped that one day the king might once again welcome magic back to the kingdom, but for now though, any who showed the remotest sign of ability had to hide it away.



Chapter 1.






Maxim shivered, rubbing his cold hands together in an attempt to keep them warm. Winter was upon them, and he was beginning to think he would not survive to see the spring, with no place to call home, he had found himself some shelter at the back of the bake house.


It was dark, and the night sky full of sparkling stars, and the moon was just a slither hanging there beside them. He had at least found food, after waiting for the bakers to close, he had searched the bins and had been fortunate to find a little stale bread, and the remains of what he hoped, was some kind of pie. If truth were told he was not sure what it was, but his hunger ensured he ate it anyway.


He pulled his threadbare cloak tightly around him, slipped the hood over his head, and curled up as tight as he could. This was the coldest night he had been forced to endure so far, but he also knew that as winter progressed, it would get much colder.


Having spent his childhood in an orphanage in the town of Woodhaven, he had been forced to leave when he had reached fourteen years. It was at this age he was deemed old enough to care for himself, and as a result they had handed him some spare clothes, cast offs from those more fortunate, and a sixpence. This small amount was supposedly meant to be enough to set him on his way in the world; it had barely lasted him a few days, and it all went on food.


The last few months had seen him survive by scavenging in bins for scraps and morsels, although some days even they were hard to come by, due to the many other homeless, hungry people who relied on the same food source. There had been days when he had not found anything at all to eat, and had to endure the hunger pains that had inevitably followed.


As a result, Maxim took each day as possibly his last upon the earth, with no family, he was just another hungry blight on society with no prospect but an early death. Even his time at the orphanage had been tough, forced to carry out hard labour for the meagre helpings of food they were given, he was even an outcast there. Most Kothians were born with brown or black hair, and had brown eyes to match. Maxim had reddish, ginger hair and bright blue eyes, and hence, that had resulted in him being picked on, and treated as some kind of freak.


His clothes on his back, the worn boots on his feet and the small piece of stale bread in his pocket, were his only possessions in the whole world. He had thought about leaving Woodhaven and seeking out pastures new, but had ultimately decided to stay. Here he knew the best places to sleep, and the likeliest parts to find scraps of food. If he moved to another town, he would likely struggle to survive even more so.


With eating so little, Maxim was ultimately quite a skinny boy, of an average height for his age, if not for his hair and eyes, he would look the same as all the other dirt trodden members of society. In a nation that was supposedly run by a king that was thought of as fair, life for Maxim certainly did not feel like it.


He often sat there, trying to recall one day in his life that had been better than any other. Why was it that some people seemed to have everything and others nothing at all? When he had been kicked from the orphanage, he had initially tried to find some kind of work, but more often than not, he had been chased off and told in no uncertain terms not to come back. Not all had been like this, one or two had seemed genuinely sorry for his plight, but were not in a position to help him.


With nothing to look forward to but more hunger, and even colder nights, he was beginning to consider all his options. Was life really worth living at all? He had often asked himself that very question. Even those at the church, who supposedly loved and cared for all, wanted nothing to do with people like him. Society had its different levels; those with everything, lived in the large expensive houses and wore fancy clothes, those with nothing lived on the streets in rags.


Hunger and cold was not the only danger for a boy like Maxim, as there were often men who lurked the narrow streets and alleyways seeking out such people. On several occasions, their bodies had been found the next morning, each with their hands bound and throat slit, and despite the awful nature of the crime, no one cared. People just thought of it as one less vagrant scavenging the streets. Maxim had been fortunate on at least two occasions., the first time had seen a boy in the doorway next to him attacked and killed. The second had been close, had the attacker not disturbed a cat, which made a noise to alert him, Maxim was certain he would have been caught.


Falling into a restless half sleep, constantly checking his surroundings, the night seemed to get even colder. He thought he saw shadows moving down the entrance to the alleyway in which he was situated, and with his body shivering from the freezing temperature, he decided to stand and move. He shook his arms and legs, both of which were almost numb from the cold, hoping to get some blood circulating. He set off in the opposite direction to where he thought people were moving about, walking quickly, occasionally breaking into a jog, hoping it would at least help him warm up a little.


Maxim thought it safer if he stuck to one of the main streets. It may have still been night, but in a few hours, daylight would be upon them, but at least here, an occasional guard was likely to pass by on patrol and this was about as safe a position, as he was likely to find. Even if he was attacked here, there was still no guarantee any soldier on patrol would come to his aide. He and his kind were deemed a burden and nuisance to the population; like rats, they were treated as such.


He found a new place to see out the remaining hours of darkness in the doorway of a tailor's shop. It had no benefit other than a deep recess that kept him from the chilly breeze and out of sight. He curled up as tightly as he could once more, and tried to resume his sleep before the dawn of another day of continual struggle for survival.


He was awoken by the sound of shouting, as he realised he must have drifted into a much deeper sleep than usual. It was dawn, and he looked up to see a very angry looking man staring down at him, "Get out of my doorway you filthy scum," he heard, just before a boot kicked him. Maxim tried to stand, but with his muscles so cold and stiff, struggled to do so quickly. The man before him grabbed his cloak, and almost dragged him to his feet, before shoving him back down onto the street.


Maxim cursed as his head hit the cobbled stone, and scrambled to his feet before the man could kick him again. He did so, but felt a strong vice like grip on his arm as he turned to see the man's face red with rage. Anybody would have thought that Maxim had been stealing from him, not sleeping in his doorway, such was his reaction. Deciding it was time to move on, Maxim tried to break free, only his arms were not strong enough to do so. Thinking quickly, he stamped down as hard as he could on the man's foot with his boot heel.


His actions did have the desired effect as the man yelled out, and in doing so released the grip on Maxim's arm. "Assault!" he yelled out, "I've been assaulted!" Maxim turned and started to run, before he glanced back to see the man giving chase. With his heart pumping hard, all thoughts of hunger and fatigue were gone, as he ran up the main street, and quickly put a few yard’s distance between him and the man in pursuit.


He glanced back once more, relieved that the distance between them was growing. He turned back to face the front, only to be stopped dead in his tracks as two guards on patrol bundled him to the ground. "That little runt assaulted me," he heard the now familiar voice of the man whom he had stamped on. "I want him charged, and dealt with," he added after taking a few breaths. One of the guards grabbed Maxim's hood and lifted him back to his feet, and with one man holding his arms, the other pushed his hood back to get a better look at his face.


Maxim knew he was in serious trouble, with no hope of him being treated fairly by the soldiers, the least he could expect was a beating. "We'll take it from here," he heard one of the soldiers tell the man he had supposedly assaulted. Maxim glanced left to see the man walk away; happily content the soldiers would dish out a suitable punishment. Trying his utmost to squirm and wriggle his way free, Maxim received a backhand across his head. The side of his face stung and he could feel his ear ringing from the blow.


Maxim lifted his head to look the soldier straight in the eye, if this was going to be the man that ended his miserable life, he wanted to see his face. "Feisty little bugger aren't you," the man's colleague laughed adding his own slap across the back of Maxim's head. Feeling angry at the injustice of life, he snarled at the soldier, which earned him another much harder blow.


That last blow seemed to awaken something inside Maxim, as suddenly, he no longer felt like a weak child fighting against two grown men. He cursed at the man who had struck him last, mumbling words under his breath he did not understand. He heard the guard scream and was stunned to see the man slump to the floor. Fire engulfed the guard from head to toe, and within a few seconds, those screams ceased. The flames died away as quickly as they had started, leaving behind a blackened corpse that smouldered thin tendrils of smoke into the cold morning air.


The other soldier suddenly released Maxim's arms, shoving him away as the man looked on in horror, and went for his sword. Maxim did not know what to do, or even what he had done. For a moment, both stared at each other, both looking as scared, and Maxim did not hang around, and decided fleeing was his best choice. He moved as fast as his legs could go, which was surprisingly quicker than he thought.


After a few minutes of turning down alleyways and narrow streets, he looked back to see if he was still being followed. The street behind him appeared clear for now, and he slowed to a brisk walk. He knew that he would likely be held responsible for killing the guard, although quite how it had happened, he had no idea. One thing he did know, was that he would now be hunted relentlessly. He needed to leave Woodhaven immediately, before the guards on the gates received his description, and with hair like his, spotting him in a crowd would not be difficult. He quickly replaced his hood to cover his scruffy ginger hair, and headed for the lesser used south gate.

BOOK: The Elementalist (The Kothian Chronicles Book 1)
2.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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