Authors: Brent Lee Markee
Table of Contents
Dedicated to anyone that does things a little differently.
As many of you will know, making a book is a process that takes a lot of people to accomplish. I may be the one creating and writing everything, but without the interactions and participation of family, friends, and a few new acquaintances, this book would have never existed.
First I would like to thank my mother and father for always telling me to use my damn head, without their efforts in raising me right I worry about what type of person I might have become. My mother was the first one to read my book in its unrefined state, and even though it is not her usual genre of books she said that it was good and laid the seed that would grow into me actually deciding to polish and publish it. It wasn't very long after I finished the first draft of this book and had begun work on the second book that my father was diagnosed with cancer, and about six months later was no longer with us.
For a long time after that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly it was I was doing with my life and what it was that I wanted to do. It all boiled down to two real choices, I could either go back to college and end up doing something that I didn't mind doing(but had no real passion for), or I could work on becoming an actual author and write down the massive story that I kept simmering in my head. After a lot of discussions with just about anyone that would listen, I(quite obviously) decided to become a full fledged writer.
Several years had passed in the interim, and I had learned a lot about editing and grammar from correcting my sister's college papers. Going back through this book was a joyous and yet painful experience. I do not have the attention span for that type of work, so the process took quite some time for me to get through. I hope that what I have learned since i finished my first draft allowed me to make my first book into an enjoyable read.
So that brings me to my latest group of acknowledgments. First, I would like to thank my sister and her husband for putting up with my eccentricities, and allowing me to be a bad influence on my nieces and nephews. Next I would like to thank those people who took part in the Alpha read of my book so that I could get some feedback on the basics of the story, which would be my mother again, her Co-worker Dee Jay Smith. Last but not least I would like to thank my friend Michael Nangle for listening to me ramble on Ventrilo for hours at a time, and encouraging me to publish the first so he could read the second.
My Beta readers, who read the almost polished version of this book(and gave me more valuable feedback, consisting mostly of grammar errors), were Stewart Bohnet, Cory Hanks, Brock Deskins and PJ Wills.
Last of all I would like to thank whoever has purchased a copy of this book, you are making a dream of mine come closer to fruition. Thank you!
Note to the Reader:
I am by no means a professional editor, but I have done a half dozen edits on this book to get it ready for printing. I feel now that it is up to a standard that is worthy of printing. I have no doubt that there are some errors remaining, because there always seems to be another one. So, unless you are an English teacher or English major I think you should be able to enjoy it with little interruption(unless you have to look up a word, which is an admirable trait).
So, to anyone who is well versed in English grammar, I would like to apologize for some of the neophyte mistakes contained herein. I am always working to improve my craft, so if you have any notes for me in how I can make my future books a more enjoyable read for you please message me at one of the contact methods at the end of the book.
Thank you and Enjoy!
-Brent Lee Markee
Year 3034 AGD (After the Great Disaster)
Month: Orange Blossoms
Lion's heart tavern
Continent of Telleros
City of Dun'Dalas
Unbelievable!” One of the patrons of the Lion's Heart Tavern said, watching the bard like one might a street magician, trying to figure out the exact moment that they had been fooled.
“Aye, it sounds unbelievable to those of us who haven't had to survive on that hellish continent they call Terroval.” The old bard took a sip of his ale, sweeping the room with his eyes over the rim of his glass. He could see that he had the attention of almost the entire common room, the one exception being the cloaked figure in the corner under the stairs. For the life of him, he could not figure out if the man's head was drooped in drunkenness or in a need to conceal his face. A slight frown ghosted across the old bard's features before he schooled his features before moving the mug away from his face.
If one was to make a list of traits often associated with bards, vanity would be near the top, and he was no exception to that rule. Being the center of attention, and having the ability to capture an entire room with the resonance of your voice was one of the largest draws to the lifestyle. Even one head failing to turn felt like a personal affront to anyone in the trade. There always seemed to be someone who wasn't in the mood to be entertained however. As the bard was getting ready to speak again, a new voice joined the conversation.
“So you're saying that an average man from Terroval could best even the greatest of our soldiers?”
The bard turned smoothly towards the direction the question had emanated, he always found it best to look a man in the eye when you were trying to get a point across. Normally, he would have tried to laugh the question away, but as his gaze settled on the man who had asked the question he decided that it might not be a good idea this time. He came to this decision instantly upon seeing the man's size, and current attire. The fellow was one of the biggest men he had seen in this part of the world, and he also happened to be wearing the uniform of her Royal Majesty's personal guard. In his many travels, the bard had learned that it was best not to get on the wrong side of the local law enforcers, as it usually lead to prolonged encounters, and unplanned accommodations.
“Well lad, as fine as the soldiers on the continent of Telleros are, the best of which being right here in the city of Dun'Dalas, in Her Majesty's Royal Guard. Your question isn't quite fair. You see, in the land of Terroval there are more than a few women warriors too, and I would put just about every one of them up against any of the regular soldiers in Dun'Dalas.”
I'd put 'em up against the Royal ones too you big ox.
The bard kept that thought to himself though, which he considered to be one of his wiser ideas of late.
“You're crazy old man, there's no way a
could beat one of our fine soldiers!” The barkeep's statement lead to a round of cheers from his patrons. The man was expected to be patriotic, since a large portion of his clientele were soldiers. It looked like the bartender might have done some soldiering in his younger days as well. Not only did he hold himself like a man who knew the benefits of being ready to fight at a moments notice, but the scar that traced the man's jaw, from his ear to his chin, spoke of a man who was no stranger to combat.
One of the patrons who had remained silent through most of the discussion seemed to decide it was time to put in his two coppers worth. “I'd listen to him if I was you Sal. My grandfather became a sailor after he retired and the ship he served on would dock at the city of Safeharbor, on the west coast of Terroval, once or twice a year. I don't have to tell you that not many ships would make that trek, 'cause of the creatures that inhabit those waters. We've all heard the tales of the squids that swallow ships whole, and that's the most believable story out of the lot.”
The barkeep and many of his patrons nodded as the man spoke. They had heard the stories, and most would consider you a fool if you didn't believe at least half of them to be true. Too many of these men had seen creatures that defied explanation over the years. Many of them had come to the realization long ago that if there were creatures that most people wouldn't believe existed on land, or in the air, there were probably worse in the sea. The room fell quiet, everyone seemingly contemplating the man's simple statement. The effect breaking as the man shook himself, as if physically forcing such thoughts aside, before continuing.
“Anyway, having a few days in port, the sailors decided to stretch their sea-legs and explore the city. On the second day, they found themselves on top of one of the massive walls, as far as they could see there were lush grasslands. Thinking it a shame to see such beautiful fields and not have a stroll through 'em, or an afternoon nap, the men decided to explore the countryside. As the gates were getting ready to be opened, one of the guards at the gate looked at my grandfather and said, 'May you always strike true, and your enemy falter.' My grandfather was taken aback by the statement, and asked if it was really that dangerous out there. The man then said 'you're not from around these parts are ya?' My Grandfather told me that the man's simple statement had made him feel smaller than any insult ever thrown at him in his entire life.”
“The guard that had been talking to my grandfather told them to wait while he got permission from the captain to accompany them on their walk, and it was a good thing for my grandfather that he did. They had been out of town for about an hour, walking through the green fields northeast of Safeharbor, when they felt the ground begin to shake. The sailors started yelling about tremors, and my grandfather started to agree before he saw what the guard who had joined 'em for their walk was doing. He had his ear to the ground listening to the earth, and when he stood he wore a grim mask of determination. The guard took the crossbow off his back, and then commanded silence. My grandfather said he'd never seen sailors shut up as fast as they did when that man spoke. The guard explained that the tremors were being caused by a pack of what he called Grim-le. It seems they are giant reptiles that run on their hind legs. Their talons are as long and sharp as a sword, and they have rows of teeth like a shark. He had explained this all to the sailors in such a tone that not one man amongst them spoke a word of doubt. Pointing to the nearest hill behind them the guard ordered everyone to the top as quick as they could. Another order which they followed without question.”
The patron telling the story took a sip of his drink, the rest of the room doing the same, before continuing his grandfather's story. “The guard pulled his crossbow back and placed the bolt moments before the creatures crested the next hill over. All of the men were in a panic at seeing the giant reptiles for themselves, and a few started running the other direction. My grandfather told me that he had thought about running too, which I hardly believed at the time, but then he looked at the guard and saw him shaking his head at the fleeing men before he aimed his crossbow at the pack of Grim-le and let loose.” The room was so silent that the bard couldn't help but feel some admiration for the man who was now telling the story. Somehow the man had even seemed to gain the attention of the man in the corner, who's ear was now pointed towards the conversation.
“THWACK” the man said suddenly, some of the patrons jumping when he slammed his hand on the bar. “The bolt caught the head of the lead reptile and ripped completely through, hitting the next creature behind it as well. My grandfather counted the creatures as they came running at him, counting the two that the guard downed, there were thirteen.” Several men in the room could be seen making a sign against evil or heard mumbling a prayer under his breath, few soldiers survived long if they weren't at least a little superstitious.
“The guard calmly cocked his crossbow, placed another bolt, and sighted in on the raptors twice more before they started up the hill that my grandfather and his men were on. By that time seven of the creatures were left and my grandfather was wishing he'd ran with the rest of the men, but he knew by the speed that the lizards were approaching, he wouldn't have been able to run far. My grandfather did the only thing he knew how to do, he pulled out his short sword, wishing he had his war hammer, and said a prayer to Ragnós. The guard told him to stay back and guard the rest of the men, before he dropped his crossbow, pulled his longsword, and charged down the hill.”