Call of the harn, p.1
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       Call of the Harn, p.1

           JosephGeorge
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Call of the Harn


  Call of the Harn

  written by: JOSEPH HENRY GEORGE

 

  Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Henry George

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  Author’s Note:

  This is to be the first installment in this epic. Read it not like a series of books, but rather one great story, because, truth be told, that’s what it really is. I only separated them into sections because I knew you wouldn’t appreciate a two-thousand-page book. Nor would the printing companies.

  It has been nearly ten years in the making now. I knew I would write since I was just a kindergartener, and I knew that I would write the story that meant the most to me.

  I’ve written this tale a thousand times, and a thousand times over again, because it never was right. But several years of practice, an extended journey to Hong Kong and back, and it all fell together.

  There will undoubtedly be moments where you simply do not understand, or perhaps don’t even care, but trust me when I say this; it all means something. This is not to be just another epic tale where good defeats evil and we all go live happily ever after. It is not for you to read, and then put back on the shelf, only to collect dust until you find something new and improved, and toss it to the trash.

  Think me pretentious, or a fool, but this is to be read again, and again, because it tells of more than just epic battles and vast landscapes. It is a writing of life, and sometimes the lack of it.

  Read, not for you, but for them.

  They deserve to be heard, once in a while.

  Chapter I

  . To an End .

  Cold.

  It is a word that could be used to accurately describe what he was.

  The temperature in the air.

  The stones beneath his bare feet and against the small of his back.

  The bitter words which pierced through, into his heart, and shattering against the walls of his mind which so very much knew that he, like nearly all the others, would not make it.

  It was also an accurate description of what steel and iron tasted like.

  But this captor did not resort to such types of punishment, as a wound can only bleed so much. No, there were far more efficient, for more…entertaining ways to get what was wanted. You simply had to know how.

  Clicks, in the dark, surrounded him. A moment, or two perhaps, left him confused and frightened by what had entered through the low set archway and into the room, but only for a moment as he recognized that sound from a few tidbits of his past.

  Those teeth appeared, then, grotesque and opaque, stealing the light despite their utter whiteness. There was no light to see by, but it was there, in his mind, chattering up and down in mindless and voiceless words.

  The wretched beasts, they didn’t need the light.

  They had no eyes to see it by.

  Just those pale, white teeth.

  It came quite close at that moment, and he could feel as much as hear the chomping that ensued as it poured over his frame, sensing each muscle, each vein, drinking in the world around it with only a few sharp bites at the air. He was grateful, then, that he could only make out the vague shape of it, as previous encounters with the monsters had not been some of his favorite.

  He knew what was next, though, so there were still many things to be frightened about.

  But it would have to wait.

  I had a few words to say.

  “My dear friend….” Usually comforting words, when spoken by compassionate lips. And trust me when I say that they surely were. I had little desire to inflict pain upon this poor soul.

  The gods know he had already received enough of that at the hands of others.

  That creature pulled from him, if only a pace or two, silencing its fluttering trap for a few moments.

  “My dear, dear friend…why do you resist your detention? Have I not given you all that you’ve wanted, all that you’ve asked for?”

  And what was he to say to that? I hadn’t asked to be answered, no, the answer I already knew, because we’d had this conversation before. It wasn’t the first time his antics and attempted escapes had landed him in a precarious situation. So why did he keep trying? What was there that led him to believe he would, or even could succeed?

  Or perhaps it wasn’t that he wanted to escape at all….

  Food for thought, although my mind wasn’t particularly hungry these days.

  I craved something more.

  His personal answer came in a most pitiful way, “I’ll never stop fighting you. You know that.”

  It was spat out, more so than spoken.

  Spiteful lips.

  Cankerous teeth.

  I wouldn’t complain, and so I laughed.

  He could see me now, as I had conjured a bit of light which snaked out from a suspended sphere. A candle would have done fine, of which there were plenty, scattered around that quiet and empty room, but I so enjoyed the aura of mystery that surrounds one who keeps himself distanced from the mortal realm.

  “Yes, I am sure of that, and it does not shock me.”

  A rush, cloak fluttering in shadowed tones of energy as I spun around the pillar that held him captive, only to rest over his shoulder, my lips inches from his ear.

  He smelled of dank and damp.

  My fault, in all honesty.

  He’d been staying with me for some time now, a fact which I was most grateful for, but he surely didn’t appear to be all that pleased with the arrangements. But I didn’t blame him.

  His was the type, as you may have already seen, that does not give in.

  Oh, but all of this falls on deaf hears, both his, and yours. I did not care to convert him or to charm him into submission. I don’t desire brainless and heartless minions for servants. It simply isn’t my style.

  Breaking is, though.

  Breaking is something that I could live with.

  . Beauty and Beast .

  - Seventh Age, year 718

  It all came up to meet him so fast.

  There was this burning sun, and this bitter whirling of wind, flicking beads of whitened sand off the tops of the crags like spray from the temperamental waves. All around the roiling sea lay frozen in time, scorched and blanched by an eternal fire.

  The desert was lonely.

  And a bit hungry.

  Hard sand tasted bitter against his parched, and bleeding lips as he impacted the earthen floor, leading with his face. Tripping on flat earth may have seemed a stupid thing to do, but it wasn’t really his choice.

  He’d run out of those long before.

  No tears were to be shed, certainly not from the heavens above. Never a wisp of clouds in the sky to veil the face of indignation and wrath at this funeral of silence.

  And as the great, fiery serpent glared down with its one, malignant eye, mocking, there was not a soul to care about the boy.

  No spectators, that is, none but the sun and the wind.

  And Death, and I.

  She came on winged steps, weightless, urgent to claim that prize which was rightfully hers.

  Sprouts of shattered foliage sprang up at each print to choke out the deadened ground beneath, paving the way back for the return of a kindred brother.

  To home.

  Her pale, and perfect frame drawing towards the child in effortless motion.

  Such raw beauty there was.

  Icy lips pressed to his. A breath in, to draw out that essenc
e of his spirit, and a breath out as She lifted his poor, pitiful and now limp frame in her arms. Her form was enough to excite the chambers of the heart.

  Untouchable.

  And like that, he was gone from this world.

  . Ocean of the Sun .

  - Seventh Age, year 718

  Blood slipped to the floor, staining into the pelt laid as a carpet.

  Just a single drop.

  Enough to bring him to consciousness, his eyes flashing open in instant readiness, for whatever might come.

  But he was alone in the tent.

  Emitting a few groans as he sat up on the cot, his finger brushed the underside of his nose, a thin coating of red coming off.

  Red.

  Such an ugly color. But gratefully there wasn’t much of it out here. Mostly just flat tan and a few shades of dirt.

  He hated the desert, everything about it. The fact that it was as dry as the stale bread they’d been eating for the past two days was only the beginning of his dislike for such a forsaken place.

  How anyone, or anything, could choose to exist here, was beyond him.

  One thing was for certain, though; they would not be much longer.

  Oh how he longed for Arribinthia once again. The cobblestone streets. A quiet meal, alone, alongside the shores of the placid lake. A luxury long overdue.

  Rising, he went to wash his face, hoping the splash of mildly cool water would clear the grogginess from his body.

  There was a ruffling at the tent wall, perhaps the wind? A moment later, though, the cloth curtain was separated and a man entered quietly, dressed in traditional garb of a soldier. The half plate mail, purple on white with the Emperor’s three-pronged crest emblazoned across the front of the tunic.

  A grey shoulder cape was draped over his right spaulder, to signify rank.

  “General,” he opened, “if I have disturbed you….”

  “No, Grinvelld,” his commander returned, “you shouldn’t have let me sleep so long.”

  Grinvelld looked sheepishly at the ground, and then said, “I figured that you needed it.”

  Heavy eyes glanced up at him, fixing his gaze. Not angry, just, thoughtful.

  “We all need more sleep, my friend. This hellish desert wants to take us all.” was Feilden’s reply. Strapping braces to arms and sword to his side, he stepped to face Grinvelld. “Sleep is for pompous kings and fat dogs.” Proffering a half smile, he slapped the soldier’s arm, raising his eyebrows.

  A comical gesture, of sorts.

  And to finish, added, “Sleep is only a vision, a dream, and it fades quickly.”

  “Then,” came Grinvelld’s comment to such a thought, “I am most certainly a visionary man.”

  A hand of Feilden’s rested on Grinvelld’s shoulder. “Well, this is some kind of dream that we’re stuck in here.”

  Chuckles, in agreement.

  “Yes, it is. But remember one thing,” the soldier returned, “you picked it for me. If I had my rathers, I would be sitting in front of the fire back home, with a mug in my hand and my wife st­­­rumming soft tones on the lyre.”

  “Aye, so would we all.” Feilden’s face tightened for a moment as his mind wandered to some far off place and lost itself in a hopeless vision. But only for a moment, before snapping back to the reality at hand. “Emaar, it’s good to have you with us.”

  A few moments of silence hung in the air. A bit stale, perhaps, but not wasted.

  “So, why did you interrupt my moment of solitude?”

  Right, Grinvelld had completely forgotten about reporting. He answered quickly, the smirk fading from his features as he slipped back into the role of his position. “The men,” was his reply, “they are ready for you.

 
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