Elins descent, p.1
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       Elin's Descent, p.1
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           Mark Daniel III
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Elin's Descent


  Elin’s Descent

  Mark Daniel III

  Elin’s Descent

  Mark Daniel III

  Copyright 2014 Mark Daniel III

  This free ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away. If you would like to share this book, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Copyediting by Jessica Vineyard at Red Letter Editing, www.redletterediting.com.

  To

  Amanda

  with love

  always

  About the Author

  Mark Daniel III is a closet writer. He makes his money fixing computer problems in Indiana. As a young man, he spent as much time dreaming about being in a fantasy world as he did reading about them. As an adult, the thought finally occurred to him that he might enjoy sharing those dreams with the world. Mark loves camping, boating, fishing, watersports, and spending time with his family.

  Table of Contents

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  The duke was dead. The streets of the capital buzzed with rumors of his demise. However, everyone knew he had been slain by a single swordsman in open combat during a local rebel attack. The young warrior would have been revered for achieving such a feat had he not also been cut down by the duke’s men. The sense of mourning was lightened by the knowledge that the leader of the rebels had been captured and was awaiting punishment in the castle’s dungeons.

  At the duke’s estate, fifty miles south of the capital, things were much quieter. A large crowd of mourners and political attendants gathered around a grand funeral pyre. The wooden structure was twice as tall as anyone in attendance and was adorned with enough decorative gold and jewelry to feed a village for a year. It was a fitting testament to the duke’s life of opulence. The king himself had arrived to give the duke’s eulogy and preside over the affair. The duke’s family wept openly as two men lit torches and approached the wooden structure.

  The corpse sat up abruptly. The sudden movement scattered the flowers and small trinkets that had been placed lovingly upon its chest. A long ceremonial sword clattered against the metal breastplate and began to fall to the side. The thing that had once been the duke reached out and grabbed it with unnatural speed and grace. It quickly looked about, then leapt from the wooden platform it had been resting on and slid clumsily down the pile of stacked wood and bracing timbers before running north.

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  “Tell me more about this alternate universe you came from.” Kara’s fingers made lazy circles on my bare chest as she spoke. It wasn’t actually my chest, but one I was borrowing for the time being. The sensation of her fingers across the alien flesh was remarkably pleasant, much as all of the pleasures she had exposed me to recently.

  “So is that how this works? We spend the evening together ‘exploring my new body’ as you so eloquently put it, and then we just go back to talking about everyday topics like nothing even happened?” I lay there, this body loose and more relaxed than any I had ever experienced. Kara’s head was laying on my right arm. I squeezed her shoulder to pull her closer, hoping she wouldn’t be too upset by my blunt question.

  “That is exactly how this works. We lie here and enjoy the aftermath, and you discuss whatever I tell you to discuss.” Her hand didn’t stop its idle tickling motion as she pressed herself tighter against my side and looked up at me. “Now tell me about your magical universe. Are there unicorns?”

  Her voice was so light and giggly that I didn’t know how to react at first. The woman who had taken me into her bed was completely different from the woman whom I had traveled with for the last year. Here in this dimly lit tent we felt secluded from the tumult of the army camp outside, and I could again see the woman who had spent the night in my little cottage so many years ago.

  Unfortunately, my worries were stronger than my post-coital serenity. “Kara, I’m sorry, but this could be a serious problem. If we undermine your authority, it could lead to serious morale problems that could lead to furth . . . ugh.”

  I groaned as Kara’s hand suddenly pressed down on my stomach, her head and bare torso lifting above my body. Her hair dangled down loose across my face as she loomed over me.

  “Nobody cares about who I take to my bed, but even if someone did, my soldiers, my loyal, dedicated soldiers, would put them in their place faster than you could say ‘morale problems.’” She paused and stared at me for a moment. I didn’t know what I could have done to bring that peaceful young woman back. Thankfully, she continued without any input from me. “So you have two choices: you can tell me about your home, or you can go out and spend the rest of the night with the other men I don’t sleep with.”

  “They’re not ‘alternate universes.’ I know I’ve told you that before, and unicorns are not real in any world.” I started speaking softly, and a broad smile spread across Kara’s face as she returned to snuggling against my side. I let out a soft sigh of relief and held her tight as I continued, “We’ve just discovered other worlds besides this one. There are dozens of known worlds, and all of them are different. They’re separated by vast amounts of emptiness where nothing lives. We call it ‘Space,’ and that’s really the best way to describe it. A few thousand years ago we found a way to travel effectively through this Space, and we began settling the new worlds. The rough terrains of Kriga were always my favorite place to be. We use them as a playing board for our war games. I’m the only one of my kind to win a hundred campaigns there.”

  I felt Kara’s breath slowing down as I spoke, until she was snoring lightly. Her body felt heavier against me as it relaxed, and I smiled. I was obviously not going to be leaving any time soon. So I resisted the urge to sneak out, and instead let myself drift off to sleep after her.

  A sudden pain in my side pulled me out of the darkness of sleep. I rolled to my knees and looked around for my weapon. Of course, it wasn’t in its normal place beside me. It was on the other side of the tent with my pants, far enough out of reach to disregard it for now. I looked up at my attacker, and my heart slowed its pounding as my mind broke through the fog of sleep to recognize Kara. She was fully clothed and standing just to the side of the bed, from where she had obviously kicked me awake.

 
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