The Relics of Nanthara: The Secrets Revealed

Hey all, this is an excerpt from Book 1. It is part of Chapter 1. Let me know what you think.

CHAPTER 1:

AN ODD FRIENDSHIP

Courtar clutched his precious leather-bound journal tightly to his chest with his right arm while emphasizing points with his left arm—as defiantly as an adolescent cleric could against an such argumentative crowd. A light rain had soaked the town for hours while Courtar spoke under gray skies. Some cast disbelieving smirks and rude chortles while others masked with angered expressions and irate jeers unsteadied Courtar’s position atop the small stack of crates that served as his podium next to a white washed dry goods store.

“All I’m saying is that this stuff is real. I’ve researched it. You must listen to me. For your own safety, for everyone’s future,” Courtar said.

Disturbed grumbles continued as curses were uttered back. Several groups of people began muttering within their own closed circles while Courtar gulped, his breathing shallowed, his palms moistened.

“And how do you know all this?” one man dressed in sawdust-covered clothes yelled. “Are you clairvoyant?” The comment drew laughter from the gathered crowd.

“Maybe he’s an all-seeing mage!” said a woman in a stained, brown plaid commoner’s dress and unkempt hair that frayed in various directions.

Courtar drew a slow breath. “I’ve been researching this for months now. I’ve found truth in more than one book that reinforces what the prophecies say. If something is not done, we will all perish.”

“They say mages don’t bleed. Cut him and see,” said the first man again. More laughter rippled across the crowd.

“If you believe so much in this coming prophecy, then show us in that book of yours,” said a short, hefty woman, pointing to Courtar’s journal. Others agreed with vocal outbursts, sending unpleasant glances toward his notebook. Courtar gripped the journal tighter.

“What’s in my book I already have shared with you.”

Several irate patrons began stepping toward Courtar with what he perceived were threatening gestures. He attempted to take a step back, yet he forgot where he stood; he was stuck. Out of the corner of his eye, Courtar spied movement. He turned his head in time to see a man in a red tattered sack coat, wielding a large knife. Courtar couldn’t tell if the blade’s browned stains were rust or dried blood. The man cracked a frightful grin that shown the large gap in his front teeth.

“I’m tired of ya speakin’ ‘bout all this prophecy junk. How’s ‘bout I cut ya a new smile, boy,” he said while slashing the air with his polished blade.

Courtar rubbed a nervous hand through his damp dirty blond frazzled hair. He was pleased that nobody could see the sweat running down his back and legs underneath his green homespun tunic and brown pants. For a moment, he was sure he saw his iron cross that hung from a leather strap around his neck bounce with his heartbeat. “Sir, I mean no harm. But time is against us. The darkness will be here sooner than you think.”

Courtar paused then thought out loud. “Or is it already here?”

The man failed to stop as he took slow steps forward brandishing his knife while Courtar noticed several others moving forward with clubs and clenched fists.

“Sovereign, I need your help,” Courtar whispered. He squeezed his eyes shut and waited.

The disgruntled citizens were about a jump away from the crate when a rumbling growl caught almost everyone’s attention from the back of the crowd. A disruptive murmur rippled through the mob from the back to the front as the mass stirred.

Courtar, his heart racing, looked up after opening his eyes to see a giant rift parting the crowd. Silence befell those gathered. At the pinnacle of the separation stood a burly armored Dwergen. A large scar cut diagonally from the Dwergen’s upper left eye to his lower right chin, revealing his malformed upper lip and nose. His beard, filled with golden rings and charm-like trinkets intertwined through the soft hair, covered his face well, allowing only his ruddy complexion and sharp nose to be exposed. His dark auburn beard and hair hung down in matching length just above his black leather belt. Regardless of his unique appearance, it did little to hide the aroma of dirt and stale ale that lingered about him.

The Dwergen’s left hand tugged on his ornament laden beard as his slanted emerald eyes scanned the situation. Courtar could see the Dwergen’s white knuckled grip on the broad shaft of a heavy weapon resembling a cross between a battleaxe and a warhammer propped against his right shoulder, the metallic edges gleaming from the morning sunlight piercing through the surrounding forest.

Courtar could hear the surprised whispers of the crowd staring at the rare sight of this being. Clubs were put aside and clenched fists eased open. Courtar stood a bit straighter as the Dwergen walked forward, casting stern glares at the crowd as he passed before stopping in front of him. The Dwergen looked the cleric up and down with a grunt before turning toward the mob with a determined scowl.

“It’s best if you leave this lad alone. He speaks of religious teachin’s and is doin’ what his heart tells him is right.”

The man in the tattered red coat sneered at the Dwergen, his knife still clutched in his hand. “We don’t need hearin’ that sort of junk. And ya best scat if ya know what’s good for ya, you freak.”

“Shut yer mouth, Ergen,” said the short heavy woman through clenched teeth. “Can’t yer dumb eyes sees that’s a Dwergen.”

“I don’t care a bit,” Ergen said. He took a step forward, brandishing his knife, when the Dwergen spun around with the flat of his raxan blade and smacked Ergen on his shoulder, sending the ill-tempered patron flying into the side of the dry goods store with a crash. Ergen crumpled into the mud in a silent heap.

The Dwergen spun around with a snarl and his raxan in a two fisted grip, the gold trinkets glimmering in the morning sun. “Any other maggot feelin’ itchy?”

Courtar watched in amazement as the crowd backed away. The Dwergen looked over his shoulder at the cleric.

“Best if you leave with me, laddie. This town doesn’t seem to take to yer words very kindly.”

Courtar sighed as he stepped down off the crates. “Thank you.” He picked up his backpack lying in front of his makeshift stage, slung it over his shoulder, and hurried after the Dwergen, who already had a head start trudging down the muddy road.

With his journal in hand, he scooted up next to the Dwergen who trudged northward at a steady pace. “My thanks again, sir.”

The Dwergen cast an unemotional glance at the cleric. “Yer welcome.”

Courtar held out a damp hand. “I’m Courtar.”

The Dwergen reached around with his thick deeply etched left hand and grasped Courtar’s softer grip.

“Boren.”

“Y-you are a, a . . .”

“Dwergen,” Boren said, looking forward.

“W-What are you doing out here?”

“Lookin’ fer somethin’ that belongs to me.”

Several silent moments passed with only the cling-clang echo of bobbling equipment before Courtar looked to Boren. “Uhm, you didn’t say what you were looking for.”

The Dwergen kept facing forward, trudging along the wooded trail as the town faded behind a curtain of trees. “I know.”

“If you told me, I might be able to help you find it.”

“It’s a personal journey, laddie. Somethin’ of my family long lost since our war with the foulskin two eras gone.”

Courtar’s head wrinkled in thought. “Two eras—that was at least over three hundred years ago.”

“Aye. And I mean to find it, or die tryin’.”

“You seem quite determined to find this thing, huh?”

Boren looked askance at Courtar. “Just as determined and passionate as you were defendin’ yer belief on them prophecies.”

A sheepish grin stroked Courtar’s lips. “Oh, you heard me talking?”

“Aye, I did.” Boren stopped and faced Courtar with his hands propped on his hips. “And what is a young human cleric wanderin’ alone blabberin’ about prophecies to the point of almost gettin’ killed?”

Courtar turned and continued walking, leaving Boren standing alone. “It’s something I have to do.”

“Called? Did you receive a message from a raven or courier?” Boren asked as he hurried to catch up. “Or were you provoked?”

Courtar stopped and spun to face Boren, heat rising from underneath his tunic. “I did this on my own. They wouldn’t let me, wouldn’t believe me. They have never believed in me. Always a slave. Do this, do that. Clean this, polish that. Study, study, study.”

Boren stood with arms folded, his head cocked with a smirk.

Courtar sighed. “It’s hard to explain. In my studies back at Temple Sovereign in Aldor, I ran across writings on the prophecy in a secluded portion of the library. I ended up finding more material on the matter, but they barely touched on the subject. More like legend or fireside myth, or so I thought. And then . . . then this burning deep in my gut kept pushing me to seek what I felt. And, well, two months later, here I am.”

“This trek yer on is personal as well as destiny,” Boren said. Courtar nodded. “So, you believe the prophecies to be true?”

“With all my heart. What about you?”

“From what I’ve seen, I know that thin’s are gettin’ worse. No matter. If dark-

ness is ready to fall upon us, foulskin will be close behind. The way I see it, I’ll just wait until they show their filthy heads, so I can have fun cleavin’ ’em off!” Boren said with bulging eyes, seemingly hungry to enter a bloody battle at a moment’s notice.

“Yeah, but won’t that be kinda, messy?”

“And yer point is?”

Courtar grinned at his bearded companion and swatted his hand. “Nevermind.”

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Published in: on April 24, 2010 at 1:53 AM  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I liked the interaction between Courtar and Boren. I’m not sure what it was, but something made me think of the setting in terms of a Western. It may be the dry goods store or Boren’s dialect. Watch your use of adverbs. I posted a blog entry on the misuse of adverbs today. I have other line edits and suggestions but a comment really isn’t the place for them. If you join critters and submit your novel as an RFDR, let me know. I would like to read more of it.

  2. This is a real teaser. Interesting characters and setting. Is this the book Muse It Up is pubbing? I am a fellow MIU author writing as J Q Rose.

    Best wishes on your book!

    • Hey Janet,
      Yep, this is the book. I truly understand the “poop” an author has to go through to get a novel published. Not as easy as I thought. But I love it. My favorite interaction is Azin and Boren. These two keep the spice up. Glad to hear from you. Also, what are some of the works you’ve written?
      Take care,
      Nick


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