The beginning of a novel that I have been working on for some time now. It is a fantasy genre and is not polished to perfection by any means. Enjoy, and criticism is welcome!
It was almost nightfall in the forests west of the Hainel Plains. Tark had suffered five ruthless nights alone, huddled next to his puny fire, so as not to attract unwanted attention during the night. Not wanting to undergo another cold night, he had set out in the direction where he knew there were a few caves in a hillside. He knew it was a big risk wandering into a cave where there was sure to be another beast taking refuge from the cold winter nights.
Deciding that the smaller of the two caves would prove safer, he entered with his head held at a slant. The mouth of the cave was only just taller than he was and it did not seem too deep. Upon his third step, he could hear a deep soft hiss from deeper within the cave. Making his way out, rather quickly, he stopped at the entrance and held his short staff, made walking stick, out in front of him defiantly. Finding no response to this gesture, he yells his most menacing battle cry. Being only the age of twelve, it sounded weak and broken.
A minute passed and nothing still. He found a rock behind his left foot and hurled it into the darkness. He heard a grunt, then pattering feet against the stone floor. Bracing himself for the assault he had provoked, he could just make out an outline of a small creature that looked much like a cat but it was hard to tell. As it made its approach it leaped from fifteen feet away and knocked him back. Rolling backwards intertwined with one another, Tark could see clearly now that the beast he had chosen to disturb was a feared, but rather small displacer beast.
It took all his strength to kick and shove the displacer from atop him when they had finally ceased tumbling. He got to his feet as fast he could but the beast was already diving in for another attack. Thinking quickly, he crouched and rolled to his left just as the displacer was in claw range from his right arm. Not fast enough; the beast had landed one two inch claw deep into his forearm. It made such a large cut in his flesh that he winced as he came to his feet again. His mind and body in survival mode, he paid it no mind for now. He switched his grip on his weapon from his right to his left. The beast and Tark were now staring into the eyes of the other, both waiting to see what the others move would be.
Tark waited patiently for the other worldly cat to leap once more. His walking stick came to a point at one end and he would make use of it if the beast came forward.
Off to his left, Tark thought he saw movement, but he was too focused on the assault before him to pay it any heed. The displacer leaped into the air, almost coming at a downward angle, ready to finish his quarry off. Tark half sat, half rolled back and pointed his staff toward the creature.
It swatted away his attempt with one of its many tendrils. Tark thought he was a goner, as an eruption of earth below him swarmed up and held the cat suspended a half a foot away from his bare face. Its claws and mouth open and wanting, it screeched a terrible cry as it squirmed entangled in brambles and vines.
Not wondering how or what had come to his rescue, he moved out from under the beast clutching his arm to his chest. Bleeding profusely, it throbbed with pain.
“What business have you with taking on such a beast? You seem barely fit to travel, much less hassle a displacer.” A deep raspy voice said from Tark’s left among the shrubs.
“Whose there?” Tark asks sheepishly. Tark had not known his parents really at all, but if there was one lesson they had taught him, it was that the world was cruel and selfish.
“I believe I asked you first, young one. Have you no manners?”
“I’m sorry, sir. I have been on my own for nearly a week now. I do owe you a thank you. So thank you.”
Showing himself for the first time, he emerged from the brush. A tall figure about six foot and clothed in a tunic of a woodsy material that hung down below his belt. No shoes and a staff the same height as he. Deer hide breeches snug to his body and a dark green opal dangled from around his neck. “So young man, is your arm hurt bad? Give it here.”
Tark was reluctant at first but being fatigued as he was and hurting, he gave in and let the man have his arm.
The man closed his eyes and held his hand over Tark’s wound. Tark watched in amazement as a dark green light dimly hung under his hand. His hurt forearm went from throbbing to right-as-rain in a matter of seconds. “That was amazing! Can you teach me to do that?”
“I guess I could if I really wanted to. Now what is your name boy?”
“Tark, sir. Might I ask yours?”
“Belhmor the Druid. Now have you lived in the forest the entirety of your living alone?”
“So you are familiar with some of the forest and its creatures I take it?”
“Yes some of the creatures and a little of the forest. So will you teach me how to be a Druit, or whatever you said you were?”
Taking a second to consider this question, Belhmor falls into consideration that he has no children and being the rusty age of fifty five, has little time to spare in leaving something in this world that will reflect his existence. “Ok, it will not be easy, but if you are willing, then I will teach you as much as you can learn as fast as you can learn it. I saw most of your battle with the displacer beast, so I see that you are quick on your feet, nearly. That will come in handy. Speaking of the beast, your first lesson begins here and now. The beast is not dead, just mortally wounded. So you must learn how to take a life with your own hands.”
“Uh, I have to kill it? I have never killed anything before…”
“If you are going to learn the ways of the Druid then you will have to come to peace with the fact that one life must be taken for another’s to go on. You must never kill in anger or grief. Only in self defense, for survival of yourself or a loved one, or for a cause that you, and only you, deem just. Now a quick blow to the head of the beast should finish him off.”
“I thought you said not to kill unless it was for a good cause or survival?”
“Is it not a just cause to end a dying creature’s pain quickly?”
Tark was hesitant, but Belhmor’s words echoed in his ears as truth. He picked up his staff and with as much strength as he could muster, came down on the displacer beasts head.