This is a massive fantasy epic I am working on. I am still in early stages so updates may not be hugely frequent.
As the golden sun set behind the Leriand Mountains; the last remaining traces of its glow bathing the land, a chill breeze swept across the wide open plains and into the trees of Melhain Forest, rustling the leaves. The wood had an urban feel to it; the high, barky towers stretching high above the skyline to gaze down upon its denizens. The creatures of the day were settling down for the night, and those that inhabited the darkness were rising to roam their domain. All else was silent. Shadows stretched further forward as the sun continued its descent, their wispy tendrils reaching out to ensnare all in their path.
A movement disturbed the peace. Through the trees, a small party travelled at great speed on horseback. Clad in a long, hooded black cloak; each man was indistinguishable from the next. Their mounts’ coats were either black or brown; a camouflage necessary for stealthy travel.
The leader of the group cradled a bundle in the crook of his arm; clutching tightly to it as he spurred his horse on. Ducking his head to avoid a low hanging branch, he cast a glance back over his shoulder. His four comrades were riding and keeping pace behind him, staying in formation. There was no sign of any pursuit. That worried him - if he could not see those who stalked his party, he could not easily defend against them. He was certain they were being hunted; their theft had not gone unnoticed. Three men had perished already, along with a handful of enemy soldiers. The King would do all in his power to prevent their escape. The object was too powerful and too important for him to lose.
A sliver of dying sunlight came through the dense foliage above. It cast the details of the leader into plain view. He looked to be about six foot, although the horse’s height made it difficult to tell. A smattering of grizzled facial hair covered the lower part of his face, coming to a point on his chin and wrapping around above his upper lip. His face was drawn and gaunt, the skin stretched tight over his high cheekbones. A single scar rested above his left eye; a mark of a battle long past. His comrades saw him as some form of immortal, having survived this long and still retained the will to defy the king. However, the limp in his left leg showed that it was not without consequence. The horrors of his past, the wars he had fought in still haunted him. They invaded both his days and his nights.
“Ronan... we need to get out in the open... we can’t travel fast enough in these trees... the enemy are most likely closing as we speak”.
Ronan agreed... he hated forests... he always felt trapped among the trees. Yet if they broke the cover of the trees... they would be making it easier for the enemy to ambush them. They had to take the chance... they needed to make a quick getaway. A lot depended on their success.
Ronan gave a signal causing the group to swerve to the right and move toward the edge of the forest. There was still no sign of a pursuit which greatly worried Ronan. An enemy you could see was much less threatening than one you could not. What were they planning?
The attack came the moment they broke cover. One moment they were still in formation, next they were surrounded by a troop of foot soldiers. Ronan counted ten. The soldiers broke rank and through the gap stepped a man, wearing a black cloak which was embroidered with red stripes and intricate golden spirals. His flesh was pale, and his eyes were black as pitch. Flanked by two gore wolves; he truly was a menacing sight. Gore Wolves were twice the size of a fully grown male wolf. Their claws were longer, sharper and infinitely more dangerous than that of the wolf, likewise with their teeth. A horn of varying length protruded from the head of each wolf, which they used to gore their prey. Small amounts of magic ran through the veins of these wolves and were also infused in their horns. The man’s name was Miro. He was one of the most evil and powerful men that walked the land. He was the chief necromancer and shadowmage for the King, and he was trained in almost all of the magics in the land.
Ronan and his group formed into a small ring, with Ronan protected in the centre. They readied themselves for battle.
You’re outnumbered Ronan. Just give it back. No one needs to get hurt.
“Why don’t you speak out loud Miro? “
“I enjoy speaking directly to people’s minds. It scares them... confuses them... and it affords some privacy to the conversation”.
“Speaking to my mind won’t scare me, it will just annoy me”.
“If you try to fight us you will lose Ronan. Just hand it over and we will escort you to Paralo, where you will remain until you die; or are sentenced to execution”.
“I will never give this back to you Miro. We know how you plan to use it... we cannot allow it”.
“As you wish”. Miro smiled and stepped back. The soldiers closed in around Ronan’s group, the gore wolves prowled the perimeter. Ronan drew his sword from its scabbard. The blade was long and slender, the edge sharp. He heard the scrape of metal on metal as his four companions drew their swords. One of the surrounding soldiers lunged at Ronan who parried the blow and stabbed the man, dropping him. Before the soldiers closed the gap in the circle, Ronan charged and broke through. Two of his men made it through after him. The other two were trapped by the surrounding soldiers. Miro unleashed one of the wolves on them, and Ronan tried to block out the screams.
They rode at great speed, trying to escape. There was a heavy pounding behind them and Ronan looked back to see Miro riding one of the gore wolves. He was closing on them. Up ahead a cliff came into view and further along, a bridge to cross the chasm. If they could make it across the bridge before Miro caught them, he could destroy it and they could escape. He looked back again and saw that there was no sign of Miro or the wolf.
Just as he turned his head forward again, the wolf burst from the trees on their left and took out one of his men. It ripped the head from his body and slashed his horse open. Ronan and the one remaining man kept riding. Out of the trees in front of them stepped Miro, his lips forming the words of a spell. From his hand shot a blast of black lightning which struck Ronan’s last comrade in the chest, killing him instantly. As Ronan reared his horse the wolf came up behind him and stood, ready to pounce, snarling, and showing rows of sharp fangs. Saliva ran from the corners of its mouth; mixing with the blood from its kills to add to its viscous image.
Miro shot another bolt of lightning at Ronan who deflected it and countered with an orb of blue light. Miro threw up a black shield and the orb diffused through it. Then he raised his arms silently, screamed a spell which ruptured the ground around and under Ronan, tossing it and him up into the air. Ronan and his horse flew through the air and the package sailed from his grasp into Miro’s waiting hands. As Ronan shot over the edge of the cliff, he closed his eyes in disappointment, and plunged down into the watery depths below.