So I was rummaging about on my newest thumb drive to figure out what was on it, and I stumbled across something I began right before National Novel Writing Month last year (November 2012), as kind of the prologue to the story I intended to write for it. I actually remember sitting in the upstairs break room at the greenhouse where I worked, on my last fifteen minute break of the day, toward the end of the season--the longest I'd ever worked there--and scribbling this down on a seed company's notepad. Given they wound up keeping me into November, I didn't wind up actually taking part in NaNoWriMo 2012. But this still remains, and I may eventually do something with it. It's not even a complete scene, because that was all I could write in fifteen minutes by hand. Had it been on computer, I would've been faster and gotten more down.
He woke to darkness and the sounds of unbridled chaos around him. The darkness he knew; those possessing magic of any strength were born blind. Chaos, too, had become intimately familiar over the span of…how long now? Days? Weeks? It had become a companion following his abduction by mage hunters in Nordren, along with their palpable hatred and the abuses they eagerly supplied. He’d never caused trouble, nor had he heard of the fanatics who had taken him. Judging from the agonized screams he had heard over the span of his imprisonment, he wasn’t their first victim.
The chaos he heard now was of a different sort, one that told him he was one of their last.
The sounds were not of torture or beatings or misery, but of the sharp clash of steel on steel, arrows thudding, and battle cries. His captors had become the victims of someone else.
And it appeared they were just as helpless against this sudden threat as he and his fellows were against them. He almost felt sorry for them.
He had become familiar with the sounds of combat from time spent on
practice fields. As a boy, he’d been
drawn to the Guard as they ran through drills.
He knew from sound alone the skill of a combatant. This group—there were too many, friend and
foe, to distinguish the number of the attacking party—were not battle masters,
but they were certainly well-trained and worked as a cohesive unit. Fort Nordren
The din abruptly died down, the lull filled with heavy breathing and the shifting of weight. He could smell the thick coppery tang of spilled blood, and the sharp taint of ozone that suggested at least one of the newcomers was a mage.
“That’s the last of them,” one of them said into the quiet—a male. His statement was followed by the sound of a blade being flicked clean of blood and homed.
“Anyone hurt?” The second speaker was a woman.
A chorus of noncommittal grunts and denials answered her as more weapons were sheathed. He counted no more than six.
“Dorr, Ranvel, check the cells for survivors,” the first voice said. “Find any more of these fools—” the sound of a boot striking flesh “—kill them.”
“None deserve it more,” another voice, another male, answered. His tone was deeper and held gravel compared to the first’s.
“Just be quick and clean,” the first said with a heavy sigh of familiarity of the second male’s habits. “We’re not like them. Don’t string it out.”
“Should,” the second male stated. “Only fitting.”
“Eye for an eye and everyone would be blind,” the woman spoke again. “Or, in your case, Dorr, dead.”
The second male, Dorr, grunted and tromped away; from his heavy tread, he had to be a big man. He was followed by a lighter but still heavy series of footfalls.
The woman sighed. “Should I go with him and talk him down?”
“No. He may like warmongering, but he’ll obey orders.”
“He’s right, you know, peace-keeper,” a new voice, another male, stated. His voice was as grating as the one called Dorr’s. “Don’t pretend you believe otherwise.”
She did not reply to his barb.
“What about that one?” the first male asked. “He dead too?”
Fingers touched his throat; surprised, he flinched. He’d not heard anyone approach.
“No.” The voice belonged to the one who called the woman a peace-keeper. “That can be remedied, if you wish.”
“Galen, stop.” The woman, again, this time with steel in her voice. “Look at him—he’s shivering.”
“He’s a mage,” the first said. “Probably one of those taken from Nordren or Galar.”
“Not a good sign,” the woman agreed. “Doesn’t bode well if the cult has spread this far.”
“Cult?” he could barely rasp out the word through the rawness of his throat; he hadn’t been able to scream in a long time. The voice that came out couldn’t be his own.
“Galen, check him over. Make sure they didn’t do something irreversible.”
Galen grunted and he felt strong hands run over him, expertly checking for broken bones and internal injuries.
“Got a name?” Galen asked while he worked.
“What kind of a name is that? Sounds like a sneeze.”
He tried again. “Jason…Vash.”
Galen snorted. “Still sounds ugly.”
“Galen!” The woman didn’t sound amused.