Friday, February 5, 2016

The Ruby Helmet Excerpt I

Chapter 3
            Everywhere upon the cold stone floor of the cave were piles of human bones.  A large, dark figure slowly picked its way over the grisly remains.  It moved silently, searching for the beast that lived there.  The beast had wrought terrible devastation and brought great loss to the surrounding area.
            A foul, putrid stench of death and decay emanated from deep within the dark, dank catacombs in which the figure now transverse.  The smell caused the figure to reel with disgust.  Knowing the awful power of its enemy however, the figure shook its head to try and clear it so it could continue on.  This caused its long dark hair to shimmer slightly in the dim light.  Reflections flickered across the silvery, well-worn ornamental helmet it wore.
            The figure’s upper body was covered in plate mail armor.  It glittered faintly from the few thin beams of light that filtered down into the mouth of the cavern.  The figure’s dark leather breaches and soft, high riding leather boots barely made a sound as it softly padded its way toward the ominous entrance to another, larger cavern.
            In the figure’s strong muscular hands it held a large, heavy, double bladed battleaxe.  The axe was made of the finest steel crafted by dwarven blacksmiths in the Timgranok Mountains.  The axe shone with a faint, slightly visible silver glow.  This gave it an eerie appearance in the darkness.
            The figure’s presence in the cavern was not a natural one.  Rats scurried before it as it worked its way toward the next room.  The beast within the cavern was waiting, knowing full well that a victim had entered its lair.  It waited hungrily for its enemy in the comfort of its own home, confident that it would be feasting well this night.
            Rakkon knew full well the extent of the situation that he had gotten himself into.  He moved forward cautiously, listening strenuously for any sign of the beast he knew to be lying in wait.
While traveling south to join King Tredebould’s growing mercenary army in the ongoing war of the Creahaul, Rakkon had been talked in to ridding a small town named Caerloon of a vicious reptilian killer that had been preying upon the town’s inhabitants.  The creature crashed its way into homes late at night and dragged its victims off into the nearby mountains.  It had left many bloody trails and screaming on many a night.  Rakkon had agreed to do the dangerous task, for a small fee of course.  He was always glad to help others in a time of need, especially if there was a profit to be made.
            Rakkon was a warrior, born and bred.  He grew up in the Anarest Mountains in the barbarian warrior clans of the Teargor people.  He was first among his clan in battle prowess and in war knowledge.  He had decided to leave his people when he had become bored.  Most of the people back home were at peace, so the only fighting was between his kin.  Rakkon had set out for the kingdoms of the South, seeking adventure and wealth.
He continued to move forward slowly, listening for any sound that might give the creature away, or give him some kind of advantage over it.  He had trailed the beast from where it had made its last kill. It had taken a small farm family in a house just outside of the town.  The trail of blood and entrails was not too difficult to follow, especially in the bright moonlight.  It had led right up to the mouth of the cave that served as its lair.
            Rakkon moved to the left of the large cavern entrance and stopped suddenly, standing very still.  There was a faint rasping noise like sandpaper being rubbed over rough wood.  The sound was coming from directly ahead and to the right of the chamber.  He strained his eyes and could just make out the moonlight faintly reflecting off of hardened, leathery scales.
             Rakkon edged his way forward, and prepared himself.  He reached deep within himself for the place of the warrior, bringing forth the inner being that one sought when entering into combat.  It was the part that showed no mercy, and knew only the power and surge of battle.  He reached down into his muscles, sinew and bones.  Power flowed out of him into the cold, hard steel that he held in his hand.
            Rakkon reached down into a pouch that hung from his thick, black sword belt.  He withdrew a small round object.  It was smooth and spherical, about the size of a dove’s egg.  The object was pale white in color.
            He turned his head away from the direction of the beast, then drew his arm back and threw the small sphere toward it.  The sphere spun toward the large reptile and exploded upon impact.  It released a powerful blast that produced a large ball of bright, white light that seemed to cling to the face of the reptile.
            Rakkon quickly attacked what he could now see was a large pseudo-dragon.  Pseudo-dragons were winged beasts made of pure hatred.  An evil created out of total darkness.  They came from a time when evil ran rampant over the world, many centuries ago.  Evidently, many of these creatures still survived, plaguing all of the humanoid races, good and evil alike.
            Pseudo-dragons were one of the toughest of the smaller dragon types to kill.  This one was about fifteen feet long from snout to tail tip.  It had two wickedly curved feet with sharp talons, a set of small leathery wings, and a poison tipped tail that was razor sharp.  It bared sharp, ivory teeth that could rip a man’s head off in one bite.  Upon seeing the deadly creature, Rakkon knew he faced an extremely dangerous foe.
            He took full advantage of the dragon’s momentary blindness, and dove in on its right side, seeking a vulnerable spot on the underside of its soft underbelly.  Rakkon knew that attacking the monster’s rough scaly outer hide would have taken too long, even with his enchanted blade.  He would not be able to avoid the deadly spiked tail for very long.
            He came in fast, quicker than most would have believed for a man of his size.  He ducked under one of the dragon’s flailing wings and came in with a vicious cut to the beast’s upper chest.  Rakkon attacked as it reared up while trying to fight off the light that had momentarily blinded it.
            Fortunately his attack was true to its mark.  It opened up a terrible wound in the monster’s chest.  This caused it to bellow with a loud roar of pain and fury.  It had never been so easily thwarted.  The cut itself gushed out a thick, warm, green ooze. The ooze stung and burned Rakkon’s skin wherever it touched him.
            The reptile swung around toward the source of its agony and lashed out with one of its large talons.  Its attack cut a vicious arc in the air right in front of Rakkon’s face.  It caught him with a glancing blow to the side of his helmet. The attack left a large gash in it.  The blow sent Rakkon reeling back, toward the cave wall.  He stumbled on a stalactite and lost his balance, toppling to the cave floor.
             Rakkon barely noticed the follow-up attack of the beast’s deadly tail.  It had come around, just missing pinning him to the wall.  It would have ended his short, adventurous career.  His fall had inadvertently saved his life.
            He quickly rolled to one side and came up swinging.  He aimed a powerful uppercut to the beast’s exposed neck.  The monster had closed in on him, hoping to finish off the vile human that had so painfully wounded it.  It had expected Rakkon to be knocked unconscious from the crushing blow it had landed on his helmet.
            With almost superhuman speed, Rakkon sliced the monster’s neck from ear to scaly ear.  In finishing through with its bull like charge, the dragon bowled Rakkon over even as he was ending its life.  It threw him into the cave wall once again.
            The beast thrashed about and crashed onto the floor of the cavern.  It went through its final throes, dying just as violently as it had lived. 
The Ruby Helmet is available online to purchase in eBook or 5x8 paperback.

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