Everman stepped into a world that was not his own, a world which hell had consumed. He stood, looking about with the wide-eyed curiosity of a newborn, thrust for the first time into a strange and frightful new world. He stood slack jawed, his arms hanging limp at his sides. At the sight, he was left without thought, without speech, without even a breath until the ache of his lungs reminded his brain of that essential function.
The soldier’s barracks was contained within the massive castle. Past a single short corridor, built near the king’s chambers for his own protection, the barracks was a series of lengthy rooms linked together. Together they held enough cots and shelving for every soldier in the employ of the city. Massive hearths, now standing cold and empty, kept warm the entire barracks during the cold season. A hundred torches, set at intervals along the walls, lit the living area and the arching wooden ceiling above. Rugs and pelts of the local wildlife adorned the walls and flooring, providing much-needed shielding against the seeping cold of the stone floor.
Velius worked in a frenzy, dumping out all his possessions from his pack as the nearby crowd, drunk with blood lust, screamed for slaughter. The lunatic chanting of 'Death to the Savages' pounded rhythmically through his head like the beating of a dull, rusty nail. Forcing himself to concentrate as best he could, he prepped his mind with instructions for the task ahead, taking inventory of all he had brought. Never did he think he would have to be using these ingredients so soon, or in this manner.
For Hazel, the unfortunate foxkin caught in bondage at the city's center, the dawn brought despair. Her head and fore paws were locked in a stockade, captured between two heavy wooden planks and a thick iron padlock. She was being held in the cobblestone marketplace at the heart of town, where the townsfolk had only just begun to trickle in with the rising sun. They conducted their business, heedless of her suffering, gathering their needed wares, affording the Savage as wide a berth as possible. They either looked down at her with cold disdain, or purposefully avoided her gaze.
Freedom was an odd notion, slow to realize and identify. The idea penetrated them like a morning fog, slow and gradual but thick and obscuring at its peak before being burnt away by the morning sun. For Fayre and Portia, it was both a blessing they didn't realize and a curse they didn't believe.
The dawn broke over the land gradually. The youngest felinekin watched as the reach of the sun extended inch by slow inch over the meadow, creeping ever closer both across the long wind-blown grasses and down the reaching boughs of the trees above.
Caleb Everman crouched down behind the tall grasses, keeping a close eye on the enemy encampment just ahead. Around him were some of the bravest soldiers he knew.
To his left, Gabriel knelt behind a bush, an excited grin on his face and an easy confidence about him. His blade was drawn halfway out of its sheath as he waited, anxious to begin the attack. And he would take out many of their numbers, Everman knew. Gabriel was one of the best swordsmen fighting under the banner of the Unicorn.
I've never grasped religion as an art quite as well as my station would have commanded. Take, for instance, those followers of Rygecroft, sentinels of the White Hand; self-proclaimed purists, ridding the known world of imperfection and deviance. Their goal is nothing less noble than preserving the world for the best and brightest, the strongest, the noblest, and the most righteous. Their humble intent was to do nothing more than encourage natural selection, weeding out the lesser so that the strong may thrive.
“Son of a bitch! It worked!”
“Did you expect it not to? You're the one that's been telling us that this damned thing would work from the beginning!”
“I did? I did! Well then, goddamn right it works! I told you this damned thing would work, didn't I?”
Thornton Vance, the imposing and eternally disgruntled Mr. Vance, leaned back in his over-sized office chair, causing it to groan loudly under his immense weight. He wove his fingers together and settled his wide chins on top of them whilst glaring daggers at Mr. Farr. Mr. Farr, in turn, furrowed his bushy gray eyebrows together and flipped his employer the bird.
The walking tin cans escorting him created a cacophony of clanking metal with every footfall, but even over top of their merciless clatter, the enormous bullkin heard coming trouble. Everley swung his massive head from side to side, ears twitching busily, muzzle snorting, sampling the air. He stopped in his tracks, the heavy iron shackles tightening above his large paws and hooves. The thick collar constrained his neck, pulling fur and biting flesh.
C Withey here. What you see here is the prologue to my novel entitled Everman and Uriel, the first and entirely finished novel of my creation. Compared to what I've done in the past, it's hefty, weighing in at 66 thousand words. Once I have the funding, I will seek appropriate representation for it and get it bound in paper and set in place along side the millions of other books 'like' it.
I post it here as a treat to the people of Oort-Cloud, for this is the one work I'm most fond of, the crown jewel of my meager collection.