Read The Book of Deacon: Book 03 - The Battle of Verril Online

Authors: Joseph Lallo

Tags: #Fantasy, #Epic, #Magic, #warrior, #the book of deacon, #epic fantasy series

The Book of Deacon: Book 03 - The Battle of Verril

BOOK: The Book of Deacon: Book 03 - The Battle of Verril
3.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

The Battle of Verril

 

Joseph R. Lallo

 

Smashwords Edition

 

Copyright 2011 Joseph R. Lallo

 

Cover By Nick Deligaris

http://www.deligaris.com

 

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you
share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it,
or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return
to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.

###

Chronicling the tale of the Chosen is a
monumental task, and one that cannot and must not remain half done.
If you have read the volumes already written, then you know well
the trials that heroes must face. Already there have been triumphs
and there have been tragedies. Friends and allies have been pulled
from the jaws of doom, while others have not been so fortunate.
Despite these adventures, the truest tests of the Chosen still
remain to be told. With these final pages, I shall set that
right.

To do so I must begin where my last account
ended. Myranda, a young and dedicated wizard, had returned.
Believed dead by the other Chosen, she swept in to snatch her
friends from defeat. When all had been brought to safety, and for a
moment things seemed calm, she agreed to share the events of her
absence. They begin where the others believed that Myranda's life
had ended, in the lowest level of the personal menagerie of Demont,
a general of the Northern Alliance. The devilish structure, filled
with nightmarish creatures, was quickly consuming itself in out of
control flames. She held the burning fort together with the
strength of her will until she felt her friends had escaped, then
relented, ready for the whole of the structure to collapse upon
her, ready for fate to claim her. Fate, it seems, had other
plans.

#

The boards beneath Myranda's feet gave way
just as the remaining ceiling over her head did the same. The
wizard dropped down into some sort of recess into the floor.
Scrambling backwards away from the very fort that was coming down
on top of her, Myranda’s desperate hands found their way to a metal
handle. It was attached to a low door seemingly carved into the
stone of the ground. With moments to spare she pulled it open and
dragged herself into the blackness beyond. The roar of the
structure collapsing on itself rumbled all around her as she clawed
her way down the pitch black tunnel. As she did, the rumble became
more muffled, debris settling in above her. She pushed aside the
thought that it was burying her alive. So, too, did she ignore the
concerns of what this place was or what she might find here. The
only thought on her mind was survival. Get away from the fire, from
the collapse. The rest could wait.

The fire had taken a greater toll on her legs
than she had realized, as several attempts to stand failed. The
sound of buckling stone behind her convinced her that it was better
to crawl now than to die trying to walk. The smoke from the
smoldering debris that had tumbled in behind her continued to burn
at her lungs as she crept every inch of distance her body could
offer before collapsing. The rumble and roar drifted away as
Myranda's body finally reached its limit.

Perhaps hours, perhaps days later, Myranda's
eyes opened to the blackness. The smoke no longer stung at her, but
the air was stifling and stale. She coughed and sputtered as she
rolled to her back. A sharp pain prompted her to pull something
free that had jabbed her in the shoulder blade. As wakefulness
fully returned to her, the stillness permitted the concerns she’d
brushed away to rush back in. What was this place? If the monstrous
creations she'd seen inside the fort were any indication, she
shuddered to think of what kind of beasts might be kept in the
catacombs beneath. In darkness such as this, her eyes may as well
have been closed. Desperate for some form of information, she
listened. Nothing. The silence was eerie, oppressive, and complete.
Her nose and tongue told only of the acrid residue left from the
burning wood, so she was left with touch alone. What it told her
confused her.

The floor was . . . tile. A mosaic of it, she
felt, and skillfully made. She rolled to her stomach again and felt
for the wall. It too was of the same intricate tile. Then her
fingers came to something smooth, like a strip of metal or glass
along the wall. As she ran her fingers against it, there was a
white-blue ember of light that silently faded in, terrifying her at
first. But as the soft glow of it spread along the strip, splitting
and winding across what revealed itself to be an arched ceiling,
she realized that she sensed nothing powerful, threatening, or
purposeful behind the light. It must have been added simply to
illuminate the walkway. Bathed in the glow of the curling ribbon of
light that swept and wound its way down the tunnel, she caught her
first glimpse of what she'd been feeling.

It was indeed a mosaic; one that seamlessly
sprawled across every surface of the tunnel, spreading backward as
far as the caved in ceiling behind her, and onward into the depths
of the tunnel, further than her dry red eyes could see. Irregularly
shaped pieces of white and black tile gathered together into forms.
Some forms seemed to be composed of the black tiles, others of the
white, such that every inch of the masterpiece was some part of a
creature, interlocked and entwined like pieces of a puzzle, locked
in some struggle or dance. The beasts depicted varied greatly, from
horses, birds, dragons, and other creatures she knew, to beasts
that had no eyes, no legs, nothing that she knew a creature should
have. And yet, she knew that a beast it was, that somewhere this
completely alien form lived.

With considerable effort, she raised herself
to her badly burned legs. Next to where she had been laying, the
object that had jabbed her in the back was revealed to be the
broken head off of her staff. The rest was nowhere in sight. She
scooped it up, immediately wishing it was whole again, as she badly
needed something to lean on, but for now the wall would have to
suffice. As she moved painfully down the tunnel, the images of the
mosaic began to seem more familiar. The creatures that had been
borrowed for Demont's purposes appeared again and again, changing
slightly each time. The dragon she had seen where she awoke began
as white, and as she moved on it appeared again and again, each
time with more black mixed in. Each time more twisted. Finally the
dragoyle was all that remained. Worse, the shape of a man began to
recur, slowly making its way toward the nearmen that she had fought
so often. The images chilled her to the bone. To see something she
knew corrupted so was one thing, but the truly disturbing thing
about it was that each successive form was so subtly changed, she
might not have noticed the shift at all if she hadn't seen them so
close.

Dark concerns about the same thing happening
in the world around her began to emerge in her mind. There were so
many nearmen, fiendish creations that masqueraded as humans. By
now, surely the bulk of the army was composed of them. Yet she had
only learned of their existence so recently. Did the other soldiers
not realize? Did they not care? What other parts of her world were
being twisted before her eyes so gradually that she was blind to
the change? What were these other creatures? Before long the
burning in her mind was as unbearable as the burning in her legs.
Ahead, a door approached. She hurried as best she could toward
it.

When she had reached the door, Myranda
paused. It bore no lock, no markings. Nothing secured it at all. It
was not the way of the D'karon, her enemy, to be so careless.
Something was on the other side of the door, something secret
enough to bury it deep underground. Surely there was some measure
in place to protect it. Of course, none of that mattered. The way
behind was blocked. The only choice was to go forward.

Carefully, cautiously, Myranda pushed the
door open. The instant that she did, all of the light behind her
vanished. A warmer, orange-yellow light like that of a torch took
its place. The room before her illuminated. It took no more than a
glance to guess who owned this place. Just as in the laboratory
that had fallen behind her, the room was immaculately kept. Thin,
leather-bound books lined shelves along the wall in neat little
rows. Sketches of this creature or that were pinned to boards and
hung with care. A cabinet stood, filled with vials labeled in a
placeless language. Everywhere, sheets of paper neatly lettered
with the same unnatural runes sat in meticulous piles or organized
files. If the fort above had been the laboratory of General Demont,
craftsman of the horrid creatures, then this must have been his
study.

If it were another time she might have been
fascinated by it all, but she was weary, wounded, and certain that
if she remained in this place, she would be discovered. The room
was not a large one, and there was but one other door. Best of all,
a telltale draft whistling beneath it told her that beyond it lie
the outside. Without the wall to support her, Myranda had
difficulty navigating the room. She paused briefly to attempt a
spell to heal at least some of her injuries. It was a futile
gesture. The strength spent holding the fort together long enough
for her friends to escape would take days, perhaps weeks to
recover, and this was no place to rest. The best she could hope for
was to reach her friends. With them by her side she could at least
rest knowing that she would not face the next threat alone. If she
was to join them again, she would have to hurry.

When she reached the door, again she found no
security to speak of. She sensed no magic protecting it, though her
recent ordeal had dulled her mind at least as much as it had her
other senses. She pulled open the door and stepped outside, into
the icy wind and biting cold of the north. Out of the corner of her
eye she saw a flash of light as she crossed the threshold. The door
jerked shut behind her. She threw herself against it, hoping to
stop it from shutting tight, but the force of the slam threw her to
the ground. She placed her hands on the frozen ground and tried to
stand. A clicking sound on either side of the door that had ejected
her drew her attention. Two alcoves, one on each side of the door,
slid open. From each recess strode a beast that only could have
come from Demont's twisted mind.

The creatures were long and lithe, their
bodies not unlike that of a panther. The head, though, looked at
best like a collection of cutlery grafted onto the beast. Two pairs
of great serrated mandibles clacked together menacingly in the
place where a face should have been. A jagged, blade-like horn
jutted from the “forehead” of the creature, though the lack of
eyes, ears, or anything else that a creature should have robbed the
area of any resemblance to a head. Cutting edges ran like stripes
along the creature's hide. The beasts could not truly
look
at her, but each most certainly had its formidable weaponry pointed
in her direction.

Desperation and fear momentarily allowed her
to ignore the state of her legs and she lunged aside as the first
beast dove at her. The second galloped off, away from the door. As
Myranda rolled to her knees and tried to stand once more, the beast
quickly recovered from its missed attack. The two creatures moved
as quickly and surely as the cats their form had been cruelly
adapted from, and it was mere moments before the first creature was
ready for a second attack. The second creature had put a fair
amount of distance between them, and now turned, bursting quickly
into a full sprint.

Myranda gathered together the frayed remains
of her mind and threw up a meager defense. A pulse of mystic energy
phased the nearest creature only slightly as she sidled over to the
door and heaved herself against it. It would not budge. She turned
her eyes to the nameless beast that faced her. Jagged, unnatural
blades clacked expectantly. The hero's broken staff was raised, but
it was a futile gesture. Her spirit was drained. Defeat was at
hand. What little strength her aching body could offer was poised
to make the victory a costly one. The hair on the back of her neck
stood up. Her heart pounded in her ears. As it had so often before
in the heat of battle, time seemed to slow to a crawl. Her mind was
burning with fear. Her skin tingled. With each passing heartbeat
the sensation grew. This was not fear. This was not anticipation.
This was something more.

With a sound like the very fabric of reality
tearing, a slash of light split the air above her, like a bolt of
lightning that stopped in midair. Then another, and another. The
slashes widened as feathery cracks began to spread out from them,
each splitting and cracking finer and finer. In mere moments, what
hung above her was like a thorny wreath of pure white light. She
closed her eyes against the brightness. A distant cry grew suddenly
louder. Even with her eyes shut tight Myranda could see the
brilliant pattern in the air.

BOOK: The Book of Deacon: Book 03 - The Battle of Verril
3.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Age Of Reason by Paine, Thomas
Anabel Unraveled by Amanda Romine Lynch
The Clown Service by Adams, Guy
Primal Instincts by Susan Sizemore
Claiming by Saskia Knight
Reckoning by Kate Cary
Bang: B-Squad Book Two by Avery Flynn
A Nashville Collection by Rachel Hauck