© 2013 Matt Howerter and Jon Reinke. All Rights Reserved.
This is our first stab at putting a story on the Internet for everyone to read. We hope you enjoy it.
We will release a chapter every week for the next few months, but ultimately, our goal is to place the full story on Amazon (the full story being 3 novels and 4 novellas). Comments are welcome, thanks for reading.
Oh, one more thing. The first few pages have been edited by a professional, the rest is just us.
“Are ya sure ya saw what ya saw?” Danin asked, not taking his eyes off the thatched rooftops billowing smoke into the evening sky. “I’ll not be hearin’ no tales, boy.”
“Aye, Danin. It was like nothin’ I ever seen before. It was big and moved too fast,” Corwin sputtered, his eyes so wide the whites could be seen from a distance.
“Calm yerself. It’s nothin’ but a wild animal. The mind plays tricks when yer in the heat of it.”
“It wasn’t no animal, Danin. I swear,” Corwin said, his voice rising to a high pitch. “John saw it, too. He knows. He saw!”
John figured it would come to him to give a fair account. He was older than Corwin and expected to keep his head on straight. But the fact was, he couldn’t. It wasn’t every day that whispered rumors took flesh and rampaged beyond the realm of other men’s whiskey-slurred fears. “Don’t know, Danin. I only saw a glimpse. Duhann’s apprentice was torn real bad though. There was blood everywhere, and he weren’t movin’.”
Danin scratched his chin and looked back toward town. “Well, I guess we need to go down and sort it out.”
The tightness in John’s shoulders eased a bit at the older man’s casual confidence. Danin was well respected by the townsfolk after all, and he had been in the Basinian army for many years before becoming a farmer. John had witnessed Danin defend the town from brigands a few years back, leaving no doubts about the retired soldier knowing his way around a weapon. And the way Danin carried the scythe in his hands gave John the impression the simple tool would be as effective as any sword.
“I’m not goin’ back down there!” Corwin began to shake as tears rolled down his cheeks.
Danin’s voice was stern, not cruel. “Look, there’s nothing for it. Our families are down there, and ya don’t leave family in a lurch, understand?” He knelt to look Corwin in his swollen eyes. “Ya can’t run, boy. We’ll just go down and sort it out. I’m not too bad with this thing, ya know.” Danin smiled and shook the scythe slightly with one hand, then softly patted Corwin on the shoulder.
“Oh, okay, Danin.” Corwin sniffled. Large, shiny tears still ran down his cheeks, but he did his best to wipe them away.
John looked down at the burning hamlet with dread. He had seen dead people before, but it was days after they’d perished and nothing so gruesome. Thomas had been... shredded. The smithy’s apprentice was a big man. How he had gone down so quickly John couldn’t fathom, but Corwin was right. The beast that attacked was fast. John hadn’t even gotten a good look at the thing, and he had been no more than twenty feet away when it tore Thomas apart.
An eerie howl pierced the evening calm. Danin turned toward town, and Corwin froze like a stream in the dead of winter.
John shivered as a chill went down his spine. He’d never heard a sound like that before, and being a country boy, he’d heard plenty of strange things in the night hours before dawn, but that sound was different. There was a mourning hunger to it that promised the worst terrors he could imagine.
The horrible wailing faded with the light from the falling sun, summoning thoughts of all things dark and terrible. John wrung his hands and looked at Danin. “What kinda animal makes that sound?”
“Don’t know. Reckon we’ll find out.” Danin slowly got to his feet and stood looking upon their burning homes. A deep frown made its way across Danin’s face. What the older man was thinking John couldn’t say, but when they locked eyes for a brief moment, John saw fear.
Danin tightened the grip on his scythe and started walking down the dark hill toward town.
John took hold of Corwin and dragged him along. “It’ll be all right. Everything's gonna to be all right,” John said, though he didn’t believe a word of it.