Me again! This is a prologue I wrote, mainly for fun and to experiment with wording and tone. Someday it might be the beginning of a good piece, but for now I figured it would be a nice standalone piece to share with you all. It satisfied an itch I had to write in a particular setting, so if nothing else, if you don’t enjoy it, if I end up ditching the idea, there’s that. That said, I hope you enjoy. And feel free to shoot me some feedback if you didn’t (or did!).
A leaf flew through the air, wrenched from its mother branch by the heralds of the gathering storm. The moaning wind carried it each and every way, flitting in and out of the legions of oak trees. Dark clouds blotted out the sun at the edge of the meadow where the leaf had grown its whole life, the unfortunate passenger carried farther. Farther into the shadows of the deep forest.
Where the branches drooped and the ground was littered with the leaf’s dead comrades, two great mountains rose. Their peaks were barren, spires of unforgiving rock that allowed nothing to grow, blocking the sun from reaching the valley below.
In this lifeless expanse, the leaf came to rest at the base of a tree. Around it, pines and oaks grew jagged, all bending away from the marked trunk. The shadows seemed to thicken about it, the trees withered and rotting, the wind dying away from fear.
Several paces off the ground, the rowan tree’s bark had been permanently scarred. Bark no longer grew around the marks of the antlers, an artifact of a long forgotten menace. The depth of the cuts spoke to the power, to the anger of the buck. It had once served as the marker of his domain, existing at the very heart of his foul kingdom and all those who languished within. Now it stood as the final reminder of the darkness that had reigned over the valley.
Upon the exposed rowan wood, there existed the faintest of scents. Seasons of rain and snow had done their best to erase it, still it clung on. Seasons of sun and wind had attempted to penetrate the veil of black that hung over the glen, but to no avail. The scent was that of rage, of vile scheming and mistrust, of ambition gone rampant. It remained, just as the spirit of Kardika remained.
Kardika of the Shadows. His reign of terror had desecrated the earth before the oldest creatures living today had learned the meaning of fear. Still the land bore the scars of such a vile tyrant. Not a bird was heard singing. The meadows lay desolate, empty and becoming overgrown with shrubs. Most of the streams had run dry long ago, those that still flowed moved silently, their waters dark and murky. Everywhere, shattered bones and remains lay half-buried in the earth, hidden by the layers upon layers of dead pine needles.
Every history sees the rise of dark ones, and the eventual triumph of those compelled to end their evil. Kardika was felled by those that he had oppressed for seasons on end. But once they have fallen, once the hushed tales of their deeds fade into memory, there lies great danger, greater still than the grisly acts that gained him his name as one of the hated and feared of the forest. It is easiest to forget these brutal chapters, but in ignorance the ghosts of the past gain strength. If these sites of darkness are not kept contained, then it is only a matter of time.
So the vengeful spirit roamed his fallen kingdom, waiting patiently. Soon, a foolish creature would stumble upon the Tree, as the reason for the valley’s abandonment was forgotten and the greed for more and more territory grew. Then Kardika would be unleashed upon the world once more. Soon enough.
As an additional treat, and to make up for my two weeks of silence, I’ve thrown up the second chapter of my novel The War of the Rose. You can find it under the tab up top or by following the link, just be sure to scroll down to the “Chapter 2” heading. I mention it now to reward you loyal readers who read this the whole way through, thank you!
This is a big moment for me, since this chapter decided the direction I would alter the overall plot in my second draft. The first half of the book between the two drafts will be the most altered, with the epic climax that ties up the end only polished and refined slightly in the second version (if I ever get that far in editing). You all are my test audience to see if this is a direction worth going, so any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
More chapters will be inbound, so stay tuned! I will post updates on the home page when they’re available.