I decided to take an attempt at writing a prologue for the beginning of a series of novels I am writing, please take a skim through at your leisure and offer any thoughts and/or critiscms that may introduce themselves.
Leo’s gloved hand slowly closed around the familiar handle of his trusty axe; he had cut down many a foe with its curved blade and now it yearned to taste new blood. The battle field before him offered them an abundance of poor morsels to feast upon, the wide open land, flanked by towering grassy hills, was populated by thousands of robed warriors, their skin as pale as death which was fitting as some had been dead for hundreds of years. They were Lost Souls, once human, some men, some women, others children, but now they were nothing more than fodder to Leo and his army.
His army, if one could call it so, consisted of him and three of his peers, each one a small army in themselves but together? Leo almost pitied the thousand strong soldiers that were stalking towards them, only a few hundred feet away, not one of them would survive their afterlife.
He and his precious axe could take them on singlehandedly without breaking a sweat, how his axe longed to meet flesh once more, but his fellow warriors had their part to play in the battle also, if they hoped to win the war they would have to stand united.
To his left, standing as intimately close as possible without touching him, was Anya, the beautiful Amazon, tall and muscular but still very feminine, her beauty was known across the lands of Obscurum, even in the permanent shade of grey that the world around them found itself engulfed in, Anya’s light shone like a beacon across every plain and over every mountain. One of her gauntlet covered hands floated around Leo’s empty one, as though torn as to whether or not she should clasp it tightly in her own while her other hand was raised, the silver hilt of her sword shining through her fingers. Just less than a metre away was Leo’s other two comrades, Freya the Elf and Azarus the Wizard.
Freya stood, stoic and perceptive, surveying the scene before her with her keen senses, her bow quivered with excitement in her hand as she began to take mental shots at the targets ahead. They had stopped their slow march towards the four and were still over two hundred feet away, she could take the first three hundred out with her eyes closed. Azarus sat cross-legged next to Freya, hovering just inches above the dewy grass, his golden robe brushing the ground in the wind. His eyes were closed but he was the only one of the four to be speaking, muttering many incantations under his breath at breakneck speed so that the complicated Latin was even less decipherable, especially to Leo who had a limited vocabulary already.
“How many?” Leo heard the deep and heavily accented voice of Anya ask, he listened for Freya’s reply.
“At least seven thousand,” she sounded bored, “that I can see anyway,” she added, hopeful that another seven thousand was just over the horizon.
“Azarus?” Anya swung her sword, testing its power against the wind.
“Do not interrupt,” Leo said sternly, watching the wise man with the olive skin babble away, “magic powerful, dangerous if broken,” he nodded to Anya who left Azarus to his spells.
“Only seven thousand?” Anya repeated, running a finger around the sapphires encrusted in the hilt of her sword, “this is going to be easy,” she smirked, Leo seconded that sentiment with a raising of his axe as Azarus put his feet to solid ground.
“The spell is cast,” he spoke softly, his voice no louder than a whisper but magnified in a way that emanated his power in even his voice, Leo both feared and respected the man, despite being twice his height and breadth, Azarus’ mystical energy spoke volumes to Leo who knew to never question a wizards power.
“Just what were you doing?” Freya asked, where Leo respected Azarus’ power Freya looked scornfully down at the ‘glorified magician’, she had nothing but doubts when it came to spells and witchcraft.
“An enhancement spell,” Azarus explained, “our vision will remain clear throughout the battle no matter the spells that they may have cast themselves,” Freya pulled an arrow from her forest green quiver as she rolled her eyes. Leo and Anya raised their weapons as there was sudden movement ahead of them, it started as a ripple in a small pond before erupting into a tidal wave across the ocean of Lost Souls. As one the army marched towards the small mound that the four were perched on, each of them raising their respective weapons ready for the oncoming slaughter.
The battle was intense. The Lost Souls had long lost the ability to feel or cry but the air filled with the sounds of their silent torture as blow after blow rained down upon them with a cruel vengeance. Leo and Anya had managed to charge their way through the ranks and now stood, back to back, surrounded by armed but less than dangerous foes that took it in turns to step up for an evisceration at the hands of Leo’s axe or Anya’s blade. Azarus had performed another feat of incredible magic and had manipulated the land beneath himself and Freya, raising the pair several metres above the battlefield atop a column of soil. With a birds eye view, the pair were striking down enemies out of harms reach, aiding Leo and Anya as much as they could. Balls of fiery magma and piercing arrows flew through the air, at times knocking away enemies that Leo was seconds away from striking. Although they were aiding him, Leo wished they would cease stealing his kills.
The cries and grunts fell only from Leo and Anya’s mouths as their muscles rejoiced at the workout, they had probably only cut down around a thousand by now, not taking into account the five or maybe six hundred that the aerial assault team were taking on. Leo chanced at brief glance at his comrades and realised that some of the more nimble Lost Souls had begun scaling the soil column, using their daggers as climbing tools.
“Anya!” Leo bellowed as he begun battling his way through the mob, knowing that Anya was keeping his back clear. Freya and Azarus were yet to realise that their secure position was about to be compromised.
With a ferocious grunt, Leo planted his feet and kicked off the solid ground with the strength with which he dealt his blows, firing himself into the air and crashing into the hard pillar.
He was winded for perhaps a second before he dug his hand into a clump of soil, he hung his axe on the holster at his waist as he began his own ascent. Dirt and small stones flew into his mouth as he let out small roars of motivation to himself as Anya took point at the base of the pillar, stopping any more Lost Souls from clambering up after the others.
After a few seconds Leo found himself gripping the ice cold flesh of one of his foes and with the slightest of yanks sent him plummeting to the ground below. He was torn from his second of enjoyment at the sight of the falling figure by a cry from above.
“Azarus!” Freya’s cry came just a millisecond before the rough dirt in Leo’s hands crumbled into nothingness and he found himself with nowhere to go but down. The sound as the earth crumbled around them was thunderous and matched only in volume by the yells from Freya who had the farthest to fall alongside the unconscious Azarus.
Anya was able to dive out of the way of the falling debris and bodies, leaving her to only watch as her allies and her enemies hit the ground with a sickening thud. Although there were still many adversaries around her to battle, at the breaking of Azarus’ spell the whole world seemed to pause, the Lost Souls not already among the fallen stood dormant around the fallen heroes and Anya who had also frozen, choosing not to strike a stationary opponent. From behind her she heard the groans of her comrades and she stepped backwards to aid them back to their feet, her blade pointed towards the closer Lost Souls in case someone decided to restart the fight once more.
“What has happened?” Freya grumbled, pointing her bow and arrow warningly at the Lost Souls, angered by their lack of reaction.
“What magic is this?” Leo demanded from Azarus, the unexpected pain in his back coming out in his voice.
“None of mine,” the waning wizard said as Anya pulled him to his feet with one hand, “perhaps,” Azarus stopped and seemed to think for a moment but his thought came out of Anya’s mouth.
“The Goddess!” She gasped with only the slightest amount of what Leo considered fear to sound like and rightfully so. If the Goddess herself was to make her presence known, the battle might not be so easily won.
Leo bounded through the ornate doors of the temple, panting and heaving, the stench of death soaking through his clothing, the blood of his loved ones squelching in his boots. To say it was a massacre would be cruel, victory was in reach until she came, she ended the battle with just a mere thought. She didn’t care who stepped in her way, all were crushed with a lazy wave of her perfectly tanned hands. After seconds only Leo and his allies remained, the Lost Souls nothing more than a jigsaw of limbs even the most skilled of puzzlers could not assemble. She had stood before them, smiling at the scene before her and at the once great warriors cowered together in fear.
Freya had been the first to fall, her bow twitched with too much anticipation and she struck out angrily. Arrow after arrow penetrated the tense air towards their target but disintegrated before the sharp arrowheads were able to cause any damage. She broke the silence with a violent battle cry, charging at her foe, the hand to hand combat was minimal and with one swift snap Freya was no more.
Anya then swung her sword with incredible speed, the blade whistling in the air as she stepped closer to Freya’s killer, the woman in the elaborate golden robe who merely brushed her hands together as though clearing them of Freya’s dusty life.
After a few seconds Leo saw red, the red of Anya’s blood as her own blade was plunged deep into her navel and she let out howl of pain more crippling than any blow Leo had ever dealt. He had made to charge forward, bury his axe deep in the skull of the remorseless beast, the so called Goddess, before a thin, bony hand had closed around his wrist. He had spun around, axe raised, to see Azarus muttering furiously to himself, before Leo could even question his actions a bright light blinded him and he when his vision returned, he was outside a towering temple.
“Azarus?” Leo had spent just the minimum amount of time looking around to realise he was far from the battlefield he had left his friend at. Where he had come from was nothing but grass and blue sky, here was nothing but sand, not a shrub or leaf for perhaps miles, the sky seemed to be soaked in blood and burned down upon his cheeks. He had to seek shelter within the temple or risk burning alive, the temple itself did not seem the most secure, if anything it looked like a grand sandcastle brought to life.
Once inside, Leo could only curse to himself, kicking out at the stony benches that populated the inside of the temple. It resembled a church inside, rows and rows of pews made of an orange stone while at the forefront stood a grand looking altar. Leo sat himself down at the front row, he didn’t pay enough attention to the altar, he instead placed his head in his hands, rustling his dirty blonde hair as he did so. Flecks of dirt and skin fell to the floor where his axe lay, covered in the congealed blood of the Lost Souls. The fast paced action of the battlefield felt a million miles away in the vast emptiness of the temple where the only sound was Leo’s sharp breaths that could have been interpreted as sobs, but Leo did not cry. Barbarians did not cry. They did, however, avenge their fallen with a mighty vengeance and Leo knew soon that the Goddess would feel the brunt of his anger.
But first, he had to check his surroundings, Azarus sent him here for a reason that he was sure of, but the reason did not come to him. The altar he had seen when he first came up was a few steps up, the dust was thick and Leo suspected he was the first human to have stepped upon it in centuries. As he did so, the sole of his leather boot breaking through the inches of grime and sand that had collected over the years, he felt a vibration through the ground beneath him. A rush of pure energy swirling around in the foundations of the temple transferred itself into him and he felt the exhilaration sweep through him like nothing he had ever felt before. The altar itself was a rectangular shape, with unusual markings around the four sides, they seemed like the odd symbols Leo had once seen on Azarus’ magic runes but somehow he knew that this was a language, not one he recognised or he could name, but inexplicably could understand.
“Place upon thee the crystal four, to seek the power beneath the floor, the Power of Tetra within one jewel, shared between four as an almighty tool,” Leo could not make sense of the words, they were not in his native tongue but even if they had been they would have made little more sense. Around the edges, in the centre, were circular holes, not too wide in a diameter, which seemed designed for slotting something into. Before Leo could continue to question the strange yet somehow familiar setting he was interrupted by a second blinding light and the sound of some dead weight hitting the bottom of the steps. When the dust had settled and the light had faded, Leo made out the hunched over figure of Azarus.
In two long strides Leo was knelt down beside his ally, propping him up against the steps, his wrinkled face was bruised and bloodied, his jet black beard matted in dripping blood that defiled the sacred place they were in.
“Hurry,” Azarus coughed weakly, pointing a shaky finger to the altar behind them, “combine the stones,” Leo watched with a sharp pain in his lower stomach as Azarus pulled out Anya’s sword and Freya’s bow, forcing them into Leo’s hands.
“I don’t understand,” Leo looked to the weapons in his hand and then to Azarus who had lost the energy to keep his eyes open but held something out in his right hand, between his fingers Leo made out a glitter of gold. Leo took the crystal in his hand, surprised at the weight, as he looked to Azarus for more of an explanation.
“The Goddess,” Azarus croaked, “she’s coming for the Tetra, the power of the four crystals, you must lock them away before she can take them,” every word caused him great strain but Leo would need to ask him to power through a few more words, “your axe, the bow, the blade, each one has a jewel, remove it and place them within the altar,” Azarus propped himself up on his elbows as Leo removed the red, blue and green jewels from the axe, sword and bow respectively, each one just as heavy as the last. With the stones firmly in his grasp, he rushed up the steps and dropped each of them into the circular slots, an unusual chime sounded through the temple hall. After the first one, Leo stopped worried he had done something wrong but when Azarus said nothing he continued, with each stone passed the more of the foreign symbols began to light up around the altar until the entire room glowed in a strange violet light and the wind began to hum a sweet melody, it was calming, soothing, even given their current predicament.
“Finished,” Leo said quietly, in awe of the sound and sight around them, Azarus nodded as he managed to stand.
“Alligaverit Imperii,” he whispered and the soft air turned violent, whipping the men in the face and making them short of breath, their eyes watered as their hair flew every which way. The wind soon stopped and seemed to suck out the oxygen around them as both of them fell to their knees, drained of all energy.
“What just happened?” Leo asked Azarus, “what just happened?” He roared as there was a great pounding at the doors that threatened to shake them from their hinges.
“We have locked away the Power of Tetra,” Azarus strained to speak from his face down position but he struggled through every syllable, “we cannot defeat the Goddess without it and with Freya and Anya,” Azarus stopped, unable to verbalise their friends current state, “it isn’t possible, not in this lifetime,” he groaned loudly as the pounding reached critical volume.
“So what do we do?” Leo asked, rushing back to Azarus’ side, “she is coming to kill us Azarus, we need to defend ourselves!” He reached for his faithful axe and pulled it toward him, only it didn’t move. The weight was ridiculous, impossible for him to carry, try as he might he could not even raise the axe even an inch from the ground.
“Our powers are gone Leo,” Azarus said as the doors continued to cave, “we have none left!”
“We just die?” Leo asked angrily, “we sit, we die?” Leo was not one for the laying down routine.
“We must , if our powers are to pass on to our ancestors we must die to complete the binding,” Azarus took Leo’s hand in his own, “she can’t take our powers now Leo, we’ve lost the battle Leo,” Azarus admitted defeat with a bowing of his head, succumbing to his injuries.
“But we are going to win the war,” Leo promised as the door finally came crashing down as the two friends prepared for their fate, for their death and for the future.
Over two thousand years later and thousands of miles away in a quaint English town, Noah Storm sat up in a sudden fit of cold sweat, panting like he had just finished running a marathon. He must have yelled out as he heard footsteps rushing to his room and his mum, hair askew and slippers slipping off, bounded into his room.
“Noah! Noah, are you okay?” She hissed into the darkness of his room.
“Yeah mum,” Noah whispered, turning over in his bed as his mother returned to her own room, closing his bedroom door gently, “it was just a dream,”.