Copyright © 2015 by Stuart J. Whitmore
This is a sample of the FIRST DRAFT of a new story. The first draft is not yet complete. If you are looking for a finished, polished work, you're in the wrong place. ;) I posted the first chapters on Wattpad, so if you want to read beyond this sample, head on over there to keep reading!
Chapter 1: Dream of Action
A small haze of dust puffed away from Khaiblan as he sat down on his cot. If his home sprawled in the cool shade of the ancient trees on the low hill in the center of the city, he would certainly have been bothered by the grime. As it was, however, his home was a converted pantry in the back of a small shop in the hot, dirty, noisy peasant market district. With the sun easing itself below the distant mountains, the noise was beginning to subside but the heat and stench that were a part of Khaiblan's daily life showed no signs of abatement.
"Can I eat this?" Khaiblan asked himself out loud. He poked listlessly at the food scraps on his battered plate. He was not accustomed to fine dining, but lately he had noticed a marked decrease in the quality of the scraps given to him by his host. The gristly bits of meat, the slightly molded bread, and a slurry of something unrecognizable did nothing to augment his appetite. "Perhaps Mahkik wants his pantry back."
Years ago, Mahkik had given Khaiblan his tiny home and the promise of whatever food he could spare at the request of his father, Malnik. It was one of the old man's last requests on his dying bed, to take care of his old friend Khaiblan. In the first few years, Mahkik made it clear that he did not want to honor the request, but he did not go out of his way to make life uncomfortable for Khaiblan. Now, however, things seem to be getting worse.
"I will have to try harder at begging tomorrow," Khaiblan told himself. "Maybe I can get enough coin to buy a shriveled old apple." He dipped his bread into the watery mix and ate what he could of his meal. When he was done, he carried his plate to the back door and threw the remaining scraps into the alley for the rats to eat. He returned to his cot to give up on the day. For a long while, sleep would not take him so he stared up at the ceiling trying not to replay his life in his mind.
Eventually Khaiblan drifted off to a restless sleep. His mind was troubled with short and seemingly random dreams. At one point he awoke, sure that he had heard something, and it took him a while to get back to sleep after deciding there was nothing there. Later in the night, he found himself in a new dream that seemed more real than the others. In it, he felt young and strong, and looking down at his body he could see it was more muscular than he had ever been. In his right hand he carried a broadsword.
"What mockery of my aged weakness is this?" Khaiblan asked himself. "Must my dreams remind me of my waking frailty?"
Khaiblan held up the sword to examine it, but there seemed to be nothing special about it. He lowered it again and looked about. The dream seem to have placed him near the center of the city, and it was dark although the moon cast its weak light onto the city. The streets were quiet and empty. Seeing that nothing was happening in his dream, Khaiblan began to wander through the streets. After a short stroll Khaiblan noticed a shadowy figure moving furtively along the street ahead of him, moving in the same direction. He moved to one side of the street to make himself less obvious in case the other person looked back.
Before long, the person in front of him reached one of the few wells that served the city. The stranger approached the well and stopped. Khaiblan continued to move forward cautiously and quietly. When he felt he was close enough to see what the other person was doing without being observed, he stopped and waited to see what would happen next.
The shadowy person by the well looked around furtively. Khaiblan shrank against the wall of the building next to him, hoping he would not be seen. The other person did not seem to notice his presence, but returned his attention to the well. After a moment peering down into the well, the person unslung a sack that was strung across their back and set it on the ground next to the well. In the darkness it was hard for Khaiblan to see exactly what was going on, but in a moment of inspiration he realized the person was about to poison the well.
"Why am I seeing this?" Khaiblan breathed to himself. The sword in his hand hung heavily as he weighed his options. "I was never a warrior. Does this dream want me to pretend otherwise?"
The person by the well held up a small object that was pulled from the sack and looked furtively about once again. When they moved to hold it over the well, Khaiblan made up his mind.
"Stop!" Khaiblan commanded as he stepped away from the building and into the street. The other person spun about in surprise.
"Who are you?" the man snarled. He set the object that he was holding down onto his sack and drew out a long dagger. The thin, shiny blade glinted in the pale moonlight.
Khaiblan advanced slowly, not quite sure how to proceed. "Who I am does not matter. What matters is that I am going to stop you from what you are trying to do."
The other man gave a short, humorless laugh. "Stop me? Maybe delay me, but when I leave here you will be a dead body in the alley and there will be a great many dead bodies to join you soon after."
Khaiblan stopped when he was just outside of striking distance. "Who are you? And why are you doing this?"
The other man did not answer, but instead lunged toward Khaiblan with his dagger. Khaiblan tried to parry with his sword and get out of the way at the same time, but in his clumsiness and inexperience with a sword he narrowly escaped a serious gash on his sword arm. The other man was more adept at fighting and continued to press the attack. However, despite being in the hands of a novice, the length of Khaiblan's sword gave him a significant advantage, and he learned quickly to use it.
(Want to read more? The story continues on Wattpad, so click the link shown below!)