Onto Chapter 2...
11/20/14, on Amazon for pre-order now.
Veil of a
~ Hammerblood, Book 1 ~
By Clifton Hill
(Novel is Epic Fantasy, approx 550 pages)
Expected Publish Date: 11/20/2014
All rights reserved. © Clifton Hill
Hestea Hammerblood brought his eyes down from clouds, murky and gray. Much had happened in two years.
Much and more.
The captain of the guard rode a sturdy bay roan as he mused over his path. He gripped the reins loosely, looking over his men. They rode in tight formation around the general and his officers, watching the green hills around them with cautious eyes. Their hands were alert on sword hafts, anxious fingers toying with bow strings. But they were not nervous, they were just ready.
They were good men, devout and experienced. They were Dormir’s personal guard, surcoats of sky-blue, slashes of red, and they were Hestea’s men.
Hestea fingered the mark of captain on his shoulder, an accomplishment most fathers would have been proud of.
Hestea’s forehead creased deeply.
“Fronteu,” he called to his second in command, “you know this area. How much longer till we hit the Galladel?”
His lieutenant, Marcus Fronteu, turned in his saddle and regarded Hestea with a quirked eyebrow and rosy cheeks. He was slightly older than Hestea, and had lived in Molroun all his life. He regarded Hestea like a brother, born of this land, but Hestea was no one’s brother.
A fact that none of these men could know. A fact Hestea guarded with his life.
“Should be at the river soon, Captain. If you had the ears of a dog, you could probably hear the rush of water by now.”
Hestea smiled at the irony, wondering if Marcus said it purely in jest. Word had begun to spread. It was unavoidable. And despite some secrets, Hestea would not stand aside and be ordinary. Not if he could do more.
Marcus watched Hestea in veiled expectation, but the captain ignored the look. Staring forward, Hestea listened intently. The sound of the moving army was loud at their backs. Hooves and boots plodded along the dry and hard road with the clink of metal and the scratch of wood. The sound of thousands of voices, speaking softly to their fellows to pass the time, was a small murmur. Straining, Hestea tried to hear something that shouldn’t have been possible.
Yes! There, over the hills and not too far. He could just hear the flow of swift water in the distance.
Just as Marcus had said. Ears of a dog though? “Good,” Hestea replied to his lieutenant. They still had a ways to go after they crossed the Tanberry bridge, but by the time they hit the river they would know the location of the enemy.
Marcus looked like he wanted to ask Hestea what he had heard. But he just shrugged and asked instead, “Anxious, Captain?”
Hestea smiled. “A little, Fronteu.”
Marcus nodded his head, thinking he understood. Any Molrounian would be excited to finally put the enemy on the defensive. And if all went well, soon they would change the very tide of war. It would be a start of the end, and of a new beginning.
But Hestea was not anxious, he was worried.
The captain looked to his general, riding tall, his gaze steady.
Are we biting off more than we can chew? Hestea flexed his hands and looked back to his guard, wearing the badge of Dormir upon their arms, riding with pride. They were strong. He had tested them, trained with them, taught them everything he knew — learning much in return.
It would have to be enough.
He had finally found a way to belong. And nothing would take that away.
With the gurgling river Galladel, as it rushed by pilings and rocks behind them, the army caught up to Scoutmaster Brand Haslin at the edge of Tannil Wood. The young scoutmaster was busy conferring with his men, while a company of soldiers were at the forest’s edge, scattering the leaves of fall upon the ground, hiding traps that Hestea hoped they would not have to use.
The scouts went running back into the wood, disappearing with long strides to rejoin their fellows.
Brand seemed pleased as he relayed the information to General Dormir, “The enemy is right where we thought they would be.”
“Excellent work, Haslin. The obstructions?”
“Almost done, sir.”
“Good. See that they’re finished and rejoin us.”
The quiet scoutmaster saluted and ran back to the soldiers.
“Things are moving forward well,” said Marcus to Hestea.
Hestea nodded, rubbing nervous fingers over his leather reins, hoping it was true.
Thanks for reading, watch for the book release: 11/20/14.
And read the short novelette, Seeking the Veil. See Hestea as he first leaves his secret home, raw and untested. Discover his past and the trials of Beckenburg that he will not speak of. Part 1 is now available on Amazon, Parts 2 and 3 will release in 2014.
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