It has been a while since I have posted any of Shattered. But, since the new year dawned, I have written at least 5,000 words a week on this. So, I thought I would share out a few scenes or parts of scenes for your enjoyment. I’d love to hear what you think as I’m writing through this novel.
Just a note, this is still very rough. I read through it and pulled out a few big mistakes, but you will find typos and things that do not quite make sense. Just roll with it!
For the entire first Episode and other posts from Episode 2, see this link: https://aaron-brander.com/tag/shattered/
“JANTOR WAS the last in a very long line of tyrannical rulers. Evil had spread throughout the world and had a toe hold in all of the goodly races of the world. Over long centuries, evil had been rooted out and destroyed –”
“Wait. Hold on master. Goodly races?” Maia interrupted.
“What? Oh, I had forgotten the depth of our deception. This may blow your pea-sized brain, milking cow. Humans are not alone. Other intelligent beings are all around us, if you know where to look and they want to be found. Elves, dwarfs, nymphs, centaurs, orcs, goblins, trolls, demons, angels, dragons – they are all real.”
“B-b-but …” Maia stammered.
“I know, a bit of a shock, is it not? This next one will really hit home. The gods are real, and they walk among us. Balim is real. You met him not long ago. His brother, Memnon, was just as real. The two of them stalked the battlefield on the Utand Plain. Good so far?” Jyri asked.
“Um, I guess so?” Maia responded.
Jyri could see the questions in his eyes, but it was best to forge ahead and get the whole story out there. Well, at least as much as Maia needed for the immediate task at hand.
“Good. Just try and keep up. As I was saying, evil had been rooted out and destroyed wherever it could be found. There were sadistic satyr clans, demonic dwarven kingdoms, egotistical elven empires – actually, all elves are a little, er, a lot egotistical. Perhaps that should be evil elven empires, but I digress. Perhaps you get the picture? Evil was everywhere and I did not mention entire races that cannot be redeemed and of course, the inexhaustible supply of corrupt chiefs, wicked warlords, and dastardly dictators. Perhaps you would be surprised that our allies often didn’t know where our race stood?”
“Of course you don’t. This real knowledge is a bit hard to grasp. We kept on fighting, but every time we beat evil down, it would pop up again somewhere else. It was a bit like plugging a leaking dyke with your thumb. But we persevered. With Balim’s guidance, we cut down potential evil leaders when they were young and weak. It seemed like we were finally getting ahead.
“It was then that Balim brought us a prophecy.
“From the lips of my Father come words of deliverance. One son shall be put to rest, and the other shall be raised up. With that son, the world will revel in his splendor.”
“I don’t mean to interrupt, master, but that prophecy does not make a lot of sense and seems a little ambiguous. I thought the prophecy was:
The meek shall inherit the earth and peace and justice shall reign.
Maia was starting to catch up, but it was still hard to reconcile what he had known with what was now being told to him.
“You know little of what prophecy means, baby moose. We convened with Balim and we all agreed that he was the son to be raised up, and that world peace would follow. It was up to all of us to make sure the prophecy came true.
“So, Balim devised a means by which we could keep score. He enchanted the courtyard of this temple to show the influence evil had in the world, and along with it, the good in the world. We continued to combat evil, secure in our new knowledge that we would win. And gradually, evil’s presence faded.
“The Battle of Utand was the largest battle of the long war, and the only one where all of the goodly races fought side by side. We gambled that we could destroy the source of evil in the world, and we did! Or, at least we thought so. The last time we checked the courtyard, after the Battle, evil was retreating from the scene. Peace and prosperity reigned. Disease and despair ceased. The prophecy had come true.
“But I have cause to question if it is still gone from the earth, and so we come here today. I am sure you have more questions, but they can wait. Right now, we need to check the balance of the scales.”
Maia followed closely behind as Jyri made his way unerringly out of the sanctuary and along dark corridors. They ascended a steep staircase that turned sharply at a landing every ten steps. At the tenth lending, Maia felt a slight breeze and sensed a change in the stale air. At the eleventh landing, light started to show the way up the stairs.
On the twelfth landing, a spectacular view greeted Maia. He could see all around the peaceful valley he had grown up in. He could see the stream work its way down the mountainside in jumping cascades before winding peacefully through his village. He could see each home, the blacksmith, school, mill, tanner, and a dozen other public buildings. He could even see the farmers toiling away in their terraced fields.
He was still taking in the breathtaking vista when a shocked cry broke his reverie.
“Master! What is it?” Maia asked as he rushed to Jyri’s side.
Jyri looked like he could not decide between vomiting or fainting. With a visible effort, Jyri willed away his anxiety and composed himself.
“It is worse than I could have imagined. See for yourself while I try to figure out a plan.”
Maia moved away from Jyri and to the edge of the tower. He looked below and gasped. Though he did not grasp the full meaning of what he saw, he understood enough.
In the center of the courtyard sat a majestic, red dragon. Its wings were spread and one paw was held out with the palm out. Its red scales sparkled in the sunlight and added to the air of tranquility on its face.
As grand a site as the red dragon was, it was not what caught the eye. The rest of the courtyard was a pulsing, swirling black. It was not quite solid, but rather looked like a fog in the distance. Soon, the fog would settle and nothing would be seen through it, but for the time being a brisk breeze kept it at bay.
The red dragon did not see the fog, and seemed even less aware of the black dragon rising up from the swirling fog behind it. Only the head and one arm was visible. The black head sported two sharp horns. A massive, opened jaw filled with teeth the size of spears, and two black eyes that sucked in the light around them making the eyes blacker than night. They filled Maia with terror to his very soul, and he quickly looked away.
The arm was stretching out towards the red dragon’s neck, one of its five talons leading the way and looking to try and rip out the red dragon’s throat. If this courtyard truly told the balance of good and evil in the world, it looked like the scales were about to take a serious turn.
Maia tore his gaze away from the troubling scene below him and turned back to Jyri. His master was sitting cross-legged on the floor and appeared to be finishing preparations of some kind. Jyri sensed his attention and looked up.
“Contacting Balim formally is not usually this hasty, but I fear we are short on time for formalities. It is apparent that we have been fooled somehow. Memnon survived that fateful day and is paving the way for his return. It is also apparent that Balim, and I believe all the paragon races, are completely oblivious. Stand guard while I try to contact my Lord.”
Maia heard Jyri begin chanting behind him, the musical sounds bringing peace to his soul.
Something was out of place in the melody; some discordant note creating a timorous harmony.
Maia looked out across the towns as he heard the discord again. And then he saw it.
And that sound, it was a scream!
Maia squinted into the sun and could just make out hundreds of moss colored figures running through the fields. More screams echoed through the valley to his right. He looked and could see more smoke and figures.
Maia turned quickly to Jyri, too frantic to notice the irony of the situation.
“Master!” he cried as he shook Jyri’s shoulder. “We are being attacked! I think they are goblins!”
Jyri jumped to his feed and rushed to the balcony. Maia sensed, rather than saw, the change that came over the big monk. It was if the air began to vibrate around him. The screams reached his ears again and he could now see panicked farmers being overrun by goblins in the outer fields. Fear and anger warred within him; his parents were in one of the fields. Maia looked to Jyri for guidance and took a shocked step backward. Jyri had grown and his face bore a wicked grin that seemed entirely out of place on the benevolent monk.
“Good With Wood, there is a bell rope one flight of stairs up. Ring it with all of your might. I will go down and help herd the villagers into the safety of the temple. When the goblins get close, break off and help me with the fighting. You will find staffs at the main doors.”
Maia did not question and ran to the top of the stairs.