Myth: of Men and Monsters. Part 1 – Echos: Excerpt

This excerpt is taken from the first seven pages of the book. I included everything up to the first ‘scene’ change.

The battle had just begun.

That was the single thought racing through Andial’s mind. It was a thought that bit down through his jaw and ground his teeth until he tasted the sweet, metallic nuance of blood mixing with saliva. That thought had crashed in on his battle cry and tore through his resolve as easily and quickly as the infernal claws of whatever lived in these moving shadows that surrounded his squad had made sections of three infantrymen. It shook him. It stole the warmth he had been struggling to keep against the numb and the cold and the horror.

But still he stood, holding the line with the last of his men, baring his crystal blade to mark a spot in the swirling murk that held them prisoner. It wasn’t a cage of tangibility, they could easily move beyond the bright aura his weapon exuded. They were trapped by blindness. They were trapped in the darkness of a world they didn’t quite understand, surrounded by monsters they couldn’t see. The sword was a saving grace. It gave them sight and seemed to frighten the beasts back to their shadows. It imbued a new strength in them. But with it came a limitation, its light had an edge that did not allow for their usual formations. The courage, too, had a finite perimeter. The further they were from their leader, the less control they had over they’re shivering shoulders and quaking hands. They held their lesser blades in trembling grips, hoping for the same effect but the inferior crystal of the manufactured standard for the Aelphi army simply couldn’t match the special gift in the hand of their Captain. Andial stood, the single oddity among his kneeling and shielded men, unprotected from the ever growing promise of painful murder. His eyes alone were witness to the undulations in the abyss beyond the scope of normal vision. He was seeing this fright with something deeper. He felt them move. He felt his men quiver. Above all, he felt the weight of that single fact, the simple truth that their losses had been incurred as soon as their transport had left. He was a victim to the truth that he was staring into another and vastly more terrifying endless night, the undeniable irony that the celebrated heralds of the Armies of Obeiron were about to be slaughtered with such utter lack of ceremony.

He heard the howls, the snapping jaws slicing through the thick air. A large ash-grey body slipped in and out of lighted view in a flash. Another did the same nearer to the group’s flank. Within moments, fifteen at least were bolting into sight then disappearing. This tactic was nothing new, it was how they had originally disoriented the Captain and his men. It was how they covered the way home.

When his men, his shining example of military might, his Golden Guards had arrived on this horrible rock, they hadn’t known of this enemy. Their mission was to bring a message to whatever intelligent life may inhabit this world but what they found through their long campaigns were mindless creatures and impressive but long forgotten ruins. They had found evidence of a quick and unsuspected end, a violent and messy slaughter of moderately refined people. His lieutenant had asked what could have destroyed a civilization. He now wished he’d never pressed onward to find out. They came to the caves by way of a trail, a path laid out in crumbling bones. The fought their way through to the center of this makeshift city, this savage nation hidden from light and righteousness. They fought their way into an island of stony soil, surrounded by the increasingly rage filled invaded. And here they held their line. Here they held against an army of demons.

Something shot forth, over the men. There was a brief sound of alarm as a few soldiers lifted their weapons, training in on the projectile. Gasps and muffled cries confirmed Andial’s first assumption. The missile was a piece of one of their own, taken earlier in the fray. Scarlet drops showered them. The blood was cold. He let it paint him, wake him and hush his self-assassinating mind.

“Captain, there’s no communication with the ship.”

Andial nodded with barely-there movement.

“Sir, do you have orders for us?”

His lips curved into a smile that surprised everyone. More-so, it surprised him that the words he spoke to his lieutenant were so calm, so collected, so focused to a penetrating point.

“Yes, I do. Follow me.”

The decision to move forward was instantaneous. There hadn’t been a single thought put towards the choice yet it still seemed so right. So much more right, he thought, compared to the other option, which was to stagnate in the dust and darkness until death closed in. When given the choice, he knew that he would rather run straight into his end, weapon drawn with his men at his side, than wait for it to take more than just his life. He was Aelphi. He was a Captain. He was a royal. His blood screamed for honor and would accept nothing less.

His voice raised with his blade as he signaled the rising forces to charge forward.

“And remember, my Golden Guards, fight until you die!”

As he bellowed the immortal words of their lord, it cemented it all. They knew that this would be their last. They knew that this would be the single charge used to judge their entire lives by the scholars that lived beyond them.

They threw their shields into the darkness, the spinning chain blade edges finding the flesh of wailing monsters. Their free hands unleashed new weapons, trophies they had collected from past battles. Armed for their end, they formed an arrowhead behind Andial, their Captain.

With that brilliant royal red emission blade held up in the air, high above his head, he watched the creatures come closer. One of the larger and braver ones lunged at him, jumping through the air, swimming through that heft of darkness that they planned to burst through. In a twist of his body that brought his long, drawn back hair whipping like it’s own menacing danger The Captain unsheathed a shimmering axe, forged in the shape of beast’s head, jaw gaping in a ghastly smile. It welcomed the challenger, grabbing and tearing through the leaping form’s belly. Andial didn’t wait for the rest of the body to drop. He stepped over the mound of steaming entrails, starting into a full run towards an arbitrary, imaginary location somewhere in the ink. It didn’t matter in which direction they were starting. The men cried out in deep, proud calls for death and destruction. With each step he took in front of them, their resolve strengthened. With each step he heard from behind, the heat in his body flared into a chaotic fire. With each blast of energy and swing of their blades, they knew their trajectory meant nothing. They knew where they were headed.

The rush met the first circling line of beasts, catching them off guard and sending them into a panicked scatter. Andial could feel the shards of stone kicked up by their talons. They peppered his face as he barreled onward. He struck out at the stragglers, severing anything he could. Thick, dark blood oozed onto the ground, rolling like a soft dough out of the dead and dying creatures.

Forward they pressed, and forward they went. The opposition had gained their footing again and it became far more of a struggle between claw and blade.

Andial tensed his wrist and gripped the handle of his emission crystal blade, feeling the familiar tingle shoot from his shoulder to his fingertips, the once-friendly feeling of his body’s energy being put to damn good use. It had been too long in that cave, he had spent far too much of himself and was waning. He sent a roaring blast of red destruction into the mounting defense. That wave of melting heat cleared the way, but it wasn’t quite enough; The ranks refilled almost as quickly as they had thinned. From the feeble light show playing out around him, he knew the others had even less to give.

From somewhere deep in the caverns, as if echoing from the black pit itself, came a deep, warm laugh. The beasts faltered, the Golden Guards skidded to a stop, everything became as still as the stone walls surrounding them.

The hearty guffaw rose to a deafening crescendo of ratting armor and rumbling ground. Andial turned his eyes to what should have been the sky. He searched for the source. He screamed back at the mocking sound. He cried out at the injustice. He failed to see that the enemy had already begun to ignore this new sound.


About Aaron Shively

I have been working as a freelance writer and artist for the last decade. In that time, I've done everything from ghostwriting to toy design and everything in between. I am currently working on a novel series called 'Myth' which has held my attention for the past sixteen years. I have spent my time developing the world, character and story and am now ready to funnel all the preliminary material into the manuscript of the first installment, 'of Men and Monsters' Bookmark & Share

Posted on 03/11/2011, in Excerpts, Myth, of Men and Monsters, Projects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Very good! This captured my attention right off the bat and held it there with good images and flow. Great start!

  2. This is great stuff! Can’t wait to read some more

    • Thank you. I’m glad I’m receiving positive feedback. As the borderline cynic I am, I often feel that people are being a little too nice but I’m going to push that aside and assume they’re speaking their mind.

  3. Wow! I wasn’t expecting it to be so engaging. The first line grabs you right away, the details are impeccable, and the end?
    It left me wanting more.
    Great job!

    • Oh, thank you so much. I was feeling a little self-conscious about this one as I wrote the first few paragraphs on my phone and finished it up in a few hours. There will be MUCH more to come… and the ending isn’t even what you’re probably assuming. This scene is titled ‘toy soldiers’, if that alludes to anything.

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