Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Legion of Youth - Prologue


Here is the Prologue of a story I am working on.  Note:  Any where you see "X" e.g. "Fort X" it means I haven't decided on a name yet.  Tell me how you guys like it!!!

Jeblin Endervelt sipped ale from a steel mug as he stood upon the battlements right outside the gatehouse of Fort X.  The sun was already half gone from sight as it receded beyond the horizon.  It was Jeblin’s favorite time of day, for the sun was absolutely marvelous as it outlined the peaks of the Earthen Mountains on either side of the pass.  It was, he thought, one of the most beautiful things in the world.  
Jeblin made sure not to have more than a few more sips from his ale before setting it down on the wall.  Although this was the most beautiful time of day, it was also the most dangerous.  It was at this time when it was easiest for enemies to sneak up through the pass.  Not only would he get in trouble, but it could be fatal to have enemies sneaking up after he had drunk too much of the brew.
Fort X was arguably the most important fort in the whole entire country of Engall.  Although the Earthen Mountains (named so because of the dirt that coated its outer layer) protected most of Engall’s eastern borders from invaders, the Earthen Mountain Pass was its only weakness, if weakness is the right term.  Fort X and its garrison of five thousand men could hardly be called a weakness.  It sat in the middle of the pass, so it was nearly impossible for anyone to sneak by it.  The fort had been here for over two hundred and fifty years, and had been refurbished three times.  It had been only attacked twice, and both times it repelled its attackers with ease.  It rivaled even Engall Castle in strength, though not in size.
The pass is also the only trading route into other lands in east Engall, save for the sea.  Many trade caravans come in and out of Engall through the pass every day, and a specific team of soldiers checked their wares and made sure they were safe and the like.
Jeblin stared out over the grassy landscape that was the pass, and his eyes scanned the horizon for danger.  He had done the routine countless times.  He scanned the shadows, looking for any sign of movement.  Seeing nothing, he was about to turn to his personal thoughts when a glint, like the sun upon metal, caught his eye.  He reached for his sword and blinked.  Nothing was there.
That was the only thing he didn’t like about this time of day.  It was too easy for your mind and the shadows to play tricks on a man.  One could hardly trust his senses.
He heard the sound of steel boots upon stone behind him.  Turning, he saw his friend Alfred come up behind him.  
“‘Ello Jeb!” Alfred said with a smile.
“Evenin’ to you to Alfred.  How was gatehouse watch?” asked Jeblin, though he pretty much knew the answer.
“Just about as borin’ as ever,” replied Alfred with a shrug.
Jeblin picked up his ale mug from where he had set it down on the wall and shook hands with his friend.  “I’ll see you tonight!”
Alfred replied in turn and then Jeblin jogged down the wall to the gatehouse.  He knocked on the door three times, then paused, and knocked twice more.  He heard the sound of several locks being undone, then the door swung open, and he was greeted by one of the other soldiers who had gatehouse watch for the night.  He took a place at the other side of the large room that enclosed the wheel which if turned, would open the gate of Fort X.  It took at least three men to turn it.  That’s why they only kept two guards in the gatehouse, so it would lesson the chances of the gate being opened in case of a betrayal within the ranks.  
The time crept along slowly, as was usual with the gatehouse shift.  He managed a bit of small conversation with the other soldier on duty, but eventually they both fell silent, left with only their thoughts to keep them company.  Jeblin had a little more ale, but not much.  He began to think of his wife back home, and his infant daughter, whose first birthday would be within the month.  His thoughts of home lulled him into a sleepy, dreamy trance.
Suddenly, he heard a thump, followed by a groan.  He looked up and saw the tip of a silver blade protruding from the other guard’s chest.  He then fell to the ground, blood pooling even as he hit it.  And standing over his body was a cloaked man, armed with a short sword.
Jeblin drew his sword and leaped over the dead guards body.  While in mid air he feigned a swipe at the attackers head, then redirected it towards his left side.  Jeblin was a skilled swordsman, but this attacker was beyond his skill.  The cloaked man blocked his stroke and landed a hard kick on Jeblin’s chin, fracturing it.  Jeblin fell onto the body of the other guard.
The cloaked attacker went in to finish Jeblin, stabbing straight for his heart.  Jeblin just managed to deflect his stab to the side, so it sank in between his ribs.  He cried out in pain and dropped his sword.  The attacker growled and went to stab him again but a voice stopped him.
“Forget him.  He’s a goner either way.  Come help us with this wheel!”
The attacker reluctantly left Jeblin lying there.  He tried to cry out, but his throat was getting so dry he couldn’t speak.  His vision began to go black at the edges.  He managed to turn on his side towards the attackers.  The last thing he saw before all went dark was three people, two cloaked men and one in the livery of Engall turning the massive wheel to open the gate.