The Heart Of The Sword

The Heart Of The Sword

A Book by Franklyn Thomas Jr.
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      A young man wakes from a nightmare, only to realize that he can no longer hide from his destiny. 

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© 2017 Franklyn Thomas Jr.



Author's Note

Franklyn Thomas Jr.
 
The Heart of the Sword
 
Shallin Awakes
 
By
 
Franklyn Thomas Jr.
 
 
Foreword
 
                In a land where the sword decided who lived and who died came an almost unstoppable force. This force ripped through a once peaceful land. The beauty that once covered the hillside was now ravished by fire and the smell of death and destruction. Creatures that once lay dormant were now roaming the lands, leaving nothing but horror in their wake. Then, out of nowhere, a champion takes lead on the battle to restore peace and beauty back to the land he loved more than life itself. Man had no chance until he showed himself. He and the men who banded with him brought peace back to the land, a peace that did not last long; an unexpected force that rose up and took the place of the evil that for a year had possessed the land. Once again this champion stepped up to bring this evil that once again threatened his people as well as the land he loved and called home.             
              Its time was long ago and still the battle lingers on as if it will last forever.
 
 
 
 
THE HEART OF THE SWORD ®

Shallin Awakes
 
Chapter One
 
    The noise as two swords clashed was like thunder over the land. It echoed off the mountains in the far distance and sent rocks crashing to the ground below. Nearer, Lackshin’s young son, Sanch hid in the bushes, watching.
    Lackshin fought fiercely as he swung Shallin —the only weapon known to 
give any hope of killing the one called Sillack. 
    Sanch held his tongue when Sillack’s sword struck Shallin, then the smaller Lackshin kicked Sillack to the ground. The boy held his breath when Sillack matched his father’s swing before he swiped Lackshin’s legs from under him.
    Although Sillack drew the battle’s first blood, slashing Lackshin’s sleeve, Sanch exhaled when his father rose to his feet, prepared for the next strike.
    “He fights for his life and for the life of everyone in our village,” almost escaped the little boy’s lips, but he maintained his silent vigil. Though his father had never uttered the words, Sanch knew Lackshin would die, if it meant the others could live.
    Even while blood dripped from his arm, Lackshin fought as if he had not been touched. He lunged at Sillack but Sillack’s sword stopped Shallin from making her fatal strike. Lackshin countered, cutting Sillack along his chest.
    Sillack roared and looked at the blood on his chest. “You? How did you−” He staggerd toward Lackshin with his sword raised over his head, but the more agile Lackshin dodged the powerful blow. Unable to escape Sillack’s huge boot, however, Lackshin’s view of the sky was blocked when his opponent stepped forward and straddled his fallen foe.
    Lackshin positioned Shallin between himself and Sillack. The blades clashed and  blocked the thrust long enough for Lackshin to stand. Still, Sillack bombarded Lackshin with a series of strikes. The injured Lackshin, weakened with every step, persisted in his response to Sillack’s attack.
     Sillack taunted, “Why don’t you just give up? I can see in your sword that you 
can’t go on much longer. I will try to make it quick.” 
    “If you want me dead, then kill me,” Lackshin said. “But don’t believe I will just lay down my sword and let you take my life. You might kill me, but someone much stronger than I will come for you. Know this. Shallin will accompany that one in the fight against you and the evil for which you stand. You will be destroyed.” 
    Enraged, Sillack threw himself at Lackshin and knocked him off balance. Sillack
lunged at Lackshin, impaling him. With great effort, Lackshin stepped back off the sword, by forcing himself to step toward Sillack, the collision forcing the larger man to retreat. Lackshin’s next swing with Shallin connected with Sillack’s face. Sillack pursued Lackshin and cleaved his chest, while he removed the sword in one swift motion.
 
    Lackshin and Shallin fell in death, as they had been in life, as one. A scream came from behind the crowd of people that had gathered.
    Sanch ran out and a cloaked woman appeared and snatched  the boy’s hand. They  ran off as if they knew nothing of Lackshin. Unnoticed, the woman and the stunned child hurried to safety in a village far away from the place they once called home.
    Sanch did not see Sillack stand over his father’s body. He did not see him turn to the crowd of people with his arms outstretched and his sword raised, but he heard him. “I am still here and he is no more. The one you called great is dead. I am now greater than he, his life taken by my hand.”
    Sillack reached down and picked up Shallin. He tried to speak strong words but Shallin’s internal flame burned the palms of his hands. He said, “I now hold the sword of Lackshin in my hand. If any man dares to speak against me, let him speak now and face me.” Unable to withstand the horrific pain Shallin inflicted on him, he threw the sword to the ground and ordered that none of his men touch the sword with their hands. “Destroy it! Immediately!”
     One by one, Sillack’s men attempted to remove Shallin from her master’s side. Finally, four of his strongest managed to lift her with their own swords.
    “It is strange,” his captain said. “It is as if Shallin does not wish to be removed from her friend’s side.”
    Once they lifted her from Lackshin’s presence, they placed her in a sealed box and made her ready for travel. The men took Shallin to a place where swords were melted daily. When the swordsmith’s hottest fire had turned to embers, the beautiful sword gleamed in the coals, undamaged. They then tried to break the impressive sword
and were again unsuccessful.
    “We must devise a clever way to destroy this sword,” one of the men said.
    “Or else, we must find a way to dispose of it.” The captain scratched his chin and stared skyward.
    Another of the men thought his plan would surely work. “I have heard of a volcano that burns hotter than any other, said to be the gateway to the demon world. Some call it Hell’s Doorway. We can drop the sword into its heart. The intense heat will certainly destroy Shallin, completing our task.”
    When Sillack’s men dropped the sword into the volcano, Shallin was pulled away by the vigorous currents, pulled down toward the heart of the volcano, and  into an underground cave beneath tons of lava. The currents pushed her onto a stone, and from the lava, she became one with the stone. Only her exposed handle received sunlight. The lava still poured into the cave and the stone broke loose from its floor. Again, Shallin moved, as the lava pushed her, with the stone, into another section of the cave, placing her on a hill formation, where she found her resting place after a long journey away from her fallen friend. A small hole at the top of the cave allowed a fine ray of sunlight to touch Shallin’s hilt, allowing her some warmth, as well as comfort, within such darkness. 
    She remained alone for six years, until Sillack learned she still existed. He sent several of his best men to the volcano where he thought the sword had been destroyed…and almost forgotten.
***
 
    “Mother,” Sanch said, when she allowed him to stop running, “why have we abandoned Father? Why have we run so far? Why do we not go home?”
    “My son, you are young. Not yet ten-years-old, and you cannot understand.”
    “I can try, if you will but tell me why you have forced me to run away.”
    Sanch’s mother explained. “As long as Sillack or his men remain alive, we will never be able to return. I must be sure they cannot find us, for if they do, they will surely kill you and make me a slave to Sillack, or−”
     “I will protect you, Mother. I know I am young, but I know I can protect you. One thing more do I know. I know that I will meet Sillack again. It is only matter of time. I will avenge my father, then.”
    As the years passed, Sanch thought only about finding Sillack, the man who killed his father. He spent most of his time training and preparing. He worked constantly to perfect his hand with a sword and he strengthened his fighting skills. In time, he became one of the best swordsmen in the countryside.
 
Eight Years Later 
 
    A young man stands in a fog-cloaked forest. Just beyond the tree line, he sees two red eyes, glaring at him through the mist. The man turns and runs. Behind him, he hears a horse galloping. Closer. Closer. The young man’s courage returns so he stops, turns, and draws his sword. The creature breaks through the fog with the sound of shattering glass. Its eyes are bright red and blood drips from its mouth. The creature rears up and kicks the sword from the young man’s hand, and knocks him to the ground. The beast hovers right above him, snarling. In the distance, the youth hears a familiar voice calling out to him.
    “Wake up Sanch! Wake up! You’re having a nightmare, again. It’s only a dream, please, wake up,” his mother said. 
    Sanch reached for his sword, but his mother gently touched his hand. She whispered, “This is not the time, but it will soon come.” She held his hand as he eased it off the sword. “You will be ready, when the time comes.” 
    “Mother, I think the time is now, for me to begin my quest,” Sanch said.   
    “Do you truly feel that you’re ready? I am concerned you may not be,” she said. 
    “If not now, when? If I don’t go soon, I may never find him. I know I’m ready. Do you think I can do what is required of me, Mother?”
    “I know you can do this. You are Sanch, the son of Lackshin, the one who bears the right to hold your father’s sword.” She gripped his hand. “I believe in you.”
    “But, Sillack’s men destroyed Shallin after he killed my father,” he said “Or so go the rumors.”
    “Shallin cannot be destroyed by man. She was said to have been forged by the hands of the gods.” A smile came upon her face.
    “Then I must find her. Shallin is my father’s sword, wherever she may be.”
    His mother put both hands on his shoulders. “Son, you must find her before you find Sillack.” She gripped tightly, then allowed her hands to drop to her sides.
    Sanch answered, “Why? I don’t understand.” 
    “Because,” his mother said, “it’s the only weapon that can kill Sillack. You must have her in your possession when you face him.” 
    “But, where do I look? It was thrown into an inactive volcano, filled with lava. It can no longer exist, can it?” 
    “I told you, Shallin cannot be destroyed by any action from any man, so the volcano is where you must begin your quest.” She insisted. “You must remember the sword you are looking for is your father’s, and it will belong to you. However, the sword he wanted you to have is the sword I gave you when you were but a child, barely big enough to hold a sword. You must remember to be true to her, as well.”
      Sanch, could not return to sleep that night. As he lay awake he made one of the hardest decisions he would have to make. He gathered his things and left the village where he was safe, to find Shallin. He told no one he was leaving; not even his childhood friend.
Sanch stroked his horse. His firm, yet gentle touch calmed the huge animal that nickered at being awakened before dawn. “Quiet, my friend. Do you want to wake mother? We leave tonight, and depending on how things go, we may never see this place again. Either way, this is how it is to be. I knew this day would come.” He pressed his face to his horse’s chest. “I am happy to have you at my side. I will rely on your strength and companionship.” Sanch, prepared for their long journey, walked him to the edge of the village.
      Sanch rode all night to a town known to have been infested by Sillack’s men. He hoped to move amongst Sillack’s men and obtain information on the whereabouts of his father’s sword. His mother had spoken of a man named Thrant, said to have knowledge of Shallin’s location.
      “Whoa,” he said and leaned back. “We should stop and rest for a little.” He lowered himself from his horse, where he stopped near a small river. “We’ve been riding all night and we both need a rest.” He patted his horse as he dismounted and looked toward his village. A dull orange sun rose over clouds that seemed a dark blue from its shine. “This is the first time in eight years we have been outside our village.”
      He tied his horse to a small tree and fed him an apple he’d brought from home. He whispered, “I have a feeling someone is watching us. Keep a sharp eye out while you eat this grass.”
      After a breakfast of fresh river fish, Sanch led his horse near the opening of a nearby cave where he rested until midday.
      “Well, boy, if we are going to see this dangerous village where Sillack’s forces are patrolling, we should get going. I think we’ll walk together. It’s easier to talk to you that way.” Sanch made certain to leave no evidence he, or his horse, had been there. “We’re about to let the world know Sillack can be stopped.”
      In the distance, he heard a woman scream and his horse reared. “You hear that, too?” Sanch released the reins and ran in the direction of the scream. Close behind, his horse trotted, but did not pass his rider.
As he got closer to the sound, he slowed down to better assess the situation, and  plan his approach. Sanch saw a woman on her back, her torn garments strewn about. Two men encouraged another man attempting to have his way with her. Sanch stepped into the clearing, his shoulders out, his chest raised. Without word or warning, from his belt he pulled a dagger that was a gift from his mother, and put it through the neck of the first man he reached.
His companion heard the gurgling sound of blood escaping from his mate’s throat and turned to see a smiling Sanch. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, boy? Do you have any idea who we are?” He reached for his sword. “We are men of the great−”
With one motion, Sanch removed his blade and relocated it into the side of the approaching man’s head. With his mouth still open, he fell off Sanch’s dagger, still held firm in the young man’s hand. With his other hand, Sanch reached for the man’s sword and liberated it as its now dead owner fell.
“Now for you.” Sanch held the blade of the dead swordsman to the back of the rapist’s neck.
He stopped all movement.
The young woman pulled herself from under him and recoiled against a tree. She tried to cover her bloodied body with what clothing she could reach.
“Do you have any idea what you have done, and who you have done it to?” The man, still on his knees, asked Sanch.
“No, I do not know who are, but I do know what I have done and I am sure, from where you are now, you have an idea of what I am about to do.” Sanch pushed the blade harder against the man’s neck.
      “Wait, wait, wait!” The man shouted. “What do you want? I have gold. I am able to give you whatever you want. Why kill me because of this whore? I can pay you and we can forget about all of this. You go your way and I go mine.”
      “She will be leaving with your gold and I see no reason to take your offer. I think I will leave with your life.”
      “Wait!” The man yelled, but Sanch did not hesitate. The man’s head fell to the soft grass and rolled inches from its body.
      “We should be going before the others come looking for them,” Sanch said. “We must hurry.”
The young girl rose to her feet and took Sanch’s bloody hand. “This way. I live not too far from here. We will be safe there.”
Sanch let out a soft whistle and his steed trotted from his hiding place.
      “This way.” The girl pulled aggressively on Sanch’s hand.
      “What were you doing out here by yourself?” Sanch removed a cloak from a sack on his horse and handed it to the girl who pulled it close to her body.
      “I was taking a walk,  as I have done many times. But in the past, I have always been able to avoid Sillack’s men.”
      “Those were Sillack’s men?” Sanch stopped walking. “Are there more of them around here?”
      “Yes, they are always patrolling this area as if they are looking for something or someone.” She pulled him back into motion.
“Where could I find more of those men?”
      “Why the hell would you want to find men like them? They do nothing but rape, kill and take what they want.” She released his hand. “Do not tell me you wish to join them, to be one of those monsters. If so we can part ways now! Thank you for saving me, but I hope never to see you again.” She ran from him.
Sanch hurried to catch up with her. The cloak slipped from her shoulder when he touched her. He averted his eyes from her nakedness. “No, I do not wish to join them. I wish to kill them, all of them.”
She turned to stare into his face. “Who are you?”
      “Just a boy about my father’s business. Now, how much farther to your village? I would like to see you home safe before I am on my way.”
      “Not much farther now,” she said, as she reclaimed his hand, “plus, we need to clean you up before you head into town. They will surely ask questions if you walk in, looking as you do now.”
      “Thank you,” he said.
      “I should be thanking you.”
When they arrived at her home, her mother ran to her side. “What happened?” She glared at Sanch and rearranged the cloak around her daughter.
“He saved me. He stopped three of Sillack’s men from−−” She looked back at Sanch.
“And then he insisted on making sure I made it home safely.”
“What is your name, boy?” Her mother pulled the cloak tighter and brushed at her daughter’s hair with her hand.
“My name is Sanch.”
      “Sanch, who?” Her mother asked. “Who are your parents? Where is your home?”
      “Just Sanch.”
      “Very well, then. Now, let's  get you both cleaned up before your brother and father return.”
      Water rolled off fingertips in large drops and Sanch fought the urge to look at the girl. He watched as the rag became pink from the soft mixture of blood and water, the cold water soothing and cleaning in its wake.
“Why is it you wish to kill them all,” the girl said, When it did not look like you wanted to kill the three that you did? You do not strike me as a killer.”
Silent as he cleaned the men's life-blood from his hands, he spoke only when the last residue had been removed. “I am not a killer. I am here to help those who need my−”
“But you did kill those−”
“I would have killed many more of Sillack's men, if it meant bringing you home safe,” Sanch said, his eyes avoiding hers. “Tell me, please, the name of the girl I killed three men to save. You know my name, but I still do not know yours.”
She took his hand, just as they heard a loud banging noise. As they turned toward the sound and Sanch rushed to stand, the water emptied at his feet.
“Father!” The girl released the young man’s hand.
“Boy, come with me,” her father bellowed.
With nothing more than a nod, Sanch followed.
“Helen,” she whispered.
Sanch slowed his pace and dared a glimpse toward her.
“My name is Helen. I thank you for saving me. The gods must have sent you.”
Helen's father lead Sanch to the barn where the smell of hay and horses filled his nostrils. Excited animals whinnied and nickered and the old man raised his voice to be heard above the noise. “How does Sanch, the son of Lackshin, come to be in my house? I thought your mother would do a better job of hiding you.”
“How do you know who I am?”
“You’re a lot smaller than your father was, but you look every bit like him. Judging by the story my daughter told her mother, you wield a sword like him, as well.”
“You knew my father?” Sanch advanced closer. “How well did you know him?”
“As much as I would like to tell you about your father, there is no time. It will be dark soon, and you do not want to be in these woods after dark. The men out here tend to live without law, especially at night, and there will be more than three men for you to dispatch. Your horse is still saddled. We fed and watered him, so he is ready to go. You need to get going.” Helen’s father led him to where Aly waited.
“Will your household be safe when I leave? Won't Sillack’s men make their way onto your lands and cause trouble?” Sanch asked.
“They could, but we have an understanding. They stay off my land and my son and I have no reason to kill them. Do not worry. Helen is safe now. She’s home.”
“Will you tell her goodbye for me, and to please stay out of the woods by herself?” Sanch turned and walk toward Aly.
“There are a lot of people still looking for you, Sanch. Some have waited long and suffered great pains waiting for Lackshin’s boy to save them, and to bring a stop to Sillack's evil reign. Always remember, just like there are many who want to help, an equal amount wishes to see you dead. Sillack has taken from the good, and has give power to the worst. Know that some fight for him because they were given no choice and you may never truly know who your friends are or who you can trust. Find the ones being kept down by Sillack and you will find those willing to stand with you to stop him. We have waited a long time for the son of Lackshin.”
Sanch found Aly ready to go. As horse and rider walked away, Sanch saw a curtain pulled aside, ever so carefully. He saw only a glimpse of Helen before the curtain dropped. He turned toward the sound of soft footsteps following him and smiled as Helen joined her father.
“Will he be okay, Father?” She gripped her father's forearm. “Three men are one thing, but a town full of them may pose more of a challenge for him.”
“He should be fine.” Helen’s father oved the hair from her face. “He has a long distance to travel, and many people yet to kill before he finds what he seeks. We can not help him now, but we will be ready when the fight comes our way. I fear it will not be long before that happens.”
At the edge of the nearest town, Sanch hid Aly until he had a room and somewhere secure for the horse to sleep. As Sanch entered the inn, he looked about for the man his mother had told him of many times.
This inn was a gathering place for Sillack’s men and today, the normal, large crowd of people had congregated in the bar. Many were Sillack’s drunk and unruly men.
Sanch sat at the bar and motioned for the bartender to approach. When the innkeeper leaned in, Sanch said in a low voice, “I need for a room for the night.”
The bartender reached back and placed two glasses on the bar. He filled both to the brim and picked one up, motioning for Sanch to pick up the other. “You have a face I’ve seen before, boy.” The man's glass still raised, he said, “To familiar faces.”
Sanch held his glass without drinking. He glanced around, but no one seemed to have noticed the clank of the glasses touching.
“Drink up boy! You look like you have questions and the smell of this on your breath will make them more welcomed by the ones with the answers you seek.” The bartender poured Sanch another drink. “As for your room, I’ll go see what I can find.”
Sanch remained at the bar where he had a view of the entire bar, much of which was new to his young eyes. He watched women pass from man to man, the older of them laughing and joking, but the younger women – even to Sanch's inexperienced perspective – were clearly new to their trade. He looked at the glass before him as he heard the splash of wine, the drunken talk of days past. Sanch took another drink and remembered his father's name, but not his face. The heat filled him and his chest inflated. A new face was enough to get the soldiers's attention.
The inkeeper returned and refilled Sanch's glass. “I found you a room, if you are still interested.” He held his own glass up to assess its contents. “I should charge you extra. This is the good stuff.”
Sanch leaned in and signaled the innkeeper to come closer. With the palm of his hand firmly on the handle of his sword, he asked, "Do you know a man named Thrant? He was said to have lived here some time ago."
"I do not know him. I’m just a simple innkeeper." The man started to walk away.
Sanch reached out and grabbed his arm. "Are you sure you have never heard of him? It is very important I find him. His name is Thrant."
The innkeeper pulled from Sanch, then grabbed the boy's shirt and jerked him close. His mouth almost touching the boy's face, he hissed, "Maybe, just maybe Thrant is familiar to me. I may have heard of him. Oh, yes, now I remember. He was the captain of Sillack's army and said to have had a hundred young boys killed in a nearby town. He was said to have ordered the death of Lackshin's son. Are you sure this is the right place to ask these questions? Look around you. Every man here can tell you where to find Thrant, but do you really want to ask them? Who are you, to be looking for such a man?"
Sanch pulled his shirt from the innkeeper's grip. His voice less than a whisper, he said, "I am the one they have been looking for, the one they were ordered to kill. I am Sanch, son of Lackshin.” The young man sat taller on his stool and kept the old innkeeper's gaze. “This man, this Thrant, may have something of mine. I want it back, so I will ask again. Do you know where I can find him or should I ask one of these,” Sanch turned and made as if to stand, “and make a mess of this place?” 
“No need, no need,” the innkeeper said with a smile. "You are indeed your father's son. I knew I had seen your face before. Sillack's men have Thrant in one of their camps. He is no longer the captain of Sillack's army, or the captain of anything, for that matter."
"Why is that?" Sanch asked.
"He stopped the death of someone Sillack wanted dead," the old man said, and refilled his own glass.
Sanch pushed his empty glass toward the bottle. "Who was this person and why did Thrant stop the killing?"
"No one knows who or why, they just know it happened and it almost−and may still−cost Thrant his life."
"I must find him. It is a matter of life and death for many people. Do you know of someone who will tell me how to find where Sillack’s men are keeping him?"
"There is one who can help, but getting the help you need may not be a simple task," the innkeeper replied.
"Who is this person?"
"They all call her Lisha. She’s well known, and trust me, you will know her when you see her. It should not be hard to find her."
"Her? A woman?"
"Yes, a woman. Do you have someone else in mind?" The old man straightened his back.
"No, but how is a woman going to help me?"
"You would be surprised." The innkeeper put his hand on young Sanch’s shoulder. “Was it not a woman who taught you to use the sword at your side?”
"So, how am I to find her?"
"You’re going to ask for her in the town. Then, she will find you. First, you must eat and rest. You will need to be in good form to search for Lisha.”
“How can I sleep with Sillack's men in the same building? They will kill me if they discover my identity.”
The innkeeper slid another glass across the bar and said, “No charge for the son of Lackshin.” He gestured behind him. “Go through this door and climb the ladder you will find on the ground, to the second floor balcony. Once inside the middle window, bar the door. You will find food and drink waiting for you. Don't leave before sunrise. They will all be sleeping off tonight's drink in the morning. Tomorrow you may continue your quest to avenge your father. Tonight, you can sleep, assured of your safety, as long as I breathe.”
Sanch did as instructed, and once satisfied in the security of the bar on the door, he walked back to the window overlooking the hill that separated his home from the rest of the world. He watched the sun setting behind his hill so far away, and farther still from the completion of his quest. Before he closed the shutters, he closed his eyes and the wind caressed his cheeks. He walked to the bed, sat down and placed his face in his hands. Then, he did what he always did when he came on hard times and needed inspiration. “Father, in your absence you have given me all I need to fight your enemies−my enemies−and to finish what you started. I hope I can do what even you were unable to do. Give me the strength I will need in order to do what is asked of me.”
Before resting, he sharpened and polished his sword, in a vain attempt to remove a black stain from the blade. Once he returned his sword to its sheath and laid her on the bed next to where he would lie, he drifted off to sleep.
 
  
Chapter Two
      
When he awoke, he found himself no longer in bed, but in the forest and he sensed he was not alone. Something was in the forest with him, something ominous, and it was after him. He heard hooves, heavy on the dry leaves, and looked in the direction of the noise, but could not see what was coming through the thick fog. The wind swirled the fog and moved the rancid smell of the creature’s breath into Sanch’s face. It burned his nose. He looked deeper into the fog and two glowing red eyes glared back at him. He had seen those eyes before.
He turned to run, but his feet were strapped to the ground by vines that grew higher and higher. The eyes of the creature moved closer and they glowed ever brighter. Whatever it was, it smelled like death mixed with the rusty scent of blood. Sanch pulled his sword from its sheath and hacked desperately at the vines binding his feet. He pulled free and ran to put distance between him and whatever pursued. As he ran, he heard the gallop getting closer and closer. Sanch evaded his pursuer, but being born of a warrior, he could not resist the overwhelming urge to fight. The young warrior turned with sword in hand, ready to take on whatever was to come through the thick, blinding fog.
As soon as he stopped, the vines that held him earlier, returned to restrain him once again. As the gallop grew louder, the red of the creature’s eyes glowed deeper and brighter. The warrior stood bound, but ready for whatever would come next.
Just as suddenly as he fell asleep, Sanch awoke, even before he could see his pursuer's face break through the fog. With his hands gripped tightly around the handle of his sword, he looked around. There was no mother to comfort the young man. He knew that he was truly on his own. He stood from the bed, sword still in hand. He walked over to a silver bowl, filled with water. The cold on his face, the wet awakening of the water was just what was needed. He looked at his distorted reflection. The sound of the drops returning to the bowl sent chills down his spine. He heard movement downstairs and walked over to the window. He looked out and saw a sunrise unlike any he had seen before. The sun crept over the hill in an amazing shade of red. Accepting this as a sign—a special send off, he thought of his mother and Unghell, the only true friend that he had left behind. Sanch did not tell him of his plans to leave because Unghell would have certainly followed him.
Curious about what or who was making the sounds, he tiptoed to the stairs. Softly he walked, to avoid detection because he did not know if friend or foe awaited him at the end of the dark stairwell. The more he descended, the more clearly he heard raised voices. One of the voices stood out, familiar.
Sanch recognized the voice of one of Sillack’s men. He did not say much, but when he did talk, everyone listened.
     “That boy you were talking to, who is he? I noticed he had a warrior sword.” He pushed the innkeeper against the bar.
     “He needed a room. He is upstairs.” The innkeeper trembled as he spoke.
     With his hand covering his face, Sanch stepped out from the shadow of the stairwell.
“I may have had too much to drink last night,” he said. “What was in those bottles, barkeep?” He stumbled into the man holding the sword.
      “Get off me, boy!” The soldier shouted and shoved Sanch against a nearby table.
      “There is no need for that, my friend,” Sanch said, as he rose to his feet. “I need a drink. Just water this time.” Sanch placed himself between the innkeeper and the sword, and motioned the man to move behind the bar.
      “Who are you, boy?” Sillack's man pointed his sword at Sanch’s throat. “And what are you doing in my town?”
     Sanch rocked back and forth on his feet, expressionless. “I am just passing through. The hour grew late and I decided to stop in this establishment for a drink or two. I was lucky he had a room for me as well.” Sanch reached back to the bar to pick up his cup of water.
      “And that sword. Where did a boy like you get a sword like that? That is the sword of a warrior. Did you steal it?”
     Sanch drew his sword and before the soldier knew what had happened, his sword was no longer at Sanch’s throat, but redirected and rendered useless.
      “You mean this sword?” Sanch asked as he raised the cup and being refreshed by the cold of the water. “It was a gift from my father. I am not very good with it yet, but I feel like I may get a lot of practice in days to come.”
     Two other soldiers stood back having nothing to add to the conversation, their mouths agape, as their leader stood there without counter to this boy’s sword.
            “Come on there’s no need for this!” Said with a quiver in his voice. The innkeeper knowing of the heavy repercussion that would follow if Sanch were to have killed this man. He grabbed the boy’s shoulder; his grip firm in the way a father would manage his son. “Do not do this boy.” His voice lowered to a whisper. “You kill him and his men will not stop until they find and kill you. We both know you have more important business to attend to.” The innkeeper pulled Sanch closer and with his lips nearly pressed to his ear. “You are about your father’s business young Sanch.”
Sanch’s stare narrowed and he lowered his sword.
      “Why do you ask?” His head tilted and one eyebrow razed Sanch asked. Thrusting his chin at the solder “Your sword is nice as well. Where did you acquire it?”
     He threw his shoulders back and shouted, “I am a soldier! This is the sword given to the ranking officers in Sillack’s army, and you, boy, need to show respect.”
      “Oh, my apologies, sir.” Sanch sheathed his sword. “I did not know my place. Again, I apologize. Please, give your lord Sillack my best. I hope to one day make his acquaintance.” Sanch smiled broadly.
      “I can arrange for you to meet him, now,” The soldier replied.
     Sanch turned around to the bar. “Another cup of water, please. “No. Today does not work for me. Today, I am seeing a woman about a sword.” Sanch finished his water. “Thank you, innkeeper, for your hospitality.” Before taking his leave, Sanch stopped in the doorway, “Innkeeper, are we good, here?”
     The innkeeper replied, “I would say we are, young man.”
     Sanch turned and looked at the soldiers. “Are we good, here?”
     The two lesser-ranking men nodded. Before the door slammed shut behind him, he looked to the senior soldier and said, “Keep practicing. You will get better with that sword.” Then, as he walked out he shouted back, “’Till we meet again!”
Sanch walked a short distance to the stables where his traveling companion had spent his night. Like every other time, he was greeted by a head bump from his horse. “Aly, you would not believe my morning.” Sanch gave his old friend an apple, and a good rub down before he started his search for Lisha in the town as the innkeeper had instructed.
Because he decided to walk, to keep his horse fresh, it took Sanch over three hours to arrive at the town where the innkeeper said he might find Lisha. Shortly after he entered the town, two men he had never seen before claimed loudly that Sanch owed them money.
      “I do not know either of you, how can you possibly think that I owe you anything?” Sanch had to look up at the biggest man.                            
      “That does not change the fact that you owe us money, and a lot of it. You'd better pay us or you are going to have some real trouble,” the smaller of the men said, as they approached Sanch.
     Sanch said, “I do not want any trouble. I just wish to be on my way.”
The larger of the two men shrugged. “Well, pay us and you won’t have any trouble. We can go on with our business and you can go on with yours.”
      “I don't think so. I do not owe you anything so I am not going to pay.” Sanch's voice was low but firm.
      “So boy, I guess you're going to have to fight us both.”
      “My name is not boy. It's Sanch, and if you two want a fight, so be it.” He released the rein on his horse and Aly walked away.
     The strangers pulled their weapons and strode toward Sanch. The smaller of the two had a sword, and the larger man wielded an ax the size of Sanch's upper body.
     Sanch stepped back and drew his sword.
     The bigger one attacked first. “This will be easy,” he said, as he raised his ax high over his head and brought it down toward Sanch with a mighty force.
     Sanch, smaller and faster than the man, dodged his swing. Then, with lightning-fast reaction, stepped on the ax handle and brought his knee up to meet the man’s nose.
     The man stumbled back with blood spurting from his face, but once again, he  attacked. Sanch held his ground and defended himself with the sword his mother had said was a gift from his father. The young man countered with a move that lowered the weapon and gave him the opportunity to make a strike against the big man who struggled to raise his ax. A high swing spilled the large man’s blood once more when Sanch cut his chest.
     The smaller bandit attacked Sanch with his sword but was quickly thrown to the ground. Sanch prepared for their next attack. The big man with the ax growled in anger as he advanced.
     From between two buildings, a firm, but soft voice said,
“Do you not think that is a little unfair, two against one?”
      “I am doing just fine, thank you,” Sanch shouted back to the voice.
      “I still think you can stand a little help.” A woman stepped from the shadows, ready with her sword.
 
     Sanch glanced over. “Lisha?”    
      “Do I know you?”
      “No, you do not know me, but I was told I would find you here.”
The smaller man had returned to his feet and struck at Sanch’s head, but Sanch ducked and brought his sword across the man's leg. He dropped his sword and grabbed his leg as he fell to the ground. The mad man with the ax charged toward Sanch, but Lisha positioned herself between Sanch and the attacker. She appeared to be dancing rather than fighting before she disarmed him and dismissed him and his limping friend, with a scolding but without any extra money and avoided eye contact.
      “As for you,” Lisha turned to Sanch, “who are you and how is it that you know my name?”
      “I am Sanch, and I was told you would be able to help me.”
      “Help you with what?” She asked with her head lowered. Her cheeks tightened and her voice slightly raised.  
      “A quest.”
      She leaned and let out a laugh. “A quest of what kind?”
      “A quest of great importance!” Sanch jutted his chin out and squared his shoulders.
“What makes you think that I can help you?” She asked as she slapped her pants sending a cloud of dust bellowing.
      “I heard you are a good fighter and I’ve seen your skills for myself, though I did not request your help with my little skirmish. Will you help me or not?”
      “Tell me more about this quest of great importance and how I am supposed to help you.”
  With his eyes fixed on the ground “I am looking for the man who killed my father,”
 “Oh, that explains everything,” she said. “Just what, exactly, do you plan on doing with him when you find him?”
      “I intend to kill him,” Sanch said. His eyes narrowed and the muscles in his clenched jaw tightened into a knot. “Just as he killed my father!”
“Who was your father?” Lisha asked.
With his chest inflated “I am the son of Lackshin.”
      “I’ve heard of him. And that would make the man you wish to kill–”
      “Sillack.”
Lisa asked, “So, that makes you...”
“That makes me Sanch, the son of Lackshin, the man who will take the life of Sillack. I grow weary of your questions, woman. I must be on my way with or without you. I will ask you once more, will you help me?” Sanch sheathed his sword with an exaggerated arm motion, making it clatter in its holder.
      “I have more questions that you must answer if you want my help. What makes you think you can kill Sillack, even if I can help you find him and who told you about me?”
      “Your reputation precedes you. I have heard of your skill with a sword and as I said before, I have seen you in action.”
     “You didn't answer my other question. Who told you about me?”
     “Oh, just a friend.”
“Does this friend have a name?” Lisha placed her hands on her hips and cocked her head to one side.
Sanch said, “You know, he never told me his name, although I did meet him in a town not too far from here.”
“I am going to kill that damned innkeeper!” Lisha clenched her fists and shook them toward the sky.
      “How did you know who it was?”
Lisha turned toward the town Sanch had just left and walked fast enough to stir up a small dust trail.
      “Come on! You're going the wrong way!” Sanch hurried to catch up to her.
      “No, I’m not. I am going to kill that innkeeper. He has a big mouth and
I am going to shut it for him!”
 Sanch shouted and spoke with a crack in his voice, “We have no time for this! We must find Thrant before Sillack has no more reason to keep him around.”
She kept walking but her pace had slowed, some.
Sanch said, “You can kill him the next time you see him.”
Lisha turned and glared. “Okay, fine, the next time I see him, I will kill him. For now, I will go with you, but if I find that you are on a fool’s quest, I am finished. You understand me Son of Lackshin?”
A smile crept across his face. “Yes, I understand. Okay, good. Can we go find Thrant, now?”
Lisha returned to Sanch and after studying him a moment, she said, “So, Sillack turned on good old Thrant. What did Thrant do, and does your mother know you’re this far from home?”
“He saved the life of someone Sillack wanted dead, so Sillack put him in chains. At least, that is what I was told and you need not concern yourself with what my mother knows.”
Aly had returned to Sanch's side and was nuzzling his shoulder.
“Who is this beautiful animal? Your horse?”
“No, this is Aly, my friend,” Sanch replied as he stroked Aly’s chest.
“Do you know this man Thrant? It seems as if you do.”
      “Of course. He and my father were in the same army. They were like brothers.” she said. “I guess we should get going.”
They walked to where Lisha kept her horse and soon they were on their way to find Thrant. After riding two and a half days and inquiring into the whereabouts of   where Thrant was being held, they found the camp in a valley, but they were on the top of one of the smaller mountains surrounding it.
      “Boy, that’s a long way down,” Sanch said.
      “It is.” She laughed.
“Any smart ideas Sanch, Son of Lackshin?”
He turned to her. “Not at the moment, how about you?”
She smiled and asked, “Do you, by any chance, have some rope?”
He shook his head. “No, but I’m sure if we look, we can find another way down.”
Lisha, looked over her shoulders. “Yes, I'm sure you are right, but I forgot my wings, today.”
“Lisha, are you going to be helpful or are you going to be a pain in my ass the entire time?”
Dropping her voice to a whisper, while batting her eyelashes, she said, “I'm going to help you, of course, but while being a pain in your ass.” She winked at him.
 Sanch chuckled. “That will have to do, then,” he said. “So help me look for another way down.” He looked around the area.
She said, “Why don't we just take the path down the side of the mountain?”
      “What path down the mountain?”
      “The one over there, on the your side of the mountain.” She pointed to the path.
“Why did you not say that before?”   
Lisha shrugged. “You did not ask me before, and besides, I figured you knew it was there.”
      “Exactly how would I know? Never mind,” Sanch said. “Let's go. We don't have much day left, and we don’t want to have to navigate that narrow path with so little light. And still we need a safe place for the horses till we return.”
Sanch rested his hand on the handle of his sword.
     “So, tell me," Lisha asked, with raised eyebrows, "what is so important about this man, for you to go to such lengths to find him? Why do you need him so?”
      “He is going to help me find something I need.”
Lisha said, “Well, that's vague. What exactly is it he is going to help you find?”
In a soft voice, Sanch said, “My sword.”
“But your sword is in your damn hand!”
“Not this one, the one my father had when he was alive.”
“What do you need with his sword? You have your own.”
“Yes, but I need my father's sword to kill Sillack.”
Lisha held her sword out to him. “Use mine.”
Sanch said, “Your sword would not be able kill him. My sword will not be able to kill him. He is not like other men. In fact, he is not a man you can fight with normal swords. I need a sword forged by the hands of gods and steel of the same, cooled by the blood of my father. That is why I need that particular sword.”
“Okay. Let's go. I just wanted to know why I was risking my life, and for what, that is all.” she said.
He took a deep breath. “And I do thank you for that. I will repay you, I promise.”
A smile returned to her face. “That is okay, I do not need to be repaid. The joy of making you miserable will be payment enough.”     
Sanch saw something moving in the bushes, so he signaled for Lisha to look.
      “Over there, Lisha do you see it?” he whispered.
She strained to get a better look. “Yes, but what is it, what does it want?
Let's just go, maybe it did not see us.”
      “Yeah,” He agreed, “maybe it did-”
Before he could finish, men with swords and axes ran toward Sanch and Lisha shouting battle cries.
     Lisha said, “Sanch, can you actually use that thing?”
      “Shut up and fight,” he said, just as the leader of the onslaught called off the attack.
      “I guess they have heard of me, too,” Lisha said as she rolled her eyes and tightened her lips to hold back a laugh, “or maybe they know who you are, mighty Sanch, son of the great Lackshin.”
 
 
 
 
 

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I enjoy reading classic styled stories such as this one. Classic though it maybe it has a nice balance of discretion to straightforwardness. From the scene where Helen is assaulted and left in tattered clothing yet given a cleverly featureless description to the attack by Sanch rendered in all its bloodied glory. I do hope you'll go back and add more overall body to the story as it felt very quickly paced. You may also want to find a competent editor to go through and give it a nice glossy finish; something I certainly need. I look forward to revisiting this story thanks for sharing it.

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Franklyn Thomas Jr.

1 Week Ago

Thank you so much for the feed back. That is just what I need to give my readers a great story to re.. read more



Reviews

I enjoy reading classic styled stories such as this one. Classic though it maybe it has a nice balance of discretion to straightforwardness. From the scene where Helen is assaulted and left in tattered clothing yet given a cleverly featureless description to the attack by Sanch rendered in all its bloodied glory. I do hope you'll go back and add more overall body to the story as it felt very quickly paced. You may also want to find a competent editor to go through and give it a nice glossy finish; something I certainly need. I look forward to revisiting this story thanks for sharing it.

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Franklyn Thomas Jr.

1 Week Ago

Thank you so much for the feed back. That is just what I need to give my readers a great story to re.. read more

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Added on September 25, 2017
Last Updated on September 25, 2017
Tags: Sword, Heart, Franklyn Thomas Jr., Dragon, Sanch, Lisha, young reader, Si-Fi, Science Fiction, Childrens book, Good vs Evil, Action Adventure, Shallin, Epic Adventure, Epic, Sanch son of Lackshin, Sha

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Franklyn Thomas Jr.
Franklyn Thomas Jr.

Orlando , FL



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   In my mind are words with lives of their own and for them to live others must be allowed to read them and give the words a chance to live in the minds and the imagination of those wh.. more..

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