Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Robert Nicholls

“Defend yourself!”


Brithgar charged at Sly, wildly swinging his giant broadsword with two hands, his muscles hardly showing any effort being exhausted to move such a large weapon. The thick blade gleamed in the light of the fire, giving off an ambience of death, and Sly could almost see the faces of hundreds that had met their makers upon the sharp edges of the sinister metal.

Sly jumped up quickly from the boulder he had been lounging on, snatching up his shield before Brithgar’s weapon could come crushing down on his head. He swiftly parried the attack and backed out of the way. Brithgar flashed a grin at the thought of the upcoming battle, while Sly unsheathed his dagger from its jewel encrusted leather home. It looked rather puny in the shadow of his rival’s large sword, but Sly sent a grin back towards him of equal excitement. He knew his opponent was strong, and his blade deadly, but Sly was faster, more agile, and had a shield that had never failed him in battle.

A roar echoed from Brithgar’s throat, and he lunged at Sly, bringing his weapon down with a heavy whirr. Sly brought up his left arm, carrying the rough circular shield to make contact with the sword, causing a loud crack to resonate into the trees. The shock of such a powerful blow shook through his arm, but Sly refused to make a sound, less he give the attacker any gratification. He then stabbed his dagger through the air towards Brithgar’s vulnerable stomach, but it was met with nothing but empty space, as his opponent had slid to his side before the mean blade had reached him.

Sly knew he was left open for an attack, so he flung his shoulder to the ground and rolled away faster than a snow leopard chasing a hare in the dead of winter. The sound of Brithgar’s sword smashing into the ground behind him assured Sly he had made the right move. He sprang to his feet and glared across the campfire at his mentor, who had already circled away.


“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were trying to kill me,” Sly chimed.

“And if I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re scared of fighting me!” Brithgar laughed.

Sly and his teacher both knew this wasn’t true; they each had their share of scars to prove it.

The two proceeded to spar, as they had done every night since the first time they met. Their clanging weapons, furious cries, and boisterous laughter rang out through the forest, occasionally attracting the attention of a few nocturnal rodents who could be seen spying on the action from the cover of shrubs that bordered the clearing in which they had prepared their campground. Each man attempted to overpower, outsmart, and outlast the other, but the battle would soon end as it had for the past two months.


Breathing heavily, Brithgar held up his hand, catching his breath while signaling for sly to stop. Sly grinned again, although he felt somewhat disappointed in the outcome of the fight. He had half expected to best his opponent this time, but instead only procured a nick upon his forearm and a scrape on his leg. Sly himself had a nasty bruise on his arm under where his shield had been strapped on and a cut that ran the length of his foot, which had been caused by a sharp rock he had kicked in an attempt to dodge a particularly strong attack. He had always been ridiculed by his friends and enemies alike about his lack of footwear, but he found himself appreciating the chance to be more in tune with the earth, and refused to have anything between his skin and the rock, gravel, or dirt below.


“Had enough, old man?” Sly grinned.

“Hardly, but we must rest,” Brithgar panted.

Standing across from his master, Sly reveled in the sight of the man. He was a large individual, larger then all men he had ever met, and larger than most beasts. His muscles were enormous, due to the long years of training and fighting for many nations throughout many wars. Scars ran up and down his arms, both from nearly fatal ambushes from the enemies of his allies, and his numerous scuffs with local bandits looking to take priceless possessions from anyone who may be unaware of the dangers of travelling unprepared. His broadsword was stained with blood and covered in scratches, but still held the mighty aura it had been forged with long ago. Sly marveled at the sheer ferocity that emanated from him, and he believed wholeheartedly that plenty of men greater than himself had cowered at the feet of this being’s might, awaiting their impending death. His dark hair was short and commanded respect, his torso was bare save for the deep red pendant that hung from a silver chain around his neck, and his leggings were a murky brown, made of simple leather and covered in a mixture of blood, dirt, and soot. His eyes were a cloudy grey, the greater part of his long life reflected in the irises. Sly recognized the hint of sadness deep within, but what the memories were about was unknown to him, as his mentor was never quick to disclose such personal matters. Still, Sly knew that this was a man he could trust with his life, as he had already done more than once by now.


Sly sheathed his dagger with a quick wisp, and set his shield down next to the boulder he had been sitting on when the spar ensued. He snatched a scrap of cloth out of his bag, and wrapped it around his foot to stop the bleeding. The pain in his arm had numbed to a dull throb, so he took no more than a quick glance at it. It was already turning a nice shade of purple and had begun to swell.

“That looks pretty ugly,” Brithgar paused to chuckle at the oxymoron. “Do you want me to take care of it for you?”

“Sure, I appreciate it,” Sly muttered.

Brithgar approached Sly, who groaned and lifted his arm. Brithgar held his hand an inch over the bruise and murmured a word under his breath. A dim blue light glowed out from his palm and seemed to disappear into Sly’s injured arm. Sly grimaced as he felt his wound healing itself, and he envisioned the blood vessels repairing below his skin, the muscle sinew stretching and retracting from the power of the spell. The affected area went numb for a minute, and then, as if it was never there, the dark circle disappeared. Sly flexed his hand and arm, admiring the work, and bowed his head in appreciation towards Brithgar. It never ceased to amaze him how such a strong person could have so much energy and knowledge of the ways of the Word.


“Thanks, it feels a lot better.”

Without saying another word, Brithgar chuckled and plopped down to the ground to the left of Sly, and began warming his hands near the fire. He looked Sly over with appreciation.

“You did well. That duel was rather tough, and you had me pretty worn down by the time we stopped.”

“Yeah, well,” Sly retorted, “I would have had you if you hadn’t told me we were done.”

Brithgar guffawed and shook his head. His booming laughter startled a nearby rabbit, who took off towards his home hidden somewhere in the nearby brush. Brithgar eyed the tiny animal, a longing look in his eye.

“That would make a good dinner,” he said wishfully. “I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve had a nice meat and potatoes meal.”

“You’ll be alright, just think about what we’ll get to eat when we get to Tindar.” Sly hoped this would appease the man’s hunger for now.

They had been forced to eat only what they could forage on the run for the past few weeks, and in this area of the land, edible plants were scarce. In fact, some of the only ones that were good enough to eat would be more likely to eat you before you could cut them down. Sly’s growling stomach and aching leg reminded him of that quite often.


“That’s not the only thing I am looking forward to,” Brithgar breathed, closing his eyes.

Sly knew he was thinking about his wife and son, alone in the bustling seaside city. He had left them there years ago, when he ventured out to help the late King Simon in the war against the Shurens. This would be the first time he would be returning home, and he hoped to find his love would be equally returned after all these years. Sly smiled to himself as he wondered if he would ever experience the kind of story of finding a soul to match his that Brithgar had illustrated for him so many times.

As he slumped down to the hard earth, dragging a pile of leaves under his head for comfort, Sly’s thoughts turned to his past, and he began to slip into dreams of his own family.

© 2011 Robert Nicholls

My Review

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Featured Review

Overall a very very good start to a story!

The prologue is a good fit. It actually would probably make me want to buy the book (there is one or two awkward sentences and grammatical errors that I saw but other than that very good)

I like how the battle scene in the beginning of this first chapter turns out to be a sparring match between student and mentor. I did not expect that it was just a sparring match, surprises are good things! Very good descriptions of the characters and the events happening keep it up!

Posted 7 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


Okay, I know this work is old and hasn't been updated in years but I found this very captivating to read :) It could definitely teach me a thing or two about writing battle scenes and sword fights

Posted 4 Months Ago

I can only second what the Bomb said, very well done.

I would add that the touch of magic by the large Brithgar was another surprise to me, as he was depicted as a character we'd least expect to be involved with any kind of spellcraft. This kind of added to the mystery of his character, to me at least. I'm curious about the wonders of this world, everything from its vicious plants to its bloody wars..

Posted 7 Years Ago

Overall a very very good start to a story!

The prologue is a good fit. It actually would probably make me want to buy the book (there is one or two awkward sentences and grammatical errors that I saw but other than that very good)

I like how the battle scene in the beginning of this first chapter turns out to be a sparring match between student and mentor. I did not expect that it was just a sparring match, surprises are good things! Very good descriptions of the characters and the events happening keep it up!

Posted 7 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

While I understand where your coming from, Worfy, let me just let you know that the Prologue was actually unrelated to this first chapter. The prologue here is somewhat more of what will happen later on in the story line.. I think I will rename it to Synopsis, or Back of the Book, to expell the confusion.

Don't worry though, Sly will find himself in plenty wild circumstances later on... :D

Posted 7 Years Ago

You certainly can write. I am not a reader of much fantasy (back in the day, The Dragonriders of Pern series by Ann McAffrey and one or two books by Robert Jordan). I don't know how to do it- but I think there needs to be more of the world we have been thrown into - plus it would be better (to me) if Sly had really been in trouble. His mentor could rescue him. After the build-up of the prologue, realizing there was no real danger feels a little like you were cheated.

Posted 7 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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5 Reviews
Added on December 11, 2011
Last Updated on December 12, 2011


Robert Nicholls
Robert Nicholls

Rogers, AR

I have always loved writing, but I dropped out of the game for a while during the span of my life in which I gained a family, great job, and the rest of life's little pleasures. Now, after many years .. more..

Prologue Prologue

A Chapter by Robert Nicholls