By Michael Drakich
Sleinad walked from stall to stall doling out the morning portions of oats and grains. “A useless bunch of nags you are! Eating and eating and bringing me what, nothing! I have half a mind to sell the lot of ya to the tanner.”
“Is anyone here?”
Sleinad turned to look out the stable door. A group of men were congregated in his yard. “Ah, customers, and early ones at that! I smell a profit to be made, and perhaps a mouth or two less to feed.”
Exiting the barn, Sleinad walked to join the group. “Good morning, gentlemen. So nice to see you, and so early! What might I help you with today? A horse? A wagon? Or a combination? You’ll find no better deal than here at Sleinad’s Wheel.”
A burly man sporting a whip tied to his belt stopped scanning the yard to face him. “I’m looking for a horse.”
“Horses I have, some of the finest animals around, and at a price you’ll find quite reasonable.”
The man brushed by Sleinad to enter the barn. “Just show me what you got.”
The man looked into each stall and moved on, commenting as he went. “No…nope…not him…no…no…nope…wait! This is the one!” Continue reading
By Michael Drakich
Dyoran could feel the harsh edges of the pebbles and stones strewn across the road through the worn soles of his sandals, each step pounding down hard on those lowly objects as he ran. The dampness he felt between his toes was not one of perspiration, but a painful result of determination.
I will not be caught again!
The breaths were coming ragged now, his lungs laboring against his young chest. With his small bundle of stolen foods under his left arm, the other continued to work through the motions of thrusting forward with the matching cadence of his left leg in an effort to maximize his speed.
How long have I been running? It seems like forever, but only now does the sun dip below the horizon. It was well past mid-afternoon when I hit the slave master with my shovel. It cannot be more than three or four leagues. They will be after me with horses by now. I must find somewhere to hide and catch my breath.
The ancient stone marker by the roadside loomed ahead. Rising some ten or more hands above him, the olden carved-in runes were barely visible in the twilight. He reached for the monolith using the last of his strength, as if finishing a race, and collapsed against the weather worn granite in submission to the toll upon his body.
Night descended as he lay crumpled against the stone. Finding no strength left to stand, he crawled around to the backside of the marker in an attempt to hide from view of the road. With night would come the colder weather. Dyoran huddled close to the stone in an effort to avoid the chill wind scouring the countryside. Many avoided the roadside monoliths as they were believed to be cursed. Some thought they were alive with evil spirits. Unlike normal rock, these were warm to the touch, but the chilling thing, when in contact; a dark sound filled the mind, like some demon chanting to steal one’s soul. Continue reading
By Michael Drakich
William Lassell, as always, was watching. Whatever would occur would happen, soon.
Bartholomew could see the faint light. He knew he was close. He needed to intensify his digging. The cold felt so intense. He didn’t know if his strength would last. And damn it! Why was it so cold?
“Bartholomew Higginbottom, you are a fool.”
Bartholomew pondered the remark from his close friend. Was he merely being exaggerative in playful banter or was he serious? “Winston, my friend, suffice it to say, I have never been clearer in thought.”
“Nevertheless, you risk much in this venture of yours. Yes, I know you are the great adventurer. You have traveled the world, taken all the dares, and conquered all the challenges. But this time you go too far.”
He knew that. But when he discovered a great open space lay beneath the ice field, the trailblazer in him had to see. A miner had run bore tests on the glacier to see what lay beneath and, lo and behold, discovered there was…nothing! “Winston, you are not the risk taker I am, that is for sure. But you cannot deny the proof a vast, unexplored area lies beneath the ice. The reports state the miner bored no less than twenty holes over a large area and came up with the same result every time.”
“Yes, you have shown me that report many times. What more have you to prove though? You have braved all the dangers this world has to offer, from jungles to volcanoes, explored the deepest waters and captured the wildest of creatures. You have become…extraordinary. Yours is a household name. Bartholomew Higginbottom, the intrepid explorer, that’s what they call you.” Continue reading