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Book of the Fallen: Nathanial's Folly Chapter 1
Author's Note: This is a work of fiction that I have been toying around with for a few years and haven't gotten much beyond the first few chapters. I have had several friends look it over and they say to keep it going as I have envisioned it being a series of books but I don't know. So here is the first two chapters with a prologue please also note that beyond basic research I am just making some of this up so just roll with it.
The sound of steel hitting iron rang through out the passageway. So much for the element of surprise, not that he was trying real hard. Sneaking around just wasn’t his style. Again the orc swung his iron sword at him. Was it a goblin or an orc, nope definitely an orc. The blow shook his whole arm as he took it on the flat of his blade, letting it slide off easily. At the same time he pivoted around on his left foot and drove the blade of the 9 inch knife in his right hand into the orcs’ neck and severed his spinal cord. The orc’s iron sword clattered as it hit the floor and blood from the neck wound fountained against the wall. This was battle, this was something he understood, and his heart was pounding in his chest.
Two more orcs appeared from a side passage further down the tunnel. They roared a challenge at him. Somehow the thought of fighting his way through the passage didn’t seem like a bad idea. He would plug up the passage with the dead; at this point common sense was right out the window. He roared a battle cry of his own back at them running down the passage to meet them. The first distanced himself from his companion wanting the kill to be his. The look of pure unthinking rage was in this ones eye and that made him stupid and easily dealt with. He rolled beneath the clumsy two handed stroke aimed at his head and drew his saber across the orc’s soft belly just below the rings of its chainmail. The sharp blade cutting deep into the orcs’ belly and spilling his entrails, the orc seemed confused by the sudden ropes of intestine falling at his feet. A quick hit to the back of the head was all it took to make the problem worse as the orc lost his balance and spilled even more guts onto the ground.
He met the third orcs’ charge with the blades of his sword and knife crossed. The orc had leveled an overhead blow meant to cleave him in two. If not for the crossed blades it surely would have. His muscles strained to keep the blade from advancing, the orc grinned at him, the stink of rotten flesh wafting from that evil grin as the orc pushed harder focusing on winning the impromptu test of strength. The orc was so focused in fact that he failed to see the well placed knee to his tender private parts until it was too late. The pain caused the orc to stumble back and afforded him just enough breathing room to reverse the hold on his knife and drive it deep between the orcs eyes. This time the blood sprayed all over the front of him so that as he stood there covered in blood the only appropriate thing to do was yell another battle cry.
Another orc appeared in the passage this one bigger then the rest, a large two handed broadsword in its grip. This was beginning to get fun. He yelled again and ran to meet this new challenge. He stooped to retrieve his knife but it held fast in the dead orcs head. Shame he really liked that knife, oh well back to the task at hand. He planted his feet and prepared himself to take the orcs initial blow. The orc howled and swung.
“Damn” Thomas Ramsey or Lord Xusader as his hacker buddies knew him, swore at great length and to no one in particular. That was the best video game he had ever played. His muscles ached as if he had absorbed the blows himself and his face felt like there was still drying blood on it. It had all the hints of getting better too. Well nothing to do for it now but check his systems to make sure the crash didn’t affect it and try to hack back into that server. Yeah he was definitely going to get back into that server.
“Widget!” he yelled “Widget get your useless metal hide out here. A small metal ovoid about the size of a football floated out into the middle of the room and hovered about 4 feet off the floor.
“Yes” came a decidedly metallic voice sounding more like a vintage speak-n-spell then a sophisticated robot. He knew Widget couldn’t have gone far, the magnetic repulser field that he floated on kept him pretty much limited to Thomas’s bedroom and the adjoining computer room. Of all the things he had built, Widget was the one he was most proud of, for as much grief as the robot gave him and he gave it back, it had still exceeded his every expectation. He had even begun to suspect that he was pirating processing and storage power from somewhere since Widget should have hit its limits months ago, but he just kept learning and getting smarter.
“Did you record everything up until the crash?”
“YES” the small red 3-D octagon that represented Widget on his computer changed to a yellow square and went from appearing on just one of the four monitors in front of him to filling all of them as he said it. Thomas had originally patterned Widget after a bit, an idea he got after watching a late night showing of the 80’s movie Tron and sometimes Widget took it a little personally. He should have known the robot was in a mood when he first answered in the robotic monotone. It was going to be a long afternoon.
“Did you start running a full diagnostic?”
“YES” he could almost hear the sarcasm in that robotic voice.
“Cut the crap Widget and just run the tests”
“Why yes masser, us poor robots r jus ‘ere to pleeze ya masser!”
Thomas suppressed a chuckle; the robots change to the deep southern accent was too funny not to laugh. Well there was no way he was going to get anything done with Widget in his current mood so he might as well take the trash out so his mom would stop pestering him. He got up out of his custom VR chair and made his way towards his bedroom door.
“Widget I am going out I’ll be back in awhile”
“Go to Hell” but Thomas didn’t hear him he was too caught up in thinking about that video game and how real it seemed. So as he ran down the stairs and returned to the world of an above average 16 yr old he failed to notice what Widget called after him or the faint rustle like a bird’s wing against his computer room window…
Down the Great Dragon was hurled….
The Ardennes, French encampment
World War I
Newly promoted Lieutenant Philip Mercer was tired and cold and muddy and he was beginning to get the impression that his men didn’t think too highly of him. For the third time in as many minutes he checked the periscope looking over no mans land. It was dark, almost too dark to see but the slight glow coming from behind the German trenches gave him enough light to tell nothing was moving. He pulled his wool coat tighter around him and moved a little closer to his fire. He looked around at his men huddled in small groups around well covered fires so as not to give away their positions. Some were resting, others talking and more then a few just seemed to be staring off into the distance. He did not relish the idea of telling them that in a few hours they would be going over the top and many of them wouldn’t be coming back. A stray comment brought him out of his own seemingly endless trance.
“I ‘m telling you I heard it from a guy in the 1st battalion. He said it looked like they had been ripped apart by some sort of monster.” Was it Anton? No, Corp. Desjardins, That was his name. He had a group of four men sitting with him around a fire their faces lit by its small glow. Mercer did another quick check of the periscope and then satisfied nothing was moving, he repositioned himself so that he could listen to the conversation. As he did an eerie howl split the night, causing everyone to turn their heads towards no-mans land.
“I’m telling you the Kaiser has made a deal with the devil and unleashed some demon on us!” that was Desjardins again
“Quiet down you fool that was just a dying animal. You’re letting your imagination get the better of you.” That was Sergeant Anton. Mercer could tell by the almost plain farm hand way he talked to everyone. “Besides I heard the medics say those boys in the third battalion were hit by a mortar, not ripped to pieces”
“No one of the general’s runners told me they only found body parts and those looked like they had been gnawed on.” That was private Durian he always seemed to be siding with Desjardins and liked to brag he knew members of the general staff personally. Again the same cry split the night, halting the conversation. It might have been his imagination but to his ear it sound like was closer this time.
“Do you really think it was just a mortar Sarge?” that was private Hughs one of the Brits that had been folded into his company after the last attack. The boy was barely 18 and should have been home trying to get his first girl instead of getting shot at, but that was war. Before the Sergeant could answer though, another voice chimed in this one coming from the shadows just beyond their fire.
“You have nothing to fear lad no evil will befall you this night” the voice was strong and reassuring. It seemed to quiet the groups fears and they went back to drinking their coffee and watching the fire. The figure walked past them, his face never coming close to being revealed by the small amount of light their fire gave off. Mercer watched as the figure approached him and thought it might be their new commander, it was rumored he liked to walk the trenches and check on the men. The man came to a stop in front of Mercer’s fire, the light too bright to allow him to see his face.
“Rest easy lieutenant. No need for you to move just yet. You look tired?”
“Yes Sir I am”
“Well why don’t you get some sleep, no reason for any of your men to get killed tonight, there will be plenty enough dying later on”
“Yes Sir” Mercer felt relieved as the figure moved away, it had to be the new commander after all he just ordered him to get some rest didn’t he? He smiled to himself, his men would live through another night, sure they could die tomorrow but tonight at least they were safe. Just before he dozed off Mercer thought he saw a bright flash like lightning and again that eerie howl but this time it seemed less menacing and more sorrowful. Mercer thought about it for a second and then fell fast asleep.
The next morning the story was the same through out the camp. Someone had called off the attack but no one was sure who. There was the usual rumors and speculation but all Lieutenant Mercer could think of was the strange man and his reassuring voice and the promise made to an 18 yr old boy that night.
New York City, NYU Library
You never realize how much clutter you can accumulate in five years until you have to get rid of it in a short amount of time. After four days of trying to organize, sort and pack such a clutter Samantha Parker had come to the conclusion that it was hopeless. It had been less then two weeks since the administration had decided to cut funding to her program and more then three weeks since the last of her grants had expired. She was tired of fighting and tired of the bureaucracy of college life. The administration office had been nice enough to give her a month after the semester ended next week to get things squared away. She had decided to get started sooner rather then later, but after four days and very little progress she was beginning to think a dumpster seemed like a good idea.
She looked around her office at her life’s work, huh she was only 28 and she had come to view the career she had stumbled into as her life’s work. True, historical research was not as exciting as say actual archaeology or “treasure hunting” as the kids called it these days, but it still had its value. Maybe that was why her class size had dwindled down to only a few students and why she had lost her funding, it just wasn’t exciting enough. No she thought to herself the stuff she had accumulated in her five year stay in the cramped little office at the back of the college library was just too valuable to throw away, valuable at least to her.
She looked over at the small pile on her desk; it was what she had been working on for the last few weeks. A number of scrolls on loan to the school from the NationalMuseum in Cairo that she had been translating for the Egyptology department. Sure the day to day ramblings of the Royal Apothecary during the first dynasty wasn’t a monumental discovery, but she found it fascinating. It gave glimpses into the everyday life of people living at that period in time, or at least the first and last parts of it did. She had been having trouble with some of the middle scrolls. They seemed to break off in the middle of sentences and go off into gibberish. She could make out some of the words like fallen and balance. Those seemed to hold some importance since they were stressed differently then other words in the sentence but she could not seem to get the whole passage. Other passages she was completely baffled by, they looked almost like the author was writing in a different language, it almost resembled Hebrew or Aramaic but not quite. It had become so frustrating that she had decided to begin tearing apart her office instead of looking at it again. That having led her to her current situation, she set yet another stack of papers into the box she had been working on. She caught her finger on a hidden staple drawing blood.
“Dammit all to Hell!” She quickly placed the finger in her mouth to try and stop the bleeding. Could this week get any worse? Oh maybe her T.A. was right maybe she should take some time off and get away, leave research behind, find a man and settle down. She looked at her reflection in the mirror hanging on the back of her office door. Her mother always said she looked pretty, but she figured that was a nice way of saying plain. Still as she brushed a stray lock of red-gold hair from her face, she didn’t look half bad.
“Oh! Come on Sam, you’re a book nerd and you always will be. You will be eating microwave dinners and sleeping alone for the rest of your life. Uggghh” but yet she still continue to look at her reflection finally giving a little shrug and glancing at the clock above the door.
“Damn” “Damn, Damn” It was well past midnight time had gotten by her again and now she was faced with the choice of walking three blocks to the subway or sleeping in her cramped office again so she swore one more time. “Damn” nope no more lonely nights in this office she would chance the walk and the subway. She grabbed her coat, stuffed some files into her already heavy bag and headed for the door.
She was a block away from the subway when it happened; three men came out of the shadows and stepped directly into her path. She kept her head down and tried to step around them.
“What’s your hurry there girlie?” said the one in the middle. He was taller then his friends with a shaven head and a long black trench coat. He absently puffed at a thin cigar as he looked her up and down. The other two seemed like your average nondescript street thugs, New York was full of their type.
“Please if you want money I don’t have a lot, but what I have is yours just leave me alone.”
“It’s not money we’re after girl it’s you!” she took a small step back at that “Isn’t that right boys?” the two thugs moved towards her, a dozen thoughts going through her head at once. She could scream but this was New York so that would do little good, no she decide she would fight, who knows maybe she would get lucky and be able to catch them off guard and make a run for the subway and hopefully a cop. If the nearest thug was unprepared for the heavy backpack that hit him in the face, his friend more than made up for it. The second one back handed her to the ground where she landed hard, her lip dripping blood down her chin. “Easy boys we want her reasonable unharmed”
“Yeah easy boys he doesn’t want me harmed” and with that she again hit one of them with the bag this time knocking him off his feet and seemingly putting him out of the fight for the moment. She smiled to herself for a second knowing that she must look awful with the blood on her face but at least she was fighting back, but that was when the blow came. It hit her hard in the side and threw her across the side walk and into the brick building. Whatever that guy was on it made him as strong as an ox since there was no way humanly possible to throw her that far with that much force. She smashed her head against the wall as she hit and again on the sidewalk as she slid down the wall. The thug who had hit her walked over and kicked her in the gut as she lay there trying to get to her knees. She collapsed in a fit of coughing, blood and spit coming out of her mouth. She raised herself up onto her knees trying to shake the cobwebs away, but again he hit her this time sending her sliding along the sidewalk to lie in a crumbled heap. She managed to lift her head off the ground; it was getting harder to remain conscious. The tall bald man had his hands in front of his face lighting his cigar again.
“I am terribly sorry about all this Samantha, but you did provoke them.”
Just then she felt a warm hand on her forehead, she tried to move to get away but her body wouldn’t respond. “Rest easy little miss, help is on the way” she turn her head and saw a pair of black shoes and followed them up until she saw a man’s face. A face with the deepest blue eyes she had ever seen and a smile that made her fears melt away.
“I’m afraid this is none of your concern” said the tall man “Yeah beat it loser before we give you the same treatment” as far as Samantha could remember that was the first time she had heard either of the thugs speak of course now she was beginning to slip in and out of consciousness. The kind man stopped kneeling beside her and rose to his full height.
Now Samantha felt like she was really losing it since she seemed to be seeing two sets of people, the kind man in the dark coat also seemed to be dressed in white too while the bald man seemed to be growing darker by the minute. The thugs too seemed more like inhuman monsters or fairy tale demons.
“Since when did a Fallen have the right to decide what is and isn’t my concern”
“Argh the Balance” screamed the thug she had knocked off his feet. He seemed to tremble and crawled back to the feet of the bald man.
“Josua it has been awhile. Whatever are you doing in New York?”
“Ah Bartholomew always trying to play the gentlemen, you were never very good at it you know, I know you too well, I have seen what lies in the dark places of your heart. As to why I am here, as always I go where the Lord God sends me.”
“Well we all have our crosses to bear, so if you please move away from the monkey and I will be on my way.”
Samantha had trouble understanding the rest of the conversation not because of the blows to her head or her failing consciousness but because they were speaking some harsh guttural language that was beyond her. The last thing she remembered seeing before slipping into the cold embrace of sleep was the kind man in white who was pulling out what seemed to be a ray of light from his coat and she thought how pretty it looked as she drifted off.