The Dragon Hunters
Histories of Malweir Book 2
by Christian Warren Freed Genre: Epic Fantasy
The Mage Wars are a fading memory. The kingdoms of Malweir focus on rebuilding what was lost and moving beyond the vast amounts of death and devastation. For some it is easy, others far worse. Some men are made in battle. Grelic of Thrae is one. A seasoned veteran of numerous campaigns and raids, Grelic is a warrior without a war. He languishes under mugs of ale and poor choices that eventually find him locked in the dungeons of King Rentor. His only chance at redemption is an offer tantamount to suicide: travel north with a misfit band of adventurers and learn the truth of what happened in the village of Gend.
Grelic, suddenly tired of his life, reluctantly agrees and meets the only survivor of the horrible massacre: Fitch Iane. Broken, mentally and physically, Fitch babbles about demons stalking through the mists and a terrible monster prowling the skies, breathing fire and death.
What begins as a simple reconnaissance mission quickly turns into a quest to stop Sidian, the Silver Mage from accomplishing his goals in the Deadlands. The last of the dark mages seeks to recover the four shards of the crystal of Tol Shere and open the gateway to release the dark gods from their eternal prison.
Grelic and his team are sorely outnumbered and ill prepared to deal with the combined threats of a dark mage and one of the great dragons from the west. Not even the might of the Aeldruin, high elf mercenaries, and Dakeb, the last of the mages, promises to be enough to stop evil and restore peace to Thrae.
A pale wind kissed the fading winter day. Spring was but a few weeks away and the lands were still being assailed by an unexpected blizzard coming down from the Darkwall Mountains to the north. Massive snowdrifts dotted the lightly forested plains. Trees drooped under the weight of gathering ice. Winds howled and screamed in tortured agony from canyon to valley. Even the skies, normally pale blue by this time, were sickened in a mottle of grey and black. Winter refused to let go.
Normally Fitch Iane would be nestled in his favorite chair built by his great grandfather, in front of the fireplace, but this winter had been especially harsh on hunting and fishing. A record six storms all but crippled the lands, making it next to impossible for most to gather food or firewood. As he tramped through the woods on the way home, Fitch wished for the thousandth time that he’d been born some sort of royalty. Living in a warm, toasty palace with marble floors and dozens of waiting servants seemed the life. A sudden gust of wind sent ice and snow down the back of his heavy coat, forcing Fitch back to grim reality.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. His knapsack was filled with three cleaned and quartered hares and a handful of plucked grouse. Not too bad considering it was just for him and his wife. The thought of Shar, with her warming smile and long, flowing golden hair stirred his passions. How much he’d give to be lying next to her supple body under the down blankets right now. Fitch shook his head. That sort of thinking would leave a man dead quicker than getting cut wrong. Besides, he still had too far to go to get distracted with thoughts of what came next.
Fitch sighed and continued his trek across the darkening landscape. He couldn’t help but shiver at the unseasonable cold. The snow should be nearly gone by now and the land was soggy from the additional moisture. A quick glance around and he figured it would be another six weeks before things got right. Six whole weeks. Fitch wondered how this year’s harvest would turn out. The farmers were all but panicking by now. As it was, this part of Thrae wasn’t known for outstanding crops or heavy farming. Most of the residents of Gend, Fitch’s home since birth, were miners. The kingdom of Thrae won ownership of the jewel mines after a fierce war with the Dwarves of the Bairn Hills nearly a generation ago.
It was left to those like Fitch to provide for their homes and right now all he wanted was to get out of the insufferable cold. He could almost taste the stew and freshly baked dark bread. A pint of heavy ale would do nicely too. Fitch stumbled, his foot snagging on a buried root. A tremendous roar shook the very ground as he dropped. His heart froze as a blast of freezing wind sliced into him. Fitch looked around but couldn’t spot the source of the fury in the gathering darkness.
“What?” he asked himself, hoping his mind could rationalize the moment.
Fitch looked up just then and noticed the entire eastern sky seemed as if it was on fire. He smelled ash and burnt meat. He wanted to believe it was just an illusion played by the setting sun. The first flicker of flames shooting up over the treetops changed his mind. He looked around. Everywhere he looked trees were blackened and dead. Fresh snow was dusty, charcoal splashed. What nightmare could have done such a thing? A tiny whisper in the back of his mind warned that the answers were much closer than he wished.
Then it hit him. A horrible, sickening thought all but crippling him. Fire. Smoke. Distance. Gend! His village was burning. Fitch dropped his sack and started running. The need to get home, to find Shar, overpowered all other thoughts and emotions. A nightmarish roar frightened the world. Fitch covered his ears and ran. Blood began to trickle from his nose.
When he got closer he could hear new sounds, sickening sounds of steel ripping human flesh. Women screaming. Children crying. Fitch suddenly grew very afraid. His body became lethargic. He found it difficult just to move. Shar. Thinking of her kept him going, but he was so afraid. A warm feeling ran down his leg. Sweat turned cold. His body shivered and trembled. He was no great hero, but neither was he a coward. What manner of demon can make me so? Fitch Iane gave in to his fears and collapsed. He used what strength remained to crawl under the boughs of a snow-laden fir and cried.
The screaming quickly drowned out his sorrow. Fitch tried covering his ears. Tears streaked his frozen cheeks. Strength abandoned him. Fear dug deeper, gaining strength and crushing him. Jagged pieces of ice fell from the pine needles and cut his face. He didn’t care. His only concern was staying alive. Just to stay alive!
Armies of the Silver Mage
Histories of Malweir Book 1
Malweir was once governed by the order of Mages, bringers of peace and light. Centuries past and the lands prospered. But all was not well. Unknown to most, one mage desired power above all else. He turned his will to the banished Dark Gods and brought war to the free lands. Only a handful of mages survived the betrayal and the Silver Mage was left free to twist the darker races to his bidding. The only thing he needs to complete his plan and rule the world forever are the four shards of the crystal of Tol Shere.
Having spent most of their lives dreaming about leaving their sleepy village and travelling the world, Delin Kerny and Fennic Attleford never thought that one day they would be forced to flee their town in order to save their lives. Everything changes when they discover the fabled Star Silver sword and learn that there are some who want the weapon for themselves. Hunted by a ruthless mercenary, the boys run from Fel Darrins and are forced into the adventure they only dreamed about.
Ever ashamed of the horrors his kind let loose on the world the last mage, Dakeb, lives his life in shadows. The only thing keeping him alive is his quest to stop the Silver Mage from reassembling the crystal. His chance finally comes through the hearts and wills of Delin and Fennic. Dakeb bestows upon them the crystal shard, entrusting them with the one thing capable of restoring peace to Malweir.
Delin gradually overcame his fear as his eyes grew used to the dark and started to explore. The main room was sparsely decorated, even for a hermit. A rickety old rocking chair sat next to the empty fireplace, and a small round table by the window. The shelf on the wall held a few colored vases and a handful of books. A brilliant silver sword was mounted on the mantle behind it, drawing Fennic’s full attention. Delin grew bolder, knowing that if Wiffe was home he’d have come out by now. He decided to look through the rest of the cottage.
Fennic didn’t move. He knew he should be afraid, but the sword whispered to him, calming his nerves and opening his mind to an infinite number of possibilities. Great tales and high adventure lay within the steel, and Fennic Attleford found himself wondering what it would be like to live that life.
“I finished checking the other room,” Delin announced. He came to stand beside Fennic and looked up at the sword, not seeing what held Fennic’s attention. It was just an old piece of steel.
“All right,” Fennic answered blankly.
“He doesn’t have much, just a plain cot with a half-filled wardrobe. There are lots of herbs and spices and stuff over there where the kitchen area is. The pantry is stocked with jars of food and dried meat.” He paused, noticing Fennic’s empty stare. “Are you listening?”
Fennic wasn't. Instead, he was reaching for the shining sword. It called to him, begged him to take it from the mantle and carry out their destiny together. What deeds they could accomplish! Folks would tell of the unstoppable Fennic and his silver sword for generations.
“You shouldn't mess with that,” Delin warned. Nonsense. “Who's going to know?”
Fennic opened his mouth to reply when the baying of an old hound dog echoed around the clearing. Old Man Wiffe was coming home. Delin ran to the door in time to see the recluse entering the clearing. They were trapped. He turned and was astonished to see Fennic brandishing the sword like a professional arms man.
“Put that back! We need to get out of here now.”
Fennic marveled at the way the sword cut through the air, whistling with superiority. What a wondrous thing this silver sword was. Delin snatched him by the wrist, breaking the spell. Wild eyes stared back at him.
“Didn't you hear me? Wiffe is back!”
Panic struck Fennic. He hurried to replace the sword, lest he was caught with it in his hands. What would Wiffe think? That he was stealing the sword? Chances were that he would kill both of them. He ran to the window and peered out. There was nothing out there. No dog, no sign of the old man. “I think it's safe. I don't see anyone,” he said.
The door groaned open and the old hound snapped at them. A heavy shadow fell on them.
“Well, well. What have I here?” the deep voice rolled like thunder across the mountains.
Panic gripped them. Delin briefly considered running out the back window but the dog snapping and barking at his feet stopped him immediately. Fennic’s heart skipped. The sword whispered, begged to be used, but Fennic was couldn’t move.
“Would be thieves come to rob an old man? I don't think so,” said the newcomer with unmistakable menace in his tone.
Christian W. Freed was born in Buffalo, N.Y. more years ago than he would like to remember. After spending more than 20 years in the active duty US Army he has turned his talents to writing. Since retiring, he has gone on to publish 17 military fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as his memoirs from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. His first published book (Hammers in the Wind) has been the #1 free book on Kindle 4 times and he holds a fancy certificate from the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.
Passionate about history, he combines his knowledge of the past with modern military tactics to create an engaging, quasi-realistic world for the readers. He graduated from Campbell University with a degree in history and is pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Military History from Norwich University. He currently lives outside of Raleigh, N.C. and devotes his time to writing, his family, and their two Bernese Mountain Dogs. If you drive by you might just find him on the porch with a cigar in one hand and a pen in the other.
I was a student member of the American Nuclear Society, operated a Triga Mark III pool reactor, and once stood INSIDE a nuclear reactor core, specifically the core of the Zero Power Plutonium Reactor (ZPPR).
I stood at the snow line of Mount St. Helens three days before it blew.
I have been a lexicographer (a person who compiles a dictionary).
I have traveled to 32 countries.
I once had a dancing blind-folded man with a sword slice a watermelon in two on my naked stomach.
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