An excerpt from the high fantasy novel, Book One of the Small Gods series
By Bruce Blake
The man with the pack jerked the front pocket open sending the button fastening it closed bouncing along the street. He reached in and pulled out the blue paper, held it up.
“What have we here?” He unfolded it, gazed at the words scrawled across it “Read it,” one of the others urged. “I can’t read. Can any of you?”
One man shrugged as if he didn’t know anything about this thing called reading, the other two shook their heads. The man holding the scroll peered over its edge at Teryk. “Well, if we can’t read it, I s’pose we don’t need it.” He stretched his arm out, extending the corner of the paper toward the torch.
“No.” The choked word died in the prince’s throat. He reached his hand out, leaned forward, desperate to stop them from burning the prophecy, but flame flickered at the corner of the sheet, spread along the edge. “No.”
“Make him quit wheezin’, will ya?” The heavy club smashed into his face, crunching his nose and firing stars before his eyes. Teryk fell onto his side, bashing his shoulder on the hard ground. The man let go of the paper and, through the pain, the prince watched it flutter through the night air, a trail of light following in his doubled vision.
The transcription settled on the cobblestones in front of Teryk, the light of the fire showing him the words before consuming them. Firstborn child of the rightful king.
“Get his clothes.” Rough hands tossed him around, yanking his cloak from his back, his coat, his shirt and pantaloons, leaving him in his underclothes. Teryk lashed out at one of the men, poked him in the eye. He kicked another weakly, missing the groin he aimed for and catching him in the thigh. For his efforts, he received a fist to the nose and pain exploded through his head. He clutched his nose with both hands, felt sticky blood on his fingers.
After they stripped him, the men dropped him back to the street. A boot hit him painfully in the gut, the club bludgeoned him in the spine. Teryk threw his arms over his head, pulled his knees up to his chest. The urge to beg for his life replaced any thought of using his name to scare them off, but the punches and kicks kept him from filling his lungs to plead for mercy.
A boot struck his head, dazing him and blurring his vision. Steely fingers grabbed his balls and squeezed; rank breath leaning near his ear whispered words about teaching him a lesson.
When the fingers released him, more kicks hammered his legs, his arms, his back, before relenting. Teryk lay with his face hidden behind his hands, expecting the onslaught to resume. When it didn’t, he spread his fingers and opened his eyes, saw the once blue-tinted paper lying on the street in a sheet of ash. A gust of wind picked it up, twirled it in the air, and blew it across the dirt in a thousand pieces.
An ancient prophecy threatens the return of the Small Gods to seek revenge on those who banished them a thousand years before. According to its words, only one person can stop them: the firstborn child of the rightful king. But King Erral usurped the throne decades past.
For whom are the words intended?
When the prince and princess discover the long-forgotten scroll, Teryk is convinced he is the savior of the kingdom and determines to fulfill his destiny. His sister is not so sure. If he is the chosen one, why is it only Danya can read the words inscribed on the parchment? And what of the other elements of the prophecy: the Barren Mother, the Living Statue, and the Man from Across the Sea? None of them can possibly exist.
Teryk strikes out on his own to become the hero he is meant to be and prove his worth to his father once and for all. His desperate sister and the kingdom’s one-armed champion give chase, but none of them realize the evil they’ve set in motion.
The prince wants to save the kingdom. The princess wants to save her brother. But in a fight against the gods, who will save them all?
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lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” than he does shovelling (and watch out for those pesky double l’s).
Bruce’s first short story, “Another Man’s Shoes” was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon. Another short, “Yardwork,” was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod. Since then, he has concentrated on writing novels, publishing the Khirro’s Journey trilogy (Blood of the King, Spirit of the King, and Heart of the King), three books in the ongoing Icarus Fell urban fantasy series. Bruce has many more projects simmering on the back burner, so stay tuned.