The Vulture – Chapter 1

I recently finished writing the first draft of Hell has its Demons and I have begun the process of revising that novel. At the moment I’m doing some extra research into areas that I know I’ll need to tighten up on the second draft, but while I’m doing that I thought I would experiment with a bit of completely unplanned fantasy writing. I wrote the following this morning – no planning apart from knowing that I want to write fairly short chapters from a first POV, with chapters alternating between different characters. The fantasy setting hasn’t been worked out so may well end up being quite a familiar copy of some standard fantasy tropes, but it will be bloody and full of war and violence, that I can guarantee.

Anyone hope you enjoy the experience. I’m planning to post what I write as I write it on the blog.

Here’s the first chapter of what I have provisionally entitled The Vulture.

Chapter One

Vulture

They call me ‘The Vulture’. Wherever there is a battle in this godforsaken world then I am sure to be there. I used to be a soldier in the King’s army, but now I am a mercenary, a sword for hire. I follow the smell of blood and I glory in killing. The money is useful – whores, drink, more weapons – such things must be paid for. But I don’t do it for the money.

I do it for love.

I would like to say that this is my story, but I am a modest and an honest man, so in truth this tale is like a window open for a short time before the wind blows it in. You wouldn’t want to see it all. It would be like staring into the face of evil itself.

 

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Realh Dorn was a country always at war. When it couldn’t find a neighbour to fight then its inhabitants fought amongst themselves. Names of wars such as the Eight, the Twenty, the Fifteen Years Wars had no meaning in a country like Realh Dorn. There was, long ago, a time known as the Seven Month Truce, but many people now consider that to be a tale told by old women to scare young children.

Even I found the number of battles in Realh Dorn tiresome, so in the summer of the Year of our Denial (Y.D.) 568, I decided to take a leave of absence from Realh Dorn, where I had been reaving, killing, pillaging, burning, and ravaging for three years without a break. I was tired and I needed to rest. My arm was tired. I think I had developed a sprain in it. The physician I spoke to before I burned down his house told me that the tendons in it were strained for overuse caused by the repetition of certain movements of the arm in a continuous fashion. I think he meant that I had been killing too much with my sword, and perhaps he hoped that I would save him. He was old and I respect the opinion of my elders, so I did listen to him. Instead of my sword I gutted him with a dagger that I had in my left hand. His wife and daughters were none too happy to see how I repaid him for his consultation. So they paid as well with their lives. I treated them well though. I killed them quickly and without pain, and I raped none of them. The so called regular troops of the King’s army would have treated them worse. They would have screwed their brains out and left them cut and bleeding for thieves and wolves to pick over. I may be called The Vulture, but I don’t like to pick over carrion.

I spent the summer in the mountains of Sevethlen, away from the heat of the plain. I had found myself an empty shepherd’s hut, with access to a stream, hunting, and a village not far away where I could buy bread and a little wine. I could walk in the mountains, watch the clouds roll in and raptors circle on the air currents. In the evening I would play my pipe and sink into a contented sleep when the sun went down.

So I was surprised when one day the birds I was watching suddenly stopped their graceful circling. They flapped their heavy wings in what I thought seemed like fright. Desperate to be away. And then I saw what they were afraid of. It wasn’t a bird. A flying lizard you might call it. No bigger than a hawk but I presume with an evil reputation amongst the avian community. It was flying straight for me. I could see its long head looking this way and that it’s long pointed mouth of razor sharp teeth opening and closing as if talking to itself. And then it spotted me where I stood outside my hut. I started to move back carefully, not wanting to fall over a rock, but not prepared to take my eyes of it either. I was nearly at the doorway of my hut when the thing was with me. I raised my arm to protect myself but all that happened was that I heard the heavy leathery sound of flapping wings and the thing was over me and had flown past. I looked to see if it was coming back, but it was already flying high up the slope of the mountain, and I soon lost sight of it against the grey rocks of the high cliff-face. I wondered if it nested there. I had never seen one of these creatures before, although I had heard tell of them. Some men said that the royalty of Realh Dorn and other nations in Westent kept the things as pets, and would hunt with them for amusement, although I had never seen evidence of such a thing.

I was about to enter my hut, to fetch my stick and water-bottle as I was thinking of taking a walk up the mountainside to see if I could spot the beast again, when I saw, directly at my feet a wooden tube, no bigger than my hand. I knelt and opened the tube, which was tied with red ribbon at one end. A small folded piece of parchment was coiled tightly inside the tube. I pulled it out eventually, my fingers are not made for nimble work, and unfolded the item. It was a letter, and it was addressed to me.

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