“The Lone Wolf”-Chapter 1 (An Excerpt)

I’ve done this before with a few of my blogs, some time ago. I’ve taken a chapter from my book and posted it to the blog. Well, I decided that it might be time again. My book is done (except for some last minute editing that needs to be finished) and I want to give anyone willing to read it a little taste.  My book, “The Lone Wolf” (a high fantasy novel), should be out for pre-order within 3 weeks and up for sale in 6-8 weeks (need to do a little promoting before I put it up on Amazon).  You will be able to find it on Amazon or on my website: johndpepeauthor.com.

 

Chapter 1-“The Discovery”

Remence rose from where he had been studying the ground, wiping the moist dirt from his hands. As he stood, the biting, chill wind tore through his normally protective animal skins, causing him to shudder. His shoulder-length locks whipped across his face as he stared out across the plains, unable to see the beasts he had been tracking. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply, the frosty breeze filling his lungs. Winter was nearing its end, but still clung to life. The day’s rains had washed away almost all traces of any passing. But what the earth failed to tell the tracker, the winds did not. Like a feral animal, the scent of his quarry was caught in his nostrils, confirming that he was on the right trail.

The horizon engulfed the last warming rays of the sun, as dusk fell upon the tracker. The remaining nimbus clouds shrouded any vestiges of light from the heavens, leaving the lands darker than usual. Remence’s eyesight was sharper than the average man’s, even in the dark, but he knew that would not be enough. He would have to rely on his other senses and his visceral instincts to guide him. He would not get close to those he was tracking, a tribe of orcs known as Blog Kragor, or the Blood Fangs, until it was fully dark. Even if he had been completely blind, he did not fear he would fail to find them; they were numerous and did not bathe.

He let his body, senses, and soul attune to nature, becoming not unlike the plain’s wolves of Dacturn hunting its prey. His dogged pursuit of the orcs pulled him further and further from home, but he allowed it to happen because he could sense that he was gaining ground. The creatures’ pungent odor, one mixed with sweat and dirt, was becoming more pronounced.

His eyes adjusted to the near coal-black night, absorbing what little light they could find. It wasn’t much, but enough for him to make out an outcropping of boulders ahead, along the path that the orcs had traveled.

“What are you up to?” he mouthed silently. It was a question he had been asking since the morning when he happened upon their trail. Why had the tribe crossed territorial boundaries, entering Dacturn? This was not of the norm, except in times of war, and he had heard no such grumblings of late.

As he stalked up to the outcropping of rocks, the path he was sure the orcs had taken, he heard what sounded like revelry beyond. The closer he got, the louder the cacophony grew. He reached the massive rocks and peered around, looking out over the precipice and down into the canyon. His mouth dropped, and his heart jumped into his throat. Orcs everywhere!

He ducked back behind the boulders, pressing his back against the rock, more for emotional support than for any physical need. He gathered his wits, then slowly peeked again, this time trying to gauge how many orcs were present. He couldn’t be sure, but by his estimation, they appeared to number more than five hundred. Never in his seventeen winters had he seen so many orcs in one place.

The orcs were all over the canyon floor, dancing and gyrating around huge bonfires filled with trees. Roots stuck out of the fire, and he recognized that the orc shamans were sacrificing the things of nature in return for blessings from their evil god, Balgru the Dark Orc, wielder of the Spear of Stone. Balgru hated the forest. It was where elves and men dwelt. His orcs were sworn to destroy such things, and they believed with every tree they cut down, they took one step closer to their god. The orcs preferred the mountains and canyons; they revered the rock. They believed Balgru created rock with his mighty magic weapon, the Stone Spear.

Upon closer inspection, Remence realized the shamans did not wear the distinguishing marks of one tribe, but of several tribes. Tribes that normally vie for territory against one another. This explains why the Blood Fangs are so far from their territory. But why are these normally warring factions suddenly frolicking together? Remence thought as he looked upon the scene below.

He chuckled. When do orcs frolic? he mused.

He did not understand all the intricacies of the orc culture. The only real contact he had with an orc was his half-orc companion from childhood, Gromken, who had grown up amongst his human tribe and knew little more about orcs than Remence. What little the tracker had garnered in his short life had been taught to him by the men in his village and what he had witnessed from afar. But his comprehension of the orc language was fair. He had picked up a good amount of it from some of the elder tribesmen who had learned the language in their trade dealings with a half-orc community far to the northeast of their village, a place where orcs raided frequently; that half-orc community had been born out of the half-breeds left to die in the wilderness because of their mothers’ shame. Those unfortunate souls were caught between the two worlds of a woman’s womb and the orcs that defiled it, so they created their own community. Their own way of life.

He weighed his options and found he had few. He could play it safe, run home, and tell about what he saw, giving his people little information on the intent of this group. Or, he could try and use his limited understanding of the orc language to see if he could gather some information on why these normally warring factions were “frolicking” together.

After a few moments of deliberation, he made up his mind. He would try the latter. To do so, he would have to get close to these monsters so he could listen in on their conversations.

He surveyed the land and spotted a long berm on the outskirts of the orc encampment. The spot appeared to be close enough so he could listen in, yet far enough away to provide shelter, and keep him warded from detection. The berm was under the cover of darkness, just beyond the fingertips’ reach of the bonfires’ light. Safe enough, he thought. If I can get to it.

He slithered down the trail into enemy territory, moving slowly and cautiously. He had just slipped off the trail into the small bit of brush, hardly enough to cover him as most of it had been cleared to sacrifice to the dark-faced orc god, when he heard what he thought were footsteps. He stopped, tuning his ear, trying to determine if he was hearing things.

Footsteps! And they are getting closer! He hung his head in the dirt, trying not to think of being caught, knowing if he was discovered, his life would be forfeit. His heart pounded so loudly he felt as if all within a mile could hear it. If I am discovered, what will these orcs do to me? Flay me? Torture me? I must flee! I’m in the open! I will be discovered! With his angst heightened, he began to sweat profusely. His entire body started to shake, as his mind swirled, conjuring all the pain that would be inflicted upon him. His breath came in deep gasps. At that moment, he got into a push-up position, ready to bolt. He wanted to scream to expel the acrid and sour taste of fear in his mouth.

His fingers clawed deep into the soil, and he hoped by somehow holding onto the dirt that he would find sanctuary. Then, something came over him. A calming sensation rushed through his fingertips and cascaded throughout his body, as if the earth was talking to him. Without thinking, Remence closed his eyes and went deep within himself. His survival instincts took over, and his nerves settled. His body stopped shaking, and the fear washed away.

Releasing his grip on the soil he opened his eyes. He felt a fire burning behind them, a fire that conveyed he had changed from being the hunted to the one now hunting. Instead of feeling the urge to run, he drew his knife, flattened himself against the earth, and calmed his breathing so his body did not make a move.

 

Cover

 

There it is folks. A little taste of chapter one. Let me know what you think either by visiting my website above, emailing me at johndpepeauthor@gmail.com, or by simply posting a comment here at godamonggeeks316.com.

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