Paladin’s Ascent-Chapter 1

Some freeform writing to keep myself in practice… hopefully for your enjoyment. I’m attempting to write a thousand words a day to improve my writing ability and to allow my writing voice to evolve further. This is something that I’ve attempted to write a couple of times, but lost due to hard drive failure. So.. I’m going to write and publish it as it’s being written. Some notes before I attempt this:

Any and all constructive criticism is welcome. Naturally, the nature of the writing will mean that it will have a rough draft feeling to it.

I’m not sure what will happen from the point of creation. It could be Shakespeare, it could improve or turn to garbage, but the journey is the point of this exercise.

Also, the explanation of what I’m doing doesn’t count, only the words of the story itself.

“Wake up, Vallis! We march in an hour, but you’re still out of armor! Get moving cadet!” Shouted Ardrek, who shoved Vallis out of bed with a flick of shadow magic. The paladin groaned on the floor for a moment and lurched himself up to grab his pearl-colored plate armor from the rack. “Note to self, Val, do your research before accepting a pay promotion from the Western Church. This devoted warrior nonsense is for the birds.” He grumbled as he placed his helmet on his head and left camp for the field to the east.

The soldiers gathered in their respective squads, each assigned to them, which Vallis would have forgotten if it weren’t for the steel armlet with “346” etched into it.

“Find the number, find the number..” he repeatedly frantically to himself as his head jerked from side to side. The numbers within sight steadily rose until he noticed a matching number on the back of a woman’s cloak and promptly collided with a transparent barrier afterwards.

“You’re not getting my dress dirty because you were late.” Lyss scolded as she turned to meet Vallis’ surprise with her fiery hazel eyes, which were partially hidden by her crimson hair.

“How did you know, Lyss? It sounds like a freight train with all the commotion out here.” Vallis replied as he collected his senses.

“If we know each others’ strengths this well, we’re all dead. Those trolls will make a joke out of our corpses, just like everything else.” A slender, humanoid black cat commented as she sharpened her claws along her dagger. Mal’s whiskers twitched again as Vallis stood up to properly gather with his squadron. “I can tell from the air, and that I can see you coming a mile away.” Mal added.

“Cut im’ a break, some troll killin’ will make a man out of him yet.” Came a voice at Mal’s waist. Brarrick looked up at Vallis with eyes of excitement and determination at the thought of the forthcoming campaign. “You look like the rest of the halflin’s when there’s talk of violence goin’ about… I did too, once upon o’ time.” He continued. Vallis nodded, unsure of whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.

“I cannot find a moment’s peace with this group.” Ezrai chimed in, who lost his meditation despite his best efforts. “We can’t perform very well if we’re arguing with each other all the way east, soldiers.” He added in a silky smooth voice. The silver squad number shimmered in the sun from Ezrai’s robe arm, as well as a gold arrow signifying his position as their captain. The group nodded in agreement as a loud voice rang across the fields, which Vallis instantly recognized as General Ardrek.

“Soldiers of the Western Kingdom Army! As you know, the Trolls have been pushing west to take our lands and life away from us! If I have my way, the Hoardlands which they call home will be laid to dust! Halflings, humans, Felfolk, Elves… you will lose your loved ones and your home, and what will the Trolls do once they have all of this? They will laugh about it.” Ardrek raised his sword, shaped like a large scimitar made of onyx, high in the air as the ground shook from the roar of agreement.

“Formations!” Ardrek shouted as the body of soldiers took the positions they practiced over the course of months during training camp. “March!” Ardrek continued as the military lumbered east towards the Hoardlands, which would likely take weeks, if not months.

Later that night, the forces set up camp north of the sprawling Solemn Woods. The tents of Squad 346 lay in a circle around a small campfire which Brarrick sat next to as the watch for the night. “Hey, thanks for standing up for me earlier… I think.” Vallis said as he crawled out of his tent to sit by the fire.

Brarrick shrugged “You haven’t gott’n yet feet wet, and neither av’ they. Only reason why Ezrai runs this ship is b’cause command didn’t think I had the stature to lead. Bastards wanted someone with better sense, they said.” He finished as he puffed his cigar and blew a ring of smoke.

“Brarrick.. why would someone like… you want to carry a war hammer? You don’t look like you could knock anyone down with that.” Vallis asked, with a hint of fear that he might offend the halfling.

Brarrick looked at him with an eyebrow cocked. “Someone like… me can do quite a bit if he just tries to put the effort into it. I remember as a boy, hearing tales of our ancestors risking life and limb around dragons without any way to fight. I wanted to make a difference and defend my people instead o’ sitting around while drinking butterbeer. I can’t lie, though, a halfling isn’t meant long for the battlefield, but someone has to do the job. You think I lost most of my curly hair by accident?” Brarrick finished with a hearty laugh, almost boisterous enough to match that of a dwarf. Vallis joined in, but was still afraid of his squadmate’s wrath at the wrong behavior. “One more thing, Vallis, I’m tougher than anything you’ll be stickin’ that blade in out there. No point worryin’ about whose offended when one o’ us might be dead tomorrow. Live it up while you know you can. Now get some sleep, I have a book callin’ my name.”

“Goodnight, Brarrick.” Vallis said as he returned to his tent, with Brarrick’s advice swirling in his head even as he dreamt that night.

The following morning, the camp arose almost in unison as the Bleakrock Mountain Range beckoned them with tall shadows from the east. Like clockwork, the camps gathered their supplies and returned to their formation before a boisterous “March!” sent them down their path once more…






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