Saturday, July 22, 2017

Read the 1st Chapter of "The Holtur Enigma"

Many thanks with Cameron for sharing this with us...

Chapter 1

It seemed like a good idea, avoiding the fight while conscripting others. Well, it did until the wagon driver’s insides began to rain down from the sky.
“WYVERN!” one of the merchants screamed, then grasped at the abandoned reins.
Vivian fought back the bile rising in his throat. He saw it all, the grey wyvern that fell from the sky without warning. It appeared similar to the lizards he had seen in his garden, except for the fact that this thing was about six metres long, and that its front claws were supporting large leathery wings. It took the driver of the wagon, raised him into the sky, then released that foul crimson. The white fabric covering the roof and sides of the wagon were now painted with death. It had filled the merchants he rode with—and himself—with fear.
“Shit! That’s Gerald!” The merchant driving the wagon gave Vivian a horrified gaze. “I told you this was suicide!”
“What? You mean that was Gerald?” Vivian appeared terrified for a moment. He then shook his head, flailing his long, black ponytail around, then snapped his attitude back into place. “It’s imperative that we get to Holtur,” he said, pointing onwards with his dusty brown gloves. “If we don’t, you’ll all be consumed by what is coming. Besides, you didn’t seem to mind all that much when I handed you the gold.” Vivian Patressi wasn’t the most confident of men, in fact, many would call him a coward. One thing he could do, however, was inspire others to be brave on his behalf.
“That was a lot of go—” A deep roar blurred out the merchant’s words and drowned out the sound of the wagon. The wyvern had obtained the undivided attention of all on board.
“Maybe this was a bad idea?” Donna’s green eyes grew wide with fear, her soft lips trembling with each word. “Surely we could have waited a few more suns…”
“You want to return to a massacred Silverton?” Vivian scowled at his assistant. “Every sun we allow to pass, is another sun those serpents venture closer to our home. We need to recruit those slayers before it is too late.”
“You won’t be able to recruit anyone if that wyvern consumes you first,” the merchant steering the wagon spoke back. “We should have waited for the frozen suns!”
Vivian shrugged, he didn’t understand what these merchants meant by frozen suns. How could something as hot as a sun possible freeze?
“And she’s entered her blood lust!” A strong looking man, wrapped in an odd cloak, emerged from among the merchants. “Should make this interesting!”
“Interesting?” Donna’s jaw dropped. “How is our impending destruction interesting?”
“Because I, my dear, am a slayer of all things wicked.” the man threw off his dark cloak revealing an arsenal of weapons, then grabbed for a spiked mace. “The name’s Marrozte, I’m a slayer working for the Bristrunstium.”
“Thank Silvaste,” Vivian gave a sigh of relief. He hadn’t really noticed the man before now, and had thought he was just another merchant. They kept to themselves, those merchant types, not really wanting to talk unless it is about gold. Knowing they had a slayer among them filled him with confidence.
“The Bristrunstium?” Donna asked, only to be ignored by the man. He was now climbing his way across the horses that were pulling the wagon.
“Did you do any research on Holtur?” Vivian was annoyed. He had only just been granted an assistant, but clearly he was going to have to mold her to be more useful.
“No, I just figured I’d learn on the road,” she said. The confidence of her youth made him smile.
“The Bristrunstium are a collective that study all variety of creatures and monsters,” Vivian spoke, updating his assistant’s knowledge. His eyes also watching Marrozte swing into action. “The group originated in Holtur, that’s why it is of the utmost importance that we make it there soon. Hopefully they know of the serpents that are attacking the Krone Divide, hopefully they can stop them.”
“Eeyah!” Marrozte called out from atop the lead horse, detaching it from the wagon. “Let’s play, you filthy grey!”
“He’s insane!” one of the merchants called out.
“We have to help him!” Donna looked over the other weapons that were concealed in Marrozte’s cloak.
“It may be best to let him handle it,” Vivian remarked. It didn’t stop his assistant looking through the weapons though. They were all made for close quarter combat, bar a single crossbow. He couldn’t imagine neither Donna nor himself wielding any of those mighty weapons, but that didn’t stop her picking up the crossbow.
“Can someone help me with this thing?” Donna struggled with the weapon.
“Do you even know how to use one of those?” Vivian questioned, helping his assistant pull back the bowstring. “I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
“How hard can it be?” She steadied herself on the rear of their wagon, lifted the crossbow up, and attempted to track the pale grey wyvern. It flew across the grassy plain towards them, clawed wings outstretched, its deep roar vibrating through the air.
The wyvern went to release another roar, but was silenced with something striking at its head. “Haha, you weren’t ready for that now were you brute!” Marrozte laughed, arcing his arm around, preparing to throw another hammer-like projectile at the creature.
“I’ll support you!” Donna called out to the slayer, then released a bolt which flew straight past the creature. “Damn it! Vivian, help me load another!”
“I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be my assistant,” Vivian said, then helped Donna load the crossbow once again. “Do you really think it would have much affect on that wyvern? Surely if it was an effective weapon, Marrozte would have used it himself.”
“It’s better than just hoping we can get away,” Donna said, readying herself once again.
Vivian didn’t quite agree with her, but didn’t argue either. He watched another hammer strike the wyvern. It flapped its wings, swinging itself away from the wagon, its hind claws and tail out in front of itself.
“Time to taste mace, wyvern!” Marrozte taunted with a swirl of his spiked weapon, racing towards the creature that was between him and the wagon.
“Now I’ve got you,” Donna yelled at the wyvern. She looked confident, like she had lined up the perfect shot. She held her breath and begun to squeeze the trigger.
“Brace yourself!” the merchant driving called out. He then ran over something which jolted the wagon.
The bolt had been fired, but not before they had struck whatever it was they hit. Vivian could see that the horse Marrozte was riding had leapt through the air, the wyvern’s hind claws outstretched towards it. The slayer’s arm was arcing down, bringing the steel of his mace to meet the leathery skull of the stone wyvern. All seemed good, until he saw that bolt puncturing Marrozte's chest.
It looked like Marrozte wanted to scream, but blood was all that erupted from his mouth. He still struck the wyvern, but with much less power than required. The talons of the wyvern then clasped around his midsection. The pain would have been unbearable, ending with the wyvern’s jaws detaching his head from his body.
“It has him!” Vivian cried to the driver. “Faster, go faster damn it!”
“We can’t go any faster!” the merchant screamed back. “We’re down a horse, remember?”
“I’m sorry…” Donna threw down the crossbow, her eyes beginning to well up. “It’s my fault, I wish I could use that thing better…”
“It’s not your fault,” Vivian assured his assistant. Even though it was her fault, if she hadn’t picked up the crossbow, she wouldn’t have hit the slayer. He was frustrated about that, but scolding her now would do no good. He had also assumed, that the fearful merchants didn’t witness the consequence of Donna’s actions, best to keep it that way too. “The wyvern bested him. You can’t blame yourself for that. It’s not your fault that you aren’t proficient in a field that you haven’t devoted your life too.”
“Sure…” she responded.
“How far from Holtur are we now?” Vivian questioned the merchant. “Can we get there before this wyvern consumes everyone in the wagon?”
“I doubt it…” The merchant’s face was emotionless, like he had come to terms with what was happening. “We aren’t all that far, but still not close enough. All I can recommend is that you pray to your gods, only they can help you now.”
“It seems to be leaving us alone?” Donna wiped her face dry, using the sleeve of her brown dress. “Could it be done with us now?”
“Wyverns aren’t like you and I,” the merchant said, “the more they eat, the more hungry they become. Once it has consumed Marrozte, it will be back for the rest of us.”
“When do you think it will come after us again?” Vivian nervously scratched at his long black hair, unintentionally pulling out strands from his ponytail.
A deep roar echoed off the nearby hills, indicating the wyvern’s mouth was free of flesh. “About now,” the merchant spoke in a dry tone, then whipped at the reins.
Donna grabbed the weapon. “Help me load this damn thing! Worst case scenario, nothing changes.”
“Let’s work for a best case scenario!” Vivian pulled the bowstring back. He then looked to the merchants, all huddled in the back corner of the wagon. “Can any of you aim a crossbow at all?”
“I had a cousin who was a top archer,” said a fat merchant with sweaty butterfingers while placing his hand in the air. “I could try.”
“I think I might take the shot thanks.” Donna moved over to the rear of the wagon and set herself up. “I can’t see it…”
Another deep roar echoed from the mountains ahead of them. “It must be ahead of us.” Vivian swiftly turned towards the front of the wagon, swinging his long khaki coat as he moved.
“No,” the driver argued, “these hills play tricks on you, there is no way it could have moved ahead of us.”
The wyvern released another roar, much louder this time. “I can’t see it anywhere,” Donna screamed hysterically, waving the loaded crossbow around in a frightened frenzy.
“Keep looking!” Vivian urged, his brown eyes flickering in all directions, seeking out the creature that was toying with them.
A deafening roar boomed through the entire wagon, forcing the crew to cover their ears. The vibrations intensified, and it was apparent that the wyvern was incredibly close.
With the roar completed, Donna readied the crossbow once more. “It’s here!” she screamed as the creature appeared right beside them. She wildly fired the bolt, but it just bounced off its grey leathery hide. The wyvern gazed at her, then swooped towards them, crashing into wagon.
Gravity seemed to lose its hold over everyone, and the wagon was flung from the muddy tracks. It continued to tumble and twist, snapping and crunching, while it rolled across the ground.


“Vivian, breakfast is ready,” a sweet and familiar voice called out.
Vivian shot up, almost leaping out from the soft feather down bed he had been resting in. “The wyvern attack, it was just a bad dream,” he mumbled to himself, then patted his body down, making sure he wasn’t injured. “All these stories about monsters… I need to distance myself from those damn scholars at the tower.”
“It’s going to be cold by the time you get down here!” A splash of urgency melded with the soft, loving voice.
“I’m coming!” Vivian called back, then raced down the stairs of his home.
“Good early sun Daddy,” a small girl said. She intercepted him, reaching out with her two stubby arms. “I love you!”
“I love you too Dandy.” He embraced his daughter, carrying her through the house. “Good early sun Sal, smells amazing in here!” Vivian kissed his wife on the cheek, then sat down at a wooden table in their dining room.
“Are you ok? It’s not often you sleep in so late!” Sally placed a plate of fish and bread in front of him. “Especially on a working sun!”
“I’m fine, really.” Vivian pulled some fish flesh off with the bread. “How about you two beautiful girls, everything been running smoothly here at home?”
Sally looked sideways at him. “Of course they are, why wouldn’t they be?”
“I’m a princess daddy!” Dandy called out to her father. She had a pink hat upon her head and was waving her hands in an odd manner. “Look at me!”
“Yes dear, you’re a princess.” Vivian smiled, but couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Come on Vivian, what’s going on?” Sally continued to nag. “You adore Dandy, but you’re barely giving her any attention this sun.”
“Ugh,” Vivian sighed. “It’s just all this monster stuff that’s been going on. These serpents attacking Cape Krone have my supervisors on edge, they want me to push conscription to further reaches.”
“What serpents dear?” Sally tilted her head to the side. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I told you before didn’t I?” Vivian rubbed his face in confusion. “Are you sure I didn’t tell you?”
“What’s the matter Vivian?” Sally’s lovely voice began to sound croaky. She tilted her head, almost ninety degrees then repeated herself. “What’s the matter?”
“Ugh…” Vivian’s thoughts became clouded, he suddenly felt incredibly confused and overwhelmed. “I don’t know…”
“What’s the matter Daddy?” Dandy spoke in a mature voice.
Something turned the sky outside their windows black. With a thunderous boom, dark serpents began launching themselves into their house, breaking through the windows, while screeching loudly. Vivian began to panic, looking around, but being unable to move. He was frozen with fear. He looked at his wife and daughter, who stared straight back, asking in unison. “What’s the matter?” The table began to rumble, then they both released a bloodcurdling roar.


That deafening roar reverberated through Vivian’s body, pulling him out from his dream-like state. “A bad dream?” Vivian attempted to sit up out of his bed, discovering that this time, he was in the wreck of the wagon he had been travelling in. In an instant, everything came back to him; the threat of the serpents, travelling so far south of Silverton, and being attacked by that damn wyvern.
He pulled himself through some torn white cloth that covered his body, realising the wreck of the wagon had scattered over quite a distance. He couldn’t see the horses, which he assumed must have bolted or been eaten. He also couldn’t see anyone else he had been travelling with.
Vivian looked down over his body. Fortunately, despite the damage done to the wagon, he had managed to survive the crash with little more than a few scratches, grazes, and a pounding headache.
“Leave me alone!” Donna screamed from a distance.
“Donna…” Vivian pulled the last pieces of wrecked wagon off himself and began moving towards the source of her voice. He didn’t call out to her, gaining the attention of the wyvern was certainly something he could do without, but he also didn’t want any harm coming to his assistant.
“Go away!” Donna yelled out.
Vivian caught a glimpse of what was scaring his assistant, it appeared as though a white furry animal, not much taller than a man, had taken a liking to her. He hadn’t seen, nor heard of such a creature before, so approached quietly, hoping not to startle it. He reached for a large twin bladed axe that was wedged into the ground, then began to pull on it. It was stuck in the mud tight, but he managed to pull it out, falling to his butt as it came loose.
“Shit!” Vivian swore, gaining the attention of the furry animal. It roared as it turned around, a wretched noise, but nothing compared to the booming of the wyvern that took out their wagon.
 With the axe in his hand, he stood up and looked at the creature, realising it was much more intimidating than he had expected. From the front, the creature appeared almost human-like, only more masculine, really masculine. The muscles on its chest burst out from the shaggy white fur. Its face appeared almost rodent-like, with long white ears, and blood red eyes.
“Help me Vivian!” Donna cried out.
“What am I sup—” the creature screeched and turned away from Vivian who was fumbling with the axe. It then grabbed Donna, throwing her over its shoulder, and quickly disappeared into the trees at the base of the hills, “—posed to do?”
Donna continued to scream. Vivian felt terrible, having no idea what that thing was going to do to her, but there was nothing he could do about it. He was as far from being a slayer as one could be. The creature was fast, Donna continued screaming, but it didn’t take long for her voice to fade from ear’s reach.
“Is anyone else still alive?” Vivian called out across the wreckage of his previous transport. He waited a few moments, but no one stirred. “Damn… I really didn’t think we’d come all this way just for this to happen.”
He slung the heavy axe over his shoulder and began to walk back up to the road they had been following. He looked back in the direction they came from, back towards Silverton that was oh so far away. Looking straight ahead, he wondered if he could help Donna. She had been taken into the mess of trees at the base of some hills. He then turned his head in the direction they were originally travelling, towards Holtur. It was the place he was told that he’d find the help his home needed. Surely the people of Holtur could help save Donna too.
Vivian sighed, then continued down the path towards Holtur. He assumed it would be at least ten kilometres until he reached his destination. If the wyvern—or the bunny-bear—was to return for him though, there’d be no chance he would make it there alive.
He thought of all the reasons he was doing this, for his wife and daughter, and to stop those damn serpents from destroying everything he held dear. He had to succeed in his mission, there was no option for failure. He held his head high and continued onto Holtur, his speed increasing with the sound of the wyvern roaring in the distance.
The journey to Holtur was almost over, but little did Vivian realise, he may not return from this place alive.

The Book 

Title: The Holtur Enigma
Author: Cameron W. Smith
Blurb: The monsters you fear are nothing compared to the ones you do not.
With the threat of a monstrous army arising, Vivian has set off towards the town of Holtur. His job is to conscript the toughest men he can find, in a location known for producing some of the best monster slayers around. However, Holtur has its own issues, and helping this stranger is far from a priority.
Will Vivian convince the people of Holtur to help his cause? Or will he fall victim to the beasts, wyverns, or horrors that surround the town? It doesn’t take long for him to discover that he was nowhere near prepared for this godforsaken land.
Sticking to his action packed style of writing, Cameron Wayne Smith merges horror elements into his fantasy world, bringing you The Holtur Enigma.

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