With fire and otherworldly invaders closing in, a commander takes the time to tell the story of his capture and the reasons behind his return to continue the fight. What are the secrets of his past?
The Runaway is currently available as a stand-alone title at Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, iTunes, and Nook, but will one day be incorporated into An Anthology of Bloodlines.
First Pages: The Runaway
In the gathering dark of the downs, campfires twinkled in a shallow valley. The commander of the troops gathered about those fires lay, belly-flat, on the top of one of the hills bordering the valley. He looked, but nothing disturbed the smooth slope of the downs below him.
After staring across the broad valley his troops had to cross the next day, he turned to the sentry beside him.
“Keep a watch,” he said. “I can smell smoke.”
The sentry sniffed at the air.
“I smell nothing,” she said, “but the earth lies restless.”
The commander paused a moment, testing the truth of her words, then he nodded and slid back from hill’s crest.
“They’ll need a story, tonight.”
“I know. You’ll hear it from them, tomorrow.”
He did not see her nod in the shadow of the bush sheltering her from sight, but she did not call him again. Once he was far enough below the ridge that he could stand without creating a silhouette, the commander rose to his feet and picked his way down the slope to the central fire.
He stood taller than most, but he was well-proportioned, and it wasn’t until he walked amongst other men that his height became noticeable. With darkly-tanned skin, and hair the rich brown of the earth of the downs, the dark blue of his eyes seemed out of place.
Those eyes gazed across the gathering about the campfire, and lost some of the lamplight hardness they had gained as he searched the downs for his enemy. Instead, his gaze grew soft with contemplation, as he thought on the story he would tell.
He wished it wasn’t so personal. These soldiers had seen only his strength in battle, his quick strategies and clever tactics. It seemed a pity to dispel the myth of infallibility they had built around him.