This is my first published novel. It follows Zachery Morely as he and the heroes of Amundiss face an evil demon brought to their world from a tree.
Chapter one: Seed Planted
Whitehold was the center of the commonwealth in the realm of Cyreus. Ruled by King Gabriel, filled with lush farm lands surrounding a large castle that housed a city within itself. As the morning dew burned off the leaves and birds sang the arrival of a new day, we find a house in the corner of a little farm, just outside the city of Whitehold. A quiet farm brimming with crops, and livestock to be delivered to the people. This particular farm is home to the Morely family.
As the warm sun peaked over the treetops, the Morely family started their morning routine.
"Zachery. Will you please gather me some of the herbs from the garden? Your father is bringing me the eggs." Elizabeth asked.
Zachery, was the eldest child to George and Elizabeth Morely. He walked from the house, bag in hand, to do as his mother asked. A young man on the brink of adulthood. Broad shoulders carried a head full of dark hair that shimmered in the morning light. Eyes full of wonder and expectation of a life he longed to live. He had recently celebrated his fifteenth season day, and stood nearly as tall as his father. As he made his way to the garden, he grabbed his wooden sword and wrapped his dirt stained cloak his mother had made him around his neck.
"I understand, sire. A mission to the garden sounds like you need a King's Guard!" He pretended he was a member of the King's Guard, protecting the King and going on adventures. Zachery could always be found carrying that wooden sword, and his makeshift cloak with the King's colors on it. Zachery always knew he was not destined to be a poor farmer. He longed for the time he could leave his humdrum days behind. This was no usual day for him as it turned out. As he rounded the hedges to the open garden plot, there in the back he saw a dark figure. Zachery ducked behind the hedges, hoping not to be seen. He watched the gloomy silhouette fade in and out of the shadows.
"Was father expecting someone? That doesn't look like anyone I know," Zachery said softly to himself.
He held his breath, listening to the pounding beat of his heart as if it tried to escape his chest. With every second it grew louder until Zachery thought for sure the dark one would hear him. The skies darkened. The wind picked up and started to swirl around the shadowy individual.
"I see you, boy. No one can hide from my sight." The stranger spoke.
Startled, Zachery asked, "Who are you? Wha. . . What do you want?"
An echoing, unnatural voice, that resonated through Zachery's very bones said, "Today the seed is planted. All shall kneel before him. He is the bringer of death. Spread his warning, and prepare for doom. Your people will suffer in his wake. The light will shine no more. Our time has come. Darkness will grow. Night has fallen." In a puff of black and purple smoke the dark figure was gone.
Scared half to death, Zachery ran back to get his father, skidding to a sudden stop. George was busy with the chickens in the coop when Zachery came running in. "F-Father! Come quickly! A demon is in the garden!" He told his father of the man in the garden.
"It was so. . . so strange. His voice sounded as if it would force itself into my mind. It was as if he was standing right next to me, but I could see him in the shadows of the garden. You will not believe what he told me. He said a seed was planted, and we were all going to suffer. He called this seed the bringer of death that we should prepare for doom! Do you think we are in danger?" Zachery told him.
George's eyes grew wide. For a moment, Zachery thought his father was as terrified as he was. Then, George burst out laughing, brushing the tears from his eyes with the back of his hands. "A fine prank my boy! A demon, here! What does he want? Some milk and herbs for his travels? Of course a seed is planted! It is the garden!"
Zachery's eyes showed the fear he felt inside. "It is not a joke! Please, we need to do something. Come, I'll show you where he was."
He could tell his son was truly terrified of something. "All right, we will go see this demon." He called for their dog, "Duke! Let's go see a demon, boy!"
George was thinking it was still a joke, but decided to humor the boy and came along with him only to have his world changed forever. The spot where Zachery said the stranger stood was now a ring of smoldering ash, and in the center of the ring grew a small, single sapling.
George approached the circle confused trying to figure out what it was. "Well would you look at that. This was not here yesterday. How did you do this?" he asked.
Zachery gave his father a wide-eyed look. "See, I told you. Someone or something was here, he stood right here."
Duke, the family dog, went to investigate for himself. Sniffing as if he knew this was an unmarked tree. As he broke the circle of ash, he was gone! Consumed by the tree itself. Duke's face slowly disappeared into the sapling as the trunk acted as if it was feeding on him. The animal howled in pain and struggled to break free, the more he fought, the tighter it held on to its' prey. As Duke sank into the tree's trunk, the bark seemed to contour and shift into the shape of the poor dog as the sapling swallowed him before their eyes. After the tree consumed the poor animal, they watched it grow in size.
"It grew larger!" Zachery shouted.
George grabbed his son in one hand and ran home frantically shouting, "We have to tell King Gabriel! He has to know!"
My morning started off very dark. I had no idea how dark my world would get. I'm Zachery Morely, and the tale you are about to read changed worlds forever.
Once home, George tried to explain to Elizabeth what they had seen. "I know what I saw. That tree is not normal. It ate Duke! I don't know what it's able to do. I have to tell Gabriel."
Zachery's mother, Elizabeth, was worried that people would blame them for the sapling and not believe they were trying to help.
"George Morely, if you go telling folks that story they will surely lock you in the lowest part of the dungeons." She told him.
Convinced it was for the greater good, George persuaded her it was the right thing to do.
"We have to think of the others. I saw it, Elizabeth, I saw it. I know Gabriel will believe me and send help. We have to help protect others. We have to get the news to the King." George told her.
As they prepared the horses for the trip, George told Elizabeth to keep their other child safe and inside the house.
"No matter what, you and Launa stay away from the garden. Do not let anyone near the spot where the tree is. I feel in my soul it is shrouded in darkness, and is not of this world," he confessed.
She kissed her husband and promised, made him promise to keep themselves safe.
"Take care of Zachery. You know he loves Gabriel and the castle. Do not allow him to wander and get lost. I need you both to come back to me." Elizabeth told him.
She then hugged her men and sent them on their way. The journey to the castle was a day's ride. They could make it by nightfall. If they knew what was coming, they would have made it faster.
What trouble could a tree cause? A paltry tree? I wish that's all we had to deal with from that garden.
As the men rode to the castle, Elizabeth kept her daughter, Launa, inside and warned her neighbors best she could. Launa grumbled and complained, but did as she was told. What they didn't realize was while they were holed up inside, animals were making their way to the circle, drawn by a strange curiosity to the sapling. As the animals crept closer to the circle, like the Morely's dog, they too were consumed. Every time one was taken, the sapling grew bigger. This was no ordinary tree sapling. Who was that vile man who left it here?
I always enjoyed going to Castle Whitehold, seeing the knights in their shiny armor, Zachery thought. All the Lords and Ladies dressed in the finest clothes of the land. I was lucky to have what clothes I had on, and I did not understand why? As farmers, we did not have the finer things. Mother usually made our clothes and toys, but we knew the king! Father was his best childhood friend! That had to count for something. As I look back I now know father wanted to protect us and keep us true. 'Respect where you're from' he would tell me. The coming days I would learn that first hand.
Please feel free to comment. I am new to scriggler and need all the feedback I can get. Also, please list if you would want to see more.
Find my book at amazon.com/author/michaellackey barnesandnoble.com and booksamillion.com!