The Adventures of Larson and Garrett has already come such a long way. With 5 stories available via Smashwords, I’ve done fairly well for myself, and many of you wonderful readers out there have your copies, so I want to let you all know that the next adventure in the series will be available soon – not sure when, exactly – but soon.
Here’s a quick excerpt for the 6th installment of The Adventures of Larson and Garrett. The working title is On to Xorinth, but that might change.
Withering grasses grew sparsely in the area. With Talsador long behind them, the current scenery wasn’t so hilly, so thick with pines, and there were scarcely any boulders. Larson began to meander off the trail.
“What are you doing?” Garrett chastised.
“Relax, I know a shortcut.”
Garrett gripped fists at the air as though trying his all to control his temper. “No you don’t. Stay on the road. It’s safest that way.”
“This way is quicker, hence shortcut.”
“Larson,” Garrett chuckled, “We need to stick together.”
“Uh-huh,” Larson agreed then burped. “Oof, that possum’s not sitting right,” he added and lightly pounded his sternum. “As I was saying, I know a quicker route. We shouldn’t waste any more time than need be. We’ve been lucky so far…nothing wicked’s come after us.”
“And I aim to keep it that way!”
“Stop being a Mary.”
“I’m not being a Mary!” Garrett countered immediately. “I’m being th- k- the, the guy keeping us alive!”
“Un-bunch those panties, Gare,” Larson laughed. “Look around you; there’s few trees here, gorgeous, brown meadows, the mountains, far behind us. We’re in a prime spot to see all around, and if we travel due north, we’ll get to Xorinth with…say…six hours to spare.”
“Larson,” Garrett pleaded, the fatigue getting to him.
“Garrett,” Larson mocked.
With a mighty exhale portraying great patience and acquiescence, Garrett rode up behind Larson, and the two took the proposed shortcut. Though he continued peering in to the distances, expecting the worst, Garrett soon relaxed and started thinking about what else might be done to stop Lagos, and what he could do to help Larson find his family.
“Once we get there,” Garrett began. “We’ll have to speak with Rolas immediately. He’ll offer good hospitality…for a high-elf, but will want total seclusion once he begins his work. We also have to take into consideration that he may already have his own work. Regardless, it’ll be in our best interest to seek out any information on the White Wraith cult.”
“Agreed. Finding out just what those pricks are up to may lead to some much needed information.”
The riders were on a slow but steady incline, then. For a moment, what lay beyond was hidden by the hill’s crest. Upon reaching its top, Garrett noticed a jagged boulder; it’s mass seemed well out of place. It was no mountain, but loomed in the distance large enough to draw attention.
Furrowing his brow, the fencer continued his suggestions, “I’m thinking about seeking out the matrons of the temple of Tarielle, but you should do well to look into other avenues.”
“What do you mean? Why Tarielle?”
“The clergy of Tarielle oversees both Rolas’s libratoreum and Xorinth’s school of magickal theory,” Garrett said, thoughtfully.
“Okay,” Larson trailed off.
Thinking he noticed some fleeting movement by the jagged stone formation, Garrett paused his train of thought and gave in to scrutiny of the environment. The boulder was still miles off into the distance, and the horizon was clear, the sky, blue, and the immediate surroundings, clear, but still, he felt a pang of uncertainty. Wondering if it was fatigue, he tried his all to remain relaxed.
“What other avenues?” Larson demanded, thus giving Garrett the impression he was asking a second time. “Pay attention!”
“Sorry,” Garrett huffed. “I thought I saw something.”
“I’m sure we’re fine.”
“Yes…at any rate, you hit the taverns and seedy shops; see if anyone is hiring mercenaries and find out why. I believe you may stumble onto some solid information regarding what’s happening behind closed, political doors.”
“I’m not following,” Larson complained, the strain of staying awake getting to him as well.
A soft wail was carried by the wind. Garrett shook his head in aggravation. A quick glance at Larson revealed he was glaring back at Garrett.
“Did you not hear that?” Garrett asked.
“It’s the wind cutting through trees and rocks.”
“No,” the fencer asserted. “Something’s out here…Xorinth and its surrounding area is filled with all kinds of danger. The most prominent and powerful of magick users congregate around there…not all of them are benevolent practitioners, if you catch my meaning.”
“You think there are evil sorcerers about?”
“Their creations, perhaps, or summoned creatures, undead, who knows? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I heard a banshee.”
“Banshees have piercings screams. I would have heard a banshee.”
“Could be a spectre, then.”
“The ghost?” Larson asked in disbelief.
“Lots of wizards were killed around here, and while some died naturally, often their familiars remain in an angry, sorrowful, or confused state. One can never be too careful.”
“Hm,” Larson puzzled and scratched the hair growing on his throat. “I’ll worry about the danger when it presents itself. For now, we’ve little choice but to press on.”
“I suppose…still,” Garrett contemplated.
At the end of his rumination, he casted a protection spell on himself, Larson, and the mounts. Larson arched a brow, and a little smile crept across his face.
“So, political doors?” Larson asked in an effort to pick up the conversation.
“Right, we know the Dark One hired mercenaries to retrieve the goblin pendant. By now, I would think he is aware that his goons failed, and probably knows we’re heading to Xorinth, but while Rolas researches the item, and I scour the magick school, temple, and such, you can pick up rumors and whatever else from the city’s underbelly.”
“Apart from news regarding the White Wraiths or the Dark One, what else should I keep an ear open for?”
By then, they were directly east of the jagged rock and still a few miles away. A sort of growling squawk resonated. Both warriors slowed their pace while looking west. Larson narrowed his eyes, and Garrett frowned. Neither said a word, but both began angling away towards the north east and back for the road.
“My time spent in the merchant trade under my father’s tutelage taught me that most anyone with money knows something they shouldn’t. I suspect you should remain aware; listen for bits of information regarding the decline in King Roan’s leadership; it will have ties with the Dark One and the White Wraith cult, and you may yet learn about your brother and father’s whereabouts.”
“You think the Dark One has such an influence over the state of the country?”
“My gut tells me yes.”
Larson nodded slowly. Pondering his partner’s implications, he looked up into the sky. Shielding his eyes from the brightness with his hand, he noted it must have been around noon; his stomach was in accordance with the assumption. He thought about breaking for food, but both Duke and Lola, and Garrett, for that matter, looked skittish. There may yet be something around here, he thought. They picked up their pace.
Coming off the sloping hill, the friends gazed out into a great, open meadow. Being able to see for miles, they noted extensive farmlands. Like all the great cities of Ruvonia, farmlands marked the proximity of civilization. Xorinth was not far off.
“What do we really know about the Dark One?” Larson asked.
Their quickened pace made their weapons, armor, and travel supplies bounce around. Garrett raised his voice to drown out the sound of jostled equipment.
“All we know, for a fact, is that he hired a team of explorers to acquire our little trinket. After it was raided by the goblins, he hired Cormick to get it back. Apart from that, we know he’s called Dark One because of one of two reasons—though probably both—either he makes policies to oppress the working class in order to raise the influence of the nobility, or he delves into dark magick.”
“And what exactly is dark magick?” Larson asked. “Summoning? Necromancy?”
“Yes, and he likely funds bandits, evil nobles, and bends the king’s ear in an effort to gain more political control over the country. Whether he’s just a bad guy or an evil wizard bent on ruling the world, he needs to be removed from power.”
“You think he really exists,” Larson asserted in a manner that portrayed slight disbelief.
“You think he doesn’t?” Garrett was equally surprised.
“I think he’s a fabrication created by the elite; the people with all the money that fund those who obtain power as political figureheads; they’re all bad guys!”
“How do you explain the goblin trinket?”
“It’s a magickal artifact. It’s connected to Lagos, to destruction; it’s powerful magick, and these bad guys are trying to recreate the White Wraith cult in order to create instability across the country. This is certainly terrible news, but not the kind of thing two blockheads like us can hope to unravel or resolve on our own.”
“What?! How, I thought,” Garrett stuttered. “You don’t want to help bring him down?! You claimed you wanted to see this through to the end!”
“I do, I do,” Larson laughed. “Calm down. I’m just saying; this isn’t a faerytale. Two warriors aren’t going to unearth the deepest, darkest secrets of the nobility and the country’s leaders. We’ll do what we can, but my priority is my family. We’ll leave the thing with Rolas, you’ll gather your information from your sources, and I from mine, and I will always be here to help you, but listen…we’re going to hit a brick wall at some point; we’re going to have to find someone with political power that we can trust, a good guy, if there are any in that particular field.
“Other than that, it’s imperative that we keep that trinket away from power hungry hands. You know I promised Holden to fight the good fight, and I will, but I also have a duty to my friends, my family, and those others in need like the poor, like the Dude. I’m a mercenary, Garrett. I take jobs to help those who can’t seek help from the nobility…but I also take jobs from the nobility when it lines my pockets.”
Garrett shook his head in dismay. He kept a firm gaze on his friend, who returned scrutiny. Larson was empathetic towards Garrett’s plight, and Garrett was outraged that his friend was implying they were powerless, or rather, he felt Larson was making such an implication, and that what’s drove him to yell.
“Lagos, Larson!” the fencer was turning red with anger. “Lagos is trying to become a God! We have to do something, here!”
Larson was about to enter into an argument when a chorus of wailing, elongated growls echoed across the land. The horses froze on the spot. Larson and Garrett exchanged a look of sheer horror as they maintained their balance. They turned their mounts to face the south west, from where the noise had come, only to witness immense, gray, scaled creatures. They were dragons with wings for forearms, beaked maws lined with teeth, muscular rear legs, and thick, whipping tails. Wyverns were taking flight from some unseen roost hidden by the jagged stone.
“Son of a shite,” Larson said matter-of-factly.
“Wyverns,” Garrett shrieked. “We can’t take wyverns!”
Both men wheeled their horses about and made a full gallop towards the north.
“Are we going the right way?” Garrett howled as they bowled over withered grass and dusty meadows.
-end of excerpt
Thanks for reading. For those of you who are keeping up with this fantastical epic, you’ll be glad to know the goblin trinket does get delivered to safety soon. For those of you who are only now stumbling upon this, visit The Sleeping Tree and see how the adventure, the epic journey of delivering a dangerous item of destructive magick developed, how two warriors became friends, what drove them to live life on their own terms.
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