The Adventures of Larson and Garrett are a new series of fantasy adventures. Each short story brings you deeper and deeper into the journeys of a somewhat unlikely duo with vastly different backgrounds who end up waging a war against a daemon, an evil and malicious creature trying to become the new God of Destruction.
The Sleeping Tree is now available at Smashwords––the first in the series wherein the young Larson is just a boy. Once out from under the watchful eye of his older brother, Largo, Larson runs off on his own to try and stop an evil tree from eating the children of the town of Flotsam.
Enjoy the excerpt-
“Go upstairs, oh who am I kiddin’,” Largo said and opened the door. It was Thatcher again. “What is it?”
The old man came in and everyone sat down at the table. “Another child gone missin’,” the old man started with a trembling voice. “The Gettys girl. Her older brother saw her wander off towards the woods to the north. He ran in after her, but couldn’t find her.” Thatcher grew quiet and fought to hold back tears. “This ain’t normal.”
“Vanishin’ kids is never normal,” Largo corrected.
“I mean, these kids ain’t bein’ takin’, they’re wanderin’ off on purpose.”
“Anyone find anything?”
“No, but they’re talkin’ about gatherin’ everyone at the schoolhouse with Mrs. Graham and a few townsfolk keepin’ guard over the children. I volunteered to help at that end.”
“What’s the plan?” Largo asked.
Thatcher sighed and rubbed his scruff before saying, “While the children are kept together an’ safe, the hunters are going to go out to track the girl. They won’t come back until they find somethin’.”
“And you want me to go with them?” Largo said more than asked.
Thatcher’s gaze pierced Largo’s eyes. “People need you. Children need you. At the rate we’re goin’, whatever’s out there’s gonna destroy this town.”
“Whatever’s out there?” Largo howled argumentatively. “There’s no more monsters, dammit.”
“Who’re you to make that call?”
Largo was stunned. “But…but there can’t be.”
“Well, this ain’t men, or orcs, or dwarves, is it? Somethin’s lurin’ these kids away into the forest…an’ short of burnin’ it down to the ground, we don’t know what else to do. Strangely enough, whatever this is don’t seem to pose a threat to adults, so you should be safe.”
“You’ve got to go,” Larson interrupted. “Dad would go.”
Largo clenched his jaw a few times. Larson cocked an eyebrow.
“I’ll get my books, you get your sword, and we’ll go to the schoolhouse,” Larson stated.
At that moment, the boy looked just like their dad. Largo smiled involuntarily. Larson’s jaw was smaller, and he was a pint sized duckling, but the eyes were the same; fierce, with purpose even though it wasn’t him going out to fight.
“Dad says when people ask you for help, you’ve got to do it because one day you or someone you love will need help, and you’ll wish everyone would get together to help you,” Larson said.
Largo turned back to Thatcher and nodded. “All right.”
The three readied themselves and in the middle of the night, they marched to the schoolhouse. Even before arriving they noticed the light shining through the school’s windows. Several people were gathered just outside, some bore torches.
“Go inside,” Largo told Larson.
The boy maintained a stiff upper lip and passed the adults. Within the school’s walls, Larson saw the multitude of children. There were almost two dozen ranging in ages from infants to perhaps thirteen. The oldest child who had disappeared was only nine, but no one wanted to take any chances, so everyone old enough to grab a sword, dagger, axe, or bow claimed a weapon and journeyed into the forest.
“Larson,” a boy called.
Michael, one of the older boys in Mrs. Graham’s class was sitting at the tables. Larson joined him. They glanced at the other kids, and the few older adults and women. Some of the women had apparently joined the hunting party leaving only six adults in the school house including Mrs. Graham.
“Don’t be scared,” Michael finally said.
“I’m not,” Larson whispered. “I want to help.”
“When you’re older,” Michael smiled.
Michael was slender with long, dark hair. His clothes looked like they had belonged to someone else, but he was firm and nice.
“All right, children,” Mrs. Graham announced. “There’s no reason to fret. To keep our minds busy, we’ll go ahead and start on Monday’s lesson plan.”
She then instructed those who had their books to open to a certain page. Most of the children had to share as they had come unprepared. It didn’t really matter. While Mrs. Graham haphazardly started teaching most of the boys tried to listen to the other adults. They were speculating about goblins and orcs, or ogres; the common child eating monsters. Someone suggested it was a troll because they only hunt at night.
“Sun light turns ‘em ta’ stone,” an old man said.
“It don’t turn ‘em to stone,” Mr. Thatcher argued. “That’s an old wives’ tale!”
Before long, since it was getting late, or early, some of the children placed their heads on folded arms and drifted off. The slow progression of time was grueling. Larson was antsy, but he was also tired. He rifled through the pages of a large rectangular book with a green, leather cover. He couldn’t quite make out the title.
“Leon’s tr-treeump?” he asked himself.
“Leon’s Triumph,” Mrs. Graham corrected in a whisper. Larson looked up at her and she smiled providing that safe feeling. “It’s about a brave knight who defeated an army of the undead for his king.”
“Undead?” Larson asked. “Like skeletons?”
“Like skeletons,” Mrs. Graham acknowledged.
“Can you read it to us?” he asked her.
She smiled again and nodded. Then she called the children to sit on the floor around her. She took a wooden chair and sat facing them. She started to read the story. It had a slow beginning about the history of an evil magician named Lorknar. Larson was sprawled out on the floor and asleep before the story got interesting.
Words were just background noise like the sounds of flickering torches, or the swirling river. From the blackness of sleep, Larson heard a melodious sound. It was unknown to him, but somehow reeked of home, of sweetness. It was something like a woman’s voice, but there were no words spoken. The sound then morphed into shapeless colors, and eventually solidified into the image of a tree, a great old tree.
The trunk was very dark gray. No leaves grew on the branches. The old man’s face appeared again. It was mouthing something, but Larson wasn’t able to hear the words.
“Who are you?” the boy asked.
“Rog less fur.”
“I can’t understand,” Larson complained.
“I am Rollesforth,” the tree croaked.
The evil tree lurched out and scooped Larson off the ground. He was suddenly over a dozen feet off the ground gazing into the black hole of the tree’s gaping mouth. Rollesforth was on a barren hilltop in a clearing of the forest, and then Larson felt the anguish of falling. He awoke with a jump.
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