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Fantasy
(Fic)
Legend of the Blood Raven
by Devon Mclaughlin

Prologue

“I will wipe them off the face of the earth! The infestation must be dealt with.”
The air inside the spacious tent crackled in sinister energy.
Savas-Zev was in a foul mood. He stalked about the tent in anger, garments swirling in his wake—n...





Chapter 1

Life had been so different for Bran only a month before. Life had been wonderful. Her favorite uncle Daga had taken her to the human town of Kopa which was the nearest settlement to the dwarf kingdom of Tor Ambroc, Bran’s home. The month-long celebration of Wi...





Chapter 2

Daga noticed her pensive mood later that night at dinner. “Bran?” he asked her quietly.It took a moment or two for her to realize she had been spoken to. She looked up guiltily.“What troubles you, lass?” he asked and his voice was very gentle...





Chapter 3

Vilmar had her riding a different horse every other day. He started her on a dead quiet old pony who had to be pushed with legs and seat to get going. But once moving, the pony wouldn’t stop short of crashing into a wall. It took all of Bran’s arm streng...





Chapter 4

Their return was greeted with as much joy as dwarves tended to express. The family members gathered around her and Daga at the dinner table that evening asking about Winterfest and Bran’s opinion of the great outside world. Bran was as brief as could be with h...





Chapter 5

After the outburst, Bran made herself scarce around her father. And it seemed that was just the way he wanted it. She buried herself in her work, hammering at the hot metal of her forge as if it were an enemy to be conquered and beaten. She turned her frustration in...





Chapter 6

Bran awoke later in the night to the sound of her parents arguing. She rolled over on her straw mattress and listened carefully hoping to hear something about the impending war. But they were talking about her.
“She needs training,” Yaffa said, her to...





Chapter 7

Bran dreamed of the Yazu that night. Yes, it was true she had no idea what they were but she dreamed of them all the same. And in the morning when she awoke, she remembered nothing of it. But the word ‘Yazu’ was on her lips before she had opened her eyes...





Chapter 8

A few days later was Bran’s eighth birthday and her coming of age celebration. There was a big feast among the family in one of the minor feast halls. Yaffa and Varg dressed in their best war gear. Yaffa wore golden chains wound into her hair and beard.
The...





Chapter 9

Bran was so eager to show off her new magical horse to Vilmar. But with an effort she concealed it. She decided to show up for their regularly scheduled ride every other day on a different horse. She wondered how long it would take him to figure things out.
The f...





Chapter 10

The days crept slowly toward spring. In the world above, the land was full of change. One day the weather would be clear and slightly warm and one could just feel the ground opening up and stretching after its long winter’s sleep. The next day would be cloudy ...





Chapter 11

Bran watched her parents disappear through the trader’s gates after she said goodbye. She fought to keep her face an impenetrable mask although she felt like running in after them and never leaving Tor Ambroc again. Instead she slung her pack over her shoulder...





Chapter 12

Iyorath Asra strode silently through the camp. He was an imposing figure, the only elf among so many dwarves and he stood out in sharp, graceful contrast to their gruff movements and manner.
Iyorath was a typical elf in most ways. He was tall and lean with long b...





Chapter 13

A week later, Bran and Dra-Oog rode into the Yazu encampment.
Bran’s eyes drank in the sights. There must have been about two hundred and fifty white tents scattered about. Each tent had several horses picketed outside. The tents were arranged in a certain ...





Chapter 14

Vilmar was ushered silently into the dwarf library. Keld, the scholar, stood with his back to the door, narrowly scanning a scroll.
“You are Vilmar, the farrier’s son?” Keld asked without turning around.
Vilmar stood up straight and tall. He ...





Chapter 15

Vilmar lay stretched out in the dappled shade of a budding oak. He drank in the warm spring air and listened to the sound of a large animal grazing next to him. His books lay open and scattered on the long grass all about him.
“You should be studying,&rdquo...





Chapter 16

My friend Vilmar,
I’m sure you probably think I’m having the most wonderful time in the army but frankly, I couldn’t be more bored! It seems all we do is clean saddles, brush horses and sharpen weapons. If we finish too quickly, some higher up, ...





Chapter 17

Keld didn’t mean to be taking the outside air this day. He just happened to be conversing with the guards at the trader’s gates when a particularly bedraggled and weather-beaten cart, pulled by two wormy mules and driven by an old, crippled figure pulled...





Chapter 18

Vilmar strode through the tunnels of Tor Ambroc, his arms laden with books and papers on the pronunciation of different languages. He was sure he had forgotten one page and so he was rifling through the stack as he walked, searching for the missing paper. He was bar...





Chapter 19

Vilmar walked quietly through the forest glade searching for his unicorn matron. It was the day after the odd delivery at the trader’s gates. But Vilmar had no knowledge of this. He was just interested in visiting with the unicorn.
He rounded a large oak an...





Chapter 20

Varg had died some time ago. Yaffa was still hanging on.
Vilmar sat in the chair next to Yaffa’s bed. She had made a valiant attempt to fight off the disease but was spending more and more time abed as of late. Her smooth, golden hair had become like brittl...





Chapter 21

One evening, a small patrol of about ten dwarves led by Dra-Oog left the encampment. Bran and Delkan were in this group.
Dra-Oog sat on her gray Phantom and addressed them. “It has been decided this group is doing well enough with their training to earn the...





Chapter 22

Bran rolled over and groaned. The liquor from the night before had left her head reeling and her vision blurred. Oh, but what a good time they’d had! At least, what she could remember of it. She moaned and started to stand but fell out of her little cot. She f...





Chapter 23

Bran now became Delkan’s nurse. She never left her friend’s side for the first two weeks after the attack. Dra-Oog relieved her temporarily from her soldiering duties to see to her friend. It certainly freed up the healers from Delkan’s daily care....





Chapter 24

My dear friend Iyorath,
I know about the dwarf pox in Tor Ambroc. Delkan told me. Now, please don’t be cross with her. She felt she was doing the right thing. I have not gone busting off for home. I have considered this carefully. I love the Yazu. But I hav...





Chapter 25

Bran had ridden all day with only two brief stops to rest Echo. When she stopped for the night, Echo immediately lay down to take a deep sleep. Bran shook her head and grinned at the efficiency of the mule. He knew they would be on the road again soon and he was tak...





Chapter 26

Vilmar rubbed his face wearily. He wasn’t sleeping well lately, of course, why would he? The majority of Tor Ambroc was dead or dying. He had stopped living in the tunnels. He could no longer stand the stench of the dead and the dying everywhere around him. Le...





Chapter 27

The war eagle Rath-Tor sat in the branches of a tall oak and quietly listened to the conversation below as he devoured the fat rabbit he had caught earlier. Garn-Ithel and Delkan were talking quietly as Iyorath scrutinized Bran’s letter over and over again for...





Chapter 28

Bran loped Echo along at an easy but fast gait. They had now entered familiar country. They were only a few miles out of Kopa town and she was keeping her eyes peeled for any hint of trouble. So far she had seen nothing but this had only made her more suspicious. Ev...





Chapter 29

“Keep your eyes peeled behind, Delkan,” Garn-Ithel said to her as they rode along. “We’re very close to the human town Bran was always tellin’ us about.”
Delkan yawned and flexed her arms. They had been riding along for hours w...





Chapter 30

It was midnight when Delkan finally regained her senses. She cracked her eyelids open and looked about warily. She lay at the bottom of the hill where she had tumbled. The forest all around her was making normal, peaceful forest sounds. The night was clear and lit b...





Chapter 31

Bran’s consciousness floated aimlessly through the ether of her mind. She didn’t remember what had just happened nor did she think she wanted to. She just wanted to float here, out of time and out of space, disconnected from her body. Just drift in the t...





Chapter 32

The young unicorn stood with his father and waited. The unicorn stag was grazing calmly but his two-year-old offspring could only pace fitfully. Scattered messenger hounds walked or lounged nearby, seemingly unaware of the youth’s nervousness.
Finally the m...





Chapter 33

Vilmar lay pillowed in the long, thick summer grass, his mind drifting pleasantly. He was starting to really enjoy this new turn his life had taken. Sure, bad things had happened just recently and he knew he couldn’t change the past. But he felt well equipped ...





Chapter 34

Delkan felt as if she had opened her eyes before she was truly awake. She blinked several times to clear her vision. Slowly she focused on the branches and cool leaves waving peacefully above her head.
Something big and important had happened. She felt decidedly ...





Chapter 35

The smell of burned flesh was now heavy inside the cabin as well as outside. Impassively, Savas-Zev turned his back on the crisped and barely surviving shell, which had once been the human called Dask. He cared not what became of it. Dask no longer existed to the wi...





Chapter 36

Bran slowly opened her eyes. Her vision fell on the jagged roof of a cave’s ceiling. Her body screamed to her in a million places from her wounds. She still felt very stiff and sore. Her chest hurt if she took a deep breath. The skin on her arms and hands was...





Chapter 37

Iyorath picked his way soundlessly through the forest followed by the crashing, stomping, sputtering Garn.
“Damned sharp-beaked pigeon is leading us in circles!” he spouted as he disentangled himself from the vines and briers that Iyorath had somehow ...





Chapter 38

Bran hobbled gingerly through the forest, leaning heavily on the cane Vilmar had made for her. She puffed with exertion at every step as she strained to retrain her legs to pump and propel her up the small incline. Vilmar had completely taken over her healing and th...





Chapter 39

Delkan and Bran sat laughing and joking at the entrance to the cave. A large bonfire had been kindled and they sat along with Vilmar, Garn and Iyorath, enjoying the first roasted meat they’d had in quite some time. The unicorns were nowhere to be seen but the ...





Chapter 40

The companions sat or lounged about the fire in front of the cave. No one spoke. Garn stabbed purposefully at the coals, kicking the fire higher and added more fuel. Iyorath walked about the circle with a kettle of freshly made venison stew, doling out ladlefuls to ...





Chapter 41

Bran sat quietly on her log as the others bustled about making preparations. In her hands she held one of the many little Dahla horses they had all crammed into their bags. She turned the little figurine thoughtfully over in her hands, admiring the simplicity with w...






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