Since my current book is involved in the waiting game of agents, I’ve decided to start a new project. It’s taken me a few months to figure out what I wanted to write about next, but I’m pretty stoked about this one, especially since it’s roughly based on my boys.
I’m still not exactly sure where it’s going to go, but I know where I want it to end and that’s half the battle. So, I’ll just let it flow as it may and hope for the best.
Enjoy reading my first chapter of “The Brothers Hender” 🙂
The water was cold as it splashed up around them. Their boots plunging into the icy creek created sounds that gave their position away easily. Hopefully the brothers Hender were far enough away from their pursuers that the loud sound wouldn’t carry to their ears.
“Felix, please. I need to rest,” cried Lucas. He was the youngest of the three at the age of ten and his shorter legs had a hard time keeping up with his older brothers.
Felix grabbed his hand and held it tight, pulling Lucas along with him. “We must not stop little brother. They will be upon us soon if we do.”
Dogs barked in the distance letting the brothers know that what their eldest brother was saying was the truth. If they stopped they would be killed. Their defiance back at their home camp had ensured that. If only they had bowed to the Overlord as he had commanded. No, it wouldn’t have been right. That man had no claim over their clan. He only came with his army to enslave them and force then starve through the long winter when he took their food stores. That was not something the brothers could bare.
Snow fell thick on the ground, freezing to their boots, hindering their run. It was cold, but the brothers were moving fast despite the worsening conditions. The heat from their breath was a reminder that they still lived, a good reminder to keep living.
If they could make it to the big river they could take the ferry across, leaving their pursuers stranded at the bank. It was their only option, one that they all agreed on.
There was a strange sound on the wind, a whooshing that the brothers knew all too well. An arrow flew past them, barely missing Roman’s ear. He yelped in shock, not expecting the attack. “They’re getting closer.”
Felix glanced over his shoulder, the sight of his own bow and quiver in his line of vision. Several men were close. Felix counted five. They were all part of the Overlord’s army. Large strong men, good in close combat but terrible with a bow. Could the brothers make it to the big river? It would be close, but they had no other choice to try.
On they pushed through the ever thickening snow with their pursuers closing in on them. It wasn’t far now. The brothers could see the tree’s thinning. The sound of rushing water filled the air. A few more strides and they would break free of the forest.
On the bank of the big river was the ferry. A small wooden raft attached to each bank by a rope. The river was moving fast but the rope made it safe enough to cross. The brothers pushed the raft into the water and jumped onto its surface. Lucas and Roman took the wooden polls in their hands and began to push the ferry across the river.
Felix knocked an arrow and waited for the men to emerge from the thick forest. He could hear them, their large boots crunching through the underbrush. Felix closed his eyes and concentrated on the sound. He took a deep breath and then another, just as their father had taught him. The second the sound had silenced he opened his eyes and let the arrow fly. It was quick and caught the man off his guard. The sharp point penetrated the man’s flesh right below his ribs. It was silent but deadly and did its job well. The man fell to the ground, blood flowing from his chest as he heaved his last breath. The arrow that he had been pointing at them lay broken near his hand.
Felix didn’t favor taking life, none of the brothers did, but they were bound to protect each other and would do so at any cost. Since he was the eldest at sixteen, it was up to him to keep them safe and that is what he intended to do.
The man that lay lifeless on the ground was the archer that shot at them. He was the only one of the five men that carried a bow, the only one that would be able to hurt them from the bank. It was him that Felix shot for and it was him that lay dead now. The other men watched the brothers push their way across the big river, unable to stop them. They waited for their other clan’s men to catch up. They waited and watched knowing that they wouldn’t stop searching for them, not till they found the brothers and made them pay. At least the brothers would have a chance now to survive knowing that the snow would cover their tracks quickly and give them a chance to run.
On the opposite bank of the big river Roman pulled a knife from its sheath on his right hip and cut the rope that attached the raft to the bank. With one kick of his boot the wooden ferry slipped into the cold unforgiving water, making its way down the swift current. The men couldn’t follow them this way. They would have to travel miles up river to the nearest crossing at the big river’s ford. By that time the brothers Hender would be long gone. Felix smiled at the thought. He took his youngest brother’s hand again, even though he didn’t need to and quickly disappeared into the thick forest with Roman at his heals.
“Are we safe now?” Asked Lucas.
“Not a chance,” snapped Roman. “They won’t give up till they find us.”
Felix sighed. Roman who was only thirteen, was always picking on young Lucas, something that wouldn’t be tolerated while they were on the run. “Roman, leave him alone. We need to keep our heads clear and not fill them with half truths and thoughts of death.”
“Well, it’s true.” Roman didn’t like being told what to do, but knew his brother was right.
“Maybe it is, but we can’t know that for sure. We are the brothers Hender and we must stick together.” All the brothers agreed with Felix, knowing that if they were to survive this, they would need to work together. They were all skilled with their weapons, trained by their father to hunt in the cold winter with their blades and bows and they were fast, able to run for many miles. They would have a good chance on their own.
The forest was thicker on this side of the river. The brothers weren’t as familiar with it as they were with their own bank. This land was claimed by another tribe, one that didn’t fight freely but still protected their land from uninvited outsiders all the same. The brothers were definitely uninvited, sneaking through the underbrush like animals. If they were discovered, they would have to run again.
“Where are we headed?” Asked Lucas who was always full of questions. “The people of this land might not welcome us.”
All the brothers stopped and thought. The truth was none of them had any idea where to go. They didn’t know much of the lands beyond this one, and even this one didn’t hold anything promising for them. There was no where safe for them to go.
“We could go to the sea.” Roman spoke up, scratching his chin, a trait that he saw their father do when he was thinking. “We could take a boat and sail from this land. Never look back.”
The brothers thought about it, but Felix shook his head. “It’s too far and none of us know how to sail. We wouldn’t make it on the open sea, that’s if we could steal a boat without being killed first.”
It was no good to think about the sea. They had no experience with it. Maybe one day they would stand on its vast bank and look out over the expanse in awe, but this was not the time.
“We could go south, across the land bridge. Stay with the strange speaking people. Father said they’ve always been welcoming to our kind.” Felix thought his plan was the best. He always did. It was only because he was the eldest and that gave him the birth right to make the final decision.
“We would have to cross the land of the Black clan,” pointed out Roman. “They would slaughter us the minute we stepped foot on their land.”
Roman was right. The Black clan had strange gruesome customs. Not many lived to tell the tails of what they saw and experienced on their land. It was too dangerous for the brothers to go south without aid.
Things were beginning to look bleak for the brothers, not to mention that they were wasting precious time standing under the trees. They had to make a decision quickly, but there was no place safe that they knew of.
Lucas had been uncharacteristically quiet while the two eldest argued about their direction. Felix noticed this and turned to his youngest brother. “What do you want to say Lucas?”
The boy wouldn’t budge. His mouth hung open, but no words came out. He had an idea but he was afraid his brothers would laugh at him, tell him it was child’s play. He hesitated.
“Tell us or not, Lucas. I still think we should go to the sea.” Roman was impatient and fidgeted with the knife on his hip.
Felix squeezed his hand. “It’s ok Lucas. What ever you have to say can’t be any worse than what we’ve already said.” Roman sneered at his older brother and turned to a tree to pick at its bark with his knife.
“Well, we could… Go to the mountains…” Lucas’ voice was soft, unsure of the words coming out of his mouth. But the brothers didn’t laugh at him like he had thought they would. An odd silence feel between them as they waited to hear what their youngest brother had to say. “We could go to the mountains and find… Find Thor.”
“No one has seen Thor in hundreds of moons.” Felix was skeptical, but the sound of his voice was unsure of his own words. He knew what his youngest brother was saying was a possibility, but he had to think it through. He always had to think it through.
“But father says that Thor lives in the mountains, on the tallest peak, that way he’s closest to the heavens.” Lucas was bold now, trying to convince his brothers of his plan. “He will protect us. I know he will.”
“And he can save our clan from the Overlord.” Roman chimed in quietly. None of the brothers wanted to think about the destruction they had probably caused at home. Their mother and father could be dead for all they knew, just because they angered the Overlord. There was no time to think of these things, they needed a plan and it seemed they were all in agreement.
Felix shook his head. “We will go to the mountains and find Thor. We must convince him to save our clan. It’s the only way.”
And so it was that the brothers Hender turned north to the mountains before them. It was a long walk through unknown dangers, but it was their only choice. They all knew though, that if they stayed strong to their bond as brothers, nothing could come between them.
1910 / 50000 words. 4% done!