Bell Mountain (The Bell Mountain Series)

BOOK: Bell Mountain (The Bell Mountain Series)
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THE BELL MOUNTAIN SERIES • VOLUME 1

BELL MOUNTAIN

BY LEE DUIGON

STOREHOUSE PRESS

 

Published by Storehouse

Press P.O. Box 158,

Vallecito, CA 95251

 

Storehouse Press is the registered trademark of Chalcedon, Inc. Copyright © 2010 by Lee Duigon

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

 

Book design by Kirk DouPonce (
www.DogEaredDesign.com
)

 

Printed in the United States of America First Edition Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2009943824 ISBN-13: 978-1-891375-52-1 ISBN-10: 1-891375-52-0

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

1.
Jack Has a Dream

2.
The Councilor’s Daughter

3.
A Truth That Can’t Be Told

4.
Van’s Fish Story

5.
A Stuck-Up Girl and an Ignorant Boy

6.
How to Have Adventures

7.
The Journey Begins

8.
An Empty Land

9.
A Night in the Ruins

10.
The Hairy Ones Dance

11.
Manawyttan

12.
A Camp in a Cave

13.
The Theologian and the Assassin

14.
Hesket the Tinker

15.
To Lintum Forest

16.
The Hermit

17.
The Man Who Missed God

18.
“It Was in My Heart to Slay You”

19.
The Assassin and the Thieves

20.
The Dues Collector

21.
A New Prophecy

22.
Three Guests, No Host

23.
Strange Beasts in the Land

24.
What Jack Saw by Starlight

25.
The Rod Strikes

26.
Ellayne Discovers the Rest of the World

27.
Martis Meets Friends

28.
The Scene of a Massacre

29.
A Hunter Is Hunted

30.
The Lost Shall Be Found

31.
Of Wolves and Men

32.
In King Ozias’ Footsteps

33.
The Flail of the Lord

34.
Obst Must Stay Behind

35.
An Assassin’s Conscience

36.
Up the Mountain

37.
Night on the Mountain

38.
Into the Cloud

39.
How They Came to the Top of the Mountain

 

 

CHAPTER 1
Jack Has a Dream

This is a story about a boy who was so haunted by a mountain that it gave him bad dreams. You may have had bad dreams when you were Jack’s age, but not like these.

In Jack’s dream, he would be somewhere in the valley, maybe trying to throw a stone across the river. Where Jack lived, the Imperial River ran quick and cold, sparkling and chuckling, over a rocky bed with stones worn smooth as eggs. Lush green grass like a carpet, spattered with tiny purple flowers, grew right up to the water’s edge. And the mountains towered over it; for Jack lived in a valley.

So he would be throwing stones, or looking for blackberries, all by himself as usual, when suddenly the mountain would begin to sing.

It was always the biggest mountain, Bell Mountain, with its peak hidden in a cloak of clouds so that no one ever saw it. Jack had never in his life heard the sound of a really big bell, or he might have said the mountain rang, not sang.

But it was a terrible song that made the other mountains tremble and filled the whole valley as if God had flooded it to the foothills with ice water. Jack couldn’t hear the noise of the river anymore, nor the wind, the birds, nor his own heart beating. Indeed, it seemed the river stopped flowing and his heart stopped beating. And he was too terrified to pick up his feet and run away—too terrified even to breathe.

And then he would wake up.

As his breath came back to him, he would always find that he was still frightened: scared enough to shiver. But on top of being frightened, and running deeper than the fear, was something else.

He would always catch himself straining his ears to hear more—hungry for more, thirsty for more, more of the mountain’s singing.

 

 

“Jack! Burn you for a lazy imp—wake up and get busy.”

That was Van, Jack’s stepfather. Jack’s father, Vill, died in a war when Jack was just a baby. His mother was dead now, too, leaving him all alone with Van, who would just as soon not have him.

“I’m coming,” Jack said, and crawled off the pallet he slept on. It was stuffed with ferns and moss and leaves, and it crackled every time he moved.

“I have to go down to Caristun today. His honor the chief has bought some new furniture.” Van was a carter. He worked for the village council. “I want you to clean up around here. I’m tired of looking at a mess. And bring in another load of firewood. Too cuss’t cold at night for this time of year.”

As if he could go to Caristun and back in one day, Jack thought. He’d need a magic chariot for that—not a creaking old cart with a single bad-tempered ox to pull it.

Van was just finishing up his breakfast and packing some buttered bread in his scrip to eat along the way. He was a short, stubby man with a stubby black beard and stubby black hairs on his arms and hands.

Jack couldn’t remember his father and had never seen a picture of him. Mother said he looked like his father. He remembered her as a frail, pretty lady, never in the best of health: lying in her bed for half a year, promising to get better, and finally dying there. Whatever made her decide to marry Van?

Jack was not frail, and he was already getting almost as tall as Van. He had his mother’s eyes, deep blue, and a shock of glossy black hair, which she used to say was like Vill’s hair. Poor Vill, who went marching out with a spear on his shoulder, singing, and never came back. He lay buried a little north of Lintum Forest, where the raiders killed him.

“There’s some tack in the shed that needs seeing to,” Van said. “I don’t suppose you’ve done it yet.”

“I’ll do it before you get back.”

“It ain’t like I pile work on you. Little enough you have to do to earn your keep. There’s kids your age as is already let out to be shepherds, and that’s what they have to do all day, every day—until the Heathen get ’em, or outlaws, or some wolves. You could at least do your chores.”

Whenever Van grumbled like this, it meant he was ready to leave and just putting it off for another minute or two. Lately he grumbled a lot when he had to go as far as Caristun. Jack never talked back to him. Getting hit by Van would hurt, but it wasn’t fear of getting hit that made Jack behave. He knew somehow that Van would love it if he gave him some sass, and an excuse to beat him. He knew Van hated it when he acted as if he respected him—hated it and couldn’t find a way to punish him for it.

BOOK: Bell Mountain (The Bell Mountain Series)
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