Authors: John Booth
Jalia on the Road
The World of Jalon was once great. Now only a few cities remain and trade between them has become increasingly difficult. Jalia is forced to leave her home and travel the trade roads after being betrayed by a treacherous king. She encounters a young man called Daniel on the road and though she doesn’t know it, Jalon will never be the same again
Book 1 of Jalia - The World of Jalon
First published in 2012 by John Booth
Cover Design by Maria K.
Copyright ©2012 John Booth
All rights reserved
John Booth asserts the moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work,
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Other Books by John Booth Available on Amazon Kindle
Sapphire Magic (Magic Series 2)
Jalia in the North (Jalia #2)
Gold Magic (Magic Series 3)
Marco Rawn moaned in dismay as Jalia once again brought him almost to fulfillment and then slowed again, denying him relief. He opened his eyes to gaze upon the cause of his discomfort. Jalia al’Dare was a young girl, barely a woman, attractive of face and dark of hair, with deep blue eyes and a paler complexion than people in the southern lands of Jalon. She sat astride him and moved her body rhythmically with a look of deep concentration across her face. Whatever she was thinking about, Marco knew it was unlikely to be about him as her eyes were shut tight.
They were glued together with sweat on her bed in her father’s villa, a villa located in the richest part of the city of
. It was a hot and humid night. Marco heard the sound of water tinkling in the fountain in the courtyard below and wondered what had got into the girl.
Jalia was usually considerate, but tonight she seemed to be only interested in personal gratification. Marco hoped his manhood would survive her demands.
She told him earlier in the day that she was about to leave Bagdor on a hunting trip. Her father had been reported dead two days earlier and he had left her with a mountain of debt, much more than she could possibly pay. She mentioned some silly notion of going after the giant terrorizing the farmers in the lands beyond the safety of the city wall.
The King of Bagdor had placed a bounty on the giant’s head and Jalia saw winning the bounty as a way out of her money problems. Many men had left the city with similar ambitions in the past couple of months and so far, none of them had returned.
The distinctive sounds of a battering ram smashing it into the villa gates seemed to encourage Jalia. She began to move faster and they shuddered to a breathless mutual climax.
Cries of triumph from men outside brought Marco out of any attempt to sleep and they heard the tortured sound of splintering wood as the gates gave way.
Jalia was no longer on top of Marco and he opened his eyes to see her going through the drawers of a cupboard. Jalia searched through a pile of clothes and found a pale blue dress to put on. She didn’t bother with underwear. To Marco’s certain knowledge, she rarely did.
Marco could not help thinking she had picked a most inappropriate garment to wear to a fight. Jalia strapped her throwing knives to her lithe body. One to each of her legs, down near her ankles, and a third belted across her petite waist. She saw him looking at her and gave him a dazzling smile before reaching for her boots. The long leather boots served the purpose of covering up the knives on her legs.
The men shouted threats against her in the courtyard and Marco sat up as he realized they were about to discover him lying naked on Jalia’s bed.
Jalia grabbed her sword and its harness from where she’d dropped them earlier and strode across the room to give Marco a lingering kiss.
“Thanks for the poison. Do keep my guests amused, won’t you.”
She clambered onto the windowsill, silhouetted in the moonlight of Blade and Anvil for a second, before she dropped silently out of sight and onto the roof.
Three large men burst into the room. They stared around them anxiously as if expecting to be attacked by an army. Marco saw the look of relief on their faces when they deduced he was the only other person in the room. Having seen Jalia fight on more than one occasion he understood their concern. Wiping his forehead in a gesture Marco took for relief; the man in the front of the group strode over menacingly and waved a bullwhip in his face.
“Where is Turan al’Dare’s devil spawn?” he shouted. “That man has cost me much money and I intend to take my due from his daughter’s hide.” He grinned at Marco, “I think taking my pleasure with her will last longer than yours did.”
“Beware of what you wish for,” Marco said as he backed away from the bullwhip and the man’s foul breath. “She went that way, and if I was you I’d be grateful for it.”
Marco pointed at the window and the men went over to look. He grinned as he saw that they seemed just a little hesitant about being the first to stick a head through it. Marco grabbed his trousers from the floor and fled. He heard their curses coming from behind him, but Marco could run very fast when the need arose.
Jalia al’Dare lay on the ground with her head just above the top of a small rise and watched the giant that had been terrorizing the area. Despite the number of people the giant had killed, she was certain she could take him. She was always supremely confident in her abilities and, in any case, there was only one of him.
She still wore the pale blue silk dress she had on when she left her father’s villa. The dress did not properly accessorize with the short sword strapped to her back. It was also looking much the worse for wear after nearly three weeks on the road.
From where she lay, she could see across the small valley. The giant, about fifteen feet tall and built as if from a massive lump of grey granite, dominated the view. He sat on a large boulder as if it was a stool, occupied with chewing the leg of what had once been a part of the King of Bagdor’s most illustrious guard. Jalia had met the man in question on many occasions, but she never cared for him much. If his flesh was as disagreeable as his nature then the giant was going to be spending some time vomiting in the near future.
The remains of the guard, along with various bits of his colleagues, lay scattered across the grass around the giant. The horses of the dead guards fastidiously avoided the gruesome remains as they grazed contentedly between them. The horses did not fear the giant. Giants were single minded in their eating habits, preferring the blood and flesh of humans above all other gastronomic delights. This was the first one Jalia had ever seen in the flesh and it comforted her to know that the things she had read about them were true. Information was power and she needed all the leverage she could get if she was going to kill the brute.
She had been studying the giant and his activities for almost a week, staying downwind of him so he wouldn’t get the scent of her blood. He had been terrorizing the lands around Bagdor for nearly three months. Meandering like a very slow tornado, arriving at villages and farmsteads and slaughtering every human he found there. He was wreaking havoc in the same mindless way as bad weather and seemed to have no plan beyond killing and taking pleasure in drinking his victims’ blood and eating their flesh.
This particular giant had shown a distinct preference for the blood of adolescent girls and Jalia had watched him kill several young girls as she waited her opportunity and gauged his strengths and weaknesses. She had been careful in choosing her locations to spy on him. Giants were known to be able to smell human blood for miles and she was taking no chances on being discovered until she was ready to act.
The destruction the giant wrought threatened the prosperity of the City of
with food prices rocketing as supplies of fresh farm produce dried up. It was only after the citizens rioted, that King Brun Trep had made his offer of two hundred gold pieces to the man who killed the giant. That was a king’s ransom and would pay off all the debts that Turan al’Dare had saddled his daughter with.
Brun Trep claimed to be directly descended from the Magician Kings of ancient legend. However, Jalia suspected he had descended from a species of particularly poisonous toads. Getting the reward money out of him after she defeated the giant might prove more difficult than the killing itself, but Jalia believed in taking problems one at a time.
The giant was not going to be easy to kill. She had been worried for a moment that the organized band of city guards might steal her prize when they had descended into the valley a couple of hours before.
Jalia soon discovered she had not needed to worry. The giant snapped the spear of the guard he was currently eating only after he let the man strike with it. Despite the speed of the guard’s horse and the accuracy of the guard’s aim the spear has failed to penetrate the giant’s skin. If a spear tipped with steel, hardened and sharpened by the royal armorer and thrust by a man galloping on horseback could not penetrate the giant’s body, it was certain that Jalia’s sword would have no effect at all. Unless the giant was kind enough to let her spend some time hacking and sawing at his flesh with her blade, and that looked unlikely. She had not seen him sleep for more than a couple of minutes in all the time she had watched.
Despite this minor problem, Jalia needed the money and killing the giant was by far her best chance of getting it. She wasn’t the sort of girl to be put off by mere details, such as the impossibility of her task. If anything, the very difficulty of the job was goading her into action.
One of the things she observed was that the more flesh and blood the giant consumed at one time the stupider he became. It was as if human blood affected him in the same way that alcohol affects men. The giant not only acted stupid, but he also became clumsier and appeared to have trouble seeing clearly when he had gorged his fill.
The only plan she could come up with that had any chance of success relied on the giant being incredibly stupid. One the other hand, as she admitted to herself as she gave the world a feral grin, it also relied on her behaving with even greater stupidity.
As the giant grunted with satiated satisfaction and almost fell off the boulder, Jalia admitted to herself that her plan would never see a better time than the present. There were no screaming women, children or guards to distract him, and this place was far enough away from the nearest village and trade routes for her to guarantee getting the giant’s undivided attention. It was certain that any distraction might cost her life.
She watched in fascination as the giant tore a fresh arm from one of the bodies, and dropped it as he tried to get it into his mouth. Yes, in Jalia’s opinion, the giant was pretty far gone in intoxication and might well fall for her mad plan. If not, well, she could always run very quickly when she had to.
Jalia stripped off her sword harness and knives and hid them beneath a bush. They were her most valued possessions and she didn’t plan on anyone stealing them while she was engaged in this madness. She stood and dusted off her dress until it was almost presentable. Then she strolled casually over the rise and walked towards where the giant sat.
Jalia managed to get fairly close before the giant noticed she was there. Even at thirty feet, his eyes were so large that she could see his irises contract as he tried to focus them on her.
She put on her best girly voice, the one she used at royal banquettes when she wanted to distract attention away from the silver cutlery she was in the process of stealing.
“Hello, Giant, I’ve come to challenge you. Unless you are too addled of senses to take up my challenge, that is?”
The giant laughed, a sound like thunder rumbling high in the mountains in a spring storm. “I shall eat you up right now, little one. I shall slit your throat and pour your hot sticky pumping blood into my throat.”
“Oh no, you won’t” Jalia said with a confidence she was far from feeling. She held up a small glass phial sealed with a waxed stopper. Inside the phial, a black liquid glistened. “This is the most deadly poison in the world and I shall drink it if you should come near.” Obtaining that phial had cost her a romp with Marco, but then it was hardly the first time she had done it with him.
“Eat or drink any part of me after I take this poison and you will surely die of your meal. My blood will disagree with you, for sure. However, should you meet my simple challenges, well then I will give my body to you willingly.”
The giant could smell Jalia’s blood as it pulsed through her veins. Young and viral it called out to him in a way that only another addict could understand. A small part of his mind remembered that he had once been a scholar before the call of human blood had taken possession of his soul. That part of him was disgusted with his behavior, but it was drowned out by the overwhelming need to feed.
He became determined to eat this impudent creature. The giant threw away the guard’s arm. It no longer appealed to him when he compared it to the girl.
Jalia smiled as the arm slid across the grass leaving a trail of blood. It seemed that she had managed to get the giant’s undivided attention.
“I have two simple challenges that should be no trouble for one as big and strong as you. If you complete them successfully then I will give myself to you willingly.” Jalia gave him a dancer’s twirl. “For am I not a worthy prize? If you fail to meet my challenges, however, you will leave this place forever and trouble some other part of the world instead. Do we have a deal, oh giant?”
The giant nodded eagerly in response. All he could think of was how her blood would taste after he slit her throat with a fingernail and held her over his head so she squirted her hot blood into his waiting mouth. The very thought of it gave him a raging thirst and red blots of desire clouded his vision.