The Enchanter of Rangel: Child of War Book 1

BOOK: The Enchanter of Rangel: Child of War Book 1
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Chapter 1

Xander awoke thinking something was not quite right. He didn’t hear the normal animal noises coming from outside of his humble home located deep in the elven forest of
Norraya which meant only one thing, his enemies were near. If it were elves, had they ventured to his home, they would not have silenced the forest inhabitants, as they were recognized as a part of the forest. Only men and their war hounds would have silenced the normal morning chorus of birds and such. Xander crouched low in his home and went through the trap door located under his bed, thankful he had the foresight to dig the small tunnel when he was building his home.

Xander crawled through the small tunnel, grabbing his weapons along th
e way to hide them as he left his home. Xander emerged through a dead and hollowed out tree. To the untrained eye his refuge looked like a dead tree leaning against another tree. Peering into the tree though one would see that it was purposely hollowed out and contained a small tunnel. Xander crept slowly through the tree and was about to emerge when he heard a low rustling sound followed by whispering. Frozen by their proximity, Xander stopped his movement and listened to his would be attackers’ scheme.

“Okay Zellon, your info was on the up and up” Xander could hear one of his enemies say. “We got his place surrounded and everyone is in place. Remember we take this guy alive, play it smart and do nothing stupid. The elves would have our hide if they knew we were
in their forest, let alone killing in it.”

“Do you think this course wise
Durgard?” Xander could hear another person say. “Let’s stop with the games, you know as well as I do we are hunting Death’s Hand. Our weapons won’t hold up against his and even if it does he is not known to be merciful. Let us leave before he finds us, only a fool would believe he is not already alerted to our presence, no matter what the hour.”

“Zellon you are not as daft as they think, y
ou are correct that we are after Death’s Hand. If we return without our quarry though we will face the High Witch, something I’m not doing. w Any of those witches and their foul brew could make us speak truth, and truth is that we are here in front of his shack. Besides, I bet most of those were just tall tales about him, he is just one man. We were only sent on this mission because the witches presence would probably cause war, the Queendom could deny our mission, say we were acting alone. We either bring him in or die.”

Xander could hear no more. He had been on the run for four years and his past finally caught up to him. He was already out of the old tree and behind his prey
, yet he hesitated. These men were just like he was once, men pressed into the service under one powerful woman or another. Xander wouldn’t be surprised if at least some of them were slaves like he was as he absent mindedly rubbed the brand he had on his right arm, naming him to be a slave belonging to the heir of the Queendom of Rangel. Xander made up his mind that to attack these men would be evil, and he grew tired of his self-imposed exile. Xander crept up to the one he figured was Durgard and tapped him on the shoulder.

“Call off your men brother, your enemy does not reside there.” Xander stated while trying to keep his voice calm.

Durgard hurried to his feet and drew his weapon with Zellon doing the same. “You’re no brother of mind traitor! What game are you playing!” Durgard yelled louder than he needed to, no doubt to warn the rest of his men that he was locked in conflict.

“You should be happy I don’t think like you brother, if I did you and Zellon there would be lying face down in the grass as your life blood spilled out of you. What is your mission?” Xander stated showing no emotion.

“We are to bring you to the Queen traitor, don’t think you can get out of this.” Durgard said cooly as his men began streaming out of the forest towards them with their dogs in tow.

“Stop being an idiot
Durgard, he knows my name. That means either he is some type of mind reader which I doubt or he heard you talking to me. He could have killed us at any time and he doesn’t seem terribly worried that we have him out numbered” Zellon spoke.

“We are supposed to bring you before the Queen. We were told you were a traitor and killed
many during the battle of Riley” Zellon explained.

“It is
true, I did turn my back to the Queen, to the Princess to all of Rangel. Slavery is something that needs to be eradicated, why do you fight on the side of the witches, why not flee and become free instead of hunting me?”

“Joining the Academy Guard as the High Witch’s personal guard will be
our reward for returning with you” Durgard stated as he lowered his sword. “Our return means our freedom as slave as well as freedom from commitment for five generations. Failure is not an option, failure means death.”

“A
nd what crimes did the Queen put to me?” Xander asked flatly.

“Rumor has it
that you, a mere slave spurned Her Highness the Princess of Rangel and ran off with the enemy at our doorsteps. Only the bravery of Patrick the Lion Heart saved the day at the border with Ingland and protected the monarchy. In keeping with tradition since the Princess previously showed you favor, you are supposed to be meeting the Lion Heart in the arena for her hand” Zellon said.

“The Lion Heart huh? Is that what Patrick is calling himself these days? I know his skill and I doubt he could make that much of a difference in any battle.”

“He supposedly has swords blessed from the Gods themselves, delivered to us to be able to defeat the likes of you and whatever you wield.” Durgard explained.

“I will travel with you an
d your party back to the Queendom if Patrick is the only thing between me and my exile, but the story you all have been told is far from the truth.” Xander said as he started walking back towards his cabin flanked by Zellon and Durgard.

“Are you saying it isn’t true that you are a spy sent from Thorn to slay the queen and bring us all to poverty?” A man who’s name Xander did not know spoke while following him into his cabin.

“If I were going to kill the Queen I would have killed her during the many times I have met her before” Xander stated.

“Well then explain your red hair, you look like a Thornian.”

“I am as Rangelian as you all are. While I am packing for our trip, let me tell you the real story and why I left. I am no sneak or murderer, if I were, you would have all been dead, at least two of you anyway.”

“A story from Death’s Hand, this ought to be rich, why should any of us believe a
nything you have to say traitor” spoke Durgard.

“You don’t brother, but the road is long and I am assuming you have nothing better to do. Take whatever you need from my
cabin, I doubt you will be coming back.”

Xander and his guest did not speak to each other for the remainder of their stay at his cabin.
Xander glanced at the symbol he had etched on the floor of his cabin and smiled. Once everything was packed up the small party headed back towards Rangel through the Norrayan woods.

“You said you had some stories to tell?” said a man Xander now knew as Vincent. “The elves don’t seem to be around so it should be safe to talk plus I’m as bored as a noble at a hog slopping competition.”

“What do you want to know about me Vincent?”

“Well I say start from the beginning, and how in hell
did you come to be called Death’s Hand? Not trying to be disrespectful but since meeting you, you don’t seem like the blood thirsty kill all Rangelian’s type.”

“Well I am sure I would bore you to tears if I start at the beginning with my childhood and all that.”

“Hell that seems as good a place as any.”

“Well it all started….”

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Rangel.
Rangel was one of the most powerful Nations in existence partly due to its geography but mostly due to its military. Rangel was situated with the vast Norrayan Forest to its north, home of the Norraya elves. The elves were a beaten race who although were not a factor in open warfare, could be downright unbeatable in their home forest, with their superior bowman ship and plenty of cover provided by the huge trees which called Norraya home. To the east of Rangel was the vast Sea of Storms, known for its unpredictable weather and hull shattering waves. No navy would dare to try to navigate those waters. To the south of Rangel lay the Shatter Mountains nary impenetrable except through a narrow pass which the mighty Thornian Empire lay.  Finally to the west was the Kingdom of Ingland, a powerful but reclusive military nation. Many other nations had eyes on Rangel but many would not dare to try to attack the powerful Queendom. Rangel’s main might lay in their policies.

Rangel was unique among most nations since in the last 700 years Rangel was always ruled by a female monarch, first out of necessity, then due to power. Early in Rangel, politics were male driven until when the last King of Rangel died. Many men laid claim to the throne claiming to be one of many bastards the late king had supposedly sired. Powerful nobles of the time did not wish to see mere commoners elevated to Monarch status so in an unprecedented move named the only legitimate child, the first Queen of Rangel.

The Queen who name has been forgotten by history with her last edict decreed property would no longer be passed down on the male side of the family tree but the female side instead. While there could be many debates on who sowed the seed, there was no debate on who bore it. Around the time of the Queen’s death was magic found in Rangel, though not all of Rangel’s inhabitants had the ability.

The ability to cast magic was a skill solely available to Rangel’s females. Less than 10 percent of Rangel’s females could wield magic with each having different levels of power. This new found ability made females more powerful than their male counterparts and new laws that were cast reflected this shift of power.

No longer could males own any property whatsoever, as decreed by the new Queen, Catherine the Equal. Throughout the years the laws of Rangel made most men basically second class citizens while elevating the female elite. However unequal the laws, the Queendom virtually eradicated all poverty in the country.

All women received a home and monthly stipend payable after the age of 16. Magic users received a much more sizable stipend depending on their individual strength in wielding. Any female could earn more money by selling good either to the populace or the public in general. All towns had a kitchen where any could eat for free all of this was made possible by mandatory service to the Queendom.

All men were required to serve the Queendom in some form starting from the age of 16 until the age of 40. This service to the government could be in form of farming, mining, military or any of the jobs needed to run a country. No one was paid during their fulfilment of government service allowing the Queendom to prosper due to free labor. The majority of the basic necessities (food, water, metal, etc.) was done by the free labor males provided during their fulfillment of government service greatly increasing the overall wealth of the Queen and her nobles. The only way out for males was to receive a waiver signed by the queen abstracting them of this service, which the queen only gave out to the sons of her powerful allies and any son of a magic user. Males refusing to serve received a far worse fate, slavery.

Any males refusing duty or not preforming to standard were either given another job or sent to be a slave in either the mines or a noble’s household. There was no time limit and it was generally accepted that once a slave, you will always be a slave. Those failing in that duty were sent to the arena, along with any males convicted of a harsh crime to fight for their lives as entertainment for the higher class against each other and in some cases a gladiator sponsored by a noble. Winning 10 times in the arena could have your sentence commuted and have you freed as a slave. However no one had ever done this since your final fight for the few who had made it was against a magic user.

The magic users or witches is what gave Rangel their formidable military might along with the sheer number or army regulars that could be thrown together for battle making Rangel the largest standing army of any known nation. With numbers the Rangelian Army could beat most armies head on when not factoring in the magic users who made any attempt at conquering the known Rangel all but impossible. The closest anyone had ever came was 16 years ago when Erik the Red lead the Thornian empire through Deadman’s Pass and into Rangel.

The attacks happened so fast Rangel could barely defend herself as Erik’s forces tore through the country side gathering downtrodden men as they marched toward the capital. Many citizens rather than
fight, joined the invaders to take down the Queen Celeste, ruler of Rangel. Erik’s forces were unique among any other enemy, Erik was the first known enchanter.

Erik’s armies were able to defend against the fire attacks of Rangel’s witches by giving every
soldiers clothes that were enchanted to stay wet. While this did little to turn back arrows or swords it more than evened the battle field. Their most devastating weapon though was magical swords that could cut through almost anything effortlessly. These two inventions allowed Thorn to march right up to the capital where the final battle was held, with the defections to the Thornian Army along with the might of Erik it would seem Celeste Rule would end until Rangel’s biggest weapon was unleashed, winter.

BOOK: The Enchanter of Rangel: Child of War Book 1
10.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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