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Authors: Lorie O'Clare

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The Saga Begins [Nuworld 1]

BOOK: The Saga Begins [Nuworld 1]
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A Cerridwen Press Publication

www.cerridwenpress.com

 

 

Nuworld: The Saga Begins

 

ISBN #1-4199-0223-7

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Nuworld: The Saga Begins Copyright© 2005 Lorie O’Clare

Edited by: Briana St. James

Cover art by: Syneca

 

Electronic book Publication: May 2005

 

 

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Cerridwen Press, 1056 Home Avenue, Akron, OH 44310-3502.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

 

Cerridwen Press is an imprint of Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.®

Nuworld: The Saga Begins

Lorie O’Clare

 

Chapter One

 

When would she ever learn?

Patha
had
warned her about taking the Gothman for granted, and
Tara
cursed her foolishness. She scoped out how the flat plains had now disappeared, replaced by more dominant hills, and she knew without a doubt that she was surrounded. She couldn’t see them, but they were there, keeping their distance. The Gothman—the other warrior race—hid themselves well…but
her
skills were better.
Much
better.

While she had a moment to breathe,
Tara
reflected on the information she’d gleaned recently. The plains, known as the Freelands, were completely behind her now.
And good riddance.
Although the land there was healthy, the wildlife plentiful, and the seasons on a continual cycle, the people were boring.

Having been bred from a warrior race, she found it hard to relate to the Freelanders, even though they were polite to Runners.
Tara
knew from the stories told by her people, that Freelanders were more inclined to welcome her people than other races. But that didn’t mean she felt comfortable around them. She still had a hard time imagining a race working the land and making no effort to develop a militia. Their weapons were primitive and used mainly to hunt.

“Oh yes, I can just picture it, invaders creeping across the land and they draw a rake and quiver out a slight
Halt
,” she said aloud. She couldn’t contain the chortle catching in her throat. What a way to protect a race! She nodded her head in agreement with her initial assessment. The agrarian society of the Freelanders was definitely a little too dull for her liking.

Ever since she’d grown out of adolescence and arrived at the
Age of Searching
,
Tara
had begun to crave knowledge of the world, just like all her fellow Runners. The tales told by clan elders about other races were no longer enough; she wanted to see these people and their lands for herself.
Tara
knew of no other way of doing it than by striking out on her own.

Tara
sighed. She had always moved with the clan, traveling from one territory to another, learning the skills of the warrior and racing on her motorcycle with the other children. She’d also helped to raise the younger Runners, and cooked and cleaned along with the other girls and boys. While these activities had always contented her, they did no longer.

Of all the stories told around the fire, Patha’s stories of the Gothman intrigued her the most. Runners and Gothman had a hatred for each other that transcended the winters. She had asked the elders time and again why this was so, but no answer ever satisfied her. For many winters she’d thought about the causes. The only reason she could see for Runners and Gothman despising one another was that each race thought the other inferior.

Tara
meant to find out for herself which race was correct.

Now that she’d made her decision,
Tara
realized she had the perfect opportunity to see what kind of warriors the Gothman actually were. Of course entering Gothman wasn’t what most Runners would view as an opportunity.
More like a suicide journey.
She shivered as icy fingernails traced patterns along her spine. The growing hills spread around her. Rugged countryside was a sure indication she had entered Gothman territory. She checked for her laser, running her fingers over the smooth metal as the weapon rested, secure, on her belt. Not for the first time,
Tara
hoped her plan would prove productive and not be her demise.

She wove in and out of the protruding rocks half-buried in the ground and navigated her motorcycle with expertise, keeping most of her attention on the surrounding area. All of a sudden, her leisurely jaunt became much more than a drive through a new country—it became a lesson in survival.

An explosion vibrated the air, causing her to nearly crash her motorcycle into a tree.

“Ahhh!” The daughter and heir of the leader of the Blood Circle Clan couldn’t believe she’d just screamed.

She’d heard stories about the weapon that exploded when shot, leaving a foul smell in the air, but she’d always thought them ridiculous. But now…now she realized it was true. It was
actually
true.
Tara
’s heart pounded in her chest.

“Stay focused, warrior,” she whispered under her breath. “Don’t let yourself be distracted.”

This was no time to think about her past. They’d seen her and then actually fired one of those bang sticks she’d always thought were mythical. By the grace of her schooling as a warrior, she’d managed to evade the legendary weapon. But for how much longer?

Another shot flew through the air, and a large branch crashed to the ground.

She screamed again and leaned closer to the body of her cycle.

Where were the Gothman? Behind the rocks? Somewhere in the approaching forest? How far could they shoot?

“Primitive or not, these Gothman weapons can do damage,” she muttered quietly.
Tara
licked her dry lips. She’d looked forward to meeting the Gothman, but she hadn’t expected to encounter them this soon, or under such savage conditions.

Quickly, she propelled her motorcycle into the cool, sweet-smelling forest, and dismounted once the woods surrounded her. She parked the cycle between two embedded boulders and pulled her personally encoded landlink off the handlebars, slipping it in her pocket. She left her bike, hoping it would be safe for the time being.
Tara
knew the Gothman would find great pride in retrieving a Runner’s bike. No other race in the world had achieved the perfection her machine represented.

As she searched for a place to hide, some of the Gothman lore she’d heard occupied her thoughts. Gothman only taught their men to fight. Gothman women weren’t educated.

“What a waste!” she snorted. “Imagine! Half of a race needing protection!” This made no sense to her. Runners viewed men and women as equal. All were taught the same skills.

More bang sticks ripped through the air.
Tara
broke into a run.

“You men want to play with this woman? Then come get me!” She moved easily through the scattered trees, adrenaline flowing from the thrill of being the hunted.

Her Runner breeding was apparent when she managed to live through the second round of fire. She turned quickly to see two more Gothman approaching on foot, moving stealthily from protruding rocks to a large tree. She could smell the explosives and could feel her heart racing as she watched part of the tree next to her disappear after one of their bullets attacked it. She returned fire with her laser weapon, the silent weapon giving no clue of her location, and two Gothman lay dead on the forest floor.

Tara
ran through the pines as fast as her small agile body would allow. Within minutes she’d eliminated another three Gothman. Patha was right; these people loved to fight but hadn’t mastered the art of being true warriors.

She slowed to a trot and listened to the breeze as it carried the scent of the pines through the air. Trees stood far enough apart to allow wide sunbeams to graze the ground. Grass and patches of moss glowed an emerald green, offering a bright contrast against the patches of crisp, clear sky. It was a deep blue and she knew the sun would set soon. With twilight, the long shadows would make it more difficult to spot a sole traveler, especially one clothed in the color of night. Still, she had to be cautious.

Tara
studied every bush, tree, and rock. Hearing a sound she stopped, wondering if more Gothman waited to waylay her. No. It was nothing more than a forest creature. The Gothman had so successfully controlled these lands for hundreds of winters she found it hard to believe there weren’t more lying in wait for her. Where was their skill?

She continued walking at a slow pace, getting her bearings by studying the sun shining through the trees. The silence grew eerie in its stillness, and
Tara
knew something was very wrong.

The Gothman weren’t gone. She could smell them, sense them watching her. But why just watch? Why didn’t they try and kill her? Instinct told her to run. Run like hell. Get away as quickly as she could. But those same senses also urged her to go on. After all, the Gothman had seen her plenty of times in the last few minutes, yet they kept their distance. She’d even taken out a handful of their men, yet they didn’t retaliate.

Why?

The smell of the pine invaded her thoughts, telling her she was now deep in Gothman territory. Her chances of walking into another ambush were significantly higher.

Taking her training into account, she used the natural shield of the rocks to her advantage and switched her laser to scan for life-signs. The Gothman controlled large amounts of land. They certainly couldn’t do so if it weren’t adequately guarded.

Something caught her attention.

Wood burning.

She searched the pines in front of her for its source.

A small wooden house with a stone foundation appeared through the trees.

Yes! I found it!
Tara gloried in how well she’d listened to Patha’s stories.

Had he known she would use his tales to explore the different nations? Of course. He must have. All good Runners used the accounts of their peers to learn about places they’d not yet explored. They could move through anyone’s land with that knowledge.

The old Runners would retell the information they had heard from others. If there were several old Runners around an evening fire, they would always try to outdo each other with their tales. A good listener could always discern fact from fiction in their stories.

Tara was young, just a few more than twenty winters, but even she knew Patha had elaborated on many of his stories. She’d heard some of them numerous times, and noted the changes as he told them around the fire to any new Runner visiting their clan.

Before her stood the house Patha described over and over again. It had to be.

Tara approached it cautiously, making sure to stay hidden by the trees until she was sure of its occupants.

BOOK: The Saga Begins [Nuworld 1]
8.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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