A group of multi-genre authors blogging together
A group of authors writing interesting posts weekly and interacting with readers.
This week's antagonist is Haldreth
I am Haldreth, second son of Caldoreth, ruler of the Empire of Sarine.
It might have seemed a little thing to everyone else, but being born a few moments after my twin brother cost me the empire. It probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much if he hadn’t been so smug about it. I’ve never met anyone so self-righteous. And the worst part of it is, everyone bought into it. They fell for his good boy act, and believed him. They loved him.
They always loved him more than me.
And that’s a little harsh, considering we look exactly the same.
I don’t recall a specific moment when I decided to make him pay for all of it. The feeling grew gradually, over the years. My plans expanded gradually. I needed magic to take the empire, and I had everything I needed to learn it. One day, I found it. The spell.
When I cast this enchantment, I could summon demons. They would obey my every command, and my brother would have no defense against them. I was elated, until I realized that casting this enchantment would kill me. That was inconvenient. But there was a solution, Allia, a young woman who possessed a ring powerful enough to heal any injury. She wouldn’t help me willingly, like everyone else, she was in love with my twin brother. She was going to marry him. I couldn’t let that happen. She was the key to everything.
Allia and Haldreth, an excerpt from “The Ring Keeper”.
Two weeks from the day that Allia had given birth to the child, Haldreth entered Allia’s room, unannounced as always. A stout woman with a grim face followed him.
“I am working on something important,” Haldreth said. “And I will require your services.”
“My services?” she asked, holding her baby a little closer. This was exactly what she’d feared. What was he working on?
“Come with me,” he commanded. “Give me the baby.”
She didn’t want to do it, but he would only force her if she refused, and the tiny baby might be hurt. Reluctantly, she handed him the child. He looked at the baby with interest for a moment before he handed her to the grim-faced woman. “She will be taken care of while you are gone. Come with me.”
Her stomach clenched in fear, but Allia followed him out the door. He led her down many stairs and dark passageways, past what looked like dungeons and caverns, until they came to a large, dim room. Allia had never seen this part of the fortress before. A fire lit one end, and the furniture had been pushed against the walls. Flickering candlelight created shadows around the room, which was dominated by a large black circle, four or five paces across, painted onto the stone floor.
It was an unpleasant place, and Allia became even more afraid when they entered, even though everything was quiet for the moment. There was nothing obvious to fear, but the room and everything else reminded her of something she had seen her grandfather working on not long before he died.
Haldreth shut and locked a heavy wooden door behind them, then pointed to a chair against the wall. “Sit down,” he said. “It will be nightfall soon. Everything is almost ready.”
She sat down in the chair. “What…” Her voice faltered. “What are you going to do?”
“I am about to achieve power beyond imagining, power to defeat anyone who stands in my way. And you’re going to help me.”
Allia jumped to her feet. “No! I won’t!”
Haldreth reached for her shoulder and pushed her back into the chair. “Yes, you will.”
“Remember your child upstairs, and you will do as I ask.” The threat behind his words was plain.
“Haldreth, she’s your child too. You wouldn’t hurt her?”
“I will do what I must to convince you to help me.”
“But she’s a baby!” Allia cried. How foolish she had been to think he might care, even a little, for the child he had fathered.
“I will do what you force me to do,” Haldreth said. “No one will stand in my way. Not you, not the child. I need the power of the ring. If you refuse to help me, you are expendable. I am prepared to find out what happens when someone else wears it.”
He had won. Allia knew it, and he knew it. She couldn’t bear to see her baby hurt. The last thing she wanted was for him to gain more power, but he’d threatened her with the one thing that would truly force her to obey.
“What do you want me to do?” she asked in a small voice, staring at the floor.
Haldreth laughed. “I knew you’d change your mind. You will stay close to me,” he said. “And you will be silent, watching and waiting. I will perform the ritual that will bring a creature of dark power into being. Do not touch it or let it touch you. Make sure nothing breaks the circle. The ritual will tear open my heart, and you will use the ring to heal me. And you must do it quickly, for this dark creature will be under my command alone, and only I will be able to prevent it from killing you. If I do not return alive and well by midnight, my soldiers will kill the child. You cannot let me fail.”
Icy dread settled on Allia like a weight. She came to stand by Haldreth as he spoke words she couldn’t understand. He took out a familiar black cylinder and gripped it in his hand. The gate pin. And now Haldreth must have discovered how to use it.
His voice went on and beads of sweat appeared on his forehead, a look of concentration on his face. She began to hear a strange sound, like someone screaming a long way off. She couldn’t tell where it was coming from, but the sound terrified her. Afraid to move or speak, she waited, and Haldreth’s chanting continued, growing louder as the screaming grew closer.
The air in the center of the circle shimmered. As Allia looked on, terrified, a spot appeared, growing into a hole in the air just above the center of the circle. The shrieking came from it.
The voice screamed in rage, while Haldreth kept speaking, concentrating on that spot. He trembled.
The fissure grew, and Allia looked from it to Haldreth, hoping he would fail in this unholy attempt but sure that his failure would kill them both. But then she thought of her baby. Her infant daughter’s life depended on her, and she couldn’t let him fail.
Haldreth was bleeding. He had opened a wound in the air that was reflected in his own flesh. Blood soaked through the front of his shirt.
Something moved in the hole, and slowly, a large black shape emerged. It shrieked in rage. There were words in its cry, but Allia couldn’t understand them. The sound of its voice sent shivers through her. In a moment, it tore itself free of the opening, which vanished.
Beside her, Haldreth screamed in agony. Blood poured from a gaping rent in his chest, and he fell. The black thing was coming for them fast and, fighting to control her panic, Allia reached for Haldreth.
The pain was unimaginable. She screamed, feeling her body torn apart. She could not tell if she was feeling Haldreth’s pain or the long claws of the black creature. Oblivion claimed her.
The OAGblog is closed due to problems with Blogger, therefore, the GBBPub is hosting the Author Gang on this website. We're a group of authors writing interesting posts weekly and interacting with readers.
If you're an author