War Hound

I am working on a grim dark novel called War Hound and I don’t know if I will finish and I wanted to share the prologue. I hope you enjoy it.

Prologue

Tydan hefted the sword, its grip worn from multiple generations of use.  His father and grandfather had been leaders of the War Hounds, the vale’s best hope against the ravaging hordes of orcs that came down from the mountains.  The orcs had been routed but the War Hounds had taken a fair number of casualties as well.   His father was still warm, arrows sticking out of chinks in his armor.  The sword was caked in black, orc blood.  He wiped it in the grass, but it wouldn’t clean off.  He laid the sword down and knelt over his dead father.  “I will avenge you,” he whispered quietly.  He stood up.  A few years ago, he would have cried but he had to show strength now that he was to be the leader of the War Hounds.

“My Lord, we have lost over half of our forces in the latest orc attack.  If they regroup and send another wave, we will surely perish.”  It was Marquette, second in command and apparently more than ready to “help” the new, young Lord.  Tydan was annoyed by this pandering.  He had trained for his role in the War Hounds since he was eight.  His father had placed him in charge of the reserves along with Marquette.

“We need to regroup and form up a new front line. Send a recon unit to scout the hills for signs of another wave of orcs amassing.  Also send a fast rider to Holdfast and see if the dwarves are willing to send us help.”

“I doubt the dwarves will come. Orcs don’t regroup after a battle like that.  We need to attend to our dead an injured,” Marquette said. Drops of rain started to fall in a light sprinkle.

“I don’t need to be told what to do by you.  We have to regroup in case the orcs return, do you want our lands and holdings to be pillaged by orcs?”  A peal of thunder rumbled across the valley.  Lightning flashed from the direction the orcs had retreated.  An orcish war horn sounded from the hill and Tydan could see the orcs preparing to charge.

“Rise up War Hounds, Rise up and send these orcs back to hell! Don’t let our fallen die in vain!”  Tydan jumped back on his horse and rode to the front.  The storm continued to build as lightning flashed across the valley.  Tydan looked over his shoulder back towards the small citadel where his young betrothed was waiting.  He wanted for just a moment to leave the front, his command, his troops, and the entire battlefield.  The loss of his father pained him as much as he tried to put it away and focus on the battle at hand.

Marquette joined him and dropped him out of his brooding.  “I will get the rider to Holdfast sent out right away Lord Tydan and then join you at the front. We will stand together this day, just like I stood with your father at the battle of Brendle Fork”

Brendle Fork.  One of his father’s greatest losses.  The orcs had ravished the holdings in the Fork and had taken their spoils back into the wretched mountain from which they came.   Marquette and his father found valiantly but the orcs had the high ground and it cost many lives.  The call to retreat had been given and had probably saved the War Hounds.  No doubt that Marquette would be urging a retreat to the citadel and prepare for a siege. A siege that they couldn’t win.  But maybe there would be a chance if they made a stand and concentrated on the chieftains.

The lightning was getting worse.  Tydan had never seen such a storm. He urged his warhorse on but he could tell that it was unnerved in the freak storm. “Man, to arms!” bellowed as he goaded his horse into the fray. 

The orcs came storming down the hill.  War drums and horns sounded from further up the mountain.  It would take a sheer blessing from Luestra to save the troops.  It looked like a route.  The orcs suddenly stopped and formed up into a formation.  It was the damndest thing. The primitive sound of the orcish war drums increased and the orcs started chanting “Ja-can, Ja-can.” At the top of the hill a small cart drawn by the biggest boar Tydan had ever seen appeared.

The orc in the cart appeared to have no legs, but he carried a black staff with a human skull attached at its apex.  He pointed his staff at the right flank and a blast of lightning came down from the sky and landed in the right flank.  The power of the strike left a burnt crater in the earth.  The smell of burning horses filled the air. 

Tydan’s horse nearly bucked him off but recovered from the flash quickly.  The orcs were too organized, it had to be the orc in the cart.  They didn’t have anything that could withstand that kind of power. “Fall back to the citadel!” he yelled.  As he looked around it looked as most of his troops had already had they idea. Hopefully they would be able to survive the siege. He gave one last look at Ja-can up on the hill and turned towards the citadel.  Hopefully the Holdfast dwarves would muster up and send an army to help break the siege.

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