Chapter 3, The Rune Writer, *Right or Wrong?*

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Fantasy Author
May 1, 2005
I am a fantasy author, who has traveled the world.
Chapter 3
Rune Magic
Toros, sitting in his book-filled study, sipping on a glass of seaweed wine with a new book felt the magic of his rune ring flare to life. It turned hot and immediately he knew one of his slaves was in mortal danger. The slave ring allowed him to monitor his property through their rune marked collars.

At seeing which rune was glowing red, he knew Damiken was in dire danger.
Sighing at having to set his new book aside before he had begun to turn its pages he stood and drained his glass of pale wine. Going over to the corner, he picked up his short iron capped walking staff and headed out the door.

He knew Damiken was with Moretti Straff, but if his rune ring was glowing, something must have gone terribly wrong.

Unknown to his slaves, Toros was aware that they pilfered the materials allowing them to buy their freedom. He willingly allowed it. A young rune slave could write and produce a lot more documents than an older one.

The older slaves started taking too much pride in their work and because their magic was stronger, the runes took more from them and it took longer for them to recover, that slowed down production. Not many of the older ones, unlike Damiken, managed to learn enough control on their own. Most found it hard to learn to regulate the flow of magic that they allowed into the rune. But Damiken had, and if he only had a few days left, he was still his property and he wasn’t about to let any harm come to him. The young rune writer had way too much talent, way too much power to remain a slave.

Squaring his stooped shoulders and with cane in hand Toros set out across the island, following the magic in his rune ring that would lead him to Damiken’s destination.
* * *

It was the sound of voices arguing that woke him. Damiken spent a few dizzying moments trying to determine where he was and what was going on around him, then the memory of the rune cross crashed home. He remembered somebody hitting him from behind and that he was supposed to be being dealt with.

None of the men arguing about whether or not they should kill him now or take him out to sea to do so had even noticed he was awake.

Damiken saw a patch of dark blood staining the wooden floor next to his head. The dull throbbing and the sharp stabs of pain filling the back of his skull let him know that he had been hurt by one of the strange men.

Turning his head a bit too fast caused a blinding edge of pain seared across his eyes. It almost overwhelmed him and drove him back into unconsciousness. Swallowing back the nausea that filled his throat, he waited until the pain subsided and tried to focus his eyes again. They found those of the bound and beaten girl lying next to the smugglers hole. Under normal circumstances they might have been pretty eyes, but now they were full of wide-eyed panic. She was still desperately pulling at her ropes, trying to find any means of escape and he could tell from the look on her face that she knew he wouldn’t be the only one dying here.

Seeing that none of the others had noticed that he had roused, Damiken let his eyes search for his leather document pouch. Maybe, if he could retrieve one of the parchments, he could invoke a spell, one that might free or save them.

All hope fled like water down a drain, leaving a desperately empty feeling inside of him as he spied the leather case twenty feet away with a boot scuff mark on it, probably kicked there by one of the arguing men.

The sound of scraping steel jerked his attention away from the case and back to the other men. With barely focusing eyes he saw that Belarus’ two had drawn out swords. One was slashing at Moretti while the second stabbed at his helper’s chest.

Moretti Straff though was not an easy man to kill. All of his life he had grown up on the poorer sides of the docks of Cadzia and had been fighting for most of it.

As the man came at him with his sword came him in a rush thinking he could easily overwhelm the unarmed smuggling leader, Moretti threw himself backwards onto the wooden floor, butt first. The slashing sword passed harmlessly over his head with a wicked hiss.

Kicking out with both feet, the underworld leader drove his steel booted heels into the swordsman’s knees and his assailant screamed as his knees buckled backwards.
Unable to support his weight, the man crashed heavily onto the wooden floor, his sword flying out of his hand.

His own companion, Moretti noticed, as he propelled his body backwards across the floor, scampering like a crab, wasn’t so lucky.

The greasy-haired blond man had a look of savage glee on his face and appeared to have only been faking his drunken routine. Moving with a viper’s smooth deadly grace, he ran his sword through Moretti’s man’s neck with the ease of someone who knew what he was about. All the way up to the hilt in one fluid motion, then turning the blade he grabbed a handful of hair, viciously pulling sideways, almost cutting his helper’s head off for no reason, the man was already dead.

Knowing that the odds were against him and realizing that to stay meant his own death, Moretti kept scrambling across the floor. He hopped over the bound young woman and threw himself like a leaping frog through the smugglers port and into the black water below.

The three, seeing that Moretti had fled and that his helper was dead, turned their attention back to him.

Damiken saw their eyes lock on his and knew that after he was killed they would go on to the bound young woman. For some reason he couldn’t seem to be able to focus on any other danger but the one to her.

“So what do we do with you slave?” Belarus asked, pursing his lips into a tight line. His hollow cheeked face was devoid of all other expressions, his tall body cast a long shadow over him as he moved between the other two men.

“You have ruined months of careful planning and preparation.” A smooth calm slowly suffused the other man’s voice. That scared Damiken more than the anger and fury.

Turning away with a disdainful sniff, Belarus stepped towards the door, coldly ordering the two other men to kill him then cover and bring along the girl. “We will dispose of her elsewhere and make it look like he was the one that killed her.”

Damiken watched the door close and the two men began advancing. The blonde one already had his bloody sword drawn and the second one was recovering his. Both were grinning and had a wicked look of pleasure filling their eyes. Quickly looking back over his shoulder, Damiken wished he had the parchment case in his hand or even better, the other that he had left behind, hidden in the chimney.

Using one of the blended rune sheets that he had created, he could easily do away with the two men or at least stop them. He knew of the perfect parchment for this situation, one that he had looked at earlier. If he had it now, he could invoke its magic and save himself and the girl.

With no parchment though and no options left, Damiken decided to take a chance.
Scrambling, he ran towards the parchment case and made it halfway there. The blond haired man tackled him from behind and knocked him bodily to the floor.

Fear and desperation flooded him and he tried to roll, tried to thrust the other man off, but being face down on the floor gave other on his back a distinct advantage.
The greasy-haired blond man allowed him to turn half over and Damiken caught a heavy boot to the face from his companion for his effort.

His head exploded again with pain-filled light. His bottom lip burst open in a bloody spray from the impact of the boots hard sole. The blond man let him fall and both men began kicking him in the body and head.

Damiken felt something crack and gagged with the pain. Trying his hardest to scrabble away from his attackers, he felt his ankle grabbed and one of the men yanked hard. His hands shot out from underneath him in a violent motion and he fell again onto his face. This time he felt the soft skin under his eye scrape along on the wood and his nose break as it hit the floor.

The pair turned him roughly back over, laughing at his bloody face. They pointed mockingly as he clutched at his ribs and watched with delighted looks on their faces as the blood flowed openly out of his mouth, face and nose.

Damiken felt a rush of fury fill him as he heard their mocking laughter. Once again, for some unknown reason, he thought of that spell back on the roof top. He wished there was some way that he could use it against these two, somehow stop their laughter and make them pay for his pain.

Suddenly the same green and red colored rune that he had drawn months ago burst to life in his mind’s eye as clearly as if he had just written it. Almost as if he was writing it now he felt power fill him.

Without thinking, through torn and bloody lips he said the name for the multi colored rune and pointed his finger at the two laughing men.

Their mocking laughter died, the cruel joy fled from their faces as they saw his hand flare to life in a brilliant flash of green and red fire. Bright incandescent light encased Damiken’s hand and a streak of green and red twisted fire shot out, hurtling across the short distance, heading straight at them.

Twisting flows of emerald green and red wrapped around both men in what looked like liquid fire. The flames spread over their bodies, crawling over them as if it were alive. Both screamed, pain filled howls echoed off of the wooden walls as they dropped to the floor.

The fire consumed first their clothes, then hair, then skin. In vain, they attempted rolling about, trying to put out the acid fire rune but couldn’t.

The magic had come from the rune that he had been thinking of. Damiken tried to wrap his mind around it.

How had he done that? A sick queasy feeling filled him as the sounds of their screams penetrated his thoughts. He somehow knew that there was no way to put out the liquid fire.

Not quite able to comprehend what he had done, he watched in horror as the liquid flames consumed the man with the hurt knees entirely. Green and red liquid snakes wrapped around his body, eating hungrily until nothing the only thing left behind was a bubbling pool hissing on the floor.

The second man with the greasy blond hair did as Moretti Straff had done. Throwing himself through the smugglers port, he also dove into the black waters below.

Struggling against the pain filling his insides he managed to get his feet under him. His eyes fell onto the bound and gagged beaten girl an saw an icy look of cold satisfaction on her face as she considered the bubbling pool of green fire. That look sent another cold chill coursing through him. The ruthlessness of the look shocked him. She almost seemed pleased that the other man had died.

Staggered first in the direction of the rune sheath, and after making the effort at retrieving it, he continued on till he almost fell on top of the girl. He collapsed as something gave way inside of his body, before he could reach the ropes binding her, unconscious again.

The sound of the door opening behind him was the last thing he remembered before passing out into oblivion.

Iandra Piraxis, eldest daughter to the ruler of Sororia, watched as a tall stoop shouldered man with a long beaded black mustache and walking stick made his way cautiously into the room, his eyes searching about frantically. At seeing the pair of them, he gasped loudly, hurrying over. In one smooth efficient motion he quickly cut the ropes from her wrists and feet with a small rune knife carried at his belt. Next he motioned for her to help him carry the wounded slave out of the warehouse. Together they carried Damiken’s unconscious body away from the docks.

As they moved across the wooden manmade walkways a pair of hate filled red veined eyes watched them closely from the waters edge glaring malevolently.

I thought I'd reply to this chapter as I replied to Chapter 2.

First of all *Right or Wrong?* is that a question for the reviewer or is it the name of the Chapter?

Other comments
1) Commas: I'd have put one in the first sentence after 'new book'. You probably had better check the rest of it.

2) Toros doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry once he felt Damiken's life in danger, would he not rush out of the room.

3) the sentence The slave ring allowed him to monitor his property through their rune marked collars. This doesn't seem to fit well where it is, though I'm not sure how it could be made better. Perhaps put this information in later on.

4) The paragraph starting The older slaves started taking, this interupts the flow of the story, it would be better somewhere else. Even if you do decide to move it, I'd revisit it though, as I'd say it's probably the weakest paragraph of the chapter.

5) Belarus’ two had drawn out swords. Two what?

6) His own companion, Moretti noticed. I don't know if you intended a change of point of view there!

7) A general point I wouldn't break up the writing so much with so many paragraphs.

8) multi colored, I think that should be hyphenated

9) Sometimes you spell blonde with an e and sometimes without.

10) A possible continuity error. The fire consumed first their clothes, then hair, then skin, however it appears that the victim of the spell jumped in the water after that happened. If his skin had burnt off, I wouldn't have thought he'd be able to do that.

And two less serious notes!
11) I wouldn't have used butt ;), but that's a difference between American and British English!

12) You've got a villian named after a country! The citizens of Belarus might take offence.

On a more serious note, they seem quite short chapters, are you planning to expand upon them.
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