Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Brand New Sneak Preview Of The Gecko's Gate...

 Here is some brand new unedited text from my upcoming book, The Gecko's Gate. This work has spanned 10 years so far, and WILL be finished and released this year.The past few weeks have been very productive, and the world that these characters live in is shaping up nicely! I consider this work 'My Baby', and I won't be happy until it is complete, and polished. It is Fantasy, and if you like Tolkien or George R.R. Martin, you should love this...

  The Stigian forces emerged through a shimmering portal of light onto the plains, falling immediately into large battle formations, troops scurrying here and there. They stood ready at the base of the mountain range, at attention, awaiting Lord Cyrus' command. The sun shone against copper and silver armor, swords, shields and helmets, creating a thousand bright spots against the trampled grasses of the plains. The Lo'rd of Stigia quickly swept the Gate up from the ground, tucking it protectively under his cape once again. Orders were shouted, and the great siege weapons were brought forward into a position favorable to reach the enemy walls, while remaining outside the reach of archers. High above was their target. Nestled in the misty mountain peaks above the plain, rested the Citadel of Nimisor. The round keep with its domed roof looked down on the plain, minarets and stone walls blending with the ancient stone of the mountains cradling it. Banners flew proudly from the ramparts, and despite the mist, it glistened invitingly down on the armies gathered below. Brightly colored banners flew from the minarets on the outside walls, and a waterfall cascaded a thousand feet down the mountain face beside the citadel, creating a mist. Cyrus and his second in command emerged from the portal now, striding forward on their reptilian mounts. The portal disappeared suddenly, forming up into the golden octagon that the Lord of Stigia held in his claws. It sparkled in the sun, and Cyrus tucked it into his cloak as he neared the front lines. The troops were shifting, nervous and high strung. This was a different campaign for them for certain, as they were not fatigued from days of marching to reach their conquest. They were fresh, ready for battle. They came to attention quickly, assembling into massive formations. Organized. Ready. Each lizard knew his place, and assumed it holding shield and sword firmly, staring straight forward for their inspection. Cyrus stopped as he came to the front of the formations. He dropped the reins of the huge beast, removing his gloves and staring upward with an evil smile. He would not rest until he laid the citadel's beauty to waste. He would smash their walls open, and plunder their valuables. One in particular. An ancient jewel the size of a fist, which would grant its master the gift of future sight. Rumor had it that Nimisor possessed it, hidden deep in the mountain keep, away from the rest of the world. The eye of Evron, an ancient blue crystal in the shape of an eye would make his armies invincible. Combined with the Gecko's Gate, Cyrus could attack anywhere he had seen, as well as see the outcome of battle before it was even met. It would give him an advantage over any adversary. The Lord of Stigia continued to smile up at the Citadel, watching and frogs and toads scrambling along the battlements in confusion, trying to establish some sort of defense against the armies gathered below. This victory would be large. The last time he had stood before the mountain fortress of Nimisor, his troops had marched for many days, not resting from the assault on the tree villages on the anoles in the rainforest. They were exhausted both from battle and travel, and whips did little to motivate them. The citadel's defenses had held that day, and Cyrus had lost many reptile warriors on the steep mountain slopes. He had been forced to withdraw, and return to Stigia. The Emperor had shown contempt for his failure, and stripped him of his command for a time. This had enraged the young captain, and he vowed to himself that he would take revenge upon the aging leader of the Empire someday. Today was not that day, today he needed to defeat the citadel, he needed to recover the Eye of Evron. But he would not forget about the Emperor, and soon he would have his chance for vengeance, a time where Stigia might see a new ruler emerge. A strong Emperor, one who would bring order and discipline to the entire world, with Stigia as its capitol. Marius was close by, already on the ground, shouting orders to the formations at the front. He too looked up above, watching as archers began to line the walls of the mountain fortress. He had ordered the well armored siege weapons up front, allowing their own archers some cover. He shuddered suddenly, thinking of the poisonous arrows the Dart frogs of Nimisor were rumored to use. The tips were anointed with a toxin that would kill in a few moments, and even a minor wound would mean a quick, sure death. He had seen these small amphibian warriors only once close up, and was amazed to see their archers. They bore all the colors of the rainbow, from bright oranges and reds, to sky blue. They carried their arrows not in a quiver, but stuck straight into their skin on their back. It was from their own bodies that the poison originated, and their own flesh was the source of their weapon. He shivered again, remembering the sight of one of the Nimisor warrior frogs pulling the arrow tip from his shoulder, fastening it to his bow to fire. He awoke suddenly from the thought, his glance shifting to Cyrus, who was watching the assembly of troops with a keen eye. He looked down at Marius.
  "Move the infantry up closer behind the front, Captain." he said calmly.
  "But Sir, I wanted to keep them out of range of their archers at the beginning." Marius replied with surprise.
  "This is not a battle, my friend, but a WAR!" Cyrus hissed sarcastically. "Sooner or later everyone will be in it!"
  Marius swallowed, and turned back to the gathered throng in front of them, shouting orders as wave upon wave of reptiles fell into lines, organizing their positions on the field. Copper and silver armor lined the plains to either side of the commanders, and the rattle of spears and swords against shields, along with the footsteps of thousands drown out any other sound. Siege weapons were pulled up into positions near the front, by large tortoises. These beasts closed themselves up into their shell once into position, forming a large line of cover for the soldiers and archers behind them, like huge armored barricades. Catapults and Ballistae were set up, fixed in positions which would allow them to easily reach the Citadel high above. Shouts and whistles filled the air, as each group captain got their men hurried into place, readying for the impending attack.
  Cyrus began to shout orders quickly, half of them to Marius, and half to whomever was standing idle nearby. He troops scrambled to carry out their instructions, nearly tripping over one another. Within a short time, the command post was established, a large tent where Cyrus would be able to direct the coming siege in lavish comfort. His battle standards were on full display, and the troops lit fires, digging in for a long engagement, as the frogs manning the walls of the citadel kept an alert watch. Reptiles moved everywhere, deploying siege weapons, stacking hundreds of weapons, arrows, and armor. The massive armies swarmed on the plains below the mist shrouded mountain citadel, like a giant mass of ants, moving quickly to complete their assigned tasks.
  Cyrus had hidden the Gate immediately upon their arrival, and the completion of his command post. He did not fully trust anyone, and did not want to have to worry about his prize being stolen. His tent erected, and filled with everything he would need, the Lord of Stigia stalked inside, looking around at his furnishings with disdain. Marius was close behind, following Cyrus to ensure that everything was as it should be. Hand carved chairs of the finest exotic wood, a stone wash bowl, fine tapestries, and a bed of silk over soft bales of hay. It was a camp fit for a king. But Cyrus simply scowled at all of it, loosening his sword belt, and tossing it aside as he stepped over to one of the chairs. He sat his heft in it, reclining with a clawed fist under his scaly chin. Marius stepped forward, saluting his superior with vigor, and maintaining a rigid stance at attention.
  "Let's get some food brought in here, if I have to live here in squalor, at least I won't be hungry." snarled Cyrus.
  "And the men sir?"
  Cyrus glared at Marius, obviously agitated by the question from his underling.
  "They shall have food when the encampment is fully finished being set up..."
  Marius nodded respectfully, and stepped back out of the tent, shouting orders to arrange a meal for his Lord. Servants  scrambled to bring Lord Cyrus his dinner, not wanting to feel the wrath of their hungry leader.
  Cyrus sat, pulling a fine wooden table over close, sitting his scaled leg up on it. Even though he was happy tp be right below the next of his conquests, here at Nimisor, he did not betray his feelings with even a trace of a grin. It would be a long seige, and a bloody battle in the end. He stroked his scales, thinking. He had only one purpose here, to smash the walls of Nimisor, to recover the Eye. his eyes narrowed as he thought about the battle ahead, and his strategy for taking the mountain stronghold. Clenching a scaled fist, he could see in his mind's eye what might unfold. He would make them submit. If they would not, he would see frogs hung from the very walls they defended.
  Now there was another matter to attend to. He shouted for one of his guards just outside. A well armoured lizard stalked into the Lord's tent, rigidly standing at attention with a 'clank'. Cyrus eyed him briefly, reaching for a goblet of wine off the table.
  "Bring me our new officer..." he hissed sarcastically.
  "Yes, my Lord!" replied the guard sharply, bowing quickly and leaving at once.
  Cyrus ran the thoughts through his mind, remembering the Emperor's words, forcing him to accomodate that stupid, snivelling young chameleon as an officer in his armies. The very thought of it angered him. What use would a chameleon be in this battle? He would not have the fortitude or the stomach to actually fight, let alone lead any of his Lord's reptile forces. Cyrus gritted his teeth at the thoughts, taking a sip of wine. He had not yet shed any of his armour, or his sword. He had questions for this young chameleon, questions which he had best have an answer for...
  After a few moments, there was a rustling a the entrance to the tent, and the canvases parted as the 'officer' entered. He stood in the entry, his orbital eyes scanning the interior with obviois uncertainty. Cyrus eyed him, standing in his copper armour. A whelp of a reptile, he thought.
  "Come in, Captain."
  Cyrus said the words thickly, laced with sarcasm. He detested this lizard, and made it plain.
  Otis squirmed slightly, moving forward into the command post, watching everything around him, his orbital eyes focusing on on his Lord finally.
  "Yes, my Lord." he stammered. "What is thy bidding of me?"
  Otis attempted a bow toward Cyrus, trying his best to look composed. It was obvious to Lord Malthor that this chameleon was not of the stock that he wanted amongst his armies. Cyrus glared at him from his relaxed position, waiting for the right amount of time to address this chameleon filth directly.
  "You are from Andoria, yes?" Cyrus hissed.
  "Yes, my Lord."
  "You were the one who dispatched the three? Our enemies?"
  "Yes, Lord Malthor, they died in the edge of the rainforest of Andar...I led them into a trap."
  Otis once again attempted a curt bow to Cyrus. It had no effect on the leader's grim stare.
  Cyrus considered his words, scraping his claws again his scaly chin. He had already considered all of the things which might be said in the conversation.
  "So you definitely saw them perish in the mud?" he asked quietly, focusing on the young chameleon. Otis seemed to pause a moment, causing Cyrus to raise his scaly brow.
  "W-well, they were in the pit, there could be no escape, my Lord."
  Again Cyrus considered his answer, looking away slightly with obvious distaste at the result. Otis figetted again, realizing that he was being inquisitioned.
  "So you led them to a trap of quicksand, but you did not see them die, Captain?" he asked sarcastically.
  "They must have died, my Lord... How could they possibly have escaped the pit?"
  With a motion quicker than light, Cyrus withdrew his sword from its scabbard, the quick screech of the steel the only sound. The point of his sword pierced the chameleon's side, in a gap in the armour, coming completely through to his back. Otis opened his mouth, but no sound emerged. He looked down at the sword buried in his side, seeing the blood begin to flow from the wound. His eyes went in all directions, as he fought for breath. Cyrus simply watched as he dropped to his knees, fighting to breathe. As the blood flowed down onto the fine carpets laid out on the floor, Otis laid forward, dying on the blade, clutching at it as he sank to the floor of the tent.
  Cyrus only grinned slightly, watching as the life left the young chameleon's eyes. When Otis' dead carcass finally rested on the carpet, the Stigian Lord kicked viciously to free his blade from it. His guards quickly entered, surveying what had happened. Cyrus wiped the blood from his sword, sliding it back into its scabbard. He reached once again for the wine, barely casting a glance at the dead chameleon.
  "Bury this piece of filth, before it stinks the place up..."
  Dukar had been the head of state in Nimisor before anyone could remember. He was large for a frog, and commanded enormous respect amongst the citizens of the high citadel. His smooth skin was sky blue and black, with spots of cobalt up to his large dark eyes. He stared down from the citadel walls down onto the plains below, quietly observing the large armies assembled there. Shifting the short sword in its scabbard and belt at his waist, he was concious of the fact that he was missing his bow. Archers lined the walls around him, alert and waiting for the inevitable siege to begin. The moment that the Stigian armies had arrived on the plains below Nimisor, food and other provisions had hastily been brought inside the Citadel, in preparation for an attack. Amphibians of all types scurried about, trying to bolster the defenses of their city in any way they could. The scant numbers of their archers lined the walls, nervously watching the massive armies on the plains below.
  Dukar knew that this would be a long, bloody conflict. Many of his people would die here, either of starvation, or from the battle itself. He was determined to defend the city with everything at his disposal, but knew that they were vastly outnumbered. It had been a very long time since any assault had been launched against Nimisor, and at that time he had only been a young archer. They had repelled a much smaller force from Stigia, holding the mountain fortress, and scattering the enemy below before they could breach the city walls. This would be much different. The forces massed below had brought a large array of seige weapons, including ballistae, and catapults. Dukar stared down at the plains, running stategy through his mind. He surmised that Lord Cyrus would wait them out for a time, waiting for the inhabitants of the Citadel to weaken as he starved them. He also thought that Cyrus would use fire, having his catapults launch flaming pitch into the city, hoping to burn the building which sheltered his people and held the provisions. Once they had been weakened enough, the attack would come, swift and deadly. Dukar rubbed the smooth skin under his wide mouth, pondering what he might do to defend against the monstrous forces gathered below, how he might protect the citizens of Nimisor. He had not heard any reply from the dispatches he had sent seeking re-enforcements from Andar, nor had he heard from the Chameleon King. Only a small contingent of warrior frogs had arrived from the coastal villages behind Nimisor, not nearly enough to repel Lord Cyrus' armies. This frustrated him, but all he could do was wait, and hope that his messages had been received. It would become a desparate situation without help from the other races. He was without the riders, the frog archers borne upon dragonflies, the mainstay of their defense. They had not been in the city for an age, retreating to the coastal villages. They had been a cavalry that was unmatched, raining death from the skies to all who dared attack the citadel.
  Dukar turned away from the wall, folding his arms behind him in thought, watching as the archers fidgeted among the battlements lining the walls. He became lost in his thoughts suddenly, about protecting the one thing in Nimisor that he knew Cyrus sought the most. The Eye. The moment the invaders had appeared, Dukar had ordered it hidden deep within the labyrinth of passages and chambers of the Citadel. The ancient foundries that Nimisor had used to forge weapons and armour provided a virtual maze of passages down through the mountain stronghold. Nimisor had long provided metal and steel to the realm, creating beautiful and deadly weapons, flasks, and other objects of intricate metal design.
  It would be a futile effort, however, if Cyrus breached the walls with his armies, nothing would stop him from recovering it. He would torture and kill them all to get his claws on it. The Eye of Nimisor had mysterious powers, allowing the user to see certain futures. It was created from a large crystal, hewn from the mountain itself. Combined with the power of the Gecko's Gate, it would allow the Lord of Stigia to cover the world with darkness and chaos. The Eye had not foretold of this assault, and Dukar attributed that to the fact that Cyrus had used the Gate to get to the place he was in. He was not as good at using the Eye as was his predecessor, the King of all of the frog nations until his death of extreme old age. He had been the ruler of Nimisor for an eternity, and a very good one. Revered and loved by all, he had brought an age of prosperity to the amphibian nation that had never been seen before. His passing had been a huge event at Nimisor, and the beloved King was laid to rest, without an heir. It was then that Dukar had been nominated to lead at Nimisor, but some of the coastal villages had not been happy with this, and had appointed their own rulers, breaking the whole into factions. Another true King had been foretold in legends, but that time had not yet come. Dukar had accepted the job as regent, knowing that he would never be looked upon as a King. He loved the amphibians of Nimisor. But here in the city, he had taken on the burden of rulership, trying to follow the example of the former King. He had continued to feed his people, to protect them within the city walls, waiting until the legends fulfilled themselves, and a new King would be crowned. He longed for the time when he could simply be himself, without the responsibility of caring for the entire populace of Nimisor. He dreamt of writing his memoirs, farming, and raising a family. He had had no time for family, and the females amongst the population of Nimisor did not look at him as a prospective mate, but a ruler. He was always focused on his task as head of state, but when evenings came, he wished for a simpler life. Even a retirement to the coastal villages would be a treat to him, spending his days fishing, without the pressures of everyday decisions. He sighed to himself, as he looked upon his nervous archers. would they hold the line against the inevitable attack?
  His thoughts were interrupted by a young frog archer, who hurried to approach the head of state with a worried expression on his amphibian face.
  "We have another small group coming in from the coast, my Lord, several archers and a few armed with pikes."
  Dukar looked at him with a level gaze, and tried to speak calmly for reassurance.
  "Very well, post them to the front edges of the wall with the others. The more archers we have, the better our defense will be..."
  "Yes sir." the young frog paused a moment, "The pikemen as well?"
  "Yes. They will be very useful should the enemy infantry try to scale the wall, which they will attempt."
  "As you wish, my Lord."
  The Archer left as quickly as he had come, and Dukar began to walk toward the keep. It was a low, round building of dark stone, and huge iron clad wooden doors on the front. Small slit windows went all the way around it, with metal doors on the inside. They were perfect when open to fire arrows from, and still remain protected. The builders of Nimisor called the keep The Round, for obvious reason. It was huge, and stood out above the walls which protected the mountain city. It was a huge round stone building, resting upon the ancient rock of the mountain city. Most of the walkways were made up of flagstone, decoratively arranged. The city was ancient, built by artisans of Nimisor, with the rock hewn from the mountains themselves. Homes and other buildings were made of carved stones, the masons of the city making each stone fit in perfect harmony. The city was simply amazing to walk through, round stone buildings surrounded by small gardens, punctuated with stone lined ponds.
  As he neared the doors of the Round, Dukar turned to look at the frogs lining the ramparts of the wall once more. He suddenly realized that he might not see some of them again, once this battle was over. He could feel their nervousness, sense the tension. Sadness washed over him, as he amended his thoughts. None of them might remain after this, amd Nimisor might be in flames. They were alone, with no word of help from the rest of the world. Dukar lowered his hand onto the hilt of his sword, gripping it tightly. He whispered himself a prayer, a vow that they might hold against Lord Cyrus' armies. Against all odds, he would defend his people. Somehow, he would make them pay. To the last reptile, they would pay. Even if it meant his life, he would make the Lord of Stigia pay dearly for every inch he gained on the battlefield...

Photo by Vertigo Productions

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