So I'm working on this novel. Not sure whether I'm going to publish it or not, what do you think?
I've got the first chapter done, and I've got an ending in mind, so that shouldn't be a problem.
The courtyard was beautiful to behold. Cobblestone pathways twisted and turned around and through the well kept garden, overlooked by finely crafted stone balconies. A large mural was carved into the wall around the garden, depicting brave heroes of old fighting long-dead evils. The castle guard in their colorful uniforms patrolled along the balconies, and commoners and gardeners milled about in the garden.
The King had paid to have all this built, the People’s Garden. He had hired the finest carpenters and sculptors, and it had paid off. He made this garden free to all the citizens of his kingdom, and maintained it out of his own pocket. The people loved their king, and he loved his people.
Arthur was a captain in the King’s Army, in charge of the 27th Legion. He had a well built frame, and long, clean brown hair and a well trimmed beard. He was known amongst his men for his unorthodox methods of fighting, and had been nicknamed “the Clever Fox”.
A heavy rain was falling this autumn day, as Arthur darted down the path, weaving his way between commoners and gardeners, leaping over a gardener’s cart along the way. He came to a stop at a large wooden door, and hurriedly put his bold blue and white soldier’s uniform into order, straightening his scabbard and tightening his belt. After taking a minute to catch his breath, he pounded on the door.
“Who’sit?” barked the voice from behind.
“It’s Arthur, sergeant. Let me in!”
“Oi! Why didn’t ya say so Cap’n?”
A loud thump was heard as the sergeant unbarred the barracks doors, and shoved them open. Arthur quickly shuffled in, and the sergeant slammed the doors shut behind him hastily.
Several soldiers lounged about in the Inner Barracks, sitting around the fireplace munching on their plentiful rations, provided by the King of course. A large yew log burned in the fireplace, and provided both warmth and light for the entire room. Some of the soldiers saw Arthur enter and saluted him quickly. He nodded his head in greeting and headed for the stairwell that led up to the balconies. Arthur scaled the steps and walked along the balcony, stopping at a door being guarded by two armed soldiers. He quickly saluted the men and entered.
The War Room was a very cramped room. Maps and charts covered the carved stone walls, and even these were covered in notes and scribbling from the various commanders who had been in here. A large oak table sat in the center of the room. Upon it were several stains and impurities, papers and documents of war, and a few more maps, as well as a few half burnt candles, which provided sufficient light for the room. A long dagger was stuck in the table, almost 3 inches deep. Apparently no one had ever bothered to remove it. Around the table were several wooden chairs, each in various condition and appearance.
Arthur selected one of the slightly less damaged chairs, and took a seat. This was an unusual happenstance for him; a captain was very seldom called into the War Room. As he pondered the possible reason for this, he heard the General approaching.
General Lukas was a tall, aged man. He had a wiry build, and a thin, rugged face. His coarse white hair, streaked with black, came just at his shoulders. His sharp nose complemented his cold, grey eyes. His left leg had been lost long ago in a distant war, and now was replaced with a sturdy pine peg. Due to this, he had to walk with a thin ivory cane. His cane clicked with his every step, followed by the thump of his wooden leg. His presence sent chills down Arthur’s spine.
The General entered the room, and sat down in the first chair that he came upon. He turned a cold gaze toward Arthur, then turned to the table and began rummaging through the notes and documents, casting many of them to the floor in disinterest.
“You called for me, sir?” asked Arthur, breaking the chilling silence.
“Yes,” the General replied, not looking away from the papers.
“Can I ask what for, sir?”
“Not right now, you have to wait for the others to get here.”
“The others, sir?” asked Arthur, now somewhat interested. The General ignored Arthur’s question, and continued to rummage through the papers.
“Sir?” persisted Arthur.
“You sure ask a lot of questions, Captain Arthur.”
“It’s not every day an ordinary captain is called to the War Room, sir.”
“It makes no difference whether it’s happened before.”
“You said something about ‘Others’, sir?”
“Sir, with all due respect-“
General Lukas cut him off. “Do you ever shut up?” He glared at Arthur coldly. “They’ll get here eventually, just give it a rest.” He gestured towards a pitcher at the far end of the table, with a few wooden goblets discarded around it. “Get something to drink, it might be a while.” As Arthur got up, the General muttered under his breath. “Cunning Fox? More like Chattering Squirrel.”
Arthur thirstily grabbed the pitcher and poured himself a drink. As he brought the goblet to his lips, he almost immediately spit the drink back out. Arthur hated the taste of aged grog.
He heard a wooden tapping sound down the hall. It was unmistakable as the Wizard’s wizened old staff. The Wizard was a short fellow, clothed in heavy, tattered blue robes and a large, pointed, and somewhat worn hat. His long curly white beard almost touched the ground as he shuffled into the room. The Wizard looked over Arthur, and then carefully sat down in one of the more cushiony chairs. He propped his staff against the table and removed his hat, letting his unkempt long hair fall about him.
Arthur had only heard about the Wizard from old housewives’ tales and the dusty old tomes the Librarian fussed over so much and kept in such good condition. He was a crafty inventor, a wise scholar, and a great master of magic as well. Every one of his deeds was considered legendary by most standards, and, indeed, he was a marvelous man.
The Wizard was followed into the room by the burly Lord Hector, who clattered into the room in his full armor. His long, deep blue cloak seemed to fill the room as he walked, billowing and twisting with each step he took. He strode to one of the chairs at the far end of the table, and dropped into a chair. Much to Arthur’s surprise, the rickety chair did not collapse under the weight of Hector’s armor. After taking his seat, he reached up and began to undo his helmet. After a brief struggle with the chinstrap, he took off his helmet and carefully placed it on the table, exposing his face to the dim light provided by the candle.
Sir Hector had lost an eye long ago, as was apparent by his weathered leather eye patch, and the long, jagged scar running down his face. His one good eye was of an unearthly, sickly green, gleaming like an emerald in the dark room. He ran his fingers through his black hair, glancing over the items of the room. The “Old Raven”, he was called.
Lukas, upon seeing that the ‘Others’ had arrived, loudly cleared his throat, to call the attention of those in the room. The Wizard, Sir Hector, and Arthur all turned their attention towards him, waiting for him to begin this unlikely meeting.
“Alright you sorrowful lot, lets get this over with.”
The General reached into his cloak and withdrew a fresh scroll, recently bound with new cord. He snapped the cord and unraveled the scroll.
“’These are the King’s orders’,” he read. “’The Order of the Shield has been a thorn in the side of our kings for many a century. As is known by all in the land, there is a plentiful bounty for those who operate under this order.
“’Word has reached my ears of a Friar Harlow, leader of the church in the village of Greenthorn. This Friar Harlow, let it be known, has long provided for the Order of the Shield and its followers. All previous attempts made to arrest him have been met with failure, for the order holds him dear and protects him at all costs.
“Therefore, I have chosen the four of you to arrest the Friar Harlow at any cost necessary. Killing him is to be your final resort, as I would prefer for the honor to be that of the Common People, whom he has harmed so in his actions.’”
Sir Hector was perplexed. “That’s it?” he queried, now interested.
“Well, pretty much… Yes it is,” answered the General, who was now scribbling something on one of the less used pieces of paper.
“Wait,” questioned Arthur, “It mentions in his orders that previous attempts were failed… Does it say anything more about that?”
The General picked the scroll back up off the table, and eyed it thoroughly. “No, not from what I see. What’s the matter, you afraid of what some friar’s friends are going to do?”
“Well, if said ‘Friar’s friends’ can dispatch soldiers of the King’s Army, wouldn’t you suppose we should be a tad cautious?”
“The lad does have a point,” added the Wizard, “You of all people would know how well they train the King’s soldiers.”
“…I suppose you’re right.”
“Are you familiar with the Order of the Shield, Arthur?” asked Hector, turning towards the captain.
“I’ve only heard about them. I hear they’re a bunch of religious nutcases, always going on crazy crusades against the ‘unclean’, whatever they are.”
“Well those ‘religious nutcases’, as you so eloquently put it, have been giving the King trouble long ago. They used to be paladins, in the Royal Order of the Flame,” began Hector.
“So they left?”
“Actually, they were cast out, for their… questionable judgment. They were known for jumping to conclusions. Rumor has it they were responsible for the big fire that burned down Stormwich.”
“I thought that was a forest fire.”
“You were told it was a forest fire. The King didn’t want his people to get all up in arms, as they surely would if they knew there were a bunch of rogue paladins running around burning down towns.”
“And why are you telling me all this then?”
“We chose you to join our group. The King gives us his more… secret problems. We’re the Trust Order. It’s our duty to keep the King’s secrets, and protect them, should need be.”
“Enough with the storytelling, Hector,” interrupted Lukas, “You can save that for another day. I say we let the Captain handle this one; he needs to prove his worth.”
“Yes you. Sir Hector will go with you, to see that you don’t mess this up. All you’ve got to do is arrest the friar, that shouldn’t be too hard.”
“And if anyone tries to stop us?”
“I believe a soldier should be familiar with the laws of this land. You know what to do.”
“Yes, sir,” said Arthur. He got up out of his seat, and saluted the General.
“Oh, Arthur, one more thing.” The General dug around in the papers for a minute, and then pulled up a shining silver badge. It was molded in the shape of a shield, with a black fleur-de-lis in the center. The General tossed it to Arthur, who looked it over carefully.
“That’s your badge, Captain. Welcome to the Truth Order.”