A Banished Land

A Banished Land

by Jake Jauch

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781458201539
Publisher: Abbott Press
Publication date: 01/10/2012
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.71(d)

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A BANISHED LAND

The Turning
By Jake Jauch

abbott press

Copyright © 2012 Jake Jauch
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4582-0153-9


Chapter One

It's been almost two weeks since the siege has ended. I stand on the balcony of a beautiful white stone palace in the massive city of Haven. Haven is a city built inside of an enormous mountain range. It has two giant walls protecting the city and one smaller wall protecting the palace. Even though the city is well fortified, a section of the outer wall was destroyed during a substantial battle with the werewolves. Sometimes I still can't believe that I'm in this place. My best friend left here after the war and called this place exile. I guess for him it was.

This place is a completely different world. It's a place where we, humans, forced the other creatures from our world, since we couldn't coexist. We thought that they were too dangerous, or maybe we just wanted everything to ourselves. It still pains me to think about it. First we forced out the dragons, then the werewolves, and last the vampires. Who knows what other creatures are here that I don't even know about yet. It makes me sad to think that we couldn't live in peace with them. Now they're here, wherever here is. In fact I don't even really know what this place is called. As long as I've been here no one has told me the name of this place, most of them just call it home. Strangely enough I do as well.

I had many reasons for staying here, like feeling more alive than I ever did back in my home world. Another one of those reasons is Luna, a vampire that I have now formed a strong friendship with. This is partially because of the battle that we both fought in. We were some of the few that were still protecting the outer wall when it fell. We fled for our lives and barely managed to get out alive. Near the end of the battle for Haven another vampire named Victor, who didn't share Luna's views or morals tried to kill her. I managed to save her life before it was too late.

After several days of being unconscious she woke up and since then we've been spending a lot more time together. Luna's older sister Lilith, who is also a vampire, has been in a strange mood since Luna awoke from her sleep. Any time that she sees us together she starts smiling and walks away. A knock at the door causes me to break my train of thought. I turn to see Tori, the head doctor of the palace. She walks across the room and onto the balcony.

"How are you today," I ask as I continue to look out over the city.

"I am doing all right," Tori sighs.

"Busy day in the infirmary," I ask as I turn to face her.

Tori has short black hair and brown eyes. She has helped me many times in the past since I've been here. I have been injured several times already and she's the one that I go to see when the wounds are slightly more than just a few minor cuts and bruises.

"Yes it has been," Tori says rubbing her hand across her forehead. "A lot of soldiers from the battle are complaining about minor aches and pains. Speaking of which how are your wounds?"

"Fine," I say flexing my right hand. "My hand has healed well enough."

"I would still like to look at it," Tori says holding out her hand.

I reluctantly hold out my hand so she can examine it. A long scar runs across the palm of my hand where I had cut it to the bone. This was my only option when I wanted to save Luna's life. Now it has completely healed, with the help of Tori and her medicines. Tori runs her fingers along the length of the dark scar, but I don't feel anything of the contact.

"Your hand appears to have healed very nicely," Tori says looking up at the scar on my face now. "Your eye has seemed to have healed too."

I touch the thin silver scar that runs down my forehead and onto my cheek. Just another souvenir from the war, I acquired this one from a werewolf when the outer wall of Haven fell. Luna, I and about twenty remaining soldiers had to run for our lives across a vast field. One of the werewolves got too close, and before I could attack it its claws gazed my face.

"Yeah," I laugh. "Looks like I managed to survive."

"You were one of the lucky ones," Tori says looking down at the marble floor.

"I don't believe in luck," I say as I look out over the city.

"Well whatever you want to call it," Tori sighs. "I should get back to the infirmary; there are still a few soldiers left for me to see to."

"Okay," I say watching her walk from the room.

I stand alone on the balcony for a moment and then the door opens again. I turn and see Tori standing in the doorway.

"I forgot to tell you," Tori says. "Luna is at the training grounds, if you want to see her."

"Okay, thanks," I say walking towards her.

"You know, you and Luna seem to have been spending a lot of time together," Tori says cheerfully.

"I suppose that we have," I say thoughtfully. "Why, is there something wrong with that?"

"Oh no," Tori says quickly. "It is nice to see her with someone."

"In a world like this it is nice to have someone to be around," I admit. "Anyway when Arrok gets back we'll go to the training grounds."

Arrok is a black dragon that I have made a pact with. This means that we protect each other until one of us dies, and if we both keep true to the pact we shouldn't die anytime soon.

"You know that she looks at you differently when you are around," Tori says. "I asked her about it, but she said it is nothing."

"Really," I ask. "Thanks for telling me."

"All right then," Tori says as she shuts the door. "I will see you later."

I walk to the edge of the large bed that sits against the middle of the south wall. I sit down and stretch. Why would she be looking at me any different than usual? I fall back on the bed and stare up at the underside of the canopy that hangs from the four posts of the bed. It doesn't make any sense to me. I guess I'll just have to ask her myself.

I slowly get up from the bed and grab my sword that's propped against the nightstand near the bed. I walk to the door and step into the hallway when Arrok swoops in over the balcony, landing neatly in the center of the room.

"Are you truly that impatient," Arrok asks as he folds his wings. "Were you really going to walk to the training grounds?"

"How did you know I was going to the training grounds," I ask quickly.

"Because that where Luna is," Arrok says, satisfied that he has the upper hand in the conversation. "If you are ready, then we will go."

"I can go alone if you've been flying for a while," I say. "You can rest here if you want."

"I am perfectly capable of flying to the training grounds and back," Arrok says staring down at me. "Now if you are done, let us go."

"Okay, fine," I sigh.

I climb onto Arrok's shoulders and wait for him to take off. That's the only problem with my pact with Arrok, when he thinks that he is right there's no talking to him. When his mind is set nothing can change that, but I can be the same way at times. Arrok shuffles out onto the balcony and stretches his wings to their full extent. With his wings spread wide he dwarfs out the balcony and the entrance to the room.

Then Arrok launches us off the side of the balcony and out into the vast open cave. We fall straight down then, veers up suddenly. The wind roars past me as we level off and begin flying towards the training grounds.

"Are you still back there," Arrok asks over his shoulder.

"You'll have to do better than that if you want to get rid of me," I laugh.

"I will have to try harder next time," Arrok chuckles.

We fly over the city and I watch as the people carry out their daily activities. Their lives haven't changed much after the siege ended, even as short as it was. The war one the other hand is far from over. The main force of the werewolves have been scattered, these pockets of werewolf resistances are in the forests and other areas. They still believe in the hollow promises that Victor has given them.

My hands instantly clench into fists until my fingers hurt, just at the thought of him. I hate him for what he did to Luna and the fact that he wants me dead just as badly. The picture of him is still as vivid in my mind as the day I laid eyes on him. Particularly his wicked grin of triumph when he inflicted pain on those I care about.

"Are you thinking about the Forsaken," Arrok asks as we fly over the last cluster of buildings.

"How could you tell," I ask in a flat tone.

"Because you become very tense," Arrok asks. "It is almost like I can feel the hate radiating out of you."

"Sorry," I say unclenching my fists. "I didn't think that it was that noticeable."

"The hatred that you harbor is not healthy for you," Arrok says as we pass over the wall separating the city from the farmlands.

"What do you want me to do then," I say coldly. "Just forgive him for what he did to her!?"

"I expect you to do something besides dwell on the past," Arrok says still calm. "She has recovered completely or have you not noticed?"

"I have," I snap. "You don't understand how I feel, okay. I wasn't able to stop him; all I could do was watch!"

"But you saved her," Arrok says coolly.

"She still suffered," I say quietly now. "I watched her writhe in pain because of the poison, she couldn't heal."

"You really need to do something about this," Arrok says shaking his head.

"I already know what I'm going to do," I say, my voice turning hard as stone. "I'm going to kill Victor if I ever see him again."

Arrok drops the subject as we land near the training grounds. I jump off Arrok's back and start walking towards the familiar figure in the distance. As I approach I slow my stride to make less noise. When I'm about four feet from Luna she turns and looks at me.

"How did you know I was coming," I ask.

"I can smell you," Luna says with a gratified smile. "You still have that same odd alluring scent."

Luna takes another deep breathe, like she's savoring the sweet scent of a flower. I take a few steps forward so I am standing next to her.

"So you still haven't figured out what the scent is," I ask with a grin.

"No," Luna sighs. "It is a minor annoyance though."

I can't help but smile at the fact that there is something about me that a vampire can't understand. Not that it means there are still things that I don't know about Luna. Whether it's the things about her past that she hasn't told me, or other abilities of vampirism I've not yet discovered.

"Well since we are both here," Luna says walking towards a fallen tree with weapons lining the trunk. "Why don't we practice for a while?"

"That sounds good to me," I say following behind her to the tree. "What do you have in mind?"

"Do you have any objections to a little swordplay," Luna asks looking through the various swords and daggers.

"Not at all," I say stopping near the tree.

"Good," Luna says tossing a wooden training sword to me. "Then let us begin."

I examine the sword in my hand. It's cut just like a katana, except it has no handle guard. The wood has a waxy feel to it and doesn't slide much as I swing it experimentally through the air.

"It is satisfactory to you," Luna asks.

"Yes," I reply swinging the sword a few more times. "What are you using?"

Luna turns around with two shorter versions of the sword that I hold in my hand.

"These," Luna says lunging at me.

I block the first few attacks and then one of her swords gaze my arm. While they don't have an edge they hurt with enough force. I wince and Luna grins at me. Then I take a deep breath and let the berserker ability take over. Everything slows and I am only focused on her and the two swords dancing in front of her as she closes in for another attack. She strikes again and this time I block all of her attacks, I even counter with a few slashes of my own.

We quickly fight our way across the training grounds and dodge around and through groups of soldiers and guards. The loud clanks of our swords cut through the air as they make contact. Luna ducks and slides from side to side as she evades my every attack. Sometimes there is less than an inch between her and my sword. Then she stops her evasive style in favor of an offensive one. Her attacks come so close together they become a single elegant and unrelenting assault.

I dodge and block as much as I can to hold off her attacks. I know that she doesn't mean me any harm, but I'm glad that she has chosen to use training weapons instead of the real thing. I counter attack every chance that I can get, which isn't very often. Then I see an opening after her most recent flurry. I take the opportunity and strike out. She blocks the attack, but the force knocks the sword from her grasp. She then spins and we both stop instantly. The berserker fades from my body and I can see that her sword is at my throat.

"Not bad," Luna pants. "You almost had me for a moment."

"What do you mean for a moment," I ask glancing down.

Luna looks down at the tip of my sword, where it lingers only a fraction from her heart.

"It seems that we are evenly matched this time," Luna says smiling at me.

I lower my sword the same time as she lowers hers. I notice that a large number of the people around us are watching and murmuring to one another. Luna and I walk back to the tree and lean the weapons against the trunk. I sit down and focus on slowing my breathing. I stare out at the ruined section of the wall. All of the rubble has been cleared away and about half of the section has been rebuilt. Marcus, the ruler of Haven and Luna's father, has deemed the reconstruction a top priority of the safety of Haven.

I can see some of the forest in the distance, the same forest that I landed in when I arrived here, also the same forest the werewolf horde swarmed out of to attack us. There are dark clouds beginning to loom over the forest, but only in a small area. Here the sun is unobstructed. Then a single blue flash of lightning strikes out of the clouds. The clouds slowly dissipate until there is only blue sky where the stormy clouds were only a moment ago.

"Was that a gateway," I ask quickly.

"Yes it was," Luna says. "That is still in the middle of werewolf territory."

I let out a whistle and Luna does the same. Arrok and Iris land by us in a matter of seconds. Iris's blood red scales shimmer in the sunlight as she moves. Iris is the dragon that Luna has chosen to make a pact with.

"Are we not going to get provisions," I ask.

"We do not have time," Luna says climbing onto Iris's shoulders. "The werewolves that still choose to follow Victor have started killing newcomers as soon as they arrive."

Chapter Two

"Then we need to go now," I say quickly as I climb onto Arrok's shoulders.

"I agree," Luna says as she climbs onto Iris's shoulders.

Without another word from either of us the two dragons launch us into the sky. We fly over the wall and above the open grasslands. Only small bushes and shrubs are growing, even after all the fire from the battle. The wind roars past us as we fly towards the edge of the vast forest.

"So how long has this been going on," I ask. "The killing of newcomers, that is."

"Ever since the end of the siege," Luna replies quietly. "It is a cowardly attempt, of course only a Forsaken like Victor would stoop as low as to attack innocents."

"We'll find him," I say coldly.

We sit in silence and watch the forest slowly loom closer. Hopefully the newcomer will be alive when we get there or at least in one piece. The forest begins to take shape now. I can make out the different types of trees all closely knit together creating a massive canopy. We are almost to the end of the grassland when a howl rings out from the forest. A shiver runs down my spine as the howl echoes and fades away. Are we too late? Will we only find bits and pieces of the newcomer? I shake my head to get rid of the image. No we'll make it. Then a shout emits from deeper in the forest.

"Did you hear that," I ask as we fly over the edge of the forest.

"Yes," Luna says quickly. "We need to hurry."

"Say no more," Iris says beating her wings faster.

Arrok increases his speed as well and we fly in the directions of the shouts. Luckily the person is making enough commotion to make finding them easier. Unfortunately that means that any werewolves in the area will be able to find the person faster as well. We're now close enough to hear the person's words and I can tell it's a man.

"Help," he shouts. "Get away from me!"

(Continues...)



Excerpted from A BANISHED LAND by Jake Jauch Copyright © 2012 by Jake Jauch. Excerpted by permission of abbott press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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