Fox Elvensword and the Sword of Bhaal: Book 1

Fox Elvensword and the Sword of Bhaal: Book 1

by George Allen Butler II

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496928924
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 08/18/2014
Pages: 450
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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Fox Elvensword and the Sword of Bhaal

Book 1


By George Allen Butler II, Ilich Henriquez

AuthorHouse LLC

Copyright © 2014 George Allen Butler II
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4969-2892-4



CHAPTER 1

The Sword of Bhaal


Bhaal sat on his most prized possession, a golden and ivory throne bought with the money he had earned during the adventures of his youth. It rose up from the floor like the stump of a once magnificent tree. Two huge armrests flanked each side of the seat, fanning out at the top to end in a smooth flat surface. Gold, etched with runes, spiraled and swirled through the structure everywhere. The sides were as the bark of a tree, rippled and pitted as if worn by time and water damage. The back reached up high enough to support his slender shoulders and bent back into a curl like the edge of aged parchment.

Bhaal, however, was in stark contrast to the throne. His once statuesque body had wasted away. He was nothing more than skin and bones. The stench of his breath was that of a carcass. The dark black orbs that were his eyes stared straight ahead from his skull into the hallway before him. He had the look of someone seeing into eternity. A tarnished bronze crown sat on filthy, dusty black hair. His tunic had rotted away to nothing more than tatters. A rusted shirt of chain mail rested upon it, torn away at the waist. His leather breeches had dry rotted away from the knees down. A rusted chain skirt covered his thighs. Its links were broken and jagged at the seams. High top plate boots, rusted from years of neglect, covered his feet. The heavy coating of dust upon him told those who looked at him that he had not moved in years.

It was hard to tell that Bhaal was still alive, but alive he was. He had somehow managed to live far beyond his own time, existing without eating or moving. The physicians had given up long ago on trying to figure out what it was that kept him so. Theologians had inspected him. Philosophers debated his refusal to die in his present state. In truth, he had not spoken in twenty years, even though the wilderness and upstart usurpers carved away at his vast empire until all he still owned was the small town of Nineveh that rested at the base of his small keep.

And then there was the sword. An elegant bronze and Damascus steel broadsword reaching up from the base of the throne to the palm of Bhaal's hand. Its point made a gouge in the floor. Red rubies adorned the hilt and pommel, and even through years of non-use the whole sword was immaculately polished and clean. It was the sword that had carved out Bhaal's once mighty empire, and thousands of legends were attributed to the revered artifact. Forged from pure dark iron found only on the plains of the Abyss, it was rumored to have dispatched more than one daemon from existence.

It was this very sword that brought Niana to the small keep. Being a dark elf, she had no fear of creatures that were unnatural, and it was common knowledge that Bhaal had been undead for some time. She looked over the whole room, carefully committing the whole place to memory. It would be imperative that she knew every nook and cranny.

Plenty of room for a fight, she mused. Excellent position here at the doorway to cast spells over the heads of the fighters. Two skilled warriors abreast would keep Bhaal from getting at her. She would need at least four or five in all. Sven, her champion, would be her main combatant, and Cord would carry the axe she would need to cut off Bhaal's hand. She would need someone to help with guards, should they appear. Her sister came to mind. Breeya always wanted to come along. One more, she placed her finger at the corner of her mouth and tapped. She would need a skilled acolyte should things go wrong, but healers were a messy business and expensive too. Later, she thought, I will get my last position filled later.

The eyes of Bhaal had not moved the whole time. He continued to stare straight down the hall behind her. If he had a single clue that she was plotting his death, he did not show it.

She turned on her heels and walked deliberately out of the room and into the hallway beyond. The guard she had ensorcelled into slumber was still asleep at his post. Drool dripped from his lips as she passed him. The road beyond was still dark and devoid of guards. She wrapped her cloak around her and proceeded back to her home in the underground caves to the north.

It was early in the morning when she entered the quarters of Serran. He was dressed in his usual red cloak. A large white marble altar with black swirls served as his work place. His attention was forever fixed on the books he studied diligently. Aged books littered everything in sight. Red fires licked at the walls of his cavern, from braziers placed evenly throughout. Scraps of wood, steel and bone littered the corners, and burnt candle wax stained the floors. Only a bed made from stuffed burlap sacks, covered in exotic animal furs, hinted that he lived in this place.

"I will need the use of your axe if you want me to retrieve that sword for you," Niana interrupted.

"The axe is extremely valuable," Serran stated, his attention never leaving the book he was reading. A boney hand covered in rings raised and began making gestures in the air, as he mouthed some incantation.

Niana cast a spell of protection on herself in response. She knew Serran to be evil, far more evil than anyone had a right to be. With this man she could take no chances.

"You realize that the price of losing the axe will be very high?" Serran turned to look at her. His face had a chiseled handsomeness that she admired. Deep inside, she played with the idea that the price of losing the axe would be paid in his bed. She stifled these thoughts lest she reveal her indiscretions to him. She had playthings to occupy those moments of need, Sven and Cord were among them.

"I won't lose your axe, and besides, if I did, I can easily pay the price," she said. Her mind was still alluding to some deluded servitude to the sorcerer.

Serran looked deep into her eyes. "Indeed you could," he said knowing what she had that he wanted. He crossed the room and pulled the menacing looking axe out from behind a pile of wood. He crossed the room once more to stand before her.

"Lose my axe and pay my price or don't return at all," Serran sneered. "If you run off with it I will find you and you will wish death was the worst thing that could ever happen to you."

Niana grabbed the axe confidently and disappeared from sight. She had clever tricks and spells at her disposal, but none of that did anything to quell the fear she felt of the man. Gripping the axe close, she ran through the hallways carved out ages ago by slaves. Her apartment lay at the far side of the underground city and she meant to reach it before Serran changed his mind.

Once there, she scrambled with relief into her room and threw back the sheets of her bed. It was an elegant affair of rich, luxurious sheets and soft, feather filled pillows. Just being here made her feel safe. All thoughts of Serran's threats vanished and she was back to her carefree self once again. She placed the axe in her bed and covered it up as if it were sleeping. She was secure in the knowledge that the spells placed on her personal residence were sufficient to guarantee the item's safety. She walked out confidently to meet her sister in the main hall.


BREEYA SAT IN the dark tavern, watching Sven and Cord playing a drinking game with Threan, a young acolyte in training. He had been bribed with gold coins to accompany them as per Niana's instructions.

Threan fit those instructions to a tee. Breeya knew the young elf to be boisterous and foolish to no end. She also knew that Sven had no intention of guaranteeing the boy's return should they fall into trouble retrieving the sword. No sense in cutting Threan in for the split they promised him. It was her duty to murder him if things went well. The sharp dagger in her boot would do the trick.

She looked over the rest of the group and evaluated them. They had been her constant companions her whole life. Niana had taken her in the day their mother was murdered by that foul assassin Devin in this very market. Her sister had let her have the killing blow some twenty years later when they exacted their revenge on him and his barbaric crew. Sven and Cord had shown their true loyalties to her that day. What Niana had done to the one that ordered her assassination was done in private, Breeya knew it had given her immense pleasure. The woman's head still floated in alcohol in the glass jar of their main chamber as a warning to those that meant to cross her.

Breeya liked Sven most of all. His skin was just the shade of darkness she desired in a man. He was also confident, the kind of confidence one could get only from mastering the arts of fighting. Breeya had watched Sven master the gladiator pits, winning hundreds of contests. He walked with confidence as if he owned everything in sight. She liked to fancy that he was her champion, a guardian who would slay anyone who threatened her.

Cord was altogether different, built big and strong. His muscles bulged out of his tunic like monstrous growths. Walking like a yak, Cord swayed from side to side. His hair never seemed to be combed and his manners were atrocious. What Niana saw in Cord she did not know.

Sven and Cord both felt the same way about Breeya. She was a slave, completely devoid of magical power and she belonged to Niana just as did they. Cute, but she was just not worth the effort. Besides, if all went well with the raid on Bhaal's keep, they would be more than welcome to have their way with her, with or against her will.

Niana entered the commons of the main hall. All eyes turned to her. Sven, Cord and Threan stood up from their stools and walked to a table next to her and sat down. Breeya joined them.

"I have the axe we will need to cut off Bhaal's arm," Niana announced. "Are you satisfied with your down payment?"

Threan nodded as he looked down at the skin-tight buckskin pants Niana was wearing. It was clear his thoughts ran to lust as he looked at her.

"When will we be leaving?" Sven asked inquisitively.

"Just a few hours before sunset," Niana replied. "Get yourselves ready, pack light, but bring what we will need. We will meet here," she said as she turned to leave.

Sven thought it was odd that she used a term like sunset. He pondered this until she turned around and he saw the roundness of her bottom and then all of his thoughts turned to lust as he watched her walk out the door. There would be more to be had than just Breeya if all went well.


THE KEEP LAY before them. Breeya had led the way. She had her dagger hidden in her cloak just in case. Sven stood close beside her. His chain shirt was gleaming in the light of the fading sun. His twin kukris, a pair of swords bent at a forty five degree angle halfway down the blade, were firmly in his hands. They had been magically blacked as well as having other enchantments placed on them. Cord stayed back to protect Niana and carried the precious axe borrowed from Serran. Niana and Threan stayed near the rear. They covered themselves in cloaks of dark hues and traveling boots, ensorcelled to make no sound as they walked.

Niana shoved her way through the group to the front as they reached the wall. She motioned for Cord. He ran over and bending over, braced himself against the wall with his hand firmly against the stones. One by one they climbed up onto him, then onto the wall. Once there, they swung their legs over the side and jumped off to land on the ground. Sven, being the last, stopped at the top of the wall and pulled his friend up so he could cross also.

They scampered across the grounds between the keep and the wall in magical silence, using the shadows whenever they could. The bridge was unguarded as it had been the night she first visited it. All was going well so far. They crossed the bridge as tactically as they could. Cord went first and then pulled guard on the other side as the rest crossed one at a time. Sven went last, since he would be needed there should some guards come from the wall to intercept them.

The guard inside the keep was asleep as expected. His feet propped up on a stool as he lounged back on his bench. His back rested against the wall. Niana motioned for his immediate death by sliding her finger across her throat.

Breeya tiptoed up to the man and slowly pulled her knife out of her cloak. She grabbed his mouth and held it closed as she forced the sharp edge of the blade against his jugular and cut his throat while forcing his mouth shut. It was the violent spray of blood gushing out of his throat that awoke him. She held his mouth closed as she stared into his dying eyes. What a glorious way to die, she thought, getting to look at my beauty as darkness closes in around you.

When he was finally dead, she lowered him down to the bench, making sure his helmet did not fall to make a sound. She placed his spangenhelm on the bench beside him.

As planned, Sven was the first to enter the throne room. Cord and Niana followed and took up their places on each side of the room. Threan and Breeya took up positions behind Sven. Threan prepared his best healing spell.

Bhaal stood up abruptly without warning. Years of dust, disturbed by his sudden movement, made a cloud that hung in the silence that continued. He looked from right to left and made assumptions of his foes' abilities. He brought his sword up slowly in a defensive posture and looked ready for combat.

"I thought you said he was dead and had not moved in years," Sven said pointedly to Niana.

"I said he was most likely dead and did not move when I was here," responded Niana. "If I thought he was dead I would not have brought so much help."

Sven nodded and readied his weapons. The sword Bhaal carried was much larger than he had anticipated. The gleaming edge promised some sort of magical enchantment, not to mention that Bhaal himself moved with an unnatural speed Sven had not faced before. Sven's assessment of Bhaal was that he was unnaturally deadly, and Sven did not want to die here.

Bhaal exploded into movement. A series of figure eight swings assailed Sven, who began his own series of blocks in an attempt to draw the sword into position, but, being caught off guard, he was slow and even absent in some of his blocks. Blow after blow reached the dark elf swordsman. Cuts here and there dripped blood in several spots on his arms and legs. It was clear that even though Niana's champion had felled several combatants in the arena back in her home city, he was no match for Bhaal.

Threan recovered from his shock. This was the first time he had ever seen combat, not to mention the first time he had ever seen an undead creature. He quickly fell into spell casting mode and healed Sven just as he was starting to fall.

"Hurry up with that or we will all die here!" Niana screamed at him.

Cord saw his friend in danger. It wasn't part of the plan, but he began swinging the axe back and forth in a desperate attempt to push Bhaal away. Time and time again the axe bit into Bhaal with no reaction from him. No blood sprayed out as the axe tore away at the feeble chain. It was as though the lick was totally immune to the nasty axe's edge.

Niana, seeing that direct damage was useless against the lick, began weaving a deadly spell. A round ball of light sprang from her hands and struck Bhaal's exposed side. He flew sideways to slam against the throne and fell forward to land at Cord's feet. Cord quickly backed away lest the fiend notice him. Bhaal placed both hands under his chest and sprang back to his feet immediately and rushed Niana.

Sven was there to intercept him. He barreled into Bhaal and tried to toss him off his feet. Bhaal struck Sven cleanly in the back, sending him to the floor. Sven somersaulted out of the way of Bhaal's next overhead swing and sprung up to his feet with both kukris ready. The two continued their fight.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Fox Elvensword and the Sword of Bhaal by George Allen Butler II, Ilich Henriquez. Copyright © 2014 George Allen Butler II. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

1. The Sword of Bhaal, 1,
2. The Price is Paid, 11,
3. Feeding the Sword, 19,
4. Beginnings, 35,
5. The First Signs, 43,
6. Spell Trouble, 51,
7. Ranger School, 63,
8. Ellwin, 77,
9. The Big Test, 91,
10. Resurrection, 105,
11. The Naming, 111,
12. The Death of Alanawen, 121,
13. House Elvensword, 129,
14. Ellwin, 139,
15. Wanderlust, 153,
16. Grandefore, 169,
17. Oracle, 187,
18. Reunion, 201,
19. Bhaal, 211,
20. Serran, 227,
21. The Return Home, 245,
22. The Dragon Responds, 259,
23. The Sword Revealed, 273,
24. Preparations, 289,
25. Into the Maw, 301,
26. Redemption, 319,
27. The Body Snatchers, 333,
28. Sven Reborn, 347,
29. Evaluation, 359,
30. The New Group, 373,
31. Insertion, 387,
32. Lizards, 397,
33. Daemon, 413,
34. Exodus, 427,
35. Epilogue, 433,
About the Author, 439,

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