Excerpt - Anabar's Run
Sixteen-year-old Anabar has less than twelve hours to get to the capital city. This is the final test in his training to become a member of the Scouts, a band of ruthless swordsmen sworn to defend their nation. If he doesn't make it, he will have to give up his dream and return to his farm, but that's not the worst thing. His mentor, Omalof, wants the test to be as realistic as possible, so he reports Anabar as a dangerous criminal, and every soldier between him and the capital has orders to find and kill him.
ANABAR'S RUN is the story of a young man who is a different kind of hero. He's different because he's not magic or a vampire or a prince. He's also not destined to save the world from an evil being. Instead, Anabar is a normal young man who follows a dream and faces some very difficult decisions along the way, the biggest being whether to seek fame and adventure or what he knows is right.
The dark rider following Anabar stopped when he heard the man fall. He climbed down from his horse and tied it to a branch. He stepped into the trees and walked toward the sounds of the struggle. He moved from shadow to shadow, making no sound. He made his way to the edge of the woods by the camp and peered out.
Anabar struggled to free his hands. He saw the huge man, who he regarded as a giant, was stunned and getting up slowly, but knew he didn't have much time. He pulled and twisted his body, ignoring the pain from the rope against his neck, but still was unable to escape.
The giant, no longer smiling, got to his feet and reached inside his coat. He produced a long, curved knife and glared at Anabar. For a moment, the boy thought the giant was going to use it on him. Instead, the giant cut the rope from the saddle and gave it a hard pull.
Anabar gasped as the rope dug into his neck. He finally managed to free his hands, but he could not release the rope around his neck. He almost lost his footing, but he was angry, and once again planted his feet and jerked back on the rope. The giant barely held on to his end and the two engaged in a deadly tug of war. Anabar was certain the giant would use the knife on him if he lost his balance. They stared across the open space between them, neither willing to give in.
The dark rider watched silently from edge of the woods. He reached down to his side and grabbed the handle of a long, curved sword hanging in a scabbard. He pulled the sword partway out.
Anabar and the giant circled around the camp, the rope pulled taught between them. No matter how hard he tried, and despite his size advantage, the giant could not gain any ground, or cause Anabar to lose his footing. He growled, and swore, and became more and more frustrated as the struggle continued.
Anabar noticed they had moved close to the fire, and a plan formed in his mind. Ignoring the pain in his neck, he gave a sudden jerk and hopped to his left.
The dark rider saw this maneuver and smiled. "Yes, yes, now you're thinking," he whispered. "Just a little closer now."
Anabar jerked the rope once again, causing the giant to trip over a pile of logs stacked next to the fire. He roared in pain as he landed face down in the dirt.
"Now!" Anabar thought, on seeing the giant go down. He took another step to his left, causing the rope to drag over the flames.
While all this was taking place, a small man emerged from the hut and quietly moved behind Anabar, unseen by the boy. He carried a short club in his hand. The man was a miniature version of the giant, with a similar heavy coat and dark beard. The dark rider spotted the man and drew his sword the rest of the way out of the scabbard. Still, he stayed back just inside the dark edge of the trees
"Just a few more seconds," Anabar thought. "Come on rope. Burn. Burn!"
The giant pushed up to his knees and shook his head, trying to clear his vision. The fall had left him dizzy and disoriented, but he still held on to his end of the rope. He managed to focus on Anabar, and staggered to his feet, without realizing the rope was in the fire.
Anabar saw the rope turn brown and begin to smoke. "Now," he thought, and gave a final tug. The rope snapped, causing Anabar and the giant to stumble in opposite directions as the tension gave way.
"I'm free!" Anabar thought. He started to turn toward the woods, but never saw the little man behind him, his club raised over his shoulder. The man struck Anabar on top of the head and the boy collapsed, unconscious, to the ground.
The dark rider started to step into the clearing, but held back. He decided to watch a little longer.
The little man went over to the giant and peered up at him. He shook his head back and forth and spat on the ground.
"You’re so stupid you can't handle a wee boy?" he said. "Who is he?"
"Dunno," said the giant, still a bit unsteady after the struggle with Anabar.
"Well, why did you bring him here?" said the little man, crossing his bony arms over his chest and staring up at the giant.
The giant shook his head to try to clear it and then remembered. He reached into his coat and with drew the stone he had taken from Anabar.
"This," he said handing it to the little man. "This is why I brought him. He was carrying this!"
The little man stopped muttering and froze when he saw it.
The dark rider could hear everything the two were saying but could not see the stone.
"Ah, now there's a right treasure," said the little man, holding the stone close to his eyes and smiling, showing off uneven, yellow teeth. "Where did you find him? Where did he get this? Is there more? What did he tell you?"
"He wouldn't say," said the giant. "I spotted him when he tumbled down a mountain on a peak west of here. "Then I grabbed him and brought him here."