{{ contest.story_page_sticky_bar_text }} Be the first to recommend this story.
Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copy left
You can read our best books
Bushkill would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Let Embers Fall

By Bushkill All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Let Embers Fall


Here I stand, looking over the village of my birth.  Grey clouds boil above, casting the land in an eerie darkness.  The sun is hidden from me.  Or I, it.

I can see the house I was born in across the valley from the hill I stand on.  It lies hard against the river that runs through this valley.  The hill I am on is known as Sentry Mount.  It is the tallest of a series of hills that runs from the northeast to the southwest on this side of the river.  The far side of the river, where the house is, has no hills to speak of.  It is low farm land and very fertile.  

The river dumps into a small lake to the southwest.  I look to my left but I cannot see the lake from Sentry Mount.  I know it’s there, I used to fish in it as a child with my dad and brother.

I can see a woman in the yard of the house that used to be mine.  Would she remember me?  The chickens in the yard are flapping around her skirts and she is swatting at them to both get them away from her and keep them out of the house. 

Can I hear her voice on the wind? 

I hated feeding those chickens with their incessant flapping. 

A just-roused child opens the door, blond curls falling around her face in sleepy waves, and she holds the door open for her mom as the older woman hustles to be inside.  I hadn’t known mom was expecting again.  I didn’t know I had a little sister.

The wind whips around my cloak and the cold steel of my halberd presses against my hip and weighs me down.  It is heavy.  Many things are.

I can see the irrigation system I spent so many summers working on as a child.  I see the youth of today working on the same trenches.  They are, no doubt, cursing the leaves, sticks, and sundry debris that clog the system after a rain storm. I make a mental note about the condition of the fields below following the two days of torrential downpour that ended, hopefully, earlier last night.  At least it hasn’t rained since then.  The clouds still look pregnant and ready to burst though.

The wind cries out as it whistles through the trees.

I haven't been back to this valley in nearly ten years.  A lot can happen in ten years.  Lives change.  The Empire’s press gangs had claimed me from the fields and sent me to fight people I didn't know, under a sun that burned too bright; too hot.  I had been strong and clever and had a very committed desire to stay alive.  I still have those qualities.

I had been beaten by the press gang thugs the first time I countermanded my superior’s orders.  But not so harshly as the offense warranted since I had saved my unit and plugged a gaping hole in the line that my superior was threatening to widen by moving us the way he planned.  We would have been flanked and buried by the cavalry charge.  Instead we anchored our pikes in the dust and rocks of the desert and broke the charge.  I was promoted after the beating.  

My superior was hanged.

The Empire was like that.  Service, unwavering, was demanded and rewarded.  Negligence was punished and incompetence was punished harshly.  I was advised in my promotion that I should be far more careful in changing battle plans.  Bring up ideas and concerns in planning, they told me, and run changes through the chain of command during the battle.

Six weeks later I was beaten again for “operational insubordination” that had, for a second time, spared my troopers a brutal butcher’s bill.  It had also saved the life of a fellow squad commander.  The fellow's father was in command of the unit we fought with.

Luck and fortune favor the prepared … which I wasn’t … but it didn’t hurt my cause, and that’s a fact.

Ten years later and I am running an entire Army for the Empire.  More than 5,000 men, supply trains, siege engines (though, in truth, I will build what I need on site when I see what I have to defeat with my own eyes). 

Carefully though, very carefully because the Empire is strong and I am their man. 

My hands are clasped behind my back, wind whipping my red trimmed black dress coat around my waist and tugging at the button holding it closed.  It is cold and foreboding, like the clouds.  I stare at the valley I called home.  The rain would hold.

“Burn it, Colonel; every house, every barn, every hut and hovel.”  I stop and turn to face my second, “I don’t want anything alive in that valley when the sun sets except my troopers.”  I drill a hole in him with my gaze so that he fully comprehends the intensity of my command.

He blinked at me, “Livestock?”

“Burn it all, Colonel.”  I look back at the village I grew up in; the struggles of the past belong in the past.

The Colonel raises a flag in a series of motions to signal the start of the attack.

The hoof beats of the cavalry charge echo across the valley and up the hill to wail at my feet.  They pound into my soul as I stare at the village I grew up in, the struggles of the past, the fighting and scrapping for every morsel of food. 

For dignity. 

For Pride.

The fires taking root below burn with a chillness that I feel twisting through me.

 “Dismissed, Colonel.”  It is coldly said, like the day.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Bushkill
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

Stephen Warner: To start off, I am thoroughly impressed. The writing style is somewhat unique, and the plot seemed to move at a nice and steady pace. However, I was not expecting this to be a vampire book! I am usually not one for novels about vampires, but I was pleasantly surprised! You wrote with such grace a...

ArgyrisMetaxas: Thrilling story which builds layer ontop of layer. A few mis spellings every few chapters. What I found special was that it took a modern day problem and took it to its logical conclusion and plays this realism with gritting precision. I'm always on edge ready to shout from adrenaline. This is gr...

Alkira Joan: I omg I am honestly speechless I couldn't stop cry it's so sad I wish it had a better ending and they would all be happy and the end is their going to be a second book?thanks for the amaZing story xoxox

Satabda Chatterjee: Each and every charecter develops during the whole course of the journey and keeps secretly love for the princess . However the way that writter expressed each situatuons that the princess faced quite relevant and keeps the suspense always at the end of the chapter. . . .which makes the reader m...

Marijana1: The melancholy present throughout this story has the power to influence and etch into the minds of the readers, to stay there and refuse to leave even after they have finished reading the story. This is a deep, powerful story, making the readers wonder about everything – about love, about their e...

tsolaidowu: I want a continuation dammit....I loved this book and the 1st one. I can't believe this is it. I'm not ready to say goodbye to Jeff and Lorie; and the gang. Great book and storyline. You're a genius Madelyn.

johansp: A compelling story that quickly became a pageturner for me.The reader gets dragged into the horrors of war in a realistic way. The "hero" is also a person I could relate to, as in a human being with all the fears and doubts that arise in a war situation.There is also a good level of technical kno...

amarin8388: Bottom Line: I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Science Fiction. During my reading, I thought many times that this would make a good story for a movie. It reminded me of the StarWars movie franchise, not because of the plot but because of the diversity of chara...

ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...

More Recommendations

littlebunnypoopoos: Omg this was so amazing! The ending was a little bad and predictable. But otherwise, I need a second book or I'll die :D The character development was excellent and the whole romance, action, and suspense was superb

Laraine Smith: Your story is both sweet and beautiful! You are a true artist! Keep up the great work! I also love the picture that you chose for your book! :)

Erin Crowley: The concept here is really strong, but the execution is definitely lacking. Tenses, grammar, etc are all off, with at least one or more errors per 'Page' on my phone. The writing style is almost broken- sentences move into each other awkwardly, and are filled with an excess of "filler words", lik...

Lydia Walters: I really enjoyed this novel. It gives us a view of what could be if we really tried.Also that there's nothing wrong with loving our LORD and our fellow humans. couldn't wait to get to each new chapter (mission). Thanks, Joe!

CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...

Felisa Yoder Osburn: I really enjoyed the story. Civil War stories are some of my favorites and the intertwining of the past with current times was wonderful. I look forward to reading the next stories.

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.