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

Alexis Dredd Zarcal: Overall, it's a rather thrilling piece, merging superstition, psychology, slice of life, and the usual Japanese risque fare. All the elements have rhyme and reason in being placed together.The respective background stories of the characters involved so far also give a sense of flair and thrill.I'...

cristalyn enriquez: I love the plot of the story and the way how the author describe each character,especialy Elias he's so hot!. I've red this story 4 times and I never get tired of it😊. but I think you must practice your grammar and avoid using the same word over and over. like the word "wonder",because it's an...

Olivia N J Hamel: I want this book. I love it so much. It is so enjoyable to read and to have a copy of this always, I would be very happy, to always be able to come back and look at it again.

heavyreader: great scifi novels but needs a better spell checker (check auto-substitution level) and grammar checker!!! otherwise, ready for mass market publishing!!

BlakDreams: Wait is this over already?? I really love this story but I'm not sure, is this story already over?? Hm... if it's over I'm a kill myself cuz I loved it!! AGGHH!This story has a perfect storyline and everything I love itttt! Oh my god!

JWalker: I loved this story from start to finish! It flows at a really nice pace and the story world feels so real. The fight sequences are a treat especially when Isanfyre is training to become a warrior. I found the names really cool and thankfully easy to pronounce. Personally I have always struggled w...

kathryncoard: I really enjoyed this book. It was a fast paced book, that kept me interested . Yes, it was political commentary, which I found to be relevant to many things happening in the world. The snippets from the journal show the " boiled frog " analogy that is clearly relevant . Interesting that peop...

Bri Hoffer: I couldn't put it down!! The characters are all incredibly likable, and it's so descriptive you can see, smell, and feel thier surroundings. Great story, and very well written. I cannot wait for follow up stories. there were a few grammatical errors, but nothing that I could move right over.

Mourn8220House: When first reading "Avarice," I thought it would be another fairytale but I was taken back the author's approach and choice of ending. There is little to be said for the story and overall plot besides the sudden twists and speculation, other than that I do not want to ruin a fantastic tale, you m...

More Recommendations

austinl0724: I enjoyed this story immensely. It was the first one I read on here and I absolutely loved it. The characters. The content. The twist at the end! This was a great story with a great message and made me think through some things in my own life and how I react to certain situations. Thank you thank...

Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...

internathunal: I was held captive by your sense of style. I would love to see more from you. I enjoyed this immensely.

Tiffany Thomson: This story is not something I would normally pick up and read but I'm so glad I did, I wasn't able to put it down and my husband was yelling at me at 3am to put it down and go to bed (just waited for him to doze back off before picking it back up) I really hope Natalie brings out another book eit...

catd69: Karim is a very talented writer. When I started reading his journey it took me into the book and I was in the story till the end. I've never felt this way with any other writers stories. If you want to read a gripping adventure, this will be the one book I would suggest you pick.

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!
King's Lament

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!
Spectra

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."