This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The villagers overflowing from the tavern grumbled and shook the floorboards with anxious feet. Thomas held his breath before diving between a stout pair of legs to keep from smelling the manure coating everyone’s boots. His hands stuck in the mead that splashed from raised mugs. The stench of so many people crowded together burned his nose when he was finally able to take another breath, but tangible excitement charged the air with an energy that pulled him forward until he could stand near the corner table where the magistrate had climbed to make his grand speech.
“We cannot stand for this kind of assault on our livelihood!” The magistrate’s jowls quivered as he spoke, fist thrust into the air. “We cannot afford to feed the beast while our children’s stomach remain empty!”
Shouts of agreement rang sharply next to Thomas’ head in tempo with the blood pounding in his ears. He whooped along with the grown men and women around him.
“I am calling all able bodied men to join me now,” the magistrate continued, pulling a shiny sword, sharp as though new made, to pierce the air above the people’s head. “We will hunt the monster and nail his head upon a stake to keep others of his kind away!”
“I will fight the beast!”
“His blood will soak my axe!”
“I will fight!” Thomas shouted out along with the other men who were eager to declare their prowess. For the first time that evening, silence descended upon the tavern. Thomas puffed out his chest in the face of the villagers’ stare. “I can help to trap the monster,” he stated bravely.
The thunderous laughter battered his pride.
The magistrate raised a hand to quiet the room. “Tis a noble gesture lad, but the creature is as likely to pick his teeth with a wee thing like you. Your time will come to show us your worth when you’re a man.”
Thomas glowered at the man on the table. The magistrate moved on from the insult, taking more volunteers as though the boy hadn’t spoke at all. Face burning, Thomas shoved his way back to the fresh air outside. The night was warm, summer well underway, but it felt cool in comparison to the anger coursing through him.
“What did you think would happen?”
Thomas rounded on his brother with fists clenched to his side. “I could help. There’s no better trapper than me in the whole kingdom!”
Jack laughed, stepping away from where he leaned against the mud walls of the tavern. He draped a long, thickly muscled arm around his younger brother’s shoulders. Jack towered over Thomas, even though, at fifteen, he was only a few years older. “Oh little brother. You’d be nothing but a flea in his porridge. Let the men handle ol’ Blunder.”
Thomas shook the weight of his brother’s arm from his shoulder. “I’ll show them the strength of my honour.You’ll see.”
Thomas stormed off into the night, his temper rolling off him in waves. His hoe and hatchet were where he had left them earlier in the evening: next to the game trail his family used to drive their sheep to water. Twice now, the beast had ambushed along the trail and made off with their spring lambs, both times in the early light of dawn.
“This time I’ll be ready,” Thomas swore to himself. He set to work, breaking up the ground with his hoe and scooping the loose dirt away with the wide edge of his hatchet, or his own hands.
The hole had started as a dip in the earth the afternoon before, but by the light of a waning moon it soon became a dark gash, oozing shadows into the already dark night. Though his hands bled and his back ached, Thomas kept working until the dawn glowed red on the horizon, and his trap was ready for his quarry.
The ground shook when the monster approached at last. Thomas shrank back into the shadows, holding his hatchet at the ready.
The monster, taller than any house in the village, lumbered into the view on the tail of a terrified ewe that had been separated from the herd. Greedy hands reached out, catching the ewe by her hind legs. The giant snapped the animal’s neck and prepared to drape it over his shoulder to carry back to his lair. Thomas leapt out from where he hid amongst the brush.
“Why not try a taste of me sheep-breath?!” he hollered.
The giant smiled a wicked grin, eyes filled with hungry delight. With a roar that sent the birds fleeing from the trees he charged forward. Thomas didn’t dare glance down to where he had covered his trap with woven straw and broken branches. He held his hatchet above his head and let out a battle cry of his own.
The giant’s right foot came down on the hidden trap first. Thomas had misjudged the size of his adversary. The giant fell hard on one knee, catching his rib cage on the edge of the pit. His breath left his body in a sudden whoosh! blowing Thomas onto his back side.
Thomas recovered first. Raising his hatchet above his head, screaming like a wild creature of the woods, he brought the minuscule hatchet down towards the giant’s head. When the blade carved into the monster’s forehead the force of it jarred Thomas arm. The giant bucked from the blow, pulling the handle from the boy’s grip. Thinking fast, Thomas grabbed his hoe from where it had been discarded and swung it with all his might towards the exposed jugular. Warm crimson rain showered down.
Jack found his little brother on his knees, steam rising from the congealed blood pooling around him. “Thomas?”
“I told you I’d show ’em.”
Jack looked up from his prostrate brother to the hatchet wedged above the massive corpse’s eye. Jack took the handle, slick with blood, and pulled. Heavily muscled arms from years of working the land with their father, strained briefly against the sickening suction of the wound until the crescent blade came free.
Jack and Thomas looked up together to see the magistrate and his mass of angry villagers standing just up the path. Thomas’ chest swelled and he rose to his feet. A proud smile tugged the corners of his mouth, his chin tilted towards the sky. The magistrate approached them with wonder and awe in his eyes. “You killed the monster,” he breathed.
The villagers began to whisper and Thomas moved to present himself to the magistrate. In a single moment, the world shifted, and the magistrate looked right through the young boy before taking the wrist of the older brother. Something inside of Thomas broke when he watched his sibling’s hand, still grasping the tarnished hatchet, was raised above their heads.
“All hail the hero of Chesterfield!” The magistrate hailed, giving Jack’s arm an extra shake. The villagers’ excitement grew. “All hale Jack the Giant Slayer!”
PurpleInkling: Hippocrite is spelt hypocrite.Also it is an awesome story! A good one after so long. I was hoping someone would write a good fanficiton playing off what Ron said at the station. You are doing a remarkable job. It would have been interesting if Albus had also ended up in Ravenclaw though that mig...
Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!
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...
Toria Danielle: I must congratulate Erin Swan on completing such a beautiful work. The Rising Sun is well rounded and leaves nothing to be wanted. ALL of the characters and their development are beautifully written. The plot is extremely well thought out. Creating a whole different type of universe is difficult ...
Lauren Suzmeyan-Raine: I'm so glad you found a place to post your stories. I was horrified when I saw yours had been taken down, they are definitely the best 'reading' stories I've ever read. And I've made it my business to read every one I can. Well done.Lauren
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 ...
Usagi Kita: This story is emotional from beginning to end. You get to watch the characters struggle and grow, maturing in different ways so that they come to be the people they are meant to be. Inea is insanely adorable, and his antics made me laugh more than once, and Kaedon is perfect for him in so many wa...
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!"
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."