As promised, I wanted to deliver chapter 1 of my novel as soon as I could. Though it is still open for my own small changes, this is what you could expect to see when the book is in print. Thank you for your love and support – happy reading!

 

{Radiant Heroes: A Fantastic Youth by M.C. Grimm

Chapter 1: The Cleric of Tristian     

“Let it by the deeds we practice in which our character be judged.”
The Generous Life – A Tribute of Mora.

 

           

Mantis Lane has divided the city of Tristian since the day it was founded. To the north was Premier, the stone and marble estates of the nobles. To the south was the Commons, the wooden shacks of the less fortunate. This clear division was primarily due to Mantis Lane having held many central and more limited services. Building number twenty seven was one of these more frequented establishments. It was marked by a series of smeared healing sigils on the windows, obscuring an assortment of potions on display of the shelves. The writing was illegible, but everyone in town knew this was the home and office of Lavi Cheng, the town cleric and healer.

Lavi and his young son Lee were the only healers of skill in Tristian and were available at every hour of the day. They were both of human descent and were gifted in the magical art of healing. Throughout the Radiant Empire their skills would be an asset, but in Tristian they were invaluable.

It was a morning like any other when they did wake to the small bell sounding and the thud of the door crashing into the wall. Lavi had already jumped out of his sheets and began dressing himself in haste. He smacked at Lee with his shirt, “Up, boy!”

Lee obediently rolled from bed and began fumbling into his robes. He knew he was not moving fast enough as Lavi kept whipping at him with pieces of his wardrobe.

“Move like it was your life at stake!” Lavi scolded.

They moved quickly out of the bedroom, into the treatment center, and rushed into the lobby. When the double doors swung open, they saw two dwarven men limply supporting a third. The third man had a crossbow bolt protruding from his face. From across the room there was a thick scent of ale that overpowered young Lee.

“Please we need help, our friends been shot!” The older dwarf shouted, lifting up his unconscious comrade.

Lavi waved them into the treatment center and pointed to one of the gurneys, “There.” His eyes scanned up and down the dwarf – as if he was oblivious to the bolt stuck in his eye, but intently reading his energy.

The younger dwarf stomped, “Well, aren’t you going to do something? The bolt is here in his eye, it is over here.” He continuously gestured to it as if Lavi truly couldn’t see it.

“There are some matters we must first discuss. Firstly, the payment of 15 gold pieces?” Lavi held out his hand patiently until it was met with the thud of a coin purse from the older dwarf. He placed it on the counter behind him. “Excellent, thank you. Secondly, what exactly happened?”

The younger dwarf attempted to explain what had happened, but he was choked with emotion. The older man put a hand on his shoulder to silence him, “I’ll tell him, Gorik. We were tracking some orcs that had raided one of our caravans days ago. We were on their trail and followed them into the wood. See, we caught up to them and were showing them the wraith of our hammers when one of them tried to make a run for it. Gorik here took a shot with his crossbow, but managed to hit Nor in the eye. We still chased down the orc, of course.”

Lavi intently studying Nor, “The wood you are speaking of, East Tristian Wood?”

“West.” Sobbed Gorik.

“The West Tristian Wood is about a four hour hike from here, perhaps six hours to carry Nor as well – and yet this man has been dead for close to twenty two hours. What exactly did you do with the rest of that time that was more important than saving your friend?” He asked calmly as if only curious.

The older dwarf did not speak for a moment and looked down to stare at Nor.

Gorik spoke with tears in his eyes, “It was my fault. Corbin told me to bring him to you earlier, but I thought I had more time so I stopped by the tavern and found myself some –“ his eyes fell on Lee as if ashamed. “some company. I didn’t know he was dead, I thought he was just knocked out.”

Lavi smiled warmly and didn’t seem to sway at the dwarf’s emotion, “And yet, you both reek of ale?”

“I asked Gorik to bring him so I could go to the tavern,” Corbin muttered with disappointment. “I must’ve went to a different tavern. Only by luck did I find him and drag him here straight away.”

Lavi had already begun shifting around the room grabbing at vials from the shelves. He collected some that were labeled phoenix dust, dried cocoon silk, and sky sparks. He then grabbed a handfull of dried heartbane from the clothesline overhead and placed them all together on a surgical cart. He begun crushing them and mixing them together in a wooden bowl. Periodically, he would wave his hand over it to illuminate a warm green light. “Luckily,” he said as a spark shot from the bowl, “I am familiar with resurrection rituals. For the extra charge of 15 gold pieces, I can bring him back and still tend his eye. Since he has not yet been dead for twenty four hours, it will work.”

Gorik immediately took out his coin purse and went to hand it to Lavi, who tilted his head coyly towards Lee. At his father’s gesture, Lee snatched it quickly and tucked it into his robe for the time being.

Lavi stopped mixing and silently held his hands over the bowl. A low resounding hum began emanating throughout the room, accompanied by a soft static sound. He uncovered the bowl and it appeared nearly empty. A single item remained at the bottom of the bowl. Lavi extended two fingers delicately and showed a small, shiny, brown seed that was no larger than a single peanut. Everyone stood silent in awe until Lavi said softly, “The seed of life. The seed was first in creation and it became the flower, the fruit, and brought life. It was not the first, no, many seeds before it were sowed, but conditions weren’t right for life to grow.”

Lee’s excitement interrupted, “Not until the maker separated the realms to allow for different life to bloom across them all – because not all conditions are right for all creation, but some are right for all.”

Lavi looked at him angrily for interrupting, and Lee was immediately silent. “Yes, well.” He tilted back Nor’s head and placed the small seed in his mouth. While rubbing at his throat, Lavi gently rested his ear near the mouth to listen. Suddenly, he felt a soft breath on his cheek. It was a fragile, single breath. He stood up and watched as Nor’s chest begin to rise and fall regularly, becoming a more stable – more rhythmic. “I think it would be nice if he woke up with both eyes. Lee, grab my elixir.”

Lee did not move. He was entranced at watching all the blush of color flow back to the dwarf’s face. The pulse in his neck showed that his heartbeat was quickening. Lee wondered if it was the surging magic of the seed or if his heart was making up for missed beats.

“I said now, boy!” Lavi scolded.

He obeyed, “I’m sorry.”

Lavi was holding the bolt in one hand and held out the other to snatch the illuminating elixir from Lee. He removed the cork with his teeth and quickly downed the elixir. He quivered with a chill and seemed to be revitalized by it. In a quick motion, he thrust up the bolt squirting a quick shot of blood across his face. Bits of meat and stringy vessels dangled from the bolt as he handed it to Lee, “Discard this, boy.”  He held both hands over Nor’s face, emitting that same soft green glow. Lavi was still and focused, sweat forming on his brow. When he finally moved away, there now was a smooth tan eyelid, gently resting over the bulge of a small dwarven eye.

Corbin was staring at Lavi in amazement, grabbing at the wall to hold himself up. “That was amazing, you really did it.” He kept looking to Gorik – who was in tears. “The cleric did it, he saved him.”

“He will need a couple of days to fully recover. I would like you to leave him here so my son can look after him.” He looked at Lee, “Be sure to keep him hydrated and in bed.”

“Of course,” Corbin had recomposed himself and pull close his friend by the arm, “We will be back in a few days to collect him. Thank you, Lavi. Truly there are no words to show what you’ve done for us. You brought our brother back to us.” He then, with a look of disbelief, left the building.

Lee was staring at Nor with a smile, studying him and his rejuvenated eye. “He is very stable father, he may be ready tomorrow.” He had turned to face his father excitedly, and was immediately greeted with a forceful smack across his face that knocked him to his knees.

“Do not interrupt me when I am speaking with a patient.” Lavi spoke softly, but with authority. “And do not snatch gold from clients like some beggar. We are a business and will remain professional at all times.”

There were tears streaming down his cheeks and he had a taste of iron in his mouth, “Yes father, I was wrong to do those things. It won’t happen again.”

“Yes, and you would do well to act when I ask you – only have me ask things of you a single time. These are people we are saving and I can’t be repeating myself, do you understand?”

Lee had waved his hand over his face and with a green glow,  no longer was there blood dripping from his lip. “I understand, father.” He spoke without emotion. “I will listen more carefully and act more quickly.”

“Yes, you will.” Lavi was not looking at Lee, but scanning around the stocks of the shelves. “I must not have noticed how much of the heartbane we’ve been going through. Go to the south market and get a tote of it. Take one gold piece from the dwarf’s payment and leave the rest on my desk.”

Lee did not say anything. He did just as he was told and left without a moment of hesitation. On his way out of the door there was another patient coming in, an elf holding a couple of his own severed fingers. Lee at least felt relief that his father would be busy for a while and wouldn’t notice how long he might be gone. He could even pass by Gardener Park and not get in trouble for having fun.

He had only made it a few blocks north when he decided to take advantage of the moment and go down Gardener Road – every young person’s favorite street. It was always lined with well trimmed shrubs and bushes, alive with colorful flowers and sweet scents. Here grew many flowers that someone as educated to healing arts as Lee could quickly identify. Helpful remedies like ostrich blossom, with its vibrant purple petals that, when boiled, could cure warts and pimples. There was also the yellow and orange decorated tigertail that could be crushed into a fine wet residue and applied to small wounds for a seemingly instant healing. It was also excellent at preventing infection to fresh wounds, but less commonly known. To most these were just sweet scents, but to Lee, they were more beautiful in a different way.

The succulent scents were enough to make the walk worthwhile, but Gardener Park had a set of swings with many slides and ladders that any young boy would enjoy. Lee hesitated for a moment, and only a moment, to think of how upset his father would be. Still, he ran out with a giddy excitement to stream across the monkey bars like an acrobat. After a few trips down the slide, some back and forth’s over hurdles; Lee didn’t see any harm in one last visit to the swings. He kicked higher and higher and finally, took flight spreading out his arms wide. He was hoping to fly away from this place, but instead came thudding into the ground with a roll.

To his surprise, upon hitting the ground, a heavy jingling thud met the ground next to him. A dwarven coin purse with a few loose coins sprawled out beneath his now soiled robes.

“Oh no!” Lee said to himself as the joy retreated from his face. In his haste to be away from his father, he had only left one of the dwarven pouches behind. Fear overcame him – if his father would notice or if he could put it away without being caught. All the thoughts of beatings and scolding’s rushed through his mind. No, he couldn’t let this slow him down; he still had to stop at the market. He climbed to his feet, brushed off his robes, and made a dash towards the north market.

The northern market was known as Premier. It was well decorated and prestigious place filled with the most cultured vendors. Here there were wine connoisseur’s at their carts of stock, fancy silken robes, magical imbued weapon forges, and any raw material or herb that Lee could ever have need of. He pushed through the crowd of nobles and over to Harryman’s Herb – a vendor of quality herbs. The door was perched open against a large wooden barrel labeled Eel Wheat.

“Lester, I am in need of heartbane,” Lee had walked in already placing his order and hadn’t realized there was a woman already in here. “My apologies,” he said humbly, “I didn’t mean to be rude.”

Lester was a tall human with a bald head that was always irregularly shiny. He was also one that had the warmest smile, but would never show any teeth. “Oh my dear boy, not at all, it is always good to see young Master Cheng. It has been quite some time since I’ve seen you or your father. I’ve heard he had been shopping south in the Commons, not that I mind of course. Anyway, I’m sure your need is greater than most, being as fine a cleric as yourself.” Lester had already stepped away from the woman and was grabbing at some heartbane from a shelf behind him. He started wrapping it in twine. “Can’t be a cleric without heartbane now can you?”

Lee was relieved, “My father thought we had some in our cellar but some mice had nested in it.” He picked up the twined bunch. “How much for a tote worth?”

“That’ll be one and five for a tote.” Lester responded. He continued to wrap up his remaining stocks of heartbane, but paused as if remembering something. “Oh, young cleric, I had meant to ask if you had any insight on those animal attacks in the north village – if they are animal attacks. Has your clinic taken in any wounded?”

Lee quickly sifted through the pouch for one gold and five silver pieces. He spread them in his palm and handed them to Lester. “There has been no one to treat,” he said reluctantly. “My father says it would be cruel to resurrect one of these victims – in one piece. He said something about how people linger in their moment of death and can relive it over and over again when it’s as vicious as this is. I’m sorry, I talk too much. I need to go, but I will let you know if I come across anything. Thank you again, Lester.”

Lester waved, “Of course, Master Cheng. Be well, say hello to your father and do be sure to visit me soon.”

Before these words had reached him, Lee had already begun to sprint through the streets of Premier. He ran frantically as if his own life was in jeopardy, and with his father, it very well could be. There was no chance that Lavi would believe he had forgotten to leave the pouch. And Lee knew, there was no chance he would get away without a lashing.

Pushing through his fear, Lee had arrived back at 27 Mantis Lane in record time. He attempted to peer through the stains and sigils, but was only able to catch glimpses of movement between the smears. It looked like his father was busy, sifting for tools near a procedural table. With a deep and anxious breath, Lee stepped inside.

His father was still tending to the elf that now had three of his four severed fingers re-attached. Lee felt a smile grow across his face, but as soon as his eyes met Lavi’s, he was greeted with a scornful stare.

“Boy!” Lavi rushed towards Lee angrily. “I have been waiting for this heartbane. You should have rushed back.”

Lee was again calmed knowing the coin purse wasn’t noticed. He quickly handed over the heartbane and with a gentle tone said, “I am sorry father, Lester had to wait for his delivery man to drop off a crate.”

Strangely, his response made Lavi’s face flush with red. Lee could see the familiar vein in his neck pulsing furiously as if it was to burst. “Go to your room and get out of my face, I’ll deal with you later.”

He didn’t waste a second to escape. With a nimble stealthy maneuver, he was able to slide the coin purse onto the desk without it making a jingle. Lee shut the door behind him and threw himself onto his bed to coil up with his pillow. From underneath, he pulled out a brown leather-bound journal inscribed with a large imprint of a leafy tree. It was nearly full and bursting with loose sheets of sketch papers. Some of the artwork was simply shaded while others were colorful from his home-made pastels. He opened to a fresh page and began to sketch. He was blurring the lines to show the speed of his legs pumping on the swings. Then he began shading in all the petals of the tigertails and ostrich blossoms that were scattered around Gardener Park. He was about an hour invested before he heard the final goodbyes from the lobby and the chime of the door signaling the elf had left.

There was a series of rapid footsteps moving across the floor until they had finally met the bedroom door with a force. Lavi entered, already boiling with anger, and crossed the room in what seemed like a single step. He grabbed Lee by his collar and with the back of his hand, smacked him across the face knocking him to the floor.

Lee immediately began to sob, “Father please stop,” he held his hand up to his eye and felt a slow swelling, “why are you doing this?”

His hand was quickly swatted away and Lavi was already on him, grabbing both sides of his collar, “Why did you go to Lester?”

Lee was confused, he was certain his father had discovered the missing pouch. “Lester? What does –“

Lavi shook him hard, hitting his back hard against the wall. “Lester is at Premier, I told you to take a single gold piece and go to the south market. Why? Lester would charge at least one and five so how did you pay for the rest? Have you been pocketing extra coin, boy?” He shook Lee again, “Have you?”

His head was spinning and his vision was blurry, but Lee was able to piece it all together. His father hadn’t noticed the coin purse gone at all. Lee had gone to the wrong market by mistake and told Lavi about Lester when he first walked in. He made this happen and he was smart enough to realize he would have to commit to this. “Father,” he started calmly with tears swimming in his eyes, “the last time I had gone to Lester we had some credit there from eel wheat he sold us that was already browning, remember? I was able to get the heartbane for the same price with the credit, but from it’s from Lester. It’s better stuff in Premier.”

Lavi narrowed his gaze, “I don’t remember that. Why didn’t you say something when you left?”

“Really,” Lee said frantically “you can go ask him, I just didn’t want us to lose the credit. I didn’t remember until I was already down the street and I knew I had to hurry back.”

Lavi loosened his grip and stood. “Lee, just do as you are told. You are twelve years old, thinking for yourself is dangerous. I know what is best and even though you were looking out for the business – you disobeyed me, boy. I hope you have learned your lesson.” He then walked out of the room and slammed the door behind him.

Lee sat on the floor, holding his palms against his eyes, and loosening his hand from time to time to let the tears roll away. It took him a few minutes to calm himself and regain his balance before picking up all the sketches that were thrown from his book in the scuffle. The edge of one familiar picture was sticking out from the others and Lee picked it up slowly. The paper was crinkled from being frequently handled and the pastels were runny. He held the sketch of vibrant colors that had shown a Lee from years ago – holding up a cattletail rose to an attractive young woman. She was holding him up in the air with her eyes closed, and the most joyous smile brightening her face. Lee stared at it and squeezed it to his chest, “I miss you so much, Mom. You would keep me safe.”}

End Chapter 1.

More is to come.
Thank you for checking in and I hope you enjoyed it!

With love,

M.C. Grimm

http://www.mcgrimm.blog

 

 

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