Family Blood | Chapter 1

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Family Blood - Chapter 1

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     When he lifted his head, when his vision had cleared, she was gone.  
     He rushed toward the deadly river of flames and tried to cross it.
     "No, my liege.  You mustn't.  It is dangerous."
     "She's over there."
     "Then she's dead, my liege.  Forget her."
     He backed away from the wall of flames, the heat threatening to sear his lungs if he got closer.  "I promised I would bring her home."
     "You're a dead man if you do, sir."
     He lowered his head and in the moment he stopped trying he felt a hollowness grow inside.  It ate away at the best part of him.  He had gone to great lengths to rescue her.  To fail was more than he could handle.  A mad crazy impulse to dash into the wall of flames seized him for one moment, so that when he looked at the dancing tendrils of orange colored fire it seemed perfectly naturally and such an easy way out of things to step into the orange curtain and let it swallow him whole.
     He fought against the self destructive urge to leap into the wall of flames and cleared his head.
     The fighting continued all around him and then he heard a clear and piercing scream --

     Jared jerked awake immediately, hurriedly pushing back the blankets and leaves that covered him just as the nightmare that haunted him did time and again.  He stood up, instantly awake, and reached down between the massive tree roots and grabbed his gear: a sword, and bow and quiver.  
     The scream cut through the night.  It came from behind him.
     His mind alert, his heart beating wildly, he raced past the trees over the hilly ground.  The moonlight sprinkled light through the tree branches.  It was enough.  
     A small hut appeared before him.  A figure swayed and started moaning in the night.  When he got closer, the woman, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders, held a torch in her clutched hand.   
     Her sad worried eyes told him what he feared.  
     "My children are gone.  A foulness took them."
     "Which way did they go?"
     Her bony fingers shook as she pointed down the road.  He took the torch from her and headed off in the same direction.  
     With his heart beating loudly and blood rushing through his ears, Jared strained to listen and to watch for signs of the attacker. 
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