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The Tale of Thunder - Chapter One (The End of the Beginning)

Thunder Kayowen(Ryan Goodrich)
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The White Stallion base camp looked similar to the base camps Thunder had seen before. Logs had been lashed together to form a wall around the entire base. A large pit had been dug around the entire outside of the wall, large spikes hidden at the bottom of it by large mounds of dirt heaped up on the other side of the pit. At the entrance a few logs lay across the pit to allow entry to the camp. The camp was filled with activity; soldiers moved about talking amongst themselves, soldiers stood guard in towers spaced at hundred foot intervals around the inside of the wall, as well as soldiers practicing swordplay.

Few soldiers paid the group of recruits much attention as they entered. As soon as the latest group of soldiers entered camp, an officer by the looks of him strode up to them. "Welcome to the White Stallions Company. It's most likely you will be with us for a very long time, so don't get on too many people's bad sides. I am Officer Evans. Don't forget that. The barracks is that tent there." He pointed to the largest tent in all of the base camp. "Your bunks will have your names on them. Take all your equipment to the storage tent. You now have the rest of the day to acquaint yourselves with the rest of camp as well as meet other soldiers."

Officer Evans then spun on his heel and strode briskly away. Thunder moved along with the others into the barracks. He found his pad near the back of the tent. Doing as Officer Evans had instructed, he then took his equipment to the storage tent. Two men sat at a table playing cards. Both looked up when Thunder stepped in.

"Whacha want?" one of them asked roughly.

"I was told to bring my traveling gear here."

"You a new recruit?" the other asked while the first stood.

"Just arrived several minutes ago."

"Give your stuff here," the first man held out his hand for Thunder's gear.

Thunder fumbled around and took his traveling gear off, handing it to the man. Both nodded to him once.

"Watch yerself. First day in camp can always be the worst," the second man said.

"I will," Thunder said as he stepped out of the tent.

The sun glared down from above, showing the time was about mid-afternoon. He still had a few more hours until it was time for dinner.


The day passed quickly. The newer soldiers kept their distance from the veterans as well as Thunder. During their travels to base camp, several soldiers had said and done things to Thunder that made him exceptionally upset to the point where electricity sparked around him. After that, they all kept their distance for fear of angering him more.

He awoke the next morning at the sound of a horn and hurried to his position in line outside the barracks after getting dressed. Once he reached the common grounds, he saw most of the other soldiers already in their places. As soon as he was in place, he noticed several soldiers who had been a bit slow in getting ready and were hurrying out of the barracks, attempting to put on their boots and run at the same time.

The officer standing before everyone looked fairly annoyed at the late soldiers. Once everyone was in their places, the officer stood in silence a moment before speaking.

"For those of you new to the Company, I will tell you this once. All the veterans should know their schedule well enough to not even need to be told. This morning as well as for the rest of the day, we shall be practicing staff as well as unarmed combat. Since the veterans in the Company number more than the novices, each novice will be paired up with two veterans. The veterans know who their partners are and just need to select their novice. All novices, front and center!"

Thunder didn't consider himself much of a novice, but hurried along with the other novices to form a long line which stretched the length of the common grounds. The officer then spread both of his hands to the veterans before disappearing into an officers' tent. Looks of eager anticipation spread through the ranks of veterans, though whether it was anticipation to make fools of the novices or just anticipation to get started, Thunder wasn't sure. The veterans all then formed into pairs and selected a novice at random.

The man who grabbed Thunder by the sleeve was about the same height as he, scars lining the man's rough face. He looked to be a seasoned fighter who had been in quite a few campaigns. His partner was a woman who only looked to be a few years older than Thunder. Despite the fact that she was a hardened veteran, her face was smooth.

"So, young one," the scar-faced man said as they headed for the training grounds. "What prior training have you?"

"Seven years as a knight."

The man raised his eyebrows and nodded. "Not bad. What name do you go by?"

"Thunder. Thunder Kayowen."

"Kerigan Lyman," the man introduced himself, then waved a hand to the woman who walked with them silently. "Adria Calahir."

When they finally reached the training grounds, Kerigan surprisingly stepped aside and folded his arms across his chest. Adria strode several paces away from Thunder.

"This first round we shall see how you do unarmed against Adria."

Thunder glanced uneasily at Adria. He had never fought a woman before.

"Do not let the fact that she is a woman hold you back," Kerigan prompted.

Adria suddenly flashed towards Thunder, quick as a viper. He dodged the first two swings, the blocked one with his forearm. Moving quickly, he grabbed a hold of Adria's arm, then flipped her over him. She let out a startled cry before slamming into the ground. Adria was suddenly on her hands and knees, one foot swinging around. Her speed caught Thunder by surprise, his legs suddenly knocked out from under him. With a grunt he hit the ground.

Both were on their feet. All of Thunder's training flooded back to him in a rush as the two fought. He swung his fists twice, Adria blocking both attacks. She spun around, a leg swinging around in a high kick. Thunder ducked, then brought his arm up to block Adria's elbow as it swung around. While her back was still turned to him, he shoved her, sending Adria rolling along the ground.

People leaping out of the way from Adria's rolling form made him look about in surprise. All the veterans were watching silently with expressionless faces while all the novices gaped wide-eyed at the fight.

Adria's foot suddenly planted itself in Thunder's stomach just below his ribs, knocking all the air out of him. Her other foot swung about, catching him across the cheek and threatening to dislocate his jaw. He was suddenly flying through the air. After a few moments of weightlessness, he hit the ground with the grace of a trash bag. Thunder lay there calmly wondering which of his limbs would fall off if he moved. Adria was suddenly over him, pinning his arms to the ground.

"Not bad, novice," she smiled down at him. "You lack focus, though."

Thunder pushed, sending them both rolling. When they stopped, Thunder was on top, pinning her down. She struggled for a moment, but he was stronger than her, so her efforts did nothing to help her.

Since it was apparent Thunder had won, he stood, offering Adria a hand up. She ignored it, getting to her feet with a hint of anger across her face.

Kerigan clapped several times, laughing as he walked up to them. "Well done. I haven't seen a novice beat a veteran in a long time."

"Are you sure he's a novice, Kerigan?" one veteran said, glancing at Thunder.

The question went unanswered when a horn suddenly sounded in the distance. "Sound the alarms! We're under attack!" a guard shouted from a tower near the entrance to the base.

A horn suddenly sounded out from inside the base. Veterans and novices alike hurried for the weapon racks; there wasn't enough time to suit up into armor.

Thunder quickly got his short sword and raced for the entrance to the camp. The attackers were already over the walls, some inside the base while more swarmed up the walls.

The attackers had vague dragon-like features. Although Thunder had never seen a dragon before, he was sure they looked somewhat like what Thunder was seeing now. Large red-brown bat-like wings sprouted forth from their backs; why they had attacked on foot Thunder had no idea. Their faces looked like that of a dragon's and green hair flowed from their thickly scaled heads. Their bodies were covered in brown scales, thick with rippling muscles. Layers of scrap armor plating and chainmail made up their armor which had been crudely put together; holes and gaps showing scales were all over them. Each creature carried equally deadly weapons, such as dirty jagged-edged swords, maces, mauls, and curious longswords that took on a sickle-like curve after a foot of straight blade.

Thunder came upon one of the creatures. It loomed over him by three or four feet and was armed with one of the strange curved swords. It's blade swung high, aiming to take Thunder's head off. His short sword barely blocked the attack. Pain shot up his arm from the force of the blow. He then swung his sword, hitting a side of its arm which was unprotected. The slash severed most of the muscles which helped its arm function, thus disabling the arm. The creature roared, backhanding him in the chest with a hand the size of his head. The blow sent Thunder flying before crashing into the ground half a dozen paces away.

The creature lumbered toward him, its intentions quite clear. Before it reached him, a bolt suddenly leapt from its throat. The creature gagged a few moments before crashing on the ground dead. Thunder looked over where the bolt had shot from. A halfling stood a few dozen paces away, reloading his crossbow. The halfling smiled at him. Thunder recognized the halfling to be Ethanial, Captain Lyzanor's second-in-command.

"That's one you owe me," the halfling grinned mischievously before disappearing into the fray.

Thunder had no idea what Ethanial meant by that, but got to his feet and looked for another dragon creature he could fight.

Suddenly, several dozen of the dragon beasts swooped into the air from the other side of the wall, landing several dozen paces away from Thunder. Moving fast, Thunder leapt into the group of creatures. Swinging high, he caught one across the neck. It dropped its weapon, grabbing a hold of its throat as it struggled to breath. Another swing took one creature's hand off. It roared in pain, grabbing the stump where its hand had been.

Before Thunder could make another attack, something grabbed his shirt from behind, then pulled hard, sending him flying back several dozen paces. Looking up from his precarious position on the ground, he saw one of the creatures charging towards him, a large maul over its head with a large curved spike jutting out from the side. Thunder rolled out of the way as the spike tore into the ground where he had been moments before. The creature bared its fangs at him as it tried to pull its weapon free of the ground. Thunder had only rolled a pace or two away, so he spun around on the ground so his head was closest to the creature, then swung his foot up, catching it across the jaw. It lost its footing and staggered back a step or two. Thunder got to his feet just as another creature charged, carrying a jagged-edged longsword.

His shortsword swung up to block the creature's blade. How he had managed to retain his grip on his blade after being thrown all over the base, he was not entirely sure. A jagged edge along the longsword caught his sword, tearing it from his grip. The short sword flew several dozen paces away. Thunder ducked under one attack, attempting to formulate a quick plan. His planning was cut short when the other dragon creature he had only stunned barreled into him. The air was knocked out of him when he landed on the ground, the creature right on top of him. A pain in his chest let him know a few ribs had been broken.

The creature on him then got to its feet. Thunder brought his foot up, taking it hard to the creature's groin. The half-dragon moaned as it bent over clutching its groin in pain. Thunder kicked up, a loud crunching sound marking the creature's jaw was broken badly. It fell backward from the force of the kick, stumbling to the ground where it lay motionless. Thunder got to his feet, clutching his ribs in pain. Another dragon creature was suddenly next to him, it's sickle-blade catching him across his right arm. Thunder quickly leapt back, but not before sustaining another shallow cut along his chest.

He then conveniently landed on a loose stone which slipped out from under him. As soon as he hit the ground, he fell into darkness.


Thunder opened his eyes. A cold breeze blew over him. The sky overhead was dark, revealing it to be night. His head hurt, but he lifted it up to look at his wounds. His shirt was covered in dry blood as was his arm. His arm was stiff and hurt as he got to his feet. Looking around, he saw the tattered remnants of the company base. Camp tents lay on the ground, tattered and torn. The base walls had been burnt. Corpses littered the ground, both human and dragon creatures alike.

Realizing how cold it was, he staggered about camp, looking for something warm to wear as well as supplies to aid him in his travels away from his and toward any cities or villages...


The Tale of Thunder: Chapter 1 - The End of the Beginning © Thunder Kayowen(Ryan Goodrich)

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