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Sunset Dancer

By G. David Clark


   . . . And then he heard the sound, not that of the frog song for that had ceased, nor the crackle of the fire for it had ebbed. It was the rasp and rattle he had tried so hard to ignore, to escape earlier that evening: the unabated snore and cackle of old and cranky men in deep sleep.

Yorrik snapped open his eyes.

This time Yorrik Screamed. . .


A Saga of Epic Adventure, Supernatural Horror, And Perilous Romance

Sunset Dancer© is a historical account of the valiant efforts to save the people of Brillatain.

Pieced together from ancient studies and old tales and birthed in the mystery of organic verse and oral tradition that chronicled much of the Dark Ages, this ode follows the quest of two kings who claimed heritage as descendants of the fabled Geats and remote kinship to the clan of Wiglaf, cousin to the great warrior Beowulf.

It is a tribute to the intrepid

Who fear not the call to seek -

And the shrewd,

Who reckon wisely the path to be taken.

It is also a testament to the courage and compassion of mankind, as well his failings, when confronted with the worst of evils . . .




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Marcmalis and the Preparation

Chapter Ten

 It seemed a year had elapsed since Stirling and Whalyn passed through the portal, not the mere marks of the sundial that had been shadowed since early that morning. Though much had transpired, so little had been done and the outlander kings had grown tired of hearing stories and holding court; they felt the pressings of time and the need for action.

 Fortunately the present fear gripping the community as the sun approached the conclusion of its daily journey was palpable and provided the type of stimulus that would aid them in sorting out who could and would fight from those who could but shouldn’t, at least not now.

 And Stirling and Whalyn could think of no better example to inspire others and to garner the devotion of those who would serve under them than to lead with their own lives, put squarely on the front line.

 Maggoltre was dispatched up to the cave sanctuary and instructed to secure and protect the treasure room and advise the few remaining guards of the new military leadership arrangements; he was to have them muster down at the redoubt joining the other guards for inspection. Chrismarine and Ellitore were to accompany and assist their uncle up at the sanctuary until a two guard detachment could be sent back up to relieve them.

 Sparolyn remained attached to Shaaka as Ellitore and Chrismarine left but soon her mother, holding Sparolyn’s baby brother came and drew her away to join the gathered assembly of souls who anxiously awaited instruction.

 The twenty remaining warriors of Brillatain were good strong men but not nearly close enough in number to lead a proper charge, and wholly insufficient to wage a war, yet they were proud and useful men and Stirling silently thanked Dontyre for having gathered the best elements available to him in a society that encouraged so few.

For now however the guards would be needed mainly to keep order in the redoubt and assure compliance with a very simple command given to each and every household for the approaching night: maintain a complete blackout once the sun had set, light no fires, make no appearances outside the tents, save their own, and under no circumstances make any appearance above the ridgeline in open view of the cursed sea trees and their foul inhabitants.

 Whalyn then announced his and Stirling’s plan for the night to the gathered crowd of both soldiers and citizens: that the outlander kings would ride out, to the city and spend the night killing as many of the horrids as they could lay their swords on. He explained that a distraction was needed to keep the creatures focused on the abandoned city - lest they and their appetites drifted towards the redoubt - and that he and Stirling were uniquely qualified to keep the monsters occupied. 
 And, as usual, Whalyn fabricated as he went along and did his best to sell his wares. The Miller would be proud Stirling thought, for often the old wolf would say:

‘Illusions spun are useful things -
if one’s to lead and hire.
But it’s confidence, and gall to spare –
that truly does inspire’.

  Yet it was not all smoke and dust that Whayln spewed. Stirling and he took faith in both Chrismarine’s and Falewyn’s accounts that the foundry seemed a relatively safe haven at night and that once achieved, they could implement plans that were at that very moment forming in their minds.

The orphan kings, these outlanders, also took faith that their lack of brilleas could be used to great advantage.

 Indeed, tonight they would stake their very lives on the miller’s teachings regarding fear of the night and the elements that would take comfort within its black embrace.

 Whalyn continued his address to the gathered people of Brillatain,  “Dontyre inflicted great harm upon the horrids but did not defeat them.  His heroic efforts and those of his men, did gain you a reprieve, but we fear the enemy has merely taken this lull as an opportunity to regroup . . .” he paused and looked to his comrade.

 “ and grow hungry.” Stirling said.

 If the crowd had been hushed before it grew even more silent.

 Whalyn then continued, “Time is very short and we mean to regain, this very night, the time Dontyre and his men, with great sacrifice, purchased for you ten nights ago”
 The assembled throng had heard every detail of Dontyre’s battle, how he and only twenty brave men had slew near twenty score of horrids that bloody night before they were lost and dragged off into the sea trees. They had also just heard the strict order the outlander kings had laid down for the remaining guards, to stay and protect the redoubt.

All were stunned to think that the outlander kings would dare take on the horrids alone at the city.

 Both Brilyte and Joycelyn, standing at the front of the assemblage stood shocked at the announcement, and both simultaneously locked their eyes on the outlanders.

Though the women fought against any outward expression that might reveal their dismay, their gaze delivered the message nonetheless, and it carried far more than just the fear of losing two valuable leaders.  

 But, in truth, the outlander kings would not go alone, for they would need a single volunteer.

 Whalyn looked to Stirling, who raised his right arm to the assemblage, to silence the growing murmur. After a short pause, Stirling then spoke:

 “We do require one additional volunteer, - the strongest, toughest, fastest and meanest warrior Brillatain has to offer, one who can hew and hack with both axe and blade in either hand, - and in both -, and who can keep his wits, and his feet about him amid much gore and splatter, for this warrior must coolly follow a plan exactly to its letter with no second thoughts or hesitations”.

 It was a question, a request and a calling to a crowd of many faces, at a time like no other and for something never before asked of them:  But only one face could clearly answer it and with it came the unanimous vote of every other.

 Never had Stirling seen such a collective sense of agreement among a people nor such a compelling answer to the many queries of recruitment he and Whalyn had posed in all of their careers, yet all eyes joined together as they focused on the group of assembled guards and followed closely the bull of a man who stepped out from its ranks and strode confident and proud toward the outlander kings.

 Warriors can be made but mostly they are born, and when Marcmalis was conceived the planets, the moon, and the stars were surely in perfect alignment.

 He was a beast of a man and Dontyre’s second in command. Low set to the ground and broad, he was powerfully built with huge bands of muscle about his arms, chest, neck and shoulders - and bulging pillars for legs. His head shaved close to the scalp, he nonetheless had great clots of hair upon his back, chest, and arms.

 But to Stirling the most compelling feature of this warrior were his eyes: Steel grey, close set and focused, their fire smoked of a man who hungered overlong for battle and who had chafed badly in the aftermath of Dontyre’s stand at the city.

 And one other thing: Marcmalis was Sparolyn’s uncle, brother to her father, one of the farmers who had been taken by the horrids - their very first human victim some six weeks ago.

Marcmalis was badly spoiled for vengeance.

 Yes this man would do and Stirling and Whalyn took great comfort as Marcmalis took his stand next to the outlander kings and awaited his orders to kill, his brillea a blazing red.

 And this was a very good thing, for Stirling and Whalyn would need such a man to help them carry out the plan that was forming in the deeper, darker corners of their collective conscious, a plan that first germinated when they heard the account of how Sparolyn’s family had been rent apart, took root when they heard of the brave and gallant sacrifice of a father, a leader of men, and burst forth from the soil with its ugly black shoot a mere hour ago when the lifeless corpse of the little innocent was clasped in the embrace of a tortured and broken mother.

 This war against the horrids would not only start tonight, but it would start in a way befitting the nature of these creatures and the horror they had wreaked, something both kings would abhor and never do in their own land, in their own world, but here, in this strange place and in these strange times, against foul and loathsome monsters, it would be employed to send a message to the enemy - and perhaps gain back some precious time, time to prepare for and fight a proper war.

 After tonight the horrids would know that the citizens of Brillatain would not go quietly into the night, as lambs to the slaughter, - no, these vile and monstrous creatures would instead know that horror and terror would likewise stalk them.

 As Stirling packed his cases and saddlebags he steeled his mind and heart. He had purposely averted his eyes from the gaze of the sunset dancer during his and Whalyn’s address, for no good could come from thoughts of her embrace, of her passion, while he remained captured within the dark broodings and ill tidings that had invaded his and Whalyn’s spirits as they girded for battle.

 Yet, he did allow himself one thought as he considered the price they might pay, in both body and soul, for the vile destruction they intended to wreak on a dark and monstrous evil. Could these people of light, of such beauty, of such passion accept the terrible toll of violence necessary to give hope and justice to their survival?  and could Brilyte, the sunset dancer, ever embrace him again with such passion and want after it became known what he was capable of doing? 

 As for the sunset dancer, anguish settled deep into her heart as she watched the silent fire burn in a man who would purposely face the dread that had already taken so much from her, a silent fire that had touched and stirred her deeply, brilliantly lit as it was, but which now burned and consumed with a darker, deadlier flame.