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john k zimmerman

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Last Guard
By john k zimmerman
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rated "G" by the Author.

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For the last few months I have been working on a fantasy novel -- I now at about chapter 12 and 40,000 words or so.

Here is an excerpt beginning at chapter one, page one enjoy...

Eknar checked his mule’s restiveness. Waiting in the hot sun when there was perfectly good shade not three strides away made no sense to the beast and she was making her thoughts known. Eknar rode in a tight circle to distract her. Mules are not normally used by the mounted troops on Bealdhand's army. However, as a senior under officer he had earned the right to some comfort. Mules with their patience and intelligence were much better suited to this duty than was a highly trained warhorse.

He glanced at his detachment. Twelve troopers 1st Troop, Old Port Heavy Infantry Company. In years past the company had, indeed, been foot soldiers but in the modern army they were trained to fight either ahorse or afoot. In token of this, they carried two swords. A saber carried on the left side of the saddle, and a great sword carried on their backs. Two-Swords the rest oh the Army called them. A term of both derision and respect.

“Officer approaching,” The Pennant reported. The young Under Officer had been stationed by the road up to the Kingskeep to watch for this.

Eknar nodded. Looking south, he saw the officer-boy approaching with the other half of the watch. Policing the fortified island that was Kingskeep Town was important duty, more important then mounting a guard on the keep, but changing the watch was a good deal less formal than changing the guard. Still things must be done right.

“Cold ale, tonight, lads,” twelve tired faces brightened. “Left wheel, at the walk” he hesitated until the group reached a predetermined point, “HO!”

Three ranks pivoted on the left hand horse and move off four abreast. Eknar took his position one length a head of the left hand column. The Pennant took his position at the head of the right hand column. Eknar permitted himself only the briefest glance over his right shoulder . . . The alignment was perfect. THE veterans in the rear rank would see to that

They arrived at the main road at the same time as the rest of the guard. Wulfstan, the officer, signaled that Eknar should take the advance,

“Right Wheel, HO” The detachment swung onto the main road. Eknar heard the command that brought the other detachment into the line of march. This was the part of soldiering the he liked best, the sheer organization and pageantry. Twenty-eight pair of men and horses moving as one.

Wulfstan trotted up beside him. “Ride with me, Troopmaster,”

They trotted a pair of lengths ahead. “Another week of this and it is back to The Port.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good watch today?”

“Yes, Sir. Nothing to report.”

“Very Good.”

Eknar smiled. He liked Wulfstan, he was goingn to be a good soldier, but he was only twenty-three. Eknar had been a soldier for almost as long. He had known Wulfstan as an army brat running around the horse lines at Heng Orthnoy. Both felt awkward with their renewed relationship.

A rider in castle livery met them, “Captain Polkar’s compliments, sir. Troopmaster Eknar is to report immediately.”

“Very well. Troopmaster, carry on.”

Eknar set his mule to a fast racking gait. The gait looked stately and slow but they were covering the ground very quickly. He watched the keep move towards him as the mule marked time on the Broad Road. The keep was built of light colored sandstone. The stone fairly glowed in the sun, as if the light came from within. A far cry from the basalts of Orthnoy Province - Forty shades of black

Polkar was waiting for him in the Company’s Office, with another officer. “Eknar, excellent. Your watch went well?”

“Yes, sir. Our men find it light duty. Beats patrolling the dune beaches.”

“As I recall most duties are preferable to that.’

Eknar snapped back to attention “Wulf”

“Skip the attention stuff, farm boy,” he says, “I’ve a job for you.”

Wulf shook his hand, “Long time, sir. But when the Commander of the King’s Forces says ‘I Have a Job for you.’ Well, sir, I worry.”

“A true horse soldier,” Wulf’s smile reached back to the early days of their friendship. “The Tigress is forming a new unit, legion, she calls it. Horse, bow, and foot. It’s a good idea, but…”

“You want a finger in the pie, Sir”. The suggestion might have been wounding to a less confident man. Wulf shrugged it off.

“Not quite. I want the best people involved . . . you are one that I want involved --- Means a promotion.”

“I suppose that I could get used to being a Master Troopmaster…”

“Excellent, I’ve already started marching the paper … The promotion is not to Troopmaster -- Captain …

“Close you mouth before the flies get in. It is time you took the King’s Mark. Speaking of the King we have an audience shortly.”

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Reviewed by Monette Bebow-Reinhard 8/18/2005
You call it a fantasy - I'd like to know if I'm reading in the past, present or future. Can you clarify, or would that ruin things?
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 7/30/2005
Wow this is good...hopefully we will read more!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 7/29/2005
well now, john; i had no idea you were such a good storyteller! excellent tale; can't wait to read more! very well done; bravo!! :)

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