Havens in the Storm by Stephen B. Pearl


A traditional swords and sorcery, fantasy, action-adventure novel.

Rated PG16, adult.


Published by Anhk Shen Publishing in trade paper back and e-book.

ISBN-13: 978-1-7753641-3-9 paperback,
ISBN-13: 978-1-775364-2-2 ebook, ASIN B084BRNLT9.

29 chapters, 344 pages, ~78,500 words.


Location: fantasy world.


Available from: Amazon on line booksellers - including Australia, Canada, UK, USA,
and other book store locations.



Havens in the Storm novel - traditional swords and sorcery fantasy novel

Book Cover


     Left for dead behind enemy lines, prince Dominel seeks refuge in an abandoned stronghold of the slaughtered wizards. There he is recruited and trained by undead mages in the once forbidden magics so that he can close the doors into the world of man and halt the advance of the horde of monsters known as the storm.


     Can the strength of a lone wizard stand against a god of evil bent on ruling all the worlds of monsters and men?


     Will other races stand as friends or foes in Dominel’s quest?


     Can Dominel open himself to memories of his past lives without fracturing his sanity and becoming a worse threat than the monsters he seeks to halt?


     And what of the man who is prince, king and wizard? What space is left for him in a life of crushing duty and wondrous enchantment?


     For the answers read on.




Chapter 1
Defeat


     Dominel charged a centaur that was a third larger than himself and his horse combined. The beast's pike slid against Dominel’s shield as his lance pierced the monster's chest.


     “That's for my brother,” he snapped. Before he could free his lance, another centaur closed on him. Drawing his sword, Dominel parried the spear thrust.


     “Give up, human. Your cavalry's line is broken. Surrender and I will grant you life,” threatened the centaur.


     Dominel’s only answer was to begin circling his foe on the blasted, uneven ground that formed a wedge-shaped slope leading to Duran Pass.


     A third centaur and a human appeared on a rise of land behind Dominel’s foe. The other human drove his lance-point at the third centaur. The beast stepped back, tripped on one of the tree stumps that littered the ground and stumbled into Dominel’s foe.


     Dominel charged, knocking his enemy’s spear aside then drew his blade across the beast’s human-like throat. Blood showered Dominel's plate armour, painting it splotchy red. The third centaur turned to face Dominel, only to have its other foe's lance point blossom from its chest.


     “My Prince, look out,” cried the man who had wielded the lance.


     Too late Dominel noticed the mutties diving beneath his horse. He pulled his feet from the stirrups and fell to the ground, rolling as far from the animal as he could. Two child-sized, dog-faced creatures, clad in leather jerkins were gutting Dominel's mount where it stood. Grunting with the effort, Dominel gained his feet and attacked the mutties, slaying them with two quick blows.


     Trumpets sounded the retreat, and he glanced around. The centaurs drove the remains of the cavalry before them, leaving the dismounted humans to face an oncoming tide of monstrous infantry.


     “The Storm has us for sure,” said a panicked voice.


     “To me! To me men of Bani! We'll win through to our lines,” bellowed Dominel.


     “I'm here, my Prince,” spoke a blood-soaked man.


     “Scrantian?”


     “Yes, my Prince. Keep rallying the men. Set them in a wedge formation, wounded in the centre. We'll have to cut our way back to the barricade.”


     “Standard wedge. If you see a footman's shield on the dead, drop your horseman’s kite shield and take it. The dead won't mind!” shouted Dominel.


     The unhorsed men hastened to follow the order. In minutes the monster infantry enveloped the humans’ formation. Screams filled the air as the wounded and dead fell to the ground. Dominel lost himself in a pattern of thrust and parry, barely aware of his growing weariness.


     “My Prince. We've reached the front, and the cavalry is charging,” called Scrantian.


     Dominel thrust with his sword, spilling the guts of a minotaur, then stepped to the wedge's centre.


     “They're coming for us men. Be ready,” he yelled.


     The horsemen struck the centaurs, who were leading the Storm's charge. Dominel's troops fell upon the monsters advanced force. The monsters, caught with no room to manoeuvre, jostled one another, impeding each other’s thrusts and blocks. In minutes the humans had slaughtered the beasts.


     Dominel led his men through the log barricade that blocked the pass Guarded by his father’s castle. The area behind the barricade was a buzz of activity. Soldiers manned the defence while chirurgeons removed the wounded to the castle, half an hour's march away. Siege engines twanged and thudded as they hurled rocks at the enemy. The stench of fear filled the air.


     “The king demands your presence,” said a herald, as Dominel watched the last of his men pass behind the barricade and its huge gate swing shut.


     “I will be with the king as soon as I have seen to my men,” replied Dominel.


     “He said immediately.”


     “I may be the youngest son, but I have things other than being disowned to worry about right now. I will join him when my men are seen to.”


     “As you will, Prince Dominel,” breathed the herald.


     “Was that wise? The heralds like you little enough as it is, and your father is king,” said Scrantian. He had removed the left arm of his armour and was inspecting a small wound.


     “Are you fit to command in my absence?” asked Dominel.


     “It’s just a scratch, Your Highness.”


     “Good. See that the wounded are taken to the chirurgeons' tent. I want any man who can't fight to surrender his horse to one who can. We have more men than horses, so let's use what we have. All the horses should be watered. Send a herald to fetch down a salt lick. Those loud-mouthed parasites should be good for something.


     “Get some lanterns as well. Those accursed clouds that follow the Storm are crowding out the sun. If this keeps up, we won't be able to tell friend from foe. Make sure the men drink something. No wine! We need them alert.”


     “Yes, my Prince. Might I also suggest we send those with leg wounds to join the archers on the keep's battlements? That will free a few more able bodies to join us here.”


     “Use your own judgment. You know I trust you.” Dominel strode away.


     Arriving at the flap to his father's tent, Dominel was stopped by the guard and stood listening to the conversation within.


     “By the ancient gods, you slime crawling, demon lover. If it weren't for your kind, the Storm wouldn't be here at all! You'll go where I tell you and fight when I tell you,” bellowed the King.


     “But, Your Most Gracious Majesty. I simply thought that my order could do more good in the keep's temple, praying for our deliverance. The Covetous God can be most gracious to his children,” whined the chief prelate’s voice.


     Dominel's lip curled in distaste.


     “Gods and demons! Your god was the one who caused all this. If your order hadn't slaughtered the magic users, they'd still be guarding the gates to our world, and none of these thrice accursed monsters would be here.”


     “But the sorcerers were evil,” pleaded the priest.


     “So say you. It seems to me, they couldn't have been so bad if they guarded us from the Storm. Be honest. Your order feared their power. You disgust me, you snivelling worm!


     “I have spoken. Your order will head the infantry defence. There's no risk of you stabbing someone in the back that way. The only reason I haven't finished off the lot of you is that I need sword fodder. Now go.”


     Dominel pulled down the visor of his helmet to hide his smile. The pasty-faced priest left the tent, his leather armour flapping about his scrawny frame in his haste.


     Sticking his head through the flap, the guard announced Dominel then gestured for him to enter. Pushing up the visor of his helmet, Dominel stepped into the tent.


     “The Herald tells me you felt my summons was unimportant,” opened the king, his grey-bearded face pulled into a grim expression and his blue eyes flashing.


     “I told them I would come as soon as I had seen to my men. The Third Cavalry is my responsibility, given by you, and I do not take it lightly, Your Majesty.”


     A smile broke across Dominel's father's stern features. He motioned his son to sit at the table that filled the tent's centre. A map of the surrounding terrain covered the tabletop.


     “You have your mother's spirit; I'll grant you that, boy. I called you here to give you some bad news.” The smile left his face.


     Dominel looked at the man and for the first time realised how old he was. It's not just the grey hair and wrinkles, and his armour hides his paunch, it's how he moves. He's lost hope.


     “Son, you are my youngest, and you are now captain of the First Cavalry.”


     “Falik and Dalose? How?” Dominel swallowed hard as memories of his brothers flashed through his mind.


     “In the charge. Your companies sent out spotters and found the stake traps. Falik and Dalose didn’t. Demon spit, I told them to be careful. They lost half their horses in the charge. The rest were surrounded, only a handful escaped. I am placing all remaining cavalry under your command.”


     “Scrantian suggested sending out the scouts.”


     “And you listened to him. You keep listening to people who know. I've only you and Falkner left. Seventeen years isn't enough to learn everything, so you keep listening to people who know and maybe I won't lose any more sons.”


     “I… Father. We won't win, will we?”


     “No, but we can see to it that they never forget the price of Duran Pass. The countries to the west are counting on us to slow the Storm while they pray for a miracle. What I wouldn't give for one wizard.


     “That peasant girl of yours. Amber was it? She's stayed with the chirurgeons. I was wrong about her. She will make you a fine consort when you marry the Duchess Karmilla.”


     Dominel smiled at his father.


     “Now commander, you should prepare your troops. The Storm are massing. I need your cavalry to spearhead our counter.”


     The two men rose. For a moment they stood unsure of the emotional ground between them then they embraced, their armour making a thunking sound. Dominel left the tent. As he walked towards his troops, he scanned the battlement. Veterans, dressed in battered armour, stood ready for the final conflict in the kingdom of Bani. The wounded had been removed to the keep, and a hush had fallen over the camp. Reaching the cavalry, he scanned his men. Hopelessness hung on them like a shroud. Only grim determination held them in their places.


     “What is the word?” asked Scrantian.


     “We ride to the defence. And there is another thing.” Raising his voice, Dominel called, “Standard barrier.”


     A lad, too young to shave, mounted on a dapple gelding moved to Dominel's side. He dipped the standard so that the muddy, blood-spattered flag of the Bani cavalry hung before his prince.


     Drawing a dagger, Dominel cut away the trim that showed it as the flag of the Third Cavalry. All looked on as the unadorned, white horse on a green-field standard of the First Cavalry was raised. Where the trim had been, the flag's colours were bright and clean.


     “Dominel, your brothers?” asked Scrantian.


     “I am the second son of the house of Otinerus, King of Bani, Captain of the Bani First Cavalry,” Dominel proclaimed.


     “I'm sor--.” began Scrantian.


     Dominel held up his hand. “Later. Soon we will live or die. Either way, the time for tears is not yet come.”


     Scrantian nodded once then spoke. “I suggest a three-point attack, allowing the infantry to guard our back. That should draw off the largest beasts and give our light companies a chance to deal with the small ones.”


     “Yes. I want every man equipped with caltrops. When we have to retreat, I want to see crippled monsters all across the line,” said Dominel.


     “That will make any further charges impossible!”


     “We have fewer than one hundred horse left. If any of us make it back to the barricade, we won't be attacking again. We'll be running to warn the other kingdoms the Storm is at their doors.”


     Scrantian dipped his head. “As you command, my Prince.”


     The First Cavalry waited behind the barricade's gate, with each second seeming like an hour. Guttural howls announced the Storm's advance. Moments later trumpets signalled the attack. The gate swung open, and Dominel and his troops galloped into the fray.


     Lances splintered, and swords broke, shields rent and strong men died, but nothing stopped the Storm.


     Dominel and Scrantian galloped into the midst of a company of ogres. The beasts looked like hairless gorillas with pig snouts. Dominel's sword rose and fell as blood sprayed in all directions. A pikestaff hooked his shield, dragging him from his horse. Dazed he fought to rise against the weight of his armour. Scrantian reared his horse, allowing the beast's hooves to pummel the ogre that bent to dispatch his prince. Dominel fought to his feet in time to see a spear pierce his friend's helm.


      “You murdering bastards,” screamed Dominel. Forgetting his fatigue, he snatched up his sword and charged the ogre that had killed Scrantian, driving the blade deep into the beast's belly. There was a blur at the edge of his vision then everything went black.