Excerpt: The Sureshot Rises

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In his dream, the trees melted away and melded into walls that were cold and dark. Znak appeared near Durbar. He was dressed in battle gear, wearing heavy armor from head to toe. In his right hand, he held a thick sword, and in his left, he had a large shield. He appeared ready to fight. Znak did not acknowledge Durbar but stood tall and strong.

Next, he clearly saw his father also dressed in battle gear and holding a long sword at his side. Stranger yet was that he envisioned his mother also there next to the two men. She was dressed in armor and held a sword in one hand and a buckler in the other. The scene confused Durbar even in his sleep. He tried to call out to his parents, but they did not answer him. Instead, they simply stared through him as if he were not even there. Then they vanished, and Durbar found himself in what he finally recognized as the arena of the Harmon garrison, the same arena he saw for the first time that day. He had a sword in his hand, a helmet on his head and a shield on his left arm. Besides these armaments, he was dressed exactly as he had so many years in the woods—as a simple hunter. The arena was very dark, and he could not see to the other side.

An arrow flew past his head from the darkness. He ducked after it was already behind him; a delayed reaction. Another arrow flew by him and then another. There was no stopping them, and he could not anticipate their trajectory so he hid behind his shield. The arrows flew all around him, some striking his shield, others pierced the ground around his feet and he was having trouble staying calm. He began to panic and finally ran in the opposite direction of the arrows’ origin. A few moments later he realized that he was running toward a huge knight clad in dark armor and stopped thirty feet from the fighter. The knight lowered his bow and let it fall to the ground at his feet. He removed his helmet but Durbar could not see his face. In fact, his entire outline was fuzzy.

There were no real features to the knight’s face and no hair on his head. It was dark and shadowed. Durbar froze in his tracks and stared at the knight. The giant fighter gripped a huge axe in his left hand and a flail in his right. He opened his shadowy mouth and screamed a piercing sound that made Durbar try to cover his ears. Then he charged at the young woodsman with great fury snorting and grunting like a bull.

Durbar raised his shield to block the attack but the knight struck it with his axe. The blow was so forceful that his arm was nearly torn off and hung limp with the broken shield at his side. Next, he raised his sword to strike but the knight slapped it out of his hand with a back swing, knocking Durbar to the dirt. The knight then swung his flail and crushed Durbar’s head, splitting his helmet and leaving him dead. The dark warrior held his arms up in victory and screamed again in the same animalistic roar, Durbar’s limp, lifeless body at his feet.

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