But I shall bare myself to humiliation (and resist the urge to edit and fix mistakes, typos and general horror), because this is for the lovely Elizabeth Mueller's Breaking the Rules Blogfest! Do click on the link, check out her entry, and mosey over to the sidebar for all the other entries. Thank you for hosting this, Elizabeth!
The following is from the prologue of an epic fantasy involving a wicked emperor (shock, horror) and a force of good who want to fight him using standard fantasy tactics. Oh, and there's a young boy who obviously becomes the Hero (goodness me, how original I was).
A lone horse sped desperately across the rough, undulating terrain. A sharp wind blew from the south, and the smell of rain and blood hung thickly in the air. The horse bled from a foreleg, and there was something stilted in its gallop, but it persevered on, under the urgency and encouragement of its rider. The man in the saddle looked terrible; he appeared caked in dirt and blood, his own and others’. A stained sword was clutched in his right hand, while the left held onto the reins for dear life.
Sweat and rain dripped down his face, deathly pale. He wiped both out of his eyes with the back of his hand. He pushed his horse on, feeling its pain beneath him. His own he felt acutely, almost as strongly as he felt his fear. But he plunged on, knowing that there was no other way for him to go.
And then a shadow fell over him.
The man felt as if his bones had been frozen. He lifted his head, terrified, and saw the sight he had most feared. He jerked right, but it was too late. He heard his screams echo out through the night as the fierce talons of the beast lunged out of the sky and seized his horse. A pitiful animal’s cry pierced the air, along with the screams, a terrible symphony.
The horse, torn by the talons, was dead before it was flung to the ground. But as the man saw land and sky spin wildly before him, he knew that he hadn’t been granted the mercy of death yet. His mind still screamed, and his body too, as the talons held him in their vicious grip. Then, the terrible wings flapping close beside him, he saw the ground loom closer, and in a flash, they were on the ground. Something cracked in him as he bounced over hard rock and dirt, and he let out an involuntary scream. His sword went flying into the mud. The shadow of the wings swayed nearby, ominous and deadly, and even had he had the will to move, he couldn’t have. His body was damaged beyond any repair. The man saw death hovering softly above him, waiting to claim him, eternally hungry for more. A different vision flashed before his eyes… and he felt something tighten in his throat, squeezing the very breath out of him. If only…
If only. Those two words were by far the most empty and the saddest that any person could use, and regret by far the most destructive emotion.
The sound of soft footsteps in the mud made him turn his head. Rain fell into his eyes, but he blinked the drops away and looked up as a tall figure crouched down beside him. A hood had fallen back, and the man in the mud could look into cold, pale brown eyes. A faint, bitter smile twisted his mouth.
“Has it come to this?” he asked sadly.
The figure shook its head. “It needn’t have,” it said coldly, “You ought to have learned by now that we bring our suffering upon ourselves. You brought yourself here.”
“Because of you.” It was hard to breathe, let alone speak. “Are you going to kill me?”
“Yes,” hissed the figure, “Are you afraid?”
The man choked out a laugh, blood trickling out of his mouth. He saw the blade of the sword hover above him through a film of water and sweat and blood and tears. Was he afraid? Yes, he was afraid. But it was too late to dwell on fears and pain. He blinked and his eyes were able to focus upon the cool brown ones again. As if unable to break the eye contact, the figure lifted the sword… and struck.
“Brave even in death,” murmured the figure coolly, a smile playing along thin lips, “I’ll confess to admiration. It isn’t pleasant, is it, when you’re killed by an enemy.”
There was a pause as the man choked blood, trying to say something, to speak for the last time. “It’s worse,” spluttered the man, barely audibly, meeting the figure’s eyes, “When you’re murdered by a friend.”
Silence. And then the figure stood up, and strode away into the shadows.