A Guardian Falls
by author R. Tran
All looks bleak when Mara is forced to return home after her love’s brush with death. She only has one magical artifact and the army seems out of reach. The consequences should she fail or even succeed finally set in and Mara has doubts about everything. There will be a war of blades and magic with Mara at the center, but Mara wonders if she has the strength to survive.
In the dim morning light, Mara heard voices in the distance too faint to understand. Bishop shifted below her, anxious for the coming battle. Mara pulled her cloak tighter against the chill air and damp drizzle as she waited for news of Laran’s army. A few of the horses behind her snorted their dislike of Drake’s swift approach.
“It’s just as we thought. Half his troops went south in an attempt to flank us and back us into the mountains, but the remainder are coming head on. It shouldn’t be long now. Is the shield in place?” Drake asked, looking off to the horizon.
“It has been since first light. Its constant hum is driving me crazy. Every fiber in my body longs to bring it down,” she informed him.
“You’ll be distracted soon enough,” Drake assured her.
Mara gave a forced smile. “I only want one man’s life. It’s a shame so many will have to die defending him.”
“I’m sure he’s saying the same thing.”
“He’s not on the battlefield. He’s locked away in the castle somewhere. I can feel it,” she spat annoyed at his cowardice. She looked to Drake. “How was Kess?”
“Worried about you. Don’t worry, you’ll see each other tonight,” Drake promised.
Mara looked up when a spell crashed into the shield above. Unsure of what was going on, Bishop sidestepped. Mara calmed him and he didn’t move when another spell crashed into the shield. Flames licked the shield overhead but rolled off like water on oiled canvas.
“What are they up to?” Drake asked, looking up as well.
“My guess is they’re trying to bring down the shield so they can kill us with magic.”
Drake gave her a weary look. He was all too familiar with magic. “Are you sure this will hold?”
“No, but it was created by magic far stronger than any they have,” Mara replied as blue lightning crackled over the shield’s surface. “They’re getting closer.”
Arrows darkened the sky in the distance. “The battle’s begun,” Drake said menacingly. He drew his sword with a mischievous grin and kicked his horse into a run. “See you tonight,” he called as he rode off. Mara drew a short sword and kicked Bishop into a run. The other men were at his heels. Everyone was eager to begin. The sooner it started, the sooner it would end.
Mara reined Bishop into a throng of men ahead of her. He eagerly rushed in and pushed men out of his way. She swung down on an enemy soldier successfully severing an artery. Blood sprayed out as he fell to the ground. She caught another squarely in the chest knocking him backwards. She barely had time to pull out her axe before he fell. Mara cut off a man’s hand as he raised it to swing at one of her soldiers.
As Mara pressed forward, a man lunged into her path. She instantly threw her axe and struck him in the chest. Mara heard the crunch of bone when it hit and the man sank to his knees gasping for air. Three men caught her by surprise and rushed toward her with the intent of dragging her off her horse. Mara wouldn’t have time to go around them.
Bishop, on the other hand, saw them and stopped suddenly. Rearing up, he kicked one man in the head on the way up and another in the chest on the way down. Mara formed a blue ball of flame and held it in her hand waiting to hurl it at the third when she landed. His eyes went wide when he saw the ball headed towards him.
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June 12 – 16, 2017
Author Biography: R. Tran is a first-time author who started writing as therapy after losing her father at 16. Her first manuscript was finished 4 years later but sat around for years gathering dust before she had the courage to let someone read it. Sixteen years and many revisions later, what began as therapy is now a published novel.
Twenty years after her father's death she has a husband, two children, and a dog he never met.
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