Where Destiny Leads
« Chapter 1 »
The farmer’s field stretched further and wider than Brannon and his friend Loric last remembered. They had crossed the farmer’s fields many times while out exploring the countryside, but what made this occasion different was the addition of a huge black bull.
Leaning on the rickety fence that encircled the field, Brannon gulped. “Where the heck did he come from?”
The large bull looked mean and battle-scarred. If he had been human, he would have been a muscular fighting machine, a warrior elite.
Loric looked as baffled as Brannon. “I have no idea but he seems very at home in there.”
“Well, we still have to cross it, bull or no bull. That was the challenge, right?” Brannon said. He hoped Loric would back out of the challenge now he had seen the large bull guarding the field like some mythical Minotaur.
Loric was no coward but then neither was he stupid, except for now when he had a lapse of sanity and replied, “I guess. How far do you think we’ll get before he tramples one of us to death?”
Climbing up onto the fence, Brannon stared at the bull. They had agreed to be lookouts for Zak and Owyn, two boys they knew. To all intense and purpose, they were not friends, more challenge buddies. Zak and Owyn would challenge Loric and Brannon to crazy stunts.
Not one to lose face, Brannon and Loric always agreed. On this occasion, it had been Loric and Brannon who had challenged Zak and Owyn to steal a plum pie from the farmer’s kitchen. The farmer and his wife were out buying supplies. In return, Zak and Owyn had challenged Brannon and Loric to race each other across the farmer’s field. Only now did it occur to them that Zak and Owyn knew about the bull all along. For once, they had out challenged them, but they could not back out now. If they did, they would lose face.
“Well if we don’t cross this field soon we won’t be able to warn them the farmer and his wife are already on their way home.”
Loric joined Brannon on the fence. “The damn lackwits knew the farmer had put this bull in his field. I have a mind to leave them here and scarper.”
When the bull turned and fixed a ferocious gaze on them, Brannon quizzed, “We’ve never lost a challenge yet and I’m not about to hand this one to them on a platter. Plus, we can’t leave them for the farmer to find. Do you think if we shout loud enough they will hear us?”
Loric eyed the bull that was eyeing them. “Not from way back here.”
Staring above him into a corn blue sky, Brannon shook his head. “Well, I guess if there was ever a good day to die this would be it.”
Loric rolled his eyes. “We’re crossing a field we’re not going into battle.”
“Try telling him that,” Brannon said as he stabbed an accusatory finger at the mountain of meat and muscle that hoofed the ground like a battle-scarred dragon. “I swear he knows what we’re planning.”
Loric laughed. “It’s a bull; they always look annoyed it’s part of their personality.”
“Like your brother Valcat you mean?” Brannon teased.
Loric chuckled. “Ha, you’re right. I bet Valcat was a bull in a past life.”
Almost falling off the fence, Brannon chuckled, “Some argue he still is.”
When Loric and Brannon’s laughter died, the bull stepped forward his hooves digging into the ground and as puffs of dry dirt swirled like dirt devils into the air, Brannon and Loric gulped.
Loric gave a sardonic smile. “Let’s do it, let’s show him he might be built like a mountain but we can run faster than he can. Anyway, his size might slow him down.”
Looking at Loric as if he was crazy, Brannon argued, “What makes you think we’re faster? He’s got four legs we only have two. And right now I’d say that gives him an advantage over us.”
With a huge grin, Loric said, “I know but if we can do this, Zak and Owyn can never out challenge us ever again. It’s exciting.”
Exciting was not the word Brannon would use to express how he felt about crossing the field. Nervous, suffering palpitations and terrified was. Hesitating, Brannon swung one leg back over the fence. “Being chased is one thing, but those horns look sharp.”
Loric had always been the one to push the boundaries, grinning, he scoffed, “He’s all brawn and no brains. Trust me, we’ll have the element of surprise.”
“How can we have the element of surprise when he’s staring straight at us?”
“I know, but what he doesn’t know or suspect, is that after we charge him, we will veer left and right.”
“You mean one of us will be the bait while the other escapes to warn Zak and Owyn about the farmer?”
“Yes,” Loric said.
Brannon questioned the sanity of his friend, but as Loric dropped into the field, he knew if they didn’t make it across the field soon, then Zak and Owyn would be caught red handed.
Taking a deep breath, Brannon joined Loric in the field. “Then let’s do it before I come to my senses.”
The bull continued to claw the ground as if sensing their challenge.
Grinning as if what they were about to do was nothing more than harmless fun, Loric joked, “If I don’t make it to the other side, I’d like to say you’ve been a good friend Brannon.”
Brannon’s complexion paled. “Same goes for me. I hope we both live long enough to celebrate our seventeenth birthdays.”
“So, on the count of three we will charge the bull, but whatever you do, do not break away until we’re close to him.”
“Because the less room he has to turn the slower he’ll be.”
“So you’ve done this before?”
“Not with a bull, but I’ve had plenty of practice running away from Valcat. When he’s angry, it amounts to the same thing,” Loric laughed.
Brannon was losing his bottle. If he didn’t do it now, he never would. “Fine, let’s do it.”
Loric smiled. “On the count of three. One!”
Feeling a sudden adrenalin rush, Brannon called out, “Two!”
In unison they yelled, “Three!” With a war cry born more from fear than anything else, they charged toward the black mountain of sinewy sculptured muscle and immovable bone.
The bull narrowed its eyes as they ran screaming toward him. Lowering its head, it snorted sending dust clouds into the air. Then, in a powerful bust of energy, it charged. The ground shook as the bull thundered toward them. And that’s when they realised charging an angry bull was the stupidest idea they had ever had. It was too late to turn back and continuing, they ran as fast as their legs would carry them.
The ground continued to shake as the bull closed the gap and the only sound louder than the thunder of its hooves was the pounding of Loric and Brannon’s hearts as the bull grew larger and larger the closer he got.
At the point of no return, Loric yelled, “Go!”
Seconds before the bull lowered its head they veered left and right. When the bull skidded to a halt, Loric glanced over his shoulder to see it charging straight at him.
Brannon saw the bull attempting to lift Loric onto its horns. Throwing a stone, he yelled. The stone struck the bull in the neck and angry it spun to face Brannon.
“Run damn it!” Brannon yelled as the bull charged in his direction.
Loric’s eyes widened as Brannon continued to attract the bull’s attention. “Holy hell, run!”
Brannon turned to run, but the bull lowered its head and before he could escape, he felt its granite like head lifting him into the air. When the bull tossed Brannon over its back, it skidded to a dusty halt sending grass and debris into the air. Loric looked on in horror as Brannon hit the ground with a hard thud, dust plumes rising above him like dark clouds.
Winded, Brannon lay motionless on the ground. The pain in his arm warned him he now had a dislocated shoulder.
When Brannon did not get up, Loric drew the bull’s attention by yelling and waving his arms around.
The bull turned and charged.
“Hell fire,” Loric cursed and seconds later, he was running for his life.
Staggering back to his feet, Brannon found the energy to continue but a rabbit hole took his legs from under him, hitting the ground he winced in pain.
With the bull still hot on his heels, Loric picked up his pace as he veered toward Brannon. “Damn it Brannon get up!”
Tugging on his trapped foot, Brannon cursed as the bull barrelled toward them. Reaching Brannon, Loric grabbed his arm. Pulling him free of the hole, he dragged Brannon behind him. Diving, they rolled under the fence. The bull however had picked up too much momentum and unable to stop, he ploughed straight through the fence. Brannon and Loric curled up into balls but somehow the bull missed trampling them to death.
With shattered fence poles scattering around them, Loric and Brannon shielded their faces as the bull spun in a tight circle. If the bull didn’t kill them their older brothers would. The bull charged but the clatter of horse’s hooves and the creak of an old cart skidding to a halt drew their attention. The farmer had returned to see his bull free and on the rampage, and thinking quickly he placed the cart between them and the charging bull. Freeing the team of horses, the farmer leapt from the cart just as the bull struck it. The bull flipped it onto its side and rolling, the cart bounced over Brannon and Loric missing them by mere inches.
When the bull strutted back into the field, the farmer ordered, “Help me turn the cart over.”
Loric ran forward and taking the cart, he helped the farmer flip it back onto its wheels. Pushing the cart, the farmer used it to breach the gap in the broken fence.
Like the victor in battle, the bull strutted around the field.
When the dust settled, the farmer scowled down at them. “He could have killed you! What in the blazes were you doing in my field?”
Brushing the dust from his clothes, Loric replied, “We were using it as a shortcut. We didn’t notice the bull until it was too late, sir.”
Gazing down at Brannon who was kneeling on the ground wincing in pain, the farmer quizzed, “Is that true?”
Brannon held his arm. “Yes sir.”
“Are you injured boy?”
“No sir, I’ll be fine,” Brannon lied.
Feeling guilty he’d encouraged Brannon to run the gauntlet with the bull, Loric confessed, “The bull threw him over its back. I think he’s injured his arm.”
Kneeling, the farmer felt around Brannon’s shoulder. Shaking his head, he scolded, “It was a stupid thing to do but if you survived being gored by Titan, you must have lady luck on your side.”
Brannon mused the name suited the bull but right now he didn’t feel too lucky.
“Luckily for you you only have a dislocated shoulder not a broken one,” the farmer admonished. Pointing to Loric, the farmer instructed, “Stand over there and hold your friend while I put his shoulder back into place.”
Brannon insisted he was fine but before he could object, the farmer pulled pushed and Brannon’s shoulder popped back into place.
Patting Brannon on the back the farmer rose to his feet, saying, “You’ll be fine lad, sore, but fine.”
Studying Loric, the farmer asked, “Don’t I know you from somewhere? Aren’t you Valcat’s younger brother?”
Afraid Valcat would find out about his escapade, Loric lied, “No sir.”
Feeling bad they had just destroyed the farmer’s fence, Brannon chided, “Loric, he’s just saved our lives, the least we could do is tell him the truth.”
Loric did not want to admit he was Valcat’s brother. Valcat would have no qualms about skinning him alive if he ever got wind of his latest prank.
Loric conceded, “Yes, Valcat is my brother, sir.”
“And you, you look familiar. You look like a Calliston Warrior I know, Cugar.”
“That’s because he’s my brother, sir,” Brannon said.
“And what will your brothers think of you wrecking my fence and allowing my bull to break free?”
“We were hoping they wouldn’t find out sir,” Brannon said.
“And what makes you think I won’t tell your parents about this?”
Trying to garner sympathy, Brannon replied, “Both our fathers are dead sir. We live at home with our mothers.”
“Do you only have one brother?” the farmer asked.
Brannon shook his head. “Yes sir, just Cugar, and Loric only has Valcat. They’re Calliston––”
“I know who they are boy.”
Brannon panicked at that news. “You won’t tell them will you sir?”
The farmer wagged a stern finger. “I’ll say nothing as long as you put right all you have damaged.”
Brannon sighed with relief. “It is the least we can do seeing as we caused the damage, sir.”
Loric was kind of hoping that the farmer would just let them go but as Brannon nudged, him he conceded, “Yes sir it’s the least we can do.”
“Then I’ll get you some tools and you can start right away.”
Grabbing Brannon’s arm, Loric suggested, “Quick, let’s run off while he’s not looking.”
Halting Loric’s escape, Brannon reasoned, “There would be no point, he already knows who we are and it won’t take him long to find Cugar and Valcat and tell them what we’ve been up to. Better if we stick around and fix up the damage we’ve caused.”
“Well strictly speaking the bull did the damage,” Loric reasoned.
“I know but he wouldn’t have broken the fence if we had not challenged him to a duel in the field.”
Weary, Loric conceded, “Fine, I give in, let’s just fix the fence and get out of here.”
When the farmer returned, his wife followed him. Looking bemused, the farmer scolded, “According to my wife breaking fences is not the only thing you have been up to this morning.”
“I don’t know what you mean sir,” Brannon said.
Showing Brannon an empty baking tray, the woman demanded, “Where are my pies?”
Brannon and Loric had forgotten all about Zak and Owyn and how they had planned to steal a pie from the farmer’s kitchen. Trying to convince the farmer they had nothing to do with it, Loric replied, “We didn’t steal your pie’s sir, honest.”
The farmer’s wife scowled at them. “Looks like you are thieves who will say anything to get out of trouble. Well you are in trouble and unlike my soft in the head husband; I will make sure your brothers find out what you have been up to.”
Staring at the farmer, Brannon pleaded, “Please sir, if you allow us to work around the farm there will be no need to tell our brothers anything.”
For whatever reason, the farmer took pity on them and agreed that after fixing the fence they could muck out his stables, only then could they leave.
Shaking the man’s hand, Brannon replied, “You will not regret giving us a second chance sir, we promise. Don’t we Loric?”
Loric hated the thought of mucking out stables but he could not snitch on Owyn or Zak as they had fled before the farmer caught sight of them. Reluctantly he nodded a yes.
Dropping the tools on the ground, the farmer suggested, “You better get started if you want to finish by the end of the day.”
This was not Loric’s idea of a respectable job; he had his sights set on becoming a soldier like his brother Valcat. Most young men in the Kingdom of Oberon wanted to be a Calliston Warrior in the City of Caddoan. Caddoan was the main capital of Oberon and in the centre of its bustling city stood a large castle. The castle was the city’s main focal point and soldiers lived there under the guardianship of Oberon’s leader, a man called Nengar. Nengar was a firm yet a fair leader and under his instruction, his army ensured Oberon was a peaceful kingdom.
Becoming a Calliston Warrior was no easy task, not if you planned to attain a higher rank than a mere common foot soldier. To get into Nengar’s elite force you had to impress him with your loyalty, honour and courage. Only a handful of warriors attained this status. Cugar and Valcat, brothers to Loric and Brannon were two such warriors.
Common foot soldiers wore a black uniform sporting a fancy dark red leather breastplate. The elite soldier wore the same uniform except their armour was the much-prized leather and gold breastplate. These elite soldiers had earned their high rank in blood sweat and tears and commanded respect whether people came from Oberon or not.
Failure to show respect would bring about a swift reprimand for the Calliston Warrior was the law of the land, and under Nengar’s guidance, they crushed all who sought to disturb the peace of their kingdom.
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