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.
Loric was 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 was hoping that 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 right 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 stupidly agreed to be lookouts for Owyn and Zak, two boys they knew. To all intense and purposes, they were not friends, more challenge buddies. Owyn and Zak would challenge Loric and Brannon to all manner of crazy stunts. Not one to lose face, Brannon and Loric always agreed. On this occasion, it had been Loric and Brannon who had challenged Owyn and Zak to steal a plum pie from the farmer’s kitchen. The farmer and his wife were out buying supplies. In return, Owyn and Zak had challenged Brannon and Loric to race each other across the farmer’s field. Only now did it occur to them that Owyn and Zak knew about the bull all along. Unfortunately, they had been out challenged. Still, they could not back out now.
“Well if we don’t cross this field soon we won’t be able to warn Owyn and Zak that the farmer and his wife are already on their way home.”
Loric joined Brannon on the fence. “The damn lackwits knew about the bull all along. I’ve 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 they’ll hear us?”
Loric eyed the bull that was eyeing them. “Not from way back here.”
Staring directly 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 was now hoofing 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.”
Nearly falling off the fence, Brannon chuckled, “Some would argue that he still is.”
When Loric and Brannon’s laughter died, the bull took a step 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 that 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 though 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, Owyn and Zak will never be able to out challenge us ever again. It’s exciting.”
Exciting was not the word that Brannon would choose to express how he felt about their impending trip across 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 really 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’re going to suddenly 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?”
“Exactly,” Loric said.
Brannon was starting to question the sanity of his friend but as Loric dropped down into the field, he realised that 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 that you’ve been a good friend to me Brannon.”
Brannon’s complexion paled. “Same goes for me. I just hope we both live long enough to celebrate our seventeenth birthdays.”
“So, on the count of three we’re going to 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 slowly 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 bone.
The bull narrowed its eyes as the boys ran screaming toward him. Lowering its head, it snorted sending blades of grass flat to the ground. Then, in a powerful bust of energy, it charged. The ground shook as the bull closed in on them and that is when they realised that maybe charging an angry bull was not the brightest idea they had ever had. It was now 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.
Finally, 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.
When the bull attempted to lift him onto its horns Brannon threw a stone and yelled. When the stone struck the bull in the neck, it spun to face him.
“Run damn it!” Brannon yelled as the bull now charged in his direction.
Loric’s eyes widened as Brannon continued to attract the bull away from him. “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.
Winded, Brannon laid on the ground but when he tried to move, he found that he’d dislocated his right shoulder.
When Brannon didn’t get up, Loric drew the bull’s attention by yelling and waving his arms around. When the bull turned and charged, Loric cursed, “Hell fire.” Seconds later Loric was running across the field.
Staggering back to his feet, Brannon found the energy to continue but a rabbit hole suddenly took his legs from under him, hitting the ground he winced in pain.
Loric was only just ahead of the bull and picking up his pace he veered toward Brannon, yelling, “Damn it get up!”
Tugging on his trapped foot, Brannon cursed as the bull continued to chase Loric toward him. 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.
With shattered fence poles scattering all around, Loric and Brannon shielded their faces as the bull spun in a tight circle. Suddenly they heard the clatter of horse’s hooves and the creak of an old cart skidding to a halt. Luckily for them the farmer had returned to place the cart between them and the charging bull. Freeing the team of horses the farmer leapt free just as the bull struck the cart flipping it onto its side. Rolling, the cart tumbled past Brannon and Loric missing them by mere inches.
When the bull strutted back into the field, the farmer ordered, “Quickly, 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.
Feeling like the victor, the bull now strutted around the field.
Now everyone was safe, the farmer snapped, “You could have been killed! What in the blazes were you doing in my field?”
Brushing the dust from his clothes, Loric replied, “We were using it as a short cut. 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?”
Holding his arm, Brannon replied, “Yes sir.”
“Are you injured boy?”
“No sir, I’ll be fine,” Brannon lied.
Feeling guilty that he had 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 that the name suited the bull but right now he didn’t feel too lucky.
“Luckily for you that you have only dislocated your shoulder,” the farmer said. Pointing to Loric, the farmer instructed, “Stand over there and hold your friend still while I put his shoulder back into place.”
Brannon insisted that he was fine but before he could object, the farmer pulled pushed and suddenly 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 that Valcat would find out about his escapade, Loric lied, “No sir.”
Feeling bad that 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 really did not want to admit that he was Valcat’s brother. Valcat would have no qualms about skinning him alive if he ever got wind of his latest prank.
Forced to confess, Loric conceded, “Yes, Valcat is my brother sir.”
“And you, you look familiar as well,” the farmer quizzed. “You look a lot like 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 kind of hoping that they wouldn’t find out sir,” Brannon said as contritely as he could.
“And what makes you think I’m not going to tell your parents about this?”
Trying to garner sympathy, Brannon replied, “Unfortunately both our fathers are dead sir. We live at home with our mothers.”
“Do you have any more siblings besides your brothers?” the farmer asked.
Brannon shook his head. “No sir, just Cugar and Valcat. They’re Calliston–”
“I know who they are,” the farmer said.
“You’re not going to tell them are you sir?” Brannon asked.
The farmer wagged a stern finger. “I’ll say nothing as long as you put right all that you have damaged.”
Brannon sighed with relief. “Of course sir, it’s the least we can do seeing as we were the cause of the damage.”
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 go and 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.”
Foiling 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 just stick around and fix up the damage that 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.”
“Fine, I give in, let’s just fix the fence and get out of here,” Loric conceded wearily.
When the farmer returned, his wife was following 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 that 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 husband who is soft in the head I’m going to make sure that 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 that for the most part Oberon was a peaceful kingdom.
Becoming a Calliston Warrior was no easy task, especially if you planned to attain a higher rank than that of a common foot soldier. To get into Nengar’s elite force you had to impress him with your loyalty, honour and courage. For this reason, there were only a handful of warriors who had managed to attain this status. Cugar and Valcat, brothers to Loric and Brannon had succeeded in this. Such soldiers were distinguished from the others by their uniforms. Common 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 as such commanded respect from anyone they encountered, whether they 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.
Now Available in Amazon’s Kindle Store & in Paperback
Price £1.99 Kindle
Price £8.99 Paperback