Friday, May 4, 2012

The Time Weaver by Thomas A. Knight: Excerpt

It started with a car accident.

What should have killed thirty-year-old Seth Alkirk, instead causes time to stop. He didn't know what was happening as he took in the frozen world around him. He didn't know why he was the only one who could move, or breathe, or see what was going on. But when a rift opens in the middle of the intersection, and a vicious twelve-foot-tall creature steps through into his world, Seth does know one thing for certain...

He has to run. Or die.

Enter Galadir, a parallel world where magic thrives. Discover a kingdom in danger of being overrun by a massive army. And follow Seth as he discovers he's not human - but a Time Weaver who can change the balance of the coming war, if only he can learn to control his powers in time.

Chapter 1 - Once Upon a Time

Krycin and Merek stood atop the battlements, surveying the land before them. The smell of death hung in the air. Rank upon rank of the Dark Lord's vicious army waited outside the city walls. They wore black armor, and were equipped with an array of spears, swords, and pole-arms. Each soldier carried a shield with the Dark Lord's symbol emblazoned on it in red: a lily with a snake wrapped around the stem. Shouts from soldiers stationed on the city walls rose up to their heights but became mere background noise as they mingled and lost all definition. Buildings set ablaze by the Dark Lord's wizards billowed with smoke, filling the air with ash and the acrid taste of burnt wood. Constructed of dense gray granite, the castle held firm against any magic cast at it. "So this is it then, our last stand," Merek said, turning to Krycin. His ancient face was lined with concern.
"It was good knowing you old friend," Krycin said. He looked as if he faced the gallows, but Merek sensed something more in his voice. He wasn't ready to give up just yet.
The Dark Lord Gladius paraded in front of his army on a giant black war horse. His battle cries goaded his troops into a frenzy. Their shouts and howls reverberated off the stone walls and shook the Findoor people to the bone. Krycin took a step toward the front of the battlements and paused, as though he might jump. Merek approached him and asked, "You're not going to do anything stupid are you?"
A glimmer danced in Krycin's eyes, a light in the darkness that surrounded them, and he smiled. "You know me..."
"That's what I'm afraid of." The old wizard watched Krycin take one final step to the edge of the wall and hesitate. Clothed in loose-fitting black pants and an off-white tunic, Krycin looked more like a commoner than a powerful wizard or warrior. Tilting his head to the sky, he inhaled a deep breath and held it for a long moment before letting it go.
Merek watched his friend at the edge of the wall. "Come, Krycin, let's convene with the commanders and come up with a plan. Gladius has us outnumbered and cornered, but we aren't beaten just yet." Merek's gray robes fluttered in a light breeze. A deep hood covered most of his silver hair, and the sleeves extended to the middle of his hands. Every edge of his robe was embroidered with a gold trim that gleamed in even the dimmest light.
"I'm afraid that for the first time since I've known you," Krycin said, turning to face Merek, "you might be wrong. When Gladius took our King, he took our heart and soul. The soldiers fight with little spirit, and our resources are dwindling fast. With all supply shipments cut off, we must act now, or there will be nothing left to save."
Krycin's words stung in the old wizard's ears. "You know you can't face Gladius alone," Merek said. He took a step closer to Krycin, raising his voice, "He's already taken so many of your kind. What makes you think that you will fare any better? Give us just a little more time, and we will find a way to destroy him and his army."
"Time? What would ever make you think that we had any more time? When Gladius marched from the Badlands with his army, then we had time. When he traveled across the Losteron Plains, then we had time. We had time when he killed our King, and when he destroyed so many of my people. But now? Now we don't have time." His voice grew in volume with each sentence, and by the time he finished all the commanders could hear the exchange between the two men.
Merek opened his mouth to provide a rebuttal, but before he could, Krycin turned and stepped off the edge of the battlements. He drifted down like a feather, the magical power of air keeping him from falling to his death. Dust stirred into small clouds around him as he landed just outside the castle walls. With the city between himself and Gladius, he took off running. A few quick strides later he was lost among the buildings that surrounded the castle.
Shaking his head at the display, Merek shouted orders to provide cover fire for Krycin. A small contingent of archers and shield bearers marched out onto the city walls to stave off enemy troops and provide an opening when Krycin emerged.
Krycin thundered through the city, moving past buildings so fast he couldn't tell a tavern from a smithy. The smell of burnt wood strengthened as he approached the city walls where some buildings still burned. Despite the continued onslaught of enemies, the front gates, reinforced by the power of earth, held fast.
As he made his approach, Krycin lifted his hand and summoned the power of time and space. He charged at the front gate at top speed, but the gate showed no sign of opening. Krycin continued on without a worry. Just before he struck the solid wood obstruction, he let loose the magical energy he had summoned, and disappeared, reappearing on the other side of the gate.
Scanning the battle field, Krycin spotted Gladius. He held his hand out to the side, as if holding a weapon, and summoned the powers of light and life. A sword of pure light materialized in his hand. The sword shone so bright that those looking on shielded their eyes to avoid being blinded. From the hilt of the sword, streamers of light spread up his arm and over his body. As the light encased him, it solidified into crystal creating a complete suit of armor around him. Krycin let out a battle cry and ran toward Gladius, who ignored the blinding light of his sword.
Gladius dismounted his warhorse and readied his own weapon, a sword forged of black steel that erupted into flames the moment it was drawn. The air around Gladius wavered in the heat, the interlocking plates of his black armor making him look more like a construct than a man. In his off-hand he held a large black shield that matched those of his army. Krycin saw his eyes glowing red with magic but did not stop his advance.
An instant after both men drew their weapons, they clashed together in an explosion of power. Their swords collided, raining sparks down onto the field. The blades sang as they separated and Krycin drew his sword back to swing again. His second attack connected with Gladius's shield, leaving a giant gash through the center of the emblem.
Gladius returned the attack and shoved Krycin back. With all his might, he swung the blazing sword in an overhead stroke. It crashed down on Krycin, who wielded no shield. Calling upon the power of time and space again, Krycin blinked out of existence and reappeared behind Gladius. The blade continued through empty air, causing Gladius to stumble forward. Catching himself with one foot, he used the momentum to swing his sword around the other way in a spin that would have impressed even the most seasoned gladiator.
The move caught Krycin off his guard, leaving him flat-footed to bear the full force of the attack. The black sword roared through the air and struck his left shoulder. The crystal plates gave out and shattered, allowing the sword to bite into his flesh. It seared through muscle and tendons, stopping when it struck bone. Krycin cried out, but choked back the pain and lashed upward with his sword. Having Gladius's weapon mired in his shoulder gave him the advantage he needed. His sword flashed up in an arc and caught Gladius's left arm as he tried to steady himself. The pure light of the sword penetrated his armor and separated his arm from his body at the elbow. The black shield pulled the severed arm to the ground with an ominous thud.
Gladius howled with rage and struggled to free his sword from Krycin's shoulder. "You've already lost," Gladius said as he heaved at the blade, pulling Krycin with it. "Even if you kill me, my army will wash over this land and annihilate your people. All of Galadir will tremble at their might."
Krycin dropped his sword and reached up to grab the black sword that sizzled and smoked, still cooking his flesh. The pain was almost unbearable, but he gained a good grip on the blade and looked into Gladius's eyes. Through clenched teeth he said, "What makes you think I'm going to kill you?"
A look of confusion washed over Gladius's face, and changed to terror as Krycin called upon the power of his people, the element of time and space. He drew the energy not from the world around him, but from Gladius, using the sword as a conduit. A torrent of magical energy poured from Gladius, robbing him of his strength and of all the power taken from Krycin's people. As Krycin harnessed it, his eyes blazed with inner light and the black sword glowed white-hot, fusing it with both men's armor. With a semi-permanent connection made between them, Gladius became the broken levee holding back the ocean. The magic flowed through him, and Krycin received the flood.
No matter how Gladius tried, he couldn't remove his hand from the sword. Smoke rose from his eyes, nose and mouth as the flow of magic heated his body, cooking him from the inside out. The smell of burning flesh filled the air as his super-heated armor blistered and charred his skin. Still he screamed with an inhuman strength, dropping to his knees.
The flow of energy stopped and a hush fell over the battlefield. Krycin stood like a beacon, his entire body blazing with light, and stared down at his opponent. Gladius met Krycin's gaze, his eyes filled with hatred. A light breeze blew, cooling the surface of his armor. Krycin spoke, his voice strong and clear, "Goodbye Gladius."

Thomas A. Knight has spent most of his life either immersed in or building fantasy worlds and bringing characters to life.
From Middle Earth, to the skies of Pern and beyond, no world is too great a challenge for him to conquer. His favourite places include a pair of worlds that spawned from his own imagination, one of perpetual light, and one of perpetual darkness.
When he is not living a life in one of these worlds, he is a husband, father of two little girls, software developer, and avid role-player. He grew up and currently resides in a small town in Ontario, Canada. Holding a diploma in Network Engineering he works as a software developer at one of the world's leading vinyl siding manufacturers.
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