My Novel

An aspiring author, I am self taught, and still learning. I now have two fantasy novels self-published and will soon be publishing Maroz as an ebook.

If you read any of my books and enjoy them, please return to the place in which you got the book and leave a review. Every bit helps.

If You Plan on Reading One of my Books....
Please go to my Author's page Kenneth J. Ester and read "Hell in a Storm" first. I personally feel it is a better written novel than Maroz, and more likely to be enjoyed. Hell in a Storm is the first book in the Demon Siege Trilogy. Book two, "The Descent of Darkness" is now also available.

Maroz - The Novel
I appologize for any inconvenience. As a now self published author, I have decided to add Maroz to my published books list. I am presently going through the book and re-editing it, and boy did it need it. I cannot believe how far I have come since writing Maroz. However, I am confident that this will make Maroz for a much more enjoyable read and as soon as it is available for purchase, I will post it. As well as editing the story, I am also changing the names of many characters, as I did not feel the names we passable once I started reading it again.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Maroz 2 - Willim

“Willim put that thing away this instant!” His mother stood in the doorway with her fists on her hips, watching. Her long red hair was pinned up as always when she was cooking, though a few tendrils of loose curls hung down over her brow. Flour seemed to cover most of her apron. “You know how much I hate it when you play with that thing.”

Willim never slacked while doing his chores but whenever he had the time, out would come the sword he was now putting away. Well, sort of a sword. He thought as he slid it into the sheds rafters. At eighteen years old, Willim was taller and stronger than most of the young men his age and after seeing a merchant’s guard once, he had taken a large stick and shaved it down until it held the likeness of a sword. Soon the stick was not good enough and he found a piece of steel and asked the forger to form it into a sword. Nothing fancy or even sharp, his mother would not allow that, just the likeness so he could have the right weight. When finding out how much it would cost, he made a deal with the black smith to work around the forge cleaning up once a week until it was paid off. Every day he practiced with it and every day his mother would tell him to put it away. A few times his father had seen him practicing and had even showed him a few moves as well, though how his father knew anything about how to handle a sword he had no idea. The army likely had recruited him when he was young like it did most young men, but his father had never spoke of being in the army. Still he very well might have been a soldier. They had only really been his parents for a portion of his life.

His real mother and father had died in a fire along with his younger brother and sister some years earlier. He had forgotten how many exactly. His current parents had taken him in and loved him like their own and as time went on he had learned to return the feelings. The first thing they did was to give him a new name and that alone took the most time to get used to. It was not easy getting used to answering to a new name. So there was much about his father’s early years that he still did not know. Unfortunately when his mother told him to put the sword away, his father would always side with her.

Walking to the well in the back of the house, Willim shrugged out of his shirt and washed off before going inside to eat. His mother still stood at the door watching him as he squeezed past her. “Willim, why would you want so badly to learn to use a sword anyway?”
Willim just shrugged his shoulders as he slid his shirt back over his head. “I just like them is all Ma.”
“But you know how the soldiers come through each year looking for young men. You don’t want to be a soldier for Malok do you?”

Malok was the Emperor of Maroz and not a soul in the land liked him. He let his people starve and taxed them highly. The thought of doing Malok’s will was a sour one at best. “They don’t take anyone under twenty Ma. By then I will leave and join a merchant’s guards. They do not take Merchants guards away from them.”

Willim’s mother only turned around shaking her head. The soldiers were due any day and she knew it well. She had feared that someday they would take her boy away and every year he grew taller and bigger. The years of having him home were growing shorter and she dreaded the very thought of the year the soldiers would take him.

As if the discussion had called their attention, another younger lad ran past their house shouting. “Soldiers are coming! Soldiers are coming.” The boys’ shouting was almost immediately followed by the sounds of horses’ hooves beating on the ground. A lot of horses!

Willim ran to the window and was accompanied by his mother as they stared at the soldiers pulling hard on their reigns while a few began dismounting. “Ma, they’ll be taking Ramos this year!”
Ramos had turned twenty not a month earlier and was Willim’s best friend. The two had spent as much of their free time together as they could, while imagining adventures in lands outside of Maroz. Now his friend would be drafted into Malok’s army and all of their dreams would be smashed. His mother’s hand rested on his shoulder and squeezed slightly trying to comfort him but it had no effect. He would lose his best friend today.

The Captain of the soldiers still sat in his saddle, but he ran a long gaze over the small town before cupping his hands to his mouth and shouting. “Bring out the young men! Every lad over the age of thirteen must be brought out!”

The age did not surprise Willim and his mother for they always called for the same to be brought out. They would look them over and make notes as to what to expect from each town the following year. In some cases if a particular town did not have enough young men coming of age, it would not be worth the effort to visit the town the next year if it took the recruiters too far out of the way. With a grim expression though, Willim shrugged his mothers hand off and walked out to face the soldiers and to say goodbye to Ramos, but as he stepped through the door he was a little surprised at the pandemonium. Mothers were crying while fathers gave their sons some last minute advice. Young men walked in almost a trance, their eyes wide with fear for what their futures would hold. Willim had no fear of that though; his time would not come for another two years and by then he would join a merchants guards. He would join them!

The Captain was shouting for the young men to form a line and for the parents to let them be when Willim saw Ramos getting into the line. Ramos was as tall as Willim though not quite as wide in the shoulders. His blonde hair hung to those shoulders with the slight breeze blowing a few wisps across his face. Hurrying over to stand next to his friend Willim nudged him with an elbow and smiled. “Guess the girls will have something to cry about now huh Ramos?” Ramos was one to love the girls and they loved him. Any chance he could, he would find away to end up behind a barn or somewhere secluded kissing one pretty girl or another. Though he knew Ramos would not admit it, Willim had his suspicions his friend had done far more than kissing with a few of them.

A small smile appeared on Ramos face at the thought of it. “Well it will give you a chance for one or two now that I won’t be around.”

Willim out right laughed at that. He was not one the girls liked so much. Oh he had been told he was cute and a few looked at him now and then but for the larger part they had their eyes on someone else. Usually Ramos! “Yeah, maybe now that they’ll give me a chance they will see they won’t be missing so much after all with you gone huh?”

It was Ramos turn to laugh but it was cut short as the Captain stopped his horse in front of them and spoke. His voice was hard and gruff. “You boys like to laugh? Well there won’t be much to laugh at in the Emperors army. Up early every morning and to bed late with nothing in between but hard work and training. Most days you might get a meal or two if you are lucky but not always mind you. We will make soldiers out of you, that is, if you live long enough to become one. What is still funny to you boy?”

Willim cleared his throat before he answered. He was hoping that he had gotten the smile off of his face but the captain must have seen one there anyway. “Nothing sir, nothing is funny really. From the sound of it, I am just glad I have a couple years to wait is all.”

Willim’s smile was wiped clean from his face when the Captain smiled down at him. A mischievous smile and one as evil looking as Willim had ever seen. “Sorry lad, this year is different. We have lowered the age to seventeen. You are coming with us!”

The words seemed to crash down on Willim like a mountain and he felt light in the head as the captain raised his voice to make the announcement to the rest of the people. Mothers, including Willim’s, who thought their child to be safe, began crying and begging the captain to not take them. One woman fainted and fell hard to the ground while nobody noticed for being caught up in his or her own worries. One woman, who Willim recognized to be his friend Carlon’s mother grabbed Carlon and began dragging him away from the soldiers while shaking her head and repeating the word “No” over and over. What Willim thought, had been pandemonium before was now chaos as he watched it all happen in shock. He had thought he had another two years to get away and join a merchant’s guards rather than be drafted and now here he was being told he would be taken as well.

In the corner of his eye, Willim saw the Captain point and say something to his corporal when an arrow flashed across his vision to embed itself in the back of Carlon’s mother. Carlon screamed as he watched his mother fall face first, dead as she hit the ground. Wrapping his fingers around the shaft, Carlon pulled the arrow out and spun on his feet to charge the Corporal who held the bow, shouting wordlessly as he ran. Willim screamed for him to stop but was too late as another arrow took his friend in the throat. Carlon stopped where he was, wide eyed as he fumbled with the shaft as if wondering how it had gotten there before falling backwards to stare at the sky through empty eyes.

Everyone now stood in silence. Some out of shock and others out of fear they might receive the next arrow, but they stood silent all the same. The rest of the soldiers on horses all lifted bows nocked with arrows to give those fears a reality. The captain cleared his throat to draw their attention to him before he spoke in a harsh voice. “I will have no more insubordination from anyone! As I had said, the age this year will be seventeen, now anyone over thirteen get in line and be ready to give your age and name. Remember, we will be comparing your answers to the records from last year. If we find anyone lies, he will be arrested and hung.”

Willim looked at his mother, her eyes red with tears and mouthed the words. “It’s okay!” Right then he wished his father was there to comfort her and knew she would have to find her comfort from friends. His father had gone to the city of Golom to sell some horses. Horses brought a strong premium in the bigger cities and they needed the money. He was sorry he would not be able to tell his father good-bye. “It’s okay.” He whispered to her again, though this time he was trying to convince himself.

No horses were provided for the new recruits and none of them were allowed to bring their own horse if they owned one. It was the first training they would have, to hike from village to village until they made it back to the palace of Maroth on foot. A half an hour walking took them well out of sight of the town before they reached the soldiers camp where thousands of other recruits stood or sat around still looking as scared as the newest of them. No talking was aloud while traveling and once they reached the camp there was no time to as the soldiers immediately began mounting and settling the young men into long lines for the upcoming march. For three months they walked, only getting rests at night or while soldiers went into a town to draft more recruits. As soon as they returned it was back to walking again. Early into the fourth month they topped a rise and everyone stopped to stare at the city of Maroth in the distance. Maroth was supposed to be the largest city in the world and the capitol of Maroz.

A wall of dark stones and boulders as high as any Willim had ever seen surrounded the city with a black iron fence mounted to the top where soldiers walked. From the distance Willim couldn’t make out any faces or even if they were men or women but he could see them move slowly from one end to the other and back again as they patrolled those walls. Deep into the city there stood the Palace as if placed on top of a tall flat-topped mountain. The ground of the palace stood higher than any building or tower in the city, and from each entrance thin trails of steps lead down toward the city. The palace itself seemed dark and ominous as if it was some great beast looking down at the city crowding in around its plateau. Black stoned walls ended in towers at even increments and those towers looked even darker than the rest of the palace. Large bronze colored flags hung limply from tall poles at the top of each tower. The sight of the dark palace sent a tinge of fear down Willim’s spine but he decided that was what it was meant to do. Put fear into your enemy’s hearts and half the battle was already won. That’s what his father had told him.

A boot heel hit Willim in the back and he stumbled forward a few steps trying to keep from falling on his face. “Move along boy! We can’t stand and gawk all day!” It was the captain that had kicked him and Willim decided to let it pass. It would do him no good to stand up to someone who was stronger than he was, especially when that someone was a trained soldier.
Walking through the main gates of the city, Willim nearly stopped and stared again before Ramos gave him a little nudge to keep moving. He had been to ‘Golom’ once or twice but ‘Maroth’ was at least twice as big. Thousands of people walked the street, some calling out their wares while others looked over different merchandise. Involuntarily Willim’s hands began to move to cover his ears before he snatched them down again. The constant hubbub was like sticking your head into a large beehive and he winced at how loud it was. There was never so much noise back in his small town.

“Have you ever seen anything like it?” Ramos had a look of awe about him as he tried to see everything that happened at once. His face held a huge smile that Willim had not seen since they had left home.

“It’s too loud for my taste.” He replied and got a swat to the back of his head from the captain for doing so.

“No talking when we’re traveling boy!” The captain held him with a tight stare as he rode past.
Looking over at Ramos, Willim was a little glad to see his friend rubbing the back of his head as well. At least he was not the only one who received a smack. Ramos saw the small smile and returned it with a slight shrug. Right then, Willim was glad his friend was there with him. It would make what he was facing so much easier to handle. Together they walked with the rest of the recruits and ignored those who watched them pass.

Halfway through the city a large cart carried by five men came up along the recruits, the bald headed fat men sitting on top looking over the young men with a scowl but did not speak until he came up next to the captain. “One of my carriers died this morning Captain. I was wondering if you might sell me one of your recruits since you seem to have so many of them this time around. I will give you fifty in gold for one of them.”

The captain scowled at the bald headed man before answering. “A hundred in gold Corson. One hundred or you can travel with five carriers for all I care.”

Corson laughed feebly but still he looked over the new recruits. “Right, Captain. One hundred it is but I get to choose the one I want.” At the captain’s nod, Corson gave the recruits yet another long look before pointing at a large fellow who Willim did not recognize with strong shoulders and legs and curlier dark hair.

Realizing it was he who Corson was pointing at, the curly haired lad suddenly stood up straighter, his chin raising a notch. “I may be drafted captain, but I will not be sold like a slave!” All the while he stared hard at Corson.

Riding back to the young man, the captain suddenly backhanded him hard across the face, but when the curly haired fellow did not fall, the captain kicked him in the head with a boot. Seeing the lad on the ground shaking his head, the captain gave himself a satisfied nod. “You’ll be done with however I feel like doing it. Now I don’t take good gold for rotten goods boy. If I hear from Corson you are causing any trouble I’ll knock that skull of yours into the White Bay, you here me?” Then turning to Corson he finished. “If he is too much trouble Corson, you go ahead and kill him and bring me his head. I’ll let you pick a new one.” Taking the gold from Corson, the captain started the recruits moving again, leaving the dazed curly haired fellow for Corson to deal with.
As the recruits went by him, not one of them looked down at him. It could have been any one of them and they very well knew it. Willim shared a silent look with Ramos. Light, he actually sold one of them as a slave!

It took Willim a moment to realize the captain was speaking. “Believe it or not, that boy got the easy road. He will have a softer bed and eat far better than any of you will. His punishments will be far lighter and fewer between as well. Corson treats his carriers well, too well in my opinion.” The last part was said in an almost mumbling sound as he rode away from them.

Continue to next part.....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Maroz 1 - Death Comes

Death will come, riding on a black horse to swallow the world in his shadow. They and he of the five will bind together and the sixth will defeat the darkness.

Jeck Henly took pride in keeping his little house clean, which included sweeping any leaves from the pathway from his house. He was an old man and had long since retired as a bookkeeper, so keeping his place neat was as much of a way to pass time, as a care for cleanliness. As the wind picked up it lifted the cap from his balding head and he reached up to grab it before it got away. Placing the hat back on tightly, Jeck went back to sweeping as if it had never happened. It was almost a game to him; a sense of stubbornness, that he would out last the wind that day and when the wind finally died away he felt a growing satisfaction as he swept the remaining leaves from the stone path. Half way down the path he stopped with a curious wonder as the sky to the west looked as if it was noon, which it was, but the sky above him looked as if it was dusk. There was not a cloud in the sky, yet the day continued to grow darker though the sun should still be high. Others were noticing the strangeness as well and they stopped what they were doing to look around in a curious fashion, and soon every eye became fastened on the eastern sky, its near pitch dark crawling toward them.

Within a few hours the village was covered in darkness as if it was night and every person had a lamp and was outside talking to one another giving their opinions of what was happening. “The moon had moved to block the sun”. No, it was not the right time or year for that. “The sun had gone out like in the stories of Maryth and his adventures.” No, they could still see the sun shining just a short distance to the west. The ideas came and were promptly pushed away as common sense took over; still they could not come up with a reasonable answer for what was happening.

Jeck rubbed his chin for a moment before deciding on one fact. He would trust his instinct and get away. He was an elemental, though be it a very weak one, and very few knew of it. Nonetheless his ability was in spirit and he had long ago learned to trust his feelings when they grabbed at his stomach even half as strong as he felt them now. Not only was something not right, something was dreadfully wrong, and he could feel it in his core. The few he tried to tell only laughed at him, accusing him of being afraid of the dark, so he ignored them as he went inside and packed quickly. They should know better than to ignore his warnings! Did he not warn them to bring their crops in early two years ago before a swarm of locust destroyed them? Did he not warn them not to go out to sea to fish on the dreadful day last summer, before rough waters took three boats? Twice they have ignored his feelings and twice they had paid dearly and still they laugh at him again! Wrapping his gnarled fingers around his sack he lifted it over his shoulder and went back outside.

The others were now joking about the strange shadow covering their town and a few laughed as he walked with his bag to the stables and saddled his horse ‘Clops’. More joined in with jaunts of their own as he rode out of the barn and out of town, but he ignored them every inch of the way. The western ground rose steadily for a hundred paces and he was just topping the rise when he heard a distant scream behind him. Turning Clops around, Jeck watched in horror as small winged creatures began attacking the people. The creatures had legs and arms like humans with wings of bats. The people were screaming as they ran from them or tried in vain to fight them, but there were too many, far too many to fight. Where someone would fall, the creatures would converge on them and moments later would be off again looking for their next victim, leaving behind them a scattering of flesh wrought bones. Writhes with their ghostly cloaks were there as well, snatching the souls out of the dying and living, the death hounds attacking any souls trying to get away. Lamps were turned over or smashed, the flames spreading quickly through the village creating a hellish background to all of the chaos. Yet, out of this entire unbelievably nightmarish scene, it was not the fire or the people dying or the winged beasts or writhes that attracted Jeck’s eye, but the rider that seemed to go untouched. A man in a dark cloak riding on a black horse moved slowly among the carnage, surveying the handiwork; his cloak swirling around as if caught up by a breeze when there was none. He and his black horse moved right through heavy flames and neither rider nor horse ever showed any sign of noticing.

Suddenly the rider’s head swung to look in Jeck’s direction and a thin pasty white hand lifted and pointed at him. Some of the winged creatures turned and started to fly towards him but it took Jeck a moment to move, for it was difficult to tear his eyes away from the dark clad stranger.

Spinning Clops around he dug his heels into the horse’s ribs and rushed away and as he sped on, the darkness slowly began to give away to light but behind him he could hear the flapping of the wings gaining on him quickly. The darkness was fading still but too slowly he thought. He would never make it to the light in time.

“Darn my blasted curiosity!” Jeck said to his horse. “I had to stop and watch didn’t I Clops? Now I might be ripped to shreds just like all the others!”

As the creatures came closer he started to hear more than just their wings. They began to utter words at him in thin scratchy voices, though whatever it was that they were saying, he didn’t understand a word. They were speaking in a language that sounded harsh and foreign to any he had ever heard before.

Urging Clops for more speed, Jeck began to fear the worst when he realized the wings were no longer getting closer, but were only keeping pace and then a moment later began to fall back. Risking a look behind him as he sped away he could see the creatures hovering at what must have been their limit, their hands clenching and loosening as if upset he had gotten away. One of the creatures that tried to continue after him began to scream, just for an instant, before it exploded into a cloud of dust. Pulling Clops to a halt, Jeck sat his saddle and watched them for a moment before realizing they were not hovering but they were moving slowly towards him. Their speed seemed coincided with that of the shadow he sat at the edge of.

The air near the flying creatures began to blur for a moment, then a larger beast stepped out of the air to stand amongst them. Though this one did not fly, its body was heavily muscled with thick arteries showing through its leathery skin.

"That one ‘Clops’”, Jeck had a habit of speaking to his horse like it was his best friend. “Would have pulled our limbs off without any help from his friends.” Jeck spoke the words quietly as if afraid to hear them himself.

Realizing the shadow was now moving faster than it had when it first hit his village; Jeck decided he had best keep moving. There would be villages ahead of him that would need to be warned if they would listen. He was sure they would not listen but he would give them that chance anyway. As he turned Clops to the west, he could hear the larger beast shout from behind him. Again he didn’t recognize the language but somehow he knew what the words meant as if they had been uttered in the spirit just so he would understand. “You cannot run from Death!”

Continue to next part.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

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