RED DEATH by Jeff Altabef / YA Fantasy / Released Oct 10, 2016 by Evolved Publishing
Chapter 5 – Eamon
Eamon studied the faces around the campfire, worry etched on his own as he wondered whether this would be the last time they would all gather together. He sat between his two older brothers, King Dermot and Prince Fintan. Dermot had lived six winters more than Eamon had, and Fintan one, yet he was the planner and worrier. Often he wished he could be more like them, but he never stopped fretting about tomorrow, the next season, the next winter. All the council members, twelve in total, joined them this night, forming a loose circle around a campfire that had started to lose its intensity. They met in the Courtyard, in the middle of the Stronghold, a small city protected by a sturdy stone wall. The Stronghold stood in the center of Dermot’s kingdom between the Outpost to the north and the Settlement to the south.
When Eamon realized everyone had stopped talking and were looking at him, he remembered what they had been discussing. “We’ll have to slaughter more cattle this year. The tribe’s grown since last winter.” The answer was obvious to him.
“The herd’s also added numbers this year, my Lord,” added Keenan, the Cattle Master. Built broad and strong like a steer, he had been Cattle Master for three years, and Dermot trusted him. “I reckon we could cull the herd by another twenty over last year and still maintain the size.”
All eyes turned toward Dermot. His reign had already lasted six years, almost an eternity. The Sword of Power lay across his lap, a long sword so heavy that it required two hands to wield it in battle. Its blade gleamed in the firelight, and the many rubies in the gold and silver hilt sparkled brilliantly. An inscription, written in a language no one understood, ran down both sides of the blade and glimmered in the firelight. The smithies could no longer make a weapon like the Sword of Power. That knowledge had been lost. They made other swords, fine ones, victorious ones, but none so grand. Only the King could wield the Sword of Power, the tribe’s finest.