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Authors: B. T. Narro

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Epic, #Romance, #Coming of Age, #Sword & Sorcery, #Teen & Young Adult

Bastial Energy

BOOK: Bastial Energy
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Contents

Copyright

Dedication

Title Page

Chapter 1 Cleve: Experiment

Chapter 2 Cleve: Others

Chapter 3 Steffen: Side Effects

Chapter 4 Effie: Breathe

Chapter 5 Effie: Magic and Beer

Chapter 6 Cleve: Keep Back

Chapter 7 Cleve: Guess

Chapter 8 Cleve: Rules

Chapter 9 Effie: The Party

Chapter 10 Effie: Rumors

Chapter 11 Zoke: The Army of Krepps

Chapter 12 Zoke: Must Endure

Chapter 13 Zoke: Chosen

Chapter 14 Zoke: Family

Chapter 15 Zoke: Trust

Chapter 16 Zoke: Disquieting Questions

Chapter 17 Zoke: Wrong Answer

Chapter 18 Zoke: Death and Secrets

Chapter 19 Zoke: Let’s Play

Chapter 20 Cleve: Evaluation Week Begins

Chapter 21 Cleve: Hitting Hard and Clean

Chapter 22 Steffen: Chemists

Chapter 23 Steffen: A Visitor in the Night

Chapter 24 Zoke: Did That Just Move?

Chapter 25 Zoke: They Must Die

Chapter 26 Zoke: Dark Dreams and Howls

Chapter 27 Effie: Evaluations

Chapter 28 Effie: Locked on

Chapter 29 Cleve: Walls

Chapter 30 Cleve: Follow

Chapter 31 Cleve: Target

Chapter 32 Cleve: Decision

Chapter 33 Cleve: Stuck

Chapter 34 Zeti: New Tasks

Chapter 35 Cleve: Manipulate

Chapter 36 Cleve: Sweep

Chapter 37 Cleve: Plan

Chapter 38 Effie: A New Day

Chapter 39 Zoke: Gone

Chapter 40 Zoke: Listen

Chapter 41 Cleve: Chaos

Chapter 42 Cleve: Orders

Chapter 43 Cleve: Heavy Rain

Chapter 44 Zoke: Follow

Chapter 45 Zoke: Awake

Chapter 46 Steffen: Uncaged

Chapter 47 Steffen: Common Tongue

Chapter 48 Zeti: Traitors

Chapter 49 Cleve: Stone

Chapter 50 Cleve: Coming Loose

Chapter 51 Effie: Confidence

Chapter 52 Zoke: Strangers and Handshakes

Chapter 53 Zoke: We

Chapter 54 Zoke: Smoke

Chapter 55 Zoke: Quick Heal

Chapter 56 Zoke: Words of Death and Birth

Chapter 57 Effie: Blanketed

Chapter 58 Effie: Safe as Skin

Chapter 59 Effie: Hidden

Chapter 60 Zeti: The Moment

Chapter 61 Steffen: Size and Strength

Chapter 62 Steffen: Touch

Chapter 63 Effie: We Think We Know

Chapter 64 Effie: Collapse

Chapter 65 Zeti: Mazed

Chapter 66 Cleve: Perception

Author Information

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2013 by B.T. Narro

Cover art by Ricky Gunawan

 

All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the copyright holder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Alex

an amazing critic and an even better friend.

 

 

 

 

BASTIAL ENERGY

 

BOOK ONE OF THE RHYTHM OF RIVALRY

 

 

 

 

BY B.T. NARRO

 

 

 

Chapter 1: Experiment

CLEVE

 

Cleve’s hands were steady as he drew the string of his longbow. His eyes didn’t see the rest of the forest, only his target. Ready to let the arrow soar, he held his breath, but a noise froze him before he released. He strained his neck toward it.

Footsteps causing leaves to crackle were coming up the hill behind him. Panic pinched his heart, forcing his held breath out through his teeth. By the time his next breath began, his arrow was back in his quiver and his head had swung in each direction, looking for somewhere to throw his five-foot-tall longbow.

The sun was low, striping the forest in shadows from lanky trees too thin to conceal his illegal weapon. The grass of the forest floor was too sparse for it, and the only bushes thick enough were down the hill, past where the footsteps were coming from.

He cursed himself for allowing someone to surprise him. After years of training in the secluded forest, not once had someone sneaked up on him. How could he have let this happen? He took another breath. Figuring that out would have to wait. Right now he needed a plan.

A voice spoke out, just close enough to be understood. “Look at this, Fred. This goldbellow is mangled. What a waste of a rare ingredient.” The young man’s tone was utterly defeated, as if he were witnessing a calamity.

Cleve heard no reply, just a scraping sound like a knife rubbing against steel.

The same voice spoke again. “Fred, I thought we had an agreement about chewing on your cage.”

With his new plan to flee, Cleve was too busy running to make sense of the strange dialogue he’d overheard. He knew if he hurried, there was a chance he could be out of sight before they came up the hill. But something stopped him, a different sound from the same direction as the stranger’s voice—a loud gasp followed by the unmistakable roar of a bear. On reflex, Cleve tossed his longbow behind the nearest tree, his arrow-filled quiver next, and sprinted back the other way. He reached the slope of the hill just as the young man came from its other side with wide eyes that stuck to Cleve the moment they found him.

“Please help me save Fred!” The young man pointed behind him as he shouted.

Cleve looked down the hill. He spotted the bear first, brown and thick with lines of drool locked to the sides of its mouth. They wobbled with each step the beast took toward some small cage on the forest floor.

“I don’t see anyone else.” Cleve spoke with relief, believing Fred had already escaped.

The young man’s eyes doubled in size. “The enormous rat in the cage, that’s Fred!” His voice was wild with urgency, as if Cleve’s calm reply had convinced him he needed to panic for the both of them now.

Cleve found Fred when he looked closer at the cage…enormous rat indeed. Fred’s gray fur gave him the shape of rotund dust ball, while his teeth protruded to twist his mouth into a wide grin that didn’t seem to belong on any creature, especially not a rat.

Unamused by the concept of saving him, Cleve made it quite clear in his tone. “I’m not going to risk my life for…that thing.”

The bear was sniffing around the cage, trying to find a way into it. Fred was following the bear’s nose, nipping at it from behind the steel bars. The little monster sure had courage, at least.

“Come on,” Cleve said, putting his hand on the young man’s back. “Let’s go before the bear gives up on the cage.”

“No, I need him!” The stranger twisted free. “Fred’s a very important test subject for a potion still in its preliminary test phase.”

A chemist,
Cleve realized.
That explains a lot.
Cleve decided to give him a question in hopes of calming him. “What’s your name?”

“Steffen!” he replied with the same incessant panic.

“I’m sure it’s not worth our lives, right Steffen?” Cleve asked.

His rhetorical question seemed to pass through the air without ever reaching Steffen’s ears. “Wait, I know you! You’re Cleve Polken!” Steffen grabbed a nearby rock, hurling it at the bear.

“What are you doing? Don’t anger the bear!” Cleve reached behind him to draw the other weapon he’d brought that day, his long, and completely legal, quarterstaff. Cleve was preparing himself for the bear. But now with the weapon in hand, the idea of hitting this crazy chemist was becoming tempting.
Who throws rocks at bears? Someone who needs to be smacked, that’s who.

Steffen shuffled closer to the bear to pick up another rock to toss. Neither one hit, but the bear did give them a curious glance when they fell into the lush bushes behind it.

“Of the rumors I’ve heard about you, Cleve, I know at least one is true.” Steffen clumsily snatched up a third rock that was half-buried. “You win the weapons demonstration every year.” Steffen threw it, and this one hit the bear’s side, bouncing off without a sound. “If you won’t save Fred, I know you’ll save us.”

The bear eased toward Steffen, stopping to stand on its hind legs and roar. Its steaming breath wafted after the young man while he backed behind Cleve. Out of options, Cleve gathered Bastial Energy into his legs and ran to meet the bear. He flipped and spun through the air with his quarterstaff extended, slamming it on the ground just in front of the bear as he landed. There was a booming crack, akin to the sound of a tree limb snapping. To an untrained ear, it might have sounded like Cleve’s weapon broke, but he knew the ironbark of his quarterstaff to be as strong as steel. He couldn’t break it if he tried.

The bear lumbered away, crashing through bushes as if they were paper. “Look how easy that was.” Steffen smiled with pride, as if to show that he’d been right all along. Fred let out a squeak as Steffen picked up his cage. “Fred and I thank you.”

With the threat of the bear gone, Cleve’s focus turned to the anger pulsing through him. His most menacing tone came out as he spoke. “I don’t like being used.” He turned and started back up the hill before the idea of using his quarterstaff on the chemist became more tempting.

“If you don’t like being used, you’re not going to be a happy warrior when you’re done at the Academy, then!” Steffen shouted to stop him. “All warriors are just used by the King.”

Shocked, Cleve turned with a cold stare. He noticed Steffen cowering back a step, so he followed with a step of his own, waiting for the chemist to finish what he had to say. But Steffen finally seemed content remaining silent, or perhaps he only now noticed the anger in Cleve’s eyes.

“How did you know that?” Cleve asked.

“That all warriors are used by the King?” Steffen asked sheepishly.

“No, that I was to attend the Academy.”

“Oh.” Steffen let out a breath of relief. “I met Headmaster Terren on my way to complete housing registration yesterday. I didn’t know he was your uncle. It makes sense, though. You’re both exceptional warriors.” Steffen took a step forward, looking as if he expected Cleve to know what he was going to say next.

Cleve didn’t and was in no mood to guess. “He told you what about me?”

“Not too much about you specifically, but he did say that you don’t have anyone to room with.” Steffen titled his head. “Surely he mentioned our conversation to you?”

Cleve could feel his brow furrowing cautiously.
What did my uncle do now?
He shook his head. “No.”

“Then I guess I get to be the one to tell you.” Steffen cleared his throat, leaning forward on his front foot with a wry grin. “Your uncle and I spoke briefly about my living predicament—two friends and I were hoping to live together on campus, but there are no houses for three students. Terren mentioned you, and he signed you up to live with us in a house that accommodates four students.” Steffen grew a smile wider than Fred’s in the cage beside him. “What do you think?”

Cleve hoped this was just Steffen’s terrible sense of humor. “You’re joking, right?”

“I thought you’d share my enthusiasm.” Steffen’s grin soured. “I suppose this living experiment is still in its preliminary phase. We have lots of time to find the right ingredients to make this a success.” He had a quick laugh. “Get the metaphor? We’ll be just like Fred, here.” He lifted the cage up to his shoulder. “It’ll work out, Cleve. I’m excited to have a warrior in our household. I have some potions you can help me test.”

And here I thought getting caught with a bow and being dragged to the dungeons would be the worst way to spend the next three years.
“Fred is a disaster, just like this will be,” Cleve muttered. There was no point in staying any longer. He needed to speak to his uncle.

“Where are you going? We should get to know each other!”

BOOK: Bastial Energy
3.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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