The Vanity of Hope
By GW. LANGDON
“A man must overcome his greatest enemy to play his part in the ultimate war.”
Experience First Three Chapters
The infernal light.
Tom lowered his hat against the sharp sun. The once-golden fields of wheat on either side of the road hung beaten and bleached to a white that burned the eyes. His father said it was the worst dry he could remember, and the old folks of the village warned the big dry of 1439, the Devil’s Breath, had started with the same maddening weeks of hot winds from the southeast. A poor harvest meant less money in the village, fewer favors offered with meaner terms—and a shortage of grain over the long winter would cull the weak. Mother Nature was against them. As if there weren’t already too many problems in these alien days.
Captain Jbir searched through the mementos scattered around his quarters. He’d hid it somewhere amongst the gold and jewels so that a sneak would pass over the real treasures and take what could be repackaged and sold on the street. It couldn’t happen on his ship way out here, but old habits were why he’d survived so long. He spread the fine chains across the desk and chose the smallest. After trying several places on his overcoat that it might look good, he set it beside the small lock that once hung around the neck of his first apprentice on Tilas in the glory days.
Tom waved his hat to Sarra as she approached on her bay horse, Ellie. He grinned at her riding side-saddle in a dress. Her happy face jarred with how she was at her mother’s hasty funeral at the church—on his birthday of all days. Dead on Sunday, mourned on Monday, buried on Tuesday in a grave with a banged-up wooden cross. It was a dignified affair, and necessarily quick given the heat.
Marco and Ellie, brother and sister from the same broodmare, neighed and nudged heads as they came together. Her floral frock had a blue waistband and her bonnet had a matching blue ribbon tied in a bow under her chin. She’d embroidered a golden stag on either side of the wide collar. The sunlight glowed in her blonde hair and a wide smile beamed over her face.
Quotes From The Book
"The once-golden fields of wheat on either side of the road hung beaten and bleached to a white that burned the eyes. His father said it was the worst dry he could remember, and the old folks of the village warned the big dry of 1439, the Devil’s Breath, had started with the same maddening weeks of hot winds from the southeast."
"Master Choen opened the shutters and peered into the cruel night. The yellow candlelight in the window deepened the wrinkles on his face to the haggard canvas of a long and unsettled life."
The hem of her gown neither tilted nor rocked as she approached. She had violet eyes, arched brows, high cheekbones, and an even, delicate nose. Up close, she was at least three inches taller than he was, perhaps six and a half feet, which made the knight seven and a half feet tall—as was General Reuzk. Her full lips and generous smile lifted his heart. She was a goddess. “Hello, Thomas. I’ve been waiting a long time for you.”
“Stupefied bodies lay scattered around the courtyard like flotsam after the night’s revelry. Those that had ended the night with their sensibilities intact lay in the shade, while the others, with less foresight or care for the day to come, squirmed in the rising heat."
“Mocking, nonsensical stone faces stared down from beneath the hospital’s tall parapets. Black windows, too dusty to let sunlight shine through, dotted the brick walls like soulless eyes. Old paint flaked off the crumbling wooden frames and rusting steel structures."
“Something about Ba’illi didn’t sit right ever since the slender servant dragged him from the cubicle two nights ago with a strength that didn’t match his light frame. It wasn’t Ba’illi’s round face with eyes that looked as though they’d pop with a hard sneeze, or his greased, black hair that swept back over his head like sculptured wax. Nor, his perfect teeth, featureless, brown skin, or that he dressed as an elf would in green from head to foot. Nothing odd by themselves, but in combination there was something ‘off’ with Ba’illi in a way the other aliens weren’t."