The Gathering Storm

Book Two

by Dennis K. Hausker

Dave's back, escaped with his friends of the quest to the Radjuk Empire, but they weren't unscathed and they're much different people. Their daunting challenge trying to unite the fractious races together for a mutual defense against the inevitable imperial invasion forces them into further harrowing life altering experiences and a new issue arises as a mysterious stranger appears. Is he a friend, or not? Dave can't seem to corral his discordant feelings about him. Dave still can't understand the development of his powers and the miraculous things he does, but that doesn't make him confident in his decisions.




The weather was already starting to turn colder as Dave packed his things to begin the first leg of their long and frightening journey at long last, after seemingly endless debate and argumentation with his inner circle, those close friends that had shared his perilous life on Faenum. They’d never been able to reach a consensus about Dave’s idea to travel to all of the lands on their side of the mountains and deal with the hostile attitudes of those diverse peoples. In the end, Dave had simply said, “We’re doing it so let’s get ready. I’m tired of talking.”

* * * *

“There’s a bite in the air today,” he muttered, fastening his open jacket against the increasing wind.

“Did you say something?” asked Jenna.

“Not really,” he answered. He took a sip from the steaming cup of coffee his wife handed to him. The camp was astir with Sylvia’s followers moving about purposefully, unsure about what awaited them. The tepid welcome they received from the confederation cities tempered their initial enthusiasm about escaping from the Rajduk Empire. Their dreams of entering into a promised land where all of their problems would be solved proved to be empty dreams. Here they were faced with cold reality and that meant there were no guaranteed meals, no sympathetic benefactors, and perils of a different sort than they faced back home.

Dark storm clouds covering the peaks of the distant mountains to the north were starting to move their way, rolling down from the heights into the low lands. Powerful lightning bolts flashed and deep thunder rumbled like a symbolic portent of doom knocking at their door.

Graile walked over, eyeing the threatening weather.

“I think before this day is over, we’ll be miserable,” he commented. “Those kinds of storms tend to be nasty and they’re persistent.”

“How are we doing with food and water?” asked Dave.

“Water’s not a problem. We have plenty with us and there’s no shortage of water along the way that we’re going. We’ve hunted enough to build up a stock of meat, and we’ve secured vegetables and fruits from the confederation, at least what they were willing to part with.”

“I guess provincialism and prejudice is a given, no matter what planet you’re on,” said Dave sourly. “I hope things go better once we get onto Warlen land.”

“You’re the High Chief of the Warlen,” said Jenna.

“It wasn’t like I was voted into office,” said Dave skeptically. “I think there are plenty of Warlen who wouldn’t mind if I never came back. I’m anxious to see Andron again, though. With him in charge, I can’t believe that things could have gone too terribly wrong. Maybe I’m being naïve but I’d rather think the best than the worst.”

“Andron is an able leader,” said Jenna, smiling reflectively. “I always thought very highly of him all the way back from the time when we were children together.”

“Oh?” asked Dave, raising his eyebrows. “Should I be worried here?”

Jenna laughed. “You’re a silly man. Andron was a good friend, but I was the prima virga. He could not have those kinds of feelings for me.”

“I’m just checking,” said Dave, smiling playfully. “However, you’re saying he shouldn’t have those feelings isn’t the same as his actually having those feelings and keeping them restrained and hidden from you.”

Jenna looked at Dave, as if she never considered the possibility Andron might have a secret flame for her.

“Graile! Where are you? There’s work to be done here,” they heard in a loud shout from Sylvia calling for him from the turmoil of the camp.

Graile rolled his eyes. “Marriage is a double edged sword that cuts both ways,” he said.

Dave started to laugh loudly. Jenna smacked him on the arm.

“That isn’t funny,” she complained.

“Of course not,” said Dave, continuing to chuckle. Jenna smacked him again.

“Ouch,” he complained. “You’re going to leave a bruise.”

“For a god, you complain a great deal,” she said.

“You said that before,” said Dave, “and I failed to find the humor in it the first time.”

Jenna stuck out her tongue at him. He was about to tangle with her playfully when they heard a commotion at the far side of the camp.

Dave hurried over to see if they were being attacked. When he arrived, he didn’t find any fighting. Instead, he found a circle of women and children talking, pointing, and chortling at a short comical looking figure who’d entered their midst. He was the height of a child; squat, round bellied and pudgy. He had long spindly arms and legs, his head seemed too big for his body. He was dressed in brightly colored mismatched clothes that clashed. He was a walking eye sore. His thin yellowish hair was intermittent and stringy. His large round eyes looked like two big moons, like an owl, with thick bushy eyebrows. He had a bulbous nose, a wide mouth, and big ears. He also had a noticeable long tongue that reminded Dave of a snake in a way although his tongue was very thick. 

He was talking continuously but to no one in particular. Dave stepped into the circle in front of him.

“Oh my,” said the funny looking little man, like he had been startled. “You’re the big hoop de do, eh, the boss man.” He studied Dave looking at him from different angles, like he was picking vegetables at a market. Dave thought he felt a quick mental probe, but he wasn’t certain of that.

“I guess I am,” said Dave curiously. “Who and what are you?”

“I’m Wilphrus,” he replied.

“Is that your name, or your species?”

Dennis K. Hausker - "The Gathering Storm"


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