The Shattered World Saga - Book One

by Dennis K. Hausker

Aron's peaceful life on his father's farm is suddenly disrupted one day when the crown prince of the realm shows up. He sees the village darling, beautiful Coraline, and he arranges for her to come to the court at the palace far away in the capital city. Coraline has been Aron's heartthrob so he makes a rash statement and get's commandeered into the royal army along with his adopted brother. Another village girl joins them to start a new life under the control of the prince. A bad situation gets continuously worse for all of them, though in different ways. Aron must grow up in a hurry and deal with some very difficult issues as he tries to cope with impossible problems in a society warped by the total power of the nobles over the citizenry. They see them as pawns for their use. Aron's inner strength and his refusal to fail drive him to overcome terrible setbacks to him and his beloved. Traumas are powerful agents of change in their lives.


Stolen Lives

Aron yawned and stretched, gazing out the open barn window at the setting sun across the recently harvested fields. A warm breeze drifted gently through the structure stirring up loose straw on the dirt floor in little whirlpools, but it felt cool on his damp brow. It was a cloudless sky and a perfect fall day.

He was fatigued from his long and hard day of work on the family farm. His parents weren’t wealthy, but were prosperous enough by village standards. They were well respected in the community and generous as a family to those less fortunate. His parent’s lives spoke loudly to Aron on what kind of person he wanted to be.

A perfect example of their generosity was Brock. He’d been orphaned at an early age when his parents were lost to raiders and never heard from again. Aron’s parents took him in and raised him like an older brother for their son. For Aron, it had been both a boon and a curse. Brock was protective of Aron in public among bullies and with strangers, but at home battled with Aron, constantly competing for his parent’s attention. A bitter sweet relationship developed where they would die for each other against outsiders, but at the same time felt like they could pound each other down into the dirt with their sibling rivalry at home.

Their greatest point of contention growing toward manhood was Coraline, the darling of the village: a breathtaking blonde beauty drew the notice of everyone who met her. She acted mature beyond her years with most things, but in some ways still childish. Demure in her outward mannerisms, but for Aron who saw himself as her beau, he sensed more beneath the surface which she chose to hide from curious eyes. As much as he loved her, he could never quite come to peace about her feelings for him.

“Are you waiting for me to finish stacking these hay bales?” asked Brock tersely.

“I got most of them done,” he replied. “Stop complaining, little sister.”

Brock grimaced and growled, then tore after Aron who raced out of the barn toward the house laughing loudly.

“You are done,” Brock bellowed. “I’ll beat you to a pulp.”

“You can’t catch me,” Aron taunted. “I’ve always been faster than you.”

Aron ran to the wood frame farmhouse and hurried into the kitchen. Brock was close behind him. His mother was at the stove and turned a stern look to them.

“Hi Mom,” said Aron innocently.

“What are you boys up to?” she asked suspiciously.

“Nothing,” he lied.

Brock glowered.

“You need to stop tormenting each other,” she said prophetically. “You’ll find that you need each other in this life. There are few enough people in this world we can depend on when things turn bad. Now go wash up before we eat. You smell like the barn.”

“Yes ma’am,” they mumbled. When they went to the wash basin in the bathroom Brock smacked Aron on the arm.

“Ouch!” he squawked.

“You deserved it. Don’t be calling me a girl or you’ll get a lot worse than a smack.”

His father walked in to wash up so the boys quickly nodded and left the room.

They sat down as a family for the evening meal - a family tradition jealously guarded in order to have closeness and sharing that meant so much for family unity.

“I saw Coraline in the market today,” said mother. “She’s such a beautiful young woman. She causes a stir wherever she goes.”

Brock looked at Aron who smiled triumphantly.

“I’m taking her to the harvest dance.”

“That’s nice,” said Brock mockingly.

“Enough...,” said mother. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about, boys. Aron, I want you to apologize to Brock.”

“For what...?”

“I’m not sure what you did, but I suspect you have the fault here.”

Brock smiled broadly.

“Sorry,” Aron mumbled softly.

“Tomorrow I need to go to the village to stock up on supplies,” said father. “You boys will come with me to help load the wagon.”

“Yes sir,” they answered in unison.

After the meal, the boys went back to the barn for another routine which was to practice fighting. They didn’t have swords, but could mimic those strokes using stout shaved tree branches. Over the years, they had battled enough to develop a certain level of skills. Neither of them had ever been tested with real combat in a deadly situation. Their father did have a sword, but didn’t allow them access to it, nor would he make any attempt to teach them to fight. His explanation was brief:

“You should enjoy your good life here rather than dream about adventure and battle. It’s neither glorious nor fulfilling. Dying a pointless death at the whim of some petty aristocrat for no good reason is not a good life goal. We settled here to get away from that very thing. We have dangers here on the frontier, but no worse than the dangers of the kingdom.”

Neither young man fully accepted his opinion, but bided their time.

"Villager" by Dennis K. Hausker


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Epic Fantasy

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