It is 1530, and life can be as dangerous as it is short, especially for a soldier. In the majestic capital city of Casile, Captain Arathin Briar is content with his life. After taking a beautiful bride six months earlier, he has just completed his training as a soldier when his peaceful existence is abruptly uprooted. Captain Briar has been called to war.
In this age of kings, tyranny and injustice run rampant across the world. After a village is attacked just outside Casile, the country's foundation is shaken to the core. With little time to assemble a sizable force, Captain Briar and two other captains set out with a small army to gain entry to the village. But little do the soldiers know that they are about to uncover an earth-shattering conspiracy from an unknown adversary that leaves Arathin torn between his vastly different loves-his beloved king and the country he has vowed to serve and his loving wife and the unborn child she now carries.
The Soldier's Oath is an action packed tale of warfare, conspiracy, and honor as a general and his brave soldiers fight their way out of a vast conspiracy that shakes their nation's moral foundation.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.52(d)|
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The Soldier's OathA Sedition Rising
By Christopher Lewis
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Christopher Lewis
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Soldier's Beginning
It had been raining. Wispy clouds of red and orange filled an early spring sky. From one of the city's tallest points, high in the castle, a young man gazed through an open window and was admiring the day's majestic peace. He was a soldier of his time. He was of average height but strongly built. He had short brown hair. Through his own eyes, he was not unique in any way; he just tried his best to be a good person and take care of the people he loved. His name was Arathin, and he came from a long line of soldiers. His father had the privilege of serving on the king's council for a period of time and spent his entire life in service to his country. He was proud of his family's history; nearly every man wore a uniform in one aspect or another. Military service was undoubtedly in his blood. He was at a very good place in his life. He and his wife had wed less than six months ago.
Her name was Eva, and she was very beautiful. He hair was long and dark and she had a smile that could light up the world. Her eyes were as deep as the ocean and openly radiated the goodness that originated from within her soul. He was blessed to have found her. She was his entire world. Their future together drove him to get out of bed every morning and be the best man he could be. Not just for her but for the second heart growing and beating inside her body.
This was absolutely his favorite time of year. The temperature was just right and there was almost always a cool breeze. While this particular spot in the castle was very much out of his way, it was one of the best spots to get a good view and find a bit of peace before facing another long, brutal day.
The capital city, Casile, was as majestic as the scenery that surrounded it. The countryside stretched for miles, ultimately fading into a blue haze at the far horizon. The sparkles of raindrops remaining on the rooftops shimmered against the darker stone background of the buildings. A majority of the streets were built with cobblestone and were clean of trash and debris. The capital was a beautiful place. People from all walks of life and cultures roamed her streets. However, the division throughout the city was very apparent. The three main classes—the rich, the poor, and those stuck somewhere in the middle—were almost as evenly defined as the edge of the streets. Each section of the city had its own style of architecture. The poor people had homes made of wood and, if they were lucky, straw thatching. The rich adorned their homes of stone, most two stories tall with red or brown shale rooftops and ornate decorations and banners proclaiming their status. Every time he looked out into the city, his heart seemed to skip a beat. He by far preferred living in the country, but the awe of the capital never ceased to amaze him.
The wind blew against his face. He took a deep breath and then looked down at his uniform, inspecting it meticulously. This day was special for no particular reason; it was not his first day training to be a soldier and certainly would not be his last. He was very proud of his decision to serve. He loved his country very much and what his people stood for.
The church bell rang out in the distance, sounding the start to morning commerce. From the gate, people began to trickle into the city. Realizing the time, Arathin moved to join his company. Leaving the vantage point, he descended several flights of stairs, landing in a hallway very similar to the one he was just standing in. It veered left, passed through another corridor, and descended a second but shorter flight of stairs.
He entered the castle's Great Hall, which expanded immensely around him. High above his right side, a row of stunning stained- glass windows ran the length of the chamber, shining down an array of colored light onto the white marble floor. He marveled at the room's amazing mass as he walked. Stone arches ran across the ceiling to massive pillars adjoining the walls. His boots echoed crisply off the cold stone and marble. The hall was empty and he quickly arrived at the keep's main entrance. A set of massive wooden doors led to the courtyard; they stood three times the height of a man and took several soldiers to swing open.
The enormous entry gave way to a series of stone steps arcing around the entrance of the keep into the courtyard. The courtyard was massive. The grass was manicured meticulously. Children ran around flying kites and laughing to each other. Peaceful as it was, a large majority of the courtyard was reserved for military training. New recruits and veterans alike trained hard, day in and day out, often throughout the night as well. He chose this life and he was proud. Walking among the people and admiring his home, every time he stopped to take it all in, reminded him why he had joined. Nearby were the assembling ranks of his company.
He walked to his place in the first of two rows, third from the left. A majority of the men among him stood slightly taller. He knew this was a disadvantage when it came to hand-to-hand combat, but what he lacked in strength he made up for in cunning. His company was assigned a group of instructors who, for the last two and a half months, had made their lives absolute hell. Today, however, a new instructor stood in front of them.
The man was broad. He was aging and by some standards was considered old. However, the fact he carried a sword, wore armor, and was still alive at his age said a lot about who he was as a soldier. The essence of a warrior enveloped him: strong, confident, and disciplined. He was slightly above average height. His hair was short, thinning in some places and graying, as was his beard. It was neatly trimmed and lined with fading shades of brown.
Their regular team of instructors looked almost as surprised as the recruits. They gathered and mumbled among each other, careful to hide their conversation.
"Why would he be here?" one of them asked.
"It doesn't make much sense."
"I don't know about you, but I don't like having all the rank in our business."
The company stood at attention, silent and unwavering. The man walked between the two ranks as he surveyed the soldiers, inspecting their uniforms and their demeanor. It seemed like he was looking for someone.
"First rank!" he bellowed deeply, sending a tingle through every soldier's spine. "Three steps. Forward, march!"
Arathin felt his feet move instinctively; his heels came together at the third step, clanking in unison with the rest of the company. Several men down the line failed to stop at three and took an extra step.
"Are you serious?" the man shouted angrily, his voice splintering the calm morning air. "This is the sorriest pile of crap I have seen in my life. Everyone but you three." He pointed to the men who took an extra step. "On the ground, count them out!"
The soldiers hit the ground and began doing pushups, counting in unison while the soldiers who had messed up watched.
"Now I remember why I don't come out here. It makes me angry! You've been at this for the last two and a half months. Lucky for you, I have some extra time, so I will be joining you for the duration of your training. There may still be some time to turn you around!"
Arathin's heart sank. Training had already beaten him down and his body ached as it was.
"Let's try this again. On your feet!" he shouted. He glanced out of the corner of his eye to the instructors who stood only a few feet away.
The company stood and this time got it right.
"For those of you who do not know who I am, I will be your commanding general," he stated while walking between the ranks again. "For the last two months, you have been required to work with the men around you and draw upon every ounce of strength you possess. I assure you the last two and half months are nothing compared to what we will put you through in the remaining four weeks."
Mentally, Arathin winced as he quickly recollected the back-to-back twenty-hour days, the relentless sessions of body hardening, the thousands of pushups, and countless miles they spent running with their gear.
"If you thought you had what it took before today, you better reach deep down and think again. If I don't think you are cut out to serve in my army, I will kick you out. No do-over, no restart, you're done." The general paused and looked at the company. "With that said, let's begin. Front rank, about face!"
The first rank turned 180 degrees to face the rank behind them. The general walked between the columns to the very end so he could see each soldier.
Arathin faced a man much larger than himself. Not by just a few inches, but by almost a foot. He was easily the biggest man in the company. It was daunting; they had faced each other before during body hardening and Arathin knew this guy was nothing but one solid piece of muscle. Every time they trained together, Arathin left with serious bruises. The man's name was John. He had brown hair and very distinct facial features; he was square- jawed and had crystal-clear hazel eyes. Arathin knew from talking to John that he grew up as a farmer's son so he was used to hard work.
"Draw weapons on my command," ordered the general. "Draw."
Arathin reached across his body and drew a wooden sword that had already seen its fair share of abuse. In his mind, playing with wooden swords seemed childish, but he knew when they practiced with the real thing that mistakes were irreversible.
"On my next order, engage the man directly across from you. We'll see how far back we need go." The general again glanced at the instructors who stood in a group with their arms folded.
Arathin waited anxiously for the command. He studied John's stance, noticing it was strong, but he stood off balance due to a knee injury suffered weeks prior. After what seemed like an eternity, the order finally came.
John stepped forward swinging his sword just above Arathin's head. Countering, Arathin swung upward, knocking away his sword. Exploiting his weakness, Arathin placed his foot behind John's leading leg. Before John could react, Arathin placed his hands on his chest and pushed violently. John flew to his back with a thud and dropped his sword. Arathin offered a hand and, with great disdain, John accepted.
"Very good!" boomed the general. "Again."
Arathin and John returned to their places and faced each other once again. The general's command came much faster, and Arathin lunged forward swinging. John blocked and then took a step forward, closing the gap. Using John's forward momentum, Arathin threw him to the ground, but this time face first. Arathin walked in front of him with a friendly grin and once again offered his hand. John offered a challenging grin back and Arathin knew he was going to hold nothing back.
"Very good. Form up," the general ordered, and the columns formed again. He walked down the line and stopped between John and Arathin. "This is an interesting matchup," he said quietly, surveying both soldiers and their size. "Everyone gather round, make a circle. I believe there is a lesson to be learned here."
The company formed a circle around John and Arathin.
"Now," the general began, "you two, on my command."
The young acquaintances and growing friends faced each other for the third time with the same previous result. Arathin won.
"Once more," the general said.
By this time John was furious. He'd been made a fool in front of the entire company and his future commanding officer. He fumed, his nostrils flared, and sweat beaded on his forehead. He focused, and on command he lunged forward with his wooden sword leading. Arathin deflected it and in return smacked him in the head. John shook it off, blood pouring from his nose, picked Arathin up by his armor, and flung him to the ground, victoriously standing over him.
"Do you all understand the lesson here?" the general asked. The company was silent. "Just because you are outmatched doesn't mean you are out of the fight. Find your enemy's apparent strength then exploit it, turning it into a weakness. Remember a good soldier must always fight with his head first. However, controlled anger used in the right situation can be what it takes to overcome your opponent and come out on top. That will be all for now."
* * *
High atop the keep, the king stood on his stone balcony overlooking the city. He was tall and aging. He had long, gray hair and a short white beard. He was ornately dressed, adorned with silver, gold, and rare jewels. Above all else, he required the highest level of respect at all times.
A slightly overweight man with thin gray hair stood next to him. He wore a green tunic encrusted with silver trimmings.
"Has what we've discussed previously been taken care of?" the king asked.
"It is in the works, Your Majesty."
"I trust I do not need to remind you the essence of time."
"Indeed not, Sire. I assure you the target will be dispatched according to your wishes, and you will remain anonymous," the overweight man said.
"Very good," the king said. He leaned over the granite ballast and watched his soldiers in action. "I hired you because of our history. You assured me you were the best. For your sake, I hope so."
"Without a doubt, Your Majesty. If you will excuse me, I'll be off to my work," the overweight man in the green tunic said as he bowed deeply.
The king did not acknowledge.
* * *
The day for the company continued as the general had promised, with him immediately testing them. The group of instructors, under the general's supervision, directed the company through a series of horrific exercises. Following the hours of relentless physical training, the company ran a short obstacle course, and, as the sun began to sink, they ran a lap around the city—dressed in full armor. Next was a round of body hardening. They concluded the day with a second round of swordsmanship. John, tired and bruised, learned from his mistakes and started fighting with his head, not just his brute strength. Arathin didn't win a single round.
By this time, it was dark and the moon was rising in the sky; the general dismissed them until morning. Arathin walked away from the courtyard and made for his parents' house, which was a short walk away into the rich district. He knocked on the blue door and his mother answered. She smiled widely and gave him a hug.
She was a small woman with gray, curly hair. She was quiet, soft spoken, and always attempted to look her best. She was wearing a burgundy gown with tight sleeves that fastened with buttons in the middle and had slits on the forearms, also fastened with buttons. It was ornamented with ribbons of silver and gold cloth, and around her neck was a shimmering silver necklace.
"It's late," Arathin's father said from his chair by the fire.
His father wasn't grotesquely overweight, but he carried a few extra pounds on top of the muscle he'd grown in his youth. He had the typical gray-patterned horseshoe on top of his head and always fashioned himself with ornate dress.
"Yes," Arathin answered. "We had to stay late. For some reason, our commanding general showed up. He's going to be joining us for the duration of training."
"Humpth," Arathin's father replied. He seemed apathetic but slightly curious at the mention of the general.
He walked through the doorway and into a large, open room. On the left side was the stone hearth with a large hand-carved mantelpiece of oak. His father sat plump in a cozy chair where he read a loosely bound book with a worn, dark-green cover. In front of Arathin was a long wall separating the kitchen from the rest of the house. A large wooden staircase sat to the right of the door and led to the bedrooms upstairs. The interior of the house was well appointed like the exterior of the house. His father could never let go how much money his mother used on decorations. In his humble opinion, money spent so poorly.
"Don't listen to him," his mother said as she jumped in. "We've missed you lately."
"I've missed you too. How's Ellie?"
"She misses her brother," his mother replied.
At the sound of his voice, his adopted younger sister walked into the room, her blonde curls bouncing up and down as she ran toward him. His mother had a soft spot for children, but after Arathin she could not carry any more. Recently she had missed the sound of a child's laughter in the house and took in an orphan.
Excerpted from The Soldier's Oath by Christopher Lewis Copyright © 2012 by Christopher Lewis. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. A Soldier's Beginning....................1
2. The King's Council....................14
3. Dinner and Questions....................27
4. Forging a Warrior....................40
5. The Final Mission....................55
6. The King's Oath....................65
7. A Soldier's Duty....................79
8. Defending the Village....................91
9. Heroes and Quiet Eyes....................104
11. The King's Caravan....................125
12. The Other General....................138
13. General Bennett's Mission....................145
14. Arathin and Eva....................155
15. Sedition Rising....................166
16. The Conspiracy....................178
17. The Seeds of War....................180
18. Battle of the River Valley....................187
19. The Soldier's Oath....................194
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is a story of a soldiers love for his country. It contains betrayal and deciept. It captures you from beginning to end and ends up making you want more. It has its action, romance and is enjoyable for any age. Whether you have a love for any of these concepts, you will not be dissapointed.