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Tales of the MERC Part One: The Trial

Tales of the MERC Part One: The Trial

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Tales of the MERC Part One: The Trial

87 pagine
1 ora
Dec 7, 2018


Despite being the youngest – and smallest – member of his class, Stout excelled in every facet of the Officer Training Program given by the Military Expeditionary and Reconnaissance Corps (MERC). Upon graduation, he and fellow lieutenant, Hound, left the city of New Apros and made the transcontinental trip from the southern coast of Flam’bhoreal to Base-Camp, Northern Command.

Once there, both were given a choice: take immediate command of a platoon or face the perils of the mystical Trial upon the Isle of Cal Dakar. A challenge, the Trial offered each candidate an opportunity. Should they pass, their rune carved blades would quicken, offering a symbiotic relationship that bound blade and soldier together.

Should they fail, they die.

Dec 7, 2018

Informazioni sull'autore

I would describe myself as unassuming. I'm the 4th of 5 kids, a Penn State grad, a U.S. Navy vet and an entrepreneur. I've been married since 2002 and just recently I turned fifty years old.I've been writing fiction informally since I was ten years old. I've outlined and written down ideas for stories in several different genres. It is only as I've gotten older that I've tried to take a stab at actually writing in effort to get published.I've written in a number of different fictional styles including retrospectives, faith based stories and humor. Right now my efforts are focused on world building in a military fantasy setting.

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Tales of the MERC Part One - Mike Eschbach

Tales of the MERC

Part One: The Trial

A Novella

by Mike Eschbach

Dedicated to Harry E (1925-2016)

Miss you, Dad

Published by Mike Eschbach at Smashwords

Copyright 2018

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover Art by Jessica Dueck at StarsColdNight. Please visit her at her website:

Map Art by: Tom Ruple. Please visit him at

Table of Contents

Chapter I – The Opening

Chapter V – Northward Bound

Chapter X – The Causeway

Chapter XV – The Maw

About the Author

Chapter I

1415, Peaceday, 21st Inadrune, Autumn, 1032

Stout stood alone, deep in thought. Worry lined his face as he waited on the veranda outside the small villa he shared with his wife. It was a steep drop from his vantage. He watched in casual regard as white-capped swells marched in careless succession across Emilee Bay. Flotsam and driftwood long borne upon the Tilarian Ocean’s southern tide gathered along the beach below, detritus long forgotten by an insouciant sea. A sudden gust blew from the south – his tunic flapped like a pennon as eyes hued an icy blue watered beneath the assault.

His musing was dark, born of self-recrimination. A heroic past weighed heavily upon his conscience when counted against his son’s decision to follow in his footsteps. Frowning, he turned away from the bay and ran a hand over short, pale hair. Gazing skyward, he asked Fortune for aid, but she seemed disinclined to meddle. Instead, clouds gathered and the temperature fell.

He was warm enough, though just barely, and gave some thought to retreating into the house to find a cloak when the door opened behind him. Turning, he found Malice gazing at him with a small smile despite her wan complexion and the dark circles beneath her eyes.

You dreamed again last night, he said quietly.

Pulling her dark, woolen cloak more tightly about the shoulders, she shrugged in reply. With a glance toward the lowering gloom, she said, It is cold. The sky threatens rain, I think. Facing him, she asked, Are you warm enough?

Stout nodded. I’ll be fine once we start walking.

Do you think Hari will deploy soon?

The question was sudden, yet expected, for she had asked it every day since their son’s graduation from the White Sands Training Center some two weeks prior. Nodding, he said, Yes, the MERC will need front line officers to further their plans.

The Military Expeditionary and Reconnaissance Corps can keep their plans, Malice said, her voice couched low with a bitter tinge. I dread the day he leaves.

I know, love, he replied.

He will wish to go to Cal Dakar against our counsel.

Probably. It doesn’t help that Northern Command is recommending that those who wish to face the Trial do so prior to taking charge of a platoon.

Will you talk him out of it? she asked.

I will try, but Hari is stubborn, he replied. He takes after you. If he decides for the Maw, nothing will sway him otherwise.

Hari worships you, Malice said. It would have been better if you had never faced the Trial.

Stout frowned and turned away. Sorrow filled his voice as he answered, You’re right. Even after all these years, my sword beckons like some bent mistress summoning her slave. It’s all I can do to withstand her pull. Now I fear for our son. After a brief pause, he added, It is a heavy regret.

Malice relented with a sigh. Laying a hand upon his shoulder, she said, Come, let us enjoy his company while we may.

Descending together from the porch, they strolled along the narrow, stone path that led to the rear of their property. Upon reaching the postern, he held open the gate for her and then exited himself onto Drenel Lane. They made their way down the cobbled way into New Apros. Their pace was steady, the wind brisk at their back. As they drew near the heart of the city, the tumult of the Peaceday throng greeted them. This, the final day of the week, was reserved for celebrations and other small endeavors. The shops were busy.

Ignoring the appeals of hawkers, they navigated through the crowd, making their way to meet their son and his bride to be. Of a similar height, they strode silently and in step, a striking couple in spite of creases surrounding their eyes that spoke of wisdom hard won. Both were veterans of the MERC, a legacy passed with pride onto their son. Yet it did not come without a price. As Stout weighed his guilt, Malice bore a grave unease for Hari. It was a prescient fear, alive, that often woke her from the depths of sleep. Stout was aware that she suffered and offered support such as he was able, yet her intuition offered insight that was real in a way he could not comprehend.

With such thoughts dancing through her mind, she sighed. A brooding frown crossed her face. With a free hand, she tucked a wisp of raven hair behind her ear that had escaped from a barrette.

Conscious of her disquiet, Stout murmured, You’re still troubled.

Always, she replied. "I just keep thinking that we served our time. It seems unfair they

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