Thanks to Renee Scattergood for posting an author spotlight, featuring my short story, “The Hounds of Alazoth” from the Magical Muse anthology. (See the full post on Renee’s blog.)
This short story connects to my Wind Rider Chronicles series, depicting an event from Journey to Aviad, but from the villain’s point of view. This is the first time it has been released outside of the anthology. Two more of my related short stories can be found in The Dragon Tempest anthology.
The Hounds of Alazoth
The sun had finally sunk below the rim of the world, bathing the Deep Woods in a dark blue twilight. Sensing movement, a Hound lifted his head, turning his nose toward the wind and perking his ears forward. A massive figure was rising up from the earth, his imposing black-horned leather armor and antlered helm a familiar sight. The Master was awake.
The Hound watched his master intently as he and his brothers were roused from sleep, now alert and ready to begin their nightly roving. But this was to be no ordinary night. The Master was calling to them in the only language they could understand…guttural and primitive, from the very dawn of time. There are men in the wood. Men who belonged to their sworn enemy, Aviad, the Creator of all things.
Humans were Aviad’s most prized creation, but they were made of flesh; fragile and weak, not worthy of the high status that had been bestowed upon them. They called the Master “Lord of Destruction,” and rightly so, for since the beginning of their existence he had brought nothing but chaos and death into their lives. The Master had found no way to destroy Aviad—he was far too powerful. But the human vermin were a different matter. The Hound let out a low, angry snarl. How had they dared to cross over into the Deep Woods, the dominion of his master? From within the hound’s belly, the depths of the abyss spewed forth as fire, and he let out a smoky howl at the rising moon. His brothers followed his lead. The hunt had begun, and there would be no escape.
The Master raised his staff, leading his pack into the thick of the wood where the waning light had formed great pools of shadow. The darkness brought them into full wakefulness, sharpening their instincts and giving them clarity of sight. His nose to the ground, the Hound picked up the men’s scent. He let out a glorious howl that was sure to chill their souls if they could hear it. The pack rushed forward, excited by the smell of prey, their tongues salivating at the memory of previous kills…the taste of flesh, the aroma of fear, the shrieks of pain. They were shrieks of victory that Aviad could hear.
Far ahead, there was a flash of movement in the trees. There were three men, all wearing the rough brown robes of the Enemy. Holy men. Around them Aviad’s light glowed, making the Hounds’ sensitive eyes ache with pain. But this did not deter them, it only sharpened their anger. The Master called out to them again…the holy men are not here by chance. They had found something of importance—an ancient relic that belonged to the Enemy. A relic that had had the power to decimate the Master’s armies. It had been buried in the Deep Woods for hundreds of years in the hopes that it might never again be found. But somehow these holy men had found it. They must not be allowed to carry it out of the wood.
Bristling and growling, the pack raced even faster. The Hounds knew they would be upon the men in a matter of moments—no man or beast could match their speed, enhanced by the power of the Master’s staff. Their prey continued to run in a pathetic attempt to get away, their legs and the thick brush getting tangled in their long robes, slowing them down. Their master called out again for speed. The men were heading toward the river, the protected border of the Deep Woods which the Hounds were still unable to cross.
The Hounds were so close upon the men now that they could smell their sweat, and hear their desperate gasping for air. The Hound let out a burst of flame from his belly, scorching the trees as he passed. One of his brothers lunged and caught the slowest of the holy men, bringing him to the ground. The man cried out, but not for long. Several others joined, not to be denied the pleasure of a fresh kill.
The rest of the pack continued to pursue the remaining men. The second one fell, his screams of horror quickly silenced as he was set upon with ravenous fervor. The Master tore through the men’s clothing and their bags, but the relic was not there. He called out again. You must bring down the last of the men without fail. The pack was close on his heels now, snapping at his robes. The leading hound lunged, but the holy man jerked evasively to the right. Another leaped, his claws catching the man across the back. He screamed in pain, his brown robe turning red, but he did not stop running. He was quickly approaching the river. The Hound surged forward with all his strength, catching the man’s legs and felling him at the water’s edge. His weight was pressed upon the struggling holy man to keep him from getting away. He could not help but howl with delight that he had been the one to do his master’s bidding.
But this holy man was not screaming in fear as the others had. He was uttering something in a language the Hound could not understand, but that pained his ears. Before he knew what was happening, the man had fumbled beneath his robe and pulled out an object of such brightness that the whole wood seemed to be enveloped in the light of the sun. A searing pain stabbed through his eyes and head. He cowered from the light, yelping and whimpering, completely paralyzed. The Master was furious; the holy man was getting away. He was fording the river, his blood staining the water around him as he waded across. It was too late. He was beyond even the reach of the Master now.
The bright light faded, but the ache of its stinging power remained. A host of red glowing eyes watched through the falling darkness as their quarry disappeared into the world of men. But while they had lost their battle over the relic, there was still hope in the gathering war. A new age was about to dawn upon a complacent, sleeping world, unprepared for the onslaught their master was preparing to unleash. The Hounds were not the only beasts of long forgotten legend that would soon break out upon the present day. The Master would breach the river barrier…it was only a matter of time. The Hound lifted his nose once more to the wind. The scent of lost souls was intoxicating.
THE MAGICAL MUSE
A Collection of Fantasy Stories
Stories of fantasy ranging from dark, to light and inspiring, bring life to this anthology. The creatures featured throughout, both good and evil, display the devastating or wonderful personalities they were given by the authors who created them for your enjoyment.
Featuring My Short Story: “The Hounds of Alazoth”
Mythological hounds are a foreshadowing of doom for one man seeking refuge from their deadly chase. Allison D. Reid brings a tale of adventure as seen through the eyes of the hounds and their mysterious master, born from the darkness of hell.
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THE DRAGON TEMPEST
Tales of Fantasy and Adventure
The Dragon Tempest offers a collection of short stories in a variety of fantasy genres, including dark, light, adventure, and epic. Creatures from all worlds abound: dragons, angels, centaurs, witches, gods and goddesses, and those lurking below the water’s surface. Whether you’re moved by tales of battle and bloodshed, suspense, humor, or enlightenment, The Dragon Tempest will leave you craving more from each author. Such a diversity of great fantasy tales to enjoy will leave no room for disappointment.
Featuring My Short Story: “A Bard’s Tale”
A rogue bard seeks rest from the road at a favorite tavern. Seeking a night of merriment and free ale, he finds instead an unexpected danger…and an old friend. Can a tune and a little cunning save them both?
Featuring My Other Short Story: “Birth of the Necromancer”
Alazoth and his hounds strike terror into the hearts of men. Passed down through the generations is a chilling myth about the origins of his son. Who has this child of evil grown up to be?