Here's something that's not likely to ever see the light of day in its full form. The Price of Immortality was my first novel-length work, written when I was 17. It was a pretty straightforward Sword & Sorcery story, though it did have promise. Much like Heinlein's "For Us, The Living," this novel was a foreshadow of stories I would write in the future.
This book features "The Journeymen," a group of intrepid adventurers who are tasked to save the world from an immortal wizard who wants to wipe out all magical entities, including human magic-users. There are various sub-plots, involving xenophobic trolls, haughty wizards with clandestine motivations, and a shocking betrayal worthy of Benedict Arnold!
The origin of these characters started even earlier in my life, with a 9th Grade English assignment. Even then, writing was my forte, so when given the chance to write a story I created this group and set them on an adventure. The story behind that story's creation is far more interesting than what I actually wrote, because I had to write it twice. You see, I had it all typed up and ready to bring to class, but in a youthful bit of absentmindedness I left it at home. I wasn't going to let that stop me from getting a story in on time, and thanks to the bussing schedule I had the better part of an hour before class to rewrite the story. I scribbled it down from memory as best I could, and still managed to hand it in. I think I even got an A on it. Unfortunately, neither draft of this short story exists any longer, so I can't share any of it.
For those who have read Prisoner of Time, you had the chance to meet the Journeymen party in an alternate form, the most notable character being the lovely Lorna, who carries over into The Guns of Mars. If I ever find a proper publishing venue for "Virtual Domination," you'll also have the chance to see more of Zavier, the tavern-loving wizard from the group.
So, here it is, the Prologue to "The Price of Immortality!"
At the edge of a small farming village in northern Fairgrove Province stood a man. An old man with hair of silver and eyes of blue. A face devoid of wrinkles, but an old one nonetheless. He was said to be as old as the mountains and sky. Once a legend among wizards, now his name had lost almost all remembrance, forgotten during the centuries in which he had lived a less electrifying life than that of his first millennium.
His past, filled with heroism and mysticism. His present, filled with far darker matters. His future? Such things were best left unthought of until the threshold of tomorrow.
Toward the end of two millennia of life, the ancient one found himself at the site of an unnamed farming village, the community filled with unremarkable people living unremarkable lives.
'They'll not be missed,' the man thought to himself.
As the wheat farmers neared the end of harvesting the year's yield, the unseen ancient summoned the forces of magic at his command, the overwhelming power coursing through his body, filling the air around him. A thin dark beam streaked upward into the sky, accumulating a thick cloud cover over the village's entirety. With the fall of the first raindrops, the farmers concluded their work and headed for the shelter of their cottages, so closely arranged to each other in the center of the great fields.
'So easily influenced by a conjured storm front. Exceptionally unremarkable people... though they shall suit my purpose.'
A sudden crack of magic in the air, sparked from the hand of the old man, caused a great darkness to fill the space surrounding the crowded village. A great black dome speckled with swirling white dots formed over the houses, blocking them from sight. Channeling magic energy through himself, the old one continued to expand the dome's size, beginning to alter its shape, causing it to push upward in the form of a domed cylinder of black.
As exhaustion overcame the old man, he ceased the growth of the great void. Standing near its edge, he flicked his wrist, and a small patch of the ground lifted up, revealing the staircase to a mysterious underground complex beneath.
Heading down the metal staircase into the strange bunker, the concealed door above him closed, leaving him in darkness until he reached the bottom of the stairs.
Pushing a button, the cold underground filled with light, the source of which not even the old man could fully understand. Something of another time, one yet to be, he recalled. Ironic, that near the eve of his endeavor to help create that future he would happened upon this complex, for without it his task would be many times harder. Not that it would be easy, in any case.
Reaching a room of futuristic devices, the old man sat himself in a padded chair and activated a computer monitor. Using his limited understanding of the device, he combined its technological functions with those of his magic, thus allowing him to monitor the growth of his void and the progress toward his ultimate goal.
Such a fortunate thing; his acquaintance with a wizard who'd seen tomorrow had brought him a limited knowledge of such devices. Otherwise, such things would be useless to him and the bunker itself would have been nothing more than a curiosity.
Now, with things set in motion, the man relaxed. 'So it begins... and the price of immortality shall be paid.'