I know I have been absent of late, once again work has been preventing me from putting in a lot of writing time, but I do have something in the works. This is the first chapter of my new book im working, I am about 1/4 of the way done but I'll give you a small taste Nathaniel ran for his life. He quickly diverted from the path, running amongst the thick foliage of the forest. Low hanging branches raked across his skin, their boney protrusions streaking across his face. The cold morning air had already begun burning in his lungs and bite at his fingertips. Everything seemed to burn, his face, his breath, and his fingers felt as if they were on fire. Shouts rose up from behind him as he fled deeper into the forest he turned to look, but nearly fell as he tripped over a tree root that had risen from the ground. He landed on his hands, which pulsated with pain as they dragged through the nearly frozen earth. Still they felt as if they were burning painfully, but Nathaniel tried to ignore it, slamming his eyes shut in effort to ignore the pain. He quickly picked himself back up, opening his eyes. He leapt over a large bush and continued pushing his way deeper into the forest. There was no where for him to go, nowhere for him to hide from his pursuers. He just had to keep running. Despite the chill of the air beads of sweat began to pour from his body, soaking him even further. He instinctively ran his hand over his head, expecting to feel hair, but only finding his bare scalp. He removed the traveling robe, casting it aside as he ran. His dark trousers and tunic were already drenched with his sweat, but the chill only seemed to burn his skin even more. He tried to continue on, but his legs nearly gave way, causing him to stumble against a tree. The bark easily peeled away under his fingers and he fell to a knee. Nathaniel leaned against the tree, trying to catch his breath. The dogs began to bark louder and the men continued to shout. They would be on him in a few short minutes. He willed himself to stand and tossed the bark in his hands aside. He struggled to run once more, afraid he might collapse at any moment from the intense heat. Something was wrong. He had run many times before, often during the waning hours of the night. His body had never felt like this. He had spent the majority of his life running from the local enforcer’s but now it felt as if his body was being lit aflame from the strain. He stumbled as he dashed into a deep puddle, the muddy water rising to his knees. He tried to power his way through the water, his muscles aching, his head beginning to pound in his ears, his heart feeling as if it might burst from his chest. Then, his heart seemed to altogether stop. There, in the clearing in front of him, was one of the horseman that had been chasing him. The rider seemed calm, almost uncaring at the boy’s arrival. He quietly dismounted, the only sound being the horse’s rapid breathing and the shifting of metal plates. The man was clad head to toe in full plate armor. In the full moon the man seemed to shine like a star, illuminating the quiet forest. A white cloth cape draped along his back hung only a few inches from the mud, but it was still splattered with the wet earth. On his chest was a blackened etching of an eclipsed sun. “Disciple….” Nathaniel whispered breathlessly. Disciples were men chosen to be the servants of the Holy Speakers, the voices of Gods. They were blood hounds for their masters, seeking out those who stood against the Holy Ways, and silencing them, like putting down a sick animal before the disease spread. Nathaniel felt every hair stand on end and a relatively familiar feeling wash over him, fear. He couldn’t have run if he tried. Despite the heavy plate the man wore, Nathaniel was no match for his speed. It would be a simple task for the big man to catch him. The Disciple continued walking forward toward Nathaniel, unsheathing his sword as he crossed the clearing. Even knowing that it would be futile, Nathaniel willed his legs to move, but they remained frozen in place, refusing his mind’s command. His arms were locked in place as well, but his fingertips curled into a fist. His breathing became even heavier and sweat continued to trickle down his face. “Come quietly now and you’ll survive this night boy.” The man spoke from under a metal helm that shielded his entire face from view. The voice sounded hollow and distant as if spoken from the end of a cave. The man’s sword arm began to raise slowly, “Make your decision…” His blood pounded through his body. He could feel it with each pulse of his heart as it coursed through his veins. His eyes stung painfully as it coursed behind them, threatening to burst forth. His fist shook uncontrollably and his finger nails dug into his palms. The chill of the air stung painfully against his wet skin, but the cold seemed so intense, so painful that it felt like his skin was on fire. “Why…” Nathaniel growled from behind gritted teeth, “..is it…..so…” He began to feel an unfamiliar presence rise through his body and flood his veins. His power had returned once more. With a guttural roar he yelled “…Hot!” His body reacted on instinct, Nathaniel raised his hands toward the Disciple. His arms erupted in flame, singing the clothing from his upper torso. The disciple whipped his arm back, preparing to strike, but Nathaniel let loose the pent up energy and the fire arced from his hands toward the Disciple. The flames collided with a man as if the fire was as hard as stone. The man was tossed backward nearly a dozen paces, colliding with his horse. The creature let loose a whine as it too hit the ground. More shouts erupted from the forest behind him and the barking of dogs rang in his ears. He struggled to move, but his body remained in place. It was no longer due to fear however. He looked down to see the puddle he had been standing it was now frozen solid. He reached down, gently laying his finger tips to the frozen water. As soon as he touched it, the ice began to melt, quickly forming back into the muddy water it has once been. He could feel the ice draw into his fingertips, concentrating itself into raw energy. Despite the extreme cold that began to gather, he continued to draw upon the ice until it all had returned to its liquid state. He looked to his hand, and then back the way he had come, as torches began to appear from behind a small hill. Everywhere he had stepped there were icy boot prints sunken into the earth. He cursed at his own stupidity for not noticing it and turned to run. As he did though, he stopped and stared down at his hands, which had begun to sting painfully. They were white and nearly shaking, dripping with raw power. He stared back at the icy boot prints and at the torches coming over the hill. He held up his hands once more and willed the chill to leave his fingers. Immediately, the forest ground in front of him reacted. The water still drenched in the soil began to freeze, giving the mud a glistening hue. Once he was sure all of the excess frost had left his body he turned to run. One of the dogs had gotten away from his master and raced after him. Nathaniel pumped his arms faster, but as soon as the dog reached the frozen earth it began to slide uncontrollably. Nathaniel had to smile at himself as he heard it splash into the muddy water and utter a terrified howl. He was nearly upon the next hill by the time he had heard the men utter cries of their own, slipping into the muddy water alongside their beasts. He checked to make sure his boot prints were no longer covered in ice. Once he was sure, he continued at a brisk jog, heading north toward the road. It didn’t take him more than an hour to reach it. He turned to look back into the forest once more, but no men shouted and no dogs barked. I guess being that cold makes them think twice about a man-hunt, Nathaniel thought. He began moving east along the quiet road. On one side was the thick forest he had just come from, but on the other was numerous acres of farmland. Brigands wouldn’t likely be in the area, especially at this hour. It was too often frequented by night patrols as well as the farmers themselves. That did mean however, that Nathaniel was just as susceptible to discovery. He looked over his shoulder one last time, making sure he was not followed. In the distance he saw something shine in the moonlight. It took a second to make out what it was, but once he had, Nathaniel’s blood ran cold. It was the disciple, staring right at him. Nathaniel froze, staring silently back at the scorched man. The disciple however, turned and walked away. Nathaniel stood still and stared for awhile longer, but the disciple did not return, nor did any others. His heart was racing but he forced himself to calm. Acting irregularly now would only get him caught. He looked toward the stars, uttering a silent prayer and continued down the road. Before long he reached down and quickly ripped one of his trouser legs and wrapped the cloth around his head. It may have been cold from being drenched, but it hid his bare head, his mark of shame. He moved with no sense of purpose. His energy was nearly spent, and the chill of the morning air began to sting painfully, no longer the burning sensation, just pain. He wished had hadn’t so easily discarded his traveling cloak, but it had only served to slow him down. He looked up to the sky and between the cloud cover. The stars were shining brightly, one last defiant twinkle before the sun arrived to upstage them all.