Shiri by D.S. Read Free Book Online

Book: Shiri by D.S. Read Free Book Online
Authors: D.S.
un-mortared stones. The forgotten crafts of ages past had worked on them and raised them high above the plains. But here and there, great gaps could be seen where the Shepherd King’s armies had brought them down.
    Shiri had heard many tales of how Megiddo fell. They had come on the tongues of travellers and merchants as they passed through Yaham. Most said that the people of Megiddo had risen up and overthrown their Gypto overlords even as the Shepherd King did battle with the Lord of Armegiddo in the plains below.
    Others claimed there’d been no rising from within, and the fortress had only fallen after long and bloody siege. Shiri had scoffed at that tale. Either way, the fortress had fallen and even Shiri could see that it could not stand siege again. The once mighty gates of oak and bronze that she remembered from the trip with her father lay smashed and ruined, the strong and ancient walls breached in a dozen places.
    Simeon pointed to a lone figure that stood tall atop the highest rampart still standing and Shiri’s eyes widened. It’s him … it must be. An enormous sable cloak billowed about the man, a grey wolf’s pelt adorned impossibly broad shoulders, and long dark locks fell over his brow. A great and shaggy beard of a slightly lighter shade obscured much of his face, but not the glint of gold about his forehead.
    As Shiri looked up it seemed that the man felt her gaze and peered in her direction. She spoke, half to herself, half to Simeon, “Is that … is that really him?”
    “Aye,” Simeon said. “There stands Jacobaam, King of Shepherds.” He spurred their well lathered mount one more time as they galloped up the low hill and into the town proper.
    The King turned as the rider disappeared under the archway. He had come not from the east, from Josef, as he’d been expecting but from the south from … he struggled for the name … from Aruna … aye that was it, Aruna . There was something troubling in that. Something troubling too in the stare of the peasant girl that clung to the rider’s back. Those eyes had seen death.
    As ever, a cheer went up as he dis appeared behind the battlements. “Jacobaam! Jacobaam! Jacobaam!” Even now groups of them continued to flock to his ranks. Sprawling, excitable clusters mainly composed of men more suited to the life of the farmer than the fighter. They carried a hotchpotch of weapons, some shouldered bows, but most of those he’d sent to the Pass of Gilboa, almost two thousand of them. They’d been well placed in the rocks and gullies above the pass and would do bloody slaughter when Pharaoh passed below.
    Of the rest, a rare few bore ancient and well polished swords. But most held clubs, axes, slings and scythes. Scythes they had used but a few days before to harvest their crops. He could count nearly a dozen warlords and kings amongst them. He laughed at that, kings . Even the chiefs of the smallest clans considered themselves as such. Fools, well meaning fools. His laugh was echoed by a sigh. If they are fools then what am I but the biggest fool of all?
    Simeon saluted as he crested the steps and came before his king. It had not been three moons since he’d last stood before Jacobaam, and yet, even so, there was a little more frost about the King’s locks than before. Shiri stared at Jacobaam wide-eyed. He did not wear the mass of gold and jewels that adorned the monster, nor even a giant crown of blue and silver like Pharaoh. A simple band of metal no thicker than her thumb was all he bore to mark his rank. She’d heard it said that he’d claimed, ‘that was heavy enough.’
    He came closer and Shiri felt a little afraid. He isn’t just big, he’s huge. He would dwarf even her father; that made her feel strange. His arms were corded muscle hard as oak, his eyes, dark coals, coals that ever threatened to ignite in flame. He towered above not only her, but the men around him. Strapped across his back was the famed war axe, named for the Storm

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