Historical Fiction Adventure Drama
OldEarth Neb Encounter Excerpt
In this Historical Fiction Adventure Drama, Enosh sees the possibility of victory, but his sister knows that heroism comes from within, as does true evil.
Enosh returned to camp several months later, flushed with victory. The sun shone, and his heart swelled in pride when he saw Eva outside. He ran to his dwelling, grabbed his little sister by the waist, and swung her in a circle, shouting in unleashed exuberance. “I beat Kryce today! I outmaneuvered him, and he’s the one going home with a sting to mend!”
Eva met the beaming face of her brother and grinned. “I’m happy for you, brother, though” —her smile faded— “it will take more than a sting to stop Neb.”
His joy draining away like water through a net, Enosh felt a sneer worm its way through his body. “Neb! The way you talk, one would think he’s a god who can’t be beaten. He’s a man. Looks like a man, bleeds like a man, and can be stopped like any other man. Kryce is an excellent warrior—one of the best—and when I struck him today, I proved that I’m stronger and better than I’ve ever been before. Can’t you be glad? Can I never prove myself even to you?”
Eva dropped her gaze but quickly turned at the sound of pounding feet.
Kenan raced toward them and came to a halt, practically colliding with Enosh.
Several men sat outside a storage hut, attending to their weapons. They looked up, their eyebrows rising.
“Enosh! Uzal wants you. You remember Hul? He served father faithfully but then decided to stay with Neb. He and Accad and his brother Jubal from the People of Seth have come, and they spent the morning speaking with Uzal. No one looks happy. Hurry!” Kenan turned and sped up the steep incline toward Uzal’s home.
Holding back, Enosh nodded. His staunchest warrior, Thubal, could make or break his leadership position. “Tell Thubal where we’ve gone and that I want him to join us. He has as much of a right as anyone.” With this, Enosh nodded to his sister and started after his brother.
Uzal ignored the press of too many bodies in the confined space, stifling the air in his dwelling.
Dark clouds swept across the sky, promising rain.
Uzal nodded at Kenan, but when his older brother, Enosh, arrived, he gestured for Hul to step forward.
A slight gasp escaped from both Enosh and Kenan.
Hul’s once robust figure had shrunk to a shadow of its former self. His skin hung in baggy looseness, and he peered through grief-stricken eyes.
Uzal opened his hands, bidding everyone to sit. “I believe you know each other. This man was brought into my presence by these two.” Uzal gestured to Accad and Jubal, who sat side-by-side and as still as stone carvings. “Serious tidings indeed. I’ll let Hul repeat his story, so that you can judge for yourselves.” Uzal nodded to Hul.
Hul lifted his head, though his back remained hunched. His words, vibrating with painful intensity, rose slowly. “Enosh, you must not blame me too severely for my lack of loyalty toward Hezeki. If ever you are able to rejoin our people, please be merciful to my family, for they, like me, thought it best to follow the young, healthy leader rather than cling to the old and lame.”
Enosh winced. “Your family has nothing to fear from me.”
With a meek nod, Hul went on to tell the story of what happened in the Village of Seth after they left, including how both Ashkenazi and Hezeki were murdered and how he was left for dead. He described his torturous trek back to the Village of Seth and how the people there nursed him, despite his history with Neb.
After he healed, Accad, Jubal, and Hul found Neb’s trail and followed him back home. They stayed hidden and learned that Neb had turned to marauding and enslaving other clans.
“Neb attacked clans, showing no mercy. He follows a strange god and has powers no man should have. Clans far and wide are terrified of his approach. Some even offered to pay him tribute if he would promise not to attack. Neb killed the messengers but kept the gifts.” Hul shuddered. “I didn’t see him for what he was until too late. My family still lives, but I can do nothing for them. My only hope rests with Meshullemeth, that she might oppose her son, but—”
Enosh sucked in his breath. “She never will.”
Kenan leaned, glaring at Hul. “Where is Neb now?”
Accad shifted and met Kenan’s furious gaze. “He’s heading this way. He knows you’re settled here, and he has heard enough of the People of Havilah to come well-prepared. He comes to steal and destroy, but most of all, to kill what remains of his family. He will not let you live to challenge him.”
Leaping to his feet, Enosh paced to the open doorway. “Challenge for what? Brutal leadership? I know the men who follow him—Puti and Riphath, Torgama and Kittam—they have no honor, no decency. They follow Neb for their own gain. If Neb were to weaken, they would leave him too. I would never lead such a people!”
A girl’s voice rose. Eva emerged from a dark corner. “They are not all evil. Many have helped strangers or assisted those in need. They were not beasts, though beasts they may have become under the influence of our all-too-evil-brother.”
Kenan spat his words. “Neb didn’t work alone. Remember, Mother encouraged him.”
Uzal stood and gestured for everyone to follow him outside. Once in the open air, he called his warriors to assemble.
Arriving after a successful hunt, a fat stag slung over his shoulders, Thubal hustled forward.
“My people!” Uzal raised his voice, catching every villager’s attention.
Men, women, even children halted and stared at Uzal. “A warrior clan comes to enslave our women and children. Prepare yourselves. There will be no second chance if you fail. Set guards and send out scouts. Gather your weapons; sharpen your tools. I want every blade at my service. We will meet Neb and teach him to bow before us as he wishes us to bow before him. Prepare well!”
Accad, Jubal, and Hul stood to the side, frowns etching their brows.
Uzal strode to them and lowered his voice. “This is not your fight. You have done well in warning us, but” —he took a long appraising look at Hul— “this man has seen enough horror. Take him home and assure Seth that we will stop this menace here. Neb, eldest son of Hezeki, will go no further.”
Accad and Jubal glanced at each other and then back at Uzal. Accad spoke for them both. “We thank you for your kind intentions, but this is our battle as well as yours. Neb came into our village and deceived us, murdered a friend of ours, an innocent man. We must regain our honor. Seth has promised to send men as soon as the time and place of battle is known. My brother and I will take Hul back to our village, but we will return with warriors to destroy Neb and all who follow him.”
Uzal rubbed his chin, considering the men before him. “I’m not averse to capable warriors, but I’ve heard about your clan, and they’re not known for their fighting skills. Still, you may come with trained warriors. Fools only get in the way. I’ll not risk my people’s lives to spare feelings when battle comes.”
Accad nodded. “We’ll return with the best we have to offer.”
Uzal watched Accad and Jubal pace away with Hul’s emaciated figure hustling just behind. He shook his head and then refocused his attention. His men needed him now.
Tamar, Uzal’s adult daughter, stood by Eva and gently rested her hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, Eva. Our men know how to fight. You’re safe here.”
Eva lifted her gaze to the square-jawed, dark-haired woman and muttered, “If only they were fighting mere men.”
Tamar jerked her hand back. “Why, for goodness sake, who else are we fighting?”
“You shall see.” Eva peered into the crimson horizon. “Something invisible creeps into a man, and he becomes the creature of an unseen power.”
Tamar’s voice rose, incredulous. “Can no man fight with honor then?”
“Not for long. When the passion takes him, reason flees and bloodlust rushes in.”
Tamar bent down, peering into the young girl’s face. “You’re younger than my little sister Sari, and she has lived in a warrior clan all her life. How do you know such things when I am certain she does not?”
“I know Neb, and one man can teach a girl terrible things.”
The first drops of rain splattered onto the ground.
Tamar watched the forlorn figure walk away, blending into the village throng, and fear shivered down her spine.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 18 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
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“The history is fascinating, the characters are uniquely intriguing, the plot is very rich, and the events are fascinating.” ~OnlineBookClub
“The story was wonderful and well written.” ~Culver
“The vivid descriptions of different clans bring early humanity alive. While part of a series, Neb works well as a standalone” ~Rachel
“Fraley introduces historical figures and events in a way that is totally credible, while at the same time entertaining.” ~Charles
“a remarkably effective mix of bittersweet romance and murder mystery—one that also examines the dynamics of politics and power as well as cultural conflicts via the personal perspectives of a family of intriguing, earnest characters.” ~Kirkus Review