This is the first chapter from one of my books (Not fan-fiction. it's with Humans, Elves, Dwarves ands tuff). This is only a first draft with a little editing, so it's not perfect. Still, I was wondering what your opinions where on how I could improve it. Be brutal! Honest! But detailed!
Jerle's footsteps echoed loudly in the empty stone corridors. He caught sight of his pursuers in the plaza that opened up on his right, through the stone columns that flashed past him. Out of the corner of his eye, he also caught the glint of their sword blades.
The patrol of city guards chased tirelessly, visible as little more than a crowd of dark silhouettes in the morning sunlight. Jerle felt relieved that he couldn’t see their faces.
“Get to the docks! Block him off!”
It won’t do you much good, Jerle thought. He was taking the most direct possible route. Aware of two heavily-armored guards behind him, he took a detour and hurtled a low wall. The first guard managed the jump, but the other tripped and crashed loudly to the cobblestones.
“Halt! Stop where you are!” Someone cried.
Jerle could hear the heavy clanking of the other soldier directly behind him. He reached the end of the corridor and charged straight into an empty stable. He heard the ring of steel as the guard behind him drew a knife. Nobody cared about catching him alive anymore.
As he ran, Jerle jumped and turned, grabbing a low rafter. He landed a solid kick to the guard’s helmet and the man went out like a light. He crashed into a stall door, which smashed open under his weight. Jerle landed heavily, but he managed to keep his balance and kept running.
Two of the patrol guards on horseback entered the stables, but had to duck under the rafters. These stables weren’t meant to be ridden in, but they took the risk in hopes that they could run him down.
He heard the hoof beats directly behind him and was forced to take a sharp right, away from the intended exit. Surprised, the guards reigned the horses in sharply. One of them drew his sword, probably hoping to lop off Jerle’s head with it. Jerle slapped the horse’s flanks hard and the soldier tumbled off his mount’s back. He hit his helmet on the cobblestones and didn’t get up.
The other horse whinnied and shied while the rider tried to regain control. The guard almost got control again, but then the horse bucked and his rider struck his head roughly on a rafter. In the chaos, Jerle was able to get away, but was forced the other way, down a separate isle of stalls.
His luck started to run out; moments later, he came to a panting halt in the center of the feed store. It was stacked with bales of rotting hay, but there were no exits or tools that he could use. At first it looked like the detour had become a dead end, but then he noticed a ladder that led to the loft. He took swift stock of his surroundings and, struck by sudden inspiration, he started up the ladder.
The one horseman and the four other remaining guards entered the feed room with caution. Jerle wasn’t visible anywhere. One guard turned to his superior. “Lieutenant?”
The guard on horseback sheathed his sword. “Shut the doors partway. Post yourselves so he can’t get out.”
Behind him, the other guards obeyed and shut the doors most of the way so that only one man could pass through at a time.
“Come on out, Jerle. I know you’re in here.” The young horseman trotted slowly around the room in circles. He had short brown hair, sharp eyes and much very young. He was even younger than Jerle was, in fact. He couldn’t have been older than twenty. “Why not talk? I’m sure that we can clear up our misunderstanding.”
Under his breath, he hissed, “Where are you, you devil?”
For a couple seconds, there was nothing. Then came a cold reply, “Up here, Richard.”
There was a loud crash of wood and the lieutenant swiftly pulled his horse around. The guards were backing away from the door. A large cask of pitch had broken open in the middle of where they were standing. Overhead on the second-floor platform, Jerle struck flint, bringing his torch blazing to life.
“What are you doing?” Richard demanded.
“Introducing a little chaos. Ontroy hasn’t seen fire in a long time, but now it’s a rebel’s turn to light one.”
“So you’re going to take us with you?”
“Not with you. I’m not going anywhere with you.” Jerle said simply. Then he saluted and dropped the torch. “Fair journeys.”
The guard hurled his sword in desperation, but he was too late. The sword glanced off the wooden railing and almost caught Jerle’s shoulder, but he was already moving.
The pitch caught fire in a heathen blaze of orange and red, blocking the horse’s escape. The horse whinnied even louder than before and reared back, but Richard managed to remain astride. The flames started to lick through the loose straw as the guards backed away. The ladder and the beams holding up the platform were burning and beginning to crumble.
Jerle stooped in the low corner of the loft and pushed a barrel out of the way, revealing a small door that lead back to the stable. He kicked it open roughly. Through the building smoke, he could see clear air and streams of bright sunlight.
“Stop!” The captain shouted over the roar of the growing flames. “We’ll be killed.” His horse’s eyes were wide, and it backed toward the back wall. The straw on the floor and the wooden walls were covered in snaking streams of fire.
“I think I can see how that would concern most people.”
“Wait,” Richard swallowed. “We could re-instate you in the army, Jerle. You don’t have to keep running. We know it was all just a mistake. Trust me and we can keep you safe.” The guards were starting up the ladder.
Jerle stared at the door. There was a moment of silence. “I’m sorry, Rick. Trust is a weak word.” He turned and his voice turned to a stonily placid. “And it wasn’t a mistake. I don’t serve Lord Kythe anymore.” He started through.
“What about what you left behind? What you lost. You could have it back.”
Jerle went completely still. All eyes were on his back as he halted in the open door. “You would give me my life back?” He asked softly.
“I would. I will do anything, Jerle.”
“A lie for a lie?” Jerle called back. His eyes were cold as flint. “You think it’s the perfect revenge, don’t you? Nothing will ever return what I had before, especially since I don’t want it back. Empathy is too one-sided. I won’t make the mistake of trusting someone a third time.” He stepped through and turned to face them.
Some of the guards were climbing up the wooden beams in desperation, trying to get into the loft. Richard’s horse was panicking. The young lieutenant looked tired and frightened. “And what of us dying? You don’t really want that either, do you? You wouldn’t want more lives on your conscience.”
“I don’t have a conscience anymore.” He slammed the door shut.
He heard heavy thuds as the guards threw their knives. He bolted the door and ran. He knew they would eventually figure it out and just jump through the fire. It's what he had intended from the start. All he really needed was to block the horse. It was the only why they could have caught him anymore.
He jumped out of the lofts and took off through the stables. The horse of the downed guard was trying to eat the remains of straw strewn across the floor. Jerle took a leap into the saddle and the horse broke into a startled gallop. Jerle kept low, feeling the rafters whip past just above his head as the mare bolted toward the plaza. Leaning around one side, he could see two guards posted at the entrance
Stirring into action at the sight of Jerle abruptly heading their way, both guards stood up. One lifted a horn to his lips, but Jerle urged the horse to the right and caught the guard between the mare and a stall door. The guard went spinning to the ground and the horn clattered out of his grasp.
Jerle had galloped well away before the other soldier picked up the horn.