Here you have a sneak peek of my as yet untitled novel I'm writing at the moment. This excerpt belongs to the first chapter. Have in mind that it's a first draft.
He proceeded due east, toward the villa. It was visible from the road but hidden to Keller’s gaze by a low hill covered with pines and sycamores. As he topped the hill, below he could see a wide plain where the villa was located and beyond, the path that snaked to Kalycom Road, flanked by tall elms. Keller reined the horse to a stop and squinted his eyes. A carriage was moving down the path, toward the villa, pulled by a couple of white steeds. Before the vehicle, a detachment of six soldiers on horseback, rode in double file; the front-right one carrying a pole with the symbol of the Senate on the top, a golden olive tree. This could only mean that a senator traveled in the carriage. Keller’s lips curved momentarily, the expression vanishing as quickly as it had emerged.
He could only think of two senators who would travel south to his villa, instead of summoning him with a messenger; Senator Illiard Elanor and Senator Clemen Jaress. However, if it were young Clemen, he would have come with a much smaller escort, maybe even without any. He was a bold young senator who was still trying to prove himself before the rest of Senate. So it had to be good old Illiard.
Keller heeled the horse to meet the visitors. He reached the paved path in a moment and met with the garrison halfway to the villa. The soldiers reined their mounts and the carriage driver followed suit.
“Gain way, old man!” bellowed the officer in charge of the detachment. It was a young sergeant who was but a bit older than Keller’s own daughter. By the looks of him, he was given the rank for his noble blood, but looked greatly inexperienced.
Keller glared at him, his brow frowned deeply, his eyes flashing with fury.
“I said Ga—“ the officer was unable to finish the sentence. Keller moved his horse quickly and unsheathed his short sword, putting the cold sharp point in the officer’s throat.
The young soldier gasped and turned pale as a corpse.
The man beside him, the one carrying the Senate symbol, was a weathered mid-aged soldier; he watched the scene with some satisfaction, in silence. The rest of the escort was motionless as well. Keller felt sad, what good was an officer who’s soldiers did not respect him, so much as to stand still when a man threatens his life.
“Sergeant, he is Lord Keller Argoth; sir”, explained the standard bearer.
“That I am”, proclaimed Keller, pulling back his sword and sheathing the weapon in a quick nimble movement.
“Ah— ah—“, stuttered the officer.
The soldier beside him snorted in contempt. Keller trained his glare on him reproachfully. This officer might be unworthy of the respect of his soldiers, but it was no excuse for their behavior.
“I should have you all lashed. What kind of training have you had?”, questioned Keller to all, but glaring at the standard bearer. “Were you not told that you must defend your officer? Or are you so witless as to not know that?”
No one spoke, their expressions hard, their eyes looking forward, avoiding his glare.
“It’s unfortunate that you are not under my command. I believe that I could still make real legionaries out of the lot of you”, he spoke, more to himself than to them.
A bold and wrinkled head poked out through a window in the carriage. When he saw Keller, he smiled chuckling. “Greetings, Lord Keller”, he waved a small pale hand full of long bony fingers.
Keller turned his head and gazed at the old Senator. His expression remained unchanged.
“You should make sure that your escort is qualified. This lot would shit in their paints if confronted with a real danger”, he made the last remark glaring at the officer in contempt.
“Forgive me, Lord Keller”, the young sergeant muttered dropping his gaze to his hands.
Keller eyed him a last time, and then moved his steed to stand beside the carriage window. He held Illiard’s hand firmly, his expression softer, yet not smiling. Keller seldom smiled.
“It’s good to see you”, he said. “Shall I meet you at the villa?”
“Very well”, answered Illiard returning to the shadows inside the carriage.
Keller moved the horse up to the officer again, and nodding at the structure down the path ordered, “Move along”.
“Yes, my lord.”
Keller pressed his heels sharply and his steed jumped into a canter, leaving the party behind.