The sun shone brightly as John Solorus made his way down the suburban street toward the local church. He had already helped a lost woman that morning and felt that he had done his good deed for the day. Not that he intended to stop at only one. Clouds loomed on the horizon, threatening to cover the sun and bring rain but he did not mind. Today was a good day.
Just as he was nearing the wide wooden doors of the church he saw that an elderly lady was handing out copies of ‘Good morning magazine’. Slowing, he bought one with a smile and entered the church with it tucked beneath his arm. The vicar had not begun his service yet so John seated himself and opened up the magazine. He skipped past the first few pages that were dedicated to a young man from the village who had been killed in Afghanistan, instead favoring the more cheery articles about charity and marriage. Reading too much into negative things just left him sad and angry. Not like his wife who loved to read sad things like Shakespeare.
Despite the sun, inside the church was cold and grey, lit only by carefully arranged candles and what light was able to flood through the stained glass windows. John liked the atmosphere. Most modern churches were too bright and clean cut. They had no soul. If it was up to him, all churches would be grand buildings of stone fit for the Lord’s worship.
Mrs Clenmoor entered the building and took her seat on the front row of pews. She offered him a slight nod of her head. She was short and wore clothes that had not been in fashion for decades. The clothes hung from her bony body. She too was devote of faith. Continue reading
A cannonball crashed through the wall of Buccaneer Jones’ tiny cabin. He yelped and fell out of his bunk, then frantically scurried underneath it. He stared through the hole in the wall at the raging ocean outside, and the pirate ship that was rapidly approaching.
There was a thunderous noise from above as The Singing Seal returned fire with its own cannons. Buccaneer grabbed a padded hat from a hook and rammed it onto his head, the thick material covering his ears to muffle the sounds. He picked up a dog-eared old botanical encyclopedia then shuffled back beneath his bunk and tried his hardest to ignore the battle around him, even as sea water sloshed into his cabin from the hole and the smell of gunpowder swirled around him.
The two ships closed the distance until men and women could swing from one to another with cutlasses gripped between their teeth. Now shouts and laughter filled the air, punctuated with pistol shots and the clang of swords.
Buccaneer sighed and started to hum loudly. Despite his name, Buccaneer didn’t like fighting. In fact, he hated it, just like he hated his name. To his friends he was just Bucc. Not that he had many. Bucc was considered odd by most people. He didn’t like violence, couldn’t stand loud noises, and he willingly washed at least once a week. How were you supposed to treat someone who didn’t like to fight, pillage, and drink? Continue reading
A low fire crackled in the predawn several miles north of the segmented city of Moorhenda. Sytheis Tia Menrha, a young wordsmith, prodded the flames idly with a stick to keep the fire burning. It cast a red light through the trees around him, illuminating the sleeping forms of his unlikely companions.
Strange circumstances had him working the a Banndnori mason called Fortas Tillor, a beggar child known as Chipper and two street thugs known as Rantier Zalnot and Bibbi. Together they had entered the inner city’s sewers to hunt a monster but had ended up fleeing for their lives from Draknori warriors who were thought to be long dead. Their escape had left them in woods miles from the city with one less man than they had begun with.
The sleep that Sytheis had managed only served to stiffen his battered limbs. He had been set to watch the camp for an hour now and that time had been spent trying to loosen up his protesting muscles. There was little else to do. His journal and ink bottles had been destroyed and he had left his instruments back at his room. Luckily his Klash cards had survived inside their waterproof case but he had no desire to handle them in his numb hands.
The air was humid and warm even without the fire. Sweat prickled his skin. He stood up and stretched before walking a short distance from the camp to gather more wood. The sun would be rising soon but a meal of cooked rabbit before they set off would go down a treat. Rantier had assured them that he could catch something for them. Continue reading
Buildings shimmered sickeningly outside the window of a second floor room of an inn called The Rose and Thorn. The distant towering wall of Moorenda’s inner city was little more than an indistinct blur. Sytheis Tia Menrha stood by the window staring out at the city beyond. The sun hung heavily in the sky and only the most determined of people were out in the streets unnecessarily. The days were only getting hotter it seemed and Sytheis had no intention of leaving the shade of his rented room.
He studied his reflection in the glass for a moment, running a hand through his sweat-slick blond hair before slumping back into the chair at his desk. Papers lay scattered all across the surface and words were scrawled across every piece. Some of it was his own work while others belonged to other tellers or bards. He grouped them all together into a category that he liked to call ‘the competition’.
At the top of the pile was Moorenda’s most popular Venndi news pamphlet The Stag. Most of the issue was dedicated to the battle that had taken place outside of the city on what was now referred to as Queen’s Hill several days back. The centrepiece of the pamphlet was written by none other than Sytheis himself. It had been written under a pen name to avoid awkward questions but all of the coin had gone into his pocket. It was pure propaganda filled with buzzwords and emotive phrases but with little depth. This was what sold best though.
He had also sent another version to a Chalemite teller under a different name that outlined the events of the battle in a grim, unflattering light. It had been a commission from the queen of Chalem herself and had paid well. It was that bloodsoaked retelling of the battle that had allowed him to rent this room within a good district of the city.
Absently he flicked through the pamphlet, skimming over the pages about the battle and its political implications, until a rough sketch caught his eye. It depicted some kind of large animal lurking in the shadows. The artist had tried to make it appear terrifying while applying only the vaguest of detail to what the creature actually was. He read through the accompanying writing with growing interest. Continue reading
(Book two of Thorns of the Shadow. Contains spoilers of book one.)
Heat rolled in shimmering waves across every surface. The sun hung proudly in a cloudless sky above. It was the kind of day that seemed to drag on and seep the energy from the world.
On a suburban street, in a house like every other upon it, a young woman sat slouched across a sofa where she had been for the past few hours without moving. She was called Catherine Redthorn, but preferred to go by KT. Her black hair ended half way down her back and she had an athletic build that was currently clad in black jeans and a simple white vest. A few scars marked her arms but many more lay hidden in a chaotic pattern across her torso.
On the other end of the sofa was the sprawled out shape of her twin brother, Mordekai, known better as Kai. He was taller and broader than his sister but shared her green eyes and love of dark clothing. He too bore scars, as did their mother and father, but nothing near to the level that punctuated KT’s skin. Continue reading
Streaks of green flame slid through the darkness of the sky, leaving an ever changing trail of colours in its wake. The stars around it shimmered and distorted like reflections across disturbed water. Mallan Rilarendir watched it idley from the rooftop where he was laid. Vague thoughts crossed his mind, but mostly he was content to just enjoy the view. It was rare to have a clear sky.
“You ever think it’s strange how the past never really goes away. It’s always here in some way or other. We lay here and look at the sky, watching as chunks of a once powerful civilisation drifts through space, and we know all about it even though it happened long before we were born. It’s like they didn’t want to be forgotten so they keep drawing our attention to them, whispering for us to remember them.”
From Mallan’s side, Lilarith Rilarendir snorted. “I think you think to much. Of course the past is here for us to see. Every second becomes the past, becomes history. Us waiting here now, talking about nothing, is history. Maybe in the future someone will think we’re important and look back to this moment. That’s what decides the past. Nothing more than what people in the present believe deserves remembering.”
Mallan shrugged and continued to watch the comet split the sky asunder. He was only a young boy, but to him the great war was something that fascinated him. Even trying to imagine the scale and power involved as titans clashed was something beyond his comprehension. Yet it happened. The fragments of alien worlds were a constant reminder of it. Continue reading
“If everyone isn’t in a line by the time I cross the threshold then there’ll be no dinner for the lot of you.”
There was a bustle of feet as two dozen children ran through the drab corridor to line up before a simple stone fireplace. Their clothes were well worn and they all bore a uniform haircut regardless of their age or gender. At a glance they looked to vary in age from three to twelve, though all of them looked underfed and overworked. Their eyes weren’t the mature eyes of adults or the haunted eyes of soldiers, but neither were they the eyes of average children.
A nervous ripple ran through the line. Every head swiveled to the doorway where a tall man stood beside the rat-featured speaker who called himself the Orphan Master. The master’s given name of Ral Colcot was far less grand and suited him much better. The children examined the stranger with every inch of scrutiny that he gave to them.
“Listen well,” the orphan master announced. “This is Sir Theaspin Rothsgrave and he has graced us with his presence. None of you deserve to even share the same air as such an esteemed lord but he has gifted you all with just such an opportunity. Muster what dignity you have and obey his every word. Is this understood?”
“Yes, Master!” the children answered as one.
Rothsgrave sneered. This ‘orphan master’ seemed to derive great pleasure from his complete command of these children. He was lanky with thinning hair and sunken eyes. A failure of a man who took out his frustrations on the one group of people who couldn’t resist him. Pathetic. Rothsgrave took a step forward, his presence filling the room. Continue reading