My Novella, FableLands: Interrogation.

I skipped my blog yesterday as I knew my publisher, Ocean Reeve was dropping off my proof copy of FableLands: Interrogation Part One. Looking though it makes the whole process real! Only months ago did I start writing this short story series and soon I will be at Oz Comic Con as a published author. How time flys!
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This isn’t the final copy but having the book in my hand. Seeing my name on its cover is a dream come true. I would never think that two years ago that a book on mine would be on paper.

I have some other great news, next month, the fourth part of FableLands, Sammy Trickster will be out for e-book and a new series Favinonian Tales, titled Rise of the Green: Trinity which is based in the same world as my main novel, Lake Merrin.

I am heading back to expose my readers to the rich history of Favinonia, so they can live and breathe in Amsul (the world Favinonia is set in).

Another thing is that I have been helped by my father to finish Lake Merrin, so fingers crossed that it will be out this year. I have my editors booked in, and away we go!
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On the 13th and 15th of September, I will be having a book signing at BELLA’s Bakery in Southport Central from 11 am to 1 pm, see you there if not see you at OZ CON!!!

 

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Reviews for Briana: Knight

One thing I have noticed with Amazon is that your reviews are not pooled together, one could be on Amazon UK, another on Amazon Canada. The only one that is shown on the whole service is the old US of A’s Amazon. So I decided after my last marvellous free promotion I will pool my reviews into one blog.

On the 29th I will have my third part out, Ciro: Founder and also I will be part of a book launch as a guest author. The launch is for Brhi Stokes,  and her book is Caligation (here is a quick review I did on it, Review of Chapter One of Caligation)

You can pre-order her book, now from iTunes or Amazon.
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There is my book, number 3 (it has dropped to 4 now) and that is another thing. Each Amazon site is separated from the others on how they rank. On this one, I am, ranked as third while on UK Amazon I am like rank 78. Not that I am complaining, it is just you don’t get a clear idea how you are going and where you should direct your marketing.

So these reviews will be coming from multiple sites.

Let us start with Goodreads!

D. Scarlet rated it 5/5: it was amazing
I enjoyed the second book in the Fablelands Series even more than the first as my understanding of the arcs became clearer. Also, I really enjoyed Briana’s brutal brand of honour! You go, girl!!!

KStar rated it 5/5 it was amazing
The second in the series makes me ask more questions, I am looking forward to reading more of this series

Kathryn B. rated it 5/5 it was amazing
I enjoyed Briana: Knight (Fablelands#2). A bit darker than ‘Kayla’ – The dialogue and interplay between the characters drew me into the story. Waiting for the next one!


Kevin C rated it 5/5 it was amazing

Sage rated it 4/5 really liked it
Love the serial format, how the characters work off each other and the core story concept. Quick read, enjoyable, and looking forward to the next one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet

By Steven S. on 16 July 2017

Thoroughly enjoyed this short and thrilling mini journey, some dark and fantastic moments with great descriptive storytelling. The story pulls you in immediately with the intrigue about the perilous situation at hand.

Amazon US:

on July 15, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the second book in the Fablelands Series even more than the first as my understanding of the arcs became clearer. Also, I really enjoyed Briana’s brutal brand of honour! You go, girl!!!


on July 6, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the second book in Samuel Colbran’s Arcs short story serial. I enjoyed the characters and the Arcs world he hints at in his first book, Kayla: Genius. In Briana: Knight, the world is explained further, and Briana is introduced with her strong Arc of valour, courage, nobility and strength. Don’t think that makes her hold back though: this teen is ruthless! I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, especially Sam: Trickster.

on July 17, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Love the serial format, how the characters work off each other and the core story concept. Quick read, enjoyable, and looking forward to the next one. Powerful character, Briana is the epitome of inner strength when she doesn’t always think she is. Really well-balanced novella.
And Finally Amazon Australia:


Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

There is much happening in this short story. A contest of wills and intrigue. This book is well written, would read more.

5.0 out of 5 stars loved it 🙂

5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed Briana: Knight 

So I averaged 4.83 stars for all my reviews so far. A success!

Book cover was done by Julia of Shooting Star Shooter

First page of Kayla: Genius.

With my three five star reviews, I wanted to give my followers a little treat. The first page or so of Kayla: Genius

ByDebby Dale on July 2, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a great short story. The descriptions weren’t too complex but at the same time they weren’t the usual – I guess unique and intriguing is the best way to explain what I mean. There is a lot of mystery in the pages… At first there was just an unfamiliar captive, but I quickly got sucked into the story and found myself reading faster and faster as I became more invested in their outcome and eagerly sought out what happened next!

on July 6, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Great story. Loved the description of Kayla’s powers and the way the tension built, and the use of second person perspective. Looking forward to reading more about Kayla and the other arcs.

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

It has been a long time since I have read a story written in second person, and I will be honest and say that I was initially put off by this. However, it did not take long for the author to have me imaging that I was the main character, fully engaged in the story and anticipating what was to come. An enjoyable short story.

5.0 out of 5 stars Kayla. – very good read.

I found I was reading this book faster and faster. Great short story – held me right to the end. Could this be a prelim to a novel?

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome little read

Great Short Story, well written and easy to read has you engaged with the character and her fate, the story is mysterious and leaves you wanting to know more.

Goodreads reviewer rated it 5 stars – it was amazing

5/5: Kayla: Genius is one of the most intriguing reads, an excellent combination of simple and complex nuances where one can’t stop reading, I loved it.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in this Genre

5/5:  Loved this! it was intriguing and I am very much look forward to the rest of this series.

For the Amazon links head here.

Kayla: Genius, AU Link, CA Link, USLink, UK Link

 

21,092

The black nylon straps feel tight around your petite body. The bonds are tight around your throat, forehead and chest. You are glad that they position the straps just underneath your breasts. It is pointless to struggle. Tight enough for immobility, but not enough to cut off your circulation.

For twenty-one thousand and ninety-four seconds, you have studied the room. The use of counting ensures a calm disposition, allowing the maximum cognition to assess your situation. The walls are soundproof, with no windows, and a poured concrete floor. Not even a two-way mirror like you would see in bad 80’s cop shows. Just a plain laminate table, with an office chair on the opposite side that screams institution, lit by a single overhead light. Mounted on the table are two globes with a wire trailing off like electric entrails. Gnawing on the rubberized mouth plug, you consider the relative freedom of your middle fingers, and the smooth button under each one.

As you analyse the surroundings for the twentieth time, you consider the quantum flow of the room is fixed to four points. The door, the light and the two upper corners adjacent to the door. Hidden cameras are a certainty, it will be considerably harder to conceive of a plan while being watched.

Something about this room makes you curious of their understanding of the FableLands. You feel disconnected from the parallel world of Fablelands where myth and legend run amok. Your Arc Leonardo doesn’t feel fully connected to you. Why can’t you tap into the other place? Was it the Government or one of the Corporations that have been pursuing your group?

For six hours since you regained self-awareness, these thoughts have been percolating in your mind. The full mantle of Leo is unavailable. There is a faint access to some of the Arc, but it feels tenuous at best. Just remember you are the Arc of this Age, embrace that belief.

The infiltration was flawless as it was your brother’s plan. Yet a mistake was made. Someone must have been watching you and your friends planning this task, but who? Unless there is a traitor within your group or your family. Either option seems to be silly.

With a grinding noise, the apparently reinforced door opens. The sound gives it away. Whoever has taken you, they have created a lot of safeguards. They must have a fledgeling understanding of yours and your friends’ powers.

A man in a grey pinstripe suit walks in before the heavy door cycles closed with a resounding boom. From his body language, you can see that there is a self-discipline of all things. Yet a single drop of sweat beading down his cheek does not escape your notice, and this betrays his inner emotional state. Apprehension.

He is a cleanly shaven Caucasian man with an expensive haircut and a scent of rich cologne. As he sits in front of you, in his right hand is a bulging file, which he places on the table in front of him.

“Hope you are comfortable, the restraints have to stay on. For your own protection.”

Finally Published!

Last Saturday will go down in history as when Samuel Colbran was published, holidays will be created, songs will be sung and the people will celebrate in the streets about the success of this amazing man.,,,
Or I just published my first book.

I always thought it would have been my Journal of an Adventurer series be the first published but like all would be thoughts, it is not the case. After my pulling Lake Merrin ten days out before the print, there were still things that were planned and needed to happen. One was Supanova.

 

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Supanova was the best experience from one of the worst mistakes I could ever make. The weekend was fun, but there was a resounding depression that clouded my judgement on these days. I was supposed to be published. Seeing how crap the day was financial to many authors, I dodged a bullet, but I did learn a lot on how to be successful. So win, win.

After ‘Nova, I was depressed, nothing could be said what I should be doing. My book, Lake Merrin just was sitting there, and not much else. Nearly was thinking of quitting being an author. Then something happened!

A fellow author was joining a panel for a local seminar, Writers Block. I thought why the heck not! So I went along, the main chat is how to be traditionally published, which I really don’t care about. No person will ever, ever tell me that my vision needs to change for the marketplace! Suggest, yes, but this is my creative baby, and I will fight tooth and nail to make it live!

Back to the the Block, great speakers learned a great deal. Then Nick Earls hopped up and started to talk. He has a PhD in literary and his thesis was Novellas. He has produced some top notch work, and I thought to myself, that can be done. A short story, those are some ideas I can work with.

Then I talked to Nick, and he opened a Pandora’s box of creativity! I told him about this idea that has been bubbling around in my head. The YA book. Then he said something to me that change my path, why not publish each one separately and then at the end bring them together as a bundle. Oh, my trucking truck! What a brilliant idea!

So I did, sat down, wrote Kayla: Genius in a couple of days, edited it, commissioned an artist, Julia, to do the cover and two weeks later published it on Kindle!

So I am published and will be releasing each of the six parts over the next few months.

Best idea ever!

As an added bonus here is the first paragraph of each book so far.

Kayla: Genius, AU Link, CA Link, US Link, UK Link

The black nylon straps feel tight around your petite body. The bonds are tight around your throat, forehead and chest. You are glad that they position the straps just underneath your breasts. It is pointless to struggle. Tight enough for immobility, but not enough to cut off your circulation.

Briana: Knight, Amazon’s link AU|CA|US|UK

My vessel Briana struggled fiercely against the chains that bound her hands and feet, feeling the metal digging into her skin. She wonders what went wrong? The plan was flawless, so, there must be another hand involved. If she just held our shining sword, she could free herself.

Ciro: Founder

Where do they think I am going? There is no need for restraints. Such a waste of energy. I can see that it is a standard interrogation room without the two-way mirror. If I were designing it, there would be at least two cameras in the corners.

Enjoy!

The new wonderful, marvellous Chapter Three!

Another violent encounter. I always thought to leave the army meant that I wouldn’t have to do any more murdering. Ratface, wish I knew his real name, was the first life I had taken since leaving the military. I should have known becoming an Adventurer doesn’t stop you being a killer.

Just another in a long line of being stabbed, beaten up, or straight up nearly murdered. Some days I think I need a better day job. Still, I committed another heinous act to protect my life, how will the Trinity see me when I leave this plane. Will I be one with It or will I be grabbed by Amordous of Abysuss? I might find out soon.

Enough thinking of that sort of thing. This was the day I became an Adventurer …

One good thing about Lake Merrin, it is not hard to find your way around. Looking down at the dead Dock Boy at my feet and the unconscious brute with his head up against the wall.

“You know Ratty; you do bleed a lot.” Spying a water barrel I wash off the worst of the blood, “You should have just ignored me in the bar, and you still would be kicking.”

Once clean, I look at the unconscious half-breed. I pull my knife out; my hand is shaking. I haven’t committed blatant murder since the army. I did hate being a scout, taking out sentries who were not aware of you was not fun.

Sheathing my knife. “You are lucky today, not starting a day off with an honourless murder.”

Following the smell of the blacksmithy, I look over and think over that fence will take me to the Craftsman District and beyond that is the Bazaar, then one little hop I am at the Hall.

Looking back at my two fallen foes, I give them a salute. Stupid but brave.

As I jump the fence and head back towards the sounds of the crowd, I marvel at the industrious craftsmen who are working. Contraptions being operated on, whirling and buzzing sounds from different workshops. If I walked a different path, I might have become an Engineer. Working with intricate clockworks, or making new materials for everyday use.

Still, I would have to get used to the smell. Walking past a fabric factory, you can hear the clickety-clack of the loom inside or the hissing of molten metal in a local blacksmith for a new house frame. An apprentice powered buzz saw; look at that seat with wood pedals, makes you think, not many woodworkers around but they do make a lot of money, with wood being so rare.

Not many traders in here, most use this area to create and then take it to the shops in the Great Bazaar to sell their goods.

The hustle and bustle of the early market day. The smells of baked goods, the fishmongers yelling out their wares and no Malik or Dock Boys. This is not their territory, it is for the Wilted Flower Gang, and they are more about the subtle approach to thievery. Pickpocketing and the like.

There is a team now, I love seeing them in action. Four walk up and bump. Those pickpocketers always walk away with a poor sods wallet. Been on the end of that a couple of times, until I made them realise why I should not be messed with. Ratty and Dwarf-spawn found out the hard way.

What a beautiful day. Living through that death trap, appreciating life, and now off to the Hall!

Is that a pie cart I spy, and it sells beer too? My lucky day. Lukewarm beer, a questionable meat pie, and if I can join a Charter today as well, it will be the most perfect day ever!

Looking over to the other side of the Market Bazaar, I can see the solid browned bricked building that looks like a tiny fortress in the middle of the city, just lurking on the street, the Hall. That is where I will make my name, and I won’t just be white-bred or a bastard. I would be an Adventurer.

For one of the smallest buildings in Lake Merrin, it reeked of history. This is where the first goblinoid ear was handed in! Where Saint Jara lived for ten years, protecting us from the monsters of the Wild Lands.

I should know about those lands, with its endless forest of trees as a half-elf its part of my heritage. Yet I just think that it is just unnatural, all those trees in one place. Give me a little park or a plantation. Clean, organised and safe.

Walking into the Hall on the corner of Market and Coin, this place always gives me goosebumps. The feeling of history seeping into you. This is where the great heroes who made their names here, and the money to be made. Just being here makes me think I could be one of them.

Ancient banners, relics thought lost to time and bountiful chilled ale. There is always a sight to see. As I look around, some random people are beating on each other in the duelling pit. I like the look of the armoured one. His moves are crisp and precise, far more skilled than his opponent. Maybe a bet is in order? But wait! Is that, no, couldn’t be, Order of the Shield?

What is a member of the Order of the Shield doing in here? I’ve only ever seen them on the battlefield. Once a prat, always a prat! Always ordering us mere soldiers around like we were nothing. I wonder why he is here? When you join, it is for life. Is he a Shield? The armour is a dead giveaway. But still, by the way, he is moving with that fellow with the hammer, I can see he has trained in their ways.

Half-breeds and other scum like me never had that level of training. We were wall-fodder, as long as we could swing a sword and not die, our commanders like Shield-Boy didn’t care. But being a halfie, gave me more opportunities than others. I now know.

Nevertheless, I would still put some slips on him, no matter how much they are up themselves. Their skill with a sword is always top-notch.

Now a travelling Halfling Bard has come in to share his talent—gotta love free music.

Best day of the week is the sixth one. Buy two cups of ale for the price of one. Such a bargain. It might even be cheaper once you are registered. I am so looking forward to that sixth day now! I do love me some beer or an excellent ale, as long as it is cheap or free.

In a wink of an eye, the fight is over, or was I thinking too long about beer? I’m too late to put any money down on the match. If I did, I would have won. The Shield mopped the floor with his opponent. Oh well, off to talk to the administrator.

As I head for the administrator, the big hammer fellow is getting dragged past me by a tough-looking guy and—hold the presses! —It’s Lana from the Travellers. Wow, I’ve only heard stories about them. Are there any other members of that Charter here? Can’t wait to see all of them.

Oh my Trinity, there is a bloody line-up. Now I have to play the waiting game. I played that game a lot in the army. We wait here; then we wait over there.

As long as you looked busy, the Captain didn’t care. But you had to look busy when the Sarge walked around. If you were wasting time, she would find something for you to do. Sarge busted me slacking off all the time! The number of latrine holes she made me dig; marching drills for hours on end, that wasn’t fun; and I never saw her have a drop of grog ever—not even once!

Even if she was weird, I did learn a lot from her. Wouldn’t be here today if she didn’t save me from the wrong end of a sword. From that day, I always have one silent toast in her honour.

After a stroll down memory lane, I can only think of free beer and the sixth day two for one.

I’m just standing here; there is no one in front. Thank you, tired brain, for making the queue go away.

I walk over, and the administrator Royce looks at me with bloodshot green eyes that look like they are cresting the dark bags beneath them and says in a raspy voice, coughing up phlegm, “Come on, lad, been watching you stand there doing nothing for five minutes now. What do you want?”

That was shocking. Five minutes? I shrugged. Oh well, no queue.

“Come on; I haven’t got all day to watch you daydream. If you don’t tell me what you want, I’m going to ask you to leave!”

I shake my head and apologise, “Sorry, was jumped by some goons earlier today. Must be a little frazzled still, or it could be the pie.”

I can see Royce is becoming a little annoyed by the way he’s tapping an idle scarred thumb on the top of the table.

“Sorry. You don’t care. Um, I’m here to sign up!”

He looks me up and down with a professional grade sneer that says he’s seen all sorts. “Do you wish to start a new Charter or do you want to apply for an opening in an existing Charter, if one is available?”

“Just wanting to pay Hall’s dues and put my name down for any open spots.”

I stood there just grinning.

“What’s so funny, boy? You look like some grinning idiot. Take this paperwork and fill it out. The annual fee is four gold slips.”

Every time I come into the Hall and ask about Charters, Royce gives me the same speech and then forgets me. Bloody senile old human.

“This does not guarantee you a spot in a party, just allows you to apply for jobs and covers the administration of your documents …”

Wow, this guy can prattle on. I can’t stand listening to people who think they are smarter than me. Or annoying people. Like this guy.

“And after you are done with that there—”

He suddenly stops and looks at me.

“Did you hear anything I just said, boy?”

“Of course I did! All this paperwork isn’t going to do itself. Here are the four slips, and may I borrow a quill and well to finish this?”

As he passes the writing kit over, I spy an empty table. Time to fill out this unnecessary paperwork. Looking at the forms, there are some interesting questions. Place of birth, okay. Name, I can do that. Skills and ability, well, that will be a short list. I can swing a sword, take orders, march, and scout—can’t forget that one.

Being a half-breed, they just give you the ‘fun’ jobs. Okay, I can see in the dark—so? Bloody typical, racist lowlifes, making me scout out enemy positions in the dark and cold of night! I can ride a horse too. Well, my horse. I loved that horse. The only one that would come near me. Can’t remember its name now. Another typical fantastic trait of my half-breed background.

A bit of sand to help it dry and done! Back to Royce. Such a bothersome administrator.

“With all your lollygagging, I thought this would take you longer.” He smiles and looks down at the form.

“Let’s have a look at this … An army boy, haven’t seen that much action.” He chuckles to himself, flicking through the pages as if they offended him personally. “This all seems in order. Here is your receipt. So, do you want your name in the pool for open Charter?”

“Are no Charters are looking for anyone at the moment? I’m willing to do any sort of job, even if they don’t want a new signing member. Ready to be signed on for a job or two.”

“I have a group upstairs looking for a few members. I can put your name down but …” He pauses to point to a strong Folk and then to an armoured knight from the pit before. “Those men seem to be more experienced than you. You are—no offence—a bit on the ordinary side.”

Wow, try being told that you are pretty much useless—well, average. Mela, Jara, Jenell! When I served, I might not have been the cream of the crop, but I still wasn’t one of those ‘special’ cases, who didn’t know their left from their right. They were good for one thing: following orders, as long as you took the time to explain it to them thoroughly.

“Come on. Okay, I’m not like that knight in shining armour or that savage, but don’t dismiss me. There must be people looking for someone, even just a body to fill a sentry spot.”

“Come back in a few days, see if any other parties are coming through these parts.”

Such a waste of time. I turn to leave, but Royce is still talking. “Well, there is one job on the Board. I don’t think they will mind too much for a solo to petition for this job!”

He coughs a little, and I think, wow, do all older men have a phlegm factory in the back of their throat?

“As I was saying, the town Watch patrol is looking for bodies to fill the ranks for an upcoming tour of the Duke. Three days’ work, good pay, and they aren’t too worried about experience.”

Well, it is a job from the Hall. Beggars can’t be choosers, or is it lazy people like money, hmm?

“This would help me get out of a jam. Put my name down!” I exclaim. “So, what are the chances of me getting this job?”

Royce looks up. “I send over the parties that wish to do the job. I put you as ‘Lone Solo’. Not much of a name, but it will do.” He’s doing that old man chuckle; more phlegm and coughing than laughter. “They seem a bit rushed with this, so your chances are good.”

The revised Chapter Two

…one person I really hate (or persons if you count his second Jimmy), is Malik, that thankless mother-son. During those three months, he made my life a living Abyssus. I’m glad he isn’t around anymore. The Dock Boys who I once feared have now become a source of jokes. I wonder after two years if they are still around?

“Look what we have here, boys.”

Malik, that son of a motherless goat! Even with his steel grey hair and stubbled face, he is still a young-looking man. Healthy muscle on his big frame and thick-knuckled fists he loves to use.

“Where you be going, me boyo? Don’t you owe me boys some money, and interest to boot? Jimmy, how many slips does this fine gentleman owe us?”

Jimmy is Malik’s second, and as black-hearted as his rotting teeth. I’m not sure what sewage pipe he spawned from, but he smells like he looks.

Jimmy starts to speak, and I am nearly knocked out by his putrid breath.

“Boss-man, this white-bred owes you three gold slips, eight silver, and five copper, plus forty percent,” he says, smiling at Malik.

Damn, damn, damn! That’s everything I have on me. Most of it was going to pay for my registration in the Hall today.

“Come on, boyo, cough up now or … well, I don’t need to tell you what will happen.”

Surrounded by these grinning fools, my stomach rebels at the rancid smell of their tightly packed bodies. Need room to think. Wish I was a more quick-witted person. Just need some more breathing room.

I need to keep him talking as I figure a way out. “Do you really want to do this on the street, Malik? There could be an honourable Charter, or a patrol comes along, and they might help me.”

Jimmy laughs at that. “You hear that boss, he thinks ‘heroes’ will save him! A bit of gutter white-bred trash like him.”

Edging a little more away. “That isn’t nice, Jimmy. We have truth-spawn in our gang too.” Malik says.

“Sorry, Boss, just a slip of the tongue.”

“Where are you going, boyo?” Malik noticed me backing up. “We haven’t finished our chat.”

“I’m off to find a permanent job, Malik. Next week you will have everything plus another forty percent.”

Malik scoffs at my request. “Jimmy.”

Jimmy walks up and smiles, then punches me in the gut. I drop, trying to catch my breath. My hand instinctively heads to my dagger, but this is not the time to lose control.

As I look up, everyone is avoiding eye contact. Jimmy and another two thugs pick me up. Malik comes over and brushes off the dirt. “See I let you go, boyo then some other poor sod who owes me money will want a break too.”

Why today of all days? I look Malik dead in the eye. “I do know why you have to bring most of your boys with you. A bit scared of me, Malik?”

All his Dock Boys held their collective breath. Malik looks a little shocked. Even Jimmy has loosened his grip on my arm. This is my chance. Out of the corner of my eye, the half-breed brute and rat-face come out of the alley where I left them. Time to move.

Looking around, the crowd parts, and I catch a glimpse of a watch patrol walking towards me. Oh, what luck! The Trinity smiles upon me today!

Yanking my arm out of Jimmy’s grip I moved toward the patrol. “Malik, I understand that you might have felt I have been giving you the slip, but as you can see I am a poor man and do not wish for any trouble—”

With that, I do what army men call a ‘tactical retreat’, which in layman’s terms is running the Abyssus away.

The closer I am to the patrol; the sooner Malik isn’t a problem. Now they come into sight. Only now I understand why I saw them through the crowd. They are pushing the citizens around, and the large woman looks familiar. Oh no, it is Zlata Madyson! Such a corrupt bitch! That lady’s stare can make a bull stop charging. She would pin me down, allow these lads to kick me within an inch of my life, then throw me in jail and call me a public nuisance.

Being a half-breed like Zlata, I can understand what it feels like to be hated by your non-elven parent. My father was a human merc who knocked up my mother during those magical two weeks of fertility with elves—and voila, me.

Zlata is a half-breed I don’t easily recognise, wish my pedigree wasn’t so slutty. She is broad, as tall as I am, with a nose that some would say is ‘cute’ and upturned, but makes me think of wild boars, framed in a shock of pale yellow hair that trails past her shoulders and hangs from her head like straw slopping up last night’s vomit. I hope she wouldn’t take her aggression out on me all the time—we are both elf bloodline!

As I sprint off, I hear someone yelled behind me. “We’ll get him, boss!”

That voice sounds familiar, I have a quick look back, and it is those two that I accosted in the alleyway, and rat-faced thug joined in too, oh great! Now, where should I go?

After what I did to them, they have the incentive to catch me, but I haven’t done anything to Ratty. Well, there was that one time… Nah, must be something else.

With the people in their way, I have a little breathing space. Guessing plan B is in order, the back streets of the craftsmen’s district. A place is so thick with shops and work areas that walls close in. A great place to get lost in. Saying a quick prayer to the Trinity, I push through the crowd.

I run across Route, dodging where I can, barrelling through where I cannot until I make it into the maze of streets. Turn left, jumping a fence, run down an alley, turn right, and cross another street into—damn it—a dead end. Should this be called Dead-End Place?

When will it be my lucky day?

Some heavy feet are pounding the paving stones behind me. As I turn, I didn’t lose those three Dock Boys from earlier. Why me? They must have been close on my tail. I am not sure of their names, but I can tell that I had an impact on them. Ha, impact, I kneed one and sucker punched the other.

They run down the side street, and they corner me. The grinning brute half-breed in the middle is first to speak.

“It seems you took a wrong turn! I owe you for that cheap shot from before, lucky us that you found such a perfect place.” This gets a laugh out of the other two.

“Come on, dung-head, give us your money, and we’ll let you off with just a beating!”

A beating? “And if I don’t?”

I leave the question hanging. Another of the Dock Boys responds, with a high squeaky voice to match his pinched rat-like face.

“Well, you see, we might just kill you a bit.” Now I remember him, I stole that bar wench from him.

Another laugh.

Help me, Trinity, these thugs are some street jesters.

“So if I give you money, I get a beating. If I don’t, you are going to kill me a little bit. I know this is a stupid question, but how do you kill someone a bit?”

The half-dwarf with a swelling cheek looked at me and drew his knife. Lucky me, the Brute will just go ahead and show me. Such a fortuitous day!

“Okay, okay, let’s slow this down. I really don’t need to see what being killed a little bit looks like,” I laugh nervously. “I have some of the money. I’m heading off—”

The last one interrupts. He is about as beautiful as my morning movement. Yes, now they have all spoken. I wonder if I win a prize … I hope it’s not a stabbing.

“Well, dung-head, I don’t think Malik would be happy with a part payment. We will have to bring him your ear, nose, and … Say, one of your hands as well. How does that sound? That might pay back my issues for the pain you caused.”

Okay, I kicked you in the Hammers, but really! With the other two drawing knives, I think to myself; I’m such a dead man! This blind alley is hopefully not my end.

A glint of metal—I sense it more than I see it. Throwing myself out of the way, the brute still manages to stab me! Not feeling the trickle of blood or lightheadedness, I realise it must have been blocked by the Jack of Plate—my incredible armour!

The half-dwarf boasts with his ridiculous looking beard, “See, boys, he is quaking in his boots! Dung-head, you got lucky that time—”

Seeing an opening, I lunge, smashing the side of his head with a hammer-like strike. He falls to the ground in a stunned heap. Regarding the other two, I growl at them, hoping to scare them off. They counter my growl with more intimidating noises, akin to alley cats fighting over a five-day-old fish.

“You fell for another sucker punch?” I gloated at that white-back.

They weren’t impressed by that line. Drawing my knife. No time to think. It is time for me to go on the attack. Ratface jumps over his comrade at me! Foolish. Something the sergeant taught me flashes in my mind: ‘Always have your feet on the ground!’

Moving forward, I take his attack on my forearm and return a straight stab to his gut. That’s right piggy, squeal! If it weren’t for rat-face, I wouldn’t have wasted an ale!

One dead at my feet, the other slumped against the wall, looking down the alley at Mr Third. I point my knife at last. Heart racing but my knife hand is steady. I show no weakness. I ask him, “So, are you going to use that or just stand there pissing yourself? Or are you just waiting for your Hammers to drop again?” I see his raw anger. I don’t care if he calls my bluff!

Backing off, he says, “Okay, dung-head, you win this one. But next time I won’t go easy on you!” He quickly turns and runs away.

Well, that was easy enough. Then again, it was too close. So, this is what luck feels like. I assess the cut on my forearm. Need to patch this up. It’s not too deep, that’s good. Just a piece of cloth to tie it off.

Looking at the two on the ground, I wonder what they have on their persons. Rubbing my hands together. Spoils of war and all. Two good knives and some slips. Such a lucky day. Enough to pay off Malik and a little more to get a room, so I’m not stabbed while I sleep. Just have to figure out a way to pay Malik without being killed in the process.

Now, where am I? A sudden smell burns my nostrils. There’s nothing that quite compares to the smell of a blacksmith shop. It’s there in the air; a distinct odour that hangs thick, singeing my nostrils with the distinctly industrial stench of coal dust and molten iron.

Good, I am close to Blacksmith Place. Shouldn’t take much to get to the Bazaar and onto Market Place. After that, the Hall.

Chapter One (New)

 

Here is the links to chapter two and three.

Journal entry one, Twenty-third of Harvest, 1007 FK.

Within two weeks I will be on the front line. Fighting an enemy that has powers beyond our imagination! It reminds me of something I read in school about the end of the Massacre of Magic, and the invasion of those Beasts and their shambling rotten minions! I would never have thought we would stumble upon those creatures from history in Greywalker Reach. How could the Earl and his soldiers miss this? Earl Feo has a lot to answer for! The bloody forts are just three days ride away!

Anyways, I’m beating a dead horse, or in this case, a dead Favinonian and dead people rising is just one of the problems I am dealing with.  I can’t believe the assassinations, the rebellion and all those weird-

Mela’s grace, I don’t have much time to write this, I cannot get distracted. 

I survived Greywalker Reach, I’m not sure if I will survive this war. But people need to know where it all started. That town, where I met my ‘family’, Lake Merrin.

Now we are heading to the war to end all wars. I regret so many things: Friends dying, losing the love of my life, and most of all, meeting that monster Zlata! After Greywalker, I know where she came from. Holy Saints of the Trinity save us.

The best thing to do is start when it all began, just two years ago, when I came to Lake Merrin. Back then I was a nobody, and all I cared about was money, women, and grog. Or was it grog, more grog and lots of grog, and paying for women? I was a wastrel. A scoundrel who only cared about himself and the next drink!

How things change. My story is one of change, just like Favinonia changed through the last two years. From when I signed up at the Hall in Lake Merrin; to catching that charter, to the uprising and finally to these horrific current events.

Should I start from when I first arrived in Lake Merrin? Or three months later when I finally got off my arse to sign up? By Jenell’s Book, I was lazy! Back to the start, where was that?

Oh yeah, having that quiet drink in that dingy inn, the Anvil and Musket on the docks of Lake Merrin…

What a beautiful day on Lake Merrin, that morning breeze from the shoreline is why I love this place. Except that the smells of the tavern downstairs can be a little on the nose.

Still, I don’t understand why the lake is named Lake Merrin as well. Was the town named after the lake or was the lake named after the city?

Who cares? Time for my liquid breakfast!

Now I just have to try and not wake up my ‘beautiful’ companion. She will just want me to spend more money on her. She can throw back grog even more than me.

Why did I choose this place? Black mould, greasy windows and cockroaches as big as my fist. That’s right. Two silver slips a week, can’t complain about the Anvil and Musket. What is a Musket anyway?

Gently closing the door, I stumble down those rotten steps, and there is something putrid in the air. It’s Bruce, I can smell from the stairway that enters the common room. His fragrance is like torture to my disturbed gut; a mixture of sweat, vomit and ale so old it’s rancid. At least he is working, not passed out in a booth. He is one of the reasons I need to drink my worries away.

There he is in all his morning glory behind the crack stone excuse for a bar. Patchy beard that looks like the hind end of a mangy dog, cauliflower ear and an apron so stained it looks more stain than apron. Ah, Bruce, you are such a sight.

“Greetings, good barkeep. Can I have your finest ale? Hold the roaches or rat droppings.” I hold back my laughter at myself, today I am the soul of wit!

He looks up at me, “Oh – it’s you. Your rent’s due!”

Pleased to see you too Bruce. “I know, I know. Um, can I make it up later today?”

“Do I have to get Malik to talk to you again?”

That son of a motherless goat! “No Bruce you do not! Here.” Two more notes gone! I need a job. “My ale?”

As I watch him with my cup in his hand about to pour my amber liquid, there is something moving in the glass.  Before I say anything, Bruce notices and just shakes it out. Jara’s Hammer that is so wrong.

I think it just ran into another glass…

“Can I have a cleaner glass, Bruce? It looked like two roaches were making babies in the bottom of it.” He reaches for the one that also has a shadow inside it, “Um, can it be that one.” I point out one, nowhere near the baby factories.

“Bloody stuck up white-back!” I love being a half-breed, I get so many nicknames. He grabs another glass. “Five coppers!”

Holding my glass of pure heaven on Amsul, then shoving his other hand in my face. What? So, if I had that other one, it would have cost me one copper?

Handing over a printed five copper note. “One thing Bruce, what is a musket?”

He smiles, a bit of last night’s food still stuck in his teeth and I get a gust of rancid breath. He pulls a weird weapon from beneath the counter. I assume it is a weapon, it’s a metal tube, connected to a club. He points the tube at me.

“Do you want to find out what it does too, or are you going to piss off?”

No idea why he’d point a tube at me when the club section of the weapon looks scarier. With Bruce’s oversized arms, my head would be cracked after one blow.

“Nope, I’m good!”

He puts the musket back under the bar as I walk away. I’m not sure what it does, and I don’t want to find out. Where to enjoy this weak-as-piss ale? Ah, next to my friendly neighbourhood drunk, Stinky Pete. Don’t know his real name as he seems to be asleep most of the time. But Stinky Pete is a great listener.

“Hey, Pete.” Sitting down in this booth, I can smell he has pissed himself again. Mela’s sacrifice he is in a bad way this morn. “Don’t need a hug today, we are the best of friends aren’t we?”

Pete’s reply is quite fragrant and so loud I can feel it through the soles of my boots. If it isn’t out one end, it is always the other.

“So, Pete, what should I do today?”

He coughs and burps for a change of tempo.

“Yeah, I know, a job. After spending five years in the army to gain my citizenship, those were some dark days. Every job I go for now is just some slack jaw job, I am better than this.” Quaffing my drink again. “Pete, my friend what am I going to do?”

He does take his time to answer, mouth flutters as he lets out a huge breath. “Well, my funds are not going to last me long, with pissing off Bruce all the time or dealing with Malik and the Dock boys.”

By his snoring, I know Pete understands.

“It’s the same thing every day. Find a labouring job to earn money, only to have it taken away by the Dock Boys. Bloody Malik and his butt-monkey Jimmy always find out when I have money.”

This conversation needs a drink. Ah, my amber brew! I nearly forgot about that.

“Oh, cause you know Pete, they demanded my money to pay back the last loan with interest. Then Malik in his element turns around and lends me money so I can survive. Not much I can do.”

I can see Pete is pondering my last statement.

“You are right, Pete! Unless you are a knight, in the military, or a registered Adventurer, the law isn’t always around to protect you. They are the only ones allowed to carry arms or wear armour. And then I don’t have to put up with their nonsense.”

Pete shifts slightly and lets out a fart even worse than the last one. I drown my nose in the sweet elixir of my ale. He finishes, and he should be proud of his eruption. By now my brew is finished.

“Pete, you have outdone yourself as well, shouting me a drink.” I grab his pouch off his belt, and there is one silver slip inside, enough for two more drinks.

“I’ll grab you one as well, Pete, don’t you worry!”

I’m glad to be moving back to the bar, allowing me some fresher air. I don’t call him Stinky Pete for nothing.

“Bruce, couple more ales!”

“Sure.” I think he said sure; there was an ‘s and e’ in his grunt.

I look forward to living in a proper place one day, maybe with a beautiful woman to cook me dinner.

“Thanks, Bruce, keep the change!”

It’s not like there is any – but it’s better to pretend he isn’t ripping me off. Pete is still sleeping, dropping his glass in front of him, I take a long draw of my ale. Even though I know he might not drink it, it was his money. Like always, the best thing for the morning, a good lukewarm brew!

As I drop my drink on the table, I spy my lady ‘friend’ coming down the stairs. She looks at me and waves. What is her name again? Cin or Bel? Damn it.

“Hey there, handsome.” She grabs Pete’s ale and has a long swig. “I woke up, and you weren’t there.”

Cin or Bel? She is staring at me. “Sorry, love, I wanted to come down and have some breakfast,” Shaking my half empty cup. “Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?”

Well, it is a stretch, with her acne and scabby skin but she is cheap and warm. I think she is blushing, but I can’t tell.

“You are embarrassing me.”

“It is part of my charm,” As she walks off to her ‘pimp’ Bruce, I smack her on her arse. Turning back to Pete. “Sorry about that Pete, I will get you another drink later. So, what were we talking about?”

Pete lets out a loud snore. “Oh yes, thanks, Pete. The Watch is out of the question, and I am never going back to the army. So, I could head west to the City States, join a mercenary band like my ‘dad’ was a part of. But again, that is too close to army and those encounters I had with rogue groups.”

I can see Pete is uncomfortable about this, me too. “So, the Mercenary band is out, City Watch is out, Army is out, so Pete what is left?” He ‘shrugs’, I think. “That means there is only one option, join the knighthood!”

Standing up brandishing my cup like a sword. I laugh. Pete ‘laughs’. “Yeah, could you imagine that, me being part of the Duke’s Shields? Bloody Jara, they are some stuck up prigs.”

The creaky front door swings open, Bruce needs to oil that. And for Jara’s Hammer, it is a Dock Boy. It is the rat-faced one, not sure what his name is, but he is always in that huge group that corners me. If we were one on one— “Ah, it seems that it is time for me to go, Pete,” Ratty sneers at me and forcefully flings the door open and runs out.

“You are right Pete; the only answer is becoming an Adventurer. I guess I’m off to the Hall.”

Jara, Mela, Jenell, what horrible timing for the Dock boys to be looking for me. I thought I would be not seeing them all week. They have been thick as thieves with that rogue charter, Fellowship of the Sword. I hate that group, ex-Duke’s Shield. Helmut and his thugs, love killing people for fun and money. Especially that brute Roth with his oversized meat cleaver. I don’t want to be on either gang’s list.

Running up those rotten stairs into my room, I might duck out through the secret back exit. I’m glad that there is a back door, I shouldn’t be caught by the Boys.

Looking around my room, what do I need? My peace-bound sword is a definite, my armour vest; my Jack, a must if I run into some more Dock Boys. Some knives and done. Feel like I am missing something. Oh yeah, where is my slip pouch of savings? That’s right in with my dirty underwear, glad I have the foresight to hide money. No-one will look there.

Taking a deep breath, I open my door a crack to see if anyone is in the corridor. Good, it’s empty. Only twenty steps and I am out that back door.

Out the second level and more subtle exit, strange that I am using it for avoiding the Dock Boys instead of being a wife or loved one worrying that their husband is cheating on them.

Heading down the even-more-rotten back steps, making sure to miss the exposed rusted nails and other disease-ridden objects. The last thing I want is to be heading to the Medical-shrine to have some Green treat me. I stop in my tracks and think. How am I going to make it to the Hall?

If I can make it to Route Street, avoiding Fish and Dock as that is their territory, I will be free and clear. In my mind’s eye, I know there are three back-alley ways from the Anvil to Route Street. That should be easy.

Now should I duck over to the other side of Route to more alleys so I avoid the morning crowds, or would it to be better to blend in?

Blending will be better, just have to make it to that fantastic busy morning traffic. Down the steps, and there is the first turn.

I am glad of my scouting experience from the Army. Otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed the heavy breathing. Who is in this next alley? I take a quick look. A Dock Boy, a brute of a half-breed, he must have some dwarf in him. His dark, heavy beard and pointed ears are a dead giveaway.

What to do? Bold is best in this, he might just be waiting for someone else. “Hey, what are you doing here? Doesn’t Malik have you lot on the docks every morning?”

He turns to me and bunches his shoulder, if he bunched anymore, he’ll rip his shirt. “Oi, you stay right here.”

He starts sauntering toward me. Drawing my dagger from my back sheath, I hold it in my fist. He grabs me, my first instinct is to stab him but I squash that thought, and I smash him across the face with the pommel instead. As he drops to the ground, I step around him and run.

Only rat-face and that brutish truth-spawn have seen me, only one more lane and I’m blending into that morning crowd. The second alley is clear, maybe I should have killed him. No time to worry about that.

And of course, caught up with my own thoughts there is another gang member. “You  .”

He goes for a grab but my training kicks in, and I twist towards him so I would have a clear shot to knee his ‘Jara’s Hammers’.

He drops to the ground clutching at his groin. I am nearly home free, Route is just a stone throws away.

As I peek out, I see only carts, fish, market goods, fishmongers, labourers and dock workers. A crowd is the best place to blend.

Just moving out of the alley way I hear someone call out. “There he is, Malik!”

Of course, someone is pointing me out. Why do they have such a hard on for me today? I owe the Dock Boys less than others.

As the crowd parts, I see that son of a thankless mother, Malik! Thank you so much, faceless mob.