Paul landed on his arm and he had the breath driven from him. He coughed and sputtered, struggling draw air even as the pain in his arm curled him into a fetal ball once again. The girl was at his side then and he felt her rip open his sleeve at the stitching down the side. There was a small gasp and she pressed warm fingers to his arm. “What be your name?” she asked. It seemed an absurd question while she was kneeling there, his pain making any attempt at speaking nearly impossible. He had to concentrate, drive away that pain in order to form enough coherent thought to answer her. “Paulin,” he begain. “Son of Ga—“
A terrible wrenching pain overtook him as she pulled a large piece of wood from his bicep with a sharp, swift tug. He howled in anguish, turning his face into the ground and crying out that he wished he were dead, anything but that pain. “Your arm is bent up,” she said coolly and then the pain was nothing to the sickening sensation of his shoulder popping back into proper alignment. He retched where he lay and had to pull his head back in order to not swallow it again. His head swam and the world went white with pain. Hoping he would slip into unconsciousness, he rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. Continue reading
He dreamed of the dead.
This one, like so many others before, took him back to Hallow Hill during the deep winter, before the Blood Plague came. The whole House came together and fires would be lit in the hearths as cousins and uncles would tell their tales of gallantry from the previous year. They would speak of exploits at the Bridge, a narrow pass through the vast mountains separating the east and the west, or across the Skipping Stones, a series of islands that bridged the gap between the Twin Cities that looked at one another over the Sea of Stars. Continue reading
The man they called Bearkiller said something in a deep, gutteral voice that made it hard to understand. He had a beard of course black hair so thick his mouth was nearly hidden. All Paul glimpsed was a flash of bright, white teeth.
“My Knight,” Lord Mossfield said in his high, nasal voice, “Keeps fairer law here than Lord Halloway. By right of force, I say begone, boy.” He giggled then and coughed so hideously that brown flecked snot and drool flung from the frog lord and Paul had to turn away to avoid being struck by it. Anger began to override his fear, yet the sight of Bearkiller stayed his sword hand. He swallowed and glanced to his uncle, but the older man simply stared at the fat lord with disdain. If I back down now I am a coward and father will disown me. The Nobility has no need of cowards. Continue reading
The Mossfields came around the bend and he could not see the end of their line. Twice my number, easily. Jack looked at him, but Paul did not see any hint of fear on the boy. Perhaps my father should have given him the ring.
“You’ll want to speak to Lord Mossfield himself if he’s here. Do not treat with anyone lower than your station,” Loukas said as their group moved to meet them. Continue reading
The wind on the King’s Road blew strong and smelled of an early spring. Already the bogs and marshes to the west were growing ripe. The stink of the lowlands reminded Paul of a privy. Impatient, he searched for signs that banners would soon come around where the road curved through the forest on the east. Pine forests made it impossible to see and he sat back in his saddle. Rock, his black destrier, barely moved as he sat. The horse was well trained and fierce in battle, if it came to that. Paul hoped it wouldn’t. His father had named him Knight a month ago, but his sword remained undrawn in combat.
Maybe they won’t come, maybe the Weaver will be merciful.
His Squire, a young man of sixteen named of Jack, held his banner straight despite the wind. The deep blue fabric flapped as another gust of wind took it, causing the black raven emblazoned on it to ripple and soar. It was the banner of House Halloway, his House. One day he would be expected to take his father’s title as Lord of Hallow Hill, but no son could inherit without being tested. He was almost eighteen and never blooded. His fingers flexed inside his leather gloves and twisted the reigns. Continue reading
Hello folks, this is just a quick update to say that I’m reworking The Blood so it’ll be a few weeks until I can get it back up and going again. Until then I’m going to run a complete novella I wrote called Hallow Hill. This is a gritty fantasy novella set in the same world as The Squire and is part of the same continuum, though with different characters. This is only its second draft so if you see weird things about it, please call them out!
Thanks for reading. You gals and guys are awesome!