• Category Archives Fiction
  • Hitch a ride on the Steelback

    Running Lost Hemisphere has helped me get to know a number of amazing people in the gaming industry, but it’s also planted me in the path of a number of great authors, in no small part thanks to their writing for Privateers Skull Island Expeditions endeavor. Dark Convergence introduced me to Dave Gross, who then dangled Prince of Wolves under my nose. Chris A. Jackson took me to sea with Watery Graves. Miles Holmes tried to sucker me into liking Cygnar with The Way Of Caine, but Menoth protected me from his scurrilous ways. At least, until we hung out for a bit at GenCon a few years back.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still long for the days the crusading armies of the devout walk the streets of Caspia and the True Law is reestablished, but Mr Holmes is a charming fellow as well as being a talented writer. I had the opportunity to enjoy one of his works in progress. If it was described by a 1990’s movie trailer narrator, the terms high-octane and thrill ride would apply.

    On a distant planet being mined for all its worth, the Steelback is a massive raised mega-highway that links settlements and arcologies. Through the story we got to ride along with a convoy of transport drivers as they try to make their run across the Steelback, beset by raiders and ne’er-do-wells masterminded by a far more sinister foe. It’s a touch Mad Max, a touch Car Wars (which, in all fairness, is a touch Mad Max), a hint Wild Wild West, and frankly, way more fun than I was expecting. If you looked into Road/Kill when it was being kickstarted, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    Welcome to Atropos

    “A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!”

    Yeah, it didn’t sound like such a good idea in Bladerunner, and it’s not going to be so rosy here either. Johnny Cash himself sings us in as you’ve just made planetfall on a hostile world in the year 2177. Grab a coffee and take a seat as we begin with an orientation session from the man. Hey, at least that mug is yours to keep!

    In chatting with Mr Holmes today I’ve been informed that he’s working to turn his trucker tales of the Steelback into a trilogy, and supporters of his Patreon get early access to chapters, along with (depending on tier) hard copies of the book(s), t-shirts, 1-on-1 feedback calls with the author, and more. This sort of thing has been rabbiting around in my head lately.

    What? No, not having my illusions shattered by actually hearing the voices of people I otherwise only communicate with via text/email… the idea of being a patron of the arts. Back in the day, it was a huge deal in the higher echelons of society to be able to claim patronage over an artist, a sculptor, a composer. You were basically an art world sugar daddy. You’d provide your artist of choice with funds, resources, perhaps a roof over their head, invitations to galas, and in return they’d get their art on, dazzling all and sundry with their brilliance, and sometimes their art would be for you.

    We now have access to things like Patreon, allowing us to support all manner of creatives and their projects, and while we’re all stretched thin thanks to COVID 19 and the impact it’s had on our lives, I would also think that there’s a spotlight now on how much we all rely on the creative community to help us get through. From music to television to visual arts and the written word, we’re watching more Netflix, we’re reading more books, we’re keeping the radio cranked.

    While we’re using the fruits of the industry more than ever, many of these creatives, and the industries that support them, are suffering. No concerts. No gallery shows. No movie theaters. Not even any comic conventions where we can go and pay $30 to an aspiring artist to get a custom sketch of Stilt-Man. Everyone involved in helping run the public gatherings, from event coordinators to the dudes who set up the lighting, have suddenly found their skillsets in very low demand. Everyone who relied on those public gatherings to promote themselves or sell their art, has been scrambling to find alternate channels.

    Especially with the holiday season around the corner, perhaps consider seeing if you can support creative types. If you don’t support FLGS’s then there’ll come a point where you suddenly don’t have an FLGS any more. Same applies to creatives. What they create is helping keep everyone sane through lockdowns and closures and isolation. Support creatives when you can, or one day you may find yourself with a lack of creatives.

     

     

     

     

     


  • Called to Battle: Face Value

    It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to visit Skull Island for a fresh expedition. Skull Island – Privateer Press’ e-publishing label that introduced me to the excellent wordage of the likes of Dave Gross, Chris A Jackson and Miles Holmes, on top of in-house wordsmiths the likes of Douglas Seacat, Aeryn Rudel and William Schick. Namedrop, namedrop… I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with each of these talented authors, and it’s always a good time to delve into the the fluff and lore of the Iron Kingdoms. Every tale, be they a full length novel or a dozen pages as part of an anthology novella, unfolds new layers of the world of the Iron Kingdoms and with it, enriches our own overall experience.

    I had the opportunity today to read Richard A Knaak’s Face Value. This was my first introduction to Knaak’s writing, and I can honestly say I’m looking forward to reading his other Skull Islands offering, Wyrmbane. Frankly, this surprises me a little. I’ll confess that Cryx is one of the factions that interests me the least in Warmachine & Hordes, which in no small part stems from my years playing undead armies in Warhammer, before I left Australia. I’ve done my time in the crypts, and when I first started playing Warmachine there was simply no interest in more hordes of skeletons and the like. For a short story to have me interested in reading more of the writer’s same work is a good thing. For it to have me interested in reading more when the next book is a novella centered around one of the Lich Lords? Well, that’s just bonza.

    Face Value introduces us to the Skarlock Thrall Grendov. The Skarlock Thralls are largely autonomous servants of their lords, bound to do their bidding – the word Thrall isn’t just for funsies – but wheres most of the hordes of the undead are mindless automatons, the Skarlocks are the right hands of their masters, and need to have a degree of intellect in order to carry out the wills of their lords.

    Grendov stands out even among Skarlocks in that he retains more than just some intellect. He also has elements of his living personality – not to mention the face he wore when he was alive, now gruesomely hooked to his grinning skull as he tries to cling to some  semblance of the man he was – and the consciousness to question of his master Venethrax’s wishes, even if he dare not voice such questions out loud.

    Grendov knows he holds a position of particular power in the Scharde Isles, one that grants him significant freedom and autonomy at the discretion of Lich Lord Venethrax, but when he discovers a captured soul from his past, his loyalties are tested. Will he risk the wrath of his master – and by that, his very existence – in the name of a long lost love? Just what – and who – would he be willing to sacrifice for an emotion he can barely remember?

    Face Value introduces the reader to the Nightmare Empire of Cryx and its denizens, and sets the stage for the story to come. With the children of Toruk on the move, Lich Lord Venethrax will be calling on those in his service to unravel the mystery ahead and deal with one of the greatest threats in the known world. This short story deals with conflicted loyalties, the value of a measure of freedom, and tosses in a necrotech who thinks he’s funny, that I really hope turns up in Wyrmbane. A short read, but well worth the price of admission.

    You can get Face Value and Wyrmbane directly from Privateer’s online store as ebooks, put them on your phone or tablet, and take a bite out of the Iron Kingdoms.


  • Black Dogs, by Richard Lee Byers

    It’s been a fair while since I read Richard Lee Byer’s first entry into the Iron Kingdoms, Murder In Corvis, which introduced the characters that would become the Black River Irregulars into the world of Skull Island Expeditions, Privateer Press’ fiction warehouse. The characters were already familiar to players of the Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy RPG as the introductory characters from the Fools Rush In scenario – ‘jack marshal Colbie Sterling, trollkin Gardek Stonebrow, arcanist Eilish Garrity, and alchemist Milo Boggs. Murder In Corvis established the four as a team as they worked outside the law to track down a killer that was carving a bloody legacy through Corvis’ undercity. Players of the Undercity board game are also up to snuff with Colbie and her crew, experiencing adventure as they fight their way through escalating missions. Today we take a step beyond the novella and take a look at Black DogsByer’s first full-length Iron Kingdoms novel, and return to the underbelly of Corvis to see what the crew are up to.

    Black Dogsis the first in what we can only hope will be an ongoing series of novels chronicling the tales of the Black River Irregulars. The door is kicked open with a Khadoran bratya– a kayazycrime syndicate – sneaking into the catacombs of the sunken city and setting about establishing themselves as the new power in the seedy underbelly of Corvis by wiping out one of the existing gangs – The Patient Weavers – almost to a man. Gunmage Canice Gormleigh and her ogrun bokur Natak Warbiter narrowly survive, in part thanks to the timely intervention of Captain Colbie Sterling of the Black River Irregulars.

    When follows is a story filled with a variety of protagonists and antagonist that somehow – despite the sheer number of characters – manages to make a connection with the reader for each. I knew going into the story that I liked the play between the hulking bounty hunter Gardek and the pompous investigator Eilish – both very good at what they do but approaching problems from clashing sides – and Menoth knows I’m a big fan of the almost-sociopathic Milo Bogs, but as the story expanded I found myself profoundly creeped out by Khadoran assassins Gridia and Fodor, laughing at the boorish yet lethal ironhead Olekse, and developing a real soft spot for Eilish’s paramour and physician Regan, and the small yet braver-than-he-realizes Pog.  I’m normally not a huge fan of ensemble books – my old man brain doesn’t like to have to track too many different simultaneous story arcs – but Byers managed to breath just the right amount of life into each character such that I was engaged, yet not so much that I felt any one character’s personal arc overshadowed anyone else’s.

    Given how much of the story takes place in the Undercity – a metropolis below Corvis filled with buildings that have sunken into caverns interconnected by a maze of tunnels and catacombs – I was impressed that the story never felt claustrophobic, yet the ever-present gloom of poorly lit passageways and a world that never saw sunlight was impressed at every turn such that it actually took me awhile to realize that some parts of the story were taking place above ground. The story ranges from Corvis proper to more populated regions of the Undercity, through unmapped labyrinths replete with local gribblies waiting to devour wayward pedestrians, to gang strongholds, bring with it a lawless Wild West Frontier feel mixed an almost noir touch as the various crime syndicates maintain their uneasy balance of power until the Black Dogs turn up and start tipping the apple cart in a play for power.

    I don’t want to spoil the story for any potential readers, but I went into Black Dogs a little dubious about the ensemble nature of the cast, and left very satisfied in Byers’ ability to take a dozen smaller tales, each with their own development and growth, and weave them into a grander narrative that takes the reader below ground for an adventure filled with acts of cunning and heroism, bravery and deceit, one or two overblown egos and a little helping of betrayal. When you and your crew are tasked with protecting a woman who had recently tried to kill you all, how long do you think you’ll last before you level a slug gun at her head?

    Black Dogs is available in electronic format directly from Skull Island Expeditions, audiobook on Audible, and also in paperback format from various retailers who haven’t been enslaved by the Skorne Empire. It was a fun read, and is recommended for entertainment purposes. Not recommended is your looking for tips on living with a black labrador or poodle. Doberman, maybe.

     


  • Tuesday Fiction: Mecha Strike Arena pt3

    Lost Pal Tilaurin is moving and shaking at Dare  Games OZ, and they’re putting together Mecha Strike Arena. He’s written six pieces of fiction to introduce you to the major characters of the setting, and we’re sharing them with you, two at a time, for your reading pleasure, over three weeks. This is part three. Please enjoy.

    Hunting

    Even with a trillion googleplexes of nodes, vast as it was the digital realm was still finite. Flashes of the Machine Intelligence lanced through the galactic web, hunting the target tasked to it by its creators.

    Data stores of commercial entities, non physical arcologies home to digital minds, and furious pathways of crackling raw impulses flew by as it leapt from node to node, reaching out with neural tendrils to pump portions of itself in and out of temporary memory stores to reduce its latency as it went. To a flesh being access within the galactic web seemed instantaneous, but to a Machine Intelligence a microsecond could be an aeon.

    The environmental controls for a station. A digital realm purely for children’s learning. A complicated sensory immersion structure. The data stores of the New Outer Arm Conglomerate Bank. It touched upon them all briefly, travelling through the finite digital realm ripping firewalls asunder and knitting them back together to hide its presence in picoseconds, while searching for information of its prey.

    If time in the galactic web were measured relatively, it would have spent weeks leaping through the physical nodes creating the web via the micro wormhole connections. Within a single picosecond it travelled from Earth, birthplace of Earthkind, to Re’err in the Perseus Arm, back to Vega near Earth, then to a Bakshi powered ship halfway to Andromeda completely unaware it was linked back to the galaxy via micro wormhole. Still, the prey eluded it.

    Continue reading  Post ID 20511


  • Tuesday Fiction: Mecha Strike Arena pt2

    Lost Pal Tilaurin is moving and shaking at Dare  Games OZ, and they’re putting together Mecha Strike Arena. He’s written six pieces of fiction to introduce you to the major characters of the setting, and we’re sharing them with you, two at a time, for your reading pleasure, over three weeks. This is part two. Please enjoy.

    Base of Power

    All sounds ceased in the cavern the moment the light went on above the metallic doors, the only inorganic object not covered in lush greenery. The caw of strange birds, chirping of plentiful insects, low grunts and harrumphs of strange beasts, and a sussurating chatter of the caverns only sentient occupants had created a natural symphony, cut off suddenly by an unseen conductor’s baton.

    A hiss broke the silence as the doors separated several millimetres, clammy tendrils of fog rushing up the front of the suddenly moist surface that had moments before been protected by an invisible force field. As equilibrium was reached the fog settled back down, doors sliding further to the sides revealing a robed shape within, lit only by a dim red glow.

    Spidery metallic legs reached forward into the cavern and to the sides to grip the doors, flowing out from the bottom of the dark black meta-cloth robe. It flowed like a liquid between at least a dozen fine mechanical legs moving back and forth with sharp movements. The body above them seemed to float they carried it so softly, coming several metres forward from the door before stopping. A puff of air underneath sent the fog swirling away as the cowl turned to  the nearby undergrowth.

    Slowly a hulking reptilian figure stood, it’s camouflaged skin shifting in colour to a neutral, even green bar some red clan markings across his upper half. In response a robed arm rose from the side of the visitor, wisps of webbed tendrils clinging between the separated parts of the meta-cloth. A human hand softly reached out of the end of the arm as the tendrils withdrew, reaching up to the edge of the hooded cowl to throw it back.

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  • Tuesday Fiction: Mecha Strike Arena pt1

    Lost Pal Tilaurin is moving and shaking at Dare  Games OZ, and they’re putting together Mecha Strike Arena. He’s written six pieces of fiction to introduce you to the major characters of the setting, and we’re sharing them with you, two at a time, for your reading pleasure, over three weeks. This is part one. Please enjoy.

    Superstar

    “Thank you, thank you! Thanks for coming!”

    She floated off the side of the stage and down the corridor to the cheer of the crowd, rainbow pigtails trailing several feet behind her. A Ganymede Representations android stood on the wall opposite under localised gravity, holding a light robe in its pinched fingers. She somersaulted in the air and flipped her body towards the wall, lightly touching down in front of it, and proffered an arm for the robe.

    “Sponsorship has been approved, Miss Bailey. Punky is ready to be sent to the first season hub” it said flatly, dressing her in the robe.

    Mentally switching off her voice and sensoria projections to the audience, she smiled broadly and danced, spinning away from the machine. “Excellent! I’m so excited! We’ve been doing performances so much it’s about time we got things a bit sporty again.”

    “Yes Miss” again flatly.

    Continue reading  Post ID 20511


  • No Quarter 69

    Whenever a new issue of No Quarter lands in my mailbox, it’s a happy time in the Gdaycave. Not only does it mean an entire new periodical centered on one of my two favourite fantastic settings (the other being the Discworld – #pterry4lyfe), not only does it mean coverage of upcoming releases and tactical insights from game luminaries, but it also feeds into my inner setting fluffbunny with background information and brand new fiction to be draw in via my eyeballs. I’m not entirely sure where all that was going, but the long and short of it is, I love how each new No Quarter not only opens up new horizons for us as players and painters, but also expands the Iron Kingdoms in ways we may not have been expecting. Case in point, today’s bloggery is about a whole bunch of words written by Lost pal Aeryn Rudel (you may remember him as helming No Quarter himself back in the day), in which he discusses not the people or politics of my favourite faction, but specifically, the weapons and combat training of the warriors of the Protectorate of Menoth.

    Now, I want to quickly tip my hat here. No Quarter has an excellent stable of writers, both in-house and out, with fiction maestro Doug Seacat penning fluff, modellers and painters like Matt DiPietro and Geordie Hicks given the painters and sculptors among us something to aspire to, international champion Jay Larsen’s tactical thoughts on Trollbloods, Matt Goetz, Tim Simpson and more expanding the Iron Kingdoms RPG setting – there’s a lot to work through in this issue (and many more contributing names!), but although we’ve had Guts & Gears articles and the like in the past, whosever idea it was to tap Aeryn Rudel to write about the weaponry of the Protectorate gets a thumbs up from me. That’s like asking Adeptis Rahn to discuss practical application of telekinetic fields, ZZ Top about beards, or Jamie Bell what do when you can’t find your pants. Weaponry – the history, classification and practical application thereof – is right in Aeryn’s wheelhouse.

    With the Protectorate of Menoth Command Book due in less than a month and the Indictor kit itself finally available, it’s fair to say I’ve got my mind on my Menites and my Menites on my mind. The very character of the Protectorate has always appealed to me. Menoth’s law is sovereign, as dictated by the scrutators and of course, the Harbinger herself. These are a people who found themselves losing the civil war with Cygnar when the Protectorate was founded. Yes, they had a bunch of land ceded to them that actually proved useful despite the harsh living conditions thanks to reserves of Menoth’s Fury, but the only reason Cygnar ceded the land was to shut the Menite’s up, and they left some pretty hefty sanctions in place.

    • The Protectorate was not allowed to develop a standing army.
    • The Protectorate was not allowed to manufacture military grade steamjack cortexes.
    • The Protectorate was only allowed a heavily restricted version of Netflix.

    That didn’t stop them. Cortexes were smuggled in from Khador, someone found a backdoor into Leto’s own Netflix account, and then there’s the issue of the army. While they couldn’t maintain a professional army, they were allowed to retain the temple guardians and security forces. The populace were trained with maces, grenades and highly inefficient skyhammers, but the Knightly Orders and the Flameguard were allowed to continue, and thus became the core of the Protectorate’s not-exactly-standing army.

    Aeryn’s article looks at the arms and armaments of the Protectorate and goes into a little background as to the whats and whys. Given the resources of the comparatively arid Protectorate, higher quality arms and armour are difficult to replace, especially when those existing items are consecrated and blessed in ceremonies that can take even more resources than simply steel. IKRPG: Kings, Nations and Gods touched on the significance of the Relic Blades of the Knights Exemplar, but this article goes into further detail, into fighting style and even going to far as to include some fiction from an Exemplar training session that has me grateful that my own teachers weren’t as draconian as Master Gaius Uthren.

    The Daughters of the Flame also receive a moment in the spotlight. If you’ve got a bunch of irked, vengeful widows and mourning mothers and sisters who are just aching to exercise their grief through the application of pointy things toward their enemies, it can be important to make sure they’re appropriately trained, armoured for protection without sacrificing mobility, and generally pointed in the right direction. Aeryn gives us a peek behind the Sancteum walls and provides some valuable insight for anyone interested in creating a Daughter of the Flame for their RPG nights.

    No Quarter 69is jampacked with good reading for players of all factions, with a Thornfall Alliance theme force, Ol’ Rowdy, even a look at the Empress of Khador, but let’s face it: Menite articles make me happy 🙂


  • Fiction Tuesday: Fear of Retribution – The Complete Tale

    Ladies and Gentlelost, it is my distinct pleasure to present to you the complete work of fiction, Fear of Retribution, as scribed by pal Ben of Primal Poodle Painting. Nineteen chapters, over 30,000 words, the tale of Capt. Elizabeth Lawley and her mission to bring down a murderous Iosan loose in Corvis, and of Ioryssa, the elf who found herself in the wrong crosshairs, at the wrong time, and had to do something about it. Enjoy.

     

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    One

    An Estate near Corvis, Northern Cygnar

    There should have been more blood.

    It wasn’t Captain Elizabeth Lawley’s first murder scene.  Not even her first multiple murder.  She’d only been with the Reconnaissance Service for three years, but it was a profession that prepared you for the worst.  She’d been ready for gore.  Seven bodies was a new record for her, which should have meant record amounts of sanguine stain, but there was nothing.  No spray, no spatter.  Antique furniture, priceless books, strange magical artifacts filled every room in the estate, and none of them had been touched.  Nothing had been damaged but the corpses themselves.

    Liz stood in the foyer, hands on her hips, glaring at a dead man.  Rochester had been a master Arcanist, a powerful and influential man within the Fraternal Order of Wizardry.  The other six corpses had been his former apprentices, all of whom had become mighty mages in their own right.  Men and women like that should not have died quietly.  And yet here sat Rochester in a large armchair, a book open in his lap, at first glance appearing completely relaxed and comfortable.  The second glance revealed the expression of shock and confusion on his wizened features, and the small dark spot on the left side of his chest surrounding a tiny grey-fletched crossbow bolt.  Neither chair nor book showed even a speck of crimson.

    The other bodies were all the same.  One of the others also rested in an armchair, two lay in their beds.  One slumped over a desk, one sagged against a bookshelf.  All seven bore only the one, tiny wound.  Seven of the most powerful murder victims Liz had ever seen, and all had died seemingly without a struggle.  Whoever the killer had been, they were an incredible shot, and had given absolutely no warning.  Liz wasn’t sure which scared her more.

    Continue reading  Post ID 20511


  • Fiction Tuesday Finale

    With the epic climax last time, it’s time to bring our story to a close. Please enjoy Chapters 18 and 19 of Fear Of Retribution. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tale! Next week’s Tuesday Fiction post will be all 19 chapters compiled into a single post for those who aren’t inclined to read in segments. Big thanks to Ben for writing the story, and thank you all for reading.

     

    Part One! Part Two! Part Three! Part Four! Part Five! Part Six! Part Seven! Part Eight! Part Nine! Part Ten!
    Part Eleven! Part Twelve! Part Thirteen! Part Fourteen! Part Fifteen! Part Sixteen! Part 17!

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    Seventeen

    Eighteen

    An Empty Tenement Room, Merywyn

    Just Before Dawn

     

    Captain Elizabeth Lawley of the Cygnaran Reconnaissance Service sat on a broken crate and regarded her prisoner.  It had been less than two weeks since the two of them had started hunting one another, but it felt like months.  Again and again, Liz had feared for her life, and now it was over.  The Mage Hunter was captured, tied by both wrists to the back of an old but sturdy chair.  Liz wished she’d had some good iron chains to bind her with, but ropes would have to do.  The Iosan was so small, so thin, Liz did not expect she’d break free.  It was actually hard to believe that such a scrawny, frail-seeming woman was responsible for so much death.  Seven Cygnaran mages, one Khadoran Greylord, two attempts on Liz herself, and those were just the crimes Liz knew about.

    The elf opened her eyes.  Liz met them, cool and implacable, her face fixed in the interrogator’s mask.   The rage and fanatical hatred emanating from the Iosan washed over her like a wave.  Suddenly it wasn’t so hard to believe anymore.  They were a murderer’s eyes.  More, they were the eyes of a murderer who believed fully in her own righteousness.

    The Iosan spat something, a hissing whisper in her native tongue.  Liz ignored it.

    “I can’t get you back to Cygnar,” she said, her voice calm and even.  “I know I can’t.  On my own, there’s no way I can make sure you don’t escape somewhere between here and Corvis.  I’m fairly certain you know that too.”  The Mage Hunter was silent, her eyes still burning.  Liz continued.  “So, that means I have no choice but to kill you.  Here, today.  I cannot risk letting you go free.  But you see, I don’t actually have any hard evidence that you are the one I’m after.  Since you tried to kill me twice, I’m going to kill you either way, but I need to know:  are you the one who murdered the archmage Roderick and his six apprentices, as well as the Greylord Kerenov?”

    The elf hissed again.  Liz shook her head.

    “Cygnaran or Llaelese.  We’ve spoken before, I know you understand me.”

    “You belong in Urcaen, with all the rest of the blasphemers.”

    Liz shrugged.  “That’s not helpful, but at least you’re talking to me now.  Did you kill Roderick, his six apprentices, and the Greylord Kerenov?”

    “Why would I tell you?  You will kill me anyway.”

    “It’s the difference between me shooting you in the face and me breaking every bone in your body and leaving you for the Kayazy.”

    The Iosan’s teeth pulled back in a snarling grin.  “Death is death.  Scyrah will see my soul to its proper destination.”

    Liz rubbed her face with one hand.  Bloody fanatics.  This would have to get messy.

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  • Thursday Fiction: Part 16

    What madnesss is this? Tuesday Fiction on a Thursday? Oh, so topsy-turvy! Won’t somebody please think about the children! Part sixteen of Ben’s serial for your reading pleasure…

    Part One! Part Two! Part Three! Part Four! Part Five! Part Six! Part Seven! Part Eight! Part Nine! Part Ten!
    Part Eleven! Part Twelve! Part Thirteen! Part Fourteen! Part Fifteen!

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    Sixteen

    Blackened Petrov’s Warehouse Headquarters, Merywyn

    The Same Time

     

    The soft, familiar voice made Ioryssa’s teeth pull back in a snarl.  Lizzie Bullets’ trap had indeed worked too well.  Ioryssa and her boys had arrived just in time.

    She’d hoped to beat Bullets to the warehouse.  An open attack on the Kayazy gangsters had to attract attention, and Ioryssa wanted to be there when it did.  Both women wanted their adversary, an Iosan Mage Hunter, to come out of hiding.  But whatever Bullets thought, there was no way she could handle an entire gang of Kayazy and the Mage Hunter at the same time.  Ioryssa’s help was unasked for, but Ioryssa was going to give it anyway.  The bodies in the street had told her that Bullets was already here.  But so was the Hunter.

    Ioryssa yanked her sword from the torso of a dead Kayazy, already moving towards the voice.  “Leon, Thordok, left,” she hissed, gesturing with her pistol.  “Tovys, Tonio, right!”  The Trollkin warrior and Llaelese pistoleer faded into the maze of crates and boxes to her left without comment or glance.  Ioryssa felt Tovys’ eyes on her and knew he had paused even as she heard the rattle of Tonio’s ornate Ordic plate mail fade away to the right.  Tovys had something to say, but Ioryssa didn’t wait.  The Hunter wouldn’t.

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