29

Dec

by thefourpartland

No, I am not dead, despite all appearances to the contrary. I am, I think, quite alive. However, I have been absent from this blog for almost the entirety of December. Some of that was for good reason, some laziness. However, with the coming of the new year, I’m back.

So, I suppose this is a good time to outline a few things about where I stand with books, projects, and all those other bits of writing that I’ve got going on. You may have heard about this Splintered Lands thing I’ve been working on. Well, it’s getting closer. A lot closer. The first book should be out next year, and with luck, so should the second. There’s 3 novels, an anthology, and a novella all coming. They’re written by brilliant authors, and as the time gets closer I’ll be seriously encouraging you to go check them out.

I’ve also got a short story called King Bloodaxe coming soon. Call it a “Viking” fantasy. The story’s done, and off with readers now, and you know it’s a good thing when the first reply back is “where’s the second story?”

Finally, I’m announcing a tentative publishing date for Chloddio, second book in The Four Part Land, of July 21st. It’s currently in rewrites, although I should probably say extensions. I edited the story so fiercely the first couple times that it’s fallen below the word count I’d like to publish as a standalone print novel, so I’m writing new segments to flesh out certain subplots.

For those of you who’ve read Tarranau, this story takes place at almost the same time, and indeed many of the events in one story overlaps with the other. It begins a second trilogy that will follow Chloddio the stonemage as he seeks battle with enemies from the high tundra and the burning desert, until the path ends at the gates of his city.

And now to whet your appetite, I have a little excerpt from the story. At the time of the journey, Chloddio is a freshly recruited soldier, traveling on his first patrol through the lands of Tri-Hauwcerton.

On the seventh morning past the cave, the squad descended to a valley floor, a grey and winding passage that marched west to east. The valley itself swept around in a great crescent, and the ends were hidden from view behind mountains weathered and old. It was a desolate place, with thin grass and low bracken the only plants to be see. Here, even the patrol road shrank away to a faint trace on the ground, as if nothing could make its mark on this landscape.

The patrol swept past, Chloddio eager to be gone from this desolate place. In the high mountains, there had been a savage beauty, primal nature unscarred by the hand of man. Here, though, there was just savagery, for the beauty was stolen by the howling of the winds and the whispers of the grass.

Presently Sergeant Werilc called for the lunch halt, amidst a field of tumbledown boulders that provided some protection from the wind. Knackered, the patrol eagerly set to, and Chloddio sat himself down next to Jankoaen and Verick.

“Are there people this far out into the wilderness?”

Jank shrugged. “There have been, from time to time. Mostly bandits though.”

“Every decade or so, some poor fool who doesn’t like city life and rules decides to come out here and set up a village with his friends and family.” Verick gestured at the landscape around them. “Usually they come running back after the first winter. Those that survived, anyway.”

“There’s people that do that?”

“When you have nothing, the only thing to risk is yourself. And people don’t put too high a price on their own lives when they’re beggared and starving.”

“You know, Jank, you’re just going to depress me and the young lad. Try being cheerful for once.”

“Depressing? Me? You’re the old maid nattering on about those wilding villagers. Earth’s peace, most of those are just legends, told third hand.”

“Better my third hand than your first. Since all you do is make it up as you go along.”

“Enough, ladies.” Sergeant Werilc folded himself into a seating position. “Jankoaen’s right. The last known village north of the Carns died a full decade ago. Even the tax collectors stopped trying, and they hunt down dead people. As for the bandits, well, all of us veterans fought them up here once or twice. But even those were usually further south, trying to poach the ore from the mines. Out here? Nothing. Even the army only comes this way because it’s a shortcut. And because it gives us a little mountain and outdoor training without being too dangerous.”

Jankoaen sniffed the air. “We’re cutting it close this year, Sergeant.”

“I know. Why do you think we march so quickly?” With that the sergeant was on his feet, bellowing for the soldiers to pack their food and get back onto the road.

A clatter in the rocks behind him spun Chloddio about. Standing before him was a man dressed in furs and leathers, and carrying a crude blade. Shouting a warning, the stonemage dove to the side, grabbing at his hammer and shield. The veterans were just as fast to react, as all about the camp scruffy bandits appeared, weapons and armour crude and homemade. Standing atop a rock was the bandit’s leader, and he pointed at their packs with a sword, the blade dulled by age.

“Give us your packs, your tents, your food. Everything.”

“You have got to be kidding me.”

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