by thefourpartland

This is an excerpt from the upcoming short story Wolven Kindred. The Wolven Kindred are a mercenary unit made up of men and wolven bound mind to mind, as well as some of each that are unbonded. Nietan is the human leader of the Wolven Kindred, and Ær is his bonded wolven.


Thus there was no hardships aside from the regular ones of military life for the Kindred as they passed onwards towards the Coastal Kingdoms. Indeed, compared to their prior existence it was one of some relaxation. There was food and drink, enough shelter to stay dry, and where once their discipline had been shoddy, it was now much better. Although given their small numbers, Nietan spent most of their training time on the art of skirmishing, of engaging from the flanks and retreating. They were too small for all but the most necessary of line warfare.

Especially after losing some men while stationed in Ceaster. Nietan had been forced to eject the worst troublemakers, including a bonded pair that would not stop arguing about the Kindred being allied with another mercenary company. The unbonded men could be replaced easily enough, most likely, but replacing a pair-bond was going to take time. And had upset both the wolven and the humans, but there had been little choice, so great was the level of disruption.

He refused to recognize what was good for Kindred.

“True, but to eject someone from his home and family hurt. He’d been a brother for thirty years.”

And in all that time, never learned wisdom or the ways of the pack. Whatever bitch whelped his wolven needs lessons in motherhood.

“Whoever it was is dead, Ær.”

Ær turned his muzzle to stare at the horizon for a moment. Why do you pair bond with us? Barring you dying in battle, you’re going to outlive me. And the next wolven as well. Why do you bind yourself to us knowing you will bury our corpses?

“Because what we get in return makes the payment seem a paltry thing.”

Is it really though? Some never bond again.

Nietan sighed. He wasn’t qualified to speak on this matter. Ær was his first companion.

“You’ll have to ask the Beastmaster. He has to know., as much as any one person can.”

The man who can bond us all, but never himself. I wonder how much regret he feels over that.

“A great deal, I should think. But in some ways, he is bonded to every wolven in the Kindred.”

And watches them all die. Burying the unbonded with his own hands. You humans pay too great a price for our support.

“We made our choice Ær. You’re going to have to live with that.”

Irrational to the end.

“It’s the only way to get through life.”

Ær whuffed quietly, then curled up against Nietan as they waited for the main body of their forces to catch them up.



by thefourpartland

Yes, we all know how that particular saying ends. And like almost every time it is employed, it’s true. I am not dead, and I have certainly not given up on writing. I just appear to have given up on blog posting for some time, although I can say the holidays and then a long ski trip had something to do with the matter. However, I am now back in the lab, and have a series of projects coming out over the next several months.

Chloddio: The second book of The Four Part Land arrives in April, and follows the exploits of the ex-safety engineer Chloddio as he joins the army, and then finds himself embroiled in subterfuge, revolution, and hidden societies. Around him swirl a cast of characters and soldiers based out of the city of Tri-Hauwcerton, together marking the beginning of the second trilogy set in The Four Part Land. And for those of you wondering what happened to Tarranau, don’t worry, he’ll return in Læccan Waters.

Wolven Kindred: A standalone ebook, Wolven Kindred follows Nietan, a human skirmisher and mercenary, and Ær, his bonded wolven companion, as they seek to rescue their failing mercenary group. Holy berserkers, undead priests, and howling barbarians become unlikely allies and implacable enemies as the Wolven Kindred engage in a desperate hunt for coin, and for their long forgotten honour. Wolven Kindred will appear in March.

Splintered Lands: Volume One: Yes, the first book of the long overdue Splintered Lands series will appear shortly, containing a trio of short stories entitled Into the Swamp, Kingdoms in Conflict, and A Baron’s Return. Together, they detail the arc of the southwestern lands, and the great swamp that dominates that tip of the continent. Lands rise and fall, struggling against the ever-present devastation of the Breaking. And yet somehow, there is hope, if distant and faded. Look for this ebook in April.

Ancient New: An anthology I am the editor of, Ancient New is a Deepwood Publishing book exploring the world of alternate history, of a Victorian Internet and an Aztec empire beyond the stars. Comprised of fifteen short stories written by rising stars from the fantasy and science fiction universe, it will capture the strange beauty of future technology, and the lost nobility of the past, and sweep them together into a tremendous mixture that delights and endears. Ancient New will appear at the end of March.

And if you’re curious what else is on my plate and underway, well, there is Læccan Waters, which sees the return of Tarranau as he heads north over the mountains beyond Tri-Hauwcerton, Splintered Lands: Volume Two, following the exploits of terrible thieves and long forgotten wizards, and an unannounced short project.

Finally, later this week, you should expect to see excerpts from the various stories start to appear, little teasers to whet the appetite before the tales go online.



by thefourpartland

Wolven Kindred is a setting that’s been nagging at me for a while, sitting in the back of my head and poking away, always cropping up at odd moments of the day. And last month, I was able to get enough of it down on paper to create a 22,000 word short story, which was a nice way to get back into writing after spending the summer editing Chloddio and Ancient New. It’s a story I went into without a plot, just with the intention of getting my mind back into the writing groove. Below is a little excerpt of what resulted.


Nietan glanced up at the banner fluttering overhead. Death before Dishonour. His company’s motto, supposedly. One they had long ago ignored. Dishonour had come in many forms, but mostly taking bribes and violating contracts. Honesty was a paltry thing to cast aside for money.

The Wolven Kindred had once been better than that. They had made kings, affrighted armies and shattered empires. But that was long ago, when the Kindred numbered five thousand or more. Now, they were down to a paltry two hundred, at best. A number that was only lightly bolstered by the sixty wolven still with the Kindred. Once, there had been one of those great predatory beasts for each brother-in-arms, but like the Kindred themselves, the wolven had diminished.

“At least I have mine.” Nietan ran his hand along the thick fur coat of Ær, the wolven who had fought by his side for more than sixteen years.

Ær glared up at him. You don’t have anything. I chose you just as much as you chose me.

Nietan chuckled as Ær’s thoughts rippled across his mind. Despite the outwardly bestial qualities, wolven were almost as bright as the humans they partnered, and often larger. Certainly, when both human and wolven were covered in the banded scale armour that had long been their hallmark, most opponents would say they feared the wolven more.

Would have. These days the Kindred had such a poor reputation that they were only paid to fight bandits. Or by the desperate.

The skirmisher wandered through the Kindred’s camp, Ær at his side. Around him was a desultory mess of tents, camp-fires, and refuse heaps, the layout haphazard and crowded. What little discipline there was in the camp could be seen on the edges, where the wolven were left to rest. There, the Beastmaster had organized the company’s stores, and the little pens that housed the wolven.

The men that sat in front of the tents stank, of drink, of filth, of encrusted blood. They had fought that morning, driving raiders away from a village at the behest of the local noble. For once, they had won with no casualties, although that had been more to do with the poor quality of the bandits than any skill on the part of the Kindred.

Yet victory had not brought peace, but was instead a reminder of the legendary history of the company, and how it had fallen. And so the brothers drank, and gambled, and played idle games doing whatever they could to dull their minds. Many of the soldiers simply flopped about, trying to sleep.

Despite his status as one of the older heads in the camp, Nietan did not remember the beginning of the fall. That had happened long before he had joined the Kindred, although in the years since he had seen further degradation and despair. The Packmaster of that time had harboured grand thoughts of revitalizing the Kindred, of growing the ranks and making of them once more a force, but he had bet poorly on the victor in a war, and the Kindred had been broken on a battlefield, remade, and broken again. When the remnants had fled, and reformed afterwards, they had numbered perhaps four hundred. In the decade since, they had shrunk to their present number, through death, desertion, and all manner of leave-taking.

Nietan yelped as teeth closed around his palm. If you keep this up, I’m going to wet your bed in terror. Ær’s eyes held a twinkle, but one with too much depth to be called happy.

“What do we do, then?”

Ær shrugged. Your race plans ahead. Ours does not.

Nietan knew that to be an out and out lie, at least as far as Ær was concerned, but he let it slide, as he had ever since they had been pair-bonded almost two decades ago. Although at the moment it appeared that neither race planned ahead, for now that the bandits were defeated, and pay received from a grateful earl, the Kindred had no plans, no road ahead.

Eventually, one of the packs of wolven would decide to strike out in a direction. Their companions would follow closely. Other humans would then bestir themselves to march after friends, and thus would the camp slowly disintegrate and stream in a certain direction. But it would be uncertain, loose, and poorly organized, and one or two would wander off along the way, or decide not to bother.

But that was all some days in the future. Until then, the Wolven Kindred, kingmakers, would sleep in their own filth and vomit.