by thefourpartland

I have finished National Novel Writing Month as a winner, at 50700 words done for the month after the validation tool made me write another 700 to complete. That means I have done 86,000 words in two months, which is where Laeccan Waters sits today. I’m going to take a break from it for a little, to finish the first term of school, but I’m hoping it will be done by the end of January. Estimates for final length are around 125-145k, before edits.

In other good news, my first piece of flash fiction ever submitted for publication was accepted, and is now online at MiCrow. Go over there, take a look at all the pieces, and scroll down until you find mine.

Because I feel it’s finally time to do so, I’m going to begin editing stories and sending them off for submission (I don’t do either, up until now). Don’t fear that it will reduce the amount of content posted here, as I can still churn out plenty of material, although more of it will be flash.

And now I am off to enjoy today with a large cider and a cool apartment.



by thefourpartland

The ninth installment of a 30k word short story set in The Four Part Land. It takes place 400 years in the past from the time of Tarranau and Chloddio, and details the collapse of Hymerodraeth Heula, the Empire of the Sun.

The next morning’s dawn saw the vanguard pulled up in the centre of the line of battle, with the main bulk of the army spread to the left and right in flanking wings, serried blocks many men deep. Across from them was the thinner, yet still large, line of the Lianese army, their banners and gear of a much more motley array than the cold, insectoid, armour of Bhreac Veryan. It looked to be an easy day, from a strategic view, for both sides had arrayed their forces in such a way as to state they wished to roll up one end of the opposition, crumpling them from the outside in, and at that Taflen nodded. It was the most basic, and the most common, strategy, especially when one force outnumbered another. He wondered what the Lianese might have in store to change the balance in their favour, but dismissed those thoughts when the horn sounded ‘Slow March’.

With the tramp of measured feet, the army of Bhreac Veryan surged into life, a rippling motion all along the shield wall as soldiers took their first step in time with the comrades to the left and the right. The whole great mass trundled forward, closing down the gap between them and their foe. A trumpet blew from amongst the Lianese, and they in turn stepped out, their banners cracking in the high breeze, the snap of a flag audible even over the rumble of marching troops. Soon there was but a quarter-mile between the two forces, and the horn for ‘Quick March’ rang out. Rhyfelwyr picked up his feet, and felt those around him do the same. As he did so, he let his hand draw out and cradle one of the glass globes that hung in leather pouches at his waist. Filled with glass dust and broken shards, they would fracture and spray their contents across those near the point of impact. These weapons were to be the opening salvo in the battle, much as they had been in wars past. All around, he sensed the unlimbering of weapons, as that quarter mile shrank away, and only a few hundred yards separated one foe from another. Across from him, he could see javelins and bows being pulled from their cases, held high in throwing hands in anticipation of the moment of release.

The cry came for ‘Assault’, and the battle was upon them all.

Arrows and javelins flew through the air, and Rhy and those around him lifted their shields to catch the incoming darts. Most skipped off of shields and armour, but some found their way around, and the screams and groans of the injured and the dying began to fill the air. Locsyn and Rhy both felt the old sensations again, the weight of all their previous battles come forward to claim this moment as their own, to add it to the tally that they each carried within. A sigh escaped Locsyn’s lips at the sadness of it all, but he lowered his shield and threw his momentum into the toss, sending the glass sphere flying to burst in a cloud of painful dust across the enemy line. Others from Glanhaol Fflamboethi had done the same, and up and down the Lianese line, soldiers coughed and cursed and scratched at their throat and face, and some began coughing blood as the razor-edged clouds ripped apart their breathing.

The Veryan army paused its headlong rush, bracing itself to take the impact of the disorganized Lianese charge, the order of the front ranks ripped apart by the salvo of spheres. A quiet descended on the field for a moment, a quiet as if all the sound had been pulled away, only to return with a mighty crash as the thundering attack crunched into the shield wall of Glanhaol Fflamboethi. The shield wall bent, pushed back by the momentum of the attackers, but soon righted itself, and slowly began driving into the more lightly armoured Lianese soldiers.

Slightly to the right of centre, Rhyfelwyr’s squad was set three in the front of the line, and three backing them up. Rhy, Locsyn, and Gwyth stood solid in the front, warding blows with their shields and striking back with short sword thrusts, no room for the extravagant motion of a cutting attack. Reaching over their shoulders or around where they could, the other three soldiers sought to strike and strike hard, making the Veryan wall a forest of stabbing swords.

Rhocas stood very pale, his face twisted as his arm rose and fell in the mechanical motions of the training ground. He was the youngest of them, had only seen the few brief moments of fighting in the skirmish the day before, and this cacophony of noises and sounds, overwhelming his senses, had in some ways turned off his conscious mind, and he stood wondering at the why of it all, for this battle was against those who had been friends mere seasons ago, and who would be considered so again, should Glanhaol Fflamboethi win. Rhocas could feel his youthful optimism about life being stripped away with each stroke of the sword blade, for how could this be some grand adventure, standing his ground and stabbing people when they weren’t looking? It was a sordid type of battle, and the groans and the shrieks of each sword blow made his stomach roil and churn, until he bent over and threw up on the battlefield. Another soldier stepped around Rhocas and into his place in line, and the war continued, not missing a beat.

Shaking his head, Taflen continued his slow, methodical strikes over the arms of Gwyth, waiting until he had a wide opening. The historian had seen many battles and read countless more, and not the sanitized reports that appeared in publications and histories, but rather the personal accounts of the soldiers who had been there, the heartfelt and gruesome stories of trying to survive. He used those now to build a wall about his mind, composing his tale of the battle as he swung, his eyes open, observing all that he could from where he stood. Later this night, he would venture around to the various campfires, asking the soldiers for their impressions of the day, before sleep robbed the ideas of reality and changed them into something else, the mind coping with the horrors of what it had seen.

Their blades hacking and slashing, stripped of any grace but brute efficiency, Rhy, Gwyth and Locsyn fought their enemies backwards, driving the Lianese soldiers, grinding them with the mass of the army behind. The shield wall had begun to break, the organization lost as the battle became more muddied, a long spate of conflict where encirclements in miniature took place. The Lianese were getting the worst of that, and Llofruddiwr wondered at that, for their army had ever been better used for skirmishing, for the fast moving and withdrawing style that their open plains favoured. This stand and brawl combat was much more suited to Veryan temperaments, and it was showing on the field that day, as many of the Lianese soldiers began to lose heart, dropping their weapons to the ground and fleeing over the rise towards Miath Mhor. Llofruddiwr shrugged, for those who fled would likely be caught before they reached the city, and those who weren’t would just put an undue burden on the resources there. Either way, it was good for the soldiers of Glanhaol Fflamboethi.



by thefourpartland

The outnumbered army of Hálsiend faces it’s greatest foe yet in this except from Laeccan Waters

The army marched onwards, another series of days slipping by in a landscape unchanging. Each day they rose to a white plain, the only distinguishing feature the wide trail laid by the army, and each day they strode across gently undulating terrain, leaving that trail behind them. And each night they would sleep atop a low rise, and scouts would survey the countryside, looking for signs of the Þracian occupiers.

A week and a half had passed since the Hálsiendic army had left B?ran, and in that time they had found no sign of the enemy, no rescue force sent to recapture the city. Any marks of those few Þracians who had fled from the city had long since been obliterated by the snow, and so they marched into the unknown, wondering if a Þracian army had slipped past them, hidden on the far side of a rise and their tracks wiped away by the snow and the wind.

Shovels and shafts of sharpened wood and bone had been passed out amongst the Áðexe soldiers, and each carried them strapped to their backs, with orders to dig them into the ground should the Þracians appear. The snow was too deep to disguise such actions, but it was hoped that even a thin palisade would prove of great assistance in the event of an attack.

Preparations made as best as could be done, the army marched onwards, until two days hence, when the first of the scouts came running back towards camp, cloak of stained white cloth streaming behind him. The humans, their Æbban allies and the Láttéow gathered to hear the report, and it confirmed what they had suspected – that the Þracian army lay but a day away, and was marching in their direction. The scout reported that it did not appear to be the full strength of the Þracians, and instead that it was the force expected to liberate B?ran, and that they carried weapons and armour that glinted in the sun, almost certainly made of metal.

As the hours passed and the day drew down to night, there came more reports, as the scouts pulled back and were replaced by fresh eyes. Despite only being a portion of the enemy army, it still outnumbered Hálsiend two to one in soldiers, not counting the false numbers added by the dead, and all but a few of the troops were sheathed in metal chain. No scout had been able to ascertain whether there were stonemages with the army, but all involved presumed that at least some had been chosen to make the journey.

Given the nature of the terrain through which they marched, it was certain that the Hálsiend army had been spotted just as surely as they had seen the Þracians, and so that night they made camp upon the highest of the low rises, and set about digging in. All through the night they dug trenches and built palisades, mounding and packing the snow into barriers over which attackers would have to climb. Throughout the camp they positioned the corpses from B?ran, some sleeping, some standing guard, others sitting about, but most in positions where they could be easily seen from below.

When dawn broke, and scouts from each side saw the camps of the other, the Þracians stood shocked, for they could see that the armies were evenly matched, rather than finding the Hálsiends sorely outnumbered, as had been the first reports from the day before. More soldiers must have arrived in the night with the baggage train, and the scouts dutifully carried those reports to their officers, who heard them with incredulous faces, and then demanded to see themselves.

The Hálsiend scouts watched as the officers came from inside their positions and stared at the great numbers who defended their enemy’s encampment, and then went back inside, hissing to themselves and thinking of new plans that needed to be made.

For their part, the humans and their allies examined the Þracian camp in great detail, and found that it was strongly guarded, although without a wooden palisade. Still, the Þracians had cut deep trenches in the snow, and built walls about their camp of snow and earth, stationing soldiers with javelins atop the defences.

It would be difficult for the outnumbered Hálsiend soldiers to break through, and so they waited in their palisades, and dug them deeper into the ground, and built more tricks and traps to catch attacking foes. Night drew a blanket over the day, and still the Þracians did not attack, and so they feared that a night attack would come, and they tripled the watch, with scouts out in the land between, listening for the crunch of claws upon snow.

No assault came in the nighttime hours, and when the sun rose, the watch was switched once more for fresh soldiers, who stared across the mile of land that separated them from their enemies. That day passed in boredom, and began a period of waiting. Messengers could be seen leaving from the Þracian camp, heading towards Telgian, but they were too far away to be intercepted.

Discussions should that it was likely they carried requests for more supplies and more troops, for in the few days that passed it became apparent that the Þracian soldiers had no intention of attacking, for they knew they held the upper hand in numbers and supplies if the conflict dragged on, for they could request reinforcements, while the Hálsiendic soldiers were all they hand. And with the numbers on either side appearing so even to the Þracian command, there was no urgency for them to assault the fortifications of the Hálsiend encampment.



by thefourpartland

So, this is the first time I’ve ever posted poetry on this site. Be interested to see what the response is.”

Stitched across the heavens ran
A marker and a sign
It was writ large, in holy hand
And it spoke a great design

A mountain here, a fire there
All part of one great plan
The plains go north, the seas go south
Everything placed about

One little thing, fit not so well
And tucked away, in a dell
It was not noticed for years and years
Until one day, flush with tears

A little girl, perhaps of twelve
Looked in that dell, sought to delve
Past the brush and bracken deep
And found a toy, a thing to keep

She brought it home and showed it round
And by and by, it was found
To be a strange and unusual thing
For upon each dawn, it would bring

A single strand of darkened hair
Right up to her, sitting there
Soon that pile grew and grew
Until the house it spread all through

Years went by and still it climbed
Striving high, the house all bound
Within a giant ball of twine
A tumbleweed, across a land divine.



by thefourpartland

A quite long excerpt from my NaNo novel, as the humans and their allies look to turn the tide of the war.

The humans had been charged with slipping through Bæran and striking straight for the buildings that were thought to hold the officers of the Þracian army. They were able to slip into the city proper with ease, for the troops guarding the harbour had been overwhelmed within moments, although not before they had been able to cry out a warning.

Soon the city brightened, as defenders lit torches and scattered them about. Unfortunately for the Hálsiendic troops, the primary Þracian encampment was outside the city, much as it had been with Telgian. The Þracians apparently did not like housing designed for Hálsiend families, and there were places where Þracian style towers had begun construction.

A javelin flew from the darkness, striking Sawwaed in the chest and knocking him to the ground. Cursing, he struggled to his feet as more flew, a rain that had the humans hiding against the walls of the buildings for shelter. They had been trying to slip through the alleys of Bæran, and had run into a Þracian patrol doing the same.

Dashing to the front, Bwyell and Sawwaed were able to block most of the narrow lane, and advanced upon the foe, shields held high. Their Áðexe enemies came snarling and hissing, driving forward with short cutting blows, some aimed at the less protected ankles. Atyniadol and Fynyddwr took up positions behind the two warriors, flinging blades and shooting arrows through the gaps. Áðexe fell under the attack, but they responded by arcing their javelins to carry into the second rank of the humans, and both were forced to dodge aside, less they be skewered.

Tarranau joined the fight then, a sheet of ice spears crashing down from above, slamming the Þracian soldiers to the ground and crushing or piercing many of them. In the moments of confusion that followed, Bwyell and Sawwaed leaped ahead, lashing out with their war hammers and slaying many. Seeing their attack shattered in a single instant broke the morale of the Þracians, and they turned and fled, spurred onwards by arrows from Fynyddwr.

The city became a running fight for the humans, being struck in the side or attacking into unsuspecting foes. Twice they met Á?ðan, who was leading an assault down a main avenue with a reckless grin on his face. He waved each time, before getting back to the business of killing his enemies.

As the battle meandered about, wounds and injuries began to accumulate. Atyniadol and Fyn both sported gashes to their ribs, courtesy of javelins that had not quite been deflected. Sawwaed was seeing stars, for a clubbing blow had broken the strap to his helmet and sent it spinning away, while Bwyell limped, blood running slowly from a leg wound. Only Tarranau and Ceinder were unwounded, but both were visibly tired, for multiple times had they had to use their talents to turn the outcome of a battle.

Still, they made progress as they struggled through Bæran, and the newly-constructed tower that was their goal lay ahead. According to spies that had remained in the city, that was where the officers of the Þracian kept themselves. Clearly visible, the tower was blocks and blocks of soldiers away, and they despaired of ever reaching their goal.

The ground creaked, and the building to their right fissured open, spraying them with shards of rock. Ceinder was able to deflect the worst of it, and armour caught the rest, but the grit stung their eyes and the attacks disoriented them, as a wave of Áðexe spilled out from the new opening and slammed into the humans, bowling over Fynyddwr and Sawwaed. Cursing, Tarranau ripped into the enemies with waves of ice, pulling the moisture from Áðexe bodies to make the weapons.

His attack sliced into many of the Áðexe, but they withstood his attack, and he saw that they wore armour, the first time the watermage had noted that on an enemy. Ceinder shouted a warning, and Tarranau dropped to the ground as a rock flew through the space where he had been. A thought flashed through his mind and he searched with his talents, finding a body of water tucked inside the opening blown from the building. A Þracian stonemage.

Bwyell hammered down, his weapon slamming a soldier off of Sawwaed. Thumping another with his shield, the bodyguard created enough space for the Veryan warrior to struggle to his feet, just catching another soldier’s attack on his armour. Growling at the Áðexe, Sawwaed and Bwyell locked shields, facing their enemies as they swarmed towards them, shields and swords glinting in the torchlight.

Fyn stabbed upwards, his short knife thrust catching the Áðexe in the throat before its jaws could close on his face. Throwing the body from him, he struggled to his feet, his arms heavy. A flick of the wrist sent the dagger spinning into the eye of a soldier attacking Atyniadol, who nodded in thanks. Turning, she fired off three daggers in quick succession, two of which skipped away into the night, the third punching through the thin armour at the shoulder and causing an Áðexe to drop his weapon. The opening let Fyn put an arrow through the Þracian’s throat.

Ceinder felt another surge building, and pushed back, hard, sending the Þracian stonemage tumbling. The mage crawled to his feet, visible to her talents, and she felt the rock all about them trembling as the Áðexe worked at many different areas at once. Unable to defend so many attacks at once, she pushed at the ground beneath his feet, tipping him to the ground once more. But the attacks did not stop, and as they burst she shouted for Tarranau to slay the stonemage.

Tarranau dove to the ground, moments before the stone ripped through the air where he had been standing. Even with the warning, his reactions had not been fast enough, and he could feel blood oozing from two wounds in his back, where the fragments had punched through his armour. That bastard would get it. Pulling more moisture from the air, he formed it into a thin layer of sleet and threw it at the struggling combatants, letting it momentarily blind all of them. Then he began to pull at the air all around him, at the Áðexe, at everything but his allies within reach. The moisture formed a great globe in front of him, and he directed his talent at it, cooling it down until it was nothing more than a great globe of ice.

Sawwaed swung high, his attack dodged by the Þracian soldier, who counted with a quick sword strike that left a line across his stomach. The armour held, screeching in protest, and the warrior lashed out with his shield, hoping to thump his foe to the ground. Dancing backwards, the Þracian’s place was taken by another Áðexe, who thrust over the shield, angled down at Sawwaed’s eyes. Bwyell’s shield intercepted the attack, and the countering blow from the bodyguard sent the Áðexe stumbling backwards, wounded but not out of the fight.

“This damn armour is a problem!” It was woven from layers of stone, with softer layers of earth packed in between, enough to deflect the full impact from the hammers.

“So hit harder!” Sawwaed drove forward again, his weapon coming about in a low slash, cutting at thigh of his enemy. The opponent’s shield came down to meet the blow, but Bwyell’s attack snaked over the top, and the spike on the war hammer sunk into the Áðexe’s thigh.

Atyniadol was forced back against a wall, a physically larger Þracian pressing in on her, its teeth gnashing at her face. It clawed at her face, and as she dropped to avoid the strikes it smashed its knee into her chest, leaving her doubled up on the ground, gasping for breath. A dagger flashed into the Áðexe’s hand, and the soldier struck downwards. A desperate twist and the dagger bit into her side, leaving her ribs gashed.

Another strike followed, this at her throat, but before it was completed a knife sprouted from the face of her opponent, and she waved her thanks to Fynyddwr. Pulling the dagger from the soldier’s hands, she turned to face another oncoming Áðexe, who sought to bowl her over. A quick dodge and a short thrust left the warrior bleeding out on the ground, but not before she had garnered another gash.

Fynyddwr slid backwards, trying to maintain his footing amidst the sea of corpses and blood that was forming on the ground. Pressed from the left and the right, the mountaineer faked an attack to one side, and then lashed out to the other, hoping that his speed would confuse his opponents. It did, but the Áðexe armour caught his attack and made it mostly harmless. The Þracian counted with a spear thrust from behind its shield, driving Fyn further backwards.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw his other foe coming in for an attack, but too slowly he turned to counter, and the Þracian blade bit home on the outside of his thigh, a deep strike. In desperation he flung his knife into the face of the Áðexe, thinking it no more than a delaying tactic. Luck was with him, for his blade struck true and pierced the eye of his enemy, giving Fyn enough time to twist away from a spear thrust. A second followed, and weaponless, the mountaineer could do no more than give ground, being forced away from his allies with each moment.

Ceinder raised her shield high, catching an oncoming spear thrust. The Þracian soldiers had broken through to her position, and she was forced to use the shields she held in front of her to block the strikes aside. Another attack, and she had to step backwards, stumbling over the body of a downed foe. Falling, she maintained her composure enough to push hard against the armour her Áðexe foe wore, sending him tumbling towards Sawwaed, who finished the lizard with a swift blow.

Climbing to her feet, she looked about, a momentary pause in the action allowing her the freedom. The battle was a complete mess, with corpses and blood and snow combining to form treacherous footing, now supplemented by the shards of rock and ice that the Áðexe stonemage and Tarranau had been using as weapons. Bwyell and Sawwaed were wounded, Fyn was struggling badly, and Atyniadol had blood running from a wound in her armour. Only Tarranau stood untouched, his eyes shut as he directed a great sphere of ice.

The watermage shoved with all of his talent, sending the ball crashing through the wall of the building, blasting it inwards. Once it had punched into the room, he gestured, shattering the sphere into a thousand fragments that sprayed about, eviscerating all that was within. Stones that had hung in the air and walls that had bulged with magical pressure groaned and collapsed, as the Þracian stonemage found his talent permanently silenced.

Turning his attention to the rest of the battle, Tarranau pulled the ice back to him, grabbing more liquid from the air before flinging it in great sheets at the foes about him. He was tired, and his aim was poor, and some some shards struck Atyniadol and Bwyell, one leaving a red gash across the warrior’s wife.

Sawwaed cursed at the watermage, even as the razors of ice cut through the foes in front of him, levelling them like so much wheat before a scythe. He was unable to follow up on the opening, almost as battered by the storm as his enemies were, and he stumbled before righting himself. Bwyell faired better, protected behind the bulk of Sawwaed. The bodyguard was able to strike in quick succession, downing three more Þracian warriors.

The Þracians seemed to come in waves, and yet more appeared as those in the front ranks fell. There were now twenty or thirty corpses on the ground, and the footing was so poor that Bwyell would often find his feet sliding with each strike he threw. If the Áðexe charged, he would be unable to brace himself, and once he was on his back, the armour and slipperiness would make it almost impossible for him to rise again. Hoping that no Áðexe was so bright, Bwyell turned so that his back was to one of the low walls of the surrounding buildings, hoping that would provide him some small support.

Fynyddwr’s leg left a trail of red as he dodged away from the spear of his enemy, and he shouted for assistance. There wasn’t any to be had, of course; all the other humans were equally engaged with enemies. And so the mountaineer did what he had to do, diving at the legs of his Þracian foe, tackling the larger creature to the ground. The spear was trapped between their bodies, and the shield made the Áðexe unable to use one of its claws to strike.

Pinning the other arm wide away from its body, Fyn headbutted the Áðexe as hard as he could, narrowly avoiding being caught in the snapping jaws. The attack stunned the soldier, and in the moment’s lapse, the mountaineer got to his feet and dashed back to his friends, grabbing weapons from the fallen corpses.

Now armed with two swords, he turned back to his enemy, who had risen with spear and shield intact. The spear flicked out, a lashing strike, but Fyn batted it away easily. He shifted his stance, and found that the wounded leg could barely take his weight. Gritting his teeth, he stepped forward onto it anyway, one blade flicking across high, the other coming in on a low arc. The upper blade lifted the shield high and out of the way, letting the second sword strike deep into the thigh of the Áðexe.

Bleeding from multiple wounds, Atyniadol lent against a structure, her breath coming in short sharp gasps. A flick of her wrist and a cry of pain sent a dagger spinning towards a soldier attacking her husband. The knife bit home enough to distract the Þracian, and with that opening, Sawwaed broke the skull of his foe. Fresh blood slipped from her wounds, and she sank tot he ground, exhausted and strangely tired.

Ceinder sent a spray of grit towards a foe harassing Tarranau. Too small to wound, still the spray was enough to distract, and a sword formed of ice split apart the Þracian’s head. More and more she found herself pushing the very boundaries of killing, for she had become adept at catching the attention of enemies, and letting that momentary lapse form an opening for one of her allies. No, she did not strike the killing blow, but only barely.

Looking about her at all the bodies that lay upon the ground, she realized that despite her personal conviction that she not kill, she must have already crossed the boundary that Tarranau had so feared, for she had caused death, and it lived all about her now. Still, she held the line, and sent a wave rippling through the earth, upsetting several Áðexe as they charged at the warriors.

His head throbbing and his eyes threatening to leap from his head, Tarranau pulled yet more water to him, lifting snow from the ground, grabbing at the spilled blood of so many foes, as he formed more and more sabres of ice. Each went flickering into battle over the shoulders of the warriors, cutting through Áðexe after Áðexe, striking from high above or down low.

He staggered as the eight sabres entered the fray, and moments later the watermage was sitting on the ground, still jousting with eight limbs. He let his physical body lie still as his talents roamed free, attacking with devastating speed, carving through the ranks of the Þracian soldiers. Despite their bravery, the morale of the Áðexe weakened, until a wave of panic broke over them, and they turned and fled. Then he blacked out.

Fynyddwr’s swords described two halves of a circle, cutting in at his foe. Both bled from multiple wounds, but the Áðexe had the worst of it. Seeing his allies routed, the soldier leaped forward, spear aimed between the mountaineer’s legs to tangle them. Fyn managed to stay on his feet, but the now free hand of the Þracian came over the top, landing a crushing strike to his head, sending the human stumbling.

Seeing its opening, the soldier leaped at the fallen man, only to find that his leap had impaled the Þracian on a sword. In his last dying moments, the warrior bit down hard, teeth sawing against the edge of the helmet, claws scraping against armour. Too tired to fend off the assaults, Fynyddwr prayed that the armour would hold. It did, barely, but the mountaineer had passed out.



by thefourpartland

And I’m still here and still writing away happily. It’s been over a year since the blog was started, and in that time I’ve managed 100 posts (this is actually the 101st). The time in between has been quite a journey for me as a writer, doing multiple edits on Tarranau and Chloddio, learning the business of publishing, and writing the 3rd book (Laeccan Waters) in TFPL series for NaNo.

As for that book, it’s currently only at 41k after 35k in the first two weeks. I’ve had a serious case of burnout, and lost interest in plowing ahead with the story. I’ll finish NaNo, but once that’s done, I’m taking a break from working on the novel for a little while. I am enjoying the story, but the pace of writing has me needing a little rest. Prior to this, I’ve never tried to write a novel in a limited timeframe, and doing 85k words in two months is a little draining for me.

And now a look back at some of the highlights of the last 100 posts. I highly recommend the Breaking an Empire and Hia Breoedd storylines.

Læccan Waters – Excerpts from my current NaNo novel. With luck, another will appear tonight.
Legends of the Burning Sands – From far in the past comes the epic of one man’s rebellion, now lost to the mists of time.
Breaking an Empire – The collapse of Hymerodraeth Heula, the Empire of the Sun, told by the soldiers who try and save it.
Hia Breoedd – A tale of Annwyd Arwedda, ruler of a tundra empire, and how he rose to power.
Jenny – The serialized story of a cloned organ replacement, forced into combat because humanity ran into deadly aliens. Incomplete.
Flash Fiction – My short fiction, with many hidden gems.

Thank you to all of the writers and others who have been supportive, chatty, or interesting. It’s made writing a lot more fun.



by thefourpartland

The eighth installment of a 30k word short story set in The Four Part Land. It takes place 400 years in the past from the time of Tarranau and Chloddio, and details the collapse of Hymerodraeth Heula, the Empire of the Sun.

Rhyfelwyr started awake at shouting and cursing, grasped his sword and dove out of his tent. On the other side of the camp lay a burning tent, smashed by a barrel of flaming pitch. More cries went up as another barrel arced high overhead, slamming down into a cooking fire and splashing flames across the tents nearby. Rhyfelwyr rushed in and beat at the flames, where he was soon joined by Llofruddiwr and Gwyth, using bedding and boots to stamp out the burning. No more attacks came as the fires were put out, but Rhyfelwyr was cursing all the same. Tonight, Niam Liad had stolen the mental edge from Glanhaol Fflamboethi, and soldiers would fall back asleep wondering if their tent was to be next. A small attack, but a large damage to moral. Still, he managed to sleep easily.

Several days passed without incident, as both sides took stock of their foe. The Lianese forces stayed in front of the Bhreac Veryan army, but withdrew at a safe pace. Occasional skirmishes took place between scouting parties, although one or the other would withdraw as the fighting started, and so it was this strange battlefield, of two sides staring at one another for days on end, yet no fighting taking place. Taflen worried over what this meant, and wondered if the Lianese sought to draw the army into the jaws of a trap. Rhyfelwyr and Locsyn waved away that notion, not though bravado, but because it seemed unlikely the Lianese could create a trap against a force such as Glanhaol Fflamboethi. Still, to ease all their minds, Rhy sent Llofruddiwr on a solo scouting mission.

The assassin returned late that night, sneaking in through the sentries and arriving outside the cook fire. A few questioning glances answered his arrival. “If there’s something going on, the line soldiers don’t know it. They’re wondering why no raids are taking place.” After his longest speech in months, Llofruddiwr disappeared into taciturnity again. Gwyth grumbled and grabbed a sharpening stone, grinding it down the edge of his axe with a loud squeal. “So they’re planning something. Bugger.”

The other veterans nodded at that, while Rhocas piped up. “Well, if they don’t know what they’re planning, we’re fine aren’t we? After all, it can’t happen soon.”

Rhyfelwyr shook his head, while Locsyn answered. “Doesn’t need to be ‘soon’. Just needs to happen. Later might be worse for us, longer to retreat. Just hope our officers have their heads out where they can see.”

Taflen shuffled through the scrolls in his mind, retrieving information. “There are a few possible options in a military conflict that only take place when used on the defensive. There’s also the possibility of drawing us into a pincer trap. Our biggest problem is that their small force keeps retreating at the same speed as we move ahead. It allows them to block our scouting attempts ahead of them, and so we are blind to what we walk into. Overall, we are acting as they wish us. Confidence is good, but I think our commanders might place too much faith in the strength of our soldiers. Brilliant soldering can’t overcome foolish leadership.” With Taflen’s words of encouragement ringing in their eyes, the squad settled down to sleep.

A week passed, and the land around them changed, growing green and fertile, with cool breezes and clouds scudding high overhead. They had reached the edge of the great plains north of the peninsula, and a week’s march ahead of them stood the city of Miath Mhor. It was to be the first target in Bhreac Veryan’s reconquest of Niam Liad, and the first place where the Lianese army would be forced to stop and fight. Grim eagerness swept through the ranks of Glanhaol Fflamboethi, as each man in turn sensed the coming battle. The morning air filled with the sounds of stones shrieking on swords, armour being buffed and polished, and the clash of weapons sparring. After more than two months of marching, the soldiers wanted to fight, and all their building anticipation had hearkened to this moment.

Three days of marching passed, and then the enemy gave notice that it would stand firm before them, turning and briefly slicing at the vanguard and the scouts, before withdrawing with undue haste. Rhyfelwyr had bloodied his sword for the first time in that fight, catching a skirmisher in the thigh with his blade. It had not been a deep cut, and the man had fled, but the strike had reminded Rhy of what combat felt like, and how everything would change in the coming battle. No others of the squad had bloodied their weapons, although, from Rhocas, a tongue of flame had seemed to reach for a foe as part of a blow. Taflen and Locsyn both said they saw nothing, and so Rhyfelwyr discounted it as a glint from the sun. Either that, or a firemage had been near the forefront and he hadn’t noticed. Either was possible.

That night saw one last round of checking gear, testing straps, sharpening, and then the long, hard time of waiting. Gwyth examined and tugged on each strap till it seemed they would burst, repeating his actions over and over, until Rhy laid a hand on Gwyth’s gear and tugged it away. Taflen had fallen into a meditative state, running through each and every possible contortion to the battle that might occur on the morrow, and readying those ideas that he felt most useful for the likely situations. Llofruddiwr and Locsyn had fallen asleep hours ago, able to withstand almost any nerves. Locsyn’s moustache bounced and buzzed as he snored, a loud rumble cutting through speech. The last of the squad, Rhocas bounced and burbled, never sitting still, standing, pacing, going through the training cuts with his weapon, jogging out to the sentries to look towards the enemy camp, then coming back, always to report that there was no change. Even Gwyth tired of the skipping energy, and bade Rhocas sit and sleep. He would need the energy on the morrow, not tonight.



by thefourpartland

NaNo has been going really slowly for me, and I’ve lost interest in working on it at the moment, hence this story, which is the first in a short series. Hopefully I can pick things up in the next couple days.

With a twang, the rope snapped. Fryca cursed. “The bloody thing broke again. We’ll need another day or two to reset.”

Ellgis patted her on the shoulder. “It’s nothing, we’ll have it sorted out soon enough.”

“Nothing? Nothing? How can you say that! We’ve got those damn Wheelies breathing down our necks, and if this doesn’t work, they’re going to capture us.”

“We have enough. This one doesn’t matter that much.”

“But it does! If we’ve trapped them on the path through the swamp, this will sweep them into the murk and bury them there.”

Ellgis looked out over the path, where dead logs and hidden trips and pressured stones covered the ground. If the device worked, it was supposed to fire branches as spears, swing dead logs across the path, and then drop mud on those in the water. He was sure the Knights of the Broken Wheel would have never seen something like this before. And they still wouldn’t have if they didn’t get the counterweight working. Three times they had tried to attach it, but each time the ropes had failed.

They’d used stronger weaves, and more of them, but each time the massive basket of stones failed. And with the scouts reporting that the Wheelies and their soldiers were little more than a day away, if this contraption didn’t work, well, the village would have to flee deeper into the swamp. And that meant losing all of the inventions they had created.

To Ellgis, the machines were more important than the villagers. People could be replaced. Years of experiments could not. Fryca felt the same way, and so the two of them were out here, late at night, trying to fix that blasted basket. If they saved the rest of the villagers as a result, well and good.

They fumbled in the dark for some time, but without enough light to see, they became more and more frustrated, until Fryca threw her lantern into the swamp and stormed off. Ellgis followed, and the two went home.

The next morning they resumed their work, but they found the basket of stones had sunk into the swamp, and they had to spend many an hour digging it out of the muck. By the time they were ready to lift it into the air again, the scouts had fled back into the village, and the Knights of the Broken Wheel were at the edge of the swamp. This would be a trying time.



by thefourpartland

After not writing NaNo for four days, I’ve managed to cudgel my brains back into working, so here’s another excerpt. Brief context: The human heroes and their allies from Æbb are planning the attack on Telgian with the leaders of Hálsiend

It was strange, not to see the sun, and in the dim light of the torches, the remaining humans fell asleep, as did the Áðexe. The next morning they were summoned for breakfast with the matriarch, and introduced to the Láttéow, the leaders of the Hálsiend army. Little was said as the food was consumed, but then the discussion commenced, with the generals pressing the humans and the Æbban Áðexe for all that they knew about the disposition of enemy forces.

With the high concentration around Telgian, and their knowledge of the fortresses that protected the inlet, there was little thought of a direct attack against the city. The matriarch was soon to remind Á?ðan that he had had a plan in mind the night before, but not until she cooed at him. The spy was rigid in his seat, and begged if he could leave the conference to explore the city. His request was summarily rejected, and the Láttéow leaned forward in interest, waiting to hear what he had to say.

“The old bint over there told you what I said last night? Good. That’ll make this easier.” He winked in the direction of the matriarch. She glared at him for the insult. “Wait. Bring a map.” A servant was sent scurrying, and returned presently with a large map that was laid upon the table. “Right, so, we’re here in Hálsiend, so we’re fairly close to the exit from Telgian. It’s why the Þracians chose that as the port to attack from. It gives you the least warning, because you can’t look past the fortresses, and it means you can’t raid them. So Telgian is out. But B?ran, round the coast, is much better. There’s no natural defences, and it’s almost the size of Telgian, but we know their army isn’t there. Is the architecture different there?”

One of the Láttéow nodded. “There’s some of the tunnels, but with less wind, more of the structures are above-ground, and there’s a lot that have wooden sides that can be raised. So we won’t have to do the brutal tunnel warfare, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Exactly what I had in mind, and that makes life even better. So, we swoop down there in the winter, before they expect an attack, and we crush the small force that’s guarding the city. I don’t think they have metal weapons there, because I think those are all either in Þracian or Telgian, but I’m not sure. If there are, we’ll work out some way of dealing with it. Anyway, as soon as the fleet drops the troops off there, it zips back round to sit off the Telgian channel. We can’t go in there, but it’s a damn hard place to get out of as well. And we’ll leave a couple vessels in B?ran to act as messengers to the main fleet. I think we’ll need them.”

“And if the army moves from Telgian to B?ran?”

“Well, here I’m guessing. There’s too many variables. But how good are your troops as skirmishers compared to the Þracians?”

“As skirmishers? On those plains, the best of us can cover twice the distance of any miserable Þracian.”

“Are any of them airmages?”

“We have a few who are warriors. Most sail with the ships.”

“Good enough. Because here’s how I think we might have some fun. We don’t really want to capture B?ran to keep it. Sieges are horrible things. But if we get the Telgian army to move, I think we pull most of our forces out of the city via the fleet, and leave a skirmisher detachment there to harass the Þracians without ever engaging in battle. Keep them annoyed.” Á?ðan grinned. “I like annoying Þracians. And then we send the rest of the fleet to Telgian, racing past the sentinels at night, and we hit the harbour and sack everything we can, destroying or stealing all of the ships and supplies they’ve built up for their campaign. They can’t attack you without those ships, so all we need is one successful raid and you’re safe.”

The Láttéow sat back in their chairs, their faces pensive. “You’re assuming that they pull their entire army out of Telgian. Why would they be that stupid? All their supplies are there, and the boats for the invasion. I can’t see them leaving those undefended.”

Á?ðan shrugged. “Those vessels have to be sunk for Hálsiend to stay alive. You tell me how to do it.”

“That’s probably the best way to go about it, but we’ll not just be raiding, we’ll have to fight to hold part of the port and then flee back up the channel, and through the fortresses. And they’ll cut us to shreds.”

“You don’t think you could stay and hold the city?”

“Not against the whole army, which would come back as soon as they heard we had landed, skirmishers be damned. And then we’d be caught, the army on the one side and the fortresses on the other.”

Tarranau leaned forward. “These fortresses, how many men do each of them hold?”

“Unless the Þracians changed them, they held about five hundred Áðexe each. But they’re high on promontories that overlook the channel, and the only approach is a single track of road up a narrow hill to the cliff. It’s wide enough you could assault with twenty or thirty abreast and a siege engine or two, but there are catapults on the landward side, and you would get cut to pieces by them.”

“There’s no possibility of stealth?”

“If the Áðexe manning the forts are idiots. When we held them, we planted torches along the road, and placed sentinel posts out there. Unless they’ve stopped all of that, there’s no way in but a direct assault. Seaward is completely inaccessible.”

“So once you’ve slid past them in the night, you can’t get your ships back out?”

“We could try a night escape, but with wind and current against us, I doubt we’d get past. Getting in is the easy part. It would be the getting out. And if we lose all of our ships in there, and many of our soldiers, it’s not a victory. It’s delaying the inevitable. So I like your plan, Á?ðan. It has bravado. But until we can escape from Telgian, with our ships, we’re done for.”

The spy thought for a moment. “Overland assault?”

“Þracians would be closer to Telgian, and we’d not get the chance at the ships.”

“Could we strike with half of Hálsiend’s vessels?”

“We could try. But if Þracian has kept a fair chunk of the army there, that would be a suicide mission and they might not burn the fleet. In terms of success, I’d think we need most of the army and navy. Þracian is that much larger than us. But if we can’t get them out again, we’ve given our land to ?gflota or Þracian.”

“So to succeed, we need to draw Þracian away from Telgian, strike, destroy the vessels, and then either defeat the Þracian army in battle or escape with Hálsiend’s forces intact. And you say we can’t escape.”

“I don’t think we can escape or defeat them in battle.”

“Well, escape looks the worse option at the moment.” Sawwaed stepped in. “Why can’t you defeat them? There are more Þracians, but if you split their numbers in half, and manage to harass one group all across the plains, why can’t your entire army defeat half of Þracian’s army in a city you used to control?”

Another of the Láttéow spoke. “Because it is ‘used to’. Þracian has held the city for two years now, and we do not know what they have done with it. And it will be full of hostile soldiers, dug into a series of tunnels that runs throughout Telgian. And your escape by bursting around the Þracian army will have alerted them, and they will rethink the defences. I think Telgian would be the death of Hálsiend.”

“Could you not break through to the plains and use your speed and skill there?”

“Why do you think we no longer hold Telgian now? That does not work against the Þracians, not in large numbers. We would not have the supplies to feed our army, and when we were forced to battle, we would lose as we did before. Our weapons cannot penetrate their metal, except with luck. And they will not pull all of their metal soldiers out of Telgian to recapture B?ran.”

Ceinder spoke, the first time Tarranau could remember her speaking Áðexe. “What would you do then? Sit here and bemoan your fate? The Þracians are too good for you, so you’re going to give up? You’re going to let them have your kingdom? Cowards. Humans will fight to the end. You won’t even start to fight.” She winked at her husband, and spoke in human. “The Áwendennes taught us some, and we’ve been trying to pick up the rest. Seems to work.”

The matriarch had a small smile on her face after Ceinder’s speech, remembering how she had been lectured the day before by Á?ðan. She hoped that this new arrival of fresh passion would spur the Láttéow to life as it had spurred her. And if it didn’t, well, she had an idea or two.

“We will not sink our kingdom when we could still save it by destroying the Þracian as they cross the ocean.”

The stonemage snorted. “Really? You’ll risk all of your ships against all of theirs, and think to come out the victor?” She paused a moment, then chuckled. “You think your airmages will lead you. Do you think the Þracians are unaware of this? They have fought and defeated them before. I think they will win, because they have too many mages of stone for you to counter. You’ll destroy many of their vessels, and lose all of yours, and that will be the end of Hálsiend as a kingdom. You’ll need to do better than that, and the only way is to attack. Á?ðan has told you, Tarranau has told you, Sawwaed has told you, I have told you, your matriarch has told you. And you will not listen. Fools.”

The matriarch broke out laughing. “I think they shall listen.” She waved her hand at the humans and the Áðexe from Æbb. “From now on, these nine are the leaders of the army and the navy. You will take orders from them, and if those orders are not obeyed with the utmost speed, I will gladly find them someone who can follow orders. Now, I suggest that the Láttéow should go and ready the troops to meet their new commanders.”

The humans stared at one another as the Láttéow burst out into furious disagreement. A single slice of the claw silenced them, and the matriarch sent them from the room, before turning back to her new commanders. “Did you not want command?”

Atyniadol spoke first. “I would not, no. I think your kingdom will be a heavy burden to bear.”

“You needn’t worry. I’ll bear the weight. You just make sure it stays on my shoulders.” At that, the humans and their Æbban allies pored over the map before them, cudgelling their brains to see if they could discern a new avenue of attack.



by thefourpartland

The seventh installment of a 30k word short story set in The Four Part Land. It takes place 400 years in the past from the time of Tarranau and Chloddio, and details the collapse of Hymerodraeth Heula, the Empire of the Sun.

A week south of Falna, and the first minor skirmish took place. A troop of scouts came back, holding several riders onto their horses. They had been caught out by a series of spear and arrow using ambushers from the top of a hill, and were forced to retreat, although not before taking several casualties. That attack set the pattern for the next several days, as scouting parties were attacked and harassed wherever they went. Sometimes the Veryan soldiers got the better of the skirmish, other times those of Niam Liad, but the army pressed on, almost catching up with the scouts as the generals and officers pushed the pace of the march, determined to get out of the constraints of the desert and into the freedom of operating in the lush grasslands of the southern peninsula.

Two days of peace followed the week of skirmishing, and then the scouts brought back news that a small force waited some ten miles ahead, situated atop a hill on the main route south. Accepting the news, the soldiers marched on, until they stood on a corresponding hill further north along the route. Over an intervening distance of some two miles, the forces stared at one another. Locsyn twisted his moustache in one hand and muttered. “Not a lot of armour on those boys. Means hit and run. Either that or the real force is hidden somewhere nearby. I hate this.”

Taflen spoke. “It’s why we brought mages. We can use them to out-range those bows, and that allows us to force them off of the high point without much danger.”

“Only if they didn’t bring any of their own. If they did, no advantage.”

“You’re always a pessimist Locsyn. Look on the bright side of things for once.”

“I did, once. Lost my sight for a few days from staring at the sun. Pessimism’s safer.”

Taflen shook his head. “Orders come through?”

Rhy responded. “Yeah. Wait and see.”

Horns sounded, and the vanguard of Glanhaol Fflamboethi began to creep forward as certain unremarkable soldiers carrying large shields slipped amongst their ranks. There were only a few of them, perhaps ten or twenty dotted about. Taflen nodded at that. It meant most of the firemages were being held in reserve, lest anything go wrong. With the forces on the hill, the number here should suffice. Reaching the depression that sat a mile away from the opposing forces, the vanguard locked shields to form a wall, and then began a slow pace forward to two-thirds of a mile distance. Now, the mages were well within the range at which they could strike, and after a brief moment, strike they did. Ten giant balls of fire rolled up from the ranks, arcing over towards the Lianese positions. As they reached the peak of their arc, winds howled and tore at the balls, pulling some to pieces, deflecting others to land short of their goal. Only one got through, landing with a thump amidst the enemy soldiers. Most had scattered from the area, but the splashing impact and slow responses caught several who hadn’t run far enough or fast enough.

By the time that first strike impacted, another was in the air, and the bombardment had begun. Again, winds tore at the spheres, breaking and diverting their course, but two more got through, and these struck tighter clumps of troops than the first. Bodies screamed as the fire engulfed them, and within seconds, charred skeletons were all that remained of many who had been burned. Above those cries of pain rose the sound of a horn, and the soldiers who manned the ridge slipped backwards behind the crest, pulling their dead and wounded with them. Glanhaol Fflamboethi had won this day, the first fight going their way. Rhyfelwyr made a little note in the mental scorecard that he kept, wherein lay all of the battles, skirmishes, and other conflicts in which he had been involved. This was a mostly empty victory, for little harm had been done either way, but at the least, the route was clear for the next day’s marching. A horn sounded from within the Veryan army, and once more the vanguard picked up their feet, and moved to the top of the hill, where they could see the soldiers retreating before them. Retreat it was, not an undignified flight, and over the distance between the two, gestures and shouts were exchanged, crude and inventive alike. The Lianese disappeared into the gathering dusk, and orders came down to form a stockade, a fortress ring around the camp tonight. That would be the normal from now on, always expecting attack in the night.