by thefourpartland

The first installment in a new short story, one of three from the upcoming Splintered Lands: Volume One.

With a twang, the rope snapped, and Fryca cursed. “The bloody thing broke again.”

Ellgis patted her on the shoulder. “We’ll have it mended soon enough.”

“We’ve got Knights of the Broken Wheel breathing down our necks. We don’t have time for soon enough.”

“We’ll flee again if we have to.”

“I don’t want to flee again. I want this buggered contraption to kill them all.”

Ellgis glanced over the path, where dead logs, hidden trips, and pressured stones covered the ground. If the devices worked, they were supposed to fire spears, swing logs across the causeway, and drop mud on those knocked into the water. He was sure the Knights of the Broken Wheel had never seen anything like it. And the Knights still wouldn’t if he and Fryca didn’t get the counterweight working. The technologists had attached it three times, but each time the ropes had failed.

They’d used stronger weaves and more of them, but still the massive basket of stones tore away. If this contraption didn’t work, the technologists would have to flee deeper into the swamp. Which meant losing all of their inventions.

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

The technologists fumbled in the darkness for some time, resulting in failure after failure, until Fryca threw her lantern into the swamp and stormed off. Ellgis retrieved it before following.

The next morning they found the basket of stones had sunk into the bog. By the time they were ready to lift it into the air again, the Knights of the Broken Wheel had arrived at the edge of the swamp.



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.