by thefourpartland

Yes, it’s almost here. After more than a year in the making, Ancient New is going to appear very shortly, complete with fifteen brilliant stories by authors from around the globe. But I’d like to give a particular thanks to Sarina Dorie, whose tale Lady Chatterly’s Computer inspired the cover art.

And so, without further gilding the lily, and with no more ado, I give you Ancient New.

Ancient New - Mini



by thefourpartland

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

Once Ellgis had healed sufficiently to use an axe, he set about building a raft, while Fryca organized their notes and belongings. Once both tasks were complete, they set out in the skiff, towing the raft north and hoping to find a village where they might stay.

Their trip was long and arduous, for both Ellgis and Fryca grew ill at various points along the way. Only the supreme luck that sickness did not affect both of them at the same time allowed the technologists to continue their journey. Many days they made little more than a mile’s distance in the swamp, for they had to navigate around fallen timber and the deadly animals that dwelt in the pools of open water.

Meals were few and far between, only what little food could be hunted or scavenged. Water they boiled when they could, and strained through layers of cloth when they could not.

When at last the skiff bumped against the shore, they sighed with relief, staggering to their feet with the strange gait of one who has spent too much time upon the waters. From there, the technologists scouted the area, stealing a horse from a farmer in order to carry their belongings to the nearest village.

Instead, Ellgis and Fryca found Abboddóm, the seat of Baron Inswán, and a place that accepted them without compunction. They were given an empty hovel, a remnant from when the town had been populous. Now it was but a shadow of its former size and glory, and weeds grew upon the streets.

The first task the partners undertook was to restore the horse to its owner, for they could not deprive a man of his livelihood. They left it staked outside his house one night, none the worse for the use it had seen.

Ill news circled the town when the experimenters returned. A vulture from the north, a bastard by the name of Iudas, had come south, bandits and soldiers at his command. The townsfolk of Abboddóm had been ordered to pack their things, for if Baron Inswán was unable to halt the foe, he would at least buy his people enough time to flee.

The worst came to happen, and Ellgis and Fryca fled with the rest of the town, into the swamp.



by thefourpartland

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

Weeks passed as Ellgis and Fryca hid in their hut, nursing their wounds. Ellgis had been struck in the meat of the shoulder as he lay on the skiff, and the impact had cracked the bone. His was the better of the two, for after a week he was all but his old self, although his left arm was close to useless for the time being.

Fryca writhed in her bed as the red heat of infection clawed at her wound. Dipping in and out of fever dreams, she ate little more than thin vegetable broth, for Ellgis would not leave her to hunt meat.

One night Ellgis was forced to carry her into the water of the swamp, holding her beneath the cooling water for hours as marsh creatures circled near, and insects stung at their hands and faces. Fryca shivered in his arms, and Ellgis wept, for she moved not.

A shudder rippled through her, and Fryca turned in his arms, seemingly in a deep sleep and not a faint. Relieved, the technologist carried his partner back to their small hut, washing her and laying her in the bed.

The next morning saw Fryca wan but smiling. “Food? I’m ravenous!”

Ellgis wept as he pulled her into his arms, and the two stayed like that for a time. He then headed into the swamp, lines trailing from the skiff while he hunted with a spear. That night they roasted fish over a small flame, and had their first meat since Fryca had gone to rescue her partner.

“The Knights know we’re in here, and they’re going to come after us.”

“Of course. So we go after them instead.”

Ellgis blinked. “We do what?”

“We go after them.” Fryca gestured at the marsh about them. “You want to live in here for the rest of your days? Our experiments fail because of the damp, we have little more than a rotted hut and some paper, and we eat swamp grass and small animals.”

“Fryca, they’re an organization and an army. We’re two jumped up peasants with some smarts.”

“And that organization and army is on another continent with plenty of troubles of its own. You think they sent twelve Knights here because they thought it was enough, or because that was all they could spare? I’m going to bet on the second.”

“And the townsfolk? Whose side will they be on? They’re afraid of the Knights, and have tried to turn us in multiple times.”

“So we start small. We help out a village, and begin slowly picking off Knights.”

Ellgis shook his head. “That won’t work. If we pick them off slowly, they can report. We’ll need to get them all in the same day.”

“Now you’re getting ambitious. I like that.” Fryca chuckled. “We’ll need time, tools, and quiet. I think we move north for a time, find a village beyond the range of this set of Knights. They won’t have heard of us, and if we’re smart, we can prepare.”

Her partner stared upwards for a moment, thoughts racing. “You know… if we do this right, we keep the Knights out, we might be able to found a technologist republic. The Knights are far enough away we can do it without information slipping out for a while.”

“You really are getting ambitious. Now we have work to do.” Fryca struggled to her feet, hand on Ellgis’ shoulder.

Together they walked into the hut, to heal and to plan.