by thefourpartland

This marks the beginning 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 crowd roared, a rolling thunder that spread out from the centre and echoed back off of the buildings surrounding the square. Today, they had come to hear an announcement from their lord and ruler, and they were incensed by what was said, for Niam Liad had risen in rebellion against the rightful rulership of Ymerawdwyr of Hymerodraeth Heula. Now the crowed cried out for blood, for vengeance, for a sacrifice of those insolent peons to the empire of the sun. The Dialedd Lluydd, the army of vengeance, was being prepared to crush this rebellion, and Ymerawdwyr had called for new recruits to come join. Swept in a tidal wave of passion, young man after young man ran to the army barracks and begged to joined. Today, enlistment in the army would run to the highest totals seen in decades.

Rhyfelwyr looked at the mess before him and sighed. All these new pups, wanting to be soldiers. That just meant more work for him training them, and more people who didn’t have a damn clue what they were doing getting killed on the battleground. He glanced over at Locsyn, where the same expression was written on that soldier’s face.

“We’re in for a right mess, aren’t we, Loc?”

Locsyn spat onto the ground before answering. “Better believe it. Now lets go get drunk before the officers find us and make us train those louts.”

“Good call, good call. Get the others?”

“They’re already there.”

Rhyfelwyr nodded, and the two soldiers set off into the backstreets of Bhreac Veryan, wending their way to a grungy old bar tucked away in an alley. Shouldering aside the mat that hung in the doorway, the two sat down at a table with three more men. The youngest of them was in his late thirties, and all had the weather-beaten look of men who had spent too much time outdoors. For a while, none spoke, but a conversation seemed to be carried on nonetheless, in gestures, glances, expressions, and shifting in their chairs. Finally, the largest of the squad, a giant named Gwyth, looked at Rhyfelwyr and spoke.

“Alright, what is it?”

Rhyfelwyr drained his mug, wiped his face, and then answered. “We’ve got six months, maybe seven, to train thousand and thousands of new recruits, them march them halfway across the damn continent, and then fight against Niam Liad skirmishers in their home countryside. I’m just not looking forward to it, is all.”

Taflen spoke at that. “Much as you might like to have us believe that, Rhy, we know there’s something more going in there.” Taflen glanced around the table, at each of the four faces, finishing with Rhyfelwyr’s. “You think they’re going to break up the squad, don’t you? Promote us all to sergeant or lieutenant, give us each our own. I hope the officers aren’t that stupid.”

Rhy shrugged. “They’re officers, and they’re twenty-three and never seen real battle before. What do you expect?”

“A little better sense than that, at least from the veterans further up. Anyway, don’t worry about orders like that coming down. We’ll deal with them.”

Llofruddiwr perked up at that. “My dealing?” he asked.

Taflen blanched a little at that. “I’d rather not. We’d run out of officers in a hurry.”

Llofruddiwr shrugged, then downed another mouthful of beer.

The conversation drifted away into other matters, and the night stretched long as the soldiers drank.

Days and weeks passed as the squad was used to train the youngsters. The very basics of marching, of holding a weapon, of moving in formations. Rhyfelwyr despaired that any of the recruits would become soldiers, or even live past their first five minutes with the enemy. Each time he’d spar with one of the kids, a flick of the wrist, a simple block with a shield, and the openings he found were large enough to drive a herd through. And he’d go back to the bar and hear the same reports from Locsyn, from Taflen, from Gwyth, and from Llofruddiwr. Although he expected that from the soldiers being trained by Llof. The man was a wizard with the blade, and with the other assortment of weaponry that he kept tucked away within the folds of his armour and his cloak. Even the cloak was a weapon: it had weights sewn into the hem so it could be used to catch and trip opponents.


  1. #TuesdaySerial Report – Week 23 – Oct 5, 2010 | Tuesday Serial on 10.06.2010

    […] Breaking an Empire #1 – by James T at The Four Part Land – DEBUT […]

  2. ~Tim on 10.06.2010

    Interesting beginning. I had trouble wrapping my tongue around most of the names. [Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.] And I think it ends abruptly.

  3. The Four Part Land on 10.07.2010

    I had a hard time finding a good break point for this piece. Breaking an Empire wasn’t written with being chopped into flash in mind, and it shows when I try and do it.

    The names are all Welsh, and are all actual words. However, that doesn’t make them any easier to us. I find them difficult as well.

  4. David G Shrock on 10.11.2010

    Ooh, the names. I’ll need to read more before I get a feel for the setting, but an interesting start. Sometimes hard breaking a long story up. I had the same trouble with my current serial, and ended up with some pieces much longer than others.

  5. Steve Green on 10.16.2010

    I came across part 3 today ( Oct 16) , and so skipped back to read from the beginning.

    It has all the ingredients so far for a strong storyiline, and I shall read all of it eventually, the names are a bit tongue-twisting at first, but don’t take long to get used to. Reading this I have images of rough-hewn men as in Conan etc, readying for a massive confrontation, possibly on the scale of the Lord of the rings battles? I am looking forward to reading the rest of it in the near future.

    Sorry to be pedantic, but you may want this info, a couple of typos I noticed.

    4th line.. The crowed (crowd ?) cried for blood…

    26th line.. Them (then ?) marched them halfway…

  6. The Four Part Land on 10.16.2010

    @David Yeah, this story is not lending itself to being broken up at all, but it is something I want to put out there. If I put the pieces up in the length they need to be a certain ‘scene’, people would be fleeing for the exits before they got to the bottom.

    @Steve Glad you’ve enjoyed it so far. The heroes are intended to be a bit more flawed than a Conan type. They’re much more in-line with the style Stephen Erickson uses for his Malazan series, which I was reading at the time I wrote this. Although the large battle prediction is certainly correct. I believe there are three or four in this story, including a very large one as the capstone to the piece.

    If there are only two errors, I’m rather glad. I haven’t edited this particular story because I’m incredibly sick of editing right now, having just spent a year editing two novels back to back. 5 editing passes and counting on those books made me not want to pick up any more editing at all, for a while anyway.

  7. Steve Green on 10.16.2010

    I’ll BET you are sick of editing too, I dont have the stamina, or indeed the talent for writing something of the scale this is going to be, I intend to read it piecemeal, and then again all in one go, as I tend to lose the mood of a story when I read it in instalments.

    Best wishes.

  8. The Four Part Land on 10.16.2010

    This particular story is about 30k in length, and is stand-alone, but it also provides the background for much of the hatred that is going around in TFPL today.

    I find that the only way I can write long works is getting a good plot in place, then using the drip drip drip method of a little at a time, all the time, to get things done.

    And yeah, I don’t think this story lends itself well to being broken up, but it is long enough I can take a break from writing new material while i focus on the third novel. In that respect it helps me a lot.

Leave a Reply