by thefourpartland

For the last little while, I have been working on a joint writing project with six other authors, planning, mapping and building a world that we all shared, and that we all wrote within. Well, the first evidence of that is now here, as each week, the six of us will post a series of flash stories, serials, and essays in and about the Splintered Lands. Eventually, these stories and others will be collected, polished to a bright shine, and published in an anthology.

And now, to Splintered Sunday! This week, we feature stories from me, Lisa Stull and Walter Shuler.  We’d love to have your comments on this.

If you’d like more after this, you can up with Lisa and Walter on Twitter. Since you’re reading me, I’m sure you know where to go, but you can find me here.



by thefourpartland

This story is a continuation of Into The Swamp

“Bugger! Bugger! Bugger!” Ellgis cursed long and loud as the bucket of stones was hoisted into the air. Even with his inventive pulley system, the strain still showed in his back and face. Fryca watched anxiously, slowly paying out a guide rope that kept the basket hidden from the path.

The hourglass sitting on a rock nearby had almost run dry by the time they finally got the basket into position. Pinning it there with with the release catch, they turned and fled. If the ropes broke or it didn’t catch all of the Knights of the Broken Wheel, so be it.

At their home outside the village, Ellgis stuffed books and notes into a bag. Experiments he could rebuild if he had the notes, but without his notes? He was worthless. Fryca threw food together, and some warm clothes. As they exited their house, a massive thump sounded through the swamp, followed by shouts and curses.

Maybe the trap caught the Knights, maybe not, but the two experimenters ran either way, pushing a small skiff deep into the swamp, following a twisting path they had marked out when they first came to the village. It was different now, the swamp changing as a living thing, but they had left signs amongst the old trees, and enough remained that they were able to find their way to a small mound, rising out of murky water.

On top was a simple hut, one room, nothing more, but it had enough supplies within that they could stay here for a time. The waters about the camp had proven fruitful fishing, and they had stayed here in the past. This was not the first village they had been forced to flee from, nor would it be the last. The Knights of the Broken Wheel were persistent in hunting down those accused of heresy, of bringing back the old ways that had shattered the world and brought down a plague upon the living.

No matter that it had been magic that had done that, and not knowledge, but the Knights discriminated not at all between magic and what they saw as analogous to magic, and so Ellgis and Fryca fled from village to village, staying only long enough to be spotted by some Wheelie sympathizer and forced to flee.

That had happened once again, and if any of the Knights had survived, well, the village would be put to the torch. Or more likely hacked apart with axes, for nothing burned well in the swamp.

The two experimenters waited for a week in their hidey-hole in the swamp, and only after the hourglass had turned over for the eighth day did they venture back towards the village and their trap.



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

Had a sudden burst of flash fiction inspiration. Yes, I should have been writing NaNo (I didn’t today), but I’ll cope. Hope you like it.

The earth split apart, and the seas rushed in, and where once there had stood fertile land, now no sounds could be heard but the crashing of waves against rock, and the cry of the gulls as they flew overhead. Water danced above the grave of civilization, for down in those murky depths dwelt cities and villages full of corpses, the remnants of a bygone age.

They had sought to rule, to corral the powers of this world before their thrones, and in return the world had cracked asunder, wrenched apart by their overbearing might. And as they had torn the world, so their kingdoms were rent apart by the peasants, for those of lowly stature had never enjoyed the great benefits of magic, and had been forced to bow and scrape to the will of those who possessed such power.

No more would they do so, for in a rage they had stormed the walled cities and razed the houses of the gentry, and burnt the books of magic. Over their thighs they had broken the magicians’ staves, and in so doing doomed the earth to its fate, for no longer was there a force powerful enough to turn back nature.

And so now the waters lap above the graves of mortal men, and magic is outlawed, while those few who possess it are hunted down and lynched. It is a hard land, a harsh land, for chivalry is unknown and starvation is rampant. Even now, many decades after the collapse, the population still must fight tooth and nail for their very survival.

Amidst the ruins of the old there comes the first buds of a new country, a new society, as irrigation spreads water across dry fields, and men of great ingenuity ply their trade in secret workshops. But all about does danger stalk, for those with little love for the new order seek to take what they can, and these bands of marauders have grown great and terrible in the time following the cataclysm.

And in the west, there is a new stirring of magic, a bitter magic, a cold magic, feeding its hunger for revenge, for retribution against the peasants who wounded it so. Not yet recovered, the world stands atop the precipice of a great chasm, and a single push will send it teetering over the edge. They intend to give it that push.