"Does the weapon match the soldier/Does the handle suit the bearer?" — The Kalevala

 

The Tales of the Endlands are a collection of shorter fantasy worksset in the world of Isheridar. Available as DRM-free e-book singles for the Amazon Kindle, or as e-book and trade paperback anthologies.


As Fate's Lady cut through the cloud, Declan's cockpit glass began to flare with a shimmering of silver light. He adjusted throttle carefully to keep pace with the rising speed of the dive, the relative quiet of the inbound run giving way suddenly to shrieking voices. Tendrils erupted from the surrounding white, and then all around the aerocraft was a writhing storm of spectral movement.

The screaming of the dead slammed through the fuselage like the pounding of some unearthly fist, a shudder following in its wake as the temperature display crashed and a wisp of white vapor congealed across the console's glass panels. Declan was too focused to feel the sudden snap of cold, but he could see his breath freezing in the air before him. He heard an edge of panic in Efram's voice as he called out.

"Outside atmosphere at the cargo post! Possible breach!"

"Negative." Lucias cut the young mech off with a laugh. "We're whole, full speed, and right side up even. This is contact."

Black Run

And just like that, the skies around Fate's Lady were alive with ghost-light. Streams of radiance pulsed in at the observation glass, the domes of the gun turrets lit up in silver and white. A squadron of spectral fighters had materialized high on the starboard side, their stepped wings shattered and streaming canvas, torn and flapping like shredded flesh.

"Fuck my eyes..." Through the spark lines, Hillard's voice was tight with fear.

"Cut chatter," Declan said in return. "Fire at will..."

Across the blackened battlefields of the Great War That Was, a grim air-captain leads a mission to recover an arcane power that shouldn't exist — and which summons the ghosts of war to destroy all those who covet its secrets...

Available as a DRM-free e-book single:

Also available as part of the anthology Voices of the Dead — Dark Tales and Lost Souls.


In a necropolis of white marble and black jade, a young woman seeks an escape from endless summer and the sorrow of a hundred lovers lost. But even as she struggles to break free of the bonds of her dreams, she discovers the deeper nightmare that lurks within...

The Game of Heart and Light

She is walking upon the moss green, fingers tracing the bright stone of curving walls when the air splits and splinters, and the Golden Prince is there. She knows him as she knows them all in the instant of seeing. Remembering suddenly the past and present as it unfolds. Remembering the aura of his shimmering robes, the bright eyes of grey, the flowing hair like the light of last sunset, his hand reaching for hers.

“Thou wilt never abandon me, Pale Princess,” he says. “Thou wilt fight the forces of fate to stay eternal at my side.”

She smiles to see him because she must smile. Because she is a piece in the game of Heart and Light, feeling the tug of the dance her song makes, that her love makes as she watches the movement of other milling figures bright upon their shimmering sea.

This much she knows. The game of Heart and Light is a game that she must win…

Available as a DRM-free e-book single:

Also available as part of the anthology Voices of the Dead — Dark Tales and Lost Souls.


"The spirits of the dead have no life to return to, and so drink of the power of the arcane that corrupts the force of life and the way of return." The haze of incense twists in with the seer's breath, frozen fast on the air. "The dark spirits now watch over those who channel the light," she whispers.

The Voice

In the distance, Arda sees Silla watching him. Across a crowd huddling close to the warmth of a spell-fire furnace, one momentary meeting of eyes pulls her out from the anonymous mass, locking Arda to her gaze.

"Their eyes live beyond the darkness, and those eyes watch jealously to see the light despoiled."

Behind him, Arda hears a scuttling laugh. Faint shiftings through the shadow where patched canvas flaps, dark mutterings through closed lips. But when he turns, quicker this time, he sees only the boy still scribbling the blank face in its sightless scream.

When he looks back, the seer's white eyes are closed…

The desolate settlement known only as the Fastness is home to ten thousand Human refugees fleeing the slave camps of the Ilvani — a place of despair and shadow; of the last stand of Human sorcery and a secret that threatens the very nature of magic itself. Arda and Silla have made their lives here, struggling to survive within the darkness of a world gone mad. But when the voice of that darkness calls them, neither will emerge unscathed…

Available as a DRM-free e-book single:

Also available as part of the anthology Voices of the Dead — Dark Tales and Lost Souls.


“I can’t do this,” she whispered as if speaking to herself. But for five years now, Gydon had never truly been alone.

“Thou hast the power within thee,” came the voice of Daeralf.

Daeralf's Rune

“Shut up.” She felt the cittern strummed within her pocket, its off-key tune setting up a strange resonance in her ribs. In trying to shake the imp out of position, she somehow managed to open the pocket, the song coming on suddenly louder to her ears.

“Thou hast always had the power, but in thy fear lives the weakness that doth break the hopeful. For the arcane power is the strength of self and will, and fear is the faint blade that cuts within.”

The imp was singing the faint rebuke, and ignoring all Gydon’s attempts to shush him.

“I’ll fail. I know it.”

“Thou fearest too much the threats of thy mind, and ignores too often the threats of the world.”

“What does that even mean?”

Gydon felt the attack before she saw it…

The novice conjurer Gydon dreams of one day being accepted to the ranks of the apprentices of Citadel Chenyra, the legendary school of sorcery. However, what not even her master knows is that an accident in the laboratory five years before has granted Gydon an edge in her studies — and an unlikely friend who will help her understand her true potential…

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The village looked as ever it did, as if Conry might have already stood, might yet stand on this hill his whole life watching, seeing nothing change. Standing alone against time, everything within this single pane of vision cut from eternal cloth. Everything the same, the village, the fane always standing, never fading away.

People change, he thought. People die. Lady Jeslyn. Old Rhen.

Shadow to Shadow

Life was the first gift of the gods, his father said, and death the doorway through which the gods call all folk home. Death was the gods' final gift, and the reckoning of all folk's lives to be made in the gods' names.

Conry believed it. All his life, he had believed it.

"Boy…"

He ran harder, the dead voice of Old Rhen calling him on.

Conry is thirteen and a priest's son when the death of the matriarch Lady Jeslyn darkens his village like a summer dust storm. But when he discovers the connection between Lady Jeslyn's death and the murder of Old Rhen, the druid whose passing now threatens drought, Conry finds himself facing a darkness beyond the reckoning of his faith — and a power that only he can destroy…

Available as a DRM-free e-book single:

Also available as part of the anthology Voices of the Dead — Dark Tales and Lost Souls.


Braell had stood once against the corrupt knight Chursir of the Dainwood, a hulking brute who had fled his prince's service in madness, folk said. He would attack wains and villages by dusk, naming innocent folk as all manner of monsters and uncouth creatures as he cut them down.

The Twilight Child — Available at Amazon.com

The battle against Chursir had been the closest Noryan had seen Braell come to falling. Like he hadn't since that very first day, he gave his aid to her fight, sending three arrows into the rogue knight's back as Braell split him nave to neck with a final devastating strike.

As the corpse hit the ground, Noryan thought he saw a red-black mist rise from its bloody mouth. When he rubbed his eyes, it was gone.

That night, for the first time, Braell saw the twilight child.

Noryan is the faithful squire of Braell, a knight of the people who wanders the countryside in search of wrongs to right and folk to defend. When a dark curse infects her, Braell begins to remember things that never happened, driven to undertake a quest she cannot name. But the more she must trust in Noryan to lead her, the greater the weight of the dark secret he hopes she never discovers...

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Skos Andarost was the name the mage had been born with, but it had been a generation since he had been known as anything other than Jarrn Dark Andarost. The tattoos that snaked across his arms and chest marked him as one of the Jarrnath, the sorcerous order that had long since spread from its birthplace in Ajaeltha, north to the Gracian wilderness and the Vanyr frontier where the ever-present threat of war masked the movements and madness of its members. The legendary depravity of his kind should have frightened Sharyna. The whispered rumors of Andarost's individual deeds should have frightened her even more.

The Moonsign Scar — Available at Amazon.com

When she was eleven, she'd been made to watch her parents die. Tortured first, then sacrificed on the living pyres of the Cynuss cultists of the Vanyr. Even by the standards of war, those four years of bloodshed across the frontier had been particularly brutal.

It had been a long time since Sharyna was afraid.

Sharyna is a Sister of Sorrow, charged by her animyst order with making the dread archmage Skos Andarost fall in love with her — and then using the power of that bond to destroy him in spirit and mind. But when she discovers the truth behind the torturous experiments conducted in Andarost's dark laboratories, Sharyna finds herself at the center of an ancient mystery — and fighting against a creature whose hunger threatens her very soul...

Available as a DRM-free e-book single:

Also available as part of the anthology Voices of the Dead — Dark Tales and Lost Souls.


Steel flashed as she spun away from him, his own knife in his hand somehow. They locked guards at the first strike, then Jalina was fading back, footsteps splashing clumsily as her blade slashed past Charan's neck. He slid to let it miss him, parried the next blow, returned with one of his own that she caught and twisted past, behind him suddenly.

Where Jalina crouched, her eyes were bright with the fear he recognized.

"I knew it would end this way," she whispered.

A Space Between — Available at Amazon.com

Charan's hand was shaking, the battered blade of his knife weaving points of bright fire in the half-light. He tried to trace back the two dozen heartbeats just past, but his sight, his mind and memory were the same blur of red.

He had drawn on her, he thought. But he wouldn't have. Couldn't have. The evenlamp was in the water behind him. He had dropped it in expectation, needing to free his other hand for balance. Impossible. He shook his head, saw his sister flinch in expectation of another strike.

The feeling he had ever been afraid to name rooted deep in his chest. He felt the scent and the sight of her overwhelm his memory.

He felt the pain that her words made, felt the fear in her that was the knowledge that her brother had tried to kill her rather than lose her. The knowledge that he would try again. He felt the weight of the knife in his hand...

Charan and Jalina, sibling heirs to the throne of a renewed empire, share a bond of blood and a dark secret — both of which threaten to destroy them when their father is killed...

Available as a FREE e-book single:

Also available as part of the anthologies A Prayer for Dead Kings and Other Tales and Voices of the Dead — Dark Tales and Lost Souls.


For another week, they came. For another week, Hjorn carried out hit and run attacks on the growing number of warriors and mercenaries amassing below his front door. Using the power of the axe, he shifted between his home and the wilderness around the bluff in search of increasingly ingenious ammunition.

When the Ilvani war-mages came, they blasted his porch and front door with fire and lightning, but the stones that Hjorn had laid using the ancient craft of his people held fast. In response, he collected boulders from the shattered rockslide wall that was as close as anyone could come to the dark chasm where the river disappeared. He dropped them from the edge of the porch, sending them down the bluff with a sound louder than the spells that had scorched his walls.

Stories — Available at Amazon.com

He jaunted into the camps of some sort of doglike creatures that walked on two legs, leaving with them a brace of skunks he plucked from their twilight dens in a distant meadow. Over long days and sleepless nights, he countered the fury of the horde below him with his best ideas, but Hjorn's ideas were beginning to run out. The axe's voice was growing more and more erratic in his mind. It had moved beyond threats aimed at him and was shrieking about how it wanted to kill everyone, everywhere, just because.

Or were those his own thoughts he was hearing? Hjorn wondered suddenly. It was getting hard to tell...

A reclusive storyteller has always yearned to be a hero. But then he's forced to rise to the occasion when the story of his own life becomes more heroic than he ever thought possible...

Available as a FREE e-book single:

Also available as part of the anthology A Prayer for Dead Kings and Other Tales.

 

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The Tales of the Endlands are individually published Kindle-single short stories set in the milieu of Isheridar — a far-ranging fantasy world reeling from the fall of an Empire whose magic ruled the globe for more than fifteen hundred years.

In the aftermath of arcane cataclysm, the unified Isheridar has shattered to become the Endlands — a world standing on the brink of the end of days as the bonds of Empire fracture. A world in which unlikely — and often unwilling — heroes mark the thin line between light and darkness.

Collected "Tales of the Endlands" are available in trade paperback and DRM-free e-book.

Voices of the Dead