1.4.6 – Into the Night  

A massacre is hard work. Even a dirty fight gives you the rush, starts your heart, gets your palms itching for the next blow. But slaughter always outlasts the heat of battle. What follows is not cold; it’s numb. You’re no longer trying to survive; the fear fades, your nose gets used to the smell, […]

1.4.2 – Spark To Flame  

The crowd surged forward, bodies crushing in around me. The other penitent-priest, the Inquisitor’s hand-picked hunting hound, sprang onto the steps of the chapel and drew his sword in turn.   “Loyal soldiers of the Church, to me!” he shouted.   “Get fucking back, you pack of idiots,” Blake snarled, at the same time. “Run! Tell the […]

1.3.4 – Sergeant’s Edge

Wasn’t much by the way of seating. I sat with half my arse on a piece of unsplit firewood, used a larger log as a table. Sergeant Blake sat off to my left, as did all the rest of his lads, where I could keep an eye on them, and they could keep an eye […]

1.3.3 – Cloudbreak 

The lass in my head shivered and shut Her eyes, still as a statue. I felt Her reaching, stretching out for something. Had the wild urge to raise my hands. Held back from it.   Instead I let Her stand stark and unreal against the harsh background, the edge of a rough wooden cottage, the pig […]

1.3.2 – Waxing Quarrel

At the outer ring of the group of guards sat a bald man, wide and squat like a toad with stubble. He wore a Sergeant’s tunic over a shirt with no collar—but white, barbed chains were tattooed about his neck, like the chains of a seven-year Penitent. He heaved himself to his feet with a […]

1.2.6 – Black Flag  

Mud squished up under my feet as I stared, hands on her shoulders. Damp air was cold on my newly-bare face, and the skin felt too tight, taut, like a skull.   The Inquisitor rode a white horse. Everything he and his horse wore was white, splashed with mud from the road north, tack and harness […]

1.2.5 – Widow’s Strop  

Steel sang back and forth, hissing over leather with each stroke, up and down. Broth rumbled and cast iron grated on the far side of the wall while I stood staring at steam rising from a basin of hot water, passing a long razor back and forth along its strop. The air was thick with […]

1.2.3 – Farm Furrow Weeds  

The road to Caer Lunan was long and marked with wagon ruts, packed dirt torn up into muddy furrows. My legs ached, bruises from yesterday’s fight and more twinging with each step, and I kept my head down, eyes up under my hood, watching the fields to either side as we walked in. I felt […]

1.2.2 – Caer Lunan  

Caer Lunan was not a large town.   It clustered up against a narrow ridge, nearly all its wee houses built with their backs to the slope. Among them, one central house stood out, and behind it, smaller but taller, a chapel with the Church’s star nailed atop its belltower.  We crouched near the edge of […]

1.2.1 – Taste of Hope 

“I asked Rina for food, as per your instructions.” Aidan delivered this report brusquely, just like he delivered us the flatbreads, now piled high with a glistening, broken-up topping. We sat together in the dark, our backs to the camp. “She gave us some of her rations. Something called–”  “Oh, fuck me,” I recognized the […]