1.5.6 – Fragmentation  

“Dear heart.” Lord Valraven took another step into the room. “Is that really you?”   “Papa–” At a run, Mariead caught her father in an embrace, a huff of breath taking the place of whatever words she might have intended. Sidelong, I looked to the lass, who stood with long fingers splayed over the tabletop, eyes […]

1.5.4 – Thresholds 

It took five strides to cover the steps of Valraven Manor. I knew it was five down to my bones, felt it seared into my heart, as I took the sixth step and crossed the threshold with my left leg, building speed with every footfall. I drove all that speed and swiftness into brute force […]

1.5.3 –  Black Shield

The night had come with a winter sunset if ever I’d seen one, turning an endurable twilight to a black, unrelenting chill that painted our breaths against the air. Mariead’s face was hidden, her mask in place. All that was visible was the gleam of starlight in her eyes, glinting as cold as amber in […]

1.5.1 – Resource Allocation   

All through the streets, people fought to come close to Mariead. Pressed her hands as they could, or spoke to her, or touched her shoulder.   Caer Lunan was only a wee town, and it dwindled to a line of houses as we went north, breaking out of the village proper and tracing along the western […]

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 […]

1.3.2 – 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 […]

1.3.0 – Clean Hands 

Scarlet soldiers in the square behind her were moving in our direction, led by one of the Inquisitor’s white riders. I couldn’t pick out the stupid shape of Sergeant Cooper without risking a closer look, but in the corner of my eye, the Inquisitor’s white shape drifted away out of sight, taking with him that […]

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 […]