Sunday, 17 April 2016

In Pain and Blood - Reaching the 100k Mark

Well, then. It finally happened. In Pain and Blood has officially skipped its merry way over the 100k mark, and it's not slowing down. If anything, it's picking up speed and throwing in some extra chapters. I can't believe I ever wondered how I'd manage to produce content for 36 chapters, now we're pushing 41 and it taunts me with the possibly of needing even more.

Oh, and those steamy erotic scenes keep popping up. I mean, jeez, I know you like to get whilst the getting's good, Track, but I'm pretty sure you don't need to try jumping him every time you're alone.

But yeah, to date, there are 41 Chapters (with only nine of them complete, the sods) and in them are...

  • 10 Sex Scenes (So, if you're not signed up to my Patreon, that's about a quarter of the book you're not reading until it's published years down the line)
  • 7 Major Locations (Tower, Army camp, Toptower, Oldmarsh, Whitemeadow, Riverton and Wintervale... Hoy...)
  • 7 Fight scenes (Because, clearly, I hate myself)
  • 4 Hot 'n' heavy scenes (Because Tracker is a horny son of a female dog)
  • 4 Tavern scenes (Sometimes, good old campfire fare isn't good enough)
  • 3 Inns (The Drunken Pilgrim, Wench and Cooper, and The Sheppard's Axe)
  • 3 Bathing scenes (All of them totally legit. They travel and fight. Ergo, they get filthy)
  • 3 Healing scenes (Did I mention they fight?)
  • 3 Weapon-training scenes (Because they fight)
  • 2 Cavern/Tunnel scenes (Don't ask)
  • 1 Brothel (The Gilded Lily ^_^)
  • 1 Swimming scene (Because how else would they reach the cavern?)
  • 1 Stitching dude up scene (Different from healing scenes, because reasons)
  • 1 Other scene I can't divulge, because spoilers
Obviously, some of those scenes are pulling double duty. Otherwise, the numbers just don't add up.

Each chapter is hitting about a rough 4500-word average (those sex scenes should be bloody outliers, but really I've a frigging half-written final battle scene that's over 5k. Half. Written.). Even though I factored a loose 3000/3500-word goal per chapter... I'm looking down the barrel of a possible 160k novel. Considering that all my editing runs in the past three novels have only given me bigger novels, the final story is going to be a beast no matter what I do...

Welp, I hope you all like sprawling fantasy works with a lgbt theme and lots of erotic romance, because that's what you're gonna get.

In closing, here's a picture of my two dorks snogging. Just because...
Dylan and Tracker done by Eveline Verburg

Friday, 15 April 2016

Elves in the Spellster Series

For a long time, I railed against the inclusion of elves in any of my fantasy works. The worlds I created were big and weird enough without a them jumping into the mix. Not that I don't love my elven characters, because if you tell me there's an elf in the story, I'm very likely to get my nose out of whatever book I'm currently reading to check it out (more so with dragons).

I guess it was inevitable that they'd appear, but I still wanted to avoid the long-living godlike beings as it really doesn't fit in with my worldbuilding. Instead, I got... Well, it's more fun for me if I let my hedgewitch, Katarina, explain how she sees elves stacking up against humans...

Elves in the Spellster Series

            — A brief dissertation by Madam Hedgewitch Katarina of Dvärghem

Little is known of the land from which elves originated, even the natives of Heimat, people who are far removed from the Udynea Empire and their toxic environment, and those who still live according to the nomadic practice of their wandering forebears have fragments of their past. Beyond these clans, there is little concern expressed with this cultural gap in their heritage. This disinterest is almost unanimous, but admitted only if pressed.

Much of the tangible facts can be found in the Udynea Empire and their old slave records. These state that the elves arrived en masse in vast ships—vessels that, reputedly, carried several thousand each and were sadly dismantled on site for their wood—on the shores of what is now Obuzan. Of course, this was some centuries back, when the current empire was but a third of its size. If the question of how these people managed the journey or why was ever asked of them, then such information is lost save a few scattered clans speaking of a great terror.

Having landed on land that freely exploits its own, much of the elven population wound up in slavery. Those who escaped, whether through the initial catch or later, fled to form Heimat. Those who live there are, to this day, suspicious to overtures made by outsiders, human or dwarf. They trade via the nomadic clans who wander between this elven country and the place of their original berth, wildly skirting the Udynean border in the process.

The elven language did manage to survive the initial meeting of humans, although it has suffered greatly. Beyond the population of Heimat and most of the nomadic clans, finding an elf capable of understanding the tongue of their ancestors is incredibly rare.

Whilst relations between human and elf are more common than between elf and dwarf—this being rather due to the spread of both races across the continent than any avoidance by either party—there is a common human bias towards elves. Few gain notable status and are far likelier to be the target of bigotry. The degree of this alienation is, largely, dependent on the country. Where one elf might suffer harsh looks and the occasional slur, others will be forced into lives as beggars, if not taken and sold.

It can also be gleaned from the old slave records that the diverse colouration and features of current elves came not from the addition of human blood, but were already in effect. This leads to the possibility of a continent not unlike this one that hosts only elves. But, seeing there have been no new sightings of other gigantic vessels, it must be presumed that, if the original elves were fleeing, whatever they fled from has not given chase.

Of the current elves, they have several peculiarities not seen amongst either dwarf or human. Still, as if one were to speak of humans or fellow dwarves, the point must be made that these generalities do not encompass every individual. There can, naturally, be discrepancies, more so with the addition of human (and the occasional bit of dwarven) blood.

This is, sadly, to be expected as dilution was an unfortunate fact of a relatively low starting population and the old Udynean trend of captured elves becoming pleasure slaves—a trend that disturbing rumours suggest is not dead. Given current levels of elven/human interaction, the likelihood of a 100% full-blooded elf is slim. Even so, the human population vastly outnumbers them.

If one is curious, and quite possibly suicidal, observation of the canine definition is a useful tool to denote dilution of blood. The more prominent an elf’s canines are, the more elven an elf’s blood is. Speculation leans towards the supposition that their ancestors subsisted on a meat-heavy diet.

Their rate of healing is twice that of a human's and somewhere between a third and a quarter faster than dwarven abilities. This may be linked to a faster metabolism and is, perhaps, in direct correlation to their natural leanness.

A male elf that claims either half or more of elven ancestry is not capable of growing facial hair. In fact, hair on all elves is largely lighter than human or dwarven counterparts of similar age. Past scholars have given several theories on why; the wider accepted lean being that their ancestral climate negated the necessity of such dense hair.

Their bodies put out more heat than even the average dwarven male, this is despite being shorter than either sentient counterpart (sometimes by several feet). They likewise display a dexterity incomparable to a human of similar size. Through observation of trained warriors, it can be determined that muscle can be bulked via an intense regimen, just not to the extent of a human in the same position. However, overall stamina doesn't seem to be vastly different to other races.

Their sight is better than that of a human's, almost on par with dwarven vision in distance and tracking. It is not certain if their night vision is superior or whether they use their enhanced hearing to pinpoint attacks. A lesser quality is their long fingers, wherein each digit is between half to a full inch longer than those of the average human.

The ears are, of course, a rather large defining quality to an elf and often become the target of the small-minded. Observational recording suggests they are twice the length of a human’s from lobe to tip and, whilst they exhibit some flexibility, are somewhat just as rigid as human and dwarven ears. Any elven ear that is recorded as suggesting movement is likely more due to abuse of the cartilage than a natural ability.

Slicing or breaking the ear has become an all too commonly used assault in Udynea. When such an attack happens, the ear is often not completely removed, but rather just the pointed half.

Their ears have long been rumoured as extremely sensitive to the touch and most elves will allow only their partners this privilege. Whilst the elf's reaction to such a touch is not instant arousal as in the stipulated rumours, testing done by a willing couple rather suggests that it encourages such thoughts.

It is puzzling then, why some elves choose to pierce such a sensitive organ. One much wonders if this wilful modification alters the ear's sensation, although whether to negative or positive respects is uncertain. More research is required on this topic to fully understand this conduct.

Like humans, spellsters and their nullifying counterparts are present in all elven communities. Early records of multiple elves being subjected to infitialis leashing suggests the power a natural occurrence rather than to the introduction of human blood. There appears to be a relatively equal ratio of magically sensitive to the non-magically inclined as displayed in the overall human populous. Ratios for the nulled ones are less certain, but speculation would deem it as less owing to new understandings of circumstances leading to a nulled one's birth.

They possess, of all things, the ability to purr. Not the occasional rumbling of a pleased dwarf or human, but a consistent thrum much similar to that of a domesticated feline. Unlike cats, who purr in all manner of situations, this phenomenon only occurs if the elf in question is content. Queries have lead to this behaviour being common knowledge amongst elf-dense populations.

Currently, only two opportunities to observe such behaviour have presented themselves (although it is noted that the human half of the above couple reports his husband often purrs in his sleep, such an observation has not been officially recorded). Suggestion of more extensive research in this factor has been reported to the coven.


And there you have it, all I know about my elves. To top it off, this started out as a list of traits that morphed itself into this little piece.

Is there any particular species (of any speculative genre, doesn't have to be fantasy) that you've a certain weakness for?

Sunday, 10 April 2016

In Pain and Blood - Chapter Two

Whoo! So chapter one started off as a big beast. You can image how I beat Nanowrimo with this monster and yet, was still only halfway through. As of writing this, I've not write hit the 70% mark. Dylan, why are you insisting on monopolising so much of my time like this?

Anyway, let's press onwards to chapter two. If you don't want to read them here, you can find all the chapters on Wattpad and Inkitt.


Chapter Two

They raced through the hallways, trailing cries in their wake. First it was merely the startled yelps of the occasional servant as they ran through the upper levels and descended the stairs. Then, as they reached the bottom level and neared the duelling arena, they barrelled into the command to halt from the guardians patrolling the area.
Sulin slowed, half heeding their calls. He let the elf fall behind. If there was anything life-threatening going on in the arena, the alchemist's magic wouldn't be strong enough to shield him from it, let alone help anyone.
They'd be punished for this, being out of their quarters at night, doubly so for disobeying direct orders. At least a week's worth of denying them of their meals, they might even get solitary confinement. Yet, if his defiance of their cries saved Nestria and Mary, he'd weather whatever sentence they gave him. Please, don't let me be too late.
He turned down the long corridor leading to the arena. The charge of lightning—an attack they both favoured—permeated the air. He slowed, scanning the hallway for any sign of guardian presence. Surely, if something was wrong, then there'd be people trying to right it.
The stench of scorched air grew stronger as he neared the doors.
Dylan focused and a small film of purple shimmered to life around him. Bracing himself, he flung open the doors. Nestria stood in the middle of the arena, the comatose form of Mary at her feet. Lightning flashed around them, forking as they smashed into the wide, shimmering barrier encircling them.
The attack came from the alchemist's experimental infitialis shield. It sparked and crackled, each flare pulsing through the room until it connected with something.
He ran for the pair, the barrier around him thrumming with each hit. He dared to glance up. The big shield that protected spectators, which currently consisted of just the overseers, appeared to be holding up better than their personal barriers.
"Dylan!" Nestria screamed as he neared. "What are you doing?" Lightning stabbed her shield with a dreadful crackling sizzle. She winced, then squared her shoulders. "Get out of here! I can handle this."
No, you can't. His dear friend held her ground, for now. She wouldn't for much longer. Not against this barrage. They needed to leave the arena's confines, let the shield that encompassed the area contain the blast once the metal finally shattered. And it would. If there was one thing the infitialis metal did well, it was exploding.
He pulled the elf's slight form tight against him and focused on widening his shield, pushing the narrow oval out until it matched Nestria's range. The effort caused a dull ache in the base of his skull. Manageable, for now. Lightning crackled around them.
What if one of us fails? No, he couldn't think of failure. Combined, their power should be enough to block out any force. Dylan bent to the alchemist's inert form and wrapped her arm behind his neck. "We have to get out of here."
Nestria nodded, flinching as another bolt struck. Only went she moved to help him did he notice how she favoured one side. And a multitude of scorch marks adorned both women's robes. His friend was fast enough defending herself in sparring, but nothing was faster than lightning.
With them supporting Mary on either side, they hobbled towards the entrance. The doors seemed a lot further off than they'd been a moment ago. Still, they struggled onwards, fighting to keep the alchemist from dragging—a feat that would've been a lot easier had they both been stronger and of similar height.
At their backs, the crackling grew louder, more erratic. He dared a hasty look over Nestria's head to where Mary had lashed the shield to the old targeting blocks. The metal disc was fracturing. Each crack poured more power behind the lightning. Blue and purple forks of it flashed around them, glancing off their shields.
He flinched at one particularly heavy blow. His gaze fastened onto their exit. The closed, scorched doors seemed to be getting no closer. They had to make it out in time. He wasn't certain if their shields would hold up against the final blast.
A bolt landed a direct hit on their flank.
Nestria cried out. Her shield wavered. Flickering pulses of purple light danced around them as she fought to keep the barrier up. A second blow and her defence fell.
Whiteness glanced across Dylan's vision. The suddenness of taking the blast's whole force was like a punch to the jaw. He staggered, blind for several steps. The unconscious woman all but slipped from his hands.
Shaking his head, he put all his effort on maintaining the shield. Like claws squeezing his skull, the dull ache pinched his brain. No matter how he tried, he couldn't stretch the shield to encompass them all and continue to maintain its strength. Pushing any harder only made his head feel as though it were trapped in a vice.
Instead, he turned to face the cracking disc of metal and focused on picturing a wall. It formed between them and the unstable experiment, far stronger than his previous attempts. The lightning smashed against this new barrier, fracturing along the surface. But the wall held.
"What are you doing?" Nestria screamed. She hunkered behind him, dragging Mary's inert form down with her. A thin glow surrounded her, flickering and failing as she sought to shield them.
He crouched next to the women and wrapped his arms around Nestria's slim shoulders. "Trust me." If he could press the fracturing, twisting and glowing mass that was the metal disc up against the arena's shield and hold it there, then perhaps he could limit the damage the experiment did when it exploded.
His shield edged closer. Forks of lightning climbed the surface, the tips curled and cracked at the top. Dylan kept going. The outward face of his shield brushed the curve of infitialis. Dylan held his breath. The main property of the metal was its ability to negate magic, if his barrier dropped now…
The gossamer shield between them and death bulged where contact was made, sending a visible shudder shimmering across the surface. He flinched, his eyes unable to stay open. They were going to die. The barrier would fall and they'd be electrocuted well before being blown up was a problem.
After a few seconds had passed without incidence, he dared to peek.
The shield held. It shuddered with each bolt spewing from the metal disc, but the barrier remained very much intact. He just had to keep it that way.
Slowly, he pushed the shield closer to the arena's edge. The target block grated along the dusty ground. Each jump and tilt sent a bigger flare from the disc's core. Thunder, originally a low rumble, boomed around the domed space.
At last, there was no more room for the block to go. Dylan altered his focus, moulding his flat barrier to sit seamlessly against the arena's shield. What remained of the alchemist's experiment twisted further, warping under the pressure of being hemmed on both sides.
He gritted his teeth and concentrated on keeping the wall in place. If he let his shield drop, even for a heartbeat, they'd be dead before the next pulse. "Ness!" he groaned, flailing his hand behind him in search of the woman. Warm, familiar fingers wrapped around his wrist. They were coated in something, he didn't dare look away from the barrier to find out what. "Can you…" He puffed, trying to find the air to speak. Words should not be this hard. "…carry Mary… on your own?"
"She's too heavy."
"Then…" The room blurred. Warm dampness flooded his eyes. He blinked it away. I have to focus. He might be able to hold on long enough, but if not… "Leave us."
Nestria tightened her grip on his arm. "Dylan…"
He dared the briefest of glances at her face, felt his barrier wavering and snapped his attention back. Behind his shield, the alchemist's experiment glowed with an intense blue light. "Go." There was no point in letting her die alongside him if he failed to contain the blast.
If Nestria gave an answer, he didn't hear it.
The pause between each pulse of lightning grew closer, hitting his barrier with a rapid staccato rhythm. He hunched down as far as he could, drawn between covering his eyes from the glare and knowing he had to keep watching. Any second now and the metal would—
The world went white and fuzzy.
A muffled boom echoed through the arena. His barrier bulged under the pressure. He pushed back, trying to control a barrier he could no longer see even as he felt it ripping apart. The strain was agony. The room spun. Already, he was sweating from every pore. Any moment now and his brain was going to leak out his ears. Can't stop. It only had hold for a little longer…
His shield shattered, unleashing the full force behind the blast. Stunned by the sudden absence of pressure, Dylan blindly threw himself to the floor. Bodies huddled against him. He flung his arms around Nestria and the inert Mary, pulling them close, shielding them in the only way left to him.
Only when the blast's last echoes had finished circling the arena did he dare to lift his head. We're alive. The thought came sluggishly and a little on the tentative side. Were they alive? The compacted dirt under his chin certainly felt like that of the arena floor, but who was to say the afterlife didn't start out this way?
He rolled off the women to sprawl on the ground. Everything had a purple glare to it and his chin stung like he'd scraped it back to the bone. Already, he felt the familiar tug of his power working on fixing the latter.
The smoky aroma of burnt linen filled his nose. Summoning what energy he could, Dylan patted himself down. There were a few singed spots on the skirts of his robe. He was whole, in no danger and most definitely alive.
The arena's main entrance opened. The customary bang of the doors muffled and tame compared to the previous blast that had assaulted his ears. Dylan rolled his head to the side and blurrily watched the blazing outline of two figures running across the room. One of them wore the flapping robes of a spellster and was most likely Sulin, the other…
He blinked, his vision slowly restoring, and took in the woman wearing the dark grey leather tunic of the guardians. Tricia? He sat up, his body strongly objecting to the sudden movement. How had she gotten here so soon? Had she been one of the voices calling for them to stop? I'm going to be in so much trouble.
Sulin blew past them with barely a glance in their direction, making straight for the twisted pieces of the shield. Dylan watched with a sort of distant fascination. The pieces lifted, slowly as the alchemist manipulated the meagre talent he possessed, so the elf could examine the smoking remains without direct contact.
"Dylan?" Tricia collapsed beside him. "What did you think were you doing, child?" She grabbed his head turning it this way and that, examining him for injuries until she was satisfied there weren't any. "You could've been killed," she whispered, drawing him into a tight hug.
He squirmed. Such a display of concern only made it worse. What punishment was she concocting? Would she have him escorted around the tower like some of the other spellsters? For how long? He shrank from his guardian's grasp. "I'm all right, Mother."
Tricia sat back, a rare proud smile curving her lips. "You are." She fussed with his hair, tucking several dark strands behind his ears. "My brave boy."
Embarrassment gently warmed his cheeks. He'd been stupid. His gaze slid back to where Sulin was still crouched over the remains of the infitialis shield. The elf was shaking his head, but there seemed to be a distinct lack of concern on the alchemist's face. That meant the danger was over. From the shield, at least.
Beside them, Nestria groaned. She sat up, her movements oddly stiff.
He crawled across the space between them. "Ness?" Had that final blast struck her as hard as it'd done him? "Are you all right?"
She rubbed at her head. "Just a bump. I've had worse falling out of bed."
His gaze slid to Nestria's robe. A large, dark red patch had formed on the elf's left sleeve. Higher still, the fabric was a charred mess. "Bit more than a bump."
Those big brown eyes lowered to where he held her arm. She gasped as he peeled back the blood-soaked sleeve. Blood ran down her arm, trickling from raw peeling skin. Dylan tracked the burnt flesh up her arm until it culminated in a hideous charred and weeping wound near her shoulder. More of the rawness above suggested further injury beneath her robe.
"First bolt must've struck before I got a shield up. Funny, I don't even remember it." Nestria fingered her forearm, hissing only when she made contact with the blistering skin of her wrist. "It barely hurts."
Keeping his grip light, he focused on healing her by teasing out the body's natural ability to heal and encouraging it to quicken. The blood stopped flowing. The peeled skin flaked away and the rawness of the flesh underneath faded, leaving behind a strangely delicate branch-like pattern of pink scars. Even these had begun to fade into a silver-purple by the time his power halted.
Nestria beamed up at him. "Thanks."
He shrugged. It wasn't the first time he'd healed her, it likely wouldn't be the last.
"We must get this poor girl to the infirmary," Tricia said, drawing him back to the unconscious alchemist lying beside him. Despite her singed robes, she didn't appear to have suffered any serious injuries. Just a few scrapes she'd likely gotten when she fell. "Sulin. Help me carry her." She beckoned the elf away from the pieces of infitialis.
Sulin obeyed, eyeing the remains with every step.
His guardian huffed. "If it was going to explode again, it would've done so by now."
Dylan stood, staggering slightly as his legs wobbled. "If he wants to examine the shield further, I can help with Mary."
Tricia snorted. "Don't be ridiculous, child. You haven't the strength at the best of times." She bent to hoist Mary off the ground, waiting for the alchemist to secure the woman's other side. "Nestria, be a dear and tell the healers on duty that they've a patient."
"Yes, Madam Guardian." Nestria curtsied and, hitching up her skirts, raced out of the arena, whilst the others slowly made their way to the door.
Dylan trailed after them. He could've gone back to his quarters. Unlike Mary and Nestria, his healer training had left him with the innate ability to mend any injuries without him having to think on it. All he truly needed was time to recuperate.
Noises followed in their wake as they neared the infirmary. Soft, almost nonexistent, even to ears listening for the sounds; the careful opening of doors and hushed conversation. Those closest to the duelling arena would've heard the shield explode and would be curious to know what caused it. Then again, when he considered how rumour flowed through the tower's heart like water rushing downstream, they likely already knew of Mary's experiment.
Come tomorrow morning, everyone would know the woman had failed. Mary would be punished. The overseers were very particular when it came to wasting even a shard of infitialis. Her guardian would likely share a measure of that punishment as well.
Thanks to Nestria, the healers on duty were waiting at the door by the time they arrived. They hustled Mary to a bed, leaving the rest of them to aimlessly linger near the entrance.
"She'll be all right, won't she?" Nestria asked the room.
"Of course, she will," Dylan said. Those few who chose to practice their craft in the infirmary were the best healers the tower had. He once thought of joining them—had even trained enough to gain apprenticeship to one of the few masters—until the call of the army started in his blood. "She'll be wide awake by morning and ready to improve her work in no time."
"Gods," Sulin groaned. "I hope not. That woman's experiments always cost us a hefty chunk of dog metal."
Dylan frowned. It was one thing to lose a fragment here and there during a young alchemist's training, but a piece as big as the shield? "It can't be salvaged?"
The alchemist shook his head. "Not after a blast like that. Reusing it will only risk having whatever it's used for blow up again. Can you imagine if someone crafted a collar from it?"
He'd never seen one of the collars they used, although he did know they were made only by the best alchemists. Nor had he ever heard of one exploding, but if the metal was unstable… "Be rather like wrapping a viper around one's neck."
"Which is why I plan to insist the metal is disposed of," Tricia said. "I also think it's time you three were back in your quarters. The healers don't need you lot wandering about like abandoned chicks. Come on." She flapped her hands at them as if they children. "Off to bed with you."
They turned to obey only to find the overseers standing in the infirmary's doorway. Not a one appeared the slightest bit harmed. They looked even less amused. Behind them stood Mary's guardian. Even with much of her face lost in the shadows, the woman's focus on her unconscious charge was palpable.
"Am I correct that this your charge, Guardian?" one of the men asked Tricia, indicating Dylan.
His guardian stiffened at the address. "Yes, sir."
"We witnessed quite the display this evening," one of the women said. "It would seem your evaluation of his strength is incorrect. One must wonder if you've been paying your charge the proper amount of attention due to him. His years do not grant him full absolution from your watch."
She bowed. "Yes, madam. I am aware he has displayed a somewhat unusual burst of… That is to say, I have of course been keeping a close eye on his talents. I'm certain you recall how he is most useful in translating the ancient dwarven texts. The hedgewitches are—"
"Enough," a second man snapped. "However pleasing his skill may be to these so-called dwarven scholars, it does not supersede compliance with the king's will. If it is discovered you have been deliberately concealing his potential…" The man left his threat trickle off to create its own little punishments.
Again, Dylan's guardian bowed. "Understood, sir."
The woman beside the man cleared her throat. "You will inform your charge that, in light of recent events, he will compete alongside the other candidates for the honour of joining the army. You are to make it clear he is expected to report in the arena at midday tomorrow. Refusal will grant him a month's solitary."
Dylan's jaw dropped. Compete? Him? They were actually going to let him compete?
Tricia's final bow was fawningly low. "Of course, madam. I will ensure he is there."
"See that you do." As one, the overseers turned and left.
Mary's guardian dove through the doorway the instant she'd a chance. She hastened to her charge's side, demanding answers from the healers before they could give a proper diagnosis.
Tricia sank to the floor the moment the overseers were out of sight. "What have you done, child?" she whispered. "Did it not occur to you that the overseers were watching your every move?"
Dylan wet his lips. He'd not given a passing thought as to how the overseers would see this. But he was now allowed to compete, to have a chance to prove he was good enough to fight in the army. Just like he wanted. "I—"
"Have I not told you enough times that the world isn't safe? Why… why would you do this to me? Was I not good to you?"
Guilt gnawed at his gut. He'd heard of guardians who were harsh with their charges, sometimes brutally so. But whilst she could be strict, Tricia had never laid a hand on him. "Mother…"
She stood, seemingly composed once more. Yet she wouldn't look at him, instead choosing to brush her tunic clean. "Don't win. If you value your life, you will fail tomorrow's competition. Have them think this was a fluke and let another be leashed."
Fail? His pride wouldn't allow that. "You've always taught me to be the best I can be. If I'm competing tomorrow, then I will win."
Tricia lifted her head. "Yes." There was pride on her face, but it was small and overshadowed by a haunting sadness. "Then you will die."


Whew. It took so long to get this sorted out. I suck so badly at just rattling out action scenes. They always need several passes before they're vaguely readable.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Down the Path of Shadows Trailer

If you've signed on to my Patreon account you've likely already seen this, but for those who haven't... this is my trailer for Down the Path of Shadows...

Now tomorrow is when the second chapter for In Pain and Blood appears on Patreon and it sure was a blast to write. *ahem* You'll get the pun tomorrow, I'm sure. It'll be right here, on this blog, one week from now. Until then...