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Sadly, the holiday is over and I’m back to work. It’s always tough getting back to the desk after some time off. I probably shouldn’t complain though, so moving on!

There were some very interesting developments in the book world in the last few months, at least interesting to me. Three of my favorite book series are being planned as TV series. The Riftwar Cycle, by Raymond E. Feist, The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan, and The Dresden files, by Jim Butcher. Some of you will already know that one of these is not like the others. The Dresden files is actually a reboot, but I’m still excited, and while I didn’t mind the previous attempt too much, I’m hoping that they do a better job this time around, in particular the casting. I have no issue with Paul Blackstone personally, and I sort of like him in arrow, when I get time to watch it, but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that he was not a good cast for Dresden himself. I always felt that he was a little old for the role. I was asked during recently who I’d like to see portray Bob, and the first name that popped into my head was James Marsters, forgetting completely that he had done the audio books for the series. I could be way off base, but in my head, he feels right. I’m quietly hopeful that the other two series will be treated with respect and turn out okay. Of the two, I feel that The Wheel of Time will be the most challenging to do. A huge cast of characters, with almost every character having their own storyline, each storyline being a necessary thread in the story. It will make Game of Thrones look straight forward. I don’t envy the producers of that show. Then again, being able to work on something that epic may well be something to aspire to! The Riftwar Cycle, I think, will be the easier to adapt, owing to the way it’s written. Although it won’t be without its own difficulties. Once again, a huge cast of characters, a vast geography and in this case, time. The Rifwar Cycle takes place over 153 years. I think. It’s hard to pin down an exact number but that seems to be the commonly accepted timespan, give or take a few years I suppose. I’m not sure if Feist has given us a definitive number, maybe someone can let me know. In that time, characters come and go, as one would expect. But in that time, each story arc is huge. It’s a hell of an undertaking! In terms of books being adapted The Wheel of Time has the fewest books, coming in at fourteen, fifteen if you include the prequel. The Dresden files comes in second, with fifteen books and multiple short stories as I write this. The Riftwar cycle however has thirty books, with a connected trilogy written by Janny Wurts, and multiple short stories. No matter how you look at these series’, there’s a lot of material to be covered and I look forward to seeing them on screen, as long as they don’t end up like The Shannara chronicles …


November Update

It’s been a quiet month. Right! That’s the obvious out of the way. My time off went a little too well I think, and it’s been an absolute slog trying to get back to work. I guess that paraphrasing of Newton’s First Law of motion is correct, A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted upon by another force. While my fourth short is ready to go, the fifth is resisting me mightily. I’m halfway through it and it way past it’s deadline, but such is life I guess right now. With a little luck I’ll be back on track shortly. Speaking of being on track, the first part of my fourth short will be live to everyone on the 8th and a new blog will be live on the 15th. I hope you'll find them enjoyable. There’s little else going on at the moment, so I’m keeping this short and sweet. Hope you all had a Spooktacular Halloween! T.P.


Continuing on the HEMA theme, I thought I’d delve a little deeper in to some of my experiences. Most martial arts that I’m familiar with run tournaments of one sort or another, and HEMA is no different. Put a group of martial artists in a room and inevitably some will want to test their skills. I think it’s natural to want to compete, although personal reasons may vary. Some like to show off, some like to measure their level of skill, others see it as another form of training, and some do it for fun. I tend to see tournaments as another way to train, while also considering them to be fun. I’m not all about the winning, which is good, as I’m hopeless! Speaking from personal experience, Irish HEMA tournaments tend to be run in the same general way. Several pools of fighters compete, two fighters per bout, to get out of the pools stage. A bout usually consists of five exchanges, and an exchange stops when the judge sees a hit. An exchange could take anywhere from three seconds to a minute or two. Points are awarded based on the rule set being followed, which may differ from tournament to tournament, and the next exchange is run. Points are added up and a match winner is announced. Once the pools are completed, the top scoring fighters advance to the final matches, and before too much longer we have a winner. Due to word count constraints I’ve had to make it sound much drier than it really is. Once you’re familiar with the rules, it’s very exciting to watch. Taking part in a tournament is a very exhilarating experience. It is sometimes bewilderingly fast and over before you’ve managed to process what’s going on, and sometimes it’s moving carefully, slowly, searching for that perfect moment. Regardless of how it looks from the outside, there’s a strong mental aspect to each bout. You must go into each exchange with a plan, otherwise you’re reacting, and if you’re reacting then someone else is dictating your actions. It’s hard to win if you’re only reacting. Of course, not every plan will work, but if someone is going to hit you, at least make them work for it! As for what it’s like, wearing the gear. To start, the protective gear, consists of a fencing mask with back of head protection, a gorget for throat protection, a fencing jacket, gloves, elbow and forearm armour, knee and shin armour and, for the gentlemen, a mandatory groin guard. Ladies are encouraged to wear chest protection. All of this is of course checked by competition officials at the start of the day. Safety is most definitely our number one priority. Wearing it is hot, and tiring, but without it you won’t be competing, and it soaks up impacts, keeping you safe. It is a full contact martial art after all and some impacts, without the protective gear, will break bones. At the end of a tournament, you may be a little bruised and battered, but the way I see it, each bruise I get is a lesson to learn and I think that’s healthy. So, if you do decide to have a look at HEMA, don’t worry, everyone flinches the first few times they see a training sword coming straight at their mask. And if you decide that Tournaments are not for you, that too, is perfectly fine. Come join us, we have cookies!


September Update

Year two starts here! I’ll admit that I have little idea what the next 12 months will bring, beyond the current routine. The Short Stories will continue, as will the blog. I plan to continue updating the website, as normal, and to maintain my online presence.

In the Short term, I’ll be taking a few weeks holidays toward the end of the month as I’ve been working non-stop for the last year and my brain is informing me that I need to rest for a little. This will interfere a little with my October posting, and may cause a week or so of a delay, but I’ll let you all know for sure closer to the date. That’s as much as I have for you right now.


Year One!

I’ve been writing furiously these past few weeks, and I’ve been enjoying it. So much so in fact, that it almost escaped my notice that it’s been almost exactly a year since I began this journey. You might not have noticed of course, as most of you have only started following me in the last few months. Still, it is something to celebrate. I had different plans, when this all started. I was going to jump straight into working on a Graphic Novel, I had a plot worked out and an artist lined up to work with me, but life got in the way, as it frequently does. And so, to keep the pot boiling, I decided to write a blog. My reasoning was that it would keep me writing and make me feel as though I were still doing something, while background difficulties resolved themselves. Obviously they never did, but thankfully I was able to adapt and here we are today. In May I started thinking about the next twelve months, about what I wanted to accomplish, and I realised that rather than think about the next year, I needed to think about where I wanted to go. So I decided to start a Patreon Campaign, which you’ll know about by now. While I’m not expecting an income that I can live off, I think just being able to offset my hosting and domain rental costs would be nice! And who knows? It might grow over the years! Going through the process of setting up the campaign forced me to think harder about what I wanted to do, and so, I came up with a list of goals. You’ll have noticed them on the website by now I’m sure. These aren’t yearly goals, they’re ultimate goals to aim for. I’ll only take the next step when I think I’ve done enough work on the current step, and there’s always the chance that I won’t achieve some of them. I’m prepared for that. Failure isn’t something that scares me. What I hope is that working on one step will build the groundwork for the next. Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for all of your support? If I haven’t, then allow me to say it now. There are times when the writing doesn’t come so easy, and I despair of getting anything finished, but knowing that you’re out there helps more than I can say. So pat yourselves on the back. Good job! I think I’ll end this rambling blog post here, I’ve taken up enough of your time. I hope that you’ve enjoyed my meandering blogs over the last year or so and I hope that you’ll stay with me for the next year. Is Mise,

T.P. O’Dúnín

August Update

It’s August. I want to let you soak that in for a moment. August. For almost a full year I’ve been publishing blogs. Some of you have been with me from the start, some of you are only recently joined. I have a blog post coming out later this month specifically about this. I just thought I’d mention it here first!

For the upcoming month I’ve nothing planned. The site is trundling along well enough as it is, although I may spruce it up a little, just small things, nothing major. You may be interested to note that a new short is starting this month, which will be live in 13 days. I’ll also have the aforementioned blog post going live in 20 days. There’s not much more to say really, things are for the moment staying nice and quiet.

So a happy 1st birthday to me and hopefully there will be many more to come!

Thanks for helping me on my way!



I’ve mentioned HEMA previously, as one of my interests, and I’m occasionally asked, “why?” Firstly, for those of you who may not have read my previous blogs, I should tell you what HEMA is.

HEMA stands for Historical European Martial Arts and is the study and practice of Martial arts originating in the continent of Europe. There are numerous disciplines that make up HEMA, these include; Longsword, Sidesword, Saber, Rapier, Pole-weapons, Ringen (a form of wrestling), Sword and Buckler, and numerous others. The techniques associated with each discipline can be found, written down, in various treatises’ by various masters. These treatises’ usually need to be translated to modern English in order for them to be useful. Once translated, people all over the world try to make sense of what is being described. From there the techniques are disseminated down through various clubs and organisations throughout the world. From a personal standpoint, I was totally unaware of this process when I first joined my local club. I was concerned with only two things, I get to hit people with swords, and it’s a legitimate martial art! Once I had started training, I found a few muscle groups that, up to that point, I had been blissfully unaware of, and I also discovered that I loved working with Longswords. At the start the classes were very small, as my local club was only just getting off the ground, so occasionally I was the only student there. Those early training sessions were long, exhausting, and utterly enjoyable. Before long, the club began to grow, and today it’s one of the largest in the country and still growing.

The classes involve demonstrations of techniques, drilling, more drilling, sparring, and an inhouse league, where once a month we gear up fully and compete against our fellow clubmates. We participate in a national league and also host a leg of it, as well as hosting and travelling to various seminars. I’ve made many friends through HEMA, be they clubmates or people from other clubs near and far. So far I’ve not made any mortal enemies!

So why do I practice HEMA? Firstly, I enjoy it thoroughly, and secondly, as a way to keep physically fit, it excels. In relation to writing, I like to know how to handle a weapon and how it responds, and when I write about it, how it should be used and how it shouldn’t. It’s a small thing, to be sure, but hopefully the added detail makes my worlds feel a little more real. In some oft imagined distant future, I’d love to incorporate HEMA into movies and TV shows, as most of the weapon-based combat you see these days is not historically accurate and designed purely to look flashy. As several clubs have shown, just because it’s accurate, doesn’t mean that it can’t also be flashy! For an example of this can be found at this link -

If, after all this you think that HEMA sounds interesting, you should search for your nearest club. If you have any interest in Martial Arts and in wielding a sword, I think you’ll have a lot of fun, and who knows, perhaps you’ll turn out to be my nemesis!


The Stand: Part 3

“The men are ready.” Sabina advised, as she climbed back into the gatehouse. “At least, as ready as they can be.” Adesh nodded, watching as the two men ran towards the fort. “Let’s hope that this is as far as it goes. We have three archers?”
“Two, Julian and Alina. Oleg is the third.” “Make sure they’re ready on the wall, one each side of the gate house, I don’t want them too close to each other.” Sabina turned and dropped down the steps from the gatehouse, leaving Adesh on his own. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and mentally urged Stefan and Oleg on. He had no idea who was chasing them or how many, and having only a limited number of warriors, he couldn’t just rush out to them. They were on their own until they got to the gate. They were almost home safe now. Adesh peeled his eyes, searching behind the two men for any sign of the enemy. And then he saw them. A small group, they looked to be well armed, just standing at swirling edges of the fog bank, no more than half a mile distant. They were just standing now, watching. Adesh kept his eyes on them as Stefan and Oleg, reached the gate. A quick gesture from Adesh, and Sabina ordered the gates to be opened enough to let the two men inside. The group of warriors, turned around as they saw the gates opening and marched away, the fog swallowing them in minutes. Adesh breathed a sigh of relief and climbed down out of the gate house. The two men were leaning against the closed gate when Adesh arrived. One of the warriors ran past Adesh and handed Stefan a water skin. He pulled the stopper out of it and drank deeply before handing it to Oleg who accepted it gratefully. “They’re well-armed for bandits.” Stefan reported to the young captain. “Very well armed.”
“Did you find where they’re raiding from?” “Oleg found them.” Stefan reported. “I’d never have gotten close, but the man has Equola’s own eyes. He found sign where I couldn’t see a thing. They’re on an island, a mile or two up-river from the village, in the swamp.”
“Elanglas.” Oleg interrupted. “They’re on Elanglas island.” Sabina frowned. “Nobody goes there, at least nobody with half a mind.” “Why not?” Adesh asked. “I think there’s a colony of Aoshee there.” Sabina answered. “I’ve never seen any, but I’ve never been to the island. Supposedly, they get downright hostile if anyone tries to spend any time there.”
“Aoshee?” Stefan asked. “Surely they’re too small to bother anyone. I hear they’re more pest than threat.”
Sabina shrugged. “I’ve never seen one, but the older villagers say they’re dangerous and easy to underestimate.” “Those little pests aside.” Adesh cut in. “The island sounds perfect for them. It’s hard to get to and no one stays there.”
“Now they know that we know where they are, they surely won’t stay there.” Sabina added. “Probably not.” Adesh allowed. “But it’ll probably take them a little time to move. Did either of you get an idea of their numbers?” “To be honest, I was too busy with getting out of there.” Stefan admitted, uncomfortably. “Maybe twelve or so.” Oleg spoke up, confidently. “Two or three less now, I suppose.” “Well, we have them in numbers.” Adesh said thoughtfully. “If only just.” “They have better equipment.” Stefan reminded his younger friend.
“No real archers though.” Oleg countered. “Me an’ Julian, an’ Alina could take care of them, no problem.”
“Except for them being on an island that’s heavy with bushes and trees.” Stefan reminded Oleg.
“What ever we decide.” Adesh interrupted. “We’ll have to do it fast, before they move. Oleg, go grab yourself some food. Sabina, get the men to stand down. Back to normal duties and then come find me, I might have something figured out by then.” Stefan eyed the longhouse. “Any chance of food for me?” “Grab something and meet me in my quarters. I want a proper report of what you found.” * Stefan settled into the chair, a plate of meat and gravy in front of him, and slid a plate of cheese and bread across the table to Adesh. “Figured you wouldn’t be wanting anything heavy yet.” The older man commented. “Thanks.” Adesh replied, taking the plate. “So, tell me everything that happened after leaving here.” “Well, we went through the village at a fair clip. Oleg really moves when he wants to. We crossed the bridge and kept on going ‘till we found what was left of the wagons.” “Was there anything left?” Adesh asked, taking a bite of cheese.
“Nothing. They cleared out what they could and burnt everything they couldn’t carry. The horses were gone, the wagons broken and burnt, the weapons were all gone, as was all the armour and food.” “Fuck!” The young captain sighed. “Go on.” “Oleg found tracks from the bandits. They weren’t hard to find, even I could have followed them, at least for a short ways. They started to fade away, but Oleg said he could still follow them. He said they were heading for the swamp. Beats me why, you can’t move fast in there, but Oleg was certain.” “So, you followed them to this island, Elanglas, Oleg called it.” “Not right away, no. The trail led through the swamp, a couple of miles upriver, beyond the island. I didn’t even know there was an island there then, we weren’t close enough to the river to see it.” “How did you find them on the island?” “Thanks to Oleg, that’s how. We fetched up at the river bank, a few miles up river of the island, like I said. Oleg saw marks on the bank and said that they’d got on a boat there. I was ready to give up then. How were we going to track a boat on water? But Oleg, you wouldn’t think it, but he’s a canny bastard. He says that the river upstream of us shallows out for a fair bit and they’d never get a boat up there. Then he mentions the island. So we leave the horses there and start making our way back down the river.” “Seeing as you were on foot when you came back, I suppose the horses are still there?”
Stefan shook his head. “Sorry Adesh, they’re dead. There’s at least one or two good archers with those bandits.” “Something else to add to the tally.” Adesh lamented. “We can’t afford those kind of losses.” “Sorry Adesh. Nothing we could have done.” Adesh waved away the apology. “Can’t change what’s already done. Keep going, when were you spotted?” “Well we found the island, right where Oleg said it’d be, but there wasn’t much to see. There’s a lot of trees growing there, very old trees by the look. Oleg says that he thinks there might be a clearing on the other side of the island. He saw the far side of the island once when he was a boy. So we crossed the river, and worked our way down along the bank, carefully, and sure enough, there was a small clearing and a few boats.” “Let me guess.” Adesh interrupted. “At least one of those boats had a mast that could be taken down when needed.” “Just one.” Stefan confirmed. “Not bandits then.” Adesh said with certainty. “Smugglers.”
Stefan shrugged. “Oleg didn’t say anything about smugglers. We lit out of there once we found them, but someone must have spotted us. We were chased all the way back to our horses, but someone had got there ahead of us. If Oleg hadn’t pulled me out of the saddle I’d be dead. We spent the night in that fucking swamp, staying quiet and hiding while they searched for us. Managed to get past them sometime before dawn and spent the next few hours trying to stay ahead of them.” “Stay there.” Adesh ordered Stefan and walked to the door. He stuck his head out and whistled at a passing warrior. “Tell Oleg I want to see him.” He told the warrior. The man nodded and ran off. Stefan looked at him askance when he sat back down. “Just wait.” Adesh said, as he popped another piece of cheese into his mouth. Oleg knocked on the door a few minutes later and entered. “Captain?” He asked. “Is there anything grown around here that would interest smugglers?” “I don’t know as to that, Captain. I’m no farmer.” “You’re from the village, though.” “Uh, yes Captain. I don’t see what that has to do with anything, though.” Adesh leant forward on his desk and stared at the tracker. “Try again Oleg. Is there something grown here, that would interest smugglers?” Oleg slowly wilted under Adesh’s glare. “Mushrooms, Captain.” “Mushrooms? What kind of mushrooms?” “Blue Caps.” “Why on Saraphi’s earthly realm, would smugglers be interested in mushrooms?” Oleg shrugged. “Don’t know. Can’t eat them, they’re poisonous.” Stefan slapped his hand down on the desk. “Pas!” “Hmm?” Adesh asked, puzzled by Stefan’s outburst. “Pas, Adesh! Fucking Pas! Someone once told me that Pas is made from Blue Caps. I didn’t know Blue Caps were mushrooms.” “So, the smugglers take the mushrooms and ship them out from the island, probably to a larger ship offshore. No wonder they hide on an island no one wants to go near, in the middle of a swamp that no one bothers with. They’re probably making a small fortune.” “Which explains why they attacked the caravan. They can’t have the fort here, fully manned again, we’d spot the boat going down river and have the numbers to take it.” Stefan remarked thoughtfully. “And men enough to track them and hunt them down.” Adesh added. A sudden knock on the door interrupted Adesh. The door opened, and Sabina entered the room in a rush. “There looks to be a fire in the village.” She reported. “I’m sure the villagers have it in hand.” Adesh replied calmly. “By the time we get there, it’ll be out.” “It looks like it’s the entire village!” Sabina exclaimed. “The fog is starting to fade, but you can see the cloud of smoke easily. It’s huge.” Stefan looked at Adesh. “The smugglers?” Adesh returned Stefan’s look. “Who else? Sabina, I want half the warriors as armed and armoured as we can get them. The best of what we have. I don’t care what you have to do, just get it done.” Sabina left the room in a rush to get the men ready. “Stefan, you’ll stay here with the rest of the men. Lock the gates and keep a constant watch until we’re back. I don’t like how this smells.” “Where will you be?” Stefan asked, already knowing the answer. “I’ll be at the village. If I see any of the smugglers, I mean to engage them. Hopefully they’ll break and run, but if not, I’m going to try and draw them back here.” “Risky move.” “Short of trying to attack them on an island with no easy way to cross, I’ve little choice.” “Alright, we’ll be ready.” The two men stood and clasped wrists. “Stay safe.” Stefan urged Adesh. “Your father will never forgive me if anything happens to you.” Adesh laughed. “It’s my mother you should be wary of. She’s the one with connections.” The two men looked at each other, suddenly serious. “Any last words of advice?” Adesh asked with a smile.
“You’ll do fine. Keep your head clear, and don’t let them goad you. Just like I taught you.” * Adesh sat on his horse, just outside the village. Sabina had been right. Most of the village was aflame. Villagers were drawing water from a well and had formed a bucket line, but he could see that it was a futile gesture. The fires had spread too far. Sabina, on foot, trotted up beside him. Her mouth dropped open at the level of destruction. “We have to help them!” She urged her captain. “We can’t.” Adesh replied tersely. “The smugglers are out there somewhere, waiting. I know it.” “But the villagers!” “They can wait. What help will they have if we’re all killed?” “My parents could be in there!” Sabina protested. “I know Sabina, but you’re a warrior. Act like it!” Sabina’s back straightened sharply, and she glared at the young Captain. “What do you want me to do?” “Send Oleg around north of the village and Alina south. I want them to find those bastards. As soon as they do, they’re to report back. If they get to the far side of the village without finding anything they’re to come back. Understood?” Sabina nodded and turned back down the track to where the warriors were waiting. Adesh sighed and returned to his vigil, watching the village slowly consumed by fire. He hated waiting for action. The slow tightening of nerves, the sweating, the trembling, the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, watching for anything that signalled an end to the waiting. He hawked up some phlegm and spat on the ground. Already he could feel a headache starting as the tension built tighter and tighter. Not that he felt much better after a fight. At least during the action he could forget everything but what was going on at that very moment. He longed to go back and wait with his warriors just down the road, but the villagers deserved to be helped. He couldn’t give them what they needed, so instead he punished himself by watching. It was the least they deserved. He was so wrapped up in his vigil that he almost didn’t notice Sabina returning some time later. The fires were burning even more furiously now. “How can you stand to watch?” Sabina asked coldly. “Are the lives of the Clanless worth so little?” “I’m watching because it’s all I can do.” Adesh replied. “I’ll remember this for as long as I live and hate myself because there was nothing to be done but watch.” “Easy to say.” Sabina commented under her breath not quite silently enough. “Yes. Easy to say Sabina.” Adesh replied coolly. “I could have stayed at the fort, as would have been my right as Captain, I could have sent Stefan in my place. I chose to be here, knowing that there would be no help we could offer the villagers. I chose to sit here and watch the village burn, but you can rest assured that as soon as we located the smugglers I will destroy them for what they’ve done.” Sabina shrugged. “We’ll see.” The young Captain eyed the woman, with no small amount of irritation. “Sabina?” “Captain?” “Go back to the men!” “I’m staying to watch Captain. These are my people. If one of the high and mighty Clansmen says that all we can do for now is watch, then that’s what I’ll do.” Adesh rolled his neck, trying to ease some of the tension before replying. “Fine. If that’s what you need to do. Just shut your fucking mouth.” * Adesh lost track of time as he watched, waiting for his scouts to report back. Thirst brought him back to himself and he grabbed his small canteen. He swallowed a quick mouthful of the warm, brackish water, and then a second, trying to clear the taste of the smoke from his mouth. Sabina suddenly threw herself at Adesh and pulled him out of the saddle. An arrow flashed through the space just vacated by the young Captain as he crashed to the ground. Adesh jumped to his feet, dropping his canteen as he drew his sword. “Looks like they got tired of waiting for us.” He commented, wryly. “Seems like.” Sabina replied, as she turned to look back the trail. She whistled and the few warriors, less the two scouts, drew their well-worn swords. The warriors stayed low, and spread out, trying to avoid the attention of the enemy archers. Both Sabina and Adesh made their way back to the warriors, staying low. This was the most defensive part of the trail, on either side lay the swamp. If they moved forward the trail widened too much. “They’re coming.” One of the men said, pointing with his sword. Adesh turned to look and saw twelve warriors bearing down on them at a run. Adesh examined them coolly. They were all men save one, a slender, one armed woman, carrying a long-bladed sword with a fancy guard. They carried a variety of swords, some two handers, some single hand, their equipment looked expensive but there was no uniformity. Tightening his grip on his shield, he turned to his men. “Lock shields! I have the centre!” He shouted and turned back to face the oncoming smugglers. Sabina stood to his left, overlapping her shield with his, with two more warriors to her left, while the three remaining warriors took their places to Adesh’s right. “Hold those shields!” Adesh shouted. “Keep your heads down and watch your damn legs!” The warriors beat their shields in response, shouting wordlessly as the smugglers closed with them. Adesh’s heart pounded, fear and pride fighting within. These were his warriors. Their equipment might have been old and battered, and certainly they had been left to rot with their former captain, but they were ready and able. “Aratu, lord of the host, and warrior supreme, guide my sword.” Adesh prayed silently. And then the smugglers crashed into them. All around him, men grunted and swore, swords hammered off shields and somewhere, off to one side, someone was dying noisily. Adesh raised his shield slightly and intercepted a sword that would have decapitated the man to his right. Moments later the man returned the favour. A quick glance showed the smugglers trying to get around his right flank. “Ware right!” He shouted. “Ware right!” A smuggler with a two hander swung his long blade at Adesh. Sabina this time blocked the blow with her shield. The one-handed swordswoman was beside the man with the two-hander and saw her chance. Sweeping forward she thrust her sword into Sabina. The man to Sabina’s left tried to protect her with his shield, but wasn’t fast enough, only managing to divert the blade enough to cause Sabina a serious wound, rather than a mortal one. Adesh saw the woman curse as and pull back her blood wet blade and saw Sabina stagger. The woman ran forward and jumped, driving her feet into the warrior beside Sabina’s shield, forcing the man to take a step back. As she landed she stabbed the next warrior down in the side and then pulled back. Adesh cursed hotly. Sabina was still on her feet, but reeling, covered by the warrior to her left, the other warrior was dead. His left flank was wide open. The smugglers were taking casualties too though, four of them were either wounded or dead. That still left them with eight to his six. “Hold!” Adesh shouted. “Aratu watches us!” Adesh’s warriors shouted wordlessly as they continued to hold back the smugglers. The young captain blocked another blade aimed at Sabina, who growled, and stabbed the smuggler before he could recover from Adesh’s block. The smuggler fell and tripped the man behind him. Adesh kicked the fallen man in the jaw, feeling teeth crunch as his boot made contact. Adesh grinned as he blocked and swung. Now it was a fair fight. They had a chance. The smugglers were beginning to look behind them, as the fight began to turn against them. The swordswoman shouted in anger and attacked the last man on Adesh’s right flank, smashing the man’s shield aside and gutting him with vicious slash, before turning on the next warrior, stabbing him in the side, as he defended against another smuggler. He, too, fell, opening the next warrior to attack. It was to Sabina’s credit, wounded as she was, that she saw what had happened. She grabbed the warrior to her left and pulled him close, as Adesh pulled the warrior to his right out of the swordswoman’s line of attack. The smugglers, who had been on the verge of running away moments earlier, cheered and rushed the four remaining warriors. This was it. Adesh realised. A last stand that his father, and even his mother, could be proud of. Certainly, they were only smugglers and not enemy warriors, but a fight was a fight and he stayed with his men. “Back to back!” Adesh shouted, knowing that it was a futile gesture and would only serve to delay the end. Six smugglers against his four warriors, and one of them wounded badly. Long odds. His shield set, he braced himself and set about making sure that the smugglers paid dearly. He worked his sword and shield with all the skill he could muster, thankful for the years he spent learning the ways of the blade and the shield from his father and Stefan. He killed another smuggler but felt the warrior behind him fall, almost tripping him. He danced away from the fallen man, but only managed to separate himself from Sabina and the last standing warrior and found himself facing the swordswoman. She almost killed him a second later as her sword lanced over the top of his shield. Her blade skidded off the shoulder plates atop his breastplate. Without a moment’s pause, Adesh angled his shield and thrust forward, driving the steel rimmed edge into the woman’s chest. She skidded back and grimaced. Adesh pushed forward again, refusing to give the swordswoman a chance to recover. Even still, she managed to parry his cuts and thrusts and Adesh knew that without his shield, he’d be dead. She was incredible, even lacking an arm, her balance was perfect, and her cuts and thrusts were controlled and economical. The young captain had never fought anyone using her style before, but he adapted as best he could. They traded cuts and thrusts, back and forth for several minutes, inflicting small cuts on each other, evidence of their ability to, almost but not quite, land a killing blow. Adesh shouted as he kept the pressure on the woman, keeping his blood up, but his arms were tiring, his legs felt heavy. It wouldn’t be long now. The woman shouted back at him and swept his blade attack aside. Suddenly, her eyes widened and she stumbled. A feathered arrow jutted from her offside shoulder. Adesh drove himself forward and attempted to slam his shield into her face, sweeping his blade low to gut her. The woman threw her self backwards, falling to the ground. Without a moment’s pause, she rolled to the side as the young captain kicked out at her. The woman used her momentum to regain her feet and again knocked Adesh’s blade aside. Her face had turned pale, as the act of rolling aside from Adesh’s kick had snapped the shaft of the arrow in her shoulder. Another arrow slammed into the dirt of the track beside the woman’s feet. “Drop your sword.” Adesh ordered harshly. “It’s over.” The woman spat at the young Captain and turned and ran. Another arrow shot split the air beside Adesh, aimed at the fleeing woman but somehow, she managed to dodge at the right moment. Adesh’s horse had wandered off the trail a little and the woman had seen it. She leapt into the saddle and drove her heels into the horse’s sides as another arrow whistled past her. And then she was gone, hugging the horse’s neck as more arrows sliced through the air around her. Adesh turned to look for Sabina and his last warrior, and found them only a few paces away, the warrior standing over Sabina, two dead smugglers at his feet and another kneeling on the ground, sword thrown to his feet. He looked around and spotted Oleg wading through the swamp from a small hillock little wider than the archer himself. A quick check on Sabina showed that while the wound was serious enough, if the Gods were kind, it wouldn’t kill her. She’d taken the flat of a blade to the head, leaving a long shallow cut. The final warrior had himself taken several wounds, but nothing too deep or serious. A few minutes later, Oleg pulled himself back onto the trail and lay on his back on the ground, panting. “Are you alright?” Adesh asked concerned. “Fucking tip top, captain. Lost my damned boots in there somewhere.” “Where’s Alina?” “Dead.” Oleg said, with regret. “She tumbled onto two of their archers. I saw it happen. They did for her, but I did for them. Sorry I wasn’t here sooner.” “Don’t worry about it. What’s done is done and can’t be changed.” Oleg grunted. “Fair point.” “Come on.” Adesh sighed. “We need to get something from the village to make a litter. Sabina needs help before she bleeds out.” Oleg grunted again. “Looks like the villagers are turning out to help. What’s left of ‘em.” Adesh turned to look back at the village, and sure enough, several of the locals, blackened from fire and smoke, were heading towards them. It took him two tries to sheath his sword, and he sighed as he sat down beside the archer. * Adesh walked along the battlements of the fort. It was several days since the burning of Wayr and the fight with the smugglers. He could still feel the stiffness in his muscles and the soreness from every one of his cuts and bruises but it felt good to be alive. He’d lost all but three of his warriors in the engagement, they’d not made it easy and the smugglers had paid in blood. The village had been all but burnt to the ground, the only building left standing being the shrine to Saraphi. A miracle some were calling it. Adesh had snorted when he’d heard that. It was more likely that the building survived intact because it was separated from the rest of the village. He turned to look over the wall, out over the cliffs to the ocean beyond. “Enjoying the view?” Stefan asked as he walked along the battlements and stood beside his young Captain. “It’s better than looking the other way.” “I heard the villagers are asking if they can rebuild around the fort.” “I agreed to their request. No reason not to. We’ll mark out a boundary line and dig a ditch around the fort. What did you find on the island?” “Not much. Oleg covered me from the bank while I swam over and snagged a boat. The place was cleared out pretty well. Nothing left but a bunch of very pissed off Aoshee.” Adesh glanced at Stefan and smiled. “I hope they didn’t hurt you too much.” Stefan rolled his eyes. “I’ve got scratches and bite marks in places no self-respecting warrior should have, ‘cept if there was a woman involved.” “You’ll get over it.” Stefan grinned. “Anyone asks, I’ll just say I tumbled a village girl. Who’s to know different?” Adesh pulled a sealed letter from a pocket and handed it to the older man. Stefan turned it over in his hands. “What’s this?” “A letter. I want you to take it to Galis, to my father. We need more warriors here, to make up for what we lost, and then some.” Stefan nodded slowly and slid the letter under his breast plate. “Do you want me to pass any message onto your mother?” Adesh shrugged. “The usual. She’ll know anyway.” “But she’ll want to hear it.” Stefan added. “How’s Sabina?” “Healing. She was hobbling around this morning shouting at Julian for something. I had to order her to go back to bed and rest.” “Remarkable woman.” Stefan commented. “She is that.” Adesh agreed. “Why don’t you go make sure she’s still resting, as she’s supposed to be?”

July Update

Well we’re just powering through this year. Over halfway through 2018 and I’m fairly happy with how things are progressing. Currently, parts one, and two, of The Stand are live on the website with part three coming on the ninth of July. The blog continues on and by August, the little personal stories that I append to each blog entry may come to an end as that should bring us right up to date. In the background my third short story, as yet unnamed, is edited and ready to be uploaded, the notes and background material of the second short are ready to go live on the site following the upload of part three and I have several more blogs ready to go. I think I’m on top of things for the moment. Which brings me to my next point, some news! I’ve spoken in the last few months about starting a Patreon Campaign and I’m pleased to announce that it’s now live. There is a series of rewards for your support, the first of which will be a regular live chat with me. I’ve no idea what the chat will be about yet, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something. What I do know, at least right now, is that the Live Chat will be hosted on Discord. For those of you unfamiliar with the platform, it’s generally used by gamers and the like, and hosts voice, and text group chat. I have no plans as of now to use the voice chat function. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future, just not right now. The use of Discord will necessitate logging in and such, but as you can sign in with your Facebook account details, it should, hopefully, be a simple process.

I’m changing my uploads, both Blogs and Short Stories, to Monthly rather than the current three-week rotation. That will slow down the blogs a little but shouldn’t affect the Short Stories too much. Right now, a full short story is started every 12 weeks, which is as close as makes no difference to 3 months. This will make scheduling things a little easier for me and make everything more predictable. It also means an easier integration with Patreon. The changes to the uploads will begin in August, which will allow me to complete The Stand as scheduled. You may have noticed that I’ve changed the home page of the website to reflect the Patreon campaign. This will be its current format for the next while and then I may consider some more changes. I’ll see how things go.

So, to recap, Patreon Campaign, a longer wait for Blogs but no real change to delivery of Short Stories, an altered website Homepage, and live chat! Hooray? That’s everything for now, I look forward to updating you again next month! T.P.

Free Wheeling

I’ve been reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time lately and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. This will mark the first time that I’ve read the entire series, start to finish, without having to wait for the next book in the series to be published. I know some people are intimidated by the sheer scope of the series and I fully acknowledge that it has its flaws, but what series doesn’t? I’m awed by what Jordan managed to create, a series twenty-three years in the making; it never fails to make me sad that he never got to see it completed. I’d like to think, that after I’ve kicked the bucket, I’ll have left behind a body of work that’s almost as good. Writing this, it’s also occurred to me that many of the fantasy writers that I have followed for many years are all getting old or have died. Raymond E Feist is seventy-two, George R.R. Martin is sixty-nine, Terry Brooks is seventy-four, and David Gemmell is dead, as is David Eddings. Thankfully some of my other favourite authors are much younger, so there’s some solace there! Currently, if I could only read one author, it’d be Jim Butcher. I like his style and his sense of humour, not to mention that his characters just feel, real. It’s something I’d very much like to be able to pull off. Ah well, practice, practice, practice, as they say.

Getting back to the Wheel of Time, one of the things I’ve noticed about it, and others agree, is that while Rand is the main character, the hub of the story, it’s Mat who is by far the more interesting individual. Rand starts out interesting enough, to be sure, but Mat overtakes him and leaves him for dead. Poor Perrin never really had a look in. Rand begins as a relatively three-dimensional character, albeit one that needs more fleshing out, and Mat starts as a typical second tier character, the moral support, the friend who needs help, colour for the story. But around the time Mat leaves the White tower, Rand is already complaining about his fate and starting to become more like a support character, while Mat just keeps getting better and better. I’ll allow that this might be a symptom of the series being planned, originally, for a mere six books and then being extended to fourteen. I don’t know what the planning process was like, but I imagine that if the original plan had been adhered to, Rand may have remained an interesting character; however, perhaps we then wouldn’t have gotten the Mat we know now. In any case, I doubt this will be a problem I’ll ever have.

Back in the ancient past, I had taken a hiatus from attempts at writing the great novel and made the switch to film and television production. Over the course of two years, I was able to flesh out one of my worlds, create the beginnings of a television series (project work, not an actual real TV series!), I composed music, worked on studio and location pieces, and had an absolute blast. Granted there were modules I hated, but that’s to be expected, I think, for any cours . Let us never again mention Media Analysis and Production Management! T.P. [FR1]Using course twice..

The Stand: Part 2

He may have been in a deep sleep, but Stefan was an old campaigner, ready to wake at a moment’s notice, and his training didn’t fail him now. He rolled out of his bed as a knife struck downwards to where his chest would have been. He lashed out with a leg and struck his attacker in the thigh. No damage done but it pushed the enemy off balance for a moment, giving him the time to grab his own sword. Adesh had been forced to back up towards the wall, his sword held point towards his enemy. The man lunged forward, slapping Adesh’s blade aside and driving his knife forward, straight at Adesh’s chest. It was a good move, a sign that the man knew what he was doing, but so did Adesh and he was wise to the move. He grabbed the knifeman’s wrist and rather than block it he pushed it to one side, forcing the man to turn, and slammed his forehead down on the man’s nose. The crunch of cartilage was audible, and the man grunted in pain. Using the attacker’s distraction, Adesh dropped his sword from his right hand and grabbed it out of the air with his left. He whipped his sword up, pommel first, into the man’s jaw, driving the attacker back and then thrust his sword into the knifeman’s chest. Stefan had his arm around his attacker’s neck and was slowly suffocating him. The man had already stopped fighting, but Stefan liked to be sure that someone was actually incapacitated rather than faking it. A minute or so later he let go and his attacker dropped bonelessly to the floor. Already, they could hear other people in the inn shouting. The two men dressed as quickly as they could. “What do you think that was about?” Adesh asked, as he pulled his tunic over his head. “Damned if I know. The only person we pissed off was Prasad and he’s not this stupid.” “Are you sure?” “No.” Stefan replied grimly as he belted on his sword. “We should go find out.” * The innkeeper was less than pleased with the damage to the room, but some extra coins from Adesh calmed him down. Some more coins and the innkeeper promised to take care of the dead man. What ever that meant. Meanwhile, Stefan had dragged the unconscious assassin down the stairs, with a distinct lack of care, and tied him to a chair in the tap room despite the innkeeper’s protests. A solid slap to the face roused the man, and a bucket of filthy water poured over him brought the assassin back to his senses. More or less. He looked around him and assessed the situation. “Fuck.” The assassin spat. Stefan dragged a chair over and sat directly in front of the man. “That sums things up nicely.” He confirmed. Adesh stood beside Stefan and glared at the assassin. “Why did you try to kill us?” The assassin shrugged as best he could. “It was just a job. Nothing personal, like.” “Who hired you? Why?” Adesh demanded, balling up his fists. Stefan sat back in his chair and watched the assassin carefully. The assassin glanced at Adesh and dismissed him, instead focusing on Stefan. “How much?” He asked flatly. Adesh took a step forward and glared at the assassin. “I asked you a question!” “And I ignored it.” The man replied before looking back to Stefan. “How much do you want?” Adesh stepped forward again, moving closer to the assassin, his eyes full of anger. Stefan held out his arm, stopping Adesh from moving closer. “How much for what?” Stefan asked carefully. “How much to let me go and forget all about this?” The man answered confidently. Stefan nodded thoughtfully before lunging forward and driving his fist into the assassin’s chin. The chair rocked back on its legs and fell backwards on the floor, the man still tied securely but now unconscious again. “Why’d you do that?” Adesh asked curiously. Stefan reached down to the assassin and pulled him, and the chair, back upright. “I missed something.” He replied. “Something?” “He was baiting you, he wanted you closer.” “Baiting me?” Stefan shrugged. “Easy enough to spot when you’re not the one being baited I guess.” Stefan felt up and down the arms of the assassin for the second time in under twenty minutes and checked the man’s legs. Everywhere he could think of but couldn’t find anything. Adesh was watching carefully out of Stefan’s way. He’d never had to do this before, so it was a valuable experience as far as he was concerned. “I can’t find anything on him.” Stefan announced, puzzled. “But he definitely had a plan.” Adesh looked at the assassin, eyeing him up from head to toe before spotting something odd. “You didn’t happen to hit him in the throat did you?” “What?” Stefan asked. “His throat? No. Why?” “Looks a little swollen on the side.” The young captain observed. Stefan held the assassin’s head to one side and examined his neck, making a thoughtful sound. He turned the assassin’s head again and held open the man’s mouth, taking a quick look inside. “Bring a candle over here will you?” He asked. Adesh grabbed a candle and held it where Stefan indicated. “Found something?” “Maybe.” Stefan allowed. “Actually yeah. I found his little trick. He’s got a venom sac in his throat. He can spit poison at you, if you’re close enough.” “How in Fritan’s cold hell, do you get that?” Stefan shrugged. “No idea. Only heard of it once before. I thought it was just another taproom tale.” “So what now?” Stefan pulled out a small dagger and let the tip slice softly into the swelling on the man’s neck as he replied coldly. “Now we start again.” * Another bucket of water roused the assassin again, this one cleaner than the last. The man spat water and glared sullenly at Stefan. “Let’s start again.” Stefan suggested coolly, taking a seat again in front of the assassin. “Let’s not.” The assassin muttered. “That hurt. Any more of that and I might take it personal.” “Take it what ever way you want.” Stefan advised, leaning forward. “But know that you won’t be poisoning anyone anymore.” The assassin’s eyes widened and his arms jerked as he tried to free them from the chair. Stefan sat back and smiled, satisfied. “That’s more like it. You just needed to know how things stood.” “Fuck you!” The assassin spat. “You can walk out of here, or you can die on the chair. All I want is answers. Who hired you?” “Fuck off.” “Suit yourself.” Stefan shrugged, showing the assassin the long knife in his hand. “You think your threats mean anything to me?” The assassin laughed. “Either cut my throat or fuck off.” Stefan smiled. “I have all day to work on you. I’m going to break your fingers first, then your toes. One at a time. Maybe you’ll talk then.” “Do your worst. I can wait.” The assassin spat defiantly. Stefan held out a hand and Adesh handed him a large wooden mallet, just like they’d rehearsed. He examined the mallet, making sure the assassin got a good look at it. “Not what I’d prefer to use, but the innkeeper didn’t have anything better.” The older man commented, watching their prisoner closely. “Just get on with – “ The assassin began. Stefan, without warning, slammed the mallet down on the assassin’s nearest finger, where it rested on the arm of the chair. The assassin’s eyes bulged as he bit back a scream. Behind him, Adesh swore and turned away, his face turning green. “Listen, you little bastard.” Stefan hissed as he raised the mallet again. “You tried to kill me. That’s more than personal enough for me, so I’m quite happy to do as I promised. One finger at a time, one toe at a time. If you’re not talking after that, then I’ll move to wrists and ankles, then knees and elbows. If you still refuse to talk, I’ll take my knife and cut your stones off. So answer my fucking question and save us all some time. Who hired you?” The assassin took a deep breath and smiled. A fleck of bloody foam appeared at the corner of his mouth, followed by more, and more. “Fuck off.” The man choked out before he slumped forward in the chair. “Shit.” Stefan swore as he dropped the mallet and stood up.
“What happened?” Adesh asked as he wiped his mouth.
The old warrior shrugged. “Looks like he had one last trick left.” * “So what now?” Adesh asked Stefan, as the stableman dragged the dead assassin out of the inn. “That’s up to you, isn’t it?” The young captain grimaced. “I’m a little out of my depth with this. Running a camp, I can do, commanding a unit in a fight, I can do. But assassins? No one taught me anything about them.” Stefan clapped Adesh on the shoulder. “That’s the burden of command. Look, the way I see it, you don’t have to worry about assassins, they’re just another weapon, and with any weapon, it’s the person using it you need to concern yourself with.” “That’s all well and good, but we don’t know who sent them. Or why.” Stefan scratched his head. “Fair point. It’s certainly a problem. I’m glad I’m not the one in command.” “You’re no bloody help. Get the horses saddled and I’ll deal with the innkeeper. We’re going to be around for a while, so we might as well keep him happy.” “Back to the fort then, I take it.” Stefan grinned. “Seeing as Prasad is the only person we’ve pissed off since we arrived, we’ll start with him.” * “Well shit.” Stefan swore loudly as he stood in Prasad’s quarters. “Yeah.” Adesh agreed. Prasad’s quarters were gloomy and dark, the shutters didn’t look like they’d been opened in years and were most likely swollen shut. The coppery smell in the air was new though, as was the blood soaking the bed that Prasad and his woman occupied. Both had clearly been dead for several hours, their throats cut cleanly. “Well there’s fuck all to be done now but clear it all out.” “This does tell us one important thing.” Adesh observed thoughtfully. “What’s that?” “It can’t be a coincidence that we were attacked on the same night. Whatever this is all about, it came about because we’re here.” Stefan stroked his chin, thinking it through before replying. “It could be a coincidence, but probably not; even odds says you’re right.” “Keep your eyes open. We don’t know any of these men, or if the only people here involved were the assassins who tried to kill us. I have a job to do here and I’m going to do it.” “Done. I’ll get someone to clear these quarters out and have them aired as I’m at it.” “And find out who was acting as Prasad’s second, send him to me. Maybe he knows something. I’ll wait in the longhouse.” * A short, stocky woman showed up less than a half hour later as Adesh was chewing on a dry piece of bread, a mug of water in front of him. “You the new captain?” The woman asked. “I am.” Adesh confirmed as he dropped the bread on to his plate and dusted off his hands. “Who’re you?” “Sabina Jindrova. I ran things for Prasad. You kill him?” Adesh sat up straighter in his chair and looked over the woman again, liking what he saw. Though her tunic and trousers were worn, they were neat and more or less clean. “You’re direct. That works for me. No, I didn’t, I was back in the village with Stefan, getting drunk.” Sabina snorted. “This place will do that to you. Stefan. He the big lummox outside? All arm no brain?” Adesh laughed. “He’s smarter than he looks.” “He’d have to be.” The woman observed. “You were Prasad’s second. Where were you yesterday? “Home. My father is sick and I was helping my brothers out a bit. I’d still be there but I heard there was something going on here. Look captain, what’s going on? I get back here and Prasad’s dead and you’re digging around.” Adesh shrugged. “I was sent here to clean this place up and replace Prasad, not kill him. I need to know where to start.” Sabina snorted. “Clean up? The only thing you can do here is burn it all down and start again somewhere else.” “That bad?” “Worse. There’s bandits, smugglers, and pirates all along the coast, and sometimes we get raided by one of the fucking herder tribes.” “How did Prasad deal with it?” Sabina hesitated. “It’s not right to speak ill of the dead captain.” “Maybe not. I need to start working this mess out though. It might be easier to burn it all down, but the High Lord wouldn’t be very happy about it, not to mention the villagers. What would they do without us here to keep them safe?” “Safe?” Sabina scoffed bitterly. “Prasad made sure that smugglers could come and go as they pleased. We only turned out for bandits and herder raids, and late at that.” “Are you saying that Prasad took money from the smugglers?” “Money, drugs, women, whatever they offered.” Sabina spat. “Why do you think everyone here is so miserable? We’re all from around here and Prasad punished anyone who tried to stop the smugglers.” Adesh drank off the rest of his water. “That’s going to change. You’ll stay in charge of the men. They know you, but you’ll report to Stefan and he’ll report to me.” “So I won’t remain as second?” “It’s nothing personal Sabina. Stefan will be the fort’s second, but I’ll make sure that you keep your pay.” “Thank you, Captain.” “What can you tell me about the men? Any obvious trouble makers? Anyone who should get booted out now that Prasad is gone?” “The men are rough around the edges, I know Captain, but they’re solid. They’re just frustrated that they can’t do what they’re supposed to. What we need is better equipment. We haven’t had anything like proper armour in years, we need new spears, shields, swords...” Adesh waved away Sabina’s concerns. “I already thought of that before I left Galis. I requested a blacksmith to join the fort, and an engineer. They’ll be here within the week, with supplies.” Sabina looked like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders as she heard the news. “Honest word?” “All of it. I want you to spread word to the men.” Adesh continued, noting the woman’s relief. “We’re only at half strength so any young men or women who want to join us are welcome. They’ll get basic pay, food, quarters here in the fort, training and equipment.” “I don’t know if we’ll get any recruits.” Sabina admitted sourly. “We’re not very popular with the rest of the villagers. Most of us don’t go home very often. It makes trouble for our families.” “Just let it be known that we’re recruiting. In time, I’m sure everything will work out.” Adesh told her confidently. * Adesh woke to someone banging on his bedroom door. He rolled naked out of bed and grabbed his sword. He bared the blade as his door burst open and stood ready. Stefan stomped into the room and glanced at the younger man. “Good, you’re awake. Come on, we have a problem.” Stefan announced. Adesh blinked; and lowered his blade uncertainly. “What?” “Weren’t you listening? We have a problem. Get dressed. Quickly.” Adesh frowned but tossed his sword onto his bed and started pulling on his clothes. “What’s happened?” Adesh asked, as he pulled on a pair of warm, woollen trousers. “Someone attacked the supply caravan.” Stefan replied, gravely. “One of the men managed to get away. It’s a wonder he got this far, Fritan herself must have decided that it wasn’t his time.” “Did he give any details? Where? Who?” Adesh asked, as he grabbed his boots. “A few hours out of the village. Bandits, he said.” Adesh grunted and stood up. He grabbed his sword and sheathed it. “Get Sabina, tell her I want to see her immediately in the longhouse.” Stefan nodded and ran out of the room. The younger man sighed and secured his sword belt before kicking the leg of his bed in annoyance. Nothing was going as it was supposed to. When he’d first been told he was being sent to Wayr, he had imagined a well-run, if aging, bastion against raiders and smugglers. He had expected that he would be greeted cordially by the commander in place. He had expected to find a well-trained, well equipped garrison. Why shouldn’t he expect these things? Wayr might be remote, but it was a frontier garrison. Instead he had found a fort beset by rot and decay, manned by warriors who had turned to drink to manage their frustrations. He had expected that the garrison would need modernising, that the soldiers would need fresh equipment and horses. He couldn’t have known just how badly these things were needed. Was this how it was going to be out here? Disappointment stacked upon more disappointment? He kicked the leg of the bed again. “Not if I have anything to say about it!” He muttered under his breath as he left his room, banging the door closed behind him. * Sabina was waiting for him in the longhouse, supping from a bowl of soup in her hands. A large kettle of soup bubbled merrily over the fire nearest her and filled the longhouse with a rich, meaty smell. Adesh grabbed a clean bowl from a nearby table and dipped a ladle into the soup, filling his bowl. He glanced at her as he poured. “Tell me about the bandits.” He ordered curtly. “We don’t know where they base themselves.” She reported. “They’ve been around for the last ten years or so, but they don’t raid regularly, and never from the same quarter. They attacked the village a few years ago, and that’s the last we heard of them, ‘till now.” Adesh pulled a chunk of bread from a nearby loaf and dipped it in his soup. “Why has nothing ever been done about them?”
“Captain Hannano’s decision. We all wanted to go after them, especially after they attacked the village, but he said no. A few of the men went looking for them anyway, but none of them ever returned.” “Does anyone have any idea where they might be hiding?” Sabina shook her head. “No one knows.” “Alright. Do we have any trackers among the men? Any hunters?” “Oleg.” “Is he sober?” Sabina shrugged. “Sober enough, I guess.” “Get him geared up and get him a horse. I’ll send Stefan out with him. I want him to go to where the caravan was raided and track those bastards down.” Sabina finished off her soup and nodded. “I’ll see it done.” * As much as Adesh would have liked to sit around and wait for Stefan to return with Oleg, there was plenty of work that needed to be done around the fort, as well as Adesh’s daily duties. For the rest of the day, and the next, he worked the men hard, keeping everyone busy. The walls of the fort were slowly being repaired, as much as they could be. He was no engineer and the men were not skilled at dressing stone properly. The walls were at least looking cleaner. He’d had the men off duty cleaning off the weeds and grass as they went. A few of parts of the battlements had to be cordoned off until such a time as they could be made safe. Sabina had organised one of the villagers to come and oversee the thatch being replaced on the longhouse. Winter was only a few months away and Adesh really wanted most of the work to be done by then. Come spring he hoped to have a solid plan to return wooden shingles to the buildings, as they were originally designed to have. The young captain climbed the new steps up to the gatehouse for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. He couldn’t see that far, a fog had risen during the morning and as was normal here, wouldn’t burn off until around midday. A day and a half had now passed since Stefan and Oleg had ridden out. He was worried but trying to hide it. Sabina had stopped trying to reassure him after the last time he had snapped at her. He’d apologised, but she’d been staying out of his way since. Carrying out her duties as though nothing was wrong. A shout from one of the guard towers brought him out of his reverie. He leaned forward, resting his hands on the edges of the battlements, and stared up the track. Two men on foot were hurrying out of the fog towards the fort. As he watched, the figure bringing up the rear stopped and turned around, loosing an arrow at something Adesh couldn’t see. He shouted down to the nearest of the fort’s warriors to fetch Sabina and to pass the word, every man was to get into what ever armour they had. Sabina appeared moments later, already wearing her much-mended gambeson and carrying her captain’s gambeson and breastplate. “What’s happening?” She asked, as she climbed up into the gatehouse. “Thanks.” He said gratefully as he took his armour from her. He pointed back up the track towards the approaching men. “Close the gates and have everyone ready for an attack.” Sabina nodded and dropped back down the steps, shouting at every warrior she could see, to get ready.

Lost in Sci-Fi

Inspiration has been a little lacking lately, when it comes to my Blog posts. Maybe this is because I have gone so long without having to write a post, or because I’m so focused on the Short Stories now. It may also have something to do with the fact that I have a full-time job outside of all of this. Writing is my passion, but it doesn’t pay the bills! At least not yet.

I recently started watching Lost in Space on Netflix. I have enjoyed it so far, but I havent’s seen it all yet, so don’t spoil it for me! What I’d really like to see is a more military Sci-Fi, StarTrek: Discovery tried, but there was something about it, I couldn’t really enjoy it. The sets were nice, the SFX were about what we expect from StarTrek but there was just something off about the whole thing. The Spore Drive. It was totally the Spore Drive. What I’m craving is something more akin to The Expanse, or Battlestar Galactica, which are both amazing, and if you haven’t watched any of them, you should totally start right this moment. There’s a series of books I read some time ago, a series that I plan to return to soon, called “The Lost Fleet” written by Jack Campbell. I would absolutely love to see it as a TV Series. Will it happen? Probably not. It’d be ridiculously expensive and too drawn out I suspect. Not to mention the amount of ships they’d have to design and render. Still, it’s something I long for.

It’s just all this dumbing down by the various networks annoys me. Space is hard. It’s the hardest thing we try to do (although apparently, it’s easier to do than not shitting on our own doorstep! (Hello eight million metric tons of plastic in our oceans!!!)) Why is it so hard to focus on that? The Expanse does it, to a certain degree. I’m sure there have been others. I honestly think that I’m happier watching a hard Sci-Fi where other humans are the enemy rather than one where aliens are the enemy. It’s easier to accept that we’ll never all agree on anything regardless of when or where, than to accept contact with aliens. What does that say about me as a person? Back to my constantly failing projects, we’re into the noughties! The world now is a very different place. We’re post 9/11, post Gulf War part 2, terrorism is on the rise, and I’m more concerned about paying bills and trying to get a project completed. One balmy (for Ireland) Saturday night, having had a few drinks with some old friends, we were accosted by a car advertising a local strip club. So we piled in and off we went. While in this establishment, I went to the smoking area. Being drunk and chatty I had a conversation with a man I’d never met before, nor since, and learned of a filmmaking course in a local college. Because where else do you learn about these things? I there and then decided that I was going to apply for the course. And I did. T.P.

© ODunin 2021