News: ‘Snatching the Lute’ published in Bards and Sages Quarterly, Vol VII, III (July 2015)

Pleased to see a home for my heroic fantasy piece, ‘Snatching the Lute’ published. It features the minstrel Leon of Clavellmeadow, a character I created in my Evyntyde universe, and where he discovers he isn’t the lady killer he thought he was.


Market News: Snatching the Lute, short story, accepted by Bards and Sages Quarterly

Very pleased to see my odd fantasy piece, 'Snatching The Lute', accepted by Bards and Sages Quarterly. This story is set in my Evyntyde universe, and it is always a pleasure to add stories into the marketplace from that milieu – the 10th in fact. It will be published in June 2015.

Market News: short story, ‘Husks’, accepted by Sword and Sorcery Magazine

While I write a lot of horror/dark fantasy, and my greatest success seems to be in the science fiction field, I still get a kick out of epic/high/heroic fantasy. I've sold a few, but not as many as I would like. Today I sold 'Husks', an Evyntyde story, featuring Myleana, newly appointed second-in-charge to the King's Astrologer, Grisbier. She is powerful, insightful, resourceful, but she has a fatal weakness. This story determines whether she overcomes it, or succumbs.

I believe the story will be published in only a matter of days.

Market News: Young Adult fantasy story, Enryk’s Strife, accepted for Frost Fire Worlds.

It seems Frost Fire Worlds like me, as this is my second sale to them. My fantasy piece, and Evyntyde story called 'Enryk's Strife' (harkening back to the Cockney Rhyme, 'trouble and strife', will be published in the February 2014 edition. While a classic heroic fantasy piece on the surface, it has to say something about gender roles.

New Year’s Resolutions

Well, I suppose I better get into the spirit. It is also a handy way of putting on record my goals (notably in writing).

So here it goes:

  1. Be a more tolerant dad. My daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome and, well, anyone who knows what I and my wife goes through, knows what I mean.
  2. Be a great dad and husband.
  3. Lose weight. I have never been heavier, and so my goal for the year is to lose 20kgs. That’s a tough one.
  4. Read more. As a writer I need to read – one of the cornerstones of being good at the craft (target: 24 books)
  5. Outline Bitter Creek by December 2011 (or perhaps do much more).
  6. Revise The Scepter and the Orb by September 2011 (first Evyntyde novel).
  7. Write 3 additional short stories and finalize/publish my Evyntyde anthology, Tales from the Chronicles of Evyntyde – by June 2011.
  8. Complete first draft of my second Evyntyde novel, Crystal Peak.
  9. Write at least 12 short stories in 2011.
  10. Qualify for membership of the SFWA.
  11. Addendum – write and complete YA Dystopian novela, The Comfort of Beanbags.

Point 10: Here is my Heat Map of getting into SFWA – the easiest path is to publish 3 short stories in recognized magazines etc. When I get three green slices of the circle, I qualify. Legend: Yellow means I am currently submitted to an SFWA mag, not counting green; red means there is a slot I haven’t submitted to, unless green. Green is a success, as stated.

Point: 3: lose 20 kg:

Point 4: Current book reading count: 10 out of 24 (not quite, but close to target)

Point 9: Write 12 short stories: 9 (way ahead of schedule)

Writing/Publishing Update: Wings to Success

I finalized with Penina the contract for her painting Wings, which was the inspiration of my new novel, Guardian of the Sky Realms. She will sign in the next few days, and once the niceties are over, I will be able to use the painting for my novel’s cover. Brilliant! Thank you very much Penina for your kind assistance.

The proofing of Guardian will be completed this weekend. All that will be left is the block formatting with InDesign. My novel was planned to be published in October – still on track, and perhaps can even be released earlier.

I have some commitments in the publishing game, but once the pressure is a little over, I look very much forward to returning to my first novel, The Scepter and the Orb, and think long and hard what I want to do with it. I love it and it is the introductory book to a vast world I created (Evyntyde). The real area of interest is whether I split it or not, to make the production more economically viable. I think it is likely I will go that way. I think, because I have learned much over the last year or so, that I may also do a serious revision. Oh well.

I have four short stories to go, set in the world of Evyntyde, which will complete my anthology. This is likely to be my second Title that will come out, both courtesy of IFWG Publishing.

My second Evyntyde novel, Crystal Peak, will have to wait a while. A bit of a shame, since it is two-thirds completed.

Regarding publishing, I recently finished editing and proofing Biola Olatunde‘s wonderful adventure novel, Blood Contract. This should be come out next month – I look forward to it. Another edit job I did – The Devil Came East (crime thriller) by Geri Fitzsimmons and Andy Stephenson, was held back from publishing a few months to allow synchronization with some marketing activity. I think it will also be published next month – and I have a very good feeling about that one. It is so very good in its genre. I also have had some luck getting Paul Goat Allen to review it (shortly). My next edit job is an inspirational novel, by Linda Lenehan, called They Never Gave Up. I look forward to that job.

All in all, a pretty busy time for me. (I love it).


Short Story: The Soldier

The rain had been pelting down for hours, and in a strange, twisted sort of way it washed and anointed the bodies lying on the battlefield. Mud and blood were mixed in puddles forming around the soldiers; most of these men were dead, others were slowly stirring, struggling with their personal pain and horror. Many men had already left the field – crawling, hobbling or walking; they numbered in the hundreds. Horses were among those who had fallen, and scores were aimlessly wandering the periphery of the field, still wild-eyed and frothy-mouthed from the battle that had taken place only minutes before. Despite the rainfall a wispy layer of mist hung a few feet above the battlefield due to the concentration of body heat of those tangled together. It made the men look otherworldly, as if their spirits had been taken and placed on display before Helwyer, god of death. There was something else permeating this large clearing on the northern side of Owerling’s Gap – a low level sound, a collective hum of pain from those who were not dead or unconscious. The downpour could not mask their suffering.

Crows were already gathering on the nearby rocky outcrops, chatting among themselves about the feast that lay before them. They were patient, their cold, yellow eyes focused with intense interest on what was happening at the far end of the clearing, where what remained of the Sundra mercenary army was forming a last stand.


The soldier started to choke, as he inhaled water from a dirty puddle, stirring him from his pain-wracked faint. After he had coughed out the gritty, bloody water he could hear the groans of a man lying behind him, and through his half-closed, swollen eyes, he saw a dead horse only a few feet away from his face with its mud-matted tail laying limply on the soaked earth. He painfully picked himself up from the ground, using the horse as a support, and shakily got to his feet. The soldier didn’t feel like he was hurt badly, but he ached all over and was unbelievably exhausted – nothing in his past compared to this moment.

The strength in his legs suddenly gave way and he collapsed painfully to his knees.

His studded leather armour felt as if it weighed as much as three men, and he had no choice but to sit back on his calves, clawing at his helmet, flinging it weakly onto the muddy ground, for fear of it dragging him down to the mud and muck again. Even the light cladding on his forearms and his water-soaked clothing encumbered his actions. A hoarse curse passed his swollen lips.

He raised his eyes and surveyed what had transpired around him. The rain stung his eyes, but he felt little of it. His senses were numbing. The soldier wasn’t a large man, but even in his kneeling position he saw all of the battlefield, albeit through a hazy mist and the lack of focus in his sight. Closing his eyes tightly, he willed the blurriness of his vision to disappear, and when opening them again, found greater clarity. He sighed with relief as he now was sure he was not wounded badly.

Now there was an opportunity to scan the rain-drenched field properly. To his left, to the south, was the three hundred foot high ravine that formed Owerling’s Gap. It was here where Duke Edmund had fooled Berech, general of a thousand horsemen and five thousand foot soldiers, to unwittingly march into a trap. It was a masterful strategy. Peasants were gathered from far and wide, willingly agreeing to ride fifteen hundred of Edmund’s three and a half thousand cavalry horses. They also wore the cavalrymen’s cloaks and carried sticks or farm implements underneath, to give observers the impression they bore weapons. The Duke waited for a rainy day, and when it came this morning, Berech’s spies predictably reported seeing nearly half of Edmund’s men journeying to the west, presumably to find a way through the difficult mountain ranges and attempt a flank attack on the invading mercenaries. Berech committed his entire force to a rapid counterattack through the Pass and met a thousand spearmen behind barricades, and a completely unexpected feint from two and a half thousand waiting cavalrymen.

The kneeling soldier smiled. The plan had worked perfectly. He was one of the cavalrymen who found himself on foot, and as Berech’s horsemen charged toward his line he just had enough time to see Edmund’s cavalry sweep swiftly into the enemy’s right flank and cut deep. It was too easy, as spears sliced into man and horse, collapsing Berech’s disciplined formation, scattering many of the mercenaries in panic. The rain could not drown out Berech’s battle-cry to his foot soldiers, who then rushed in. That was when the great melee commenced.

The soldier suddenly stopped smiling, as he remembered how he leapt over his barrier and rushed with the other cavalrymen into the fray, swords and shields ready. Berech’s mercenaries were seasoned veterans, efficient killers of a hundred battles, but Edmund’s plans placed all the advantage on his Arlen army, tactically and in terms of morale.

The final stage of the plan that ensured success was carried out by one of Edmund’s chief lieutenants, Maelwyk, the young but mystically talented alchemist, who waited for Berech’s army to pass completely through Owerling’s Gap. He used his Gift to cause the high eastern face of the ravine to collapse and block any possible retreat by the invaders.

The soldier’s face turned grim when remembering the last hour of the rain-drenched battle. He had little idea how the fight was progressing; all he could do with his fellow cavalrymen was hack and stab their way forward, bodily pushing and shoving the mercenaries back, hoping that the enemy would break and flee, and more importantly, praying to Rydon and the other gods that he was not going to die.

He turned his attention to the north, where the barricades had been constructed, and where he was first posted for battle. It was then that he realised the final chapter of the conflict was not over. Sundra mercenaries were fleeing in every direction, but three noblemen remained, surrounded by scores of Edmund’s men. Sundra noblemen did not surrender – they died fighting. One of the men wore fine armour and by his colours was the mercenary army’s general. This was Berech, and by his movement, and his posture, he seemed grievously wounded. The fighting stopped and Edmund’s men shifted in the mud to open a corridor to allow their Duke to face Berech.

The general suddenly found some hidden, untapped strength and charged Edmund, but the Duke deftly parried Berech’s lethal strike and thrust his blade deep into the general’s chest. The two other noblemen then attacked, screaming above the din of the rain, but they were cut down in seconds by Edmund’s bodyguards.

The kneeling soldier smiled again. He had just witnessed the end, the final glory of the battle. It was so very satisfying, although he could not explain exactly why.

He felt a twinge in his left side, and he looked down to where his cuirass met his breeches. There was a trail of blood running down his leg to the pool of water he was kneeling in, mingling with the awful pink colour that was everywhere. He didn’t see the blood running too swiftly and he had suffered worse wounds in the past; again he was reassured that his situation was not dire – not like some of the poor souls around him.

The thought of his mortality overwhelmed him when he turned his mind to his family back home in Highwater, the seat of the Earldom of Arlenmoor, a part of the greater land called Arlen. He missed his beloved Alyra and their two infant boys. He imagined holding his boys, the warm and comforting smell of their hair seemed so real to his senses; and then he thought about holding Alyra, her soft, sweet skin against his – again his senses were immersed. There was no desire in him, only a need to be in her arms. He missed them so much he began to weep.

The soldier was one of Earl Oloryk’s overseers of the nobleman’s lands, and led his Lord’s hunts. It was natural to join his Liege in Edmund’s call for arms, and he knew that his family would be provided for if he perished in battle. But these were grim times, and this battle was only the first in a long war, one where the homelands of Duke Edmund’s Arlen were threatened by a larger army than what was conquered here. He needed to be alive, to be sound of limb so that he could return to his family and protect them.

His sense of urgency was so profound, so fundamental, he felt some of his strength returning to him, and he defiantly raised his head and let the rain wash directly over his mud-stained face, allowing the drops to sting his eyes.

His thoughts turned to Duke Edmund of Arlen, the Lord of his master, the general of the Battle of Owerling’s Gap, the leader of the civil war against his brother, King Eglund of Waymoor. Some of the soldiers who he journeyed with to the Gap directly served Edmund and they worshiped the ground he walked on. Nine days ago five hundred cavalrymen from Arlenmoor – the kneeling horseman included – joined Edmund’s expeditionary force. He didn’t initially know what to make of the Duke, but it didn’t take long before he liked the man. Edmund was a true leader, was able to talk to the troops as if he was one of them, and yet inspire the hearts and minds of an entire kingdom. What became profoundly clear to the soldier was that the actions of the men in battle today was the true reflection of Edmund’s character.

They fought for him, and for his cause, and lifted themselves against the hardened skills of the Sundra mercenaries. They died for him. They placed Edmund’s orders impossibly before their waiting families – their loved ones who needed them to return.

He wondered why he had done the same as so many of the men in battle this rainy day. Why he took the risks and extended himself for his Duke. He wondered if it was Edmund’s charisma that had caused this. He pondered this notion and concluded that it wasn’t the case. Edmund’s magnetism contributed to it, but it wasn’t the core reason. He returned to thinking about his family, waiting in Highwater, and then it dawned on him what caused him to risk his life for the Duke – because Edmund knew what the fighting was for; he was perfectly in tune with what ordinary folk needed for their survival, and he therefore represented the hope of Arlen, including his homeland of Arlenmoor. The Duke was their saviour, and for the kneeling soldier Edmund was also his family’s saviour. When Edmund thrust his blade through Berech’s heart, life was given to Alyra and their two sons.

This thought, this insight made him feel content, and he raised his head again, looking at the rain-drenched battlefield with wiser eyes.

He felt a wave of exhaustion wash over him, stronger than ever, and for a moment he thought he heard his youngest son call out to him.

Two figures slowly made their way among the fallen and the maimed, followed closely by chirurgeons and soldiers giving aid to those who could be helped. The Duke pointed to the kneeling soldier. "Maelwyk, look! Let us help this soldier to his feet and carry him to shelter."

The robed figure ran to the Arlenmoor cavalryman and then stopped short, shocked by the site he had just seen. "Your Highness, I am afraid it is too late. This man has bled to death while he was kneeling. It must have taken a great effort to get up as far as he did. Poor soul, may the gods embrace his passing to the afterlife."

The Duke knelt before the dead soldier and studied his face. "Maelwyk, I have seen many battles and witnessed countless deaths, but I have not seen anything like this. His face is not downcast, it is straight and facing the battlefield. And look at his expression – it is neither pained nor peaceful, as the dead usually are. He seems exulted. As if he witnessed some great event, or understood some great truth."

"Curious indeed, my Duke. Nevertheless, this is a sad sight."

"True, Maelwyk. True." Edmund shook his head and clasped Maelwyk’s shoulder, and they continued their way among the bodies lying on the field.

The rain was still falling and hard drops of water hit the lifeless eyes of the kneeling soldier. They did not sting at all.

Short Story: Three Destinies

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I wrote this short story a little way back, but I only recently exposed it to a wider audience, on another site. This coincided with a very healthy discussion about what constitutes a Short Story – what are its essential elements.  No rocket science, mind you, as there are numerous books and courses out there that talk about these ingredients, with few variations. Why I bring this topic up is that I put forward the following short story as an example where, perhaps, a rule or two is broken – but for a good reason. This erupted into an interesting (but healthy) debate – some say that only one major POV and only one major CHARACTER may be used, and otherwise it isn’t a short story (I posed the question that if these rules were broken, what were these stories – micro-novels, or novellas?)

As for my own opinion on my work below, I actually enjoyed writing it and I believe it is successful in its experimental nature – you will hopefully see what I mean. My only self-criticism is that it has a rushed feel about it and probably could benefit from a doubling of its size.

Kind visitor, I would love to hear your comments on this story – any comments are welcome, but I am looking for whether I have violated what constitutes a short story or not, by introducing more than one POV and more than one CHARACTER.

Journey on!


My name is Scaramouche and I was made by Cimiar, the greatest alchemist of all time.1

Snick, snick. Bite sharp! Taste blood; drink deep.2

I am no ordinary dagger, oh, no. Not even for an enchanted blade. I was crafted by the master, and he had one, specific task for me. My sole purpose is to kill one human – the Sultan of Kzar-Runuk.3

I remember when I was born, over two thousand years ago, in one of Cimiar’s tall-towered castles, perched atop a small mountain thousands of miles from the Kzar – it was surrounded by green fields at that time, but now it is enveloped by burning, dusty desert. My making took many nights of work, and over many months, for it is uncommon to have three specific of the six moons in alignment – Asanar, of the Spirit, to allow life to embrace the cold metal; Melura, of Fire, essential for powerful enchantments; and Olander, of Earth, the element that governs my existence.4

Snick, snick. Seek the Sultan’s flesh! Churn it into gory pieces!5

Cimiar, my father, found the purest of iron and transformed it into the highest grade steel, by use of masterful craftsmanship as well as the most arcane and powerful enchantments. He invoked the gods and demigods of Earth, and captured the stark, dark attention of Zirvana, goddess of black magic. He delved deep into the building blocks of my metal and rendered me virtually indestructible, and sharp enough to cut granite as if it was cheese. While I was still white hot he dropped a few pieces of ice on me, and as they instantly evaporated, they instilled the icy malice into my heart that was needed for his task.6

He wanted me to be single-minded, focused entirely on one vengeful mission.7

Snick, snick. Consume the Kzar essence! Fulfil my bloody purpose!8

Cimiar served his liege-lord, the God Emperor Kul, and obeyed every one of His wishes. The Sultan of Kzar-Runuk had deeply insulted the Emperor and posed a threat to the stability of Kul’s northern sultanates. An object lesson was required for the civilised world. And consequently I was born.9

Fate, however, had different plans for me.10

A young soldier volunteered to carry me to Kzar-Runuk and all he had to do was get near enough for me to smell the Sultan. That was all that was needed, for then I would do the rest and no-one would be able to stop me. Afterwards I would be finished, depleted. I would die, happy, fulfilled. But alas, this young man was assailed by brigands and slain, not even half-way to his destination. These murderous thieves found me and sold me to a wealthy merchant, who kept me as an ornament. When he died a few years later, he had me buried with him – such was his vanity.11

I slept for nearly two thousand years in his grave, until… well, that is another story.12


We are sisters and call ourselves Vengeance and Retribution. We once were dormant, asleep, but a villainous crime – one so heinous it outraged the gods – caused us to awaken.14

Ching, ching. We are two and we seek justice! We will never rest until we are sated.15

Before we were born we were but simple silver coin of the mountain city of Tzic-vec, in the heart of the Sultanate of Kzar-Runuk. We knew not of our existence then, but we have on many occasions imagined that we would have been kept in the purses of rich Kzar merchants, and perhaps exchanged in vendor stalls in Tzic-vec’s busy streets. For over three hundred years we have discussed between us what delightful, serene, and simple existences we must have had. But now…16

We know that, just prior to our awakening, we were together, among other coins, in the purse of the Vizier to the Sultan of Kzar-Runuk.17

Ching, ching. We feel the agonizing pain of our adopted mother! We long for justice!18

The captain of the guard of the Sultan was, on one dark night, ordered to slay one of his lord’s enemies. It was a vile task, one more suited to an assassin, as the target was an important administrator of the sultanate and an honourable man. The captain was upright in character and refused, but he was told that his family would die if he failed to complete his murderous task. He had no choice but to obey, but before he journeyed to his victim’s home, he confided all to his beloved wife. He kissed her and left hurriedly.19

The next day the Vizier knocked on the door of the captain’s home. He informed the captain’s wife that her husband had died in the service of the sultan. She looked in his eyes and saw the truth – he had indeed killed the sultan’s target and then was killed himself to remove any evidence. She was horrified and could barely stand on her feet, but then the Vizier added insult to injury by taking two silver coin from his purse and dropping them into her hands.20

We were immediately born from that lowly act – the first thing we saw was the wronged woman’s blue eyes, surrounded by her white silk hijab, lost in indescribable numbness. Yes, we were born and my sister and I knew that our purpose was to find a way to avenge the death of the captain, and the disgusting insult to his wife!21

Ching, ching. Let him touch our tarnished silver bodies! Let us draw him to disaster!22

She threw us into the desert sands, of course. What else could she do? Her life was disrupted, destroyed. We have never blamed her for separating us from her. We knew we had a task to complete.23

Many years passed and we were left in the dirt, undiscovered. But one day, a lowly peasant child found us and presented our good selves to his parents – and within a day we were exchanged for a herd of goats and our long journey began. We visited many cities and lands, riding in the purses of numerous men, and we learned how noble, and how vile, humanity could be. A thousand transactions had taken place and yet we always stayed together. Kismet.24

But greater miracles had taken place. We soon discovered that we could control our bearer – at first, in simple ways, swaying him to choose one action over another, if the choice was difficult; later we could instil ideas, especially in his sleep. As we became more practiced with our new-found talents we found that we could do more, such as cause our bearers to take action contrary to their nature. Never, mind you, with evil intent.25

Ching, ching. Lead him to the precipice! Let him jump!26

It was only a few months ago when we were given a sign that we had to return to Kzar-Runuk. Our bearer met an old, wizened woman who claimed she was a soothsayer. Whether she was or not did not matter, as she was possessed by some powerful, female spirit who wished to speak to us. She said that we must journey to Tzic-vec and complete our quest for justice.27

It was easy to manipulate the man who held us in his purse, and our journey was swift, given the many leagues we had to traverse. And now… well, that is another story.28


My name is Lalitha, a sorceress, and I was, once, the number one concubine of the Sultan of Kzar-Runuk. That was many centuries ago. My mortal remains now lay in an unmarked grave.30

Jingle, jingle. Curse him for his treachery! The dog deserves to suffer!31

I had been number one for seven years and my eyes were always open to his machinations and his contempt for human life. It was helpful that I had the Gift where I could see events, past, present and future, and also far away and near. I was rarely able to control my powers, but it often gave me advantages in life, and saved my skin on more than one occasion. It was a good life; despite him.32

I was in awe of my Gift and trusted my intuition as an extension of it – I still do, even though I am now but a spirit residing inside this gold necklace.33

Jingle, jingle. Gods, allow me the chance to witness suffering in his progeny!34

I remember the day so clearly, as if it was only this morning. My intuition – my Gift – failed me. I knew that he was in a bad mood, that something was bothering him. I also knew that I had been gradually losing favour, much like being aware that a dull ache in my mouth was perhaps more than just a simple tooth ache, but still not doing anything about it. I do not know why, but I did not panic when a pair of the sultan’s eunuch guards entered the harem. I did not see.35

Suddenly, without warning, they grabbed me and dragged me out of the harem. I remember the look of shock in the other girls’ faces. The guards threw me into a palanquin and took me into the desert. We journeyed for hours, and I can remember the slaves huffing and puffing in their arduous task, but eventually they stopped, and I was dragged out. I did not recognise the place I had been taken to, although the rocky outcrops and heavily weathered hills indicated that it was part of the desert near Tzic-vec that was riddled with chasms and ridges – all too easy for someone to get lost in. All too easy to hide a body.36

Before a small hill severely eroded by wind, with the desert sand blowing about me, the bodyguards cut my throat. They hurriedly buried me between the vertical fall of the hill and a column of stone that jutted from the ground into the cliff. One of the guards claimed my gold necklace, but not before I willed my soul into it. At the end of my mortal life, my Gift did not betray me.37

Jingle, jingle. Slay those who carry his blood! Reveal the contempt of a murdered sorceress!38

The guard sold me to a deceitful merchant who made a tidy profit from his exchange, selling me to a nomad chief who wanted to please one of his wives. I was angry and ignored the world around me for several generations, but eventually shifted my awareness to what was happening outside, instead of within. Scores of years had passed me by. I discovered that my Gift was more powerful in this new form than when it was contained within flesh and bone, and that I could, if I wanted to, exert some small influence on those who wore me; my Sight had become powerful indeed, and I was able to spiritually wander the lands and witness the lives of people in all corners of the world. For a while I was distracted, but my need to avenge my murder had no bounds and I often withdrew into my golden home, gnawing at my heart.39

One day, not too long ago, having been handed from mother to daughter for centuries within a noble family line that ruled a city of tents, I stumbled on an idea to exact the revenge I so longed for. Using my Gift, I searched for humans who wanted the same retribution, and surprisingly, instead of beings of flesh, I found an ancient dagger who was given a spirit to destroy the Sultan of Kzar-Runuk, and a pair of old silver coins who were bestowed a similar sentience by the grace of the gods of justice. They had the power to destroy the sultan of the day, and it mattered little what human receptacle was needed to carry them. I used my Gift to contact them, in the best manner available to me, and summoned them to this oasis. The coins controlled the mind of a merchant, who journeyed to the graveyard where the dagger is buried, and on its recovery, had many leagues to travel to this city of tents. All I had to do was wait.40

Jingle, jingle. Waiting, waiting. The three of us must unite! Our needs will be met, combined!41

Today the dagger and the coins were delivered to the young girl who owns me – and she is of noble birth. I asked the coins to erase her mind of memories, so that she can better be controlled; she can show no fear when approaching the Sultan of Kzar-Runuk. I am excited by the prospect of what will come next. She will ride a camel to Tzic-vec by the coins’ compulsion – only two days journey – and all she needs to do is be within sight or smell of the sultan. Then the dagger will fly by itself, cutting through anyone and anything in its way, and exact the revenge and justice we all seek!42

When the girl awakes, she will steal out of her camp and ride to Tzic-vec.43


I am aghast! How can this be? Am I not Scaramouche, the deadliest weapon built by man? Why is my purpose in existence eroding? Is what Lilitha had told me so profound in significance?45


We are fading! Vengeance and Retribution will melt into this desert sand. Is it true what Lilitha has said? And if so, why is it that it defeats our purpose?47


I have done it. I have told them what I have discovered. There is no point in hiding from plain facts.49

Jingle, jingle. Truth is penetrating, permeating… calming.50

The girl awoke in the early hours, only a few minutes from the rising sun. As a final step in my preparation for my plan for her to bear us to Tzic-vec, I opened my Gift, my Sight, to her, to find out more about her, and how best to use her. What I saw made me dizzy, crushing hundreds of years of belief in a single blow! Fate drew the dagger and the coins to me, but Fate played a higher game and drew me to this girl. She is a noblewoman, of strong lineage among the nomadic tribes of Kzar-Runuk, but she also has other blood in her. I saw the different strains as plain as day.51

The girl had the blood of the captain of the guard who was murdered by the Sultan’s men, and she had the rare blue eyes of the captain’s wife – also her ancestor. She had the blood of the sultan’s line and so the vile men who perpetrated all those awful crimes were her ancestors! More importantly, she was a descendent of mine.52

We had created an assassin who was the least likely candidate. Or was she?53


Snick, snick. I am altering; dying. My edge is blunt!55

Should I just cut her down now, before it is too late? No… it does not seem right. And yet, the need to sate my thirst of so many hundreds of years…56

Useless. I can feel my very being fade. Why?…57

Is it because the sultan – my target – is long dead? Is it possible that Cimiar, my maker, and Kul, my patron, never intended me to carry on? Am I that temporary? Was my purpose such a miniscule fraction of what I actually thought I had?58

I feel myself being distended… I wish that I…59


Ching, ching. The gods, we can hear them calling us!61

How can we hurt such an innocent girl? Nay, beyond innocence, because we have removed her past from her memories! Why have the gods played such a cruel trick on us?62

We see her eyes now… just like our mother’s. The injustice, unpaid, sickens us… but wait. Look at her. She has the strength of our mother in her, and the tenacity of the sultan’s line. Is it possible she has been fated for some great deed? Is it possible that justice has been served by reward, instead of penalty?63

Look… the Spirit Realm now beckons, and the path is before us! Perhaps it is time to go, after all.64


Jingle, jingle. The cancer is gone. I am content. Where to from here?66

I am alone with this girl, for my allies have left. And yet I am with my daughter, albeit many times removed. She is wonderful, young, fit and ready for adventure. She has no memory, which is sad, but perhaps it will benefit her, as she has nothing to unlearn.67

And she has my Gift. My Sight.68

She has the dagger, but it is – almost – ordinary. She has two ancient coins, which will feed her for her adventures ahead – for a while. And I think I will stay with her. 69

I may teach her some tricks that I have learned over my very long life.