You’re no doubt wondering what the heck is up with such a cryptic title. Well, it was the first word that came to my mind, and so I ran with it.
So what am I perhapsing about? Well, my decision up to this point has been to self publish The Nomad’s Crucible. I have more control that way, and I have been burned in the past by a small press that bit off more than they could chew, and chewed up all of it’s authors and artists in the process. So, yes a little bit jaded, however I do have to consider one option.
I just recently saw an announcement – I forget where, but that’s beside the point – about a fairly well known medium-ish publishing house that is hosting open submissions starting in November and running through December. So, this presents a rather large and perplexing conundrum. Do I continue with my plan to self-publish, or do I submit my stuff in the hopes that they will love it as much as I think they will? Based on previous experience, I am a little gun-shy, but hey not all publishers are created equal right? Feel free to share your thoughts with me, but I may just throw my hat in the ring and see if I get pounded into oblivion.
Well, today was short, but I wanted to let you know what might be happening. Oh wait, I do have…
ONE MORE THING
Yes I know I just pulled a Steve Jobs on you, but you know you like it. Please enjoy a glimpse at my upcoming book, and check back soon.
Embracing the Magic,
An Excerpt from The Nomad’s Crucible (all rights reserved):
The Nomad sped away from the royal city, going faster than normal. He was anxious to get out and rework his plan for the assassination. The heat was quickly rising, and the heavy rains in the royal city only added the drench of humidity to the situation. The fact that he could regulate his own body temperature if he chose meant nothing, since any use of his powers expended energy.
He sped by the Rusted Tankard, giving it a casual glance as he kept on his way. A surge of intensity rose up inside him as he continued on his way. Something wasn’t right. He pulled off to the side of the road and sat on his cycle for a while, staring back at the tavern. It looked normal from the outside. The worn wood frame of the building, the dilapidated parking stalls, and the chintzy metal roof all looked perfectly normal. Still something was eating at his internal senses.
What the hell do I care? He thought to himself, but then realized his curiosity was piqued. He spat on the ground, and then sped his cycle back to the Tankard. As he parked in one of the stalls his unease grew stronger. Something smelled funny. Something he had caught a whiff of before, but couldn’t quite remember where.
He grabbed his water canister as before, intending to be as inconspicuous as possible. When he entered, the owner was standing behind the counter drying one of his namesake rusty tankards with a well-worn cloth rag. Tredd thought he should ask if he had a spare rag before he left.
Something was wrong with him though. Tredd couldn’t place it, but there was a thin sheen of sweat on his face. His clothes looked stained of sweat as well, which was unusual for so early in the day. Barkeeps worked hard, yes, but not that hard.
“Ye’ll have to leave those weapons here with me now. I don’t allow armed men in this here establishment.”
Now that’s unusual. “The last time I was here you said you wouldn’t make that mistake with me.”
“Well, a man can change ‘is mind can’ he? Now come over here and drop em.”
This was not from a man standing his ground, but from a man under coercion. This had trap written all over it. He approached the bar slowly, loosening his blades in the straps as he went. The sweat was heavier on the man now, and he began franticly biting his bottom lip and wiping his brow. He was afraid of Tredd for sure, but not enough to back down on his request.
The Nomad placed his blades gently on the counter and stared into the man’s eyes, at which point the man started nervously gesturing his head in the direction of the store-room. He then said, “Ok now you sit down and enjoy yourself. I need to grab some additional supplies from the store-room.”
Tredd’s hands never left the blades, but continued resting there while the man went to the back. He saw a flash of steel as the recessed lights reflected off of it, and six of the strange creatures he had encountered in Gillot piled out from the back room raising their skeyans in attack stance. They surrounded him and began taunting him through sickly teeth and breathing that had the stench of…bowels. Yes, bowels. That’s what he had smelled. He thought to himself that perhaps some creatures shit through their mouth. The thought made him chuckle and shudder at the same time.
“Who are you…twin blade?”
Damn, not another nickname. “I kill for a price. You’re called the Faede correct?”
“You know us? That answers much. Your name?!”
‘My name won’t mean anything to you, and I don’t just hand it over. You called me twin blade before, and maybe that’s fitting, because I’m about to shove my twin blades up your asses. If you have them that is.”
Furious, they rushed him at once, piling in on him as a net over prey. Their bodies flew back from him as though an explosion had thrown them off. The Nomad stood there before them as they laid on the ground in shock. His eyes were bursting with red and purple flame, and his mouth was lit from within like flame was waiting to burst forth. He was seething with anger, and the runes on his blades were glowing hot with blue flame.
It was his turn for some fun. He flipped the blades in his hands to a downward thrust and rushed toward his first two assailants. By this time they had regained their fighting stance enough to see him coming at them, but it was too late. He leapt ever so slightly and drove his blades down center into the collar-bone of each of them. Black blood spewed out from the wounds as the bodies slid off his blades, with a very audible slurpy sound, and onto the floor into a simmering pool. The bodies were still oozing as they came to a final rest and stopped twitching.
He wheeled around to face the other four behind him, and as he did two of them were next to him, each gripping an arm in a breaking form. Pain coursed through his arms as they bent more and more under the pressure until finally he dropped his blades under the strain. The Faede drove their skeyans through his jacket sleeves and into the first layer of skin, turning the blades just enough to increase the torture.
He could feel the blades beginning to push against muscle tissue, and he began to sweat under the pain, but refused to show any sign of weakness. Finally, with his hands free of his blades, he was able to get enough strength to grab something else – the Faede holding his arms. He maneuvered just enough to touch the Faede on either side of him, and that was all it took. They were his now, enthralled under the power of his suggestion. A thrall serves all before they fall. They withdrew their skeyans, turned like automatons, and began assaulting the other two Faede. The distraction allowed him enough time to retrieve his blades and cut them all down like a flame burning through brush.
When all was quiet, Rufus peeked out from the store-room. The bodies of his six assailants lay scattered on the floor, and black blood was pooling everywhere. A sickening feeling rose in his stomach, feeling like he was about to lose his morning meal, but then one look in the Nomad’s eyes made him swallow it back.
The Nomad stared back at him with those flaming eyes, his blades still resting in two of the fresh cadavers. He loosed the blades and walked forward as the power in his eyes slowly began to fade. He stood within inches of the barkeep, who was heavily perspiring in a way that increased the already heavy stench in the tavern. He grabbed the towel from the man’s shoulder and began wiping the black ooze off his blades, never letting his eyes leave the oily fellow. By the time he was done, the towel was smoldering, and he tossed it onto the floor behind the bar.
After sheathing his blades, he grabbed the barkeeps sweat drenched collar and pulled him close enough that he could smell the fear that ravaged him. “What did you tell them?!” He barked.
“They h-h-had me, ya see? I was more t-t-terrified of them than you!” He began sobbing.
The Nomad shook him as he said, “Get ahold of yourself man! Are there any more of them?”
“No it was just th-th-them there, I swear!”
He let go of the barkeep, and the man slumped against the wall. The Faede seemed to operate as one, as a collective mind, so there would most certainly be more of them. He turned to leave without saying a word, as a crowd began gathering at the entrance. Probably the normal rabble coming for their morning meal of ale and…more ale. All they could do was stand at the door with horrified looks on their faces, and murmur to each other about what might have happened as they cast fearful glances at the disturbing man in the long coat and hat.
He kept going, and the barkeep called out to him, “Yer just goin’ ta leave me with this mess? What about all them hungry folks out there?”
The Nomad turned and glared at him. “I only make the messes, I don’t provide cleanup. That’s your job mate. Let’s not meet again shall we? More for your sake than mine.”
The crowds parted quickly, giving the Nomad a wide berth as he walked back to his cycle. He hoped that the little place he planned to stay in for the night was slightly more peaceful.
© Sept 27th 2017 by Charles McGarry
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. Any unauthorized publication is considered copyright infringement and will be pursuant to legal action by the author.