Missive to Council
Season of the Hot Sun, Second Quarter, Second Wheel Day
Magister Lightreave Grey, I have finished convening my chronicle receiving from Evan Sandstar and shall be leaving Tower Karlrock on the morrow. So far my journey east from Council purview has passed as requested, efficiently and quietly. I would point out a flock of striga has stubbornly followed me through the moors all almost to the source of The Kentash. Of course, if they knew my old blood would barely feed a hatchling, they might not have wasted the effort. Is there any request as to what to do with them should they pursue me beyond the hills?
Fellow Sandstar’s accounts appear to be in order, matching the purview’s Arbiter’s chronicling, and he also provided some compelling thoughts on expanding the use of apothecaries under his tutelage. I agree they are underused, not to mention undervalued where it comes to the value of their sphere of work. I must also issue a complaint about the new steed I have been provided for the journey east. Once out on the road it has transformed into a recalcitrant beast on which even my spells of charming have little effect. Perhaps you can send a missive ahead in request for a more suitable replacement, perhaps a horse of Midland breeding if at all possible.
The wind was ill, dusty; carrying with it the faint scent of rot, coupled with a whiff of smoke. I had ridden across the bleak and dry terrain on my disagreeable mount for close to three days and had seen little life or activity, to now find myself at King’s Ford on The River Trakse. Its dark waters flowed beneath my steed’s hooves at a weak ebb. Much of the ford was unexpectedly and exposed for even the hot season’s second quarter. I prodded my reluctant mount across, then encouraged it up the nearest rise to get a good look at the march’s full expanse. It snorted unhappily, but made it up the rise as directed by my heels. What I saw when I reached the top was not at all pleasing. The hillocks surrounding should have been covered in a sea of hot sun burnished and golden grasses. Instead they were a withered and patchy brown and grey, a further sign of both drought and pestilence.
I only encountered one man on the road to the margrave’s keep, a tall willowy and figure leading his ragged line of well burdened, but equally skin and bone donkeys, laden with what I suspected was the sum total of what his life had earned him. And he was leaving what life he must have had in the march as I was arriving. I stopped my weary steed and regarded this miserable man hobbling along the west running road cut into the rolling moors.
“What can you say of the land you are leaving,” I said to him.
He looked up at me, squinting through the dusty haze. His likely brown and straggly beard was well coated in a coating of grey dust as was his threadbare clothing.
“That you would be a fool to enter it,” he told me in his gravelly and knowing tone as he squinted up. “And old fool at that.”
I chuckled, rubbed some of the airborne dirt from my whitening beard and bade him well. He clearly cared not I wore the black cloak and robes of a wizard, and asked for nothing as he passed. As for my foolishness at entering this land, he may well have been quite accurate in his assessment.
A cry came from the sky behind me as the man passed. I looked up to see the round bodied striga wheeling around in the sky. With another collection of squawks they turned on their leathery wings back whence they came. I probably should have known well enough to change my route as well.
Despite the donkey driver’s wise words, I continued into the miasma.
Even though the hillock’s rise was not particularly notable, it still offered me an expansive view of the re-corrupted march from atop my reluctant horse, a gelding rather more ornery than most I’ve encountered in my experience. Still, any view is always better from atop a mount, if you didn’t have a tower handy, and they have rarely been less portable than a steed of the four or even two legged variety. I ceased my urging for a moment, thought of the portable towers I had made use of, with pleasant longing I must admit, as the beast slowly trotted its way down the rise. It had been some time since I’d set eyes on a functional and fully enchanted portable tower, longer since I had made use of one. Few constructs such as those from the Riven War still survived the last battles, and even fewer were seen these days, at least north of the Vaeranshi borderlands. But then, too much convenience has been held by Council as a failing that encouraged working against the Tenet’s of Balance. Costly indulgences, in this era of relative peace, are therefore, frowned upon. Even I knew better than to bother them about such things.
I made a note to visit the one still on exhibit at the Library of Procol at Evenside. It would bring back memories, I was sure. Whether they would tip to good or bad, however, I could not be certain. I could not remember who had enchanted that particular construct, or even in what use in battle it had seen. There had been so many battles.
Other serials by A A Roi updated with new Chapters every Saturday on thenewscifi.com
The Promethead (Post-apocalyptic science fiction)
It has been more than two hundred years since the destruction of galactic civilization by the invasion of the Macros. Althea Ram, exile from a culture which survived the apocalypse, has been searching for answers amongst the lost worlds of the Consortia. Her past failures, pyrrhic victories and dwindling resources have lead her to plan a desperate transit to Elysium, a world which could provide her everything she needs. But the probability of getting there on the first try is very low. And she has no way of telling how dangerous her destination might be.
Because on any lost world, Althea must face dangers; hostile environments, the technologies once beneficial, now warped by Macro control, the decendants of human survivors – turned violent and suspicious by the Macro threat, and even herself, driven by needs she barely controls, or understands.
Up In Space (Scifi Comedy)
Iain Compton never planned to be abducted by an alien spaceship. It just… happened. And now he’s been awakened 22,000 years in the future and half a galaxy away by a pair of oddly human seeming beak nosed aliens and a space ship A.I. that seems to have more than a few screws loose. Oh, and then there’s this gorgeous alien woman who he probably shouldn’t trust at all. His plan is to find a way home to Earth, even if its unlikely to be remotely the same; to find a better class of companions among an often strange and inexplicable galactic community, at least one who won’t use him or sell him out at the first opportunity; and to do something about the parasites in his brain who are supposed to connect him to a library the size of the galaxy, but seem to only be telling him that almost everyone and everything he comes across wants to kill him.
But at least he can still send tweets.
Call it a Mission (Contemporary Supernatural Mystery)
Palantine and Co. is an unusual company that does its work in an unusual field. But it’s attractive enough to out of work Gary Bellamy, and offers decent pay and a good benefits package. But there are a few things a little strange about the local office. The CEO is perpetually out of town, apparently in search of ‘Enlightenment’. His co-workers are involved in research and investigations involve the likes of Bigfoot, ghosts, walk-ins and other supernatural phenomena, for who its not quite clear. It all seems a bit dodgy to Gary but again, good benefits package.
Ephram Palantine is having problems of his own. His search for Enlightenment hasn’t been going all that well, has lead down some rather bizarre rabbit holes. It’s about to get a lot worse.
The employees of Palantine and Co. are themselves hoping their new hire is exactly what they need. Otherworldly phenomena is on the rise. A seven year old girl has gone missing in northern Michigan, and they are sure it involves something that happened to Gary when he was a boy, thirty years ago, not to mention that there have been sightings of same identical dead man on a Lake Erie beach now for several decades. Some might call what Gary and his co-workers are about to get involved in to protect humanity from a world whose borders with other realities are fraying at the edges, incredible and perhaps even insane. Some might call it a mission.
23 Pangbourne Place (Alternative World Urban Fantasy)
It has been almost thirteen years since a terrible inferno took the lives of Johnny Smith(formerly Hutchison)’s friends and fellows trying to enact a dangerous spell to raise The Devil to grant them special powers. Things didn’t turn out so well, as Johnny was the only survivor.
Since then he has made a special effort to keep himself out of the limelight, ultimately ending up as a the building manager for the apartment building at 23 Pangbourne Place. But nothing has been forgotten, and Johnny is about find out that forces from Hell still have him in mind for their machinations. The question’s are, can he wriggle out from their grasp? Can he keep occupancy at 23 Pangbourne Place at 100%? can he keep his vampire lawyer’s lover’s hands off of him? Are the gargoyles who serve as building security out to get him? And can he face up to what he did in the past, thwart his dark destiny and help his Catholic girlfriend prevent her grandfather from turning into a zombie? Yes, he is going to be a very busy guy this November…
Defending Mars(YA Science Fiction)
14 year old Tory Ciarelli did not want to get stuck on the planet Mars, but here she is, dragged 50 million miles from her home Earth, by her parents to the new frontier. She has a plan to escape Mars, but might not be able to accomplish her goal on her own.
21 year old Gurminder Kalsi is a third generation bornehere Martian, a rig driver working for the planetary clans who were abandoned by Earth but managed to survive and prosper but are now at the mercy of the massive new colonization effort. He too is trapped on the red plane, but not by circumstance, but by biology. Born on Mars he can not leave to go to the world his grandparents came from.
But together Tory and Gurminder might be able to find a way out of their traps. If they can work together. If they don’t manage to make things even worse…