Tag Archive: Fantasy


Tolin’s Journal #6

My Dear Ilanna,

My farm lies in shambles, leaving me no place to which I may return. One night, an envoy from the king encroached upon my fields and dispatched my undead farmhands with little effort. They delivered to me a letter requesting my presence at the new king’s coronation to shed light on the mysterious forces pillaging nearby lands. Had they not been sent directly from the king, I would have reformed my undead horde to tear them apart where they stood. But, since that would not bring me closer to you, my love, I held back. Gathering what little possessions I desired to carry, I set off to see this new king.

Cresting the final hill to my destination, the sight of the king’s castle was enough to cause both hesitation and awe. The sun lit up the tall keeps with the golden afterglow from the surrounding wheat fields. It was a perfect gem of civilization I didn’t care to reenter after my near decade absence from regular human contact. The glimmer of hope that I might gain more information about you kept me pressing onward.

I arrived at the gates and presented the letter as it instructed. They had me sign my name to confirm my identity, handed me a voucher for 700GP, and told me to enjoy myself at the carnival. After living a life of dark solitude, the carnival I walked into was simply overwhelming. Booths were set up all around the square with pathetic merchants begging for the attention of any who stepped too close to them.

Skirting the edges, I quickly discovered these people of the court weren’t at all amenable to necromancers. My queries for any others who share my love of undeath ended with them bolting off or taking me for a jester. Embarrassed by my misunderstandings, I went back to watching the booths. A shady looking man started up a conversation with me, introducing himself as Elwin. Apparently, he had heard some of my inquiries and I began nervously rambling about my background and the advantages of certain undead. I remarked that skeletons can be better than zombies because you don’t have to worry about the fleshy bits. He laughed, calling me, “Farmer Fleshy-bits”. I didn’t appreciate the stinging humor at my expense, but at least I managed to keep talking with someone at the carnival.

The coronation finally started and they brought out the new king who looked to be slightly younger than me. In the middle of the ceremony, I was summoned into the keep and placed around a horseshoe-shaped table with five others, including Elwin. We acknowledged each other with nods, but I could tell he had been summoned here with similar pretenses to my own. The other four consisted of a man impatiently tapping his foot against the floor, two dwarves (one turned out to be a female, but I wasn’t sure at the time), and a halfling.

Lord Hadraxel marched into the room with a host of soldiers and the queen hitched to his side. Sitting back in the king’s throne, he gave us all a chance to speak, which I used to ask about what had become of Lord Chaxon after his inability to defend the lands given to him. Lord Hadraxel told me Chaxon had been promoted to the general of the King’s armies. I demanded an explanation to this and how it related to why I was summoned. He replied it didn’t matter.

A row of archers filled the balconies above us. Lord Hadraxel declared us to be the six assassins prophesied to kill the king on his coronation day. He showed us confessionals we each had signed earlier. This was the same letter I had signed at the gate to gain entrance to the coronation ceremony. The liars changed the text to have me confess to a prophecy they likely planted to seal up power for the new king. The way the queen kept her hands all over Lord Hadraxel all but confirmed to me what was going on.

Our verbal protests turned violent when one of the dwarves drew out his warhammer. With a snap of Lord Hadraxel’s fingers, the dwarf dropped his hammer and began stripping of his armor and clothes. Lord Hadraxel hit a button on the throne and the floor surrounded it dropped to reveal a spiked pit. The other man at the table tried to jump the gap, but failed and landed at the bottom. From his cries, he didn’t die.

Joining the action, I rose to summon a zombie next to the throne, but was cut short when an arrow hit me from the archers up top. I kept focusing on my casting, but fell into a dark haze. My spell failed as I dropped into an inconvenient slumber. When I awoke, the guards where attaching fetters to us and hauling us off. The man who fell in the pit had several scars lining his skin. From the looks of the rest of this group, they didn’t put up much of a fight after I went down.

The guards mumbled something about it being to late to execute us and promised to do it in the morning in full view of the crowds. I tried to spot Lord Hadraxel, but he had evidently taken his leave after the struggle. The guards lead us back outside to take us to the dungeons.

While coming through an alleyway, a man darted around the corner and barreled into us, knocking us off balance an onto the ground. He got back to his feet and took off again before our guards could react. Four armed men wearing black armor bolted around the same corner he appeared from. Ready this time, one of our guards shot one of them with a crossbow bolt. Seeing his friend bleeding out on the ground, a black-armored soldier threw out his hands and sent a charge of light that disintegrated the guards. Having never seen magic so powerful, I was grateful to have been on the ground.

The remaining three black-armored men circled around us looking for something. A black book radiating power lay in the dirt. The man that crashed into us must have dropped it. I snatched it and hid it beneath my robes, feeling its raw power against my skin. Still in chains, we didn’t stand much of a chance. However, nothing could ever keep me from you my love.

Tolin Naihim,
Death’s Neglected Son

necromancer

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Tolin’s Journal #5

My Deal Ilanna,

Without you to light its halls, the castle became my tomb. I wanted to bury my heart within so that it might decay into ash, freeing me from your fading whispers. Instead, it pounded resiliently within my chest. It reminded my of my vow to find you and pushed me onward even when I consigned myself to a slow death within the decaying walls.

As with the aftermath of my village, I found no dead bodies. Even the elves I had seen die in the entrance disappeared. All that was left were dark halls filled with the evil that stole my love. After a time, it began to speak to me, promising to grant me vengeance in exchange for my hatred. It whispered a familiar name…

Nerull

Shadows crept around me, tempting me with power. I followed them deep into the heart of the castle. Doors shuttered with heavy chains broke apart ahead of my entrance. The shadows grew more defined the farther we walked until they looked like tall, gaunt corpses. They hid their faces from me, always averting my gaze as if they didn’t want to incur my wrath.

They brought me before a black door to a room that looked as if it had burst up through the floor. Stone fragments littered the ground and the smell of fresh earth clawed at my nostrils. Without hesitation, I heaved against the door until it opened. A familiar arrangement of books lined the walls with a small desk there in the midst. I swept my hands over the volumes of knowledge I had sorely missed. I pulled down a tome and read over the words I struggled to remember during my imprisonment.

The markings were unmistakable, this was the very same room that I had found underneath my village. I was never happier, for I had once again found the tools to power, only this time, I had a definitive goal in mind. With the untouched food stores in the castle, I knew I could live there for several months at least, probably years. I would need all of that time to prepare myself to confront the force that took you away from me.

Burying myself in the wisdom contained in that room, I continued my training at my own pace. Without Lyanis holding me back, I grew by leaps and bounds. After each lesson, I practiced my spells on the shadows, bending them to my own will. They became my slaves in my crusade to escape. I used them to try every avenue of escape to no avail. Still, I persevered.

Two years passed until my food stores dwindled to a critical level. I lived like a king with dark slaves performing all my bidding. I finally recognized the wards with which Lyanis had sealed me in the castle. My freedom lay close at hand. Outside the castle walls, I rose a few skeletons to roam the hills and bring me back what I needed for a spell of freedom. Once gathered, I broke the ward and left the castle, never to return.

Free as I now was, I knew I needed more time before I sought you out, Ilanna. I resettled my old village, using skeletons as workhands for a new batch of crops I planted in my father’s fields. I worked it until I could sustain myself. The years tumbled by until a group of curious traders stopped by to inquire as to the nature of the village. Honesty was my best weapon. After a show of my undead workhands, they granted me favorable trading agreements.

I lived well and advanced my training until this point, where I have learned all I can from my dark room. Each of its volumes lies within my strong mind, ready to be put into practice. I’m still unsure why Lyanis anchored the evil that penetrated the castle to me so he could escape with you, or rather, lead you to your imprisonment, but I will discover those answers when I rescue you.

I hope to meet him again, so I can resolve our differences. Only now can I see how he manipulated me into drawing the attack on your castle. He used me as bait and I will know why when he lies in the throes of death at my feet.

I was a boy whose life was stripped away in the night, but now I am a necromancer that death refused to visit. I have tamed the very evil that overpowered your castle and I will carry it back to the hands of those responsible. They will regret death’s negligence.

I know you are still alive, Ilanna. I’ve heard rumors that I will not write here, lest this journal falls to enemy hands, that my time to seek you out is now. I have taken great care to pen the words so that when I find you, you will know of my struggle. Our love will have its day.

All I do is for you.

Tolin Naihim,
Death’s Neglected Son

Necromancer

Tolin’s Journal #4

My Dear Ilanna,

Know that I was among the final defenders of your castle the day it fell. While you remained safely hidden, I took my instructions from Lyanis to heart in hopes it would be your salvation. If only my sheer will could have saved you, we would have left that death trap together. However, as you know, the powers working against you were too great for your guard to bear.

Still, it was all for you that I raced down those stairs. My fear threatened to hold me back, but I wouldn’t let it stop me from defending your home. What little valor your guards had, they expended in barricading the doors to the keep. As I made it to the bottom of the stairs with my torn parchment in hand, I saw them failing to hold back the evil on the other side.

I laughed inwardly, knowing none of them had long to live. Death comes for us all, but some you can just tell are easier targets. Holding up the spell written by Lyanis, I concentrated on the runes, allowing them to form in my mind. Speaking the activating words, light shone out all through the room. Crimson lines traced out a pattern below me that I recognized all too late.

Held in place by the symbol surrounding my feet, I watched the guards fly away from the doors. Wooden splinters flew out to either side of me ahead of the armed soldiers storming inside. Confronted by the very same force that had destroyed me village, I screamed in all my fury and conjured what I could. Nothing happened. I stood powerless as your elven guard fell all around me at the hands of those rushing inside.

Blood spilled across the floor and covered the attackers’ blades, but still no one touched me. I reached out to stop the soldiers from advancing up the stairs, but I couldn’t lift my hands from my sides. Again, I was helpless and forced to watch everything around me crumble. Screams poured down the halls as the soldiers charged through them. My greatest fear was only that you, Ilanna, had been killed. I struggled even harder to free myself, but got nowhere.

The battle rushed past me, leaving a strange silence behind. Mountain air blasted through now broken entrance and pushed me to the ground. I found my feet rather quickly and ran to find you. That was when I heard the feet scrambling down the stairs. I looked up and saw Lyanis gliding down with a small entourage in tow.

I yelled out to ask him what was happening and he turned to me with a worried look. I was about to demand answers when I saw you, Ilanna, hiding underneath a cloak in the center of the group. You must remember pulling back your hood to acknowledge me for the very first time. Your eyes were the most terrifyingly beautiful I had ever seen. Surely you felt our connection in that perfect moment.

For the briefest of time, I forgot the peril we were all in, but soon came back when you thanked me for my sacrifice. Confused, I just nodded my head in a stupor as you continued walking outside. Lyanis was the last one out and turned back to me, baring my exit. He explained the castle was now mine and I was the only one who could contain the evil within.

I ignored his crazy ramblings, and pushed around him to move outside. A jolt of pain snapped me back into the castle. Lyanis explained I wouldn’t be able to leave because of the scroll I had cast. If I left, all the evil now trapped in the castle would follow me. I screamed at how wretched of an elf he was and reaffirmed my hatred of his kind.

He disappeared with you down the mountain, leaving me to watch your escape from above. I knew how short-lived it would be as the attacking horde stood around the base of the mountain. For hours, I stood watching until you were captured and brought before whatever twisted general hunted you. I wept when they bound your hands in chains and shoved you in that prison cart.

When they set off, carrying you away from me, I tried once more to leave the castle, but still I could not. I was trapped in my own prison as they drove you unto yours. That was the moment I vowed to seek you out and free you from your captors. I live by that vow in this very moment that I pen these words as fervently as I made it that day. Those who imprisoned you will suffer at my hands.

I never make vows lightly. I will come for you and I will rescue you.

Tolin Naihim
Death’s Neglected Son

Necromancer

Tolin’s Journal #2

My Dear Ilanna,

I’ll never forget that day we first met. I’m sure to you it was an unremarkable day, but it changed my destiny. No, rather, you changed my destiny. To understand why, you must know what I survived beforehand. After the elven massacre of my town, I endured the hardest weeks of my life.

I spent that first night in the library curled around my favorite book, A History of the Valley. It’s familiarity comforted me while death strode outside. Elves weaved in an out of its pages. Critical in the founding of the Valley, they upheld an unspoken alliance to guard it from their mountain castles against invaders. In recent centuries, they had withdrawn from sight, hiding in the mountains. Funny, since they didn’t look highly on dwarven values.

Whether their relationship with us deteriorated by Lord Chaxon’s hand or theirs, I grew to hate them that night. All the good they had ever done for me, unknown or not, flushed out from my mind. The unnatural screaming and groaning outside justified my new-found hate.

I found sleep that night in a pool of my tears. I dreamed of my father and I working out in the fields until a force of elves descended from the mountains. The townsfolk’s screams haunted me once again, crying for me to save them as the elves burned everything. My own father reached out for me, but I was powerless. Two mounted, armored elves stabbed him with their lances, reveling in my screams of fury.

I awoke with a start, cursing the elves. Hurrying outside, the sun lit up an empty town. Nothing burned, yet nothing stirred. I traveled from house to house walking through remnants of interrupted lives. Nothing had been pillaged save the people. Every living animal and person had been emptied out. I cried out for my father, but he never came. I was alone.

The mountains hid their elven castles from me. Without the darkness of night to reveal the lights, I couldn’t make out anything from the grays and whites of the tall slopes. A solemn pang of fear weighted me down. The elves were sure to return.

Taking no time to mourn those I had lost, I set myself to work fortifying the library. My studies of the histories of major battles helped me create a crude series of small battlements and archer platforms. Ransacking a few houses, I had enough food stocks to supply me for weeks, plus the next harvest soon approached. I could easily have made it another year or more.

As the weeks went by, I spent my days perusing towers of books on the arcane magics. They were my only hope of achieving retribution for my father. The elves stripped my life from me, I thought it fair to repay them. The library stored tomes on just about every school of magic. I sought ways of killing my enemies as brutally as they had killed my father. Nothing quite satisfied me.

While patrolling my makeshift castle, I passed the cellar door-the only section that remained unexplored. I always stayed away because of my boyish fears. This time, I conquered the dark with a fistful of candles. Without much searching at all, I found a hidden door that lead into a small room layered with dust. An expended candle burnt down to a nub sat at the edge of a desk littered with parchments.

The walls were deep shelves filled with books bound all in black. The dust was so thick upon them, I couldn’t make out any of their names. I pulled a few over to the desk and began reading. At first, they were written in an unknown script, but the longer I sat there, the more I seemed to understand the words. One name recurred throughout them all–Nerull. I smiled, having found the path to unleash death upon the elves.

I lived in that private library over the next few weeks, filling my head with its tomes of death. I would have wasted away in all of that knowledge, had I not been captured. On that fateful day that you may very well remember, Ilanna, I had come back up to the main hall in the library and heard elven voices outside. Peeking down from my battlements, I saw a handful of elven riders.

Eager to apply my studies, I conjured up a host of undead rats with my limited powers. Short sword in hand, I burst outside and attacked the riders like a fool. My army of rats covered them, chinking their armor with decaying teeth. The elves just laughed at me and brushed my army off them. In moments, my army turned back into dust at my feet.

Rage swelled in my throat. I screamed out another curse and cast more spells from my memory. Dark clouds blotted out the sun as two of the elves fell from their horses. They screamed while ripping off their armor. I laughed at seeing their flesh turn black and fall from their bones. The other riders descended upon me before I could open my mouth again. I crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

I awoke in chains with pain running throughout my body. My cell felt moderately sized, but that could have been my childish perspective. A lone beam of sunlight entered through a tiny window a little bigger than my head. I had to jump up, grab the ledge, and pull myself up to look out.

The Valley spread out as far as I could see to either side. It wasn’t as green as I always imagined. Instead, it looked to be a patchwork of varying shades of brown. Then it hit me. I had made it up to a castle in the mountains! Not even my chains held back my excitement.

Through my window, I could make out the outer parts of the castle that held me prisoner. I’ve never felt such exhilaration as I did there, in a cell, hanging from a ledge, and viewing an elven castle from the inside. But even that wasn’t the best sight I found.

I noticed a walkway a level down from where I was. A group of female elves wearing flowing gowns of yellow and deep blue walked across it. I’m sure you remember that day now, Ilanna, because your violet eyes sparked their own conversations with those around you. My own heart stopped from your sheer beauty. The sun caught your hair perfectly and ignited its golden flair. I almost could have forgiven your House in that moment for what they did to me.

I held on as tightly as I could to that ledge, desiring to watch you forever. Your gaze drifted in my direction and we locked eyes. I’m sure you remember as well as I. Our destinies converged in that moment, giving birth to our eternal love.

Tolin Naihim – Death’s Neglected Son

I have officially read nearly 100,000 words of the paranormal romance genre after finishing up Mated by the only paranormal romance author I have ever read, Zoe Winters. The journey to get here has been incredibly strange as I have had my brain infused with more emotional instability than I have ever experienced before. Hopefully I can still function as a normal citizen.

I have been hearing lately that digital publishing is getting readers to branch out from their mainstay genres, but I never thought I would be caught up in it myself. The truth is, though, that if Zoe Winters had been traditionally published, I would have missed out on her work because you will never catch me even glancing at the romance section of the bookstore. After branching out into the jacked up fiction that is paranormal romance, I have discovered some pretty good stuff.

Mated is the final chapter in Zoe’s Blood Lust trilogy (which should be coming out in print form soon) and what a final chapter it is.

MatedSummary

So what we have here is another crazy chic, Jane if you remember her from Claimed, who has been pretending to be goth to fit in with the vampire crew. Unfortunately for her, she gets wrapped up with these crazy awesome Furries (or werewolves if you prefer the non-hilarious connotation). The alpha furry, Cole, takes her as payment for one of the vampire’s debts and things get awesome.

He is all like, ‘my furry senses tell me that you are my mate’, and she is all like ‘but I don’t get down that way’. So, he keeps her locked up in the hive with all the rest of the furries. They actually have a nice set up for being a pack of furries without real jobs besides eating defenseless forest animals (they even have a TV). Lucky for them, Cole runs a successful web business to pay the bills.

Did I mention there are demons? Yeah, apparently the furries are in league with the demons. Cain, a demon friend of Cole, tells him that one in his pack is actually killing humans instead of defenseless forest animals. Cole’s hatred of forest animals pushes him to find out who it is and gets himself and Jane wrapped up in an insane plot where they may or may not end up romantically entangled by the end of the story. Stuff goes down and blood is everywhere. Because that is how furries like it.

Review

Once again, Zoe has shocked me with her ability to tell the oldest story in the book (boy meets girl) and actually keep it interesting. I seriously doubt a plain romance novel would keep my attention the way she did (not that I am going to test that out). The Blood Lust story keeps evolving and Mated beautifully continues the tradition.

The wolves’ subculture within Cary Town is just as meticulously crafted as the ones from the first two Blood Lust entries. You will be drawn into it along with Jane and walk with her as she slowly releases her prejudices about the wolves. The interactions among this world and its characters melds seamlessly into the plot with nothing feeling out of place.

It is a difficult job to use legendary creatures and not devolve them into hackneyed archetypes, but Zoe walks that line like a pro. Her tremendous talent to bring them to life will fill you with genuine empathy for their plights as they become more like good friends than fictional people. You will not find boring, flat development here. Zoe only writes with 100% pure 3D characterization.

The plot was good and well thought out. It moved along with good pacing for the most part, but there were a few moments that I felt it begin to stall just a little in the middle. It is really not much to complain about as the encompassing world soaks up the plot’s deficiencies. The build to the final climatic scene was so riveting it had me glued to the screen. The sheer emotion fueling the two main characters’ battle with fated love was written so excellently I began questioning whether or not I have actually ever really been in love before.

Mated is worthy as the final chapter in the Blood Lust trilogy. It is a great read that is ridiculously under-priced for its quality. I am by no means a paranormal romance authority, but I can safely recommend it to anyone who needs something deeper than Twilight to test the genre out.

I give it one out of one wolf bites (because that is all it takes to pierce your heart).

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Michael A. Stackpole, original fantasy and Star Wars author, has issued a challenge to everyone who wants to give Michael A. Stackpolefull creative control over to authors. Traditionally, authors have been shackled by big New York publishers with restrictive contracts that dictated how an they could craft their novels. However, with the rise of digital self-publishing, authors can now cut out the middle-man and sell directly to the fans. Stackpole has championed this new method of publishing.

His fantasy novel, Talion: Revenant, was a huge hit when it was first published. In fact, he receives more requests for a sequel than any of his other works. Unfortunately, writing for big publishers and getting them on board is no easy task, so fans were forced to wait for a sequel that never materialized – until now.

He has recently re-released Talion: Revenant in ebook format and has issued a challenge along with it: if he can sell 10,000 copies of the digital format of the book, he will use the profits to write the much-anticipated sequel. Now that is a challenge I can get behind. If all authors seriously considered the opinions of their fans, novels would be so much better.

The idea behind this challenge is a huge step in the right direction. Publishers have no right determining the direction of authors. It should be solely between the author and the fans. We are the ones reading and supporting these artists, so it is only right that we be given the opportunity to connect with them and let them know what we want to read. And the best way to show our support is to buy directly from them via digital self-publishing.

The digital form of this book is indeed self-published by Stackpole, so you are buying directly from the man himself. Get out there and show your support!

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