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The Dark Armor

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 24

Sleep had overcome Bently as soon as his head touched the pillow. The bed was simple, but to the exhausted soldier, the warmth and softness was something he thought he had almost forgotten.

Somewhere in his dreams, a shrill call like that of a bird had begun to echo back and forth, sometimes near, sometimes far. “To attention, Mr. Bently.” Someone yanked him by his shoulder, pulling him to a half-conscious state.

“What’s the issue?” He sat up groggily. The darkness of the night was still upon the exterior windows, and the bird call continued. Chin stared down at him as he played with his long sleeves and messy dark hair.

“Up, up, I said. Something strange is afoot.”

“What’s that awful whining sound?” Bently muttered as he found his footing on the hard floor.

“It exists as a warning signal between the guard.” The mage announced. Bently perked up. “I suggest you put on that suit of armor.” Chin said one last warning before pushing his way out the door.

Bently quickly assembled the parts of the armor that had been buried in his collection of things pushed into the corner of the cramped room. Putting on the suit armor had become such a practiced action for him, even in the dim light the pieces came to rest upon his body almost effortlessly. It was lighter than regular armor too. First the boots, leggings and tassets that guarded his legs, then the both sides of the chest-plate that went over his head and buckled simply with two straps at his right shoulder. The helmet slid on last even with the clumsy gauntlets on his hands. With in a minute, he had his sword in hand, still bound, as he exited the room.

The morning light had begun to creep between the leaves and branches of the tall trees. Chin stood outside the hall, his breath exiting his lungs in big clouds, much like when he would nurse his pipe. The mage held his eyes tightly shut as he honed his senses towards the exterior world.

Bently marched up next to him, his armor making low clinking sounds. One more of the shrill bird-like calls echoed out and died within the walls of the city. Bently played with the bands of armor around his arms, adjusting them to fit more comfortably. Chin quickly placed his hand upon the metal plate, grasping it in between his thumb and fingers. “I sense something.” He muttered. “Another energy like that of your own.”

Bently swallowed hard. He scanned the dark streets intently as his eyes adjusted to the low light. “Scar, maybe Kensley could be here?”

The mage dropped his hand to his side and shook his head. “Edrian was planning for them to move soon. There’s no way either of them would be all the way out here.”

“Then-” Bently uttered, before being interrupted.

“The warning calls have stopped.”

Bently made sure the sword was still secure in the binding in his hand before he took off in a jog down the road. Continue reading “The Dark Armor”

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Tuleforian Walls

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 23

Kensley guided the horse slowly over the soft ground of the ridge. Several feet below, the rhythmic pounding of the formation marched them forward. The mountain pass was sparse, just above the tree line. The ground was soft with soggy earth and covered in a thin layer of freshly budding grass, as if no fighting had ever taken place. Bits of frost and snow still lingered in the shadows of large boulders dotting the rocky slopes.

In the distance, Kensley could see the thick forests of the Tuleforian province start to catch the morning sunlight as it began to creep over the peak of the mountain range. Boughlin prodded at the sides of his horse’s flank with his heels, causing it to slow and allow Kensley to catch up.

“I pray you aren’t too hot in that suit of armor.” Boughlin nodded at Kensley as he moved to the side. Out of the limited peripheral vision, Kensley could see the morning light reflecting off the plates of armor hanging off his body.

“The enchantments provide my body shelter from many conditions.” Kensley remarked.

“I could have never worn such a thing.” Boughlin boasted. “I want to feel the sweat and dirt on my body as I find myself in combat. I want to feel the spray of a man’s blood as I chop into their fleshy parts.” Continue reading “Tuleforian Walls”

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Something Spacey this way Comes

Coming this Summer, the third and final installment of my Scifi-Drama:

Book3.png

Almost a year after the Mars Fever had been cured, the Altum Crater Station had finally returned to a proper routine. Cecil quickly finds himself stuck between working random tasks and fending off boredom. When a new ship from Earth arrives bringing with it more workers as well as a group of civilians to live there, Cecil discovers that he must take the role of watching over them. His suspicions of his own inadequacy hold him back while these new arrivals continue to look up to him as some sort of infallible system of support.

Meanwhile, out in space between the Earth and Mars, a ship sent by a separate country looms closer, offering no inclination that they wish contact.

Pre-order here!

If you haven’t read the first two in the series, Mother of Mars will be free all next week, the 18th-22nd, and Above A Whisper will be free the 25th-29th.

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Eye to Eye

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 22

Bently had removed the suit of armor and hid it under the woven blanket that had been provided to him in his room. He could feel the familiar sense of lethargy in his body as the magical forces ebbed from his limbs. Downstairs, he could see the woman- the one who had addressed herself as the Arcanus- pacing about the head of the long stone table at the end of the room.

The spry man named Shiloh sat at one side of the table, with the mage at the opposite. Chin sat back in the chair, quietly smoking his pipe while Shiloh stared daggers at him.
Both Charlstine and Shiloh stared at Bently as he descended the last few steps down towards the ground floor. “Mr. Bently of Xiandol, please have a seat.” The Arcanus offered, a hint of insistence in her voice.

Bently quickly took up one of the wooden seats beside Chin, glancing at the mage tentatively. “Tell me, when you put on that suit of armor, what do you feel?” Charlstine called out. She placed her hands on the hard stone of the table, peering across the surface at Bently.

“Power.” The soldier remarked.

“That power…” Charlstine pursed her lips. “Is the same that runs through our veins. Is that right, Mr. Chin?”

The mage hesitated, taking one last deep inhale from his pipe. “It is similar.”

“Lady Arcanus!” Shiloh spoke up, slapping his palms on the cold, hard stone surface of the table top. “I must tell you of these men, those who wear this armor of magical power.”

Charlstine propped herself up and began to pace once again. “You know I wish not to hear it, Mr. Shiloh.” Her voice held a tinge of distaste. “You should have known to leave behind your urges for violence once you came through the gates of this city.”

Shiloh slumped back in the chair and avoided looking in Bently’s direction.

“As a Tuleforian, I’m sure you can recount the brief history of bloodshed we’ve had to endure here,  suffered by these people of Arkyan.” Charlstine posed, her gaze pointed to the back of Shiloh’s neck. Continue reading “Eye to Eye”

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The Raising

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 21

Kensley marched up the stairs perched along the crag up to Edrian’s hut. He pushed aside the fur covering across the door and peered into the dim tent. Inside, Edrian crouched at the side of the smoldering embers of the fire pit. The General pushed around the black and white powdery cinders with a long stick, hoping to quell the heavy smoke escaping from it.

Kensley cleared his throat.  “You called for me, Sir?”

Edrian tossed the branch into the middle of the pit. He stood up and extracted the well-used handkerchief from it’s place tucked into his belt, wiping his shiny forehead with it.

“Yes, yes. I apologize for calling you out so late.” He grumbled in a low voice. “It’s simply that I’ve made up my mind, and I wish to hear your thoughts.”

“Anything, sir.” Kensley nodded and stepped inside. Respectfully, he planted his feet in place, and his arms crossed behind his back.

The general examined the stern stance and waved him down. “At ease, Mr. Kensley.”
The lieutenant took a deep breath and slumped his shoulders.

“Good, good.” Edrian continued. “Are you familiar with that pass to the south of here?”

“Yes, sir.” Kensley nodded. “We used it to return from our attack on Tulefore; Bently, Scarborough and myself.”

“I figured so. Just over five years ago, Tulefore passed its forces through there for the first of their attacks on this land.”

Kensley nodded slowly. “I cannot remember the event more clearly. My squadron was one of the first on the battlefield.” Continue reading “The Raising”

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The Neutral Zone

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 20

Shiloh looked out over the edge of the balcony of the building down at the flowing river. The bed he had slept in the night previous was uncomfortably soft, and the breakfast rich and overfilling. Down below on the street running beside the central hall, two women passed by nonchalantly, glancing up at the soldier before giggling amongst each other. Shiloh quickly retreated to the chamber, his ears red.

The guard quickly walked through the simple room and out to the inner veranda and down the rickety wooden stairs. The central hall was an open space, containing a massive table carved out of stone, surrounded by chairs and cushions of random shapes and sizes. Above, the lieu of a roof and ceiling, the space peered up at the canopies of the trees covering the area. A smoldering pyre at the center of the table spat gray smoke up and out into the sky.

Shiloh spied one of the servants wandering across the veranda opposite him. “Have you seen the Arcanus?” He shouted out to her.

The woman, sporting a long reddish robe, shook her head. “The Lady is busy.” She called out. “No doubt welcoming other emissaries for the trial.”

Continue reading “The Neutral Zone”

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Reinforcements

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 19\

Kiaren had set up at the gate of the encampment at the first sign of the arriving troops. The afternoon sun glinted off the metal weapons and armor carried by the horse-mounted soldiers. The Commander’s eyes focused on the leader of the pack, who steadily guided the group towards the gate.

The man peered down at Kiaren as he guided his horse under the gate structure. “About time.” The Commander prodded at the man whose identity was still hidden under the dull metal helmet. He quickly dismounted the horse and leaned in close to Kiaren, nearly meeting face to face.

“Is that how you talk to those who have come to your aid?” The man grumbled, sliding off his helmet.

Kiaren’s eyes went wide and she recoiled one footstep. “Silvus!” She stammered.
The man, only slightly taller than Kiaren, held out his hand as if expecting to shake. The Commander swatted away his hand and quickly turned around.

Slivus quickly faced his troops and waved for them to enter into the settlement through the gate. Before Kiaren could look back towards him, he grabbed at her arm and pulled her to the side, out of the way of the path. “You’re blocking the way.”

“Release me.” Kiaren snarled and pulled away. She paced towards the wall and silently leaned back against the thick timber, sulking. Continue reading “Reinforcements”

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Into the Forest

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 18

During the night, the snowfall had been replaced slowly by a cold rain. Chin’s horse made the last few slippery steps through the slush at the edge of the forest. Bently carefully followed after. His neck strained against the back of the helmet as he attempted to size up the massive trees. He quickly slipped the helm off his head and balanced it between his legs with one hand on the reins. The cold air tingled at his nose and ears.

“Feeling warmer?” Chin called back to him.

“It feels nice to be out of this armor once in a while. It’s more stifling…” Bently postured. “More so than regular armor, perhaps.”

“Your imagination.” The mage declared.

Bently pursed his dry lips and swallowed the minuscule amount of saliva at the edges of his mouth. “I have a suspicion, Mr. Chin.”

“Is it so important?”

“When you examined Scar’s sword, the one that had become rusted by some… strange power. You said you would look into it.”

“You ask too many questions.” Chin huffed and yanked on the reins of the horse.

“You must have an idea of what this meeting of the order is about then?” Bently called out, to no reply.

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Tallest Trees of the Land

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 16

“Keep moving.” Shiloh grumbled, his patience wearing thin. The mountain trail wavered back and forth, following the curvature of the rocky hills and crumbling outcroppings. The frozen snow crunched loudly under the heavy tread of the horses as they trudged slowly onward.

Zethurus slumped forwards against the mane of the animal. The rope bonds wrapped around his wrists had been tied down to the saddle, with one end trailing off for Shiloh ahead of him to hold onto. The mage’s horse moved as if reacting the the rider’s own apathy.

“Excuse me if I’m not eager to head so quickly to my incarceration, and likely worse.” Zethurus sneered. “Do you have any idea what they’ll do to me here?”

“Not a clue.” Shiloh mumbled, keeping the rope just taught enough for the horse behind his own to stay at attention.

“Me neither.” The mage grumbled. “But it can’t be good. Are you willing to bear the weight of your guilt after having brought me to some horrible fate?”

“Me, I’m following orders. It’s you who sealed your fate long before we set out. Why take up dark magic if you know the consequences will be so dire?”

“One does not take up dark magic, it’s the magic that draws itself to you.”

Shiloh sighed and tapped at the side of his horse to speed up its gait. “Trying to discard the blame from yourself will do you no good. I assume your… Arcanus, you called them, will know how to respond to your wordplay.”

In the distance, the sharp, triangular shaped canopies of towering timbers began to come into view. Arkyan was a small city, wedged in between the northern stretches of the Sing mountain range to the west and the sea to the east. In this part of the province of Tulefore, the trees grew like no other; bark rugged and thick, surrounding trunks that were as thick as wagon wheels or greater. It was deep in the forest where the city had been built atop the Aegien river that flowed down from the North.

The path met with another in a fork that continued under the wide canopies and eventually towards the city, where the group of two horses and two men were headed. Under the shelter of the thick intertwining branches, the ground had escaped the thick deposits of snow. Continue reading “Tallest Trees of the Land”

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A Summons

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 15

It was mid day, the sun had disappeared from the sky, leaving only hints of its existence at the edges of the dark clouds. With dirty fingers, Scarborough shoveled the gray paste that once was potatoes into his mouth. A lone snowflake landed in a smear of mash inside the wooden bowl. The skinny man pulled his arms in close by his sides as he scooted the round of wood closer to the fire.
“And I finally thought spring had come.” Bently remarked, looking up from his lunch towards the sky.

 

By dinner, a layer of snow had coated the settlement. The frigid weather had driven everyone inside, save Kensley who had donned the suit of armor in order to more comfortably wait guard outside the general’s hut. He could slowly feel the melting clumps of snow congeal and freeze into ice atop the cold metal of the armor, cracking each time he moved a centimeter.

In the still of the falling snow, a faint flapping of wings drew nearer. Kensley tensed, listening closely for the sound. A small animal fluttered in the air around him, before taking a perch on the edge of the tent’s entranceway. The lieutenant turned his head up to get a look at the small white and black speckled owl, who stared down at him and taunted with the clicks of its beak. On its leg was tied a small scroll of wound-up paper.

Kensley offered up his wrist, and the animal jumped down with a wave of its wings. He stared into the unblinking eyes before pushing aside the hanging fur blocking off the entrance and stepping inside. The animal instantly hopped down and drifted to a spot by the fire pit. With a shake to shed the moisture off its feathers, it returned to its relaxed state. Continue reading “A Summons”