20 March 2016

Dare you enter the world of EPIC FANTASY *WITH DRAGONS?

You all know that in spring a young man's thoughts turn to merriment and dalliance. It is the nature of nature during spring break, when school work is set aside for tender, playful moments of love and affection. Or, in the case of many of my friends and colleagues, we relish grabbing a few moments to write.

And so, having nothing more to say on the matter of spring break, love, or nature, I shall simply offer you the opening scenes of my current work-in-progress titled EPIC FANTASY *With Dragons - because that is what it is. To read more about why I am "suddenly" writing an epic fantasy and why it involves dragons, click here and/or here. Or possibly here, as well. This excerpt is a bit more polished than what I offered up at Edgewise Words Inn and I've dared include much of chapter 2. Enjoy!


*With Dragons


The dragons were a given, as ubiquitous as rainbows after rainstorms. The aerial beasts had developed such a vile temperament in their endless quest for dinner that Corlan had no choice but to rip the lead winger out of the formation. It wasn’t that he enjoyed culling the herd; it was his job. And he didn’t much care how he came to be employed in such a capacity. He would say to anyone who asked: “Politics, mere social squabbling, was all it was, not at all what people assume!”
One day he was the son of a king; the next day, an outcast making his way across the battlefields of the realm, offering his services where he could. He fought in the Battle of Green Mountain on the side of the Chusets, then in the Battle of the Two Rivers near Banay, rewarded by the prince of Nerk. Then, retiring from conflict, he had taken up the dragonslinger, a weapon as long as he was tall, and hired himself out. Fear gripped the land in those days so it was lucrative, more than the mercenary work. He was employed by the young, sniveling prince of the Burg, who feared dragons more than anyone Corlan had ever met.
However, Corlan knew ripping the lead winger from the formation would compel the lieutenants to turn upon him with the full fury of all gods and demons united in flesh-ripping horror. Like dragonslayers before him, their lives were often measured in minutes. A toasty end to regrets imagined and mostly unfulfilled.
“Come on! I’ve got a gift for you!” he shouted at the dragon trying to locate him on the side of the mountain.
Corlan refitted his weapon with another iron bolt, the metal dart as long as his arm, trident-barbed. For good measure, the tip included the best poisons man could create encased in a capsule which would burst upon impact and spill its rotten juice within the body of the beast—in case the wound itself did not take down the creature.
As he prepared to fire the weapon again, he kneed his broad-shouldered muscular mount, the hefty hippor, into the shadows of the cliffs where they would be safe a moment longer than in full view. The hippor grunted its disagreement but complied. The quivers of bolts hanging from each side of the hippor rattled like chains on the guests in Hell. As heavy as the collection of metal was, it required a hippor to carry them.
Corlan scanned the sky, measured the distance with his well-trained eyes. It might be a good day, he decided. The more dragons dropping from the sky, thought Corlan, the better the sky. The better the ground, as well. And his fine clothes! He hated stepping in dragon shit.
Pressing his foot against the side of the cliff, Corlan dismounted, dropping to the dirt beside the red-brown hippor he rode as did anyone who needed to range far and wide through the mountains. The hippor was a slow-footed, wide-shouldered creature yet the only means of travel left to his people other than by foot.
Fat and easily guided, the hippor yawned. Its broad throat opened for a full minute, flashing its long twin tusks before closing and firing a snort out of its long nostrils.
Corlan cursed, kicking dirt over the toes of his boots to dry the mucus sprayed from the hippor’s slimy nose. He tore a cloth from his saddlebag and wiped his leg from knee to hip. Keeping his eyes on the incoming dragons, he let out a long breath. If only horses still existed. The last horse was already dead more than a hundred years. It had been kept in a small pen on the palace grounds where the prince’s grandfather thought it would be safe from hungry peasants. In the end, it was not safe.
The wizards in their long white robes used Clona magic to create this new riding beast, he had heard. It was a long, expensive process so he felt special that the prince would offer him one. To begin, the wizards took dust from a dead animal that had been kept in a jar and locked in a secret vault. Then they mixed in many potions and set it all into an oven. What came out of the oven was placed into a larger container and fed many liquids until, after many days, a beast could be seen. It grew from a thimble of flesh into a full-sized baby animal in a few weeks. The animal then grew normally within the confines of a farm pen. Or, in the case of the hippor, in the marshes below the palace walls.
Some people said dragons came into being the same way. A few deviant wizards chose to mix potions and create the flying reptiles. That happened a few hundred years past. They came into being either as the result of a rogue element of magical turpitude or as an accidental outcome of attempting to produce a new food source for a starving populace. “What starving fool would dare eat the flesh of a dragon?” Corlan mused whenever anyone sought to discuss such history. It was now well-known that dragon flesh was awful. No matter how they entered the world, from that initial creation they had grown into nine distinct species roaming all regions of the world, some of them with viable subspecies.
Overhead the dragons were circling, locating their prey against the side of the mountain, as Corlan’s red-brown clothing merged into the red-brown cliffside—as did the red-brown hippor.
The familiar cries did not alarm Corlan, an expert in this necessary occupation. With boots planted, he leaned back against the hippor, urging it to move tighter against the cliffside. Then Corlan took his stance, the bolt loaded, another leaning against his knee, ready to load next.
A large gray bull with teal throat markings came in first, wings open and talons drawn, making a ridiculous spectacle.
Corlan’s shot went through the dragon’s throat and the beast instantly dropped from the sky, falling past the human’s position on the cliffside, down to the valley floor.
In went the next iron bolt, prepared, aimed.
The second, a tan female with orange wing tips, came at him, apparently upset about loosing her mate. He could tell that by her fluttering throat skin and the high-pitched cry of anguish. She gave Corlan an exhale of noxious air which, with a deliberate hiccough, caught fire. The dragon blew the fireball at the cliffside and Corlan crouched quickly under the hippor’s head.
Squealing, the hippor bumbled forward, its bulbous rump and hairless tail lit and burning. There was nothing Corlan could do. A canteen of water would not be enough. And he needed the water for the journey back to the city. He had ridden the hippor for the past season. Lent to him by his employer, the prince, it was an expensive accommodation. Corlan stood, staring hard at the tan female dragon approaching the cliffside for further vengeance, making an arc in the sky and returning.
The iron bolt was set into the weapon, Corlan’s hands working without thought. He raised the weapon, released the bolt, and struck the dragon under its lower jaw.
The beast crashed into the cliffside, one wingtip scraping along the trail that hugged the rocks. Corlan dove aside—as his eyes caught the last of the hippor disappearing over the edge of the cliff, its rear end well-burnt and smelling almost delicious.
In the same moment, a large beige dragon swooped up from below Corlan and snatched the fat animal in its mouth. The dragon sailed high into the sky—boasting of its prize, it seemed. With a quick upward toss, the dragon caught the hippor in its mouth and bit off half, letting the other half fall. The dragon then swooped down and caught the second half, downing it in a second tremendous gulp. Taking on the extra weight forced the dragon into a lower course than the clan. Others seemed to scream at him to keep up. The dragon only burped in response and a cloud of black smoke spilled from its mouth and trailed the beast as it flew on.
The formation decided to continue, he saw. They couldn’t spare more time or energy to deal with another pesky gamekeeper. Three of them already lost on this passage through the mountains. They should count themselves fortunate. Beyond the mountains, Corlan knew, was the valley where they would settle for the cold season and do their mating. After the cold season, the nests would be full of little dragons.
If only he could make his way there and destroy all the nests before they hatched. Then the kingdom would be safe for humankind. And the less he had to step around dragon droppings, the better. He was already into his third pair of boots this year!
Now he had no beast to carry him and his supply of the heavy iron bolts through the mountains and back to the city. It would be a hard journey on foot.
The hippor was a sturdy animal with thick legs and large three-toed feet, with a back wide enough for a large man like him to have lunch on. The animal’s small eyes were set far apart above a cavernous mouth full of large, rounded teeth designed for chomping the stalks of river plants, an activity which occupied them most of their days. Until they were tasked for travel.
Corlan brushed off his sleeves, straightened his leather jerkin, blithely ran his fingers through his long auburn hair as though he were about to step into the private chamber of a certain lady of the Court, a lady whose attentions he had garnered in recent weeks—yes, her! the lovely blond buxom Petula!—and not merely setting himself on the road back home. He could not continue his culling without more supplies.
His boots had gotten scuffed and the snot of the hippor made every particle of dust cling to them. He sat on a rock and pulled off his boots to clean them properly. As he worked, the winds picked up and he could hear the fading cries of the dragon clan as they winged their way west. It was a smaller clan than he usually saw so perhaps his work was actually reducing their number.
“Pity,” he grunted, examining the results of his cleaning.
When the dragons were all gone, he would be out of a job. No more enjoying the Prince’s favor. No more the ladies at Court to dabble with after the feasts. They loved being with a dragonslayer. He was the only true man in the Great Hall—or in any tavern.
He shook his head. No more the steep hikes up into the mountains on the back of a hippor to hunt dragons at  their own elevation, either.
Rebooted, Corlan set out at a brisk pace, arms swinging, the heavy spring-loaded dragonslinger, one last bolt fixed, dangling from a strap over his shoulder. It would become heavier as he hiked. A sideblade swung at his hip for lessor dangers.
He decided to whistle a tune as he walked the trail, the cliff rising to his right, dropping to his left, the space for footwork only double the width of his shoulders. Likely the hippor would not have fit this section of the trail and they both would have tumbled over the side. Then where would he spend the night?
“Lucky day,” Corlan snorted, clapping his hands.


After he descended from the mountain, two days making his way along narrow, dangerous trails, Corlan arrived in the Valley of Death.
He tsked, kicking dirt from his boots, daring to stride in the open with his dragonslinger held at the ready.
No secret to the name of this valley, once upon a time flowing with a mighty river. Even in the days of the history scrolls a river flowed down the valley. Now the canyon, empty of its water, had over time widened further, filled only with rock and dirt and dragon droppings. It was a major conduit between the nesting grounds in the west and the hunting grounds in the east—where all the kingdoms of humans lay. No trees, no plant life of any kind to hide under. After the last of the river had flowed away, it seemed as if all the life in the valley had been scraped away, leaving a long, jagged desert: one end butting against the border of his kingdom, the opposite end eventually falling into a swamp that slid into open sea. Nothing grew in the valley and anyone who ventured into it often left in the maw of a passing dragon. Hence its name.
Corlan kept to the shadows of the cliffs. He ducked behind boulders whenever the skies darkened with dragons winging their path either west or east depending on their feeding cycle.
He breathed deeply, sucking in the coarse red dust of the valley, then scanned the skies. He knew them by sight: the long-tails, the tri-wings, the curlies, the drapers, the two-feets, the red-bulls, the green-horns, the blue-lightnings, the grey-bellies, the sag-throats, the fang-masters, the flat-heads, the featherbacks, the tree-eaters, the mountain-masters, the sea-serpents, the desert-crispers, the free-sails, the nomad-bearers, the double-hornchins, the mud-crackers. There were likely more types living in distant regions he had never visited. And he had never read reports of other dragon species from distant lands, either. It might be good for dragonslayers to share their knowledge, he considered.
And yet his mind was much more consumed by his current predicament than any idealistic future.
Without the hippor, Corlan alternated short runs and lengthy walks along what used to be the river bed, now gravel and dirt. A beam of light broke through the gray sky ahead and showed him the way home. Three days. Three long days and short nights dodging the dragons passing overhead.
And the hippor lost. He wondered how to explain to the prince. How could he pay back the prince? Not even a record slaughter of dragons—thirty-three this trip—would likely keep the prince from expressing his anger. Hippors were not easy to come by, after all. It took a good six months to make one, the wizards mixing potions in their vats, then a couple years of growth to be able to use the beast as a mount. The wizards were always trying to speed along the procedure.
Corlan chuckled to himself, stepping around a low rock that threatened to introduce itself to his toe.
At the end of the Valley of Death, he saw the spires of the city, rising above its encompassing yellow stone walls. A pang of joy burst within him, embarrassed him, but he was alone and quickly dismissed the momentary lapse of virility.
He made his way among the broken cliffsides and located the ancient device that people once used to go foraging in the valley. Long ago, when plants still grew there, the people would harvest them for food. He thought they called the device a lift—which is what it did. However, there was no magic spark remaining in the magical ropes, so he was forced to pull himself up, hand over hand, grabbing the ropes himself. The pulley system still moved freely, he was thankful to see.
A full hour of pulling himself up and Corlan finally stood on the wide veranda that members of the Court used for evening gatherings. The rich folk laughed and sang, drank and ate, danced and exchanged acts of affection—all while he stood watch with his dragonslinger ready to knock any hungry beast out of the sky should it come too close. He stood watch over them—all of them, the weak courtesans who thought they lorded over him.
He laughed, recognized his tendency to do so when a thought about his life flittered through his mind, letting go a drop of memory, the smell of it halting him in his tracks. The smell of death? The scent of baby skin? The caustic odor of dragon breath? He knew them well, dismissed them casually. In his mind they always mixed, one linked to the next.
And he went through the gardens, stepping around the pink and purple flowerbeds, ducking under low tree branches, then carefully passing through an arched gate. Maneuvering the large dragonslinger through the flora was aggravating. He slipped along the west side of the palace out to the open plaza full of merchant stands and guild houses, dozens of citizens going about their business with no thought to the dragons that would return tomorrow or the next day or sometime the following week or month.
He pulled up his cowl, secured it over his head, not wanting to be engaged by anyone who might recognize him.
Despite his attempt at disguise, Corlan was not three blocks down the lane before a young man wearing a scriber’s rough brown robe with the red carnation breast badge stalked up to him, hand outstretched to halt his progress.
“Sir Corlan,” the young man spoke, “you are requested to attend the chambers of Sir Damian.”
Corlan scowled. “He is still alive?”
“Yes, sir.”
“I’m no sir. Not for many years now.”
“I apologize.”
“What’s the trouble now?”
“Sir Damian requests to see you.”
“How does he know I’ve returned? I only this morning arrived.”
“As soon as you return is all he commanded.”
“So you’ve been waiting for me?”
“For fifteen days.”
“Yes, sir.” The young man frowned at Corlan’s sour face. “Yes, uh, how shall I address you?”
“My name is Corlan.” He glared at the scriber; he seemed puzzled. “Of the Burg—this very city. Corlan Daburg, if you must address me. Or call me Dragonslayer. I’m first-class, by the way. If you are concerned with my skill level.”
“Yes, sir—err, Mister…err, Dragonslayer Daburg.”
“A bit better….”
With a wave of his hand, Corlan sent the young man ahead. Corlan followed him back through the market and up to the front gate of the palace, the part of the city he most dreaded. There, they turned sharply left and went down a side lane and entered the Legany Lodge, a home for the infirm.

The old man blinked, showing he remained alive, resting like a statue on the wooden bench, covered with a thread-bare blanket. Light from the side window struck his throat and chin, the remainder of his body in shadow. Corlan set down the dragonslinger, leaning the heavy weapon against the corner of the room. He dropped the bag of iron bolts beside it, rubbed his shoulder roughly, realizing the old man had already begin speaking.
Corlan watched the jiggle of wattle as the old man spoke.
“It’s not like it used to be,” said the old man in a low, gravelly voice, as though the words might be his last. His long gray moustache shook, almost covering his mouth. The longer, grayer beard lay like a second blanket over his chest. “Not like in the olden days.”
“When you were young?” Corlan asked in a weary voice.
He clapped his hands, shaking dust off them, and dropped onto the bench across the room.
“By the gods! When I was half your age. When the princes ruled the five kingdoms.”
“Old man, you are lame in the head. Don’t recite to me the Book of the Princes. Had too much of that in my school days.”
“Then you learned it!”
“And you are not nearly as old as you claim to be.”
The old man shifted, trying to roll onto a shoulder to better regard his visitor.
“Corlan, my boy,” he said with a quick wave of his hand, “you are as old now as I was when I took ill, a useful length of time. No need for you to speak further, for you have spoken the limits of your brain.”
Corlan laughed. “Grandfather, you are the one who’s lame in the head.”
“Don’t let your mother hear you say that…especially in my dying days. She will never forgive you.”
“Grandfather, she—”
Corlan turned away, coughing like he had swallowed the wrong words. Outside the window, the sky was black with smoke, dragons tussling once more, dueling above the town.
“Tell me of your mother.” The old man grinned, his eyes full of hope. “I want to know everything about my daughter. Is she still a lovely lass, a mild maiden traipsing through the daffodil meadows under a pale blue sky? Are her cheeks rosy? Is her flaming red hair tied back as a horse’s tail? Does she bathe in the clear stream run from the eastern hills of Daburg? Tell me of my Merilla.”
Corlan nodded slowly, trying to recall the face of the woman who had pushed him out from between her thighs. She must have nursed him, anyway, at least in the first hours. Perhaps at other times. There were flashes in his mind of a red-haired woman patting his head, fingers tossing his auburn hair, or giving him a spank to his backside, sometimes dressing him like a girl and giggling at him, setting him on the floor like a pet puppy while she ate her dinner. There was a man, too, intruding on his memories. He was  big and burly, had a long black beard that went to the floor, it seemed. Long beard yet high forehead, almost bald. And large hands that swatted him regularly and ignored his cries. And then darkness would fill his head.
“Grandfather, it has been many years, too many, and she has now passed on to the Dark World. You know that. Have you forgotten her?”
“Merilla lives on, you know...in my brain.”
“That’s all you have, I understand. Hold fast to it, if you wish. I assure you she is dead. Dead and burned. I watched the smoke rise to the heavens myself. Even a few dragons came to suck in the smoke to better make their way in search of small humans to gather for supper.”
“Such small talk!” The old man chuckled, broke into a coughing fit.
Corlan waited. He wondered if he should slap the old man’s back. The coughing cleared.
“You’ve a gift for it,” the old man finished.
Corlan stood, brushed off his jerkin, and moved to the side of the bed, gazing down.
“Not much time remains for you, Grandfather.”
The old man’s eyes widened. “Are you the one come to end me? Is that the reason you’ve come to see me? How cruel to send my own kin to do the deed.”
“No, Grandfather. It’s not me.”
“Then you came seeking amusement on me?”
“Neither that.”
“State your business with an old man then!”
“I said you have little time remaining. I thought now may be a good moment for you to give me your secrets.”
“Yes, the location of your treasure, for one. The trick of slaying dragons, for another. The message to take to the next generation.”
“Yes, I see. You wish to honor my ghost by stealing the only thing I have left.”
“We are kin in flesh and blood. We both have been in employ as dragonslayers. You should want to help me. And I shall pass on your wisdom to my sons.”
“You have sons?” He laughed and spittle ran from his mouth. “I don’t believe you. What are their names? Their ages? The color of their eyes?”
“It’s true I haven’t seen them for many years…but I’m sure they are well and brought up by their mothers.”
“Mothers? How much of a cad have you become?”
“I’ve met a few ladies, it’s not a lie. And with them a few sons were made. Not a foul thing to do, Grandfather.”
“So tell me of them.”
Corlan had to think a moment. “Harral is likely twenty by now, black eyes like his mother. Oring is likely sixteen, brown eyes. Young Tevar is yellow-haired with green eyes, perhaps twelve. The eight-year-old redhead is Urix, and he has blue eyes.”
“You named your son after me?”
“Yes, Grandfather.”
“Is that for my honor or for a favor you’ll be asking?”
“After three sons I could think of no more names. That’s the truth of it. Yet if you wish to believe I honor you with the name, I bow to your claim. Young Urix has the look of you and the strength of me, the wisdom of his mother, and the toughness of the mountains where he was born, under the dragon-dense sky!”
“He is my great-grandson! I bless him!”
“Thank you, grandfather.”
“It’s not only me. I was named after my grandfather, naturally, and he was named after his grandfather. We go back many generations.”
“Yes, I know. You never forget to remind me of your heritage.”
“Your heritage, too!”
“So you are named—all of your line are named for Prince Urix, the Great Loser.”
“He was not! How dare you!”
“He was, Grandfather. It’s so long ago you’ve forgotten. He died during the War of the Five Princes. He was killed by his own hand. He was the weakest of them.”
“No, you take it back! Cut your words!”
“It’s true. Ancient history now. Everyone knows. And the other brother executed. Another killed in the final siege. The last a mournful reign full of torment. I cannot recall the fate of the remaining brother. He went east, I think. Became a religious fanatic. Ancient history, as I said.”
The old man coughed, waited to see if Corlan would be a dear and catch his spittle, perhaps slap his back. Corlan remained stiffly at attention, unmoving.
“Now I’ve need of expense,” said Corlan in a soft voice.
“Whoring again?”
“Not that. I mean, the expense is not for that.”
“State it then.”
“I ventured to the Valley of Death on a dragonslaying expedition.”
“You excel at that sport, I hear.”
“More than sport, Grandfather. The prince employees me. And he provided a hippor to carry me forth. As you might guess, a dragon got to the hippor and it was lost.”
“The prince will punish you?”
“I should be prepared to pay the prince if he insists.”
“What punishment might he lay upon you?”
“Slaying dragons is all I’m good for, so he could cut off my employment.”
“So you would be left to rummage through the trash heaps…. Is that your fear?”
“We have many fears among us.”
“Yet we do not have many coin among us.”
“I thought you had wealth hidden away. Mother always said so.”
“Merilla needed to know we were a good family, a clan worthy of marriage, her dowry secure. The truth, however, is much different.”
“There is no wealth? No treasure hidden away?”
“What would you classify as treasure?”
“Coins, gold, jewels—the usual items people value and trade.”
“Not food? Not drink?”
“Those are easy to obtain.”
“Are they?” He blinked as if opening a new set of eyes, a pair designed for serious staring. “You forgot that part of your studies: the generations of famine following the great plague.”
“You are full of stories today!”
“Not stories but truth. Mankind killed mankind, and the lonely few remain. The story is often repeated, but with different colors, textures, and scents.”
“Yes, yes, we progeny of the survivors. A sad tale of woe, made more pathetic by your wagging tongue. Tell it to your jailers, not me. An old man has only stories to offer on his dying bed. I need to know where you have hidden your wealth. The prince will demand payment. Without a fresh hippor I cannot continue my employment. Then you will have no one to visit you.”
“There is treasure. You may not think about it the same as do I. It is…a secret.”
“I know. It’s hidden, though you deny it.”
“Not hidden. Not as a box of jewels might be buried in a desert. Yet hidden, as you seem to believe, in a place where none may access it.”
Corlan frowned. “You’re teasing me.”
“You are the teaser.”
“What is it and where is it?”
“It is a secret.” The old man tapped his temple twice. “It is hidden in here.”
“Then none will find it.”
“Do you want it?”
“What value does a secret have for me this week?”
“Perhaps not this week, yet it could pay you well in time.”
Corlan shook his head. “What is the secret?”
“You cannot guess?”
“By the gods, do not make me guess!”
The old man glared at him.
“Come, tell it,” insisted Corlan.
“Very well, I will.”
Corlan waited. His eyes fought against the stare of his grandfather. Several minutes came and went. The air hardened. Hearts slowed.
The old man opened his mouth: “It is the secret of dragons.”
Corlan rolled his eyes against his will, noticed the caretaker grinning in the corner of the room.
“Grandfather, why have you withheld such a secret if you knew I need it? Are you lame in the head, as I suspect?”
The old man pursed his lips like he was thinking of a worthy answer, then uttered: “No.”
“Then tell it.”
“You must do something for me first.”
Corlan nodded. “Of course there must be some condition!”
“First you must refill my medicine. I’ve been without for nearly a week.”
“So you are lame in the head? From lack of medicine?”
“You judge me so harshly!”
Corlan threw his hand in the direction of the caretaker. “Send the boy to fetch your medicine then. I’ve more important tasks to tend to. I’m a dragonslayer, after all.”
“The boy wouldn’t know where to go. He wouldn’t stand watch to be sure it is made properly. He wouldn’t be able to assure payment was not inflated by the apothecary.”
“That’s true,” Corlan said with a nod. “Very well. I’ll fetch your medicine. Then you must tell me that precious secret you hang over my head like a sword.”
“I knew you would understand.”
Corlan waved at the boy. “Come, we have a mission.”
“Make it soon,” said the old man. "I'm dying, you know."
“Certainly.” Corlan turned to the boy. “I’ll show you where to get the medicine and you bring it back here and give it to him.”
The boy nodded, his face unsure what he was being asked to do but knowing it was his duty to fulfill whatever request was made of him by a guest of the lodge.
“You able to assist us?” Corlan asked the boy.
He nodded. “I am.”
“Then let us be gone,”said Corlan, taking a step toward the door. He glanced back at the old man. “I shall expect your great secret when I return.” He pointed to the corner. “I’m leaving my dragonslinger here. I trust you won’t be using it in my absence.”
“I doubt I could lift it at my age.”
“Then I’ll trust you.”

[In the next scene, Corlan encounters his rival in the dragonslaying business and a snarky conversation ensues, one which precipitates the main action of the story: a quest.]

Presently, I am in chapter 15, having crossed the 65,000 word threshold on the way to 275,000 - as all truly epic fantasy novels must aspire! If epic fantasy is not your cup of tea - and that is quite all right - I also have novels in other genre from which to choose. After all, Spring is an excellent time to read a good book from any author you've not read previously, either mine or those of my friends at Myrddin Publishing.

I shall blog about serious matters as they arise, or as I feel worthy of lecturing on them.

(C) Copyright 2010-2016 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

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