The 900 Club’s final edition
This month will be the final edition of The 900 Club. Our last short stories will be posted on new year’s eve. The collective marks three years of monthly short stories with December’s post and we have invited all our previous guest writers to join us for our swansong. So it’ll be a bumper edition with around ten short stories free to read at the 900 Club blog.
Simon Evans, an old friend and one of the most talented writers I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and share ideas with, started the experiment in January 2013. Since then it has been a fascinating journey and the 900 Club has been a great success. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and this unprecedented experiment has run its natural course.
The four remaining writers – myself, Simon Evans, Adam Stones and John Pilling – have found ourselves arriving at the same decision; that it is time to go our separate ways and pursue new writing challenges. We will of course stay in touch and share ideas and I’ll continue to take an interest in what they’re up to.
I will be concentrating on writing fantasy fiction novels with David Pilling and also writing my own short stories. We are currently working on the third World Apparent Tale novel which will complete the trilogy. More to come about that soon. The first two novels, The Best Weapon and The Path of Sorrow are free on kindle today and tomorrow.
My 900 Club story for November is a sword and sorcery tale, I hope you enjoy. Please head over to the 900 Club blog to read many more short stories in all genres completely free.
The Eyes of Mork Tyran
by Martin Bolton
The prisoner stirred as an icy gust of wind caressed him, finding its way through his tattered rags and and probing at his thinly covered bones. The furs that hung in the cavern entrance were thrust aside. He counted the foot steps and could tell that a single man had entered.
A pregnant pause reigned as the heat from the cavern’s lava pit chased away the insurgent chill. The hiss of the newcomer’s sword sliding from its scabbard broke the silence. This was followed by a metallic clink as the warrior placed the sword’s tip on the stone floor.
“Who appears before the twin druids?”
“You do not know my name?” the stranger asked.
The druids hesitated a moment.
“A glamour… conceals your identity.” the twin druids’ malevolent voices momentarily betrayed a hint of trepidation. “Why have you braved the silken pass? No man has survived the journey since…”
“I wish to hear the story of the eyes of Mork Tyran,” the visitor interrupted his hosts.
The twin druids inhaled sharply and whispered amongst themselves.
“The eyes of Mork Tyran,” hissed the druids. “Gemstones mined from the Netherworld. Nothing in the living realm can resist their power, let alone destroy them.”
“Except the Inskolan Dawn Star,” replied the visitor.
“A myth!” the druids spat. “A legend invented by men to help them sleep soundly at night. Nothing more!”
“As you say,” said the stranger, “then tell me the story.”
“Thousands of years ago,” they whispered, “when men had barely crawled from the primeval ooze, a sorcerer known as Mork Tyran delved deep into the earth. His unfathomable burrowing uncovered two blood-red gemstones that blazed so brightly they burned his eyes to cinders. When he stopped shrieking, the gemstones spoke to him in the darkness. At their instruction, he placed them in his scorched eye sockets. Not only could he see again, but his powers were infinitely multiplied.
“One day, Mork Tyran descended from his mountain lair and went to a village in the foothills. He came upon a village woman collecting water from a spring. With one glance of his enchanted eyes, he seduced her. Having planted his diabolical seed in the woman’s belly, Mork Tyran returned to his high grotto, beyond the silken pass.” The twin druids snickered sibilantly.
“Nine months later,” they continued, “the woman gave birth to twin boys. When the babes were placed in a cot together, each reached across to his brother and tore out his eyes. The mother was horrified, but she bound their hands for their own safety and vowed to care for them.”
The druids’ voices became more excited, their brief trepidation now dead and buried.
“But Mork Tyran had plans for his sons, and ventured forth once more to reap what he had sown. As his eyes blazed upon the woman, her bone cage turned inside out and she died shrieking inwardly as he devoured her organs one by one. When he had finished his meal, he spirited away the blinded whelps to his lair.
“There he raised the two eyeless infants and taught them to control their powers that he might use them as weapons against men. He had the power to give them sight, but he kept it from them so they would remain his slaves and never find their way out of their high mountain cavern and across the silken pass, and thus return to the living realm.”
The druids tittered once more.
“But Mork Tyran underestimated the combined power of his unseeing progeny,” they continued, increasingly excited, “and he grew complacent. As the twins’ strength waxed, they plotted against their master. One day, when their powers had reached their zenith, they overpowered Mork Tyran and gouged out his eyes. One each, they took, that they might see again and add his power to theirs.”
“Where can I find these infernal jewels?” the warrior’s voice remained calm.
The twin druids chortled and the prisoner heard the rattle of bones as they stood.
“You see them before you now, stranger. Lift your hood, gaze upon them and die!”
The prisoner heard the sword’s tip slide across the stone floor and a faint rustle as the warrior threw back his hood.
The prisoner cried out as searing heat filled the cavern and burned his skin.
“No!” the druids shrieked, “The Inskolan Dawn Star exists! Father! You betrayed us!”
The twin druids shrieked and grovelled as they burned, until the prisoner heard the unmistakable sound of a sword taking two heads. He twitched his head from side to side, listening for movement over the sound of his pounding heart.
Foot steps approached.
The cage shook and rattled as the lock was smashed. The cage door swung open and the prisoner pitched forward onto the stone floor. He flopped weakly onto his side as a sword blade was pressed against his throat.
“Please,” he croaked, “a little water.” Water was poured into his open mouth. He gulped it down and gasped at its iciness.
“My… my eyes…” he reached out and felt a leather boot.
“Your eyes are no more,” confirmed the stranger.
The prisoner felt a strange relief at that.
“How many millennia I have spent in that cage, I have lost count. Will you set me free, stranger?”
“I will,” replied the swordsman.
The last thing Mork Tyran heard was the song of the blade before it took his head.