Sorrow Part 3: The House of Unkindness


I have a few things to get off my chest, so be quiet while I rant. No talking during the rant.

I have smashed my laptop. Smashed it good. The other people in the room were a bit shocked by the sudden switch from mild-mannered, whimsical drunk to a vile storm of unbridled rage but on reflection not really surprised as they know what a beast I am.

Why are laptops such bastards? I’ve had a desktop PC for years and it has never gone wrong, it works like a dream every day, always doing exactly what I tell it without any stupid questions or pausing for an hour two to mull it over. Not so with laptops, oh no, the fuckers. They just won’t cooperate. Performing updates for an hour and unable to perform any other tasks in the meantime? Bollocks. I’ve got a task for you: bounce off that wall and smash into a million pieces, that one I can perform manually, and fucking enjoyable it was too.

Laptops might be inanimate but don’t let that fool you, they’re having a great time while you grind your teeth and clench and unclench your sweaty fists, pressing control-alt-delete over and over again without any response. The last laptop I had was so enraging I had to give it to my little brother. He was present when the swirling red mist took hold, boiling my blood and sending me into a frenzied attack. The little bastard, I bet he was loving it, I beat him mercilessly as a child without a single thought for my own safety and this is the thanks I get.

I thought I might be sorry when I calmed down. Sorry that I smashed the thing I spent hundreds of pounds on in a fit of primeval fury. But I’m not. It was worth it. And what did I need it for anyway? So I could watch TV at the same time as writing? To feed the innate laziness that lies in every Cornishman? So I could lie on the couch and watch an episode of The Simpsons I’ve seen a thousand times instead of sitting at my desktop and applying myself? Not any-fucking-more. I’m a better person without that laptop: a new man!

So now I am sat at my desktop PC, away from the mind-numbing shit sandwich that is television with a spot of relaxing music (Aim featuring YZ if you must know – bad tune), channelling my aggression in a decent rant. Windows 7? Stuff it right up your pooper, all the way up there, I’m an Ubuntu desktop man till I die now, mention a laptop to me once and I will steel a bus, herd your family onto it at gunpoint and drive it through your mum’s house.

Now that you are sufficiently enlightened, here’s a brief synopsis and excerpt from the latest in our epic fantasy series, Sorrow Part 3: The House of Unkindness, available now from Musa Publishing.

“Rumour spreads. Agents are dispatched. The race for Sorrow begins.”

An uneasy peace has descended over the World Apparent. The Winter Realm and the Old Kingdom are recovering from the cataclysmic events of the Twelfth Reconquest, while in the south, the Djanki and the Sharib retreat to lick their wounds from the battle at Temple Rock. To the east, the divided Empire of Temeria is nearing the end of a long civil war, in which rival Generals have fought like mad dogs to seize the long-vacant Imperial Throne.

Bail and Sorrow wander in the wilderness, watched by the ghosts of a million dead soldiers.

Three Knights of the Temple leave Silverback on a seemingly impossible quest.

Meanwhile, Colken has an appointment with the Raven Queen, and The House of Unkindness proves to be more disturbing than he could possibly have imagined.

“What have you done to me?” he demanded hoarsely.

“I have done nothing, have I, Erlo?”

Erlo slowly shook his spotless head.

“No, I’m no surgeon, no witch! I ply a simpler trade.”

Wade stepped forward and reached toward Colken’s chest.

“No, Erlo, this is the work of an altogether more subtle mind.” Wade’s sickly pale face gazed in wonder as he knocked on the left side of Colken’s bandaged chest producing, to the surprise of its owner, a metallic thud.

“A subtle mind, Erlo, a subtle mind with access to the dark arts.”

Colken would normally have dismissed the captain’s chattering as nonsense, but some feeling inside him told him Wade spoke the truth.

“Strong bonds are required for a ferocious animal, Erlo. What we have here is no ordinary man, but a fierce beast from the jungle. A killer! Not in the way our deceased friend Silt was a killer, oh no, this beast does not kill out of malice or greed. No Erlo, such emotions are trivial in the jungle. He is a primeval specimen of power itself. He kills to survive!”

Wade’s speech grew impassioned and his reedy, effeminate voice took on a theatrical note as he examined Colken intently, as though he had discovered some lost, half-mythical treasure. Colken listened, searching for any word of sense that might give him some clue as to where he was and why.

“When such a beast leaves his dank, primitive shadow-world he becomes dangerous, Erlo, a cat amongst the pigeons, hmmm? The beast recognises no human law, and so powerful bonds are necessary. Unbreakable bonds. For the bird, Erlo, has caught the cat.”

With a flourish, Wade stood back and waved a bejewelled hand as two hulking orderlies sidled through the doorway and gripped Colken. Taking a shoulder each and grunting with the effort, they hauled him painfully upright.

Colken’s head swam as he was marched out of the operating room and down the corridor, followed by Wade and Erlo. He drifted in a semi-conscious state, blood loss and hunger sapping all his strength, oblivious to the clank of his chains and the grunts of the orderlies as they strained to bear his weight. He was oblivious, too, to the inane chatter of the eccentric captain as he and Erlo followed in the rear.

He passed back into unconsciousness.


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