The 900 Club Anthology 2013

The 900 Club Anthology 2013

I am excited to announce The 900 Club Anthology 2013 is now available in paperback and will be available for kindle in the next few days! It contains fifty five short stories written in 2013 by the 900 Club authors. We continue to write five new short stories each month and post them on our blog, check it out if you haven’t already!

Sorrow Part 14: The Eagle’s Slumber

Fantasy Sorrow Part 14: The Eagle's Slumber

Coming Friday 21 February 2014

Threads of a patchwork king, unpicked by the eyrie’s wind.

Sorrow Part 14: The Eagle’s Slumber, the latest in the epic fantasy series is now available for pre-order from Musa Publishing and due for release on Friday 21 March 2014. Here is the blurb and an excerpt.

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.

Colken’s mercenaries sign up to Hoshea’s army as it marches on the High Bloods to attack their ruined fortress, The Eagle’s Slumber. Meanwhile, the High Bloods are distracted by the fulfilment of a prophecy. Bail, with Sorrow’s help, has found their sacred relic, The Heartstones, and so must be crowned as their new king. But not everybody is convinced, and while his coronation descends into squabbling amongst the clans, war looms.

Fantasy Sorrow Part 15: The Last King of Ghor

The penultimate episode, coming Friday 21 March 2014

Excerpt:

Bail endured a scratchy uncomfortable night, haunted by bad dreams that felt like prophecies. All through the long hours of darkness he kept the Heartstones clasped tight to his chest, knowing his life depended on it. And on Sorrow, but the boy was nowhere to be seen. He had vanished when the clan stopped to bed down for the night, and Bail’s unsettled mind imagined him drifting through the pitch-black woods like a wraith, silently communing with all manner of ghouls and dark spirits.

He was jerked awake at the crack of dawn by the torturous bellowing of the bull horns and opened his eyes to see Sadaf standing over him. For a moment he thought the man meant to murder him, but then saw he held Bail’s cloak and crown. The hard lines of Sadaf’s lugubrious face split into a simpering grin, and he went down on one knee to offer the makeshift regalia at arm’s length.

“I liked you better when you despised me,” said Bail, wincing as his stiff joints cracked and complained. After taking a few gulps of fresh morning air, he took the crown and steeled himself to play the king.

The clan moved a little quicker this time, for all could sense they were close to the half-legendary Eagle’s Slumber and were eager to see the sacred place. The sun was high in the sky before Sorrow reappeared, trotting out of the woods with his cloak wrapped tight around him. He ran to Bail’s shield-bearers, cupping his hands over his mouth to be heard above the din of horns and chanting.

“The woods are full of High Bloods, warriors, and their families!” he shouted. “I tracked them all night. The nearest are less than two miles away, to the south-east.”

Amkur Beg heard him and limped forward with surprising speed to grab the boy’s arm. “How did they look?” he demanded, briefly dropping his mask of deference. “Did any of their warriors have paint on their faces? Did they carry their knives naked, or sheathed?”

“They did not look dressed for war,” replied Sorrow, gently disengaging his arm. “But they are moving fast and will catch up with us very soon.”

Amkur’s face creased into a hideous grimace, and he turned to shout orders at his kin. Almost immediately, the bull-horns and the chanting died away, and the clan sprang from a stately walk into a gallop. The unwieldy clan banner dropped into the dust, as did the horns, and for a moment, Bail thought he too might be dumped onto the ground. Instead, his shield-bearers picked up their pace without any apparent effort, and he found himself clinging to the rim of his shield with one hand and holding his crown in place with the other.

It was in this undignified position he first saw the Slumber, a mighty spur of rock surging up from the eastern flank of the nearest mountain. Much of the crest of the spur was taken up by a wide plateau, nestling in the shadow of a taller peak with layers of snow and ice crystals glistening at its summit. The remains of early morning mist clung to the spur, hiding much of the crest, but Bail could glimpse a number of decaying walls and stone buildings. These were perched on artificial mounds of soil and rock, much like baronial keeps back in the Winter Realm, but here the mounds were arranged into neat squares piled on top of each other, like the steps of a ladder.

The frantic pace of the clan slowed for a moment as each member broke stride to gaze in awe at the Slumber. Then the sound of bull-horns sounded faintly behind them, and Amkur’s cracked, harsh voice jolted them back into a run.

“Quickly! Quickly, now!” he shouted. “They are almost upon us!”

Ever After – a 900 Club Short Story

The 900 Club Anthology 2013

The 900 Club Anthology 2013 – coming soon

The manuscript for The 900 Club 2013 Anthology is almost ready for publication. I just have a bit more formatting to do and hopefully the work will be all done. I’ll post on here again once it is finalised and I have a publication date. The book will be the almost complete collection of The 900 Club stories for 2013 and will be available in e-book format and on paperback.

January’s theme for The 900 Club was The Brothers Grimm and the two word phrase was “ever after”. We introduced a theme or genre each month for 2014, so this was the first time we’ve had one and it was interesting to see how it effected what we all came up with. Any worries that it might stifle our creativity have proved to be wrong! We’ve produced another five very different works. Below is my effort. I wanted to write a rhyme this time as I really like the little bits of rhyme in the Grimm tales. This poem is also inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.

Please check out the other four stories at The 900 Club!

Ever After

by Martin Bolton

Be still, child, hear my voice
These words will save your soul.
I have a tale I must recite
And you must keep it whole,
For he who scorns this ghoul’s advice
Shall pay a heavy toll.
1.
One winter’s night, alone I sat,
In the shadows of my lair,
Dreaming of a time when life,
was fresh and bright and fair.
The twilight of my many years,
A burden mine to bear.
*
My vitality was traded,
For furrowed lines of wear,
My eyes were weak and faded,
On my scalp thin silver hair.
Time had withered and jaded,
Only sleep relieved my cares.
*
Here I relived youth and love,
Before the wear and tear,
Before the fever seized my wife,
And she ascended the golden stair.
I dreamed a dream of harmony
When it was mine to share.
*
Here I wandered tundras bleak,
In search of my salvation.
I pondered under nimbus fleece,
In chill precipitation.
I sought in vain to find my peace,
But found her imitation.
*
In lucid reverie I slept,
Sat in my lonely chair,
With each cruel memory, I wept,
But wake, I didn’t dare,
For waiting were shadows bereft,
Of memories of her.
*
Still I wondered if she took flight,
And flutters in heavenly pastures,
Beyond the shroud with wings pure white,
In meadows of joyous laughter.
Her light shone ever before she died,
But will it ever after?
2.
On I roamed the morbid sprawl,
Upon my riven feet.
Lord forbid I answer calls,
From false epiphanies,
And dance a jig at the masquerade ball,
In Lucifer’s livery.
*
This night my dreams were strangely tainted,
By a presence dark and fell.
Were my ancient ears mistaken?
Or did I hear my knell?
Death stalks the halls of fate and
Comes when he hears the bell.
*
What’s that? Who’s there?
A terrifying visage, an insidious stare.
A visit from the netherworld,
Plucked the strings of my despair.
The moonbeam lit a countenance,
In its callous, indifferent glare.
*
The face of evil glared at me,
With horns and a toothy grin,
Grotesquely formed of oozing skulls,
And decomposing things.
Eyes as red as glowing coals,
they burrowed through my skin.
*
Frozen in that searing grip,
I prayed I would endure,
The parting of those leering lips,
And the creaking of that jaw.
I gazed into the gap therein,
And hell is what I saw.
*
I wondered then if I’d ignite,
And pain become my master,
Beyond the shroud with wings of night,
And fire and hideous laughter.
My light shone ever before this night,
But will it ever after?
3.
“Who disturbs my dreams?” I asked aloud
“Who prickles my silver hairs?”
The answer chilled my very bones,
As I heard a voice so rare,
I shuddered at the words I heard,
As I slumbered in my chair.
*
“The sleep thou sleep’s your last,” said he,
“Thy body shall never wake.
Abandon hope, and come with me,”
So the demon spake.
“Thou are forsaken, now cease to be,
Your soul is mine to take.”
*
“Illusions were your youth and love,
Before the wear and tear,
Before the fever seized your wife,
And she ascended the golden stair.
An empty dream was harmony
And never yours to share.”
*
“Pray thee not, a futile act,
thou are beyond salvation,
thou pondered under nimbus fleece
In chill precipitation.
Thou sought in vain to find thy peace
But found her imitation.”
*
“Thou roamed insane the morbid sprawl,
Upon thy riven feet.
Thou failed to find thy miracle,
Now here’s thy epiphany:
Thou shalt dance a jig at the masquerade ball,
In Lucifer’s livery.”
*
“Discard thy faith, there’s no more life,
No eternal heavenly pastures.
Beyond the shroud is only fire,
No meadows of light and laughter.
Thy light shall fade and die this night,
And remain dead ever after.”
4.
I recoiled in fright, that dreadful night,
And flinched at every word.
Until my view shone dazzling bright,
And a second voice I heard.
Before my eyes, spread from from that light,
The wings of a mighty bird.
*
The demon moaned and groaned in pain,
a bitter blow was dealt,
“Beast, go back!” the voice commanded
“Back to where thou dwelt!”
I saw his image flicker and fade
And before me an angel knelt.
*
“Do not go!” the angel cried.
“Take my hand and come with me.
The afterlife awaits thee now,
The darkness can’t succeed
Thou know the way, thy sight is clear,
Thou are the light by which thou see.”
*
“Keep thy faith, thou know your wife,
She waits in heavenly pastures.
Beyond the shroud is eternal life,
Meadows of joy and laughter.
Thy light shone ever before this night,
And will continue ever after.”
*
“I shall come!” I cried. “I have no fear,
I will come along with thee.
The path to God ‘s the path I’ll steer,
There is no darkness in me.
I know the way, my sight is clear,
I’m the light by which I see.”
*
“I’ll keep my faith, I know my wife,
Waits in heavenly pastures
Beyond the shroud is eternal life
Meadows of love and laughter
My light shone ever before this night,
And will continue ever after.”
* * * *
Fleeting is my presence here
Before I take my leave
I travelled from another sphere
With a message to bequeath
My words, they fall on infant ears
But one day you’ll believe…