Sorrow Part 15: The Last King of Ghor – penultimate in the epic fantasy series

“Fear makes a foe, courage makes a king.” Fantasy Sorrow Part 15: The Last King of Ghor

Sorrow Part 15: The Last of Ghor is the penultimate part of the epic fantasy series and is now available from Musa Publishing. The final part – Sorrow Part 16: Son of the Stars – will be published 18 April 2014. Below is a brief synopsis and an excerpt from The Last King of Ghor .

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.

Hoshea’s army is spotted by a High Blood lookout as it approaches the High Places. The High Bloods mount aFantasy Sorrow Part 16: Son of the Stars vicious ambush, but Hoshea unleashes a secret weapon, one that no living man could stand against. The mountain tribes retreat to their ancient fortress and look to their new leader, Bail, to make a stand. But can the newly crowned King of Ghor find the courage?

Excerpt

Hoshea sensed rather than heard the unspeakable pleasure of the thing he had unleashed. Sick with horror, he became aware of a pressure on his arm and looked down to see Shalita’s slim white fingers.

“I feel him too,” she breathed, leaning towards him, her eyes half-closed in ecstasy. “The hot rush of blood flowing down his throat, the screams, the snapping bones, the sucking of marrow… Gods, it feels good.”

Hoshea snatched away his arm and recoiled. What kind of monster had he created in her? She would have to be dealt with later, either killed or bundled away to some secure, remote prison where she could do no harm.

He turned his attention back to the matter in hand. The High Bloods were nowhere to be seen across the river, though he knew they were fleeing in rout, in blind terror from the invisible, stinking death that he had inflicted on them. The near bank was now crowded with soldiers, hundreds of horsemen and foot soldiers mingling, shifting uncertainly as they waited for the next move. Their perspiring sergeants rode to and fro, shouting men into ranks and plying vine rods on the stragglers, but they too looked for guidance. They looked for it from the gaggle of richly-dressed nobles and officers beneath the white banner; they in turn looked at Hoshea.

All things wait on me, he thought. For a moment he felt crushed by the overwhelming sense of responsibility, a terrible weight to carry even after his lifetime’s experience of service. With a great effort, he pushed it aside.

“Unleash the horse,” he barked at his waiting subordinates. “Lancers, heavies, bowmen, everything we have. Pursue the savages through the woods, allow them no respite. Scatter them, harry them. Spare those who surrender, wipe out the rest.”

Wipe out the rest. How easy it was to command death. Hoshea was surprised and not a little frightened to discover that his sense of guilt had vanished.

One of the nobles cleared his throat. “Lord, how do we know they are retreating?” he asked. “They could have fallen back a little way into the woods and be waiting in ambush.”

Hoshea almost smiled a bitter smile. “They are running,” he replied, and in his mind he heard distant screams. “They are running for their lives. Trust me on this.

The 900 Club Anthology 2013 Goodreads Giveaway!

To celebrate the publication of The 900 Club Anthology 2013, we are giving away five paperback copies. On 01 April 2014 we’ll post the free copies to the lucky winners. Click on the link below to enter!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The 900 Club Anthology 2013 by Martin Bolton, Paul Evans, ...

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The Irritable Bargoyle – a 900 Club Short Story

The 900 Club Anthology 2013

For February, The 900 Club chose to write children’s stories in honour of founding member Simon Evans’ new baby daughter. The 900 Club Anthology 2013 is now available in paperback and on kindle.

Here is my children’s story, the two word phrase for February was “sunny day”.

The Irritable Bargoyle

by Martin Bolton

It was Peter’s first sunny day in his new house. He had moved there with his parents in the winter and he been stuck indoors while it rained and rained. But today was the first day of spring, and Peter ventured out into the sunshine.

As he skipped across the lawn, he could smell honeysuckle and hear bees buzzing in the flowerbeds. Beyond the garden gate lay the meadow, and beyond the meadow lay the woods. As he came to the garden gate, he suddenly he heard a voice:

“Who is this? A boy is he,

The strangest boy I’ve ever seen.

What’s his name? What can it be?

And why does he wander,

Through my meadow green?”

Peter looked down to see a goggle-eyed grasshopper sat on top of the gatepost, scratching its head.

“Who are you?” asked Peter.

“Who am I? Who am I?” exclaimed the goggle-eyed grasshopper. “If you must know, I am the goggle-eyed grasshopper.”

“I’m Peter,” he replied.

“Peter? Peter?” said the goggle-eyed grasshopper. “Where are you going, Peter?”

“I’m going to the woods.”

“The woods? The woods?” gasped the goggle-eyed grasshopper. “You mustn’t go to the woods!”

“Why not?” asked Peter.

The goggle-eyed grasshopper took a deep breath and cleared his throat and said:

“Deep inside the dark green wood,

Where the foxes leap and bound,

Far beyond the meadow’s edge,

Where the leaves pile on the ground.

Out of sight of the buzzard high,

Beyond the ringing of church bells,

In the dark bits where there’s no blue sky

That’s where the irritable bargoyle dwells.”

“Nonsense,” said Peter, “you’re just trying to frighten me. I’m not listening to you.” And he marched on through the meadow, followed by the goggle-eyed grasshopper, who hopped along behind him.

Soon he came to the gate on the other side of the meadow. He was about to open the gate when he heard a voice:

“Is that a boy pushing on my gate?

Or do my tiny eyes deceive?

A boy who does not care what lies,

In the darkness

Beyond the trees?”

Peter looked down to see a corduroy caterpillar sitting on the gatepost, scratching its belly and smoking a little pipe.

“Who are you?” asked Peter.

“I’m the corduroy caterpillar, my boy,” replied the corduroy caterpillar, “and who might you be?”

“I’m Peter,” he said.

“Peter?” said the corduroy caterpillar, “and where are you going, Peter?”

“I’m going to the woods,” said Peter.

“To the woods,” said the corduroy caterpillar, raising his corduroy eyebrows, “I wouldn’t go to the woods if I were you.”

“Why not?” asked Peter.

The corduroy caterpillar took a deep breath and cleared his throat and said:

“In a dirty burrow in the mud,

Where the earthworms squirm and slip,

Far beyond the woodland’s edge,

Where the mushrooms shiver and drip.

Past the drumming of the woodpecker’s beak

And the hooting of the owl,

Beneath the roots of the twisted beech,

That’s where the irritable bargoyle prowls.”

“Nonsense,” said Peter, “you’re as bad as the goggle-eyed grasshopper, I’m not listening to you.” And on he marched into the woods, followed by the goggle-eyed grasshopper, who hopped along behind him, and the corduroy caterpillar, who ambled along smoking his pipe.

Soon the three companions were wandering through the dark woods, when they came to a huge beech tree. The goggle-eyed grasshopper gasped. The corduroy caterpillar just smoked his pipe and scratched his belly.

“Where are we?” asked Peter.

“The twisted beech!” exclaimed the goggle-eyed grasshopper.

Then there came a booming voice from the beneath the tree’s giant roots:

“Past the place where the breeze can reach,

Alone among these roots,

Underneath the twisted beech,

I eat my beetle soup!

Let me introduce myself,

I’m the irritable bargoyle.

Alone in darkness and filth I dwell,

Eating creatures from the soil!

Here in the slimy mud I sit,

With the spiders and woodlice,

Misunderstood because I stink,

And the smell attracts the flies!

The other creatures avoid my home,

Because I bellow and I snore,

But I’m only irritable because I’m alone,

And my tummy’s really sore!”

The irritable bargoyle bellowed and groaned from his hiding place beneath the twisted beech. The goggle-eyed grasshopper cowered in fear and the corduroy caterpillar covered his ears in fright. But Peter felt sorry for the irritable bargoyle.

“What is wrong with your tummy, irritable bargoyle?” he asked.

“It hurts!”, the irritable bargoyle groaned from the darkness.

“Come out in the open, irritable bargoyle,” called Peter.

Slowly, the irritable bargoyle emerged from the darkness beneath the roots of the twisted beech. He had big teeth, pointy ears and two big, sad eyes. His green skin was slimy and he shivered as he looked up at Peter.

“I feel sick,” sniffed the irritable bargoyle.

“That’s because beetle soup and worms make you sick,” said Peter, who knew about these things because he had made himself sick before by eating worms.

Peter and the goggle-eyed grasshopper and the corduroy caterpillar fed the irritable bargoyle berries and fresh water until he felt much better and stopped bellowing and groaning and his skin was less slimy and green and he didn’t stink anywhere near as much.

The irritable bargoyle thanked Peter and the goggle-eyed grasshopper and the corduroy caterpillar and they all walked to the meadow together. The irritable bargoyle wanted to see the blue sky, he had never seen it before.