Monday, December 18, 2017

The Cursed Prince: Part Two

A dark day when Prince Kumura rode in sight of the city called Samzar. Of old a place where caravans came to sell their goods to be loaded onto ships and carried away to sea, it was a port city of ancient wealth and fabled for its beauty. It dreamed beside the deep sea, towers uplifted into the sky and domes gleaming in the faint light. A cloud lay over the city, a shadow that cut away the sun and the sky and left darkness to live within the streets and halls.

He rode to the hillside that looked across the plain to the gates of the city, and he saw a shadow lay over the earth, drawn like a line across the soil and the stone. Under the shadow the plants had begun to fail, leaves curling and the green leached from them, flowers wilted and closing. There was something unnatural here, and he sniffed the wind, not liking the feel of it.

He watched for a time, seeing that even at high noon the light of the sun did not properly fall upon the city, and that very few people passed in and out of the great gate. This was the storied Samzar of legends, and rivers of riches were said to flow in it like blood in a heart. But today there was hardly more than a trickle. He put his hand to his sword, tapped his fingers on the hilt, and then he laughed. It was fitting for a cursed prince to ride to a cursed city.

So he set his spurs to the horse and rode down into the valley of shadow. He felt the air go cold when he crossed the boundary into the darkness, and he thought he knew the feel of it. This was the same power that had given his old sword its magic. This was some scrap of the darkness that lived, and it had gathered in here and sought to work an evil will.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tides of War

So there has been some question about what will come next here on New Iron Age. I am overall pretty happy with the way The Sleeping Tyrant came out, and even if it went in some unexpected directions, that’s part of the fun of working in a serialized format.

One thing it did that I was not totally happy with was how deep it got into magic stuff, leaning maybe too hard on the “sorcery” part, rather than the “sword”. I like that it gave me a framework for the stories, but I think it got a bit too serialized, and by the end there was no way for a new reader to know what was happening.

Next year will be, once again, something different. Tides of War will be a serial detailing a war between two iron age powers, with the stories stretching over the entire length of the conflict. But it will not be focused on the leaders and kings, but on all kinds of people: common soldiers and warriors, outcasts, criminals, bystanders, brigands, and others. It will tell the story of a war in a series of snapshots from all different angles, from the glorious to the base. You will see characters and events from different perspectives, at different distances in space and in time, and from different sides. Two great Thanes will go to war, and that war will devour them.

Next week will be the second part of “The Cursed Prince”, and then I will be taking a short break for Xmas and New Years’. Posting on Tides of War will commence on January 8th. And I know stuff has been kind of fucked up with Patreon right now, but I still need your contributions, and I will be striving to add more value for patrons in the coming year. Stick with me and stay tuned.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Cursed Prince: Part One

When the prince was born, he was beautiful, and perfect. The King of Utar bore him to the temple of the Faceless Gods, and he laid the child upon the black stone altar and placed around him a circle of silver coins. He bowed his head and called for a prophecy, that he might know the fate of his newborn heir.

The veiled priestesses came forth from the darkness, and they stood behind the altar. There were three of them, and they made no motion, only breathed and chanted, and then the one at the center reached out and touched the child, and the king saw her hand flinch away, as though she had been burned.

“Dark is this child’s fate,” the priestess said. “You shall not wish to know it.”

“Speak,” King Samudragos said. He was no longer young, and there was gray upon his temples and in his beard. For many years he had sought for a son, but all three born to his wives had died. Now he had a new wife who even now lay weakened from birthing. At last he had a son, and he would not turn aside. “Tell me the omens.”

“He will survive you,” she said. “He will be a king, but not here. He will rule a distant country by his own hand.”