The Doom of Tarek

“Just look around: you’ll find something to laugh about under any rock. The world doesn’t make sense anymore… What else is left for us to do except to drink and laugh away our sorrow… If death is around the corner, then I want to face Him with a tankard in my hand and a smile on my face.” 

By Hristijan Pavlovski

Hristijan Pavlovski is a professor of Philosophy who loves art as much as he loves wisdom. His philosophy is that no other medium can summon the full range of human emotion quite like the literary arts can, and it is his goal to explore the extent of that.


My dearest sister,

I am writing you this final letter to announce my coming home. The months have been hard on me here in the Shey Lands, but I have prospered.

How is everything in Stormvale country? 

Ahh, silly me. I got so used to asking you this question with every letter that I forgot that your reply would not reach me here. Yet, I am not sad at the thought of your reply not reaching me, for I will be elated to hear all that news from you personally. 

The lands here are cold, vicious even. Yet, I was left with no choice after Father died. I had to find prosperity somewhere, for I could no longer bear to look into your eyes anymore. The way the light dimmed each time I had to reveal to you that there would be no food that day. I could not stand it anymore. 

Luckily, Sar’Kata grinned at us. Had that foreman not passed through our village looking for able-bodied men, then I fear what our fates would have been. Father, for all the good he did, was a prideful man. He never wanted to teach me the family craft, because he feared I’d surpass him one day. He was a good carpenter but not a very good father. He was a good husband at least: he never once struck mother. I hope that she is doing well. She couldn’t offer us much, but at least she taught us to read and write the Sailor’s Speech.

The work here is hard, it drives a man to his breaking point. The foreman cares for us; I believe his heart is benevolent, but the master of the land keeps asking for more and more. Each time we manage to chop down 14 timbers, the master demands 15 the next day. We barely have time to mourn those who fall. For we know that, as soon as we bury the body, we’ll have to get back to work. You become unsure which you mourn more: his death, or that you have to continue working without an extra pair of hands to assist you. 

Simeon’s death struck us the most. He was a good kid, came all the way from Timberfalls country. He was experienced at hewing the wood, but we all cherished him for his wit. Especially on the hardest days, he would always manage to cheer us up. Being separated from one’s nest for so long tends to eat at a man’s heart. 

The food, well, it is palatable. On some days we eat good – on others, you get sick from the barley and turnips. On the good days, the hunters might bring in a mountain goat. Sometimes we get hare, or lemmings if the hunter’s dogs manage to dig them up. But on the days that they don’t manage to catch anything, we get that gods-awful barley. I swear, as soon as I come back, we will never, ever, cook barley again in our house. 

Over the months, I have managed to save up two satchels worth of coins. That should last us until next year at least, we just have to be frugal about it. When I come back, I intend to propose to Ignes, my beloved. Please do not spoil the surprise by revealing this news to her! I want to see the smile upon her face. Her smile is what I have missed the most since I came here. In my free time, I play our favorite songs on the flute that I brought along with me. Her favorite was always “Prancing Meadows.” I remember singing it to her last summer as we sat upon the hillside staring down at the meadows. 

“Dancing, prancing meadows / call you today. Dancing, prancing meadows / call you to play. The hare is out, the fox about, the song is in the wind. Will you join us for a dance: a dance until the end…”

I cannot wait to embrace her once more and profess my love to her. The only ones I’ve embraced in the past few months are the stinking lumbermen. You have to. When the wind starts blowing upon our shack in the evening hours, we begin to pray that the whole thing doesn’t come down right on top of us. The creaking of the shingles sends us off to sleep each and every night; after a while, it becomes almost like a melody.

But now, with the winter months soon approaching, we have to deal with the snow as well. The living conditions are becoming unbearable.  Every time it hails, we have to patch up the shack in the morning. I grow tired of plugging holes. And the food is becoming more and more scarce, as most of the animals have begun hibernating. The only thing left are a few roots, some grasses, and that damned barley. 

I’d wish I could write more about my situation, but I do not live a very exciting life. The life of the common man has always been constrained to poetry and song. I guess no lord wishes to see upon their walls the “filthy peasants” underneath him going about their day. They prefer to grace their murals and tapestries with prettier sights. 

So, I leave you with a poem I wrote. It helps me accept my fate.  Continue reading “The Doom of Tarek”

How to Tame a Gryphon

To be a gryphon rider, you must know the Aerie.

A Rite of Passage: How to Tame a Gryphon and What You Need to Know

“Even Those Meant for Greatness Can Fail”

A pamphlet scribed and illustrated by Roger Hermit


Writing by Kizzie Le Carpentier

Kizzie Le Carpentier is a graduate of Plymouth University in the U.K. She published her first book, “The Walk Back Home” in June of 2021.

Art by A. Broadhead

A. Broadhead has been writing since she was little, though she took a roundabout route to getting published, including a degree in Psychology and a stint doing social work. Her first full novel, “The Hottest Day of the Year”, is due to come out at the end of 2022.


What it means to be a Gryphon Rider

The pleasure of the wind on your face, as it blows your hair frantically all over the place, is immeasurable. When you’re up that high, it feels like you’re the one flying. It’s irresistible not to spread your arms out.

The smell of dew and leaves and soil, the smell the dawn brings…

The sun reflects off the water as you glide your toes over the lake’s surface. The warmth of the sun on your face and the joy it brings is bliss. You get to watch everything come to life. You get to watch the sun rise and set each and every day.

If you fly far enough, you’ll reach the water’s edge, to the sandy beaches and fierce shore tides, and watch the beauty of the sky as it changes color throughout the day.

The forests seem small when you can see everything below; the rivers seem like puddles, the rocks of the mountains seem like small stones; everything seems so small and yet endless. 

You get to fly over all of Tarith: over Griffinrock, over Castellea, over Stormvale, over Lion’s Head and over Timberfalls. You get to watch the people in the cities and the villages from above and dive on intruders who are below.

It is your responsibility to kill and plunder when needed, to have the courage and joy of plunging your gryphon’s talons into the heads of our enemies.

It is your responsibility to serve.

In return for your courage, sacrifice, and commitment, you will be given titles, wealth, women, and a true sense of meaning. It does not matter what background you come from: if you have the skill to tame a gryphon, you have the right to power.

In return for the knowledge that is given upon on your ‘rite of passage’, you will give your life to the people and to your King, and you will not fail him. The most important thing to remember is your responsibility to obey orders and carry them out without question.

This is what it means to be a gryphon rider.

The Setting of Sirith

For a while, I have been making use of Living Story Roleplay in World of Warcraft to map out the plotline for Seryth/Sirith. This spawned three short series including “The Story of Seryth“, explaining Sirith’s origin as a baddie, “The Shaping of Seryth“, acting as a sequel to Story and detailing what happens to Sirith after his defeat, and then the unfinished “The Search for Seryth“, which introduces Ezran and his quest to try and redeem the broken warlock. (Regarding the confusion of the name: “Sirith” is the character’s actual name, but it was taken on the WoW server I rolled him up on, so he became “Seryth” for the Living Story. In this post, he is back to being Sirith, since the setting is also back to being Talmenor, not Azeroth.)

However, when it came to Ezran and Sirith’s final meeting, where Shaping and Search were supposed to collide, I couldn’t make it work out: the scenarios available to me in-game couldn’t carry the weight or significance I needed.

Sirith’s tale in particular petered out, while Ezran’s threatened to overshadow him in a way I felt wasn’t fitting for the overall theme of the plot. Ezran is a larger-than-life character already, coming out of a series of his own (more on that later) yet somehow Sirith must transcend him, as the student always surpasses the master. So, it wouldn’t do for Sirith to come crawling back to Ezran without achieving some kind of heroics of his own. “The Shaping of Seryth” still has some moments I like as far as character development goes, but it doesn’t really go anywhere as a story, and I knew that needed to change.

Finally, I distanced myself from the Living Story Roleplay entirely and let these scenes write themselves without the guidance. It’s a fast-paced read for what feels like a novel worth of plot, much like the Living Stories, and when it comes to writing the fuller book there are many spots I will need to fill in.

I will probably still end up stealing some of the better moments from the Living Story series as well, particularly Ezran’s. It had some good timing.

Author’s Note

He came from Svenby, he said. It was one of those towns no one had ever heard of, except that one tavern drunkard who only talked about it when he was deep in his cups and reminiscing about the war. “Reminiscing” was a polite word for it; those were often the nights the bouncer had to drag him out in the morning, barely conscious and still begging for more drinks to drown the memories. Given this effect on the drunkard, no one asked him to elaborate either. Continue reading “The Setting of Sirith”

The Beast of Saltern

“The Beast,” Owen whispered as his stomach sank like a stone. “…am I right, Alys?”

She nodded and whimpered softly. “Everything happened so fast… Rhys was playing by the gate… Then something roared, and he screamed. When I looked up, this thing held him in its mouth as it bolted for the trees.”

The boy had seemed so full of life when they met on the road to Saltern. So full of questions. And now, just a few hours later, Rhys was… gone. Snuffed out by a creature who didn’t even belong on this Sphere of existence.

The Beast of Saltern

By Austin Worley

A native of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Austin Worley writes speculative fiction and poetry. His published stories include heroic fantasy, Weird Westerns inspired by the rich history of his home state, and genre-bending tales starring the vigilante Whippoorwill. When he isn’t writing, Austin enjoys amateur astronomy and astrophotography, reading, video games, and spending time with his family. You can follow him on Twitter @AMWorley_Writer.

Despite the fly buzzing around his face, Sir Owen Gibbs didn’t move a muscle. Not even when a salty breeze rocked the bough where he perched. Instead, he stared at a crimson stain on the beach below. Glistening blood pooled around the half-eaten goat staked out here as bait, while duller splotches were the only trace of an elderly workman slain on his way to the salterns that lent the nearby village its name.

I never should’ve waited out that storm in Bredon. Maybe the poor grandfather would still live if he’d braved the driving rain. Maybe he would’ve already bagged the man-eater folk had dubbed the Beast of Saltern.

Teeth grit, Owen fit a bolt into the flight groove of his heavy crossbow. Just one more thing to regret… At least sitting up over a kill offered him a chance to avenge the salter and everyone else who’d fallen victim to the Beast. If the man-eater didn’t think this place was safe, he would’ve dragged the goat somewhere else instead of eating in the same spot where he’d devoured the old man. He’d return for a third meal sooner or later.

Now, now, Owen reminded himself, could be a she. Some ice bear sow or mountain tigress come down from the Tuthei Shey in search of easier prey. Folk did claim the Beast was of a similar size. Then again, he wasn’t sure how much stock he put in those accounts. Nobody with a good look at the man-eater had lived to tell the tale, so eyewitness reports were fleeting and contradictory. Some described it as decidedly feline, others said stout and bulky like a bear, and a few sounded downright demonic.

Personally, he doubted most of them even described the same creature. Sightings ranged from the foothills of the Tuthei Shey all the way down the coast into Tarith, and rumor held the Beast of Saltern responsible for almost two hundred deaths over the past year. Ridiculous. Folk had probably just attributed unrelated attacks and disappearances to a particularly vicious bear or a white Sheyn tiger. Maybe even a lion who’d wandered up from Yeniden or escaped some circus. Over his long career as a royal forester, he’d witnessed stranger things.

Clouds drifted across the face of the brightest moon, and Owen instinctively tensed at the deepening darkness. Was this how humanity spent its nights in ancient days? Huddled up in the trees and caves of primordial Talmenor? Hiding from predators? At least the gods have granted us tools since then…

Resting his crossbow’s stirrup on a fork in the branch, he wrapped his legs around the thick bough and flattened himself against its bark. Perfect! The dead goat lay squarely in his sights from this vantage point. If the Beast of Saltern returned craving leftover chevon, he’d have a clear shot at the unsuspecting man-eater. And with such a heavy draw weight, one shot from this crossbow was enough. More than enough.

 For what felt like an eternity, he sat in silence. Stars wheeled across the partially clouded sky, and anxiety began nibbling at his gut. Did he catch my scent? Ripening aromas from the carcass below should have masked him, but even the slightest whiff of potential danger might drive his prey away from its favorite haunt.

Before worry could swallow him up, Owen heard the sweetest sound anyone hunting man-eaters could ask for: the snorting alarm of a deer. But it sounded…off. Halting. Almost like it didn’t know whether to fear whatever had caught its attention.

Something rustled in the underbrush about a hundred paces to his left, and a silhouette slunk onto the beach. What in damnation…? The shadow moved with the graceful gait of a panther yet stood taller than most bears and carried even more muscle around its shoulders. A short tail swayed as the creature padded over for a second helping of goat. Some sort of injury? After all, its thick mane suggested a male lion.

Then the clouds parted.

Moonlight bathed everything in silver, the spiny quills around its neck glinted like a bristling wall of pikes, and he knew this fiend defied nature simply by setting foot on Talmenor. Gods have mercy!

The Beast of Saltern was a nekru.

Continue reading “The Beast of Saltern”

The Silversmith and the Silver-Tongued

Beautiful ladies dressed to the nine in colorful lace and silk gracefully dance their way down the stairs; the guardsmen are still, captivated. The dancers were as real as day, brushing up against the guards, enticing them to dance. And they did.

“No, you fools. Cover your ears!” The silversmith presses his hands over his ears, his smarter sons doing the same… The boy shakes his head and rests the music box on his knees, slapping his cheeks with his hands to wake himself up.

By Kizzie Le Carpentier

Kizzie Le Carpentier is a graduate of Plymouth University in the U.K. She published her first book, "The Walk Back Home" in June of 2021.

I love books, movies and stories that unravel a new world with new creatures. I love it when a writer makes up something completely new and unreal - but I love it even more when a writer can convince me that their fantasy world could be real.

Kizzie Le Carpentier


A room. A cold room but a lively room, a cluttered room but an exciting room. A silversmith amongst his silverware sits on a stall hunched over his silver desk, his feet not touching the ground, his eyes fixated on his liney hands. He’s screwing the last screw. 

Nubbly fingers holding a nubbly box, what kind of a box?

 


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Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 5

Living Story Excerpts

…the next morning he was on the road again with his ram and the imp and a large supply of beer basted boar ribs…


The delivery was made and the fee for it paid. Still he was a little short, so Seryth agreed to look into the local kobold problem for the dwarves. He did his best to ignore the imp supplementing his fire bolts with some of its own… Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 5”

Axes and Lightning: A Leader’s Path

“The humans are coming, and there are too many of them. We need to negotiate peace with them. We need them to see that we are more than just beasts.” The shaman paused. “This is why, from this day forward, you will not carry axes when there is no enemy present. Blood duels are banned!”

Axes and Lightning: A Leader’s Path

By Greg Rowson


Part 1

A crowd of hoghers gathered in a large circle in the center of the village, which primarily consisted of huts made of animal skin and bones of large beasts. Their attention was entirely on two hoghers in the center, who glared at each other with deadly intensity, each gripping their axes that gleamed in the midday sun.

“You… you killed my brother. You will pay, Tangarth!”

“Your brother killed my father, and you can join him in hell, Gartan!”

“Your father shouldn’t have stolen from my brother’s farm!”

“Your brother should have paid my father! Your entire family are scoundrels with no honor.”

“That’s enough.” Gartan’s green face flushed red. “Now you die!” Continue reading “Axes and Lightning: A Leader’s Path”

Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 4

Living Story Excerpts

He returned to Kharanos with the trolls dead and the meat and shimmerweed in tow. The dwarves gave him a feast in thanks, and Seryth went to bed with a bellyache and a sore head. He dropped off quickly into sleep, reflecting that he could always tell his father that the harvest had taken longer than usual to sell, hence his being away for a few days instead of the couple he had promised… Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 4”

Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 3

Living Story Excerpts

N/A.

Setting Translations

Also N/A!

Writing Process

This was a continuation of the scene started in Part 2, so I just had to complete the thought.

One thing I will have to watch in the future is how I describe rukh-shami. These ones at first act like moving boulders, but then Sirith notes they feel smooth and malleable like mud. Earlier in Chapter 1 he noted they bled sand. So which is it? Are these different sub-races? Or does it have to do with how these ones were burned to death instead of stuck with swords? Does normal fire even work on them? My world-building has a lot of unanswered questions…

The Prose

It was nearing sundown when Sirith approached the hills where the rukh-shami were supposedly encamped. He expected to see smoke rising in the air from campfires, but it was dark and silent all around. He pulled his ram to a stop and hesitantly dismounted, leading the riding goat into a brake of shrubs that he hoped would conceal it from sight.

Though the ympe clung impatiently to his shoulder, Sirith chose to approach the camps quietly, in a roundabout route up the shoulder of the hill rather than straight-on. He had an eerie feeling as he climbed Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 3”

Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 2

Living Story Excerpts

His fire magic kept him warm in the cold mountains, but it seemed to Seryth that it was just a little bit hotter, just a little bit wilder than it normally was when he summoned it…

Setting Translations

There’s nothing in this short excerpt to translate, except perhaps a reminder that Sirith isn’t in the mountains yet.

Writing Process

I read through some of the other chapters Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 2”