Month: June 2016

The Last Heir

Image licensed by Shutterstock.

Tien walked along a grassy plain, bathed in moonlight. In the distance stood a ruined castle, the final defiant cry of a long gone age. Once a fortified structure crafted by the greatest of rulers, it was now nothing more than a weathered collection of broken walls and battered gates.

Tien approached the drawbridge, face covered with mud and sweat, clothes torn, streaked and stained.  He gazed up at the massive structure, turned dreamily from one gate tower to the next, crumbled and broken.

A low rumble sounded from within and the massive wooden bridge tumbled to the ground. Tien made his way across, rickety panels of ancient wood creaking beneath his feet.

He passed through the gate and emerged on the other side of a forgotten world, a wide open space that had once been occupied by laboring serfs and peasants. Now it stood empty and alone.

He continued past the inner ward, all the while clutching the handle of his sword, constructed according to the tenets of an ancient craft that had died along with the castle. He passed the remains of what had once been the great hall, then finally stood before the keep.

Here all four turrets still stood, untouched by the ages. It seemed that not even time had breached the castle walls entirely. Tien slipped through the open doors. He marched in the dark across a faded red carpet, past moth-eaten banners and flags, and stopped when he reached the throne. There he knelt and closed his eyes.

A wind gusted, blowing through the room, and for a moment the banners of a forgotten kingdom flapped once more. Then the keep flooded with golden light, and when Tien looked up he saw the King, holding audience from the throne.

Tien’s eyes fell to the floor.  The King, gazing down at him in solemn understanding, removed his crown and placed it atop Tien’s head. A flaccid smile grazed the old man’s lips.

Tien rose to his feet, spared a final regretful gaze for the world beyond. Then the room darkened, and once more the ruins stood in silence.

The castle had claimed its heir.

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A Web of Ink and Paper

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Giles sits in a corner near the back, wearing a dark fedora. He watches as a man enters the coffee shop and places an order for a grande Americano, waits for the man to hand over his money and receive his change, follows the man with his eyes as he makes his way to a seat near a distant window.

The man is not actually a man at all, but something else. Something dangerous.

Giles reaches into his pocket, produces a faded leather notebook and silver fountain pen and begins to write. He works carefully, starting with the coarser, superficial details and slowly working his way to the more refined. They are special words. Words of power.

Giles does his best to capture the essence of the man, though even words such as these are only crude approximations. They reach inside and bind him, pair with flesh and bone and spirit, tearing him out of space and time like a coupon from the local newspaper.

It isn’t until he’s nearly finished that the man by the window notices, and by then he’s already fading like an overexposed negative. He bolts from his seat and stumbles backward, opens his mouth in shock, ambles toward Giles like a wounded soldier.

The patrons of the coffee shop have taken notice. Some scream. Others run. More than a few gawk stupidly, cell phones at the forefront. God, thinks Giles, these are the creatures he’s sworn to protect?

Before the man can take ten steps he’s already disappeared, torn from the fabric of reality and bound forever in a web of ink and paper.

Giles caps his pen, closes the leather notebook and strolls to the door, ready to tackle his next assignment.

If you want to read more about Giles and his adventures, check out my novella, Inkbound.

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