At last! Summer of Fire prequel to the Aberddu Adventures is available to buy on Kindle…
TELL THE WORLD!
At last! Summer of Fire prequel to the Aberddu Adventures is available to buy on Kindle…
At last! Summer of Fire prequel to the Aberddu Adventures is available to buy on Kindle…
TELL THE WORLD!
Summer of Fire has now gone to the editor and cover artist and will hopefully be available soon (unless it needs a massive re-write).
“Oh that poor little mite,” cooed the tailor’s wife. “She must be frozen solid in that thin little dress in this weather.”
“She’s almost as thin as that dress,” fussed the baker’s wife, “I wonder when she’s last had a decent feed.”
“Oh Gods love her,” whispered the preacher’s wife, “it’s no life.”
The three women were clutched together in a huddle in the village square waiting for the carter with lists and baskets of goods to trade. The small girl in the pink shift with the moth-eaten woollen shawl was across the muddy grass, kicking the heels of her holey boots against the wall of the Inn. She looked so forlorn beneath her bush of untidy hair with her pale, bony limbs. She seemed tall for her age they thought and quite unfortunate in the face but that didn’t stop them being compassionate. There was a sharp gust of wind pushing an unpleasant splatter of rain out of the menacing grey clouds. The girl sneezed and clutched her head, the three women let out low sighs of pity and scurried for the shelter of the large sycamore.
Ten minutes later, when the squall had passed and the women had emerged from the protection of the tree shaking water from their cloaks, they hurried over to the poor little mite who was now shivering, her sodden dress clinging to her gaunt frame. The cleric’s wife took off her own cloak and wrapped the child in it. The baker’s wife pressed a plaited bread roll from the trade basket into her ice cold hand. It was still warm from the bake oven, and the Baker’s wife hoped it would warm her before she ate it. The girl smiled wistfully in thanks, her soulful eyes speaking volumes to the kind hearts of the three women.
They were still fussing over her when her bearded monstrosity of a father swanned out of the Inn five minutes later, dry as a bone in a heavy canvas coat. With pointed looks, they nodded their greetings to him and departed muttering under their breath, the cleric’s wife taking her cloak as she went. Grabbing the girl savagely by the hand, the bearded man dragged her away around the side of the Inn and out of the women’s sight. They were left, lips pursed, shaking their heads.
“What the hell do you think you were doing?” growled the man, through the rough fur of his beard.
“Nothing,” replied the girl sulkily, through a mouthful of bread. “They felt sorry for me, that’s all. I didn’t do nothing.”
“Bloody marvellous,” grumbled the man, “give us some of that.” He held out a calloused hand expectantly.
“Sod off,” hissed the girl, her voice taking on a strangely masculine tone, “I’m frozen and you promised you were going to delouse this wig and patch this dress and you lied.”
“Oh poor baby,” snarled the man, scratching his chin vigorously. “At least you haven’t got half a badger’s backside glued to your chin.”
“Come on, let’s get back to the wagon,” muttered Sylas, taking another bite out of the bread roll and chewing thoroughly. He probably didn’t have enough spit left to swallow it quickly. “You have no idea how cold this wind is when there’s nothing between you and the air.”
GerVal was asleep and snoring like sludge descending a downspout when Daisy appeared three hours later looking pale and tense. The orc Danz and Clench the Goblin were wide awake and still on guard the others having sloped off to an alehouse the moment that GerVal had nodded off. They were balancing various different things on their sleeping leader in an effort to cover him in bits and pieces without waking him up. It was probably a good thing he hadn’t fallen asleep with his mouth open Daisy thought as she watched Clench trying to stick a snail on his dagger hilt. Heaven only knew where she had found the snail indoors but Daisy had decided it was best not to inquire.
Daisy never knew how to start talking to the Green skins. She wasn’t particularly good with people in the first place and from what she understood green-skins needed special handling – she wasn’t entirely sure why, it was just the impression she had been given. She cleared her throat and Danz looked up.
“Alrigh'” he said languidly. “Wha’s up?” Daisy shifted her weight from foot to foot, she did really know how to phrase her request, so she went for straight forward.
“We need the stuff, if you could bring it over that would be great.”
Danz nodded to her, winked and said “Right you are boss.” Daisy mumbled
“Thanks” uncomfortably and left as quickly as possible, unsure whether the use of the word boss was facetious or not.
When the green-skins arrived in the main hall laden down with the items they found Elor, sweat beading on his brow, surrounded by a gang of distracted, sombre-looking religious types.
“Excellent,” said Elor as he saw the three green-skins arrive. “If you could bring the items this way.”
Ger-Val, who still had one or two snails crawling up him and a salt spoon hanging out of his hair, was intrigued to note that Elor’s voice was quavering and as he approached he could see that the whole wizard was vibrating. Jarell the chinless seemed to be the only person in the room who wasn’t palpably nervous. Ger-Val thought that this was probably a pretty good indication that the silly sod had no notion what was actually going on because being a green-skin he was naturally suspicious of people who made claims about ridiculous things like destiny and divine provenance and turned down offers of liquor.
“Look at this,” said Elor and with a theatrical flourish he produced an ancient looking scroll. Mori cleared space on the table and Elor unrolled it. The surface of the cracked parchment was covered almost edge to edge with a tightly-packed florid script that had no visible punctuation. “It’s all in here,” said the wizard gleefully. “I copied this from an archaic text in the vaults of the Knowledge Library. I’m afraid it’s a bit of a hack job when it comes to the translation as I didn’t have my tomes with me, I may have accidentally mis-rotated the participles and I’ve slipped into slang here.” He tapped a section about three lines from the start of the writing and chuckled, then he looked up to find the adventurers looking incredulously back at him. Krieg looked as though Elor had just suggested he go into battle in a lady mage’s silk pyjamas, wearing a bonnet with a ribbon and a bunch of wax cherries on it. Pringle spoke first.
“Elor,” he said calmly, “I hope you’re not suggesting I try to read that. I may have had a wash and a shave but I’m still as drunk as a skunk and if I try to focus on that tiny writing I will most likely vomit. If you wouldn’t mind doing the honours.” Elor nodded and cleared his throat.
“Peace can not last forever, and disarray will fall on the house of the younger Gods. Quarrels and power play will turn to bitter rivalries and war will descend. The Elder One,” he paused cleared his throat uncomfortably and said, “I assume this is an allusion to the All-Father,” before continuing in a more scholarly and slow tone, “will return to the world to confront his offspring and they will rise up and fight. A mortal champion will stand against the Father, again I assume this to mean the All-Father, and will be armed by the Younger Gods.” He paused significantly and slowly the four adventurers nodded in recognition, Krieg and Daisy unconvincingly. “There have been subsequent scrolls and texts that talk about divine items gifted from above that invoke some kind of deific protection beyond the realms of even the most powerful priests. Some of them are obviously different legends about the same artefact, adding further credence to their existence. The temples are in uproar, well some of them at least. You may have noticed,” he looked over at Mori and Daisy and was surprised when Pringle said a very definite ‘yes’. “Anyway, to this end, I have located this.”
Elor showed them another scroll, with a picture of the helm and dutifully read to them the legend explaining it’s supposed location. He told them of the eastern Kingdom of Al’Raeth, where knowledge was power. A beautiful nation built amongst snow-capped mountains, the Al’Raethan people were protective of their wisdom and wary of strangers. Outlanders were permitted access to only a fraction of this knowledge, and were allowed to leave only with what they could commit to memory. It had taken Elor quite some time to track down enough pieces of the jigsaw to locate the Helm of Enigmas. The secretive Al’Raethan had buried it deep within in a cave system fearing its power might bring an uprising to disturb the millenium of peace they had experienced since the last cataclysm. The adventurers would need to be cautious and subtle, as he said this he looked at Krieg who returned an amused ‘what are you trying to say’ face.
Elor was surprised to see Mori scribbling down the information fastidiously in a leather-bound notebook. When Elor commented on this, she fixed him with another cutting glare and said,
“I understand it is illegal to make notes in Al’Raeth, but this being Aberddu I thought I’d take my chances,” and Pringle snorted with laughter. Elor was slowly having to conceded that perhaps he had misjudged these younger adventurers. With that, he handed his cheap copy of the world map and the routes to Krieg who gave them straight to Daisy to put in her bag. Then he put a small pouch of money down on the table and said,
“Right, leave as soon as you’re ready, this should get you supplies and passage. Try the market, they may have some horses.” Krieg lifted the pouch and snorted.
“Not for that they won’t, but I know a man who will,” then with a toothy grin he turned to Daisy and said, “Do dwarves ride horses?”
The final battle of the Summer of Fire was not the epic affair that legend suggested. The whole thing took barely twenty minutes all told, once the second party of Adventures arrived. This was such a disappointment to one particular Bard that he invented a ferocious storm, flaming drakes and a whole extra army. His story is far long, and probably more entertaining than this one, but not a faithful account of events in anyway.
The Time Before….
One speaks of the time before the Summer of Fire in the same hushed tones as one speaks of the time before the cataclysm. As though the world was somehow softer then, as though we were more innocent and more lovely. As though no trouble existed. It is the golden age, not long ago but far away. It is seen as almost out of reach by those who do not really know of what they speak.
To speak of a time before the Summer of Fire, a time truly before the cacophony of events that chose to confluence in those short months, is to speak of a time more than four hundred years gone. Few have a genuine understanding of what lead to the time known as the Summer of Fire, of the rising powers that had grown, with the patience of mountains, over centuries. Only in looking back could scholars rightfully understand the full scale of events that preceded it.
It is difficult to distinguish therefore what came ‘before’, as this is a relative term. Each individual will have a point in time that they consider to be the time ‘before’, after which their life will have changed irrevocably. General consensus suggests that by 1099ac it was already too late, but for some it started long before that.
aka: .many, many things including The Duchess of Montrone and Mattocks the coachman, Uncle Jack and Eloie the mouse, Marietta and her father, Doc Tolliver and his daughter, (real names: Tolliver Marchant & Sylas Benn)
Religious views: sceptical and mercenary.
Adventuring skills and specialities: deception, disguise, theft, innovative ways of escaping, the tarantella.
Family connections: Tollie’s father was a very important Death Priest.
Tollie and Sylas work as a pair. Tollie is the main ideas man, although Sylas is not without his own brains. Sylas is a master of disguise – his tiny frame and feminine face make him a natural at pretending to be a girl. They have worked their way across the continent making a buck or two in any way they could think of posing as everything from a travelling medicine man and his daughter to an Albion Duchess and her coachman. They joined the Adventurers Guild shortly after the collapse of the non-existent Guild of Thieves and Assassins and after the Summer of Fire, found a new interest in bringing down the Frisian Inquisition (if a buck can be made on the way then all well and good).
“Excuse me Brother, but why do you have two magical mice in your pocket.” His little shake of the head told Tollie that he couldn’t believe he had just said these words.
“Ah,” said Brother Tollie, looking abashed but grinning, “a little indulgence I’m afraid.” The guard gave him a highly suspicious look. “A left over from my dreadful heathen past. Allow me to introduce Eloie and Merkadi, my mice. That one is Eloie,” Tollie pointed at the disgruntled blonde one that narrowed its eyes at the sound of its name.
The homunculus was now trying to take a step away from him whilst remaining a menacing presence. Tollie knew he was on to a winner, and continued. “I was, in my bad old days, before I saw the light,” with his free hand Tollie theatrically waved his ankh at the guard, “I was in a travelling fair. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? Uncle Jack’s amazing magical mice?” He said it with such a convincing air of despairing hope that the guard felt obliged to shake his head and mumble ‘sorry no’ under his breath. “Ah well, it was a long time ago.” Tollie had the ability to sound like an old man even if he didn’t look like one and talking the talking was far hard than shuffling the shuffle of the old. It was something that Sylas admired in Tollie when he wasn’t a mouse waiting for an inevitable humiliation.
“What kind of amazing magical mice?” said the guard with a grudging curiosity and Tollie was ready for the question.
“They squeak the Paravelian National Anthem and dance the Tarantella. Although I’m afraid they’re a little out of practice.” – Dawn of Darkness
“Would you take that ridiculous wig off?” snapped Tollie.
“It’s no worse than your badger’s bum beard,” grumbled Sylas, stubbornly refusing to remove it.
“It’s going bald, and it’s got lice,” spat Tollie, leaning over to snatch it from his head.
“It’s realistic,” retorted Sylas ducking skilfully out of his grip.
“It’s revolting,” groaned Tollie making another grab for it.
“Would you two just shut up,” snapped Jason Devere irritably. He was leaning against a nearby tree just off the path trying to pretend that he wasn’t with them. Next to his feet, Pringle was sitting cross-legged on the floor, his hammer across his knees, playing with the grass. It had been a very long walk from Neckard not because it was far away but because Tollie and Sylas hadn’t shut up the whole way. – Summer of Fire (coming soon)
So, those of you who have read any or all of the Aberddu Adventures series, a simple opening question (well two actually) . Who is your favourite adventurer and why?
(Maybe it’s the one you’d like to meet most, the one that makes you laugh, or cry or want to slap them…. it’s up to you what you mean by favourite but it’d be good if you would explain.)
aka: Viscount Gerratti Baranetti.
Age: Old enough to know better
Religious views: complex
Adventuring skills and specialities: wizarding, thinking, portals, reading maps, giving lectures, changing into birds.
Marital Status: Bachelor
Family connections: Related to half of Paravel…the rich half.
Gerratti Baranetti came to the Mage’s Guild of Aberddu shortly before the summer of Fire. He was apprenticed to Elor Nybass, a wizard who spent most of his time interfering in the Adventurers Guild. Curiousity and little better to do with his free time lead Gerratti to become a permanent fixture in the guild. He was renamed Gerard by a bunch of Greenskins who liked him but thought his name was stupid. He is treated with affectionate contempt by the majority of the Adventurers who like him, but don’t want him to get ideas. It’s taken him five years to discover the purpose of pantaloons.
Gerard was clearly no danger with a weapon, except perhaps to himself. Unfortunately, it did not stop him from trying. Keeping him on the right track was proving to be like trying to herd frogs with a teaspoon. The problem was that he was fixated by the fact that she was a woman. He had somehow got it embedded in his head that he would have to escort her; a thought that would have offended Iona had it not been so laughable. She took a deep breath and pressed on to the peak of the mountain. – The Freetown Bridge
“It’s not difficult you moron,” Derek could hear Cassandra saying up ahead. He couldn’t see her, as most of the party had crested a hill and were out of sight on the other side. It was just that the Jaegars’ voices tended to carry. “We’re following a main road, how complicated is that?”
Then he heard Gerard’s nasal retort and sighed. Someone had let Gerard get ahead of the scouts again. For an extremely intelligent man he was useless with both maps and directions. His haughty voice wafted in the afternoon air.
“…and furthermore Madam, I’d be extremely grateful if you could step back out of my personal space.” Derek pushed forward passed the gaggle of Clerics in front of him. He needed to reach the front before Mr Adarius Jaegar decided, for a laugh, he was going to defend Mrs Cassandra Jaegar’s honour by punching Gerard on his somewhat ill-defined chin. Just as he overtook Dingelo the tiny bard, who was clanking like an out of tune one-man-band with every step, he heard the sound he was expecting and dreading. Adarius Jaegar’s distinctive baritone split the stillness.
“Don’t you speak to my wife like that, wizard-boy.” Derek broke into a trot and as he reached the top of the slope. He could see the knot of adventurers where they had collected at a fork in the road about fifty yards ahead. Adarius was squaring up to petulant looking Gerard, whose flabby chin was wobbling with self-righteous irritation. The two men were of roughly comparable and not inconsiderable size. – Dawn of Darkness
aka: Lady Iona, Duchess of Pringle; Iona; IP; That woman…
Age: you shouldn’t ask a lady her age
Religious views: prefer not to disclose
Adventuring skills and specialities: scouting, thievery, risk-taking, being outspoken and opinionated
Marital Status: Widow – of the late and great Dakarn Pringle, one time piss-artist now aspect of Trickster.
Family connections: One daughter – Rosemary Iona Pringle. She has no interest in her family roots.
Born in obscurity in the Elven Forest, Iona brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘parvenu’. She’s widely travelled, having ‘worked her passage’ across the continent with the Ambassadorial services of Paravel and Albion. The adventuring life suits her because it allows her to pursue several of her great passions: being right, making money and gaining power and most importantly – appearing to be doing all of this for the right reasons. In her spare time, she runs an Aberddu knocking shop (sorry… high class drinking establishment with bespoke personal entertainment) called The Duchess’ Pleasure.
In Iona’s defense, she’s a more genuine soul than people give her credit for – her best friends include an erstwhile pig-farmer turned adventurer called Derek and a colourful gypsy called Morwenna. She is fiercely loyal to those select few that she loves and will fight tooth and nail for them, and against the Frisian Inquisition. She just doesn’t suffer fools.
“When you said ‘you don’t know what’s down there in that fog,’” he gasped finally level with Iona again, “What you meant was that I didn’t know what was in that fog but you did, wasn’t it?”
A scornful smirk curled across Iona’s face as she turned to look at the flushed cheeks of the wheezing wizard.
“Glad you’ve finally worked that one out,” she retorted, “Now perhaps we can get to where we’re going without getting ourselves killed.”
“Absolutely, right you are. You lead on then, madam,” said Gerard, trying to sound cordial whilst still flushed and panting. Fire flashed in Iona’s eyes, as she turned on her heels, started back up the hill and growled
“And don’t call me Madam,” – The Freetown Bridge
“Miss’ ‘ona Prin’le.” he asked gently, and took Scylayla’s scowl as an affirmative.
Iona, probably still alive because of her paranoia, shot one hand down to her knife hilt. Why on earth did a gargantuan swineherd in Idldorf know her name? She knew farm folks liked their gossip but she hadn’t been in Paravel that long and Derek surely couldn’t know every pig farmer on the continent, could he? With little option but to own up to her name, she turned to the man and said,
“I’m Iona Pringle, how can I help you?”
The swineherd pulled himself up to his full, towering, height, removed his rag cap and bowed low.
“Obidiah Bowe Hingis, a’ your ser’ice, it’s an honour ma’am,” he said with the poorly contained excitement of a small child who’d been told he has to stand still for five minutes and then he can have his own magic cat. He proffered a hand like a side of steak and not knowing what else to do, Iona took it and shook. Her other hand was now firmly gripping her dagger, ready to draw. After a bone-crushing moment she retrieved her sweat-coated hand and wiped it on the seat of her hose. She was just about to take leave of her unexplained admirer when he bellowed across the hubbub of the thoroughfare.
“Oi, Oi, Abraham,” and a man that resembled a human stick insect looked up, a clay pipe clamped between him disgusting brown teeth. “gue’ ‘o thi’ im! I’ only Miss’ Prin’ fro’ tha stories,” – Dawn of Darkness
“What in the names of all the Gods were you think?” she cried as she burst through the door to find Clara and Pudding sitting forlornly on the bed side by side gazing at their feet. “What the hell did you break out for?” Looking up sullenly, Clara said,
“We had some fings to do, di’n’t we?”
“Yeah,” chimed in Pudding her eyes narrowed with resentment. “We can’t be sittin’ about here all night like a bunch of hookers ya know. We’ve got things to do, people to see and all that.”
“Like what?” demanded Iona, glaring at them incredulously. “What was so bloody important that you couldn’t follow a simple instruction?”
“Well,” started Clara her voice already wheedling after just one word, “I had some fings to collect didn’t I ? “
“Like what?” snapped Iona again, getting into her motherly stride. At this point Clara stood up to show Iona her coat.
“My best coat for instance,” she said turning to show Iona the full extent of the immense monstrous garment. Iona had been ready to retaliate to any one of a number of excuses but this one completely floored her. She just stood there, gaping. After floundering for a few seconds she finally managed to utter,
“That’s your best coat?”
“Yeah,” squealed Clara offended, “Wha’ wrong with it? It’s got plenty of wear in it.”
“Yeah, for someone twice your height and weight or possibly a family of midgets.”
“It fitted the guy who died in it,” mumbled Clara by way of explanation.
“Someone died in it?” cried Iona, her earlier fury subsiding in pity. – In Shadows, Waiting.
An exploration of Wonky Aberystwyth by Sandra Bendelow, Keith Morris and Lara Ward
MM Romance Author
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