'He lunged forward in what should have been an impossible contortion, a blurring corkscrew of elongated limbs and seemingly liquid bones, weaving through the storm of Telluran blades as if the soldiers were blind men swinging at a ghost. The monstrous head of Garth's maul roared through the air and where it struck there were detonations of thunder and cries of agony, and through that bone-crushing rush of destruction the old man's face remained peaceful, almost detached, as his faded brown eyes stared straight through his opponents - and at the noble wretch who held his niece at the end of a length of wicked steel.'
My vision flared white and there was a sound like roaring waves crashing against the shore.
When everything cleared and the world filtered back in the dream-eater had collapsed to its knees and my hand was wrapped around its throat. It felt like a dry branch in my grip, brittle, begging to be snapped. The light in the Others’ eyes guttered as its arms floundered at its sides and a pained moaning came from its gaping mouth.
“I am scared,” I heard my voice as if it were coming from somewhere far away, “and there’s an awful good chance I’m crazy. With good reason, too.” My whole world narrowed down to my fear, anger, and the inhuman creep on its knees in front of me. “I’ve seen what’s coming, man. I’ve looked it in the eye and seen the future and I have heard the death-cry of the multiverse.”
A shadow fell over us. “Let go, Thomas,” Uncle Satan said. His voice crashed like a bell, ringing through my skull, driving out the howling static and leaving behind a yawning silence. “It is all right.”
I let the Other drop and it collapsed with a sigh.
"It was during the fifth and final lap of the race that day at the Turling Track that Desper and dread Hamagor tore through the ranks like a hurricane to claim victory, annihilating the competition and shattering persistent rumor that rider and dragon had been grievously injured weeks before during a private, sanctioned duel against a mysterious opponent. In a staggering display of power and skill Desper proved yet again why he is and always will be the Uncrowned King. Reporting for the Eye, from the shining heart of Elda City, this is Vanar Red. All Hail the King."
We were surrounded by a pack of surly misfits brandishing a startling array of violent implements the moment Reine Laide’s tentacles touched grass.
They were a veritable army, near a hundred or so men and women in what appeared to be second-hand and salvaged armor of all kinds, hardly a single piece matching another, and all of them from various eras of the time stream. One woman wore metropolitan riot gear over rusted and much-mended chainmail while the snarling, gap-toothed man at her side was decked out in a piecemeal suit of ill-fitting samurai plate. There were notched and bent swords, spiked clubs made from table legs and tree branches, broad-bladed axes with cruel edges - but all of them were worn and showed signs of recent use. It was as if a Renaissance Faire had vomited up decades of left-overs and these people had picked over the steaming mess.
But as I looked closer I began to see that each face, though fierce, was plainly wrought with fear. And many of them appeared wounded. Bloodied, bruised, and hastily bandaged as though they’d recently seen battle.
“These folks have seen better days,” I said as I began the climb down the bulbous mound of Reine Laide’s head. The octopus made a curious rumbling noise as I did, that reminded me distantly of a cat’s purr.
Petit remained in her saddle, flat, dead eyes scanning the crowd.
“Grey-Man!” The voice exploded like a cannon across the quiet clearing.
I jumped. Petit jumped. Even the ragtag army jumped and then parted, each one of them dropping to a knee and fixing their eyes on the ground as they did so.
Update! In which characters pull grumpy faces.
Back from hiatus finally, after a lot of hustling, which is good since this is just in time for Red Moon Rising’s five year anniversary holyy craaap I feel old.
mfw I realised last week I was about to run an ugly big hiatus right through RMR’s fifth birthday
Anyway, cheers to anyone who’s been reading along for the last 330 pages, to new readers and old alike! You guys are the best!
To celebrate one year of being published, the strange urban fantasy Run the Day is free all day. The end of the world just got strange.
Her little body went rigid. She said something, but it was lost in the howl of the wind. I was going to try again when she snapped up Reine Laide’s reins and the octopus fell into a spiraling dive, tentacles corkscrewing behind us. I screamed. I screamed again when a bolt of roiling black energy tore through the space my head had inhabited scant moments before.
“What the fuck was that?” I twisted around, frantically scanning the clouds.
Petit was shouting at Reine Laide in a blistering string of French and the octopus poured on the speed, hurtling down. I clung to the back of Petit’s saddle until my knuckles went white, still scanning the sky, when I saw a trio of figures above us and closing in. Shadows against the backdrop of the clouds, silhouettes made of razor edges and wings like knives battering the air as they came for us. There was a flash of power and another volley of black bolts raced down.
Petit responded to my cry with a barked command and Reine Laide twisted into a vicious, frantic loop, reversing direction and flying up to meet our attackers. The violence of the maneuver sent my head cracking back and I saw stars. I could feel the malicious energy of the bolts as we went racing past them, dodging through a sudden hail of crackling, devouring power, the mad beast we rode upon defying all logic in a display of aerial prowess and agility that beggared my mind and left me dizzy. It was suicide, each searing spear of negative energy missing us by barely a hair’s breadth, and still we kept barreling at them.
“Attack, wizard!” Petit howled back over her shoulder at me as she leaned into her saddle. “Attack!”
Her words cut through the whirling of the insane flight and the imminent panic building in my skull that threatened to turn my vision white and reduce me to a worthless puddle of gibbering fear.
No more fear.
Here’s a link to download a free PDF version of the Scribbles sketchbook I did in 2010. I felt the book had run its course long ago, and it couldn’t hurt to put this out there for anyone interested. It’s a big, 300dpi/150MB download so it hopefully won’t look awful on new devices.
New link for this book since I get asked about it now and then. Hopefully this works?
“I just realized something, though.”
“You can’t fly?”
“That. Yeah. I also have no fucking clue where I’m going, only that Uncle Satan went out between the worlds to face whatever horrible thing that’s eating its way through reality.” Sometimes I’m glad I don’t take the time to actually think about the nonsense that comes out of my mouth. “I saw it on the edges of the dead realms, and my buddy Swift - he’s some kind of weird ass angel, right? - seemed to think the king might have stalled it - whatever it is, no one’s given me a straight fucking answer yet - somewhere around there, near the Shattered Plains. Whatever that means.”
I sucked in a breath after that ramble and waited for Petit to stop staring at me with her vacant, faded eyes. It was eerie as hell.
“Mon Dieu,” she whispered. “The King of the Roaches has gone to face the Fragment?” She spun away and stalked off towards the fire, talking to herself, apparently having forgotten all about me. “Doomed, all the worlds are doomed…oh, but it’s just not fair…there was no time…”
Being the discreet kind of guy I am, I hacked and cleared my throat loudly. “Excuse me? Hello? Is this cryptic bullshit day? What the hell are you going on about, what is the Fragment?”
When she turned to face me, the light of the fire threw crazy shadows along across the fractured, cherubic face, making her look wild, demonic and unearthly. Her voice was a rasp, thick with fear…