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A Bloody Crown Chapter 07

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The Cyclops Banner: A Bloody Crown available now as an e-book.

You can find chapter 6 here.

The cover for the novel A Bloody Crown, first in the series The Cyclops Banner. It shows a castle in darkness with some mist.

Chapter 7: The Count of Aedeltor

The Month of the Archer, Moransday the Fourth.

Bereburh, Kellalh Borders, occupied by Surraev

Count Caris Langleth of Aedeltor sat astride his warhorse, the great beast Hilde, who Caris had won on campaign in Taulmeer. He wore his parade armour—he had wealth enough to afford such—and held the position as head of the honour guard. Off in the distance, he could see the clouds of dust lifted by the approaching army. The new governor of Kellalh came that day, and as the Master of Horse—the military commander for Kellalh—Caris had the duty to greet him.

His two most trusted lieutenants flanked him—for the moment out of their proper position at his back. He had served with both Sir Herres of Terumsare and Sir Adred of Penhalm most recently in Taulmeer. Neither had lands or independent wealth. They owned the armor on their backs, the swords at their sides, their mounts, and tack and harness, but little else. The wars of the former king had enriched those landless knights willing to sell their swords to the crown, but it had not gained them property or titles. The adventures in Taulmeer had created a large force of these men-at-arms, and two of the finest stood with Caris.

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A Bloody Crown Chapter 06

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The Cyclops Banner: A Bloody Crown available now as an e-book.

The cover for the novel A Bloody Crown from the series The Cyclops Banner. It's a castle in darkness and mist.

You can find chapter 5 here.

Chapter 6: Family

The Month of the Mouse, Soctrosday the Eighteenth

The village Farnoakes in the duchy of Anverhale.

The village consisted of little more than small, dirty hovels, half-buried in the dark earth. Strips of farmland stretched out beyond those. Low walls of stacked rocks marked their boundaries. The people in the village watched him with the same suspicion and fear he remembered from the East Kingdoms. These people had as close to nothing as anyone could have and still survive. They looked at his patched, worn clothes with envy. They had nothing with which to patch theirs. The price of the sword at his side would feed them for months. It was the same in every village they had passed through. It was the same everywhere he had ever been.

What would happen when the war reached them? How many of them would even survive it? How could these people benefit if Alec and his defeated the Surraeveans? Did they even care who their lord bent his knee to? Hadn’t they been just as destitute, just as desperate when a Kellei king sat on the Kellei throne? Had their lords not been just as rapacious?

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Light From A Dark Lord 03: Titles, Trappings, and Talk

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You can find Chapter 2: On the Shore of the Great River here.

Chapter 3: Titles, Trappings, and Talk

When I woke the next morning, the two of them were still talking. I know Herkrist slept very little, but I had no idea how much sleep an orc might need. Or a half-orc. It was kind of a stupid thought, but Tak was so different than any other orc I had met—or heard of—that I had trouble thinking of him as an orc. Now I realize orcs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, just like humans, but back then, all the orcs I had known were mostly mercenaries or criminals along with very few merchants. Tak didn’t look or talk like any of them.

I started scrounging through the camp, and Tak didn’t say anything. I guess once he was onboard, we were a team. You share your stuff with your team. That’s how it works. It wasn’t a very large camp, so scrounging meant going through four packs in front of the tent under a canvas awning. I found some dried meat and fruits, and the precious dried beans I’d been looking for.

“You got anything to crush these with?” I didn’t care that I interrupted their conversation. They probably needed a break.

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A Bloody Crown Chapter 05

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The Cyclops Banner: A Bloody Crown available now as an e-book.

Working cover for the novel A Bloody Crown: a castle wall in darkness

You can find chapter 4 here.

Chapter 5: The Holy Fathers

The Month of the Mouse, Moransday the Thirteenth

Torclach in the Barony of Selcost, Kellalh

Rhona walked with her back straight. She stared straight ahead, her face studiously neutral. She wore clothing originally made for her father, now tailored for her. She had his sword on her hip and wore his robe and the circlet as a Baron of the Community. Her riding boots clicked against the stones of the floor, punctuating her approach.

The Temple of the Martyr Rood in Torclach could not compare with the great churches and cathedrals elsewhere. Old, the rulers of the local lands had worshipped at it for hundreds of years. Only in the last ten could the local clergy afford to glaze the windows, and then it was with irregular panes of coloured glass cast off from other projects further away. Since that time, her father had refused to attend the Rood.

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A Bloody Crown: Chapter 04

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The Cyclops Banner: A Bloody Crown available now as an e-book.

Working cover for the novel A Bloody Crown: a castle wall in darkness

You can find chapter 3 here.

Chapter 4: The Baron

The Month of the Dog, Talaymansday the Fifth.

Kaessekros on the Red Isles in Kellalh

The last time Alec Ulvarsson had stood in Kellalh, he watched a city burn. He had sailed away as flames consumed everything behind him. He had survived Surraev’s invasion, but his home had not. His friends had not. His father had not. Behind him, he had left a family. That still haunted him.

He could not surrender, not then and not now. He would not let Surraev win. Someday, somehow, he would beat them. Back there, on the mainland, more soldiers mustered. His Talons waited for the call. They knew very little, but they knew enough. They would be ready to sail, and would not expect to ever return to the East Kingdoms. The coin they got when they sailed would likely be the last coin they saw from Taulmeer and its king. They knew the game—get the mercenaries out of the country before disbanding them. Let them be someone else’s problem. They had all seen it before. Did they all suspect what that other country would be? He had. And none of them were stupid.

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Light From a Dark Lord 02: : On the Shore of the Great River

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You can find Chapter 1: Right Place, Wrong Place here.

Chapter 2: On the Shore of the Great River

When Tak had said to meet him at a camp, I had expected something more than a single tent with a guttering fire in front of it. I guess a camp is a camp. And I guess we should be a bit careful with assumptions.

Or maybe it’s just me.

The province we were in, Lunaventum, seemed a nice place, even in the dead of night. What with all the trees and fields and such. There were farms. I mean, not along the river, but in the area. I had seen a few since arriving in the province, but I think more than a few were abandoned. A lot of the space was empty. That didn’t make a lot of sense because since this land was pretty much free for anyone from the Great Kingdom. It had been a hundred years since the Downfall, but I think people were still afraid of the Terror Lands. I mean, they still called them the Terror Lands.

The royal steward resided in Lunaventum, further south than Tak’s camp or Bailthair by about a day. He had a thousand cavalry and triple that in infantry. That should have made anyone feel safe. But with the war over for a century, and the province ‘pacified,’ people just didn’t come.

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A Bloody Crown: Chapter 03

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The Cyclops Banner: A Bloody Crown available now as an e-book.

You can find chapter 2 here.

Working cover for the novel A Bloody Crown: a castle wall in darkness

Chapter 3: The Wolf’s Son and his Talons

The Month of the Sparrow, Wegeresday the Twenty-seventh.

Aubrien Port in the Belgdstaet Unity

He wanted to stay in Taulmeer, at the company’s camp. That was his home. The company was his home. But when Cristobel returned from Aneros, he had told Alec to reach out to their contacts in Aubrien and find out what kind of transport was available. The contract wasn’t certain. Cristobel needed seals on it and he needed the coin from the last contract. He didn’t believe it would happen, but the company needed to be ready. And it needed trustworthy ships to get them across the Small Sea.

That made Alec wonder. Travel to most parts of the East Kingdoms would be on the roads. The only possible destination—outside the Fist—would be the Empire. The Empire was always at war, but mostly with itself. Could they be heading to the Empire? That didn’t make sense. Taulmeer had accepted peace with Surraev because it didn’t have the money to keep fighting. Would the king take further loans to campaign in the Empire?

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