Thursday, August 25, 2016

Story for the Day: A Cleric's Work is Never Done

The new novella for August is available to all our patrons on Patreon. The story is primarily about Bryeison and his reckless cern, but it also details the plight of Cneighsea, the Royal Cleric, who is forever mending broken bones and forever trying to get Bryeison in for his mandatory monthly examination without any success. Pledge on Patreon HERE to get the complete novella.

A crack resounded through the yard, a gurgling shriek followed, and moans of agony welcomed Bryeison and Draeden to the infirmary. Saunders was laid out on one of the beds, writhing and twitching, and Cneighsea was looming over him, holding him down with one hand while trying to tame the odd flailing limb with the other.
                “Stop moving, stop moving, will you!” the cleric shouted, pressing a hand against his patient’s chest, forcing him down against the bed. “I’m trying to heal you, boy, not break your other wrist! Stay still if you want me to mend the bone! Commander Bryeison,” addressing him as he approached, “whatever this child did to have his knees broken, I am sure he deserved it, and I implore you to break them again if he will not behave himself. I have never seen a young man behave so ill—even children with broken arms deport themselves better. He is the most unmanageable patient I have ever treated! Even worse than His Highness.”
                Draeden seemed offended. “I’m not a bad patient,” he murmured, pouting and folding his arms. “I only don’t like when you put your hands in untoward places and ask me to cough.”
                “ No, I said do not move! How many times must I tell you? A hundred apparently. I do have abilities beyond healing, Mr Saunders, and if you do not hold still this instant, I shall use them to break your other nine fingers.” He clamped down on the cern’s hand and pressed his knuckle into his palm. “There, now. If you want the use of your forefinger again, you will be quiet and stay very still. I am finishing the healing on your finger, because that is what my profession dictates I must do, and then I am throwing you out of here, and I never want to see you in here again. What an impudent little-- you can die in the training yard for all I care once I am done with you. Duty dictates I must heal those who are ill, not those who are foolhardy, but unlike you, I suspect, I honour the vow I took when I began my profession, despite my better judgement.”
                His hand began to glow, and the cern composed himself once the warming sensation of Cneighsea’s powers rippled over him. He heaved a heavy sigh, shook his head and adjusted his spectacles, and Draeden and Bryeison, enjoying the performance, sat in the opposing corner, waiting for Cneighsea to finish the preface before reaching the main part of the lecture they knew must follow.  
                “At first, when the cern parade wafted in here with solemn faces and shaking knees, I thought to blame you for putting more work on my plate when I have better things to do,” said Cneighsea, speaking primarily to Bryeison, “but after spending two minutes with the patient who would rather flap about like a dying fish than be healed—don’t pull back when I am in the middle of a treatment!” waving his long sleeve at Saunders. “I am more angry that you sent him here than I am that you hurt him. You should have crushed him into a fine paste and buried his remains in the far field.”
                “Good Cleric--!” Saunders pleaded.
                “Oh, be quiet!” Cneighsea hissed, swatting his patient with his sleeve. “Do not good cleric me. You’re getting healed whether you like it or not, and then you are getting out of here and never coming back, and I do not ever want to see you in here again, even if you are on the verge of death.” He exhaled and reached for a fresh bandage from his desk. “I really must speak to His Majesty about screening applicants for the forces,” he sighed. “I know we are supposed to welcome anyone who vows to protect the kingdom, but really, anyone will do anything for a copper these days, and where pride and promises are saleable, expendable men come very cheap indeed.”
                Bryeison simpered into his hand, and Draeden went to help the cleric subdue his patient while his finger and wrist were being tied.
                “Laugh as you will, Commander,” said the cleric, glaring at him over the rim of his spectacles. “Do not think for a second I have forgotten about your examination.”
                Bryeison stopped laughing and looked suspicious. “What examination?”
                “Do not play coy with me, Commander. You know very well which one I mean—there,” tying off the last bandage. “You are all healed, Mr Saunders. Do you hear me? Now, stop fidgeting and stand up. Let me look at you. Yes, you look very well. Your knees are bent a bit in the wrong direction, but I’m sure they were like that before. You can walk, and that is all I care about, because that means you can walk out of here. Leave now, please, and I do not care where you go, whether to the barracks or home or to the residence, but you are not permitted to stay here. Understand?”
                “Yes, cleric!” Saunders cried, and with a wobbling step, he shuffled out of the infirmary, moving toward the barracks with all the celerity in his power, making sure to avoid Commander Bryeison by the way.
                “Now,” said Cneighsea, turning toward Bryeison, “for you.”
                He tied his long sleeves and advanced, with arms extended and gaze constant, and Bryeison, refusing to sit for anything like a physical examination, instantly got up and shifted toward the door.
                “I don’t think so, Commander,” the cleric demanded, wagging a finger at him. “You must submit to examination, and that is all, or I will tell His Majesty you are unfit for active service.”
                “You can tell him,” said Bryeison, laughing. “I don’t think he would believe you.”
                “His Majesty always takes my recommendations to heart, unlike the rest of the world. There is certainly something wrong with you, if you can be afraid of an examination, Commander. His Highness has come for his regular examination every month, and you have not been examined since before the summer.”
                Bryeison raised a brow at Draeden.
                “He threatened me!” Draeden cried. “He knows I have a condition, and he told me that if I did not submit to an exam every month, I would die in a gutter!”
                “And so you will, Your Highness, if you do not have the proper management of your plight,” said Cneighsea. “I know you would forget, Commander, “ glaring at Bryeison, “but you too have a condition.”
                “Being bigger than everyone else is not a condition,” Bryeison asserted.
                “It is when your organs cannot keep up with the rest of you.”
                Bryeison could hardly argue with him, but he felt very well, and silently refusing Cneighsea’s offer, he stepped out of the infirmary and moved toward the training yard.
                “You are a man of regulations, Commander,” said Cneighsea, walking after him, “and you well know that regulations in the solider’s mandate state all members of the Frewyn Armed Forces—all members, Commander—must have a regular physical examination every month.”
                “I’m fine,” Bryeison insisted, marching away from him.
                Fine.” The cleric huffed and turned back toward the infirmary. “Yes, you’re fine, I suppose. You are all fine, every single one of you, until you are dead.”
                Draeden felt an invective coming on, and as Cneighsea stood on the threshold and called out to Bryeison, Draeden skulked silently away, returning to the far field by way of the mess, while the cleric launched himself into his full strain of scolding.
                 “Everyone in this keep is always fine—I’m fine, I feel just fine— everybody in the world is fine until someone comes into my infirmary crawling along the ground by his teeth, begging to be healed, moaning about not knowing what is the matter with them, though they have a fever enough to boil a cat and are morbulent to the point of mummification. Flies could be circling over their heads before they come to me for help-- and then they want me to cure them, as though I can revive anybody in a moment without a thought to the disease plaguing them. I can only do so much once they have let themselves practically rot away. The best cure is always prevention, but everybody and their mother would rather do as they like than take care of themselves-- and when you are crawling about on the ground, Commander,” calling after Bryeison, “and gasping for breath, because your heart has decided to make house in your lungs, I will be standing over you, watching you flounder about like a string skipjack, asking you whether you feel sorry for never having come for your examination!”
                Bryeison, though half way to the training yard, could not but hear, but endeavoured to disregard the cleric’s admonitions with a dismissive wave and sauntered away, and Cneighsea, realizing it was useless to harangue one who would rather die than spend two minutes on an examination table, turned back to his infirmary and continued his lecture to himself.

Friday, August 19, 2016

New Publication Announcement: The Baracan

The Baracan, the next novella featuring Danaco, Bartleby, and Rannig, will be out in digital format September 16th. Join our public event page HERE for updates on the coming release.

The book is a direct continuation of the Leaf Flute, now available in all digital and paperback formats. We will be posting new art and excerpts from The Baracan in the coming weeks. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

New Release: The Leaf Flute paperback now available

It's here! It's finally here!

The Leaf Flute is now available in paperback! Featuring new art in full-colour, you can now read all about Danaco, Bartleby, and Rannig's adventure in high quality print. Follow the links below to purchase in your region:

Enjoy and happy reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Story for the Day: An Airing of Grievance - Part 2

The story of Bryeison and the wanton cern who foolishly challenged his authority will be the next novella put out by the Frewyn Herald for our patrons on Patreon. Pledge HERE to receive the digital novella at the end of the month, and enjoy the small excerpt below. Poor Saunters the Cern. He has no idea what he's done.

Our new publishing label. Logo by the great and chewy Twisk.

Bryeison neared, salutes were sharply cast off, stances straightened and eye gawped absently at the far wall, giving neither the cern nor their commander direct attention. An ominous sensation succeeded, the rote of panicked reparations and rising pulses drowned out the cern and his speech, and as the cern was ending his great performance with flailing arms and righteous indignation, calling out, “We should demand that a superior officer be brought in to oversee training exercises, if that overgrown landmass of a commander is going to have us cleaning all day!”, every other heart seized. 
                A cloud passed overhead, the breathing of twenty gathered soldiers abated, a crow cried out in wicked hilarity, time ceased progressing, the echo of the cern’s last professions caromed through the yard. A shadow fell heavy on the cern and his congregation, and the brontide of nearing footfalls silenced all other sound. Knees trembled and soft whimpers of defeat ebbed out from quivering lips, glances fell and hearts beat with feverish alacrity as an enormous presence prevailed. It loomed over the yard, approaching the cern’s back and presiding over the whole of the congregation with violent tranquility. No one moved, the sun bowed and died away, and when the cern realized no one was listening to him any longer, the cern turned to find himself standing in the shadow of a wall.
                “And what superior officer would that be?” the wall rumbled.
                The sonorous reboation rippled through the crowd, and the gathered men suddenly found the ground uncommonly interesting, their eyes following the outline of a monstrous shadow making its gradual approach.
                The cern, curious as to why everyone was suddenly staring at their boots, looked up to find a mountain in place of where the sun once was. The mountain leaned down and bellowed, “Do you have a superior officer other than me?”
                Pointedly and composedly it was said, but the complacence, the assuredness which accompanied it recommended how short the cern’s life was likely to be. The mountain, lurching in terrific delitessence, shifted, and the sunlight peering through a crack in the wall, illuminated the cern’s own features in a plate of burnished steel. A moment passed before he realized he was gawping at himself, his own feartures warped along the bend of a breastplate. The wall breathed, the breastplate rose and fell, and the cern stepped back to garner a more comprehensive look at the summit. His eye followed a mass of leather and steel, the peak of which gave way to a familiar aspect: it was Commander Bryeison, the same countenance, the same equanimity, the same half-simper of whose patience was never tried, but the employment of it, the simulacrum of private glee that introduced it, was not the same as before. He seemed somehow more imposing, though he was only standing with chest high and shoulders back, but his confidence betrayed a supremacy even the cern must acknowledge. The giant exhaled, and the ground bellowed in agony under his feet. A sickening dread pervaded the yard, a dread that every recruit felt at his heart, a dread that the cern was determined to surmount.
                He had to crane his neck to glare at Bryeison, but the commander, standing at his full height, was far above where the cern’s eye could reach. He only caught view of Byreison’s shrouded expression, one that bore down on him with a mirthless and curious grin.
                 “I meant someone who will actually teach us how to fight,” the cern demanded.
                Bryeison seemed almost amused. “I thought you came here to learn how to serve the kingdom.”
                “I came here to learn how to protect the king, not how to scrub the floors!”
                The cern kicked the besom toward the garrison. It skittered across the ground and stopped near the entrance to the barracks, where Brigdan and Vyrdin were standing.
                “Oh, Gods…” Brigdan breathed, staring at the cern. “He is dead, isn’t he?”
                Vyrdin leaned back against one of the casks, folded his hands in his lap, and smiled in glorious anticipation.
                Brigdan was still gaping. “What do you think Commander Bryeison will do to him?”
                “Whatever it is,” said Vyrdin, in a blithesome accent, “I’m going to enjoy it.”
                “Sometimes, Vyrdin, I really do believe you would marry violence.”
                “He does deserve what Bryeison is going to do to him.” Vyrdin shirked a shoulder. “I’m just watching so I can learn by example.”
                Brigdan sidled his friend and felt somewhat ashamed of himself. “I don’t know that I take particular joy in watching.”
                “I do,” Vyrdin growled, the glint in his eye dancing about.
                “However,” said Brigdan, trying to reason with himself, “I cannot deny that he does deserve whatever is about to happen.” He paused and grew nervous. “What is about to happen?”
                “Bryeison will probably launch him over the arena wall.”
                “Has the Commander done that before?”
                “He’s done worse to those who oppose his authority. You should ask him about the time he broke the latrine.”
                Before Brigdan could ask whether the event had been truly horrible, a bucket rolled past his feet. It had been flung from the other side of the yard, where the cern was now stomping his feet in furious anger.
                “I’m not here to clean your latrine!” the cern shouted, clenching his fists.
                “Well, you can’t be. I broke that one,” was Bryeison’s instinctive reply, but every other instinct, every other answer from the congregation was quietly entreating the cern to be quiet.
                “No, I won’t be quiet,” the cern sibilated.”I’m going to tell this stupid excuse of a commander exactly what I think.”
                Bryeison raised a brow and folded his arms. “And what exactly do you think?”
                “That I refuse to do anymore scrubbing and washing. I’m not here to be your chambermaid.”
                “There’s noble work in being a chambermaid.”
                “If you think so, then you can play around with brooms while we handle swords.”
                A wave of whispered “Sirs” rippled through the crowd, begging the cern to address the commander with a small semblance of respect, but the surrusation was soon silenced by the purl of Bryeison’s sword being loosed from its sheath. The six-foot blade glimmering triumphant under the governance of the sun blinded its admirers with the light glancing off its edge. Bryison tightened his grip around the hilt, the leather around the grip cracked under his his might, and every eye followed the steel slab as Bryeison brought it to his side.  
                 “How long have you been here?” said Bryeison, in a deadly calm.
                The cern huffed and looked offended. “Long enough to know I’m not learning anything.”
                “Really. If you were paying attention, I taught you something just now.”
                “How’s that?”
                “That for someone who claims to be worthy of a weapon, I’m the only one between us who has one.”
                The cern narrowed his gaze, his anger beginning to froth, and Bryeison was all hardy complacence.
                “Look around you,” said Bryeison, gesturing to the soliders gathered behind the cern. “How many other men are here?”
                “What does this have to do with—“
                “Count,” Bryeison bellowed, his eyes blazing in sudden fury.
                The cern glanced over the crowd and murmured, “About twenty.”
                “How many bunks are there in the barracks?”
                The cern rolled his eyes. “Probably around the same number.”
                “And now many swords are in the garrison?”
                “About twice that much.”
                “Are you alone here?”
                The cern glowered. “Obviously not.”
                “Obviously,” Bryeison repeated, humphing. “A moment ago it was not obvious to you. I’ve been looking at two regiments of men this whole time. You’ve only been looking at me.”
                An exibilation ran through the crowd, and the cern grew angry.
                “Your point?” he sneered.
                “My point,” said Bryeison, “is that you have your back to those who have been protecting yours.”
                The congregants all glanced at one another, and the cern pursed his lips in seething rage.
                “You share the barracks with twenty other men,” Bryeison continued. “We’re not teaching you how to clean floors and wash linens. We’re teaching you to respect one another. The barracks is your home,” addressing the regiments. “Keeping yourselves teaches you how to honour the space and how to look after each other. It teaches you discipline and to appreciate your allowances. Looking after your sword or your armour is not work. It’s part of what it means to be a soldier. Your weapon and your armour is an extention of you. If you want to earn your own set of armour, you must learn how to care for it. If you want to wield a sword, you must learn how to maintain it. Would you be complaining about sharpening a sword if it was your only means of defense on a battlefield?”
                “Well, sharpening a sword I can understand,” the cern huffed. “I don’t see what scrubbing washing basin has to do with being a soldier.”
                “Really,” Bryeison simpered. “So you think we’ll be taking a laundress and a scullery maid with us on away missions?”
                Vrydin let out a dry “Heh,” and Brigdan looked on in astonishment.
                “I admit I’m shocked Commander Bryeison hasn’t dismembered him yet,” said Brigdan quietly.
                Vyrdin smiled. “It’s coming.”
                “I suppose someone his size can drag out a punishment for as long as he likes. It isn’t as though anyone else would challenge him.” And then, with a chary look, Brigdan added, “…Would they?”
                Vyrdin sincerely hoped so.