Emlis grips his unstrung bow. Purchased with a month of promised labor, it is his greatest treasure.
He kicks a pebble off Endless Road, the smooth street his life has been focused on. To the right, trees and grass crowd a narrow gravel path going straight north.
Travel to the edge of Eden, slay a beast of Northwild and return before his road crew moves on. This was the bet he made while skipping lunch to fletch an arrow.
The lone missile is secured to his back, across shoulder blade and spine. The steel tip points to his shoe’s worn heel, and the hawk feathers brush his bony shoulder. Its shaft is white cedar. The best wood he has found since arriving on this forsaken world. Continue reading Uroborus, Two Chickens With One Sneaky Shot
Uroborus has no moon. So, its brightest nights are star lit. Emlis blinks at the twinkling things too far away for his imagination to grasp. He rubs his arms, wincing as his callused palms scrape like sandpaper.
Farts and the foul breath of a dozen and more naked men crowd around him. The dim light hints at their mix of hardy humanoid races.
He has broken dirt with this crew for weeks, working on the Endless Road and the multitude of paths branching off to the north and south. The dwarves and the single elf have the gift of nighteyes, but this does not save them from the cold blowing up from the Southwild’s winter.
Emlis clears his throat. “It’s like a white dragon is breathing on us tonight. Anyone willing to risk a fire?”
A gruff voice says, “Fire would bring the monster horde, dumbass.” Continue reading Uroborus, Men’s Night Out
The sun beats down on the sweat-drenched back of Emlis Naedan. The tan young man cracks stone with a steel-headed maul. He swings with feverish intensity, pushing his lean physique to its limit. Darkness is coming and his road crew will be left to the night’s monsters if they do not fulfill their day’s labor quota.
Emlis winces as a solid hit vibrates through his shaft and rattles his teeth. It is unfair work, but this alien world is as far from fair as his homeworld is distant.
A dozen and more companions from a half dozen races toil alongside him. They are the road crew serving a two hundred and fifty mile stretch of the Endless Road between two of the great cities of Emlis’s new world. Continue reading Uroborus Does Not Favor Loners
Purple skin flutters in the wind, stuck to the ribs of a mammoth-sized monster long dead. A vegetable garden circles it, attended by an elder woman wearing a swath of hide cut from the dead beast.
Abel turns from the Endless Road and leads Termie towards the lone lady. The two men shuffle bare feet, making their coarse tunics and pants sound like blades being sharpened as they approach.
Abel raises his hand to show off the chevron tattoo across his wrist. “Hail. We need water, food, and shelter. We offer labor to repay. As proof of trust, I have tattoos of service from seven cities.” Continue reading Around Uroborus, Hide from the Road Hag
Buzzards circle the ruins of bold settlers. With a bare foot, Abel steps on a warm piece of what had been the lone building. Black and shiny under the sun, it is back-breaking granite covered in unbreakable adamantine resin. A treasure from another world, the machined block had fit with thousands of others in a master-craft of stone joinery.
Naked and grim, Abel paces out the foundation of its humble size. No bigger than a small tavern, it nonetheless had the makings to survive the hammering of any battering ram carried by man.
Foot-prints of the monstrous horde have churned the earth like a farmer’s plow. He steps across the tracks to a pile of black stone and crushed bodies.
One wild-haired survivor weeps on his knees, as skin-bare as Abel. Continue reading Around Uroborus, the Only Man to Survive
The monsters come, and the man prepares. The road is endless, and Abel Hart steps to its edge. In the distance, screams and snapping wood echo. His caravan is being torn apart under the setting sun. Nothing he can do with a dancing blade or hardened leather against a horde of wild beasts, so he strips off his armor, weapons, and gear.
Abel continues to strip until only his tattoos cover him. Seven runes mark his flesh, each one the stylized symbol of a city he has served on this endless path.
The woman he loves is at both the finale and the beginning of his journey. The beauty he will marry must be won by looping this world and earning a tattoo from every city along the way.
The screams scatter. Their meager defense must have collapsed and panic set in, dumbing them to the final lesson on Uroborus: strip and surrender to survive. Continue reading Around Uroborus, for Love or for Pride
Harmless Hamlet grows. It is an eclectic
settlement founded by adventurers and populated with men, monsters,
and even some women.
In a tall tent, Colgrevance stands with
his arms spread as his orc squire attires him in green-tinted full
plate. He is the defacto ruler of Harmless and the sheriff for the
Jutting out his chin, Colgrevance rolls
his shoulders and squats. “Feels like it fits, but how does it
“Magnificent.” The orc dips his head
and shuffles his feet.
“Be honest, Quad.”
“You are magnificent, Sir.”
Colgrevance snorts. Quadagh was born in
the way of orcs a month earlier, eating free from the womb after his
mother was slain. Colgrevance took him under his wing, raising him to
be a squire during the curcial imprinting and growth that transforms
an orc infant into an orc man.
“Fine craftsmanship from a past age.”
Colgrevance clips his sword and helm onto his hip and his shield onto
his back. “Martle has done well refitting this armor for me. I must
also thank Pipit for recharging its mystic power. It takes discipline
to praise useful people you despise. This is especially important for
“Yes, Sir.” Quadagh furrows his
hairless brow. “Praise people you despise.”
Continue reading Respect Is Earned
Heart thudding and out of breath, Solaris leans against an old pine tree. Through the needle leaf canopy, the sky brightens in shades from black to gray. The morning’s sunrise is still many heartbeats away.
She growls, shaking her head and clutching her fur-edged cloak. Water drips from skeletal branches and the tip of her nose. She wipes and breathes in the damp air, face relaxing and lungs refreshed.
Crackling underbrush jerks her head. Smithmage Martle scrambles clear of a thicket wearing a voluminous robe covered in twigs and sticky seeds. Legs wobbling, he falls and struggles on with knees and palms.
“Calm down!” Heart steadying, Solaris holds up her hand. “It’s a mystic fear. Pause, and let it clear.”
“No!” Martle recoils with wide wild eyes. “Run! He Comes!” The older man staggers to his feet and stampedes into more underbrush.
Continue reading Jabberwaki: Part 5, The Monster
Storm clouds smother starlight, and a breeze chills Beorn’s cheeks as he walks the length of an ancient rampart. He coughs into his fist and adjusts his warhammer and shortsword, making sure both are in easy reach at his waist and don’t clank against his dull gray armor.
Below, Jacob waves a torch. “Belazar’s having another vision!”
Beorn grunts and charges past the knotted rope he used to climb up. The rampart ends broken, as if an age ago something colossal took a bite out of the castle wall. Beorn hops over the edge and skids down the steep side. A mini avalanche of crumbling stone rolls after him. He stumbles into the grass but keeps his footing as bits of wall pelt his heels.
Jacob jogs over, quiet as a cat with only his loose tunic and trousers. “Not bad, considering that turtle shell around you.”
Beorn tightens a loose strap hanging from his half-plate. “Let’s go, circus freak.”
Continue reading Jabberwaki: Part 4, The Vision
Messoack wipes his face with a dripping rag and drops it on the floor, missing the wash-bin he took it from. “I am the candle in the dark for fluttering thoughts.” He kisses his smooth, blue-gray knuckles. “I am the eye within the maelstrom for argonauts.”
The barkeep is draped over the bar-top, a cauterized hole through his neck and red foam covering his lips. A pair of wenches lean against each other at the door, holes through their buxom chests. A minstrel is slumped over his mandolin on the stage, and a half dozen patrons are scattered about the floor. Everyone in the inn is dead, and Messoack doesn’t remember what compelled him to kill them all.
“I am Voice for the Unnameable, but my mind is my own.” He straightens his collar and strides outside.
Continue reading Jabberwaki: Part 3, The Boy