Hi everyone, I’ve been remiss about posts the last few weeks but I was away over the weekends and there just wasn’t time for a post.
First, I want to thank everyone for visiting today with the blurb reveal for Curses Dark and Foul, my first fantasy anthology. Before I a go any further, I do have one request: please this post in some way to help spread the word about the release of the book.
The title of the anthology has a rather grim connotation to it as well it should since all three stories involve a curse. Each of the stories places a main character in a situation of coping with an insurmountable challenge from a curse. These characters are in a situation where they likely have no way out but forward into the teeth of an inescapable fate. Dark and foul certainly well describes the circumstances which hopefully makes for an intriguing read.
Here’s the blurb for the anthology:
Grim words spoken. Foul intentions invoked. Curses never offer surrender.
Within Curses Dark an Foul are three fantasy tales of unlikely hope in the shadows of dark fate.
The Black Bag: Coryss finds herself alone against three powerful witches. Young and foolhardy, she confronts her foes and challenges them to a simple contest. Hopeless, Coryss finds help from an unlikely source. But the dark and foul curses fly without mercy. Can Coryss save herself?
Shadow of the Beast: Sa’hatap serves the Seddessan Empire faithfully as a foreign conscript, his people merged into the political scenery of merciless overlords. An enemy tasks the warrior and holy-man with ending a curse upon the missing empress. Unwilling, yet with his people under threat of annihilation, Sa-hatap sets out to accomplish the impossible and kill an accursed beast that cannot be defeated. Will his sword and his faith save him?
For No Reason: Dax is haunted by the curse upon his village as the living emblem of the revenge of a witch. No one can kill him and his touch is death. But the curse will take Dax’s mind and transform him into a beast of retribution. His only hope is helping the village, but they hate him. How will he ever save himself, and them?
If you like short fantasy with a mix of sword and sorcery, dark fantasy and noblebright, then you’ll like Curses Dark and Foul. Bestselling fantasy author, P. H. Solomon, presents three short stories of curses both dark and foul, where characters never had a chance. Yet in the darkness abides the glimmer of hope and the slimmest of chance against overwhelming odds.
Dire curses threaten these characters with inescapable fate. Will each hero make a choice and take a stand regardless of hope or chances of success? Click the BUY NOW button at the top and join these cursed journeys.
Curses Dark and Foul will soon have a link on Amazon for pre-orders which I’ll share here on the blog as soon as it’s ready.
As you read, there’s little doubt as to the danger in which all the characters find themselves. One curse may have been for a shorter period of time another curse may have stretched out for years. Either way the consequences are fraught with an emotional strain that reveals an underlying attitude toward life. Hopefully you’ll find the stories interesting and entertaining.
Thanks for stopping by today for the blurb reveal. Don’t forget to share the post with a reblog or on your social media. I’ll be in and out all day to reply to any comments. Have a great week!
Hi everyone! It was a blur last week, especially over the weekend since I’ve been attending the SFWA Conference online. It’s been both fun and busy. The SFWA conference was busy and the Nebula award winners were announced with great fanfare on Saturday night.
This week, I share a continuation about Curses Dark & Foul as progress continues toward publication of the anthology. With the cover ready, compiling the final manuscript and creating the book blurb are on my radar. The final manuscript is underway and I’ve been studying a blurb for an anthology to write. With some solid progress, I hope to schedule the release over the next week or so for later in the month.
The last of the stories in the anthology is For No Reason. It’s another story involving a curse, but much more personal to the main character who has a vested stake in the outcome. The curse not only endangers him but the entire settlement and there’s nothing that can be done.
Haunted with the curse, the main character is hardly able to live with a sense of normalcy as his well-being, both physically and mentally, erode under the effects of the curse. There is but one way to break it and the way is seemingly closed. It’s a broken life and a broken community, with everyone waiting for the curse to take them all. What can be done with no answers at hand?
Such is the scene for the final story of Curses Dark and Foul. For No Reason was written back in 2012 and is a story I spent a little time shopping around to short fiction markets. Again, it was a story that editors liked but simply could not use at the time. Such is the case with much short fiction but it does not mean that these stories should not be read. I now share them as an anthology and open the door that these can be picked up in other venues some time in the future. Perhaps these will gain a bit more life of their own over time, just like The Black Bag has over the years.
Curses Dark and Foul will be found initially on Amazon in several categories. I again share the artwork and hope anyone reading will also share it on social media and elsewhere, especially when the sales link is announced. I’ll post a few more ways you can support the release with a minimum of effort. I have a few places where I can communicate more about the book and other upcoming releases – two private groups – one on Goodreads, named Marston’s Station, and the other on Facebook, named The Broken Bow Inn. Simply click the links and request membership and I’ll get you in where you can view more about this release as I post plans.
Thanks for reading today and I’ll be along throughout the day to reply to your thoughts in the comments section. Please share on social media and reblog as you are able.
The following is the next section of a short story entitled, For No Reason. I hope to include this story in an anthology in several months. The main character, Dax, is stuck in a magical rut that’s not headed toward a good ending…
“Tell us where good stuff is or we start with her fingers, then her toes.” The leader’s bellow carried over the cacophony of weeping women and roaring flames among the houses. Men shouted complaints cut short when the outlaws kicked or clubbed them.
Dax gritted his teeth and blinked. None of my business. He dismounted. His smirk spread as he crept closer. The mule trailed him on the lead. Dax frowned at the animal. “I guess you’re in this.”
The mule tossed its head.
The girl squealed. Firelight her face with fear.
Maybe they’d toss those fingers his way. Dax almost vomited. The cursed beast clawed for release. No, he couldn’t let it out. He steadied himself against a wall and hunched among shadows. He should go. It wasn’t his business. He’d take his chances these men would end the curse for him. He took one step backward. If only the cursed beast would leave him.
“You’ll be telling us now.” The lead ruffian slapped the girl, his dirt-smudged face twisted with a delighted grin at his power.
One outlaw held the girl down while another set a knife to her thumb.
“No, no, no!” The girl’s desperate screams mingled with her terrified sobs. Men shouted. Ruffians menaced their captives with cudgels.
Dax squeezed his eyelids shut and clenched his jaws. They’re like me. No, I’ll be worse if the village won’t let me…”
His eyelids snapped wide. He lurched into view and the mule followed. His lips curled. He didn’t need those hateful people.
“Leave the girl alone.” He removed his gloves.
The villagers shrank away and gasped.
Dax stood with his hands curled like claws and panted.
The leader and his men froze a moment and then squinted at shadows between the buildings.
The bearded ruffian laughed and swaggered toward Dax. “What you gonna do by yerself? Why, look at you all sickly and poxy.” The outlaw shoved the cursed man.
“You can’t hurt me but I can kill all of you.”
The leader laughed and his men joined him. “You ain’t gonna do nothing.” He stepped closer and Dax smelled his sour breath as the ruffian yanked him close by his shirt. “We gonna take that mule and drag you behind it, see how long you last, Poxy.”
Dax pried the outlaw’s hands from his shirt.
The bearded leader pulled away and drew back his fist. His eyes bulged as he gaped at his blackened hands as disease spread along his hairy forearms. The brigand screamed, stumbled back and crumbled to his knees. He clawed his chest and throat. The outlaw fell onto his side and writhed for fleeting moments. A death gasp rattled out of a mouth that never closed again. His eyes glazed and stared into the smoky night.
Dax lifted his gaze from the lifeless man, shook his head and sighed. He shoulda listened. Couldn’t worry about him. His shoulders relaxed and he stepped over the body as the corpse’s lips pulled back in a desiccated grin.
The girl lay under her attackers, her sob frozen as a hush gathered among bandit and villagers alike. Then the outlaws murmured and tensed to attack.
The mule brayed.
Dax whirled at a grunt.
An outlaw fell and writhed from the animal’s well-aimed kick. Animal needs a name after that. Another sallow-faced brigand snatched at the reins and received a vicious bite followed by another whirling kick. The outlaw ducked and scrambled away with a cry. Another ruffian snorted at his fellow.
The other outlaws stared at Dax. They’re afraid but willing to fight. Their sweaty faces sneered.
“I’ll gut you for that.” The lean man with the knife at the girl’s hand stood and displayed a gap-toothed grimace.
“You can’t hurt him, sick as he is.” Felton’s warning hushed the outlaws. “It’s the old crone’s curse. He can’t die, just suffer. Whatever touches him dies.”
“Then we’ll hurt the whole lot of ya while he watches.” The other outlaws nodded and flexed their arms to make good the threat.
“The whole place is cursed.” Dax advanced and grasped the knife-man’s sleeve.
The outlaw shouted. He yanked his arm away and scrambled from Dax’s reach. He waved the knife as he circled and split his glower between the villagers and Dax. “Stay back.” His gaze flitted to the corpse lying stiff in the firelight.
Dax stepped toward the outlaw. The fight’s left them. His voice sounded steady with his even breathing. “Put out the fires and leave with nothing.”
“But–” The sallow-face man glanced from Dax to the corpse again.
“Do it!” Dax’s snarl snapped like a whip. He lifted his bare fist.
The men jumped at his sweeping glare.
The outlaws beat at the fires with their tattered cloaks. Dax surveyed their work but never put his gloves on his hands. Felton and some of the men joined the outlaws while women aided with pails of water from the nearby creek.
The raiders wasted no time retreating from the village at Dax’s approval. When they were gone, he tied the corpse to his mule and pulled the remains out to the cemetery.
“What’re we gonna do with him there.” Elon flinched from Dax.
“Just dig the grave and kick him in.”
“We gotta do more work for you?”
Dax raised his hands and yanked his gloves on at Elon’s eye level. The other man dipped his head and trotted away, his face pale in the remaining light.
Dax walked his mule along the road home with a yawn. He stretched his arms and hummed an old lullaby. The beast was hiding. He’d better go before it came back.
“Thank-you.” Elon’s wife lifted her hand with an uncertain wave when he glanced over his shoulder.
Dax tugged his hat-brim lower but neither spoke nor paused.
“Wait, Dax!” Felton scampered alongside as Dax reached the village edge. The shopkeeper gave the mule wary space. “Why did you do it?”
Ash drifted between Dax and the shopkeeper.
Dax cocked his head sideways and arched an eyebrow at the other man. He shrugged after three strides. Suffering for life ‘cause no one had no money wasn’t right. He yawned again and never looked Felton’s way. “For no reason.”
“Yep.” Dax mounted the mule, jerked his hat at Felton and urged the animal to a trot.
Dax swayed with the mule’s motion. He slouched by the time he reached the cabin. His eyelids drooped against approaching sunrise. He slid off his mount stumbled to bed.
Dax woke near mid-day and washed his face in the stale basin water beneath mirror. He stood straight before his reflection in unmarred glass. He blinked and gasped. Dax touched his face. No weeping sores lingered. He touched the mirror where cracks once marred his diseased expression. The good deed done. The curse was broken!
He whirled and staggered. Dax inspected his hands and viewed unscarred skin. So tired he never noticed. He rushed out the door where he flopped on his porch steps as both laughter and weeping shook him.
Much later, the mule stared into his face while it crunched fodder, sprigs jutting from its mouth. The animal shied when he touched it bare-handed and grasped the bridle.
“Every good deed needs a reward. I’ll name you Hope.” He mule tossed its head in his grasp and he laughed. “Let’s take a trip, Hope.”
Dax departed a few days later. He left the stack of unbroken mirrors–save the last–on the porch for Felton. The shopkeeper could sell them back to the village. He kicked Hope’s sides and the animal strolled away.
The pines creaked in the fresh breeze off the hills. “Until unmerited kindness he performs.” Shadow faded in the hollow.
Dax patted the mirror in his bag and searched the surrounding treetops with his eyes. “Can’t say I’ll miss you.”
The end of part 5 and the story!
Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. The next part of the story will be posted on 3/9/2016. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive notification of these posts and those for other upcoming fiction projects to appear on Archer’s Aim as well as news about the upcoming release of An Arrow Against the Wind, the second novel of The Bow of Hart Saga due out later this year.