Needle Ash – Chapter 10 “The Image Shatters”

Back to Index Chapter 10: The Image Shatters   The guard at the command tent, who stood with the new mage general Morolo, was a young sergeant Michael knew from his own legion, a man named called Huff. “Sorry, sire, but this meeting is for you and the king only, per his orders,” he said. Michael noticed the man’s hand on the hilt of his sword. He looked over to Morolo, who stood tall and plain-faced. “Stay here, Sharona,” Michael said. “And give me the mirror.” Sharona shook her head. “No. We can go in and show him together… then…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 9, “Mirrors”

Back to Contents Chapter 9: Mirrors Michael sat at the long, rough table, staring at his breakfast of ham and eggs and occasionally watching the dust motes at the kitchen window. At last, Sharona appeared, bright-eyed and fully dressed. “Did I miss breakfast?” she said, looking around at the empty kitchen, the still hot stove with a trail of smoke curling from a leak in its stack, and the dirty dishes in the basin. “The lady of the house had other chores to attend to.” Sharona sighed and sat down beside Michael. She picked up his fork and began to…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 8 “In Search of Twilight’s Memory” part 2

Back to Contents Michael followed Angelico up over the hill, and at its crest they could see what was assuredly the tree the little girl had spoken of. It stood out among all the others in the hills, for it was larger in every sense, and of an odd shape that was not quite a hardwood, like the live oaks that dotted the plain, and not like a cedar, which grew in groves to their north. Beside it ran a clear, gentle stream with green rushes along its banks. As they got nearer, having to ford the stream, Michael saw…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 7, “Knives of Darkness” part 2

Back to Contents “What now?” Michael said as they walked back, raising his voice to carry over the sound of shouts and claps, spears on shields, and the sounding of war horns. They entered a vast stretch between the first formations, waving. General Butler stood waiting for them in his full armor, and his visor up. He wore a smile that wrinkled his old face further. “We drink and be merry,” Edward said. “We’ll leave three companies on guard at all times, still, for their could still be betrayal or, more likely misbehavior in the ranks.” “A little tolerance will…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 7, “Knives of Darkness” part 1

Chapter 7: Knives of Darkness   Sharona pushed herself closer to Michael as the center of the mattress sagged on its tired ropes, threatening to smother her. Their faces were so close that they could no longer see each other as more than a blur. The muffled sounds of passions pressed just as hard as the mattress, and Michael had to give out a whispered groan. Sharona breathed in Michael’s ear, “This is what you intended, was it not?” “I didn’t expect it to go so quickly.” “She’s apparently very good at her work.” “That remains to be seen… or…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 6: The King and the Queen, part 2

Back to Contents “Proof even a fool can do something right,” King Edward said as they trotted back to camp. “Your outburst might have put a seal on this ceding of territory.” “What?” Michael said. “You’re not seriously considering having Johan marry that woman, are you?” The king chuckled. “He would, if I said so, for I am his king, and we would still gain a kingdom. As consort he would have the real power anyway, being a man and a military leader.” He looked to Johan. “Sounds interesting, eh?” “Most definitely.” “What about Julia?” Michael said. “Michael,” Johan said…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 6: The Queen and the King, part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 6: The Queen and the King Michael stood beside his horse, putting on his gloves. He wore a colorful doublet of blue and green, a fine set of satin trousers and his riding boots which, as he had neglected to bring formal shoes, were shined with cooking oil as per Guissali’s suggestion. He watched the pavilion tent in front of the gates having its final stakes hammered in. It was as neutral a location as could be managed; just beyond reasonable firing range from the city walls and equally far from the fortifications of the Artilland…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 5: Ferralla, part 2

Back to Contents “It was necessary,” Michael said. “I didn’t say anything,” Sharona said. The were riding out past the Ferrallese army encampment, their troops having left it abandoned save for a few cowardly men who refused to bar the way forward. “The look on your face said that you didn’t care for our dispatchment of the captain.” “I don’t believe it was the only solution, ‘tis true,” Sharona said. “I broke his leg so we would not have to kill him. Otherwise I would have done something to simply kill him quickly.” “If we didn’t kill him, the army…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 5: Ferralla, part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 5: Ferralla   The sun was shining brightly on the plain as Michael, Sharona, and the handful of servants and guards they had brought worked their way slowly down from the rocky pass separating Ferralla and Artalland. The sparse dry oaks on the leeward side of the mountain were little shelter, and soon everyone in the party was loosening collars and removing jackets to cool off. Langelo came riding awkwardly toward them from up the road, his horse (borrowed from one of Michael’s retainers, who slept happily in the wagon) second-guessing his commands and turning this…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 4: Turns, part 2

Back to Contents “Are we even now?” Michael said. He had let Calot follow the road at his own leisure, but the beast had chosen to walk beside Rabble-Rouser, Sharona’s claimed destrier. Neither of them had spoken to each other yet. The morning had worn on, a light grey rain falling on the traveling cloaks that obscured the face of each, making the silence tolerable for longer than Michael had expected. “You’re quite a bit taller than me, actually,” Sharona said  at length, her face hidden in the heavy wool of her cloak and her head unturned. Michael shook his…

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