Needle Ash – Chapter 18, “Face to Face”

Back to Needle Ash Table of Contents Chapter 18: Face to Face Each day, more men came, much to the surprise of Michael. Almost his entire legion returned, some three thousand men, along with many knights from the western half of the country, who had to travel further than the others to reach the camp. These men brought news with them, that King Johan was assembling an army to march on the rebellion in Calasora, but that it was taking longer to organize due to substantial desertion. A large number of knights had failed to show up, and most of…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 17, “A River Flowing Swiftly” part 1

Back to Needle Ash Table of Contents Chapter 17: A River Flowing Swiftly In order to reach the temple section of the citadel, Michael, “The Badgers,” and the fifty-odd loyal men had to run through the second ward, a narrow “U” shaped space of dirt and grass that housed the stables, barracks, smithy, and general workshops. In the dead of night, the area was deserted save for the barracks. With as much speed as they could muster on foot, the troop ran past the entrance to the Barracks, which were manned by a pair of night guards. These saw the…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 13 “In the Shadows” part 2

Back to Contents Michael stared in shock, but felt himself being turned away. A hand was on his face, and he saw Sharona leaning over, nearly falling off of Rabble-Rouser, drawing him toward her. Then they were kissing, and she grabbed the front of his shirt with force, holding him in. When the released she was already turning Rabble-Rouser, and Michael’s horse Turner was wanting to follow. Michael looked back to the street to see the back of his brother, and the unmistakable profile of the queen. “What was that?” Michael said. “You don’t think your own brother would know…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 13, “In the Shadows” part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 13: In the Shadows The way down was easy going, though slow, for the path took many switchbacks from the pass, descending into a rolling rocky highland. A few scattered farmhouses stood watch over the empty wastes, manned by free men and women and their children, who took little notice of the travelers except to wave from their work. Plots of wheat and barley were ripening in the new sun, fed by the previous night’s brief rain. The road was muddy as it wandered the hills, and the horses would occasionally do a stumble-step over a…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 11: The Schism, part 2

Back to Contents Turns passed, the endless cycle of the strange realm healing Michael beyond what he thought possible. He felt stronger than before, and took to practicing with his sword. He wished to go riding, to break in and train the horse he had acquired from Batoli, but Shadathal cautioned him not to go afield, afraid he would lose his way back. “The paths do not run always straight here. You may return along the same path and end up somewhere else, since you are not from here,” Shadathal said one day, as Michael rode the horse around a…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 11 “The Schism” part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 11: The Schism   Michael saw a light approaching, not from the softly luminescent trees, or a lamp, but from many sets of eyes and glowing baubles of glass, hanging from tall elven figures or fitted on staves like magic torches. The approached slowly. The men were clothed in robes or in trousers and simple shirts, the women in long dresses of many colors. Their hair was a variety of colors, Michael saw now, of dark brown and red and umber, and their eyes too were of odd shades. “I never got your name,” one of…

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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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