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 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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Needle Ash – Chapter 3: Strange Company, part 1

Chapter 3: Strange Company   A day and a half after leaving the army, Michael had come upon a little village, nestled in a sparse wood with good vineyards and fields all around. There was no inn as such there, but homely landowner had put him up for a night, recognizing him as the prince. The next day he came upon another town, called Gabora Minor; apparently if there was a Gabora Major it was long lost in the hearty oak woods of the country upland from the village. There he rested in a raucous inn called the Mottled Wyrm,…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 2: The Means of Victory

Back to Contents Chapter 2: The Means of Victory   Michael rode to Angelico, relief flooding him as his friend, dirty and mud-caked, opened his visor to smile. Michael opened his in return. “What are you doing here, sire?” Angelico said as Michael reigned in Calot beside him. “Coming to the real battle. How are losses?” “Not so bad so far,” Angelico said. “Or should I say, they could be worse. They didn’t catch us totally unawares. Our squad mage sensed some magic upstream, as it were. But sir, those dragoons aren’t going to do much on that side of…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 1, part 2

Read Chapter 1, part 1 Michael paused beside Gadero, his sergeant major, on the hill and looked out over the battle plain. Calot, as he called his destrier, was anxious and padded the ground beside Gadero’s lighter horse, which was placid, almost sad. The rain was lighter now, a mere sprinkle, and though the sky was leaden he could see clearly the main infantries of the Artallan and Ferrallese armies as they played their lines in the mud. He watched a shield wall fold in the Ferralla line, watched as Johan’s infantry pushed into the gap, only to fall back…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 1, part 1

Chapter 1: On the Battlefield   The sweets of life are enjoyed seldom and by few; But the bitterness of death is tasted by all, and There you find bitterness is another relative thing Among many other relative, mutable things That make a mundane world you call immutable But for the honorable, there is no death; Only a return to the dream.   For dreams to a living man are like gazing through a clouded mirror, whereas the dreams of death are like crystal water Only beyond the hazy veil of the mundane, the old dreams, shall we meet face…

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