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 16 “The Ends of Victory,” part 2

Back to Needle Ash Table of Contents Michael did not want to open his eyes. He heard voices around him: voices he could not understand, but who seemed familiar and comforting. A face disconnected to those voices drifted by. A round, sweet face, with rich dark eyes… The eyes became shining eyes, or just one, great and fathomless, the eye of a monster, but the other always returned. It was a woman’s face, and he felt in the darkness for it. His visions twisted. A deep laughter, part sardonic and part authentic, rumbled in his heart, echoing a message he…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 15 “The Gambit,” part 2

Back to Contents The boat rocked slightly as they drifted into part of the city where its shores became lined by stone retaining walls, creating small eddies. Michael stood on the prow, watching for guards and hoping they all reached the citadel before the sun rose. Thokar was sitting down on a bench beside him, his cloak covering his ashen face, like all the other orcs. His old attire was gone, replaced by a gambeson and a coat of plates, similar to what Michael knew the citadel guard would wear. It wouldn’t fool anyone when they got close, but with…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 15, “The Gambit” part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 15: The Gambit Michael found Sharona sitting on a low hanging branch of an oak tree, seemingly staring at her feet. The light of the day was almost gone, but beside Sharona something glowed very faintly, like fire. “Sharona?” Michael said. “Hello Michael,” she replied, without inflection. “Are you alright?” “I’m whole and uninjured.” “That’s not what I meant.” “I know.” She looked up at him, and despite the low light he could tell she had been crying. “You were eavesdropping on me,” Michael said. “Weren’t you?” He stepped closer and saw next to her a…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 14: The Conspiracy, part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 14: The Conspiracy The Dolanari Estate was a wide stretch of land at the base of the gold mountains, composed of rolling, grass-filled hills dotted with trees that gradually transitioned into a hardwood forest. Farms stood out among the sparse oaks and wild olives as either cleared patches, irrigated most often by channeling a stream from uphill, or neat orchards of fruit trees. The vast majority of these belonged to Freemen, former enlisted soldiers and other citizens, who owned their plot and payed a direct tax to the family Butler Dolanari. Closer to the estate proper,…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 12 “Shards of Reality” Part 1

back to contents Chapter 12: Shards of Reality   Shadathal led them through the mists, a shining bauble of silvery glass in his upraised hand providing light to the path below them, dirty and drifting. The trees above were not aglow, even faintly, like the rest of the realm, but were dark and contained many brown leaves that would not abandon their purchase. The black limbs writhed around and into each other, like many finger of uncountable hands. Pinholes of star and moonlight drifted through here and there, lighting motes of white dust like tiny rods of white light. The…

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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 8 “In Search of Twilight’s Memory” part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 8: In Search of Twilight’s Memory   Michael rode Calot close behind Sharona, who was working a slow path through the thick brush on Rabble-Rouser, her eyes forward, but focused on nothing in particular. To the left of them Guissali ambled on his own horse, the black banner on his lance standing proud in the strong wind. Far off to either side, some fifty yards away, were escorts made of dragoons bearing crossbows and proper armored cavalry. At the request of Johan, Michael had allowed an elite guard to assist him in case the assassins might…

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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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