Read chapters 1-6 of The Zi'veyn, first of The Devoted trilogy, for free right here!
I'm also on Patreon!


Thursday, 15 July 2021

Patreon-Exclusive Character Origin Stories

   Over the next month, I'm sharing the origin stories for the lead characters of The Devoted trilogy on my Patreon, exclusively for all tiers. These are short stories that I wrote before starting any work on The Zi'veyn, and were written for several reasons: first, to pick my skills back up; second, to get to know the world and the characters so they'd all be consistent, and third, to develop some of the backstories.

   None of them are spoilers, I'd decided way back in 2014 to be careful about that in case I decided to share them (I was of the mentality back then that everything I wrote had to be shared; today I know that's not true, but I do want to share these).

   All seven stories have been edited to bring them up to my current skill rather than how they were seven years ago, and I'm really excited to share them!

   My Patreon has two tiers - the Library Moth ($1/mo) and Archivist ($3/mo), but these short stories are special exceptions and will be available to both  tiers as soon as they're available. I won't be sharing them here, however, as I think it's about time my patrons got some truly exclusive content.

   If you're interested, all pledges are collected on the first of every month (with exception to your first pledge, which is taken immediately), and you immediately gain access to all past content, including exclusive snippets from Veysuul pre-release. Pledges can be made in Euros, GBP or USD, and by card or PayPal. I receive 95% of all pledges, with the rest going to keep Patreon running. The pledges help to buy reference and research books for future works, as well as advertising for my books and proof copies!







Tuesday, 6 July 2021

The World Changes At Night

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes



Excerpt from Professor Jaeger's 'Analysing Controversies and Speculation over the Oro-Empirical and Pre-Dansk Psychological Treatise; Death, Magic and Allies', published 1295, Leid Press.

    The dark is a frightening place. All logic and rationality crumbles, tensions hike, and we jump and flinch at the faintest things, even when we know it can't possibly be anything more than a creak of a contracting floorboard. We know this. In daylight, we know this. But at night, in the dark...how could it possibly be that simple?

    But what triggers this betrayal of the mind? Is it chemical? Is it because we're diurnal creatures, and our bodies can't handle cortisol when, by all biological rights, we're supposed to be asleep? Or is it more basic than that - that we rely so much on sight that we cease functioning when it's taken away from us? But in that case, what about the blind? Or does it come down to some primordial instinct etched into our DNA from a time before locked doors, still trying to keep us safe from the wolves and bears that can no longer reach us?
    Take your pick. They're all reasonable enough. But the dwarfs of the Chyrzonmarch present a fourth option - one that, in daylight, I'm sure you'll scoff at. One that, in daylight, I admit makes no sense at all. But it's one that I have researched, weighed and now present to you all the same.
    The world around us changes at night. It gets dark. The usual day-to-day creatures sleep, and others you've never caught more than a passing glimpse of awake. The calls of one beast or another shred the black silence, those awful, blood-curdling screams you've heard in the spring. Why should an animal make a noise like that unless it was being killed by something worse?
    Well, why shouldn't it? It's going about its business in its world. And, when the sun sets and the moon rises, we are no longer a part of it. The world...changes.
    There are all kinds of stories about the night - werewolves, midnight wraiths, vampires... All kinds of strange things are said to wander the darkness. Stories that, in the light of day...well. I've said it already: they don't make sense. But it's more than just fanciful musing by idle writers, isn't it? What about the things you imagine? The grinning, disembodied faces; the claws reaching up from beneath the bed to seize a hanging foot; the big, black, red-eyed dogs staring at you from the edge of the dark when you turn around in bed; half-rotten skeletons with wide grins and necks three feet too long peering through the window; the slow, scraping tap at the door...
    Why do these images not come to us in daylight? Why only in the dark? What spell are we under?
    What spell indeed. And are they just images? We are in that strange world for half of our lives, and conscious for less than thirty percent of it. How much can you recall from your childhood but largely fogged fragments of things that, in hindsight, couldn't have happened? Perhaps it's the same phenomenon. I have never held a spiny-tailed tarantula in my life, and yet the image of one in my hand is far too vivid, and far too old, to be untrue. Why would it remain with me if there weren't some truth to it? Or is there a difference between truth and fact? I suspect there is, but that, dear reader, is a matter for another time.

    I put it to you: the fear we feel at night, it's real. Our hearts race. We sweat. Our eyes flick around. We're convinced something's happening that is worth getting riled up about. It's not a sensation we feel without good reason during the day, and yet it occurs so much more readily at night. And perhaps it's there for good reason, too. Perhaps, what seems foolish in daylight, is peril in the dark. Perhaps, it's all real.
    After all: the world changes at night...

 
This story is not to be copied or reproduced without my written permission. 
Copyright © 2021 Kim Wedlock



Thursday, 1 July 2021

Veysuul Now Open For Pre-Orders!



   Veysuul is now open for Kindle pre-orders! Paperbacks will follow on release date - August 1st.
   The pre-order is a promotional price and will increase on release day, so be sure to purchase your copy through July!


Here are the most common pre-order links - or you can search 'Veysuul' on your preferred Amazon.

US   UK   DE   NL   AU



Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Casting Runes

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
 
 
     The mocking cackle of crows drawled hollow through the leaden air. Its breath ruffled ashen leaves, stirring the iron scent of blood through banners that hung silent in glory and horror. The smell of smoke moved stiffly behind it; burned trees, burned flesh; corpses caught by the last wandering flames.
     A warrior, painted with blood, gilded with wounds, cast his eyes over the sun-bathed fields. Even now he could hear female voices raised in warsong. But where once they'd thrummed like a pulse in his ears, now they were soft, and as golden as the moor.
     Motion dragged his listless gaze up towards the sun.
     Dark shapes were circling.
     They grew larger as he watched them, descending, angling through the updrafts like silver eagles. Timeless sun glinted from low steel helms.
     Then an awesome, strangling terror dragged him suddenly to his knees, and his gaze crashed to the ground.
     With a clatter, a shadow fell.
     The air stiffened. The silence beneath the rattle of armour was deafening, beneath the sure and measured steps of booted feet. It grew worse as they ceased, at the clunk of a weapon butt striking the blood-spattered ground before him.
     Foolish curiosity lifted his gaze. The same primal horror cast it right back down.
     The valkyrie's presence pressed heavily upon him as she tucked away her vast, steel-tipped wings. "Cunning," her voice was a terrible melody, "restraint, patience; you have exercised experience and demonstrated great wisdom. This has brought you victory, and with it a glorious death. Rise, Viskhugr. You are being summoned."
     The warrior's eyes tore up to her in shock. Her own were concealed beneath her visor, but her round lips were passive. "This battle is not worthy of my death," he dared. "There is no glory in this worthy of Valhalla! There is more I can yet do! Do not insult me - let me earn my place in blood and true glory, not through pity or spite!"
     Beautiful lips pulled back in a snarl, as promising of swift injury as a wolf's. "We do not open the way to Valhalla through pity or spite. If we pitied you, you would be left to struggle and die in your bed. If we felt spite, we would strip you of your weapons and set you back upon the field. You would join Hel - or worse, the ranks of haugbui or draugr. It is through our graces that you are here in this moment. You have earned this honour, your place in Valhalla, through blood and through wisdom."
     A ruffle of wings drew his eye. Twenty-one ravens had gathered, perching upon axe, shield and rock around him. Not one of them picked at the bodies with the crows. Their abyssal black eyes fixed him astutely.
     "Glory," her voice rose again, "is delivered by more than axe alone."
     But he could only shake his head. "...No." His gaze returned to her, wild and desperate. "No. Not like this."
     She didn't move. Her lips didn't curl. Instead, she waited. Another gust of blood-tinged breeze stirred the grass. Her tone was steel when she finally spoke.
     "You vowed to bring your clan to greatness. You vowed to rise, yourself, to the einherjar, to die in blood and glory. That same heart drove this battle; its path to victory was shaped by the same determination - your own planning and forward thinking. You enforced your ideas, set them into action. You have made no blind, blustering declarations; you have not led your clan heedlessly with naught but a rallying cry into the edges of axes.
     "You used your enemies' habits against them. You trusted in their flaws, used your intuition in the absense of theirs. They wouldn't presume you would emerge from the forest, themselves so fearful of its denizens, nor that you should offer tribute to these denizens and use the world around you rather than steel or fire alone.
     "Despite the unorthodox approach, your clan trusted in your leadership as they would in a father, though but three are your own blood. Because you had proven yourself before, completed your rite of passage and set others out on their own. You have overseen your people, guided by axe, and by wisdom, and by the will of the All-Father. None could doubt in your plans."
     "That is not enough," he blustered, but her lips didn't change.
     "No? You have brought harmony to five clans, turning to bloodshed only when needed. Your actions are considered. For that, your own people remain safe, fed and unchallenged, and you have won the loyalty of the rest. You fight the wondrous compulsion of battle and bloodshed when it will not bring victory, mastering your own willpower, while at all times moving forwards, trampling your enemies even in passivity. You have mastered your strength, of body and mind.
     "You retained faith in your own ideas, even while the enemy turned the tide and your warriors sought to return to the bear-headed tactics they learned in the womb. You held fast. And your clan rallied - for their trust, even in the stirrings of a slipping victory, was unbreakable. They trusted your confidence."
     "We should have failed. We only gained the upper hand because of--"
     "Wind. It shifted and dragged a sheet of smoke from the forests the vaesen permitted to be burned."
     "My plan failed. It was luck."
     "And yet many accept that luck is a foundation of life. Fate. Change. Reward. Punishment."
     "Luck is meaningless!"
     "Only because you fear that you could not alter it. No man has control over every aspect of his life. Those who believe otherwise exercise it poorly. These, who disregard fortune, fate, who take everything into their own hands, for their own gain - they are always dealt with." A smile of amusement vaguely touched her lips. "Do not look so frightened. You led your people into this glorious battle because it was necessary. And when luck favoured you, you embraced it. You chose this battle - so did your people - and they followed you away from practiced tactics, into new dangers and risks, and succeeded. You embraced its necessity, and made a wondrous thing of it, knowing that death and change would strike harder if you resisted. You did not succumb to fear. You did not succumb to the arrogance of past victories. You stayed true to yourself, and your clan stayed true to you.
     "The arrival of these heretics would break your world. Upon this, you understood, did you not, that there was more to fight for than land, wealth, food and retribution? That is what led you to this battlefield. This battle was not an effort to reach Valhalla. This was an effort to retain your people's identity. And so, my sisters and I have come. To deliver you, Viskhugr, and others, to Valhalla."
     But the warrior said nothing. Axe clutched tightly in his hands, his eyes roved over the crimson earth as though searching for options - answers, or a way out.
     The valkyrie saw this through an impenetrable visor. She hefted her battlespear, and the ring of fine steel blades sang through the stillness as her magnificent wings unfolded. "Still you reject it." Her tone was unchanging; stubborn and patient. "Do not forget your lessons of life in death. The beating of your heart is fleeting; the wisdom of ages that has shaped your identity - that is carved in stone. Your life and its trials were leading to this moment. To this judgement. Do not shun it through pride, through blind conviction of power, or because it did not fit your expectations. Were these not also lessons that you learned?"
     Slowly, his eyes lifted, darkened by shame. Her chin followed in satisfaction.
     With a graceful sweep of her outstretched wings, she rose up above him. Every gust from their powerful beats stirred red dust into the dying smoke. "Trust your soul to me. Abandon fear, and embrace your reward. You have been judged and called. This is what you have been seeking. Now you have found it. Rise."
     The sunlight dulled.
     Winged figures, eternally glinting, launched into the air from across the battlefield, whipping plumes of smoke and embers in their wake. Banners snapped in the gusts. Heat dulled the glint of shields. Crows cawed. Their mockery was lost in the roar of warsong.
     His fingers tightened about the axe hilt.
     Another plume erupted as he stood up on his feet.

 
This story is not to be copied or reproduced without my written permission. 
Copyright © 2021 Kim Wedlock