The Vulture – Chapter 3

Another chapter for The Vulture (provisional title), and another POV character.

Hope you like it.

Chapter 3


‘The stupid fool!’ I shouted. My ladies withdrew hurriedly and left me alone in the long audience chamber of the old family home of Castle Haut Pass, lined with portraits of old ancestors and scenes of happier times.

I had just heard the news from the capital and I was furious. Chabald’s mistake meant that I was now an exile in my own kingdom. How could he have let Phalon get free? Granted the man had died of his poisoned wound within a few hours. But that was long enough for the whole story to spread around court. It was lucky that I had made the contingency plan of being absent at the time, on a pious pilgrimage at the Convent of Haut Pass, which happened to be uncaringly loyal to my cause and also extremely defendable. I had told Chabald that the main reason for not being with the King was to avoid any possibly confusion if he called me to his chamber that night. I could hardly refuse – I survived by pretending to be a loyal wife – but if I was there when Chabald made his attempt then I might well get in the way – Chabald didn’t want to risk collateral damage after all.

Chabald is a sweet brother, as he is older than me by just two years he rather dotes on me and sees himself as my protector, but like all men, he is rather slow-witted. He probably thinks that I even love him. But what I really wanted is to be free of old Shabald, the once and now dead king, who though he was my eldest brother was also old enough to be my father. His personal cleanliness was somewhat lacking. All that hair! And all in the wrong places! Urggh! And the flabby belly, the wine-soaked breath and foul lecherous red face when he came to me after drinking with his cronies.

Unfortunately the only way to be free of him truly was to take power for myself. All my life I have been around powerful men, my father, my uncles, my mother, and seen women suffer. My mother is who I am thinking of, and of course myself. I don’t care about all those petty noblewomen, or the serving wenches, or peasant women and girls. They toil or try hard to please their men, without a thank-you, and more often or not their gratitude consists of the back of a hand, or an actual fist. But at least they weren’t unlucky enough to be born royal and female. For the first born female of the line is damned to carry on the incestuous blood-line. Oh because we represent the land, the nation, the country, the soul of the people.

That’s bullshit.

In truth it’s just a transparent way to try to maintain loyalty to the crown – by having the king symbolically marry the land, you can hardly rebel against the king without rebelling against your own country can you?

The sad thing is that this tradition which has lasted for over six hundred years has never resulted in peace with Realh Dorn for very long. Not since the time of the Magi they say. But those are legendary times, and who knows if the stories of a kingdom united against the dark forces of evil are true, or just another myth to promote national cohesion.

So rather than carrying on as normal, but with Chabald stepping into Shabald shoes and falling under my sway, like the older brother never would, I had to go to war, with Chabald merely a pretender to the throne. But what would the opposition do? The logical thing to do would be to declare Chabald outlaw and to seize me for my own protection and have me wedded to some other noble, but the opposition were hardly united – who would lead them. Phalan was dead. The Dukes and Earls would spend much of their time squabbling amongst themselves. The Lord High Chancellor and the Lord High Marshall of the realm had jointly written to each township and fort declaring Chabald murdered. But the Lord High Chancellor, Sigzmund, was a greedy bureaucrat, and Marshall Alzcar, old, pompous and forgetful. Apart from expressing a general outcry of horror at the fratricide, they could do little more without substantial support of a group of the senior noblemen.

This was our moment. And all I had to do was to seize it. I couldn’t wait for Chabald to appear. Was he hiding from me I wondered? He can’t have been captured, or we would know about it. Unless, some noble was offering him for sale to whoever most wanted the throne? If so why hadn’t they asked me? I felt a pang of hope, and a warm wetness around my eyes. All this time I had been looking at our family portrait, the Last Supper I called it, it showed us all a happy family gathered around a feasting table. My father, his two brothers, my brothers and me. Chabald’s handsome visage stared back at me, the wisp of hair almost hiding his eyes as he glanced down with boyish slyness.

I gripped my fists together until the finger-nails dug into my palms. I couldn’t let emotions enter into this. Any love for him I had was purely pre-conditioned. He was handsome yes, but also unimportant to me and expendable. If someone used him as a bargaining chip to win advantage over me they would be sorely disappointed.

In this game the winner would be the one who was more ruthless. The one who didn’t have anything to lose except herself. Men would call me foolish as I didn’t worry about the size of the armies at my disposal, the number of castles, or access to strategic resources. These things didn’t concern me. All I needed was the will to win whatever the cost.

I glanced at the rest of the portrait looking for a figure of a man. Not a family member. There he was. His visage had been scratched out. An inept attempt had been made by another painter to cover it with part of a tree branch (the feast was in a garden), but I remembered who was underneath. That despicable man. The one who had killed my mother. For love he had claimed.

If ever there was a definition of will to power and lack of honour then you would only need to say that man’s name.

My heart beat faster. Of course why didn’t I see it before? If I truly wanted to rule this kingdom then I needed that man.

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The Vulture – Chapter 2

Wrote a bit more of my experimental novel The Vulture this morning. Here’s chapter 2 told from the perspective of a different character this time.

If you’re young or prudish I would advise you to please look away now.

Chapter 2


My sword dripped red blood in a growing puddle on the floor. I stared down at the body at my feet. I had just killed my own brother, and as I had predicted they would be my emotions were mixed. But I didn’t have time to worry about those just then. You see my brother, being King of Realh Dorn, I mean having been King of Realh Dorn, had been well protected by guards, castles, magical wards, and even beasts of lore that the common people don’t even know about. Luckily for me I only had to face two of his guards. Although to call them mere guards would be insulting. These men were his bosom buddies, generals in his armies, advisers on policy, carousers in his drunken escapades to the brothels and pleasure-domes down by the river in Phun. They were mightily pissed off that I had just killed their best friend and adored leader.

But surprised too. They had no idea that I wanted to kill him, or even that I harboured more than a normal brotherly dislike for him. That’s what gave me my precious seconds.

‘You’ll pay for that,’ I heard Jakol say. Jakol was older than my brother but idolised him like he was a younger man looking up to a father figure. What I heard was more like ‘Yoooo-uuuu-llll ppppp-aaaa-yyyy …’ and then the tip of my sword had stabbed him twice hard in the stomach and he was doubled up in pain on the floor.

You see I’m Bachtrian trained.

And I had dropped a Phunish pill before I came here, two in fact, and I wasn’t operating on the same plane of existence as normal men at that moment.

But Phalan was coming at me hard and fast. He was younger than Jakol and younger than my dead brother. He was from the street and fought as dirty as I had learnt to. I managed to dodge his blow and sidestepped neatly up the wall of the chamber, grabbing hold of light fittings as I went, but they snapped off as I grabbed them and I felt my grip defeating me and my feet were suddenly scrabbling for purchase on the smooth walls. As my old master Pietaar would have said, I should have practiced more. I should have practiced in a chamber just like the King’s ante-chamber until I had every eventuality of combat just right. But there hadn’t been time for that. Correction, I had been too impatient for that. I wanted my sister back in my bed again, and out of my brother’s. And the only way I was going to do that, she had said, was if I proved I had the bigger cock, metaphorically speaking.

But this was the combat equivalent of premature ejaculation. I was in an awkward heap on the floor, and Phalan was standing over me, his sword poised to stab or slash me. He hadn’t made the mistake of raising it high in the air for a devastating killing blow, as he could see that I still had my weapon grasped in my hand.

But for some reason he didn’t strike immediately. He was saying something to me. I shook my head trying to clear the effects of the drugs out of it.

‘Say again,’ I said to him as I realised that he was waiting for me to answer him.

‘I want you to tell me why before I kill you,’ he snarled.

I grinned up at him. ‘I did it for love.’

He shook his head. ‘What the f…’

‘No it’s true,’ I countered. ‘I think you can guess. You know how much I love my sister. She commanded this.’

‘The Queen? That vile whore! She will pay for her treachery,’ he was snarling again, fairly frothing at the mouth at the thought of punishing and killing the most beautiful woman in Realh Dorn.

I was salivating myself, but more at the prospect of sucking on her breasts when I told her the good news. My cock was swelling as my mind touched on the thought of undressing and pleasuring her.

‘You did this just to sleep with a woman?’

I nodded.

‘You are in love with her?’

I nodded again.

‘Then you’re a fool?’ said Phalan. He was backing away from me now, and I had the opportunity to sit up. This could be problematic I realised. I hadn’t intended on making public the Queen’s involvement in this. It was supposed to be an unknown assassin, so that the court and the people who were loyal to us would assume that the Blues had done this cowardly act. I would then naturally step into my brother’s place and assume the mantle of the crown and reluctantly the wedding bed of the Queen-Goddess, my sister, and be joined physically and figuratively to the land of Realh Dorn.

But if one of my brother’s trusted lieutenants escaped and spread the word of what he had seen, who would have been believed?

I didn’t want to find out. My hand went to the throwing knife at my side and in a moment it was spinning through the air. It caught Phalan on the upper arm. A mistake as he wasn’t dead just wounded. He grinned and opened the door behind him and was gone. I was too stunned to respond. I could hear him shouting. ‘Guards! Guards!’

I knew all the ways out of the chamber and how to quickly make my getaway across the castle roofs and walls. That wasn’t the problem.

The problem was going to be my sister.

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The Vulture – Chapter 1

I recently finished writing the first draft of Hell has its Demons and I have begun the process of revising that novel. At the moment I’m doing some extra research into areas that I know I’ll need to tighten up on the second draft, but while I’m doing that I thought I would experiment with a bit of completely unplanned fantasy writing. I wrote the following this morning – no planning apart from knowing that I want to write fairly short chapters from a first POV, with chapters alternating between different characters. The fantasy setting hasn’t been worked out so may well end up being quite a familiar copy of some standard fantasy tropes, but it will be bloody and full of war and violence, that I can guarantee.

Anyone hope you enjoy the experience. I’m planning to post what I write as I write it on the blog.

Here’s the first chapter of what I have provisionally entitled The Vulture.

Chapter One


They call me ‘The Vulture’. Wherever there is a battle in this godforsaken world then I am sure to be there. I used to be a soldier in the King’s army, but now I am a mercenary, a sword for hire. I follow the smell of blood and I glory in killing. The money is useful – whores, drink, more weapons – such things must be paid for. But I don’t do it for the money.

I do it for love.

I would like to say that this is my story, but I am a modest and an honest man, so in truth this tale is like a window open for a short time before the wind blows it in. You wouldn’t want to see it all. It would be like staring into the face of evil itself.




Realh Dorn was a country always at war. When it couldn’t find a neighbour to fight then its inhabitants fought amongst themselves. Names of wars such as the Eight, the Twenty, the Fifteen Years Wars had no meaning in a country like Realh Dorn. There was, long ago, a time known as the Seven Month Truce, but many people now consider that to be a tale told by old women to scare young children.

Even I found the number of battles in Realh Dorn tiresome, so in the summer of the Year of our Denial (Y.D.) 568, I decided to take a leave of absence from Realh Dorn, where I had been reaving, killing, pillaging, burning, and ravaging for three years without a break. I was tired and I needed to rest. My arm was tired. I think I had developed a sprain in it. The physician I spoke to before I burned down his house told me that the tendons in it were strained for overuse caused by the repetition of certain movements of the arm in a continuous fashion. I think he meant that I had been killing too much with my sword, and perhaps he hoped that I would save him. He was old and I respect the opinion of my elders, so I did listen to him. Instead of my sword I gutted him with a dagger that I had in my left hand. His wife and daughters were none too happy to see how I repaid him for his consultation. So they paid as well with their lives. I treated them well though. I killed them quickly and without pain, and I raped none of them. The so called regular troops of the King’s army would have treated them worse. They would have screwed their brains out and left them cut and bleeding for thieves and wolves to pick over. I may be called The Vulture, but I don’t like to pick over carrion.

I spent the summer in the mountains of Sevethlen, away from the heat of the plain. I had found myself an empty shepherd’s hut, with access to a stream, hunting, and a village not far away where I could buy bread and a little wine. I could walk in the mountains, watch the clouds roll in and raptors circle on the air currents. In the evening I would play my pipe and sink into a contented sleep when the sun went down.

So I was surprised when one day the birds I was watching suddenly stopped their graceful circling. They flapped their heavy wings in what I thought seemed like fright. Desperate to be away. And then I saw what they were afraid of. It wasn’t a bird. A flying lizard you might call it. No bigger than a hawk but I presume with an evil reputation amongst the avian community. It was flying straight for me. I could see its long head looking this way and that it’s long pointed mouth of razor sharp teeth opening and closing as if talking to itself. And then it spotted me where I stood outside my hut. I started to move back carefully, not wanting to fall over a rock, but not prepared to take my eyes of it either. I was nearly at the doorway of my hut when the thing was with me. I raised my arm to protect myself but all that happened was that I heard the heavy leathery sound of flapping wings and the thing was over me and had flown past. I looked to see if it was coming back, but it was already flying high up the slope of the mountain, and I soon lost sight of it against the grey rocks of the high cliff-face. I wondered if it nested there. I had never seen one of these creatures before, although I had heard tell of them. Some men said that the royalty of Realh Dorn and other nations in Westent kept the things as pets, and would hunt with them for amusement, although I had never seen evidence of such a thing.

I was about to enter my hut, to fetch my stick and water-bottle as I was thinking of taking a walk up the mountainside to see if I could spot the beast again, when I saw, directly at my feet a wooden tube, no bigger than my hand. I knelt and opened the tube, which was tied with red ribbon at one end. A small folded piece of parchment was coiled tightly inside the tube. I pulled it out eventually, my fingers are not made for nimble work, and unfolded the item. It was a letter, and it was addressed to me.

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Skyrim Released Today – Everything you want to Know About the Game in One Video

Skyrim Released 11.11.11

And although I’m not going to buy it today – might request as Christmas present maybe – I think it will still be quite exciting to start seeing gamers reactions to the new Elder Scrolls game, so I’ll be watching out to see what people think over the next few days.

Here’s a video that brings together lots of information about Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:

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Dramatization of Tolstoy’s War and Peace at the Prague German Language Theatre Festival

Dramatization of Tolstoy’s War and Peace

I never new there was a theatre version of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy before, but I just came across an announcement about the Prague German Language Theatre Festival – and apparently there is – though it’s in German. I wonder if anyone would do an English version. Somehow I can’t quite see it coming to the West End of London – they’d have to do a musical version of it for that to happen!

With 12 actors playing 80 roles it does sound like they must have managed to capture quite a lot of the novel.

Although I have read War and Peace a few times, I have never seen any of the film versions. I think compared to some other great big books, I’m thinking Lord of the Rings here, War and Peace may be even harder to convey in dramatic form.

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I now have a Goodreads Author Profile!

You can see my Goodreads author profile here:

Not sure if it will help much, but was quite fun to set-up! It’s interesting to see that Goodreads are also allowing you to now sell eBooks via their website. I wonder how many sales they are getting though? Most of mine so far seem to be coming via companies that have their own physical reader – i.e. Kindle, Nook or iPad/iPhone.

Anyway if you have read any of my writing, and would like to connect then feel free to do so over at Goodreads.




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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – new Page on Praeter Naturam

Following on from my posting of information about Leo Tolstoy’s The Cossacks, I have now created a new page about one of Tolstoy’s greatest classics: War and Peace.

War and Peace is one of those novels that a lot of people think about reading, but never get round to, probably being put off by the sheer size of the thing. But it’s really a page-turner in my opinion. If you have any interest in either human relationships, warfare or history, then War and Peace I would say is a must read for you.

On my War and Peace page I provide a bit more information about the book, and links to the first chapter, a list of characters and a bibliography for further reading.

A number of eBook editions of War and Peace are available as well asprinted versions. I’ll leave it to you take your choice.

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The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy

As well as Science Fiction and Fantasy I also love many works of classic literature, and probably my favourite author is Leo Tolstoy – specifically his great works like War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but also some of his lesser known fiction like The Cossacks.

To that end I have started populating some information about these books on the site. I’ll soon be putting up some information about War and Peace, but for now why not go and find out more about The Cossacks? It’s a delightful novella and a great introduction to what Tolstoy is all about.

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