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Holiday in Orkrania (Oldhammer Fiction) Part 12 – A Better Prize

The concluding part of my Oldhammer fiction novella – Holiday in Orkrania! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. If you don’t know what I’m on about – go back to Part 1 to read more about the story and Part 1!

I’m planning to turn this into an eBook – just need to edit it and find a suitable cover image, but for now here’s the concluding section of the story:


“Let them in?” spluttered Drew. “Are you mad?”

One of the dwarves standing behind Gundrun nodded violently.

“Not mad—experienced. They’ll hack down the doors sooner than later. But if we time it right and surprise them—we’ll have the upper hand.”

Drew nodded. He could see the wisdom in the old dwarf’s words. “OK—let’s do it.”

The dwarf archers that had been picking off goblins and orcs from the upper windows came down to the courtyard again. The halflings stayed where there were and tried to pick off enemies whenever they could—no sense giving them a respite or cause for suspicion.

There were eight of them. They all loaded their crossbows and stood waiting just inside the gate. On either side the rest of the miners—forty in all stood ready with axe, pick and hammer.

Thud, thud went the axes of the orcs. The door was strong and the progress of the orcs was slows, but they would get there in the end—they’d already stopped sending their boyz over the wall—each time they were simply fodder for the dwarves axes as the clambered over.

Gundrun nodded to the two dwarves who held the heavy wooden bolt in place behind the gate. They heaved on it, pushing it up from below and then leapt back as the gate sprung open. Two large orcs, stripped to the waist stood looking surprised with axes raised high above their heads as the doors opened. Their green skin was slick with sweat.

Behind them stood a mob of heavily armed orcs—dressed in chainmail and carrying shields. But they didn’t expect to be hit by a volley of crossbows. The dwarves let fly. Both of the semi-naked axe orcs went down and at least four behind them sank to the ground as the bolts went home. Helpers passed the dwarves each another loaded crossbow and a second volley hit the orcs—barely giving them any time to get over their shock and raise their shields. Another six went down. The dwarf miners shouted their war-cry and rushed out of the gates attacking the decimated ranks of the orcs. The fight was brutal, and a number of dwarves died, but after a few short minutes it was brutal. The orcs were fleeing, leaving at least thirty—half their number on the field dead. Their long limbs carried them further and quicker than their pursuers and some discarded their armour to make their flight swifter.

A huddle of goblins on foot and a scattering of wolf-riders gave the dwarves pause, but Gundrun ordered them to close ranks and brought up his crossbows again. Two swift volleys broke the goblins as well and the wolf-riders covered their rout.

“That’s enough,” said Gundrun. “They won’t come back in a hurry, and besides we’d never catch them.”

“Well done,” said the tall aristocratic human. Two large dogs were at his side.

Gundrun’s lip curled—they were those shapeshifters—the cause of part of the dwarves trouble. He had no idea who this man was, and didn’t care to know.

Gundrun turned away. “Time to bury our dead,” he muttered and strode away to look at the bodies of his fellows—hoping to find some of the fallen still alive.

“Hmm, a bit rude wasn’t he,” said Hardlee to the large Doberman at his side. “I think it would be time to leave though—never know—they might come back. Where’s Shilby anway—he was the man you bit on the leg. Not like him, running off.”

The Doberman shook her head, but then the ears pricked alert. It looked back towards the inn and growled low. Hardlee turned to look. A large orc, helmeted and bearing a huge axe was striding towards them. In the distance on a rocky crag above the inn a man and a female figure stood embracing next to the body of a large winged creature. Hardlee wondered who they were—that thing, the wyvern had been clutching Meagana in its claws, and then Shilby had run off hadn’t he. Was it them?

But there were more pressing concerns. The large orc was closing on them, and at his back a mob of goblins scurried to keep up with him. The dwarves were reforming their ranks and marching back to the inn. There would be a final engagement—the orcs and goblins were not done yet.

“We should go, fast, don’t you think,” said Hardlee. “Never mind Shilby.”

The orc broke into a run. The Doberman and the pitbull barked at him as he came. Hardlee trembled. There were no dwarves nearby—they were about to close with the goblins. The sword was still at his side. He drew it—it flashed even though the sunlight was dimmed now by the clouds. It was an old sword-magical they said and always worn by the heir of Hyperia ever since the orcs were driven from the kingdom.

For a moment the orc chief paused. He pointed at the sword and shouted—“that’ll be mine,” and charged now down the hill at Hardlee, his axe raised above his head.

Hardlee held out the sword—hoping that it would protect him. He raised it to parry as the orc swung down at him. He actually closed his eyes at that moment. There was a barking and growling, and swearing in orcish and then a whimpering of canine pain. Hardlee opened his eyes to see the orc with the one dog biting at each leg. He hacked at the pit-bull with his axe, snapping its spine, and then produced a cruel, serrated dagger and lashed at the Doberman, cutting her deeply on the shoulder. She let go her jaws’ grip and wimpered away.

The orc turned on the dog and raised his axe. The dog was too injured to move fast out of the way. But then there was a noisy yapping and from the forest a dirty haired poodle ran onto the field. It flung itself at the orc’s mid-riff and caused him to stumble and let go his axe as he swung it—it flew about twenty paces away. The orc batted the poodle away from him. The dog scampered over to the Doberman and the two animals made their way to the woods. Hardlee held out his sword. He wanted to run as well.

Grim Bearit looked at the man holding the ancient sword of Shinee, something that he had dreamed of owning since ?? and looked at his own dagger. “Not a fair fight is it. Let me get my axe.”

But then there was a blast of a horn. And up the road came marching a unit of royal guard all in shining mail with halberds shouldered and a banner flying.

“What’s this?” shouted the orc. He turned back to the inn to see how his gobboes were doing. The answer was that they were done. The dwarves had killed a few with no loss and now the goblins were running to the hills—joining the rest of Grim’s army.

He roared into the sky. “A wyvern, a wyvern, my kingdom for a wyvern.” But nothing answered his call.

Read some Free Fiction – samples of Hell has its Demons and By the Sword’s Edge

If you would like to read some free fiction from me then the Prologue and first two chapters from Hell has its Demons are now available – see the links on the Free Fiction page, or go to the page for Hell has its Demons.

You can also read the first two chapters of By the Sword’s Edge for free as well – again check out the Free Fiction page or the page for By the Sword’s Edge.

Regular readers of this blog will also remember that I am posting early draft chapters of the second volume of Stonehearted online – the sequel to By the Sword’s Edge. You can find a link to those chapters on the Free Fiction page and also by clicking here.


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Top Blog Posts of 2013

It’s traditional at this time of the year to take a look back – a review of the best bits if you like of 2013!

Highlights for me were getting 2 1/2 novels published – although Hell has its Demons still needs some work doing to it, plus getting a number of short stories sent off to professional magazines.

With regards to blogging, some of the most popular posts have been old ones – the one on Dante below has had over 1,000 hits and I wrote it a few years ago now. An oldie but a goodie!

So here are my top 5 blog posts of 2013:

“Midway along the journey of our life” – Great Medieval Verses (this is from Dante’s Inferno)

What did people believe in the Middle Ages, Part 1

Why George RR Martin is NOT an American Tolkien

So You Want to Draw a Dragon?

Favourite Fantasy Fiction Characters: Logen Ninefingers (aka the Bloody Nine)

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Through a Distant Mirror Darkly Now Published

Through a Distant Mirror Darkly

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverMy latest short story collection has now been published. Through a Distant Mirror Darkly is now available in all eBook formats and as a printed edition. The collection is dedicated to short stories with a medieval theme – some of them are straight historical fiction, while others contain an element of fantasy and the supernatural.

Buy print and eBook at: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Buy eBook at: Smashwords | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Here’s a bit more about the contents of the collection:

In “Stand and Fight” Richard Hope must overcome treachery to defend the castle of Montmal from the French. Jake, an English archer in “Chivalry” must choose between his comrades and the path of honour. In “Bird Talk” a young priest discovers the woman he loves may also be a necromancer. Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world, is haunted by the ghost of his dead chancellor. And in “Bisclavret” a French noblewoman discovers there is more under the skin of her English husband than she could imagine.


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Through a Distant Mirror Darkly – new Medieval Short Story Collection out soon!

Just wanted to update you all that I am currently working on putting together a new collection of my short stories. The title will be Through a Distant Mirror Darkly and it will collect all my short fiction set in a Medieval setting. Here’s the blurb and cover:

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverNot all is as it seems in this collection of dark tales from the Middle Ages.

Mark Lord, the author of By the Sword’s Edge and Hell has its Demons, weaves five Medieval short stories to excite, scare and enthral you. From the vicious struggle of the Hundred Years War, to legends of werewolves and rumours of necromancers and ghosts, to the bitter conflict of a castle under siege, the action and adventure never stop. These five fast-paced short stories will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning every page until you reach the end. In “Stand and Fight” Richard Hope must overcome treachery to defend the castle of Montmal from the French. Jake, an English archer in “Chivalry” must choose between his comrades and the path of honour. In “Bird Talk” a young priest discovers the woman he loves may also be a necromancer. Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world, is haunted by the ghost of his dead chancellor. And in “Bisclavret” a French noblewoman discovers there is more under the skin of her English husband than she could imagine.

I’ll post again as soon as its published.

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Naked Writer #11: Trickling

Frontispiece to chapter 12 of 1905 edition of ...
Frontispiece to chapter 12 of 1905 edition of J. Allen St. John’s The Face in the Pool, published 1905. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Only a few words since Saturday. Definitely seem to have a problem picking up the writing at the moment. I think it’s because with Dragon’s Above it is very much a blank canvas. I know where the first chapter is going to end, but that’s it.

Well I have finished the first chapter now, so that leaves the rest of the book. Rather than just wade into the next chapter, I decided I might be better motivated if I do a little bit of planning. Not a lot – just get to know something about the characters I am going to write about – or at least the main character of the next chapter. What I am trying to avoid is doing loads of outlining. Dragons Above is the short novel that I am writing to keep myself writing every day while I more thoroughly plan the next installment of Stonehearted, which as its a historical novel I need to do research on (to some extent at least).

So I have made some notes this morning and feel pretty happy that they give me some basis to keep moving forward, and what’s more I am quite excited with the ideas for the characters and setting that I came up. I don’t think they’re groundbreaking, but they’re of enough interest to me to keep writing.

First a little update on words. 109 since Saturday – that’s it!

Here’s the stuff I came up with for Dragons Above.

Dragons Above – Main Characters – their conflicts.

Snorri Halfaxe

Dwarven Gunner

Injured in dragon bombing attack


  1. Wants to get back home to Throfunar to marry his betrothed, Frea
  2. Do his duty for the dwarves – but not sure as to the point of the war.
  3. Technical interest in defeating the dragoneers

After his injury he becomes obsessed in engineering and how to come up with a weapon to defeat the dragoneers bombing.

He is crippled by the attack – wheelchair and partially deaf.

He thinks Frea won’t want him. Throws his energies into weapon design.

He’s a love-smitten technie nerd.

Maximilian Defluyt

Field Marshall of the Alliance. Currently appointed field commander of the Army of the North.

Responsible for protecting the borders of the Locked Kingdom and has been charged by the Garland Council with the ultimate defeat of the Lord of Despair and his armies.

Maximilian is a famous general, who in his prime was an undefeated leader of men – during the Wars of the Hundred Cities and the War of the Intercession, he never lost a battle. Called out of retirement by an Alliance sick of defeat after defeat, Maximilian has struggled to rediscover his lost successes. He is old, and his memory is not as good as it was. He wants to rediscover his lost powers of leadership and generalship, but he knows that he can’t.


  1. Against the effects of old age – he is proud and can’t let go and admit himself incapable. He is too hard on himself – he has something to offer, but the pressures of leadership are too great for him.
  2. To hold the Alliance of men, dwarves and elves together.
  3. To defeat the Hosts of Despair.
  4. To protect his son who is anxious for a field command.

Hosts of Despair

Religiously motivated, end-of-days militants who believe that the peoples of Midgard must pay for the offences to the gods with blood.

Armies consist of human, dwarves and elves who have lost hope or that are just cruel enough to love killing.

Lead by the Lord of Despair, an unseen warlock of unknown provenance – at least by his enemies. The Alliance spy services are intent on finding out more about the Lord of Despair and have attempted to capture high-ranking Host generals to question them and also to infiltrate into the Lord of Despair’s Headquarters, but without any success so far.

The Lord of Despair supplements his followers from the three main races of Midgard (humans, dwarves and elves), with other creatures – dragons and various other monsters of the northern mountains where his fastness is located. He also works in uneasy alliance with the enemies of the free people of Midgard – orcs and goblins, who now invest much of the Locked Kingdom. He sees these creatures as a punishment from the gods and sees no harm in encouraging them, although they are opposed to any alliance or control by him – as yet.

Other characters to develop later in the novel

  • Maximilian’s son
  • Lord of Despair
  • A mother character – mid-30s? Which side? What’s her role? Minding the castle/farm while her husband is at war?
  • A dragoneer
  • An orc/goblin junior war-chief


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My One Year Writing Plan

Full speed ahead for the fourth and final year...
Full speed ahead for the fourth and final year of the Five Year Plan! (Photo credit: IISG)

I was inspired to write a one year plan of writing goals after skimming through Jeff Vandermeer‘s Booklife. Booklife is a guide to for authors keeping your sanity in today’s world! It gives you tips on how to cope with social media, blogging and generally building your public persona as an author, as well as how to build strategies for developing your career, finding time to write etc. I haven’t read the whole thing, just glanced at it in the library so far, but it looks like it has some good tips for any author.

The section on goals caught my eye as I realized that I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do in the future, but no concrete lists or targets to measure success against. Like any business, an author’s career I think could benefit from having targets – not sales targets in the case of an author, but targets on what you produce or where you are published. Jeff recommends having a shorter-term one year plan and a longer term five year plan. Here’s my one year plan (I’m keeping my five year plan private for now):

  • Have 40+ short stories finished and available for purchase (eBooks or printed collections) – in various pen-names. I currently have 11 available, so that means publishing another 29 in the next twelve months.
  • Finish editing the two novels I have completed in draft format: Hell has its Demons and Return of the Free. Approach agents/publishers about these novels.
  • Complete one non-fiction title and self-publish it.
  • Gain one sale at a fiction magazine with professional rates (over 5 cents  a word and recognized as a professional market by SFWA).

For me I think these goals are challenging, but achievable at a stretch. I’ll keep readers of this blog updated on how I get on.

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Demon River Promotion – Free on Kindle from 2nd March to 4th March 2012

My fantasy short Demon River is now free for Kindle for three days, from 2nd March 2012 to 4th March 2012. Enjoy!

Set in a fantasy world of dark magic, Benetus, the King’s chancellor, fears the return of a rival he had thought banished from court. Benetus turns to the help of demons to rid himself of his enemy. But things are not always as they seem in the spirit world.

“Recently I had even felt the beginnings of optimism. After years of cloud and storm, the sun had broken through and I could at last bask in the success that I deserved. After all, who else now stood between me and the ear of the King?”

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The Court in English Alliterative Poetry, 1350-1450 – Free on Kindle for Five Days

My University thesis, The Court in English Alliterative Poetry, 1350-1450 is now available as a free download for Kindle for the next five days. I thought I would experiment with the new Kindle Select programme and see what happened!

Here’s a link to the UK version: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003O86P40

And the US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003O86P40

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Starting the Editing Process for my novel Hell has its Demons

The last few weeks have been spent editing my historical fantasy novel set in the Middle Ages: Hell has its Demons. At present I am half way through reading the first draft. I am not making too many edits at the moment, unless I spot a glaring typo. This is my first time editing a full novel length story, and I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. But I have found that the most valuable thing to do is to just remind myself of what happens in the novel, what I wrote, and to get an overview of the major things that need fixing. For instance I have realised that there are a number of inconsistencies in the middle of the book – chapters out of order etc. Also there are some characters I introduce early on that die away, so I need to make a decision about whether to keep them in and develop them further in the book, or to get rid of them completely, or at least minimize their importance.

I’m enjoying this phase of the process. It’s nice to read through what I have written again as a holistic exercise rather than just reading bits and pieces here and there to check what I should be writing next. The good thing (or perhaps the dangerous thing) is that I like what I have written so far!

My experiment with writing a novel from different first person perspectives – see the Vulture posts, lead me to realize that it would be a lot of work to do this for Hell has its Demons, and I think not necessary either. My reread so far leads me to believe that the three different third person POVs will work quite well. First person POV writing gives fiction a completely different flavour, especially over an extended piece such as a novel, but I hadn’t appreciated that fully until I started writing the Vulture as an experiment. Who knows maybe I’ll take the experiment further at some point in the future, but I know it definitely has helped inform my writing of Hell has its Demons.

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