Some folk of a ‘certain’ age will recall back in the late 1950s & early 1960s the number of failed launches of American unmanned space craft. And yet within 10 years the USA was the first and only nation to land men on the Moon.
I take comfort from that.
And is currently free for 4 days. (Tuesday to Friday).
In this volume the same trio are involved directly with various parties, leading to them taking part in fighting off an incursion by a renegade Shadow Lords Prince in the princedom of Terasonia.
Those who purchased the previous flawed versions are thus able to avail themselves of an improved and final version.
For those who did get Vol I ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ but went no further below in an extract from ‘Our Skirmishers of Lace Steel and Fire’
Extract: Having been separated from Karlyn and Arketre and finding her abilities growing Trelli reaches out to her friends to break them out of a dangerous influence…..
……………….. Beritt in an undignified sprawl gaped at the sight of her friend, all spectral. The LifeGuard, seeking a religious comfort touched two fingers of her right hand to her forehead, her lips and then her heart. The action stung as if offensive.
‘Dear Lord God. Trelli. You’re dead. You’re a ghost,’
Trelli tutted in derision, now folding her arms.
‘No. I am not. My living body is on board a ship out in the Centrus somewhere. Me? I am here because I felt a great,’ she stopped pointedly, attention on Karlyn ‘Karlyn let go of Arketre’s hair. Will you both sit in a more modest fashion, and please wipe your faces clean,’ she cleared her ethereal throat ‘To repeat I was suddenly aware of a great peril about my dear friends, but as I drew closer sensed a greater unpleasantness, reminding me of Ragithyl,’
Both were about to voice objections, when Trelli’s hands lifted towards them and they were bathed in a swift-flowing of red and blue light, making them both to splutter and gasp as if being drenched in a cold, clear waterfall.
Trelli examined her hands.
‘My. A bit unexpected, I was intending just to talk to you,’
Beritt was sitting up straight. Legs tight together. Head in hands.
‘Was I really discussing killing a prince of the empire, in a casual tone?’
Karlyn gave the matter five’s worth of serious thought.
‘Yeah. An’ you convinced me too. Oh, Frib and Spiffle. Whychie-in the-Spectral, did we ‘appen to look particularly stormhiggle dirty?’
‘Ha. I should say. Well I appear to have cleaned your faces too. I was wondering why you seemed to have an Ethereal…bother. Stommigheid appearance of having been sloshed with buckets of the sort of water which runs out of slaughterhouses,’
Karlyn slapped her forehead.
‘Oh, arse-blasts. We was sproggled, thence kerfluffeged into being seduced by the Zerstorung,’
Beritt and Trelli did not appear to be any the wiser.
‘Flaxi. When we was fighting that spikie in the bad desert. We got splattered, we did,’
‘We’ll explain later,’ Beritt told Trelli, Karlyn rushed on.
‘In Zerstorung infected territory. Right? We got it poured over us. And it slowly started to seep in,’ she clenched her fists, her hands shook ‘We were on our way down the spikies road. Talking about murdering poor Krafty,’
Beritt had been more inclined to think back to her own experiences and tales from the LifeGuard of the troopers who had walked so far into bad places they didn’t just not understand how to get back out; and they did not see the point of doing so. There again with Trelli saying they’d looked particularly stained, in a Stommigheid way she wasn’t going to argue with either girl. She was out in the middle of a fast-flowing river again and the banks on either side very far away. Scraith. She had started to be dragged over to the Zerstorung ways. ‘Go with the current medician, go with the current, until you meet some sort of landfall…Fine advice if you know what sort of river you are in,’
Karlyn meanwhile was in admiration of Trelli, Beritt wondered if the girl was going to kneel and offer up prayers to her.
‘Oh my Whychie. You truly are one of them forces of Nature people. Yeah. See, makes sense, I mean you’ve been doing things without knowing how to do them,’
Trelli was too cross with the pair of them for being so careless she was not in the mood for praise.
‘Nice of you to notice. Now how did you both get so dirty, scruffy and half-dressed in this reasonable room?’
Karlyn said ‘urr’, suddenly feeling very much, the naughty housemaid. Neither girl felt confident enough to explain to their friend Trelli about their romance. It didn’t seem the time, nor the place. They did find time to exchange a chastened look. Neither could remember much about last night apart from a general impression of being somewhat ‘basic’. Beritt after her few years in the LifeGuard was naturally quicker with an excuse, though one based on a reasonable assumption. Which she launched into as she pulled on undershorts and trousers.
‘Y’know Kit- Karlyn I reckon from what you pair been sayin’ being very much possessed by unnatural forces, was causing us to be careless in our dignities,’ her mouth quirked inwards as she continued with the invention ‘Hence our unhappy state of poor cleanliness and dress. Must have come about through rolling in confusion?’ she winced; the last part did sound weak.
‘Yeah,’ Karlyn enthused ‘Lost our dignities,’
They had talked about what they would say concerning their romance to Trelli when they next met but the conversations had petered out into vaguenesses. Neither wanted to have her feeling she should no longer be around. This was Trelli, friend, equal partner in the ventures and the sensible one.
Thus by the time this excessive agreement was done they were presentably dressed, and hair brushed. Karlyn was then swift to change the subject back onto Trelli.
‘You are a marvel Trelli. Everything is natural to you, don’t ‘ave to think about it. And you with your good heart are bound to be against anything spikie,’ without thinking Karlyn reached out intending to hug Trelli, only realising she was halfway to hugging herself managed to stop.
Beritt was suddenly awash with a great sense of relief coming riding over her nagging fears, doubts, and memories, even if only for a short time. Her head was clearing, she could see beyond the getting here. It was a time to take strong battlefield decisions without orders. No killing unless in self-defence. She wanted to get the talk to conversational.
‘What y’all doing thereabouts Trelli?’
‘I’m with the Devoteds in Tuscatalia now travelling to a port Drolis, in Anthes, I think then going north-east, somewhere,’
Karlyn sounded quite relieved.
‘Then you’re not eloping with Wigran?’
A discernible frost settled about Trelli.
‘No, I am not. After we lost you, we all ended up in Elinid and when he met me, he had some sort of stupid idea about pretending to hate me, frib knows why. Anyway, I was hurting, frightened, tired and upset over you both, and had no time for his rock-headed scheme,’ she sniffed ‘So I threw him over a table and threw the table after him,’ she paused ‘Or maybe the other way around. It was a confusing time. He never thinks things through,’ she sniffed again ‘I then went to the nearest Libratery,’
Beritt whistled low in admiration.
‘Frib sweetlin’. Throwing fellahs an’ tables. Strong girl,’
‘Poor Whychie,’ Karlyn said ‘An’ after all you did. He’s not worth your time,’
‘He can be a bit hasty,’ Trelli replied forlornly, at that juncture she felt very lonely, even though they looked dishevelled and abashed, seeing Karlyn and Arketre together had her realising how closer the three of them had become. She missed that so much.
Beritt was insistent on getting back to the subject of location.
‘And whence onwards are y’all bound?’
‘Fenshan’ Beritt drew out the word and looked from one girl to the other. ‘Tremoran,’
She had made the words sound worse than a visit to The Third Hell. Trelli hovering became a little less stable, her voice tart.
‘I’ve already been warned. Everyone seemed to have much fun in warning me,’
‘But not from me Trelli,’ Beritt was back to her clipped military voice. Karlyn stopped thinking the way Karlyn usually did, memories from elsewhere calling from far off as Beritt continued ‘We were allowed to sneak into Terasonia but would not be allowed by any means to go into the patch from Tuscatalia over to Tremoran and in between, right Trelli?’
‘I was told they come under Devoteds jurisdiction. Some convention or other,’
‘Concord of 175, as confirmed in 283, by Imperial Edict,’ Beritt rattled off ‘Just so. However it was common knowledge a few of our deniable scouting half-files were sent to the Tuscatalian borders and some places to the east just to take a sniff around,’ Karlyn sniggered but was ignored ‘Only to make sure, you understand there Trelli?’
‘Pleased to say, I don’t,’ and looked very proud of herself, Karlyn clapped in admiration, Beritt briefly raised a hand, fingers splayed in indulgent acceptance, then returned to her plain straight and cold face, Karlyn could imagine her standing guard on those hard Drygnest walls in the worst of a winter storm, unbending. When Beritt spoke next, her voice was low, almost as if she suspected someone could overhear.
‘The thing is, no matter how hard the Commanders try, things can seep out. Like when y’all alone in a Drygnest dark night mixing up potions an’ in a forgotten room next door to an archive, which never closes and folks are always speaking in whispers ‘bout the very best and the very soft-padded of our wolves who were sent into those Tremoran lands, only they never sent messages back, nor trace was found of them. LifeGuard vanishing,’ she shuddered before continuing.
‘When I was a Devoted, we learn about the Age of Conceits. The story goes the royal family held control over a fayre substantial amount of Call-It-What-You-Will, just like it was their private wine cellar. They had some plan to do good, and of course, it went wrong. Damn killed most of them, except for this one Prince and his, apparently beautiful daughter. He tried to pretend all was sorted, but she’d gone unsettled and thought she could rule through this wealth. Things got out of hand. Stories vary but this is where The Revered Captain Green Vixen accounts start. She being innocent an’ kind of getting’ swept up in the business. She and others fought the princess, things went good, then bad, then good again, but actually everything had got unsettled and so the teachings say this is when the Age of Retribution started. Fenshan is where the last of that particular piece of power is supposed to be all locked up,’ she shook her head unhappily ‘Sweetling, they are sending you into the wilds where a bad ol’ bear is lurking,’
Trelli cocked her head.
‘I heard a similar tale, but some of the meanings and details are different. It was all about caution and hubris,’
‘Who was he?’ Karlyn asked, as she was bound to.
Who apart from that brief interruption had been sitting hands around knees in rapt attention, mouth slightly open. She blinked, sat back and slapped her hands on her legs.
‘Wait a five. Wait a fribbin’ five,’ she paused frowning and gathering thoughts ‘Whychie turns up and cleans us up of spikies’ stuff. Then Flaxi, you warn our bold wandering girl, she’s being sent into a midden,’ Karlyn stared into middle-distance, hands clenched ‘Something is working through us isn’t it? It’s getting us together, we’re warning each other, but we all still got those dangerous things to do,’ she looked one to the other ‘Dontcha get it? We’re being put back together. Things what started lunations ago an’t done with us, nor we with them neither,’ she rocked back, a look of something approaching happy excitement ‘We in the nor’ east an’ Whychie in the south-east, well sort of. The stormhiggle is binding us. It all makes sense,’ her eyes darted rapidly from right to left ‘Annnddd, this place. More I think with a clearer head, the more I think it’s sproggled itself,’ she looked around, eyes darting ‘There’s something more than spikies here,’ sniffed, one finger raised tapping into thin air ‘Dangerous, but not what you could call evil. Dunno. Yet. I tell you wot though, there’s a sorta link. Because that stuff in this Fenshan, you didn’t call it evil, neither of you, just dangerous. All most the same. I mean, two crisis, with us involved and overlapping,’
‘That’s a fayre summary Kittlin,’ Beritt said.
‘Kittlin?’ Trelli thought ‘When did that start?’
Concentrating on the business to hand Trelli’s hands drifted out as if she was balancing herself upon some unseen and narrow spectral walkway.
‘You’ve got a point there Karlyn. Dearie me, you pair should be careful too,’
Beritt whistled another one long low note.
‘Y’ reckon so Trelli? Is our little squirrel here talking Stommigheid sense?’
‘’Course I am Flaxi. Remember? The crows warned me,’
‘It does Arketre,’ Trelli shivered ‘Spiffle. I’m being drawn back. Got no more time,’ her shape began to fade, her hands reached out to them ‘Do be careful. Don’t go charging,’ her voice dimming ‘I will reach you again. I will…’
And was no longer there.
‘Oh my,’ Beritt intoned ‘Lady Green Vixen; Captain-Sister-to-Us-All, guide this thy poor sat-upon trooper,’ She loved her Kittlin, but the girl was deep in the Call-It-What-You-Will and sometimes Beritt had trouble keeping up with her explanations. Trelli was solid in the middle ground, it was one of the reasons Beritt was growing to love her as a friend, she was kind, dependable, stable and just as importantly could adapt.
Karlyn moved close and put an arm about Beritt, her nose twitching.
‘Lawd Gawdelpusal Flaxi. It’s so clearer to me now that Whychie spoke. We’re confronting holes in places where there shouldn’t be and someone here is not being careful,’
When Karlyn and Trelli got together everything did become a bit clearer to Beritt.
‘Second Hells Kittlin. Looks like we have to have ourselves an audience with a prince. Kraftenlos needs to be clarifying; if nothing else only to be proving he knows Frib’ All about what’s going on,’ She looked wide-eyed in the general direction of the Grand Duke’s army ‘And someone else needs a finger wagging,’
Karlyn gripped Beritt’s hand.
‘Agreed,’ she now whistled softly ‘Us thinking about killing and plotting. Oh my. Then Whychie turned up to save us. Oh my, oh my,’……………………………..