5 Days of Marketing… Well, That Was Interesting

Firstly, there was nothing new in the option, process, call it what you will. Books uploaded on Kindle and as a Promotion Option select a number of days…Free. I’ve taken that pathway before and notched up maybe 10, 15 tops on each occasion, and no reviews, the latter is understandable, more about that later.

This time I decided ‘What The Heck’ and put the whole trilogy up as Free, to summarise for those new hereabouts:

Of Patchwork WarriorsSkirmishersthe-gilrs-in-yermetz-in-finality

The results were, to repeat……interesting. Now maybe it was the chance to snap up an entire trilogy for nothing or maybe it was the stunning art work on Vol 2 & 3 by Matthew David Sharpe See FaceBook or Odiousrule on Instagram. It certainly was not my haphazard, chaotic, sometimes barely visible Marketing stratagems. Anyway as of today 1st November 2021 at 08:54 GMT the totals are 2 sold and 110 taken up for free. Well that was different. I’m not certain of the breakdowns because neither figure divide into 3, and there are various permutations: Taking up the whole trilogy; opting for Volume 1 as a tester; taking Volume 2 and/or 3 to get the full set. Who knows?

Of course there always have to be perspectives on these matters. A noticeable take-up on a free offer, does not signify the beginnings of a writing success; you have to be practical and consider the paring down. Not everyone who picks up a free book will read it, not everyone who intends to read a book free or purchased gets around to reading it straight away; (I have five sitting in my Kindle and have given myself strict orders to read them, no excuses); not everyone who reads a book even if they like it finds time to rate or review; not everyone who takes the time to place a review is going to complete the book and the review within but two weeks and finally not everyone who breaches those previous ‘nots’ is going to be kind about the business. To name but three Brandon Sanderson, George R. R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie may get 5,000 to 15,000 ratings with 80% 5 star and many positive reviews but not everyone is at their standard or has that sort of following. Thus the sense of perspective is vital to avoid any crashing disappointments, just file the whole event in the ‘Interesting’ category and see if anything else comes of ‘The October 2021 Initiative’.  

This, therefore, is not a post of the sort which suggests ‘A Way’ . No, this is nothing more than one writer recording an event which was, and it cannot be stressed enough, …’interesting’ (in a modest way of course). I will of course follow the progress, what author wouldn’t? But will only report back my findings at the end of 2021. Did this ‘interesting’ pick up have any profitable (not in terms of monetary gain) results? Who knows?

Meanwhile back to reading, jotting down notes for a Space Opera SF, which may or may not see the light of day. As maybe writing up more on the trilogy of its own little blog 

The Precipice Dominions

It does need up-dating.

For those New Around Here or Simply Passing Through. Something about The ‘Precipice Dominions Trilogy’

Whereas I had tremendous fun with Marketing earlier on this year, it seemed more appropriate to be serious now that the full trilogy will be up and running in the next few days. Apologies to those who have read previous posts on the subject, this is for visitors and potential readers

The Precipice Dominions Currently available on Kindle. Free from 27th October to 31st October

The Gilrs in Yermetz in Finality Will be on Kindle in the coming week. (No thanks to Amazon’s unhelpful ‘error’ message on cover…sorted by human effort)…Free from 27th October to 31st October.

Overview

Fantasy. Not in the style of George R R Martin or Joe Abercrombie. By Fantasy standards- overall theme ‘Lite’ . Complex interplays, adventure, battles, some graphic violence, snatches of satire, some comic interludes, romance ( with adult themes). Warning for those who read Fantasy: overall up-beat theme throughout, to repeat you’ve been warned; don’t moan to me if you read them and don’t find them ‘gritty’ enough.

Introductions 

The trilogy charts the progress of three women caught up in a series of events which are part of the long history of The Oakhostian Empire; this has lasted not because of the iron grip of one family, or a dreaded back ground administration, but for the simple reason no one has come up with a workable alternative. There are agencies which keep the whole thing running with the usual smatterings of rivalries aided or sometimes encumbered by the composite of princedoms and city states. There is religion which at this stage is usually nodded to but generally not very influential in the ruling process.

What everyone does pay attention to is The Stommigheid or Ethereal or Astatheia, depending which agency or preference you work for. This is an elemental which manifests itself in various ways, physical, mental or spiritual by a combination of these it has given rise to Realms which are linked to The World Physical and thus can be utilised as a means of travel. Those who have managed to gain some deeper knowledge of this enigmatic manifestation appreciate no one has control over its potentials at best only having an accommodation; there is dispute over whether it influences people or the other way around. How or when this arrived upon The World no one is wholly sure of, there are records of great disruptions and the appearance of the demonic apparitions The Lords of The Land and the Lords of The Deeper; later The Lords of The Air, collectively called The Zerstorung.

Against this backdrop the three major characters move:

Trelli (later known as Trelyvana Waywanderer). Once satisfied to be a dutiful and responsible housemaid with an eye on becoming a Housekeeper to a general respectable merchant family. However thanks to the meddling in the The Stommigheid by the younger son Wigran, she has been inadvertently suffused with some of its abilities; the process and manifestation making her a source of interest amongst various folk. She has to struggle with keeping a perspective and responsibility with this ‘new gift’

Arketre Beritt  Initially a medician (medic) in the military  LifeGuard. A state within a state in The Oakhostian, charged with security and specific military actions. Beritt is chosen as part of a file (unit) charged with seeking out Trelli. Seemingly easy going, friendly and skilled at her task, Beritt has a mixed at times roguish past, while can be chillingly brutal against foes, either physically or mentally.

Karlyn Nahtinee Seeming to have originated from Elinid a city of dubious reputation and possessed of a peripatetic mind. Karlyn discourses with animals and plants, has a singular sense of smell and direction which includes the Stommigheid, a talent for arson and an acrobatic prowess. Despite all evidence to the contrary she is initially recruited by a Custodian (think Inquisitor) to seek out Trelli. At the onset her true background is a mystery, even to her.    

Volume One: Of Patchwork Warriors (As spoiler free as possible)

This introduces the three major characters and something of the world(s) they inhabit. Karlyn and Arketre as part of separate missions to find out ‘what is going’ in a port town (The ‘what’ being Trelli). The ‘what’ has attracted others. In the confusion it is Karlyn and Arketre who find themselves responsible for Trelli. They start to bond, Arketre begins to have doubts over handing Trelli over to her LifeGuard commanders. Karlyn, literally sniffs out other issues and leads the party off track on what she sees as more important a cause. In another realm they have their first conflict with The Zerstorung and an inefficient group known as The Obsidian Council.  It is here the three start to demonstrate their differing potentials . This volume also brings in other characters and groupings relevant to the whole narrative and sets the backdrop for complexities in the following volumes.

Volume Two: Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire

In this volume more is written of Elinid and its crime family The Silcs, The LifeGuard, The Devoteds, the once legendary and assumed powerful race of The Shadow Lords and the Oakhostian. Karlyn learns more of her previous life, Arketre faces the conflicted demands of her medician training and her instinct to take on the harder role and demands of battle, Trelli’s relationship and skill with The Ethereal grows as she begins to appreciate the full and possibly dangerous potential.     

Following on from the events in ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’. Karlyn and Arketre are in the North East of the Oakhostian in the Princedom of Terasonia, content with being snatched there and have an opportunity to explore their love. However they are despatched by the LifeGuard to investigate a rebellion by the local Grand Dukes against their prince. Trelli is in the South under the care of  The Devoteds, an ambitious member Coltello  wishes to utilise Trelli’s abilities to ‘harvest’ a source of Ethereal in a nearby land. Through the bond the three had forged in the previous volume, their paths cross. Karlyn assisting Trelli, leaving Arketre to be the Officer on the Ground trying to broker between Prince and Grand Dukes. The situation is complicated by an incursion from the domain of a Shadow Lords Prince with ideas of starting his own empire. The theme of conflict is based on the history of many a seemingly superior force being bested by a local opposition familiar with the terrain, particularly when the sophisticated weaponry of the former is found wanting. Again there is the presence of the Zerstorung in manifold forms.

Volume Three: Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences.

This is the volume where the full potentials of the three women are realised in various and some unexpected ways. And here is the book blurb:

Nothing is simple in the aftermath of Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire. Wars, conflicting agendas, calls to fealties. All these range across The Oakhostian empire and the Realms beyond the World Physical. Ever present the enigma known as The Ethereal, Stommigheid,  or Astatheia  is no one’s to control, though maybe the opposite is so.  As Officer of one small LifeGuard outpost Arketre Beritt’s initial attention is on the invasion of her jurisdiction, Valeneg, by neighbouring Krenderenberg’s opportunistic prince. Trelli, is drawn to investigating the  possibility of dangerous and nefarious activities by the Silc Clan in their home city of Elinid. Both women however are swept up by concerns of Karlyn Nahintee, spouse of the former, best friend of the latter and assumed to be of Custodian rank by most, she believes all troubles can be laid at the feet of one of the Zerstorung demonics The Lords of The Air. A surprise request to aid in a rescue of a previous opponent enthuses her belief  to the point of dragging (in Arketre’s case, literally) the other two off to confront these Lords. This pitches the trio into or back again across the complex relationships between groups within the Oakhostian empire and those dwelling beyond the World Physical. The three women must face, individually, in pairs or together conflicts, avoiding conflicts and demands of duty while struggling to hold fast to their own personal ties. Seemingly ever fated never to start anything but constantly to be drawn in; their skills, judgements and courage are constantly tested at a juncture which threatens to tear beyond one empire into other entireties, as some dare to believe they can control not only events but the evasive elements of The Ethereal. Conceits which neither Arketre, Karlyn or Trelli subscribe to, nor intend to leave flourish.

(Not blurb just additional information: The Battle for Yermetz takes some of its influences from German/Italian/Romanian/Hungarian conflict with the USSR at The Battle of Stalingrad in 1942/43)

That’s it folks

With this trio around in your town, admit. Feeling Safer Already?

The Girls in Yermetz

Matt keeps on adding more depth. This is image of Karlyn, Trelli and Arketre represents them walking through the town of Yermetz, the scene of a battle (based on the events at Stalingrad in 1942).
The little bird was something Matt just felt was significant of part of Karlyn’s affinity with Nature, and is certainly worth a couple of extra sentences    

Getting to know Characters- Trelli (& Trelli with Arketre ‘walking shotgun’)

Matt continues to let his imagination and artistry work wonders with the characters out of my work.

Here is Trelli, moving up in a modest way leaving behind her housemaid’s drabs and travel robes. Now wearing sedate clothing when assisting others with diplomatic ventures.

Trelli by volume III in Colour Matt 

Of course separation from her friends does not last long and here she is striding out with Arketre, about to get her hands, boots, blouse and skirt dirty.

Trelli with Arketre

Getting to know Characters- Arketre

As Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences,  Volume III of my trilogy The Precipice Dominions draws closer to its final edit Matt, the artist who carried out the evocative cover of Volume II Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire has started work on the latest volume for me. Here is Arketre, even with just a few simple lines of a sketch he has brought her character.

Arketre by Matt Continue reading

On Deciding Which Place To Be

I suppose it may have been the Summer again. Or to be more objective my attitude to the summer season. The heat, the bright sunlight, long daylight, activity even muted by Covid; these do not suit me. Of course at 70 one should not wish life away, years, months even days should not be squandered and yet winter draws me ever on.

Summer brings out the worst in me, particularly this one had me in a very combative mood and willing to engage in arguments on social media, on all manner of topics, just because. All very undignified and not the least bit profitable  There was an effort not to smear this mood all over WP and keep it where it belonged – FaceBook. Hence my general absence from WP

Happily there was a smidge of constructive dignity still working within. This, of course being attention to my own writing project. If you have followed my blog you will know about my ragged progress and less than serious approach to marketing 

Another Launch (Persistence Doesn’t Always Pay, But It’s Satisfying)

Just for Marketing and Giggles- The British Approach

Just for Marketing and Giggles II (The team conference)

Although the last volume of the trilogy was in theory completed one year ago, the re-write process beckoned. This, personally is an enjoyable stage, aside from the obvious corrections, tinkerings and checking continuity in all its manifold ways, there is the joy of realising the overall intentions were surviving the necessities of a narrative. On this particular jaunt there was an urge within to re-visit the previous two volumes and work through them one last time to ensure they led in a sort of cohesive manner unto the third. Thus 2021 has been a year in which three large (If you are doing epic fantasy ‘large/long’ is something of a requirement) volumes were aligned. Yet another series of re-writes, I like to muse over the situation that should these books ever achieve noticeable sales status how early purchasers could brag they have ‘first editions’ and argue the case for the writing or narrative of those. A writer whose history does not contain even the words ‘some modest success’ should always keep an element of whimsey in their head (either that or take marketing and allied disciplines seriously)

On the whole the process has been yet another enjoyable and enlightening process. AS WE all know Word has many failings. Yet Read Aloud along with the ability to shift entire chapters around like chess pieces do carry their own particular appeals, also a sense of The Unexpected. In the case of the former this would be the sudden lurch into another gender’s voice, like some intrusive boor blundering into a conversation you are having with a friend, while Word throws up a frantic yellow bar warning in a woefully inadequate attempt to deny all culpability. When it comes to the latter shifting portions of the narrative might look fine at a particular juncture, but they could have a tectonic effect in The Continuity much further on down; by then the original revision is so embedded into the narrative it is necessary to give way to the impetus set in place back at at Chapter Fifteen and amend with much vigour to the events laid out in the first (or second) draft at Chapter Fifty-One. These are something of a melding of the Artistic, Imaginative and above all Inventive in the business. Some folk enjoy crosswords, siduko, chess or card game puzzles. for me the challenge of the re-write is the thing.   

The Third Volume nears final (only three re-writes) completion, the artist who did such stunning work on Volume Two’s cover is on the case.  Skirmishers  So maybe the final work will see the light of Kindle by the end of the year.

Ah me, this is where I should have been spending more time than was spent. Three volumes completed, a joy in itself. But soft, I have tarried long enough. Time to break camp and set forth on the final clime up the last 35,000 words.

Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences.   (Being Volume 3 of The Precipice Dominions)

I do love this happy burden.

Just for Marketing and Giggles II (The Plagiarism Approach)

Skirmishers

shy-man-partyI looked at the Kindle Report page……Sales…….umm less than the first primary number….

As did we……..Oh…….oh….That this too solid flesh…….wouldst ……..melt

Pondering oneNo….I don’t think the tragi-comic-self-referential ploy is going to work, we’ve done it once, and like I said at the time with Dostoyevsky references it might have worked better.

Just for Marketing and Giggles- The Comic Tragedy Approach 

Shakespeare 1 I wouldst suggest; the Bard. For have you not already allowed a quote in the opening sequence? Everyone is aware of some Shakespearean  hex-tracts. T’would resonate.  

Existential crisisAhhh, yessss. TOOOOOO, BEEEEEE or NOT tooo BEEEEE…… THAT is the…….question????

We’ll let you know

Writer 2Well, here’s one that occurred to me. 

Skirmishers

Romeo and Juliet Balcony (2)But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire is the sun

enthusiasticIt’s cookin’ I tell ya!!

Pondering twoI don’t suppose they’d go with adapting The Prince of Verona’s last tines…. “For never was a story of more woe than this thy hapless marketing show” 

Whimsey 6Hmmmmm…..Maybe another of THE BARD’S works might be more…..shall we say…amenable to the project.

enthusiastic 2

You got it chuckles!!

                                                                                              Chuckles!…I love it

Plot Image 1This is a winner!

richardiii-1A book! A BOOK!! My kingdom for A….. BBohook!!

Do not worry

Do not fret

Here’s a choice, you’ll not regret.

Available on Amazon Kindle at 0.99   

Pondering oneThey got the link OK. I’ll give them that. I’d still go with Dostoevsky though.

shy-man-partyAye, “To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.”…..I think we could use that

Pondering oneSee what I mean. You got to go with Dignified Irony….Anyway let’s quit while we’re ahead for the day. Raya and the Last Dragon ok with you? 

shy-man-partyThere is a form of dignity there.

 

Arketre On The Prowl screenshot (2)Ya’ll have to admire the persistence though…. I mean, yeah Stupid… but still kinda admirable.

Karlyn on the road (2)That’s true Flaxi, I kinda see wot they was tryin’ and if you’re not tryin’ to seriously sell stuff it’s a bit of fun. And since they are books about us anyhow, we should have a say….. See, like this…..Ahem…

“Now can the grumbly winter of your discontent at ol’ books 
Made glorious summer by these exciting volumes

The Precipice Dominions 
An’ all the clouds that low’r’d upon your moods
In the deep bosom of the ocean Kindle be buried”.

Aww, was fun…! Go on Whychie (That’s ‘Trelli ‘to you readers!) you give it a try

Trelli At Ease screenshot (3)…. Alright then, otherwise I’ll never hear the end of it:…….(deep breath)…

“The quality of writing should not be force(d)
It should floweth as the small stream through the glade
Upon its happy way. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth them that writeth and those that do read
‘Tis fayre in its modesty. Yet becomes
The impressive volumes The Precipice Dominions when written for their own sake.”
 
Yes, ok…That was a bit of a giggle. You’re turn now Arketre. Otherwise it won’t balance properly… 
 
Arketre on Leave (2). Since you two are set on us being so singular; here’s mine then
 
“Writers, readers and easy-goers, gimme some time yeah?
I’ve come to tell you about these books, but not to sell them, right?
The intensity in some stories really holds many folk.
While the casual, feel good is also worth a read 
So let it be with the Precipice Dominions series.  

Right, we’re done………………..You take care, then…………..And we’ll be seeing you

(Chorus)……………BECAUSE THERE’S ONE MORE VOLUME TO COME !!! 

.Masterful Delivery, I tip my hat…………………Yes, they saved it. Could get sales. 

Just for Marketing and Giggles II (The Low-Key Approach)

SkirmishersThe Book

haughty response 2 The author has declined to appear for this post; he says he may not appear ever again; which may, arguably be a wise move. That said the team….. Well to be frank a certain selection of the team who have a more realistic view of the world and didn’t inform the others decided on this approach.

Doffing a hatThere we are m’dear. Nothing to be worried about, just say what comes in your head.

Impatient fellowYeah you bozos listen up. Ok, this is not how I would have done it. But you give the girl some space here. Or you’ll be speaking with the Knuckles Brothers.

Young woman, finger on lips, looking confused surprised Heck, I don’t know how I got caught up in this; that’s one of the things about surfing the net, you never know. Anyway, since I’m here. This book, Vol II of what’s called The Precipice Dominions which I guess is allegorical. Y’know like the state of the nations and folks in the books, all wired up and on the edge with their plots, plans and ‘stuff’ you get in Fantasy Novels.

So the sometimes cute, sometimes deadly couple Arketre and Karlyn are making the best of The Sweet Life up in some faraway place called Terasonia’ cause they know sooner or later ‘stuff’ is going to happen. Trelli is being taught how to use her powers by some girls in this Libratery place (think of nuns, but not like the Sound of Music, and a lil’ bit like those weird women in Dune whose names I can’t remember ). Then A & K are sent off to see what they can make out of a sort of rebellion against the local prince, while Trelli gets despatched with a long beautiful & snooty called Coltello and some escorts to do something which didn’t make sense to me in another faraway place, called Fenshan. Then there’s all sorts of mini-adventures with Trelli turning up like a faux-ghost to rescue A & K from “The Dark Side”  that’s got into them.

After that Karlyn goes off one of those freaky path ways she uses to help Trelli with her task, and Arketre having been promoted to officer starts throwing military intimidation around in all directions. This is when things get all complex, because some renegades from that even more far off Shadow Lords realm invade. And this is the good thing, unlike most books they  don’t get to slay hundreds of locals until only our heroes are left with magic doo-hickies; the girls are just part of the army. Some guy I know who reads military histories says its also all allegorical (I like that word; I’m gonna use it a lot at coffee breaks) to do with other wars, but I switched off after he started on his fourth example.

Anyway, the girls do well. Trelli swings that power of hers about, keeps her cool and gets ‘lucky’ (y’know…. I mean lllluckieeee!). We get some of Karlyn’s back story which is fun because she gets dual identity; her usual kooky self, and sometimes all regal, and imperious, like in one of those historical dramas. And Arketre goes action mode and kinda edgy.  Impatient fellow I like that girl!!

Y’know it’s no spoiler to say it works out, because by now you should know that’s what the writer is all about. There’s a bit at the end which is really funny, in a way which is sweet, and a take on how men still see us girls but A & K use to their advantage. 

There’s lots of other things going on with other characters which I guess Young woman, finger on lips, looking confused surprised leads into the next volume, so you might want to get a notebook out to remind yourself of who is doing what, where, when and why for future reference. 

Although, it’s like 200,000 words and lot going on, it’s not a bad read. Even if Fantasy is not your thing, despite some gory bits it’s a kinda light. Not Game of Thrones, and my boy-friend says ‘Joe Abercrombie; it’s not’  he reads a lot of Fantasy so make of that what you will. So for 0.99 whatevers; y’know.

anger-clipart-rage-2 Too many women having there own way! Naah that won’t do! If you ask me…..

Wives and lovers woman clothed

WE AN’T!!

worried-manI’ve never seen a man so out of shape move so fast….

Young woman, finger on lips, looking confused surprised(I was warned something like this might happen) Anyway. Like I was about to say. It’s on Kindle Amazon, and it’s free for the rest of Friday then it’s 0.99

And that’s about all we have to say on it. OK?

Re-Launch

Just for Marketing and Giggles II (The team conference)

victorian-mens-costumes-2Well that’s was rather restrained. In an trans- Atlantic sort of way, wouldn’t you say Chumbleigh-Smythe?……. Oh quite so old chap. Mind you 200,000 words, that’s rather large book…I say haven’t you heard about these Thimbles they can put books on? Dashed clever…… I think Fotherington-Jones you might mean a Kindle…….Kindle Harrington-Carruthers? What sort of word is that???…..Oh it’s something to Americans dreamed up…… Hmmm how very curious…..Now what were we talking about?…..Where to go for lunch I think…Good idea. 

Pondering oneI saw worse on the last marketing run. The girl saved it……again.

Just for Marketing and Giggles II (The team conference)

Skirmishers

WIN_20201130_14_37_57_Pro OK guys. It’s out there I know this can’t be avoided. How are we going to handle this one?

shy-man-partyLeave well alone and unto the whims of the free-sales campaign? I feel there is more dignity in the simple nobility of the effort of writing and then saying ‘Ah this now belongs to The Ages’

Impatient fellow. Are you kiddin’? We gotta go hard and aggressive. We gotta get these books out there. We gotta grab the public’s attention by da scruff  of its neck. We gotta shake ’em loose from their tired ways, an’ tell ’em to stop their weak ass’d ways of just following what’s trending or best selling. We gotta make ’em think an’ try something new. We gotta…..

Pondering oneYou do realise this author and his advisor are British don’t you?

Impatient fellowWell, can I smack him in the mouth then for being such a self-effacing whimp ?

Wives and lovers woman clothedNo cuz’. We’d had this talk before. He’s kinda harmless an’ means well. Now go back to arguing with Covid-Conspiracy types. You enjoy that. Ok guys back to your sorta marketing.

WIN_20201130_14_37_57_Pro  Thank you

enthusiastic 3How about this? It’s a winner I tell ya!

. Ohhhhhh,

Buy the book

Buy the book,

You’ll enjoy it.

Take a look

Cautious 2It has a certain…….quality?

PuzzledYeah, that’s a polite way of putting it

This meeting is declared adjourned!!

pogo.stick. 2Well I must get my copy now!

Gee. Is it gonna work?………………………………….Only in the world the book is set.

Re-Launch

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.

Anyway

Skirmishers  Latest edition

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Our-Skirmishers-Lace-Steel-Fire-ebook/dp/B07SSLN1GQ

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,’

          ‘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,’……………………………..