Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Short Stories from Behind the Throne

With writing and editing nearly finished for our up and coming Sourcebook - Behind the Throne - we've decided to treat you all to a sampling of some fiction presented as flavour within the book. The short stories are intended to highlight the shadowy new faction The Oculus. They are mostly presented as stand alone flash fiction tales, but a couple do follow on from each other. Test your knowledge of Karthi history and see if you can determine from what time the tales are each told.

Without further ado, this week’s flash fiction:



A Fine Season to be King

The sun beat down on King Harlgrif’s brow, his face lifted to receive the warm glow. He took comfort in the heat, having lead his people through a terrible winter not 2 moons ago. He took pride in his decisions and leadership, knowing that without the deal he brokered with the foreigners his people would have starved. Dried and salted meats, preserved fruits, hard breads and barrels of grains were bartered for with many of the Clan Hold’s possessions.

They were not a rich Clan, but they had sole access to a mountain pass, a few miles west of the Clan Hold itself. They could demand tribute from any who needed to use the pass, such as when there was a Great Moot in the valley to the south east. Every few years one was called, and these years were the most prosperous for Harlgrif’s clan. The trade with the foreigners meant his people were strong so soon after the winter, and able to police the pass as strong warriors, rather than hungry beggars, a far more intimidating threat to travellers who would seek free passage. A rider had arrived this morning, informing him that the signal fires had been lit, a Moot will be called this season.

King Harlgrif turned from the sun, and began to pack his pipe with the pungent herbs given to him by Finix, the merchant from across the sea. His kin had always smoked the flowers that grew on the mountain side for generations, so when the foreigner showed an interest the King was only too happy to oblige. They had spent many nights negotiating, filling the room with a melange of smoke, the merchant puffing on dried mountain flowers and the King on the delightfully new dried bark and herb mixture carried by the foreigners. It was not long before the King had demanded that Finix sweeten the deal by trading all the merchant carried of the herbs for an equal measure of the local smoke. Finix had wholeheartedly agreed. Already the King’s closest advisors and favoured warriors were taking to the new mixture. This was going to be a fine season to be King.

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Finix cracked the seal on the missive just now handed to him. It bore the mark of his master, Lord Argos Vanhanen II. By the lantern light he read, a smile slowly beginning to play out on his weathered face.

“My colleagues and I commend you on your machinations in the barbarian lands. Securing the pass east of the clan you mentioned in particular was ingenious. I am proud that the drug that we prepared for you was used wisely; the barbarian king will not even suspect he has been given an extremely addictive herb until it is too late. He will bow to our demands for passage without resorting to violence, and when the invasion fleet lands in a month’s time the Commanders will be informed of the king’s addiction. We have seen to it they have ample herb to bribe this Harlgrif and his men. Report to Lieutenant Horten in the 3rd Company, Emperor’s Arm when they arrive, he is one of us and shall see you rewarded.

Argos V. II”

Below the signature was a symbol, a stylized eye encircled by an arcing line on an angle. Curious, Finix mused, never seen the master use that glyph before…