Twenty two tales of dark fantasy and science fiction by Michael E. Shea.
Follow the tales of Vrenna, the mysterious swordswoman as she explores the dark and strange world of Faigon. Follow the murderous rampage of Thorn the Executioner, follow the Grey Wolves as they cut their way across a dark landscape.
Excerpt from The Executioner:
Torchlight broke into Thorn's cell like streams of fire. He sat up on his bed slowly and glared at the guard who woke him. The guard dropped his gaze. They always did.
"The execution is at dawn."
Thorn continued his stare and the guard hurried to leave. Thorn stood naked. He stretched to his full height, the firelight of the hallway torch dancing off of his dark skin. He looked out of the barred window of his cell and saw the dark blue light of the approaching dawn as it overtook the night.
Thorn wrapped a pleated leather kilt around his waist and buckled it with a large bronze buckle. He pulled a black leather tunic, sleeveless and cut low over his chest. His huge chest and arms helped bring the crowd and the tailors of the tunic knew it. Thorn tied two leather wraps around his wrists and palms of his hands. Finally, he put on a dark steel helm shaped like the head of a snarling bull complete with low curling black steel horns.
Thorn looked to wide-bladed sword that sat propped up in the corner of his cell. It was the most famous sword for five hundred miles. It was more famous than Dragontooth, his lord and master's jeweled rapier that now sat unused for years over the lord's bed. It was more famous than Treesplitter, the master-at-arms's two handed greatsword with a hilt of living wood and a dark green blood groove running from tip to hilt. Thorn's people knew his blade as Earthsplitter before the war, but his new masters had a different name. They called it Noble's End. He had killed forty six men with the huge blade before the wars, including ten officers of Faigon's army. Since his capture he had killed thirty more including eighteen gladiators and twelve nobles of Castle Doven. Today it would kill its thirteenth.
The blade was three feet long and five inches wide. The wide blade looked like a slab of thick steel with an edge and a hilt. The hilt was wrapped in leather from the hide of a dire boar slain by Thorn's father nearly forty years ago. The leather grip, all sixteen inches of it, was dark with oil and old blood.
Thorn lifted the blade and felt its cool weight in his hands. The tip of the blade angled in towards the edge giving it the shape of a large cleaver instead of a typical sword. Along the blade, just above the hilt, twelve notches marked the blade for each noble head it cut off.
Thorn stepped out of the cell and walked down the hall where two double doors lay open to the courtyard.
A roar exploded from the crowd of five hundred that watched Thorn step out onto the courtyard. Castle Doven sat behind high walls to the north and the shops of the village surrounded the open royal courtyard where many of the town's events took place. Executions were always popular, only second to gladiator fights.