By Greg Strandberg
298 pages, Fantasy
January 27, 2013
It’s been six months since the horrendous incident atop Mount Misery, the incident that broke Beldar Thunder Hammer’s band of adventurers apart.
Now Beldar’s putting the band back together with the aim of heading back up Mount Misery to end the Kingdom’s Hireling system for good.
Of course that would upend the whole socio-economic balance of The Kingdom and usher in a time of peace and plenty for all. The powers-that-be can’t have that, and they’ll do everything in their power to thwart Beldar and his band of Hirelings from bringing that about.
“You dumb wench!” the man she’d kicked said as he wiped a small stream of blood from the side of his mouth.
He pulled the sword from its scabbard, a long monster with a curved edge that glinted off the faint torchlight illuminating the place. Within seconds the five men behind him had pulled their weapons as well, two more swords, a battle-axe, war hammer, and dagger. A few months before it would have been nothing, but then a few months before she’d had a party of like-minded adventurers backing her up. Now she barely had enough components for even one spell.
Damn it, Glinny! she thought, you’ve gotten yourself into a helluva bind this time!
The leader of the group, the man she’d kicked, nodded his head at the men behind him and soon there were two groups of three circling around the stage and toward the small staircase in the back.
Beldar reached down to the large axe he carried. It was almost as long as himself and he pulled it from the leather sheath on his back. No one noticed, so intent were they on the half-naked woman backing slowly away from the group of six men nearly upon her.
“Looks like you’re stuck now, pretty,” the man she’d kicked said, “wherever will you go?”
His companions laughed at that, as well as the desperate-sound to his voice. Glinny narrowed her eyes and pinched a little bit of sulfur from the small packet she’d pulled up.
“Fireo, wireo, art y dart!” she said quickly.
The mans’ smile quickly disappeared and his eyes grew wide when he saw a small light form around Glinny’s left hand, then grow in intensity. After another moment what looked like an arrow made from fire formed, and his eyes grew wider still.
“She’s a spell–”
That was all the man was able to say before the small flame dart shot from Glinny’s hand and sped forth to imbed itself in his chest. His face took on a look of shock as he stared down at the still-visible flame dart sticking out of him. He managed to look up at Glinny once again, his mouth forming into some kind of curse, when he started to fall.
His companions watched in horror as he fell backward into a table, slamming down into it so hard that it flipped over and landed atop him.
There was no movement for a moment as everyone looked to him, and then when it was clear that there wasn’t going to be, snapped-to.
“There’s plenty more where that came from!” Glinny said forcefully after a moment, drawing the still-standing men’s attention to her.
Greg Strandberg was born and raised in Helena, Montana, and graduated from the University of Montana in 2008 with a BA in History. He lived and worked in China following the collapse of the American economy. After five years he moved back to Montana where he now lives with his wife and young son.