My grand plan for publishing a short story each week has gone off to a somewhat rocky start, not because of the writing–I’ve in fact written a new story and am partway through several more–but because of my inability to produce a reasonable cover quickly enough. I can sketch out a cover in good time, but my skills are sadly nowhere near where they need to be in order to finish off the illustration speedily, or sometimes at all. Possibly I was being too ambitious with my ideas, too.
To remedy this, I’ve decided to make use of photographs to make some of my covers, while I keep puttering along with my illustration efforts. I’m quite pleased with the cover of my new story, which is now available on Kobo and Amazon:
The photograph is one I took, of a mountain in the Pangnirtung fjord on Baffin Island in Nunavut. The story is the first of what will be many about the Red Company, a group of adventurers I will be writing more about soon. “The Tower at the Edge of the World” is a long short story (at 10,000 words, technically a novelette) about the poet, revolutionary, mage, and gallant folk hero Fitzroy Angursell. It tells the story of how he comes to give himself at least part of that name and set out on adventures. The adventures begin in Derring-Do for Beginners, which I’m planning to publish in the spring of 2015.
Fitzroy is one of my two core characters, the other being Raphael from Till Human Voices Wake Us. Fitzroy is Raphael’s father’s best friend–they meet in Derring-Do–and is a major figure of family lore, and, indeed, general folk lore, for Raphael growing up in the end days of the Empire of Astandalas. He (Fitzroy, that is) is mentioned in most of the stories I’ve written in this universe–which is all but three of them!–and he is very dear to my imagination.
This short story began as Chapter One of Derring-Do, but I decided that it worked better as a standalone story. I hope you enjoy it!
From the beginning:
In a tower at the edge of the world a young man found, one day, three items of interest: a golden key, an aphorism, and a spell.
He wasn’t looking for them. He’d been living in the tower for a while by that point, and had settled into the rituals and routines of what he assumed would be the rest of a long and very quiet life. The intervals between rituals were taken up with playing the harp, reading poetry, or studying the most abstruse realms of theoretical magic.
The situation of the tower was at the easternmost edge of a long narrow island that broke the water’s plummet into the Abyss on the eastern side of the world. (He was not certain which world it was, but guessed from the island and the sea that it was Colhélhé, though it might also have been some far reach of Voonra or Ysthar or even Alinor; he knew from the books in the tower and the magic that he was still within the bounds of the Empire, but only barely.) From the upper windows he could see long low grassy dunes, extending north and south until they dissolved into the blue distance.
Westward lay the rest of the world, and the Empire of Astandalas of which he was perhaps both loneliest outpost and most loyal son, and what he thought of as the peopled lands. All he could see of them was the short sides of the long dunes and, in the middle distance, the long silver line of the sea.
East of the tower was the Abyss.
During the day grey and white clouds boiled ceaselessly there, broken only by the bravest and most audacious kingfishers and gulls seeking only they knew what treasures under the mist and the spray and the spume.
During the night the stars went all the way down, and nothing stirred but their slow wheeling progress across three-quarters of the celestial globe.
It was after his morning bath and before breakfast that the young man had paused to look out the window. From the bathing room he could see the swallows who nested on the eaves of the tower’s windows and in a row along the waterspout gargoyles. While he was looking out at the swallows, he happened to follow one’s flight down with his gaze, and saw a glint of gold on the gargoyle’s neck.
And for the rest, it’s on Amazon and Kobo. So is “Blue Moon Over Pincher Creek,” but I assume most of the people reading this read that when it was available for free. But if you missed the story about Tyler and the fairy aurochs, it’s available at Amazon. (Contact me if you want an epub version while it’s publishing at Kobo.)