Ten Real Life Locations for the Tyrants of the Dead movies

As I sit in the dark and daydream terrible things, my mind wanders to the far-off hope of finishing the screenplay for the Tyrants of the Dead series. It’s ever in my thoughts. It’s not quite a realistic goal, but it’s more than just a dream. Previously, I imagined the cast here and here. But to capture all audiences everywhere, I’ve come to understand that the setting is of utmost importance. In Tyrants, readers explore snow-capped mountains, dismal swamps, glorious medieval cities, and grounds hallowed long ago by the Ur.

It’s a lot to digest.

Given the rampant use of CGI in modern film-making, I’d like to dial it back a notch. Budget notwithstanding, and actors’ travel concerns set aside, I’d prefer to use the most realistic locations available. Nothing is as magnificent as what nature already offers. Nothing…

And so I offer the ten locations I’d use as settings for the darkest fantasy series of all time:

Gryphon

Gryphon CityMonreal, Spain

Let’s start with a happy place. Gryphon, with all its white houses and cobbled lanes, is a sanctuary in which our heroes rest briefly before wandering back into the abyss of war. Monreal is a gorgeous medieval hamlet surrounded by green thickets. Sounds like a match.

 

Moors Eye

Mooreye CityPingyao, China

Now let’s head to Gryphon’s vile neighbor. The Moor’s Eye, home of traitors and scene of countless murders, has high walls and towers not unlike Pingyao. Think China will let us borrow it to catch a few shots? Think they’ll let us hang black banners from the walls?

 

 

  GraehelmPrairie
Graehelm PrairiePalouse Prairie, Idaho

To get anywhere in Graehelm, one must travel grasslands far and green.  To get anywhere in Idaho, one must travel grasslands farther and greener. Just look at all that grass!

 

 

Grandwood

Grandwood ForestCalaveras State Park, California

 The world’s biggest trees. Acres and acres of giants dominating all the small sights below. Of all the places, Calaveras is one I actually plan to visit before I die. Anything that makes man feel smaller =  good.

 

 

Nightmare Forest

 

 Nightmare ForestAokigahara Forest, Japan

Speaking of woods… Nightmare is the setting for Andelusia’s black magic awakening. Unspeakable horrors wander the glooms, sniffing out mortal creatures to dine on. Aokigahara is perfect. For those who’ve never heard of it, it’s the eerie forest in which many Japanese commit suicide every year. No CGI needed, folks. This place is spooky enough as-is.

 

Undergrave

The UndergraveMammoth National Cave, Kentucky

Vaulted ceilings ribbed with daggerlike lime formations. Narrow corridors to march men to their deaths in. It’s like nature knew what I needed…and spent millions of years crafting caves to fit it in. Happiness is being three days underground without food, light, or hope. Right?

 

Mormist

MormistHimalayan Forest

Mormist is the scene of peace and war, of tranquility and slaughter. In what landscape more glorious to film it than the verdent slopes and white-crowned peaks of the Himalayas? None, I say.

 

 

SelhauntSea

The Selhaunt – North Sea

Many a wise mariner fears the choppy, deep, and bitterly cold waters of the North Sea. Such a fine, dark, dreary body of water will serve perfectly to mirror the Selhaunt. Nobody wants to cross either unless they have to. And they will.  

 

Cornerstone

CornerstoneWiencke Island, Antarctica

It’s too pretty a place to serve as a vast Ur graveyard, you might think. But cap a special colored lens on the camera, and I say no place could be better. In Cornerstone, pale snow drifts across dead stone, concealing stairwells that lead to tombs for millions. Commence filming during Antarctica’s long twilight, and find perfection.

 

Malog

MalogBig Sky Mountain, Montana

At last we come to it:

The obsidian citadel, larger than all the fortresses of men combined, was as hideous as it was massive. Its body looked as though hewn from the belly of the world’s most massive mountain, a place where the sun never shined.”

Malog is where the worst villains in the series reside. Ghosts, ghouls, all manner of bad, bad men. Sure, we’d have to cheat a little and CGI it to look like obsidian. And we’d have to pock it with a few thousand haunted windows. But even so…

* * *

Will it ever happen? Who can say?

One can always dream…

 J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Down the Dark Path

 

What Dead Men do During the Holidays

Undead Turkey

 

 

During Thanksgiving week, it used to be a tradition of mine to get my ass to Florida (St. Augustine, Clearwater, Naples…) and eat entire restaurants out of business. Those were my holiday-cations, and they were epic. I’d lay siege to huge buffets, soak up gallons of wine and cocktails, and float atop heated pools like a bloated corpse. I was an ICBM, and the beach was my target. Sometimes I even followed it up with a encore Christmas trip. Can you say…awesome!?

Sadly, miserably…those days are done. Anymore, I’m a holiday zombie.

Holiday Zombie (Noun) – Any human, lacking purpose, who sits on the sideslines during the holidays and rots. 

So what do dead men do during the holidays?

1. Black Friday – We complain about it. Then camp out Thursday night to buy a video game we could’ve bought for $3 more on Amazon. I’m completely kidding. I’ve never braved Black Friday in my life. With my luck, I’d sleep right through the sales crush…or get arrested for disorderly conduct.

2. Laugh Inside – We feel ever so slightly left out due to lack of social interaction (guess who didn’t get invited to the ugly sweater party?) but secretly relish the fact that we have no real holiday responsibility. While the living are out buying SUV’s full of presents, enduring hours and hours of Jingle Bells, and road-raging, we zombies are grilling brains (or ribeye steaks) in our backyards. In the snow. While drinking heavily.

3. Gift Failing – For the one or two people we actually love enough to gift gifts to, we buy something sweet only to fail miserably with the wrapping paper. Afterward, we curse the people who are good at wrapping (we all know someone whose sole life-skill is wrapping gifts). And then, looking down upon our failure, we give up and buy a gift bag. Thank you, gift bag inventor. Without you, children worldwide would know my horror of wrapping paper.

SantaFromTheGrave

What Santa looks like to the average three-year old. …and you wonder why they cry.

4. Damn Cards – We get plenty of holiday cards, but send none. Because, you know, we’re dead.

5. Well…maybe the Stove Top counts – We do things that have absolutely nothing to do with Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. Like watch metric tons of SEC football, eat meals of Stove Top stuffing and Little Caesar’s pizza, drink Texas margaritas instead of egg nog, and write dark fantasy novels. Just normal stuff, really.

6. No ties either. Or Starbucks gift cards – We quietly bemoan that no one buys us anything cool (or anything at all) for Christmas….and then realize we didn’t need anything anyway. We suffer five minutes of angst, but follow it up with, ‘Thank gawd Aunt Selma didn’t buy me more knee-high socks.”

7. Laugh Inside again – We get sucked into attending a holiday event or two. We dress up, wear too much perfume or cologne to mask the dead smell, and shamble out our doors. And then, while grandpa’s getting wasted, the kids are screaming, and your co-workers are banging in the guest bathroom, we’re both bored out of our minds and smugly satisfied. (That everyone else’s life is just a bit more messed up than our own.)

So here’s to you, fellow single guys, lonely co-workers, cat ladies, introverts, Wiccans, divorcees, and vegans. The holidays are brutal. But I’m right there with you. Hanging out on the fringe, making mean-spirited fun of everyone brave enough to enjoy themselves.

LUB,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

A Jumble of Bones

skelly 

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a lousy kid. I haven’t been particularly good this year. Or productive. Or nice. I’d apologize, but I wouldn’t really mean it.

Can I have a few presents anyway? Pretty please?

This week’s entry is a mixed bag (of bones.) I’m starting if off with my private Christmas list. Mind you, I’m not actually expecting Santa to bring me any of this stuff. But perhaps if I write it down, you’ll read it and commiserate that you’re probably not getting anything cool either:

My list:

XBox 360 Version of Dragon Age: Inquisition (Origins rocked. The first sequel sucked. I wouldn’t have time to play it anyway. But hell…)

Several free nights at the movies. So I can see Nightcrawler, Horrible Bosses 2, Gone Girl, St. Vincent, and yes…even Mockingjay.

A new pair of MMA gloves. Because my old pair is ruined…and even writers need to beat the bejeezus out of things now and then.

 

Moving right along…

I’ve decided to do a little experiment with one of my short stories.  As of today, my popular short Old Man of Tessera goes up on Smashwords with a ‘pay whatever you like’ option. That means if you want to pay $0.00, you can pay $0.00, and I’m fine with it. If you feel like a few thousand words is worth $1.63, boom! you can pay exactly $1.63. It’s a neat-o option. Frankly I don’t care if I sell five hundred copies at $0.01. At this point, it’s all about getting my words in your face.

oldmantesseracover1sm

Click me. Buy me. $0.01 or $100,000.00…it’s your call.

Speaking of books…

In the last week, the cover art for Nether Kingdom – final book in the Tyrants of the Dead series – arrived on my doorstep. Graven out of the shadows by resident artist Amanda Makepeace, it’s the penultimate piece for the conclusion of my dark fantasy trilogy. I’ve showed fragments of it here and there already, and while I’m not yet prepared for the big reveal, I will offer a new glimpse today. That, and the promise of this cover being pretty much everything my dark little heart desires.

Ur Hand

The Ur…clutching hearts and seizing dreams since humanity dared its first breath.

The Ur appear throughout the Tyrants’ series (as well as in numerous other creative iterations of mine.) In the upcoming Nether Kingdom, they’ll make a final move to rebuild their haunted civilization atop the ruin of mankind. Someday I’ll write a short explaining how I dreamed the Ur in the first place. In the meantime, I can hardly wait to finish NK and get it out for everyone to see. It’ll be at least five minutes of bliss before I sit right back down and begin working on their origin story – Darkness Between the Stars.

Thus, as hoped for, the Jumble of Bones comes to an end.

Catch you later,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Down the Dark Path

Why no one should ever become a writer

Write well.

Write often.

But never write for more than a hobby.

 

DemJBones It’s a saying I made up ages ago. And now I believe it more than ever. And yes, I know. It sounds hypocritical. I don’t apply the saying to myself. I’m just trying to help the rest of the world. As in you.

I remember the way life used to be. It was…oh…maybe fifteen years ago. I was a young buck, full of fire. My nights were free, my weekends wide-open, and my creativity shoved aside in favor of endless nights out on the town, countless hours of playing awesome video games, and *gasp* having actual friends I got to see more than twice per year. In retrospect, I was like a three-legged dog: clumsy, happy, and completely unaware of my missing limb. Those were probably the best years of my life. I say probably. I mean definitely.

And then one day I decided to write a book.

It was an innocent choice. At twenty-five years old, I never thought I’d finish one book, let alone twenty. I figured I’d try, fail, try again, and then wander away from it like I had so many other hobbies.

Wrong.

Speaking of hobbies, here’s a pile of hobbies you should consider rather than entertain even the vaguest notion of writing: playing guitar, painting, running, acting, watching tv, drawing, playing sports, cooking, baking, foodie-ing, collecting, gardening, eating, dating, breathing, jumping, fighting, counting toothpicks, rocket engineering, and running for president.  

Today, one-hundred and fifty thousand years removed from my decision to write, I realize there’s no going back. Ever. Never. I hear about other folks’ hobby and career choices. “Engineer,” they tell me. “Teacher. Taxi Driver. Lobbyist. Mortician.” And I realize that for every hour of the night they spend fretting over their jobs/lives, writers spend quintuple. A steel worker hurts, a teacher grades homework after school, a grocer frets about bills, but me, I live and die a thousand times every night. My dark little hearts soars with one sentence scratched out, and crumbles to dust with the next. I dream a new story in the night, and realize the next morning I’ll never live nearly long enough to write it.

Mind you, I’m not complaining about my choices. I’m merely suggesting a different career path for you. And for the readers, perhaps giving a glimpse of my envy. You feel me, right?

BoneMountain

That’s me standing atop a mountain of my own dead ideas.

When I wake at dawn of every day, my first thought is of writing.

When I sleep, I dream not of falling, fighting, or flying, but of tales beyond my ability to put into words.

When I go the park, I can’t just walk and be at peace. I see stories living in every tree, lurking behind every cloud, and wilting in every flower.

In a way, it’s a sort of madness. I could live for eons and never get it all out. I could fill every sheaf of paper in the world…and find it lacking.

The hardest part is the time invested. You’ll never get it back. Instead of existing in the living, breathing world (which is where you should be) writers are lost in the corridors of their minds. It’s fun to write a blog, cute to polish up a magazine article, and masterful to punch out a short story. But then the next idea comes…and the next…and the next. And before you know it, you’re lost in it. Your friends have forgotten you, your nights are lonely, and your significant other thinks you’re a ghost (because you are.) Domesticity and relationships don’t gel with writers’ self-haunting. Doubting the truth? Google the lives of some of the more famous novelists: Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, f’n Kurt Cobain.

See? Told you.

And the most f’d up part about it all? The catch-22? The double-reverse hypocrisy of the whole thing? …none of them would’ve ever had it another way.

And neither would I.

So I’m suggesting to you and any loved ones you know who are contemplating joining the club:

Think twice. You’ll thank me later.

If you’re curious, all my madness is stored right here.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Top Nine Most Inspiring Things Ever

 

Top Nine List of Things That if They Don’t Inspire You, You’re Just an Awful Human Being 🙂

Disclaimer: It’s true, being a black-hearted SOB, I struggle to find inspiration. However, after I started digging deep, I realized that while inspirational posters make me ill, happy couples hurt my eyes, and cute puppies only make me think of Chinese food…somewhere deep inside I want to be inspired like the rest of humanity.

So here you go:

ChicagoAtNight

Chicago at night. (Or whatever huge city is closest to your heart.) I recently returned to my home city, and found it huger, bustlier, and more delicious than ever. I’m a wilderness lover, but there’s something about epic urban sprawl that makes me shiver in a good way.

 

 

Deep Space

I mean…holy shit.

Outer space. I recently watched Interstellar (in the aforementioned Chicago.) I won’t stuff a review down your sockets, but I will say that the thought of all those stars sprinkled into the void is quite possibly the most inspiring and terrifying thing ever. Just watch the tv series Cosmos and tell me it doesn’t make you feel small.

 

 

 

  CloudsSun

 Clouds. As kids we saw faces in them. As adults, they change our moods based on their thickness, their movement, and their greyness. Clouds are the personality of the sky, and rain the Earth’s most raw emotion.

 

 

  Music

 Music. I’m tempted to go on about how contemporary music will destroy the universe, but no…not today. I prefer massive guitar solos, bottomless soundtracks, and booming orchestras, but whatever works for you, works for me. Unless it’s Bieber. Or Miley. Or Toby Keith. But whatever else.

 

GManSpidey

And yes, that’s the G Man. He’s shooting webs. In case you wondered.

 

 Kids. All of ’em. I was reminded of how awesome kids are during this year’s Halloween. While we adults worry about how slutty or funny our costumes should be, kids roam the neighborhood free of concern, hunting for the next piece of candy.  I just wanna be ten years old again, my pillowcase brimming with taffy, candied apples, and cash (yeah, they used to give out hard cash in my ‘hood.) Anyone else with me?

 

 

 

 

 

ALightInMoria

A good movie watched alone. I’m on a kick of going to the movies alone. And while it’s awesome to have a friend or date to watch a good flick with, it’s downright awesome to do it solo. For those who haven’t tried it, I heartily suggest you try. You don’t have to share your popcorn. You don’t have to field questions about the plot or whether the female lead is hotter than your date. Alone in the theater, you can just sit your ass down and melt into the story.  

 

PrairieForever

Big ass open fields. Or whatever landscape does it for you. I love the woods and the mountains, but there’s something about an open prairie or endless field that leaves me feeling utterly vulnerable to the sky. Vulnerability is good for the mind, especially for artists. Unless you let the world in, you’ll never put anything out.

 

images

The Moon. Not to be confused with outer space, the Moon is something special. It pulls at us figuratively and literally. It’s there during the day sometimes, but holds dominion over the night. Once I finally finish my not-so-super-secret project of disabling all the streetlamps in my neighborhood, I’ll be able to see the Moon all the better. Anyone got any industrial strength wire cutters?

Ur Knight NK Cover Sketch Ver 2 - Copy

Yes, it is what you think it is. And yes, it’s coming soon.

 Finishing a plan long-laid. Ever built something that took days instead of hours? Ever invested years into a project? What’s it feel like when you’ve finished? Pretty…f’n…amazing, right? For the Tyrants of the Dead series, I wrote 1.1 million words and later pared it down to 700k. It’s taken me the better part of 12 years to complete. In a few months, the final book comes out. Satisfaction on a stick.

 

Until next time,

 J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

 

What if…? The Wizard of Oz were a dark fantasy movie

Witch

 

Welcome to the fourth installment of the What if…? series. Previous entries include dark remakes of The Lord of the Rings, Sleeping Beauty, and Star Wars. Like Mick Jagger, I see a red door and I want to paint it black.

Recently, I sat down with my son to watch The Wizard of Oz. I had plans to let him watch while I cooked, cleaned, and otherwise carved my way through the day. He’d watch a classic, and I’d get stuff done. It was a perfect plan. Etched in stone. Stronger than the foundations of the world. Right?

Wrong

Twenty seconds in, we were both hooked. I’ve never seen a kid so rapt and silent, and I’m not even talking about my son. Every cool memory of watching The Wizard of Oz as a boy flooded my wee black little heart. I never got to my chores. We sat there, my son and I, and soaked the movie up in all its glory. We loved it. There’s no other way to put it.

So what’s the deal? How could The Wiz get any better? How dare I dream of what it’d be like to change it? It’s already perfect in every way, right? Right??

Maybe…

What if I tweaked the movie? A lot. What if it was a dark fantasy epic, an adult, R-rated, midnight-hearted feast? What if, instead of an American classic families crowd on couches to watch every year, it was a movie that dropped your jaw open, terrified you, and made you geniunely fear for Dorothy and her friends? What if…indeed?

 Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. First and foremost, and I know I’ll get killed for this, but the dark version of The Wiz can’t be a musical. It just can’t. Instead of songs about rainbows and yellow brick roads, dark Dorothy needs to dream these things. As in dream them between her nightmares. Because let’s face it, this poor little girl almost lost her dog, ran away from home, whirled through an imaginary (or real?) tornado, and fell under the constant threat of a wicked witch. If she has dreams, at least some of them will be bad. So instead of cheery songs, I want scenes of her dreaming of the good life sandwiched between scenes of her dreaming of the horrors (let’s face it, Oz is a pretty messed up place) surrounding her.

Now that the singing is gone (or at least changed) we move along to the Witch. The bad one. The bad one who doesn’t have a house on her. She’s pretty creepy in the original. She’s got the evil castle, an army of flying monkeys, another army of British-guard looking dudes, and some nasty ideas for using her magic. So yeah, the foundation is laid. What we need now is screen time. More of it. I want to know why everyone hates her. I want to know why she’s wicked. Moreoever, I want her to win once in a while. Instead of getting walked on by Glinda, mildly splashed by Dorothy, and dismissed by Oz, I think she needs to kick some ass first. Why do the Munchkins hate her? Is it her green face and hook nose, or did she enslave an entire Munchkin city to build her castle? Why does Oz want her gone? Because she’s un-dateable as a fellow practitioner of magic? Or because she’s threatened to use her spells to corrupt all he’s worked to build? Give us 700% more Witch. And let her F things up in ways that obnoxious Glinda can’t just dismiss with a wave of her wand. Please?

And while we’re on the subjects of Glinda and Oz…

I’m fine with Oz the way he is. A megalomaniac. A king by way of opportunity, but not birthright. A techno-genius in a otherwise medieval-ish land. A liar and a faker, but ultimately not too terrible a guy. But once again, I need more of him. The movie is named after this dude, so let’s give him his due. I want secret labs beneath Oz. I want technological devices meant to destroy the Witch (and her sister) but not yet ready for service. If she has evil spells and armies of nasty critters, perhaps he has equally formidable forces. Fewer critters, but better weapons. More power, but more reluctance to use it. C’mon Dark Oz. Step it up.

And Glinda… Oh Glinda. If you can undo anything the Witch does with a wave of your wand, maybe you should do more. As in lots more. As in use your magic to take the bad Witch down. Otherwise, I need a reason. Maybe Glinda is a coward at heart. Maybe she’s only allowed to (total cop out) use her magic for good. Or maybe she once was a bad witch, and now she’s having doubts about destroying someone she used to be. Or maybe, deep down, she knows the Wicked Witch would crush her in a duel. Yeah. That’s the reason I’m going with. Glinda’s good ain’t good enough. She’s nothing but a meddler, a poker in the fire, but ultimately unable to stop the bad girls.

OzDirtRoad

The brown-scale stays. Eeriest part of the movie, in some ways, the colorless plains of Kansas.

Who lives:

Since it’s all just a dream (I think) and Dorothy’s friends are manifestations of the people she knows in real-life, we can’t kill off as many good guys as I usually would in a dark fantasy movie. So…the Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man, ToTo, and Oz are all spared, as is Dorothy herself.

Who dies:

 Enslaved Munchkins who build the Wicked Witch’s fortress. Glinda’s sister, in a flashback being cooked by the Wicked Witch. Some of the flying monkeys and Oh-E-Oh! soldiers, cut down by the newer, badder Tin Man.

  And last but hardly least: the scenery. To grit up The Wiz, we need sharper, more monolithic representations of the wholesome set pieces in the original. The Wicked Witch’s Fortress: Smoking, haunted, macabre, and surrounded by a poisonous lake. The Emerald City: Huge and bustling, stuffed to the nines with Oz’s devices, inventions, and gadgetry. The Munchkin Village: Cute and merry as ever, but lying in the shadow of the previous village, turned to ash by the Wicked Witch. The Yellow Brick Road: Clear and easy to follow in some places, shrouded in darkness at others.

Oh, and btw, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion are at heart magical beings. I mean…a metal man, a dude made out of horse food, and a talking lion…I figure all three were created either by Oz…or quite possibly even by the Witch herself. Dark Wiz of Oz will explain. Even if briefly.

Final disclaimer: the original movie kicks the shit out of my dark imagining. Don’t for second think I hope otherwise.

Catch you later,

Buy this.

J Edward Neill

 

 

Casting for Dark Moon Daughter the movie

Dark_Moon_Daughter-Boobs

 A few weeks ago, I geeked out and created a dream cast for a film version of Down the Dark Path. Upon reflection, it’ll probably take two movies to bring DDP to life (but definitely not three – a la Peter Jackson’s catastrophic dissection of The Hobbit.) No matter. Reality isn’t a problem.

The whole exercise proved so engrossing and fun that I’m taking it a step further. Therefore, if only in my dreams, I’m bringing Dark Moon Daughter – Book Two in the Tyrants series, to the big screen. Ultimately, I plan to write a real-life screenplay, but that’s years away, and by the time I get it greenlit, my current cast of stars will likely be halfway in their graves.

So…

Given complete and utter freedom, and without concern of money or actors’ schedules, my roster for Dark Moon Daughter is:

Andelusia

 
Emmy Rossum – Repeating her performance of Andelusia Anderae, the ridiculously good-looking Lady Rossum will have to dye her hair black, wear raggedy dresses, and wield world-melting magic. It’s cool. I’m sure she’s up to the challenge.

 

TheWarlock

 

Tom Hiddleston – Forget Loki. Forget anything even remotely comic-booky. In Dark Moon Daughter, Tom will be asked to play the angsty, tormented, and sinister Warlock. He’ll wear dozens of different costumes. He’ll narrate off-screen. He’ll conquer entire nations without so much as touching a sword. Bad men require great actors. Tom is unspeakably good for this role.

 

KingOrumna

Robbie Coltrane – You’ll know him best as the furry, hulking good guy from Harry Potter. But I think Robbie is perfect to play the corpulant, lethargic, and piteous King Orumna. Imagine him filling up a throne, stuffing his gullet with wine, mocking everything and everyone who attends his court. It’ll be beautiful.

 

 

GhurkGhurlain

 Daniel Radcliffe – While we’re on the topic of Harry Potter actors, I stumbled across another one well-suited for Dark Moon Daughter. Daniel is thin, pale, and dark-haired. He’s the quintessential Thillrian, meaning he’s perfect to play Ghurk Ghurlain. Yeah, ok…he’ll have to smear his face with Undergrave dust and read most of his lines in the dark. And yeah…he’ll be far from heroic. But being a Thillrian nobleman ain’t what it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’re forced to dig to the bottom of the world.

 

Ona

 

Jessica Brown Findlay – Who better to skulk the hallways of the fortress Midnon, crooning her miserable songs? What lovelier face to seduce the noblest hero? Downton Abbey’s JBF, especially the pale, haunted version we see here, was born to play the role of Ona. Treacherous yet impossibly honest, young yet guileful, the actress suits the role….or is it the other way around? 

 

Grimwain

Richard Armitage – And now for the serious stuff. Richard has always struck me as slightly aloof, slighty cold (in his acting roles, not real life.) It’s also known that he’s a skilled swordsmen, as proven in The Hobbit and his Guy of Gisborne role in the Robin Hood tv series. Given his skills, I’d cast him as the interminably cruel, utterly irredeemable Grimwain. He’ll get tons of screen time…and the chance to be the baddest bad guy who ever lived. You don’t have to talk much, Richard. Just get to butchering.

Mogru

 

Dave Bautista – He won’t get any lines. He won’t even get to show his face. But someone with a terrifying presence needs to play the horror Mogru. Imagine this dude decked out fully undead, fully armored in obsidian plate mail. He’s just a tiny droplet of the awful magic the Ur intend to release. And based on his skill shown in Guardians of the Galaxy, Dave can add just the right amount of thuggery and fear to Mogru’s dread-inspiring role.

 

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro – He’s not an actor. I don’t want him to be one here. I only need him to be a part-time producer…and the costume designer for both the deathless Uylen and the horrific Sarcophages. His work in Pan’s Labyrinth inspired me in many ways. Need ya, Guillermo. Money is no object.

 

And of course, the roles these fine actors played in Down the Dark Path will need to be reprised:

Henry CavillGarrett Croft

Chris PrattRellen Gryphon

Daniel SouthernSaul of Elrain

Joanne WhalleySara Gryphon

So who’s up for helping me finish the screenplay?

Let’s do this.

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Down the Dark Path

The Ultimate Bucket List

buy-absinthe

Yes. It’s on the list.

 

 

Yep. It’s true. We’re not getting any younger.

I know some might say bucket lists are cheesy, unrealistic, or just plain foolish.

Doesn’t matter to me. I’ve made one. Fact: I’ve posted an exact copy of it on my fridge. Also fact: I’ve only put things on the list that A: I haven’t already done, and B: I can’t just walk out my front door and do.

Because a real bucket list should be hard as hell to complete. Otherwise, why bother?

So here’s my list. Fifty items strong. Some of them are fun, others shallow, and still others straight from the heart. I’d love it if you’d post your top bucket items in the comments section. If nothing else, I can steal borrow your ideas.

50 Hard-as-Hell Bucket Stuffers

1. Go caving in Kentucky. As in way deep in the earth. As in if I get lost, the rest of the bucket list is screwed.

2. Write a book twenty books. Yes seriously.

3. Hold a four-minute plank. (Kinda stuck on two minutes right now)

4. Read the entire LOTR trilogy to my kid. As a bedtime story. Because bedtime stories should be epic.

5. Perform a meaningful charitable act. As in a weekend at a soup kitchen. Or ten weekends. Whichever.

6. Escape office life before it kills me. The dude from Office Space had it right. We weren’t meant to live like this.

7. Spend the night in a haunted house. Or a sanitarium. If only to know whether all the Ghost Hunter-type shows hold water.

8. Climb a mountain. A real mountain. Preferably something volcanic.

9. Be an extra in a movie. (Free food!)

10. Plant at least ten trees that will outlive me.

11. Make one of my books into a movie. Even if it’s a pitiful ten minute-long Youtube flick.

12. Wander the Scottish Highlands. Confound the locals with an over-the-top William Wallace accent.

13. Teach my grandkid(s) things to annoy their parents. (Need you on this one, G Man.)

14. Live long enough to see the Cubs play in (they don’t even have to win) the World Series.

15. Play lead guitar in a band. Even if for just one night.

16. Paint something stunning.

17. Eat Maine lobster. While in Maine. And on the same trip, eat Maryland crab. While in Maryland.

18. Try my hand as a quarterback coach. For kids.

19. Road trip through Sonoma, CA.

20. Be ripped when I’m 50. Wait. Forget 50. Be ripped when I’m 60.

21. Try every food I hated as a kid to see if I still hate them. (I will.)

22. Win a costume contest. While wearing something truly terrifying.

SkullBucketReal

Bucket lists are hard.

23. Go to a Super Bowl (as long as the Packers aren’t in it.)

 24. Buy a dinghy. Wake up at the ass-crack of dawn. Take my son fishing. Return home at dusk.

25. Live tech-free for 30 days straight. No cell phone. No laptop. No tablet. No TV. (This might be the hardest item on the list…)

26. If space travel to Mars is perfected, I’m there. I want to be the first person to write a book about the Red Planet while on the Red Planet. If space travel isn’t perfected, change this bucket item to: drink a Texas margarita while in Texas. Those are equal, right?

27. Drink a bottle of absinthe. With friends. In Europe. Preferably in Copenhagen.

28. Completely overhaul my wardrobe. Because if Joan Rivers were still alive, I’d be on her worst-dressed list. Seriously. I’m like a twelve year-old up in here.

29. Live in London. For a week. A month. However long it takes.

30. Tour every major pub in Dublin, Ireland. Alone. No friends for this trip.

31. While we’re on the subject of pubs, build a ‘pub room’ in my house. Neon signs, futbol banners, stools, pool table, low lights, cute bartender. The works.

32. Start an herb garden. No, not that kind of herb.

33. Grow a Mephistopheles beard. Pointy and black.

SkullBucket

Thank goodness for skull buckets.

34. Learn how to make wine. (Gonna need something to drink after the Ebola-pocalypse.)

35. Learn to play the cello.

36. Help someone else fulfill their own bucket list.

37. Shave my cats to look like lions.

38. Spend an entire summer living on the beach.

39. Teach my kid to beat me at chess. Bow humbly when he does.

40. Rescue a turtle. (You know…the ones who try to cross the expressway.)

SkullBuck

Seriously. There’s a huge market for these things.

41. Leaving this space blank _________________________ for someone else to suggest a bucket list item.

42. Find a clear night and a place from which I can see the Milky Way. Marvel hopelessly at the sky and wonder it’s all about.

43. Find the recipe for my dearly departed grandmother’s homemade stew. Cook it for a big group of friends and family.

44. Kiss a beautiful woman in Paris. Corny, I know. Don’t care.

45. Make myself useful. Save someone’s life.

46. Invent a new board game. Nothing complicated. Something like checkers or othello.

47. Remain apolitical. Even if I make it long enough to be a crotchety old wizard.

48. Start the tradition of giving gifts on my birthday.

49. Try sushi.

50. Pay for all this stuff with a thriving writing career.

 ***

That’s it. I’m tired. I’ll start making this stuff happen tomorrow.

 J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

 

Hollow Empire – Final Episode!

Vadim, Nadya, Cassidy, and Murgul walk the line between life and death.

Will they join the rest of Vhur in death…

…or survive with the hope of finding peace in the Hollow Empire?

Includes bonus chapters for Isidora and Little Lys.

Season 1 – Final Episode – Now available via Amazon and Smashwords.

HollowEmpireEP6

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

John McGuire & J Edward Neill

J Sporting News

SnapThis1

What does this image have to do with the post? Absolutely nothing.

 

It’s hard being a sports fan. Damn hard.

Sometimes I wish I could stop, turn off the TV, take a long walk, and ignore the plights of all my favorite teams.

No. That’s not even a little bit true. I never wish that.

 I’m a diehard Chicago fan (except for the Sox…hate those guys.) I bleed Cubbie Blue, live and die by the health of Derrick Rose’s knee, love and hate Jay Cutler, and boil with pride for the Blackhawks. But whatever team you like, whatever city you’re from, odds are you know how hard it is. To watch someone else’s team carve deep into the postseason, to endure your hated rivals hoisting a trophy, to be excited at kickoff…and completely gutted by the middle of the third quarter. It sucks something awful. We’ve all been there. 

Such is a sports fan’s life.

So let’s start by talking about football. My personal favorite, the NFL. Violent. Barbaric. Crueler on its players than any other game. Gloriously inglorious. Perfect and imperfect.

I love it.

Over the last few years, I’ve heard, read, and endured hundreds of reports and sound bites regarding the health of the NFL’s players. About concussions, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy,) ragged knees, spinal injuries, and retirements ruined by pain. About how someday it’ll all come crashing down. I’ve followed Peter King’s columns, SI.com, and the metric ton of non-news news ESPN heaps upon us every day.

‘Wear better helmets,’ some cry out.

‘Too violent!‘ claim others.

‘They knew what they were getting into! Look at how much money they get paid!‘ many fans will declare. 

Ultimately, who really cares? Not me. And statistically speaking, not you either. NFL ratings are higher than ever in the history of the game. If any of us are really all that bothered by a game played by wife-beaters, drunk-drivers, and future invalids, it really doesn’t show up on Sunday (Or Saturday, Monday, and Thursday.) This being the case, we should all stand up and ask sports reporters around the USA to let it go. Let’s talk about the game and only the game. Let’s let the drama die. Scrutinize any cross-section of Americans and you’ll find out all sorts of awful details you didn’t want to know. The NFL is no different. If it dies one day due to its violent legacy, so be it. But until then, most of us have proven we still love it when someone gets de-cleated on the gridiron. Especially if it’s Aaron Rodgers

CutButt

“This game is hard. Especially when you turn the ball over four times in two quarters.”

 Ok baseball, you’re up next. I’m here to say that I love you. Your purity, your pace, your elegance.

But you’re really getting on my nerves.  

I want to talk about a number. The number is 162. The amount of games each team plays (not including Grapefruit/Cactus League games.) Used to be I loved that on any given day from April-September I could turn on the boob-tube and watch the Cubs get crushed. Used to be I craved the feeling that the season would never end.

Not any more. 162 is just too many damn games. By a long shot.

Would it be blasphemy to say that the average MLB game doesn’t mean a f’n thing? Is it weird that even the most spectacular win or heartbreaking loss only amounts to 0.61% of each season? What if I told you that if each team played two three-game home-and-away series’ with every other team in their half of the league, the season could be a brisk, snappy 84 games long? Does it really take 162 to decide which teams aren’t even the best, but simply worthy of entering a three-round tournament that could take up to 19 more games to find a winner? No. It doesn’t.

Why are NFL and College Football games so damn thrilling? Because each one can make or break a season. Lose one NFL game and that’s 6.25% of your season. Lose a college football game and that’s 8%. Gone. Done. Untouchable. My plea to the MLB is to chop the season in half. Please. Run two 82-game seasons every year if you have to. Have a World Series in July and another in October. But for the love of god, don’t make me watch Cubs baseball (games 108-162) in August and September. We’re already 17 games out. What’s the fucking point?

 End baseball rant. Truth is; I’m really enjoying the postseason. The one-game Wild Card playoffs are kinda sorta what inspired my shorter season hopes. And how about that Royals v A’s game?? Needed new underwear after that one.

 Ok. So lets talk about the upcoming NBA season. Anyone? Ugh. Never mind.

What about hockey? Are Patrick Kane and the boys gonna dig deep and make another Cup run? Or will it be the Kings? The Bruins? Hello? Anyone listening? Oh, that’s right. I live in Georgia, home of exactly seventeen NHL hockey fans.

Good sports things going on right now:
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Steve Smith Sr., Alshon Jeffrey, Antone Smith, Eric Hosmer, The f’n Orioles, Derrick Rose’s knee (for now,) the Yellow Jackets, Notre Dame, the Gators sucking, Jeter’s final at bat.

Bad sports things going on right now:

Wife/GF beaters (don’t even deserve mentions,) UGA Football, Oregon Football, everything happening in Jacksonville, FL, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago Bears defense, almost every NFL team’s defense, Geno Smith, sideline reporting, NFL halftime shows, beer commercials, car commercials, mutha f’n GEICO commercials, the Cardinals being in the NLCS, the Packers being in first place, and Lebron getting traded to another team in the same goddamn division as the Bulls.

That’s it for now. Go buy this and this.

Love, 

J Edward Neill

Hollow Empire – Episode 5 AND Complete Softcover Edition!

In the aftermath of a horrific plague, the nation of Vhur teeters on utter annihilation. Its cities lie in ruin. Its king hides in his tower. Its people rot in their graves. Surrounded by death and suffering, four survivors struggle to live their separate lives. But the lords of Vhur have different plans in mind for them. For soon must come the Night of Knives.
 
With elegant cover art by Amanda Makepeace

The softcover edition of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Complete Season One – Episodes 1-6

HollowEmpireFront1

 

Or pick up Episode 5 – e-version

HollowEmpireEP5

Both available now!

 

All Hallows Book Sale

Autumn…

Halloween…

…my favorite time of the year.

Because I’m crazy, I’ve decided to discount several of my novels. From today until Halloween at midnight, the Kindle and e-versions of Down the Dark Path AND Dark Moon Daughter have been reduced to an epically low price of $0.99 each. Both books are normally $6.99. Yes. I’m out of my mind. I know it.

So for those on the fence about investing in the darkest fantasy series ever, please push over your tombstones, crawl out of your graves, and get some. Here. Now. Today.  

Soul Orb DDP Cover Slightly Brighter

The tale of Andelusia Anderae and the world-ending struggle between Furyon and Graehelm…only $0.99.

Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle Cover

Seeking the source of her budding powers, Andelusia journeys to a land at the edge of the known world…only $0.99.

 

And for readers with non-Kindle e-readers, head on over to Smashwords and use these coupon codes to get either book for (yeah, you guessed it…) $0.99!

Soul Orb DDP Cover Slightly Brighter

Use Coupon Code HP95A to get Down the Dark Path for $0.99!

Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle Cover

Use Coupon Code DQ75B to get Dark Moon Daughter for $0.99!!

At 12:01 AM Nov 1st (Halloween’s unfortunate demise) prices will return to normal.

Much love,

J Edward Neill

The best things about autumn

Trees

The way the trees looks like this. Fiery leaves scattered across every surface imaginable.

Rain

The long days and nights of nothing but rain. Cold, cold rain. No other rhythm like it in the world.

burningleaves

The way burning leaves smell. Huge piles of ’em. All the smoking, grey clouds they emit. The way you can smell it from miles away.

 

windtwilight

Twilights like this. The barren branches sleeping beneath the burning skies. The last birds escaping.

 

Punkin

Pumpkins still glowing long after the night has settled. Nothing eerier yet strangely as comforting than a craggy-toothed punkin’ smiling as you enjoy an evening walk.

Cricket

The way the insects sound. It’s different than in spring (fresh and waking) or in summer (cicadas always whirring). In autumn, crickets own the night.

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The wind blowing through the dry, dead grass. In some places, it’s ceaseless. In others, meandering.

Clouds

The way the sky looks like this most of the time. Leastways where I come from…

ComingFire

Listening to music like this. Especially at night. Bonus points if you can name this particular album.

 

HalloweenMovie

Watching movies like this. Curled up on the couch alone or with a friend. There’s no better season for horror than autumn.

Creepy Costumes

Dreaming of being the most terrifying kid in the neighborhood on All Hallows. And maybe just pulling it off. We’ve got nothing on the way our great grandfathers used to do it.

Nothing beats autumn. It’s the best season for writing, the best season for existing. Summer is great for sports, spring for de-hibernating, and winter for all things indoors, but autumn……sips of Scotch on the back patio, bbq’s, meaningful football, All Hallows, walking in the drizzle, sleeping with your windows open, listening to the wind, black cats, fallow fields, cawing crows, spooky twilights, grey dawns, crimson leaves, crackling fireplaces, roasted marshmallows, camping, creeping, raking, burning, and watching the world get ready to sleep.

I’m glad you’re here, autumn. Let’s do this.

J Edward Neill

 

 

Episode 4 – Hollow Empire – Night of Knives!!

Halfway through Season One of Hollow Empire…

…life looks dire for the four survivors of the Lichy plague.

Murgul the Maggot gets a visit…and new orders…from the man who nearly executed him.

Cassidy is terrified of Isidora’s latest vision.

Nadya and Marik hide when the Inquisitor comes to Tiev.

And the Crone continues to torment Vadim.

HollowEmpireEP4

Episode Four is out now! Click the skull to buy for only $0.99!!

Oh, and the Smashwords version (for e-readers other than Kindle) is here!

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

By John R McGuire and J Edward Neill

My Top Seven Heaviest Metal Albums of All Time

Please allow me to digress…

Whenever asked what my musical preferences are, I’m hesitant. If I say I love Hans Zimmer and Clint Mansell soundtracks, it’s true, but it’s really only fifty percent of the story. (I’m lucky if my audience knows who those guys are.) Because, yeah, soundtracks are awesome, but they’re the soft and squishy underbelly. They’re the basement, deep and dark, of my musical mansion. Sometimes even I grow weary of them, with all their eerie, melancholic moods. Sometimes I need to obliterate my calm center and get head-punched.

So let’s be clear. Let’s be honest. I don’t care for jazz. I can’t stand country (except Johnny Cash.) Blues bores me after a song or two. Modern rap, hip-hop, and contemporary just hurt my ears. But…and don’t judge me for saying this…I love extravangantly complex, eardrum-crushing metal. I can’t help it. It’s antisocial, off-the-grid, and hard to understand for most normal folks. I get it. So for your sakes, I won’t subdivide it into Thrash, Black Metal, Grindcore, or whatever. It’s all the same to me. The heavier and more talented, the better.

Let’s do this.

My Top Seven Heaviest Metal Albums of ALL Time:

Vulgar
 7. Vulgar Display of Power – Pantera

This album gets a spot on the list for one reason: Dimebag Darrell. Sure, Phil Anselmo’s roars are massive (ie; Walk, Mouth for War.) But Dimebag’s prowess sets Vulgar Display apart from all other Thrash albums. He’s the Eddie Van Halen of metal. He’s what Yngwie Malmsteen would be if Yngwie had a soul. Just listen to his solos, man. Just listen.

 

Covenant

6. Covenant – Morbid Angel

A lot of people will tell you Morbid Angel has better albums (Altars of Madness, Blessed are the Sick) but my favorite Morbid flavor is Covenant. If you like slow, thumping metal, God of Emptiness is a rare treat. If you want your senses overrun, try Vengeance is Mine. Lyrically, this is M.A.’s best album. And if you know what blast beats are, no one did it better than Pete Sandoval.

 

Dreams of the Carrion Kind

5. Dreams of the Carrion Kind – Disincarnate

My guess is that I’m the only one alive who remembers this 1993 album. It was Disincarnate’s only studio effort, and its weirdness made it enigmatic to all but the most battle-hardened fans. That said, they don’t come much heavier than this. True…you can’t understand a damn word the singer says, but even so. The solos are melodic, the rhythms chunky. Yeah. Get some.

 

 

WhenSatanLives

 4. When Satan Lives (Live Album) – Deicide

Ignore the stupid title, dumb lyrics, and Decide’s ridiculously over-the-top lead man. These mofos can shred like no one’s business. Seriously. They play seventeen frenetic songs back-to-back without flinching. I’m guessing they don’t do anything else with their lives besides play guitar and act as Satan’s penpals. Whatever.

 

Entomber

 

3. Left Hand Path – Entombed

No one does it like the Swedes. This album’s thick, soupy, shake-the-world-off-its-chair-at-night rhythms are like no other.

 

 

 

Surgical Steel

2. Surgical Steel – Carcass

In the last fifteen years, only one new extremely good metal album took me by the collar and rattled me to my bones. Earlier this year (yes, 2014!)  Carcass reunited and slapped the teeth out of the metal world’s mouth with their first release in decades – Surgical Steel. Jeff Walker’s grotesque lyrics coupled with Bill Steer’s melodic mastery are a once-in-a-lifetime pairing. I was tempted to put Carcass’s 1993 album Heartwork in this slot, but I believe in my heart Surgical Steel is…better.

 

SeasonAbyss

1. Seasons in the Abyss – Slayer

Old? Yes. Overplayed in my car? Definitely. Seasons in the Abyss is the defining metal album of my listening career. To this very day, Dead Skin Mask chills me, Skeletons of Society gets me headbanging, while the title track puts me in a darker state of mind than any of the soundtracks I so love and adore. Lyrically relevant, technically transcendant, and cold-to-the-core morbid, Seasons is the album my grandkids (if I’m lucky) will be shouting at me to, ‘turn the eff off, grandpa!” Sorry, kids. No sense in listening to it unless the volume is on 11.

Maybe next week I’ll write about writing.

For now, I’ve an hour to drive to work and an ear itching to be destroyed.

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

Episode Three – Hollow Empire – Night of Knives!

HollowEmpireEP3

 

In case you’ve missed it, Episode 1 and Episode 2 are out already.

But if you’re caught up…

Episode 3 of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives is on the market. Snag the Amazon Kindle version here. The Smashwords version will be out in a few days.

In Episode 3: Vadim stares down a hard, hard truth. Nadya faces the Gallows Boys. Cassidy and Isidora race for Othis. And poor Murgul the Maggot learns just how Luka healed all his children.

Pick it up. Our grimmest episode yet…

J Edward Neill

Tessera Guild’s Year One Recap

TesseraLogoFull1 Best Logo - Copy

Pretty much one year ago, four artists soared through the shadows and collided on a little corner of the internet called Tessera Guild. Call it luck, circumstance, or one of the four artists bugging the crap out of other three…whatever. We’ve loved every moment of our time here. We’re lifers. We’re one year and counting.

And what a first year it’s been…

When I look back (and I’m sure my fellow Guildmembers will agree) it’s clear we’ve grown up a little bit here at the Guild. Our first tenative steps into the water have become headfirst leaps. Our small portfolios have begun to flourish. I can’t honestly say it’s because of the exposure Tessera offers, but nor can I say it isn’t. The Guild is a great outlet for our new releases, but it’s also a vent in the volcanic ducts of our minds. Here we can talk about our work, our hopes, and our dreams. We can look forward to the days our articles skewer the web. It’s only a little bit of validation, but it’s a whole lot of self-expression. And self-expression is an artist’s lifeblood.     

To date, Tessera’s top seven most clicked-on articles of all time:

 Top Six Video Games – Never, ever saw this one coming.

Forget Me Not – Behind the scenes in a writer’s mind.

Stabbing the Marvel Movies – Ok, so that’s not exactly the title. So what?

Why Digital? – Seriously. Good question.

Summer is Coming, Baseball is Here – Or at least it was (Sorry, Atlanta Braves.)

Print Sale on Etsy – Because pretty stuff sells. And it should.

Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club – You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

These might be the most clicked-on articles, but that doesn’t mean everything. There’s a part of writing for Tessera that doesn’t care about the clicks. Sometimes it’s not exposure we’re after; sometimes it’s about the actual writing. I mean, many of my favorite blogs appear at the bottom of the click list. I mean way down there. And that’s just fine by me.

So…what else did our first year bring us? Lots, by our reckoning. We redesigned the entire site to allow more fluid reading. We added new books, art, and free downloads. We picked up talented gamer and comic book god, Robert Jeffery II (Sounds like a king’s name, doesn’t it?) We’ve uploaded more than 160 new articles ranging from book releases, fresh Makepeace art, video games, movies, woeful life stories, sports, and even this little gem.

Whew…

So…

2014-2015?

One of our goals in Tessera’s next fiscal year is to employ at least one, possibly two new full-time bloggers. We want an article smacking the net almost every day, and some days we want two. Hell, by the time 2016 rolls around, we’d like to rival CNN for link quantity (only difference: our articles will be interesting.) By the way, if you’re an artist/blogger of any kind, send us your creds. We’d love to sign you up.

What else?

It’s safe to say our second year will be bigger than the first. We’ve got new book releases in the works (Hollow Empire Episodes 3-6, The White Effect, Nether Kingdom, Let the Bodies.) Lady Makepeace will release art both ethereal and terrifying. We’re planning podcasts, a short story anthology, video tours, and maybe even an official Tessera Guild party (if we can get everyone together at once.)

To our readers, we’d like to say thank you.

To my fellow Guildmates and contributors, I’d like to offer high-fives.

To the coming cold season, full of long nights, falling leaves, and frosted bones, I say bring it.

Tessera Guild (2013-?)

J Edward Neill

New Release – Hollow Empire – Episode 2!!

HollowEmpireEP2

 

Hear that? The thumping hearts, wailing widows, and dead men’s screams? That’s right. Episode 2 of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives is out!

A few teasers

After saving Jericho from public execution, Vadim and his fellow riders set off on the Long Ride…

Nadya of the Bashir meets an unsavory vagabond and sees her first Iritul face-to-face…

Cassidy and Isidora ride for their lives…

An entire city screams for Murgul the Maggot to die…

Catch up with part two of the six-part Hollow Empire series, available now for Kindles everywhere.  If you’ve got a non-Kindle e-reader (or if you simply prefer Smashwords) the Smashwords edition is here.

J Edward Neill

Split Bill (My mental vacation)

 Hey. How are you? This’ll be a rare rambling post from me. Apologies in advance.

So. What’s up in the world?  Anything interesting going on? Yeah, I know: ISIS, Ukraine, Ebola, Ray Rice, Jack the Ripper. But let’s get to what’s really important: Hollow Empire – Season 1 – Night of Knives. It’s finished. It’s out. In total, it’ll be six episodes (six chapters each) for $0.99 a pop. There’ll also be a complete e-version and a paperback edition. I co-authored it with this guy here. If you like post-apocalypic medieval fantasy westerns, you’ll like it. If you like deep characters wading through deeper shit, you’ll love it. This lady here did the art. And that’s all I’ll say about it for now.

the_thinker

What I’m doing most days. On a side note: ever notice how ripped the Thinking Man is?

 

Aside from Hollow Empire, I’m struggling a bit.

I’ve stopped dreaming at night, and it’s a problem.

I don’t have writer’s block. Not exactly. What I’ve got is a wandering muse. As in wandering off. I usually pull all of my deliciously dark ideas from the corridors of sleep, but now that my dreams have stopped…well…you see? Thing is; I used to dream all night, every night. Epic space operas, terrifying horror stories, tragic romances, end-of-everything dark fantasies…I had it all bouncing in my head after the lights went out.

But now, there’s nothing. I sleep a solid six every eve, yet my head-movies are gone. The world hasn’t ended just yet; I’m still chin-deep in editing a massive novel, which means I don’t need too much muse for the moment. But it’s fair to say I’m concerned. Worried. Troubled…

mooncloud

See that big dark spot on the moon. Yeah, that one. That’s where my mind needs to be at night.

And that’s why, after Hollow Empire and Nether Kingdom hit the market, I’ll take a little vacation. Not a real vacation on the beach, of course. That’s too much to hope for. I mean a mental vacation. Maybe I’ll play some Halo and some Dragon Age. Maybe I’ll double down on my chin-ups. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll even pick up my ancient Dungeons & Dragons books and stage a few goblin slaughters with some friends. That’s AD&D First Edition, bitches. We keep it old school ’round these parts.

But seriously, I need to start dreaming again, and soon. I have the ideas, but all the flavor and darkness come out at night…while I’m asleep.

Next up, a trio of lists. Read and enjoy:

The Top 4 upcoming video games I’d play if I didn’t have a three-year old

1. Dragon Age: Inquisition (Because it has to be better than the second installment)

2. Destiny

3. Halo 5: Guardians (Because, you know, I still haven’t beaten Halo 4)

4. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

My Top 5 fantasy movies of all time
1. Fellowship of the Ring (Sorry, Academy. The first film blew Return of the King out of the water)

2. Willow

3. Legend (Despite Tom Cruise)

4. Animated version of Sleeping Beauty

5. Dragonslayer (The original. Best. Dragon. Ever.)

My Top 3 favorite book covers ever

200px-The_Stand_cover

Dealer

The_Two_Towers_Book_Cover_1965_(Ballantyne)

This week was a jumble of bones. Skulls and ribs and tibias all mixed up. Next week will be more focused…maybe.
Until then,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

New Release!! – Hollow Empire – Night of Knives – Episode 1

HollowEmpireEP1

 

Six weeks. Six episodes. Six chapters per episode…

Ladies and gentlemen, Episode 1 of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives is now available on Amazon for only $0.99Hollow Empire is co-authored by J Edward Neill and John R McGuire, the creators of Down the Dark Path and The Dark that Follows.

Join Vadim, Nadya, Cassidy, and Murgul the Maggot as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the world’s deepest, darkest plague, the Lichy. Hunted by aristocrats, chased by outlaws, sought after as supper for the vicious, zombie-like Iritul, the four survivors must fight for every moment of their lives.

For otherwise, they’ll join the rest of the world in its grave…

On the fence about Hollow Empire? Think post-apocalyptic medieval dark fantasy opera. Yeah. All of that. It’s deathy, dark, and terrifying, sprinkled with a bit of horror, a dash of western, and even a little extra superhero on the side.

We’ll be releasing one episode per week, each for $0.99. Get in on this. You won’t regret it.

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives – Season One/Episode One – Now available for e-readers everywhere…

J Edward Neill

My Top Seven Words of 2014

HaBones2

 

 

 <— creepy

 

Back in 2013, while plundering the bottom of my mind for the finishing touches on my dark fantasy trilogy, I plopped this little article on the web. Turns out it was a pleasure to write, so much so that I’ve decided to churn one out every year forever. I don’t have another long introduction about how I’ve been busy mining the abyss for skulls, crushing nuns’ dreams, or plotting to rip the sun out of the sky.

So I’ll just get to it.

1. Unctuous – excessively or ingratiatingly flattering; smug

I liked this word so much I made it into a villain for my latest book, Nether KingdomUnctulu, the oily, slick-tongued, loathsome servant of Grimwain, defines unctuous to a tee. The word makes me ill just to think of. Say it with me; Smug. DisgustingUnctuous.

2. Tatters – a torn piece; a shred

tatters

 As in tatters of flesh, tattered clouds, tattered ribbons of dead men’s bones.  You get the point.

 

 

 

3. Masticate – to soften or reduce to pulp by crushing or kneading; to chew

No, not the other mast…ate word. I mean it in terms of, “The ragged, grey-toothed wights masticated the soldiers’ remains until only powder remained.” You know. Something grim like that. 🙂

4. Abattoir – a slaughterhouse

Ok. Maybe I’m getting too grisly here. Still, I like the imagery this word conjures up. It feels ghoulish, grotesque, and maybe a little…meaty. As in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As in a haunted, metal-roofed, broken-windowed building none of the kids are brave enough to sneak into.

 5. Guile –  insidious cunning in attaining a goal; crafty or artful deception

I like this one as well as its opposite – Guileless (sincere; incapable of lying).  We all know people with varying levels of guile in our lives. We’d all be better knowing fewer. I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.

6. Hodor – Hodor

hodor

Now, I’m not nearly as big a Game of Thrones fan as I used to be, but even so, who doesn’t love a word that means everything and anything? Think how much easier reading and writing would be? Hodor, Hodor, Hodor. It’s the ‘I am Groot’ of the fantasy genre. Actually, Guardians of the Galaxy is fantasy, too. So yeah. They both work. By the way, Hodor is guileless. Just sayin’.

7. Selfie – a photograph that one has taken of oneself; usually a sign of narcissism

Some things you just have to love to hate. Selfie is on this list because if viewed in the right light, it can tell you a lot about the person who uses it. Just imagine: “I never take selfies.” or “All I take are selfies.” I bet if you heard someone say either of these sentences, you’d start judging instantaneously. That alone makes this wretched word powerful. And powerful is good…if used to crush Kim Kardashian.

Until 2015,

J Edward Neill

Softcover Edition of Dark Moon Daughter!!

The next few weeks promise to be new-release heaven. 

So let’s get it started with:

Book II in the Tyrants of the Dead trilogy

Sequel to the darkest of all dark fantasy epics

As the enemies of mankind plant the seed for mankind’s end, Andelusia must decide:

Fight them…

…or join them.

Dark Moon Daughter – Alternate Art softcover edition now available (and on sale!) via Amazon:

Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle Cover

And in 2015, the trilogy reaches its terrifying conclusion with Nether Kingdom.

Read on.

J Edward Neill

Who am I…really?

Mask

Truth is, a time long ago I loved the simpler things in life. To sit in green fields and watch the sun come up. To strut through the city and chase pretty girls. To spend endless summer days making mischief with my friends. I was young, foolish, and utterly full of myself. Those were good days.

Those days are done.

After my accident, nothing has been the same. I don’t feel like myself most of the time. I think perhaps I’m sick, very sick. I hear voices telling me to do terrible things. And after all these years, I find myself listening. And why not? Better to accept what I have become than spend lifetimes waging war against it.

It doesn’t matter what I look like. I’ll tell you anyway. I’m short for the modern age, only 5’11”. I have dusky  hair and grey eyes. I suppose I’m what you’d consider athletic. The girls used to say I was lean as a whip, but nowadays men look at my ropey muscles and cringe. I’m faster than they are. I’m stronger. I don’t ever get hurt. Ever. They think it’s unnatural. It so happens they’re right.

More than my body, people fear my mind. They think I’m crazy, but that term is so…vague. I have something inside me. It’s like poison, but it doesn’t kill me, not quickly anyway. No, I’m not insane. What some might call obsession is merely disclipline. I’m driven to do what I do. I’ve moved on to better things than happiness, relationships, or life. Religion, one might call my new way of thinking. Truth, I prefer to say.

I hardly feel human any longer. I can’t identify with people like I used to. It’s just that we’re all so damnedly fixated on staying alive, we’ve forgotten what it means to die.

* * * * *

I didn’t used to be this way. I swear. I was optimistic, ambitious, and faithful. Well…anymore I’m just not. I’ve been through so much. I’ve been kidnapped, imprisoned, threatened with death. My teachers have lied to me again and again. I’ve been walked on, hoodwinked, and abused. It’s a miracle I’m still alive.

So it’s high time I start living for myself. I was supposed to be married. It might’ve been wonderful, but the more I think about it, the more I know settling down isn’t for me. I want more from this world than a ring on my finger and a roof over my head. I want to live. I want to travel to the mountains, the forests, and every tiny little city in-between. I might be old and brittle before I do it all, but no matter. I won’t be kept. I’m in charge now. I and no other.

I know I don’t look the same as I used to. You probably wouldn’t even recognize me. I’m leaner, but stronger, if that makes any sense. My hair is black and my eyes…well…my friends tell me they’ve gone grey. I suppose it’s all the years on the road that’ve changed me. I’m no longer a child. I feel confident. I feel ready. The world is mine and yours, but mostly mine.

And yet, despite everything, all I want is to be loved.

 Faceless

Who am I…really?

Can’t say I know anymore. I’m the biggest actor on the world’s grandest stage, but in gaining my fame I’ve lost my sense of self. I’ve played kings, aristocrats, and knights, but I’ve also played soldiers, peasants, even women. I’m not a braggart. I’m not arrogant. But it’s true; I’m the best. Step outside your door and ask your neighbors. Chances are they’ve heard of me. Honestly, if you haven’t, where’ve you been living all this time?

 So it should come as no surprise that I’m looking for another role, another person to pretend to be. It was never about the show itself, but the applause at the end. And by applause, I mean you…yes you…standing there with your mouth open and your eyes wide. Maybe you’re in awe, but more likely you’re terrified. That’s good. That’s exactly the reaction I wanted. Because this isn’t really a play. It’s real life. And you never saw me coming.

I’ll be honest with you. Don’t take it as a sign that I care or that we’re going to be friends; we’re not. But the truth is it’s been so long since I’ve not worn a mask, I’m just as terrified as you are. I talk big and act bigger, but I’m not doing this show for myself anymore. I’m not the playwright or the director. I’m occupying the stage, but I’m not setting it. I’m working for someone else. The pay is awful, the hours never-ending. Doesn’t matter. I have to see this next act through to the end.

If I don’t, it’ll be my last.

 * * * * *

I’m so old I can taste the dust between my teeth. My bones pop when I walk and my body hurts all the time. When people tell you that growing old is like sailing gently into the twilight, they’re lying. At my age, pain is king. And with pain comes anger.

I couldn’t tell you when it was I began to feel my rage. One eve, I woke up from an impossibly long dream and knew my contentment was at its end. To see the world through my crusty eyes annoyed me. To ache with every damnable step filled me with frustration. Worse yet, whenever I saw another person, I just…I don’t know…felt the urge to end them.

And so it’s true. All I am is a husk of my former self. I’m tall and strong despite my brittle old body, but I’m so ugly no one will look at me. I’ve given up all sense of dignity. I don’t bathe or change my ragged clothes. I’ve not spoken to anyone in such a long time that my voice is but a creak and a whisper. Doesn’t much matter, I suppose. I don’t want to talk, not to you, not to anyone. My anger has become hatred. My loss of self fills me with loathing for everyone young, beautiful, and alive.

If I were you, I’d stay away.

* * * * *

No. I don’t have multiple personality disorder. Well…maybe sometimes.

Each of the above is a character sketch from Dark Moon Daughter, Book II in the Tyrants of the Dead trilogy.

With love,

J Edward Neill

Ten Commandments for writers (or any artist, for that matter)

MosesJunk

 

God has given us these fifteen – Oy! Ten…ten commandments!” – Moses – History of the World, Part I

For any writer, artist, athlete, musician, or human being with any accidental creative intent, I recommend the following list. In my limited, brief, relatively ridiculous experience, these etched-in-stone rules will help (or possibly confound) any man or woman who takes their craft at least somewhat seriously.

1. Thou shalt not have a but a shadow of thy former social life. – Seriously, who needs friends or lovers when you could be sitting on your couch in sweats, agonizing over how much your latest work sucks?

2. Thou shalt possess a cat or dog who sits on thine work and distracteths from the task at hand – Because, you know, it’d be too much trouble for them to sit on the fucking couch like most normal pets.

3. Thou shalt never clicketh on Facebook, Twitter, or any website ever – If you do, you’re fucked.

4. Thou shalt set aside one hour per day to exerciseth, lest thine body turn to jello – Unless of course you’re going for the George RR Martin look. (Because everyone knows success as a writer = scruffiness + BMI x beard length) Yes, for the ladies, too.

5. Thou shalt paint, write, and sketch while tipsy, yet fixeth it all while painfully sober(ish) – They say alcohol and drugs bring out the creative juices.

        5.1 They’re wrong. It just makes fixing your F ups all the more tedious.

SugarSkull

Look! A bamboo skull iPhone case! If I buy it, I’ll waste 20 minutes of productive time…and blow my profits from the last 700 books I sold!

6. Thou shalt be no less than three months late for thine deadlines – At best.

7. Thou shalt sleep no longer than five brokeneth hours per night. Three if you have kids, a spouse, or *gasp* a day-job. None if you’re attempting a social life.

8. Thine bank account shall never explodeth, nor erupt, nor even runneth over – Unless you’re fully decked out with the aforementioned beard, in which case you’ll be swimming in cash. And then, after you’re bearded and rich, you’ll never get laid again. (You’ve got a reputation – and a beard – to uphold.)

9. Thou shalt die alone – Relax. I’m kidding. (But not really.)

10. Thou shalt only know joy when thine project is completeth – And then, because you’re a masochist, you’ll start a new project, looking for that one sharp-as-a-sword ray of sunshine to gleam upon your work once again. Dumbass.

 I could probably stretch this list to 100, but…

Until next week,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

Release Day – Dark Moon Daughter – New cover art!

Dark Moon Daughter – Book II in the Tyrants of the Dead trilogy

New ebook cover art now available!

Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle CoverA little background on the new cover: Andelusia Anderae, part-time heroine in the epic-length Down the Dark Path, takes center stage in Dark Moon Daughter. That’s the Black Fire roiling in her left hand. And yes, that’s the first official image of an Ur in the background. Note the white eyes (like stars). If you look closely, you’ll see its mouth opening up behind Andelusia as if to devour her.

The ebook version of Dark Moon Daughter is now available on Amazon here. Just click Andelusia’ cleavage…or the Ur’s eyes:

Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle Cover

The Smashwords version is here:

Dark Moon Daughter

By J Edward Neill
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 164,630. Language: English. Published: July 9, 2014. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Andelusia’s magic is meant only for suffering and death. One flicker of black fire, and the world will burn. One word uttered, and the Ur will butcher every living thing. In her heart, she knows what she must do. Fight them… …or join them.
 

 

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New cover art for the softcover version will be out any day now. Look for updates here at Tessera AND at my Down the Dark Path web abyss.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Upcoming Release – Hollow Empire

Something new lurks on the horizon…

In 2013, I teamed with John R McGuire for an ambitious new co-project. We called it the Dark Fantasy Project, an appropriately ominous moniker for the grim, grave-licious tale we’d begun to weave. Truthfully, the DFP was my first attempt at co-anything. I felt jittery about working with someone not named me. I worried that our vision might never meet in the middle.

My fears were unfounded.

We’ve crafted a tale rivaling anything we’ve written before.

Fast forward to 2014, and the DFP nears its release. Only it’s not the DFP any longer; it’s Hollow Empire, a six-part serial novel. We’re excited. If you like quick reads or full-length novels, you should be excited, too. In the coming weeks, we’ll release Hollow Empire in serial e-form (six episodes at only $0.99 each!) and in a complete softcover format available on Amazon and Createspace.

Get some.

Here’s a bone-licious teaser of the back cover art, crafted by Tessera’s own Amanda Makepeace. It sums up Hollow Empire’s tone. Just wait ’til you see the front cover.

HollowEmpireBackText1

What is Hollow Empire, you ask? Think post-apocalyptic, post-catastrophe world, but instead of zombies, nukes, vampires, or futuristic technological holocausts, think the other direction. What if the apocalypse happened during medieval times? What if, instead of scavenging for ammo, fuel, and the odd crossbow bolt, mankind were forced to scratch out their lives by the sword? And by the sword, we mean literally. What if surviving in this grave new world meant not reclaiming the life you lost, but simply trying to make it to the next hour without being carved to tatters by outlaws, captured and tortured by bloodthirsty aristocrats, or eaten alive by wild, flesh-craving animals? What if, what if, what if…?

Hollow Empire follows the lives of four unlucky people as they claw their way across the ruined nation of Vhur. We call them unlucky because it might’ve been better for their sakes if they’d already died. We’ve got Vadim, a highborn soldier with only a fragment of his former life to cling to. There’s Nadya, an outcast mother with nowhere to hide. We’ve got Cassidy, a Walker charged with doing God’s dirty work. And finally there’s Murgul, a broken, twisted, and heart-rendingly simply soul who craves only a few moments of peace in his sad little life.

Survivors, all of them. Each with only a thread of their former lives remaining.

Here’s our world. We call it Vhur.  See all those cities marked ‘Lichy Ruins’? Dead…all of ’em. Surrounded by graves. Haunted by handful of survivors and packs of vicious Iritul.

Vhur World Map

So keep your eyes peeled and yours breath held.

Hollow Empire – September 2014.

From the authors of Down the Dark Path and The Dark that Follows.

J Edward Neill & John R McGuire

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Until next week,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

Casting for Down the Dark Path the movie

StormIn the beginning, I dreamed a story.

The dream began deep below the earth. In a mine at the world’s bottom, I saw slaves chiseling away at obsidian stone, unearthing an artifact destined to destroy the world. The image remains as clear as though I’d dreamt it only yestereve. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the slaves’ horror…and the storm brewing. What they’ve done has doomed millions to die, and they know it.

It’s a far different opening scene than the beginning chapter of Down the Dark Path the novel. It’s raw, unedited, and perhaps the way the story was meant to be told.

Someday, hopefully not long from today, I’ll sit down to write the screenplay for DDP. I’m thinking a pair of movies, rated R, the type of films for the anti-Twilight, more-mature-than-Harry-Potter crowd. There’re be no one-liners, no slow walks, no good-guys-get-off-scot-free battle scenes. DDP the movie will get back to our 13th Warrior, Willow, Conan the Barbarian roots, with a little LOTR epic-ness heaped on top. Yeah, I know. Hollywood will laugh in my face. That’s ok. Doesn’t matter.

In order to make this thing happen, I’ll need actors. Good ones. Gritty ones. Believable for  a story about a world-ending medieval war ones.

And so…here’s my dream cast.

AndeEmmy

Emmy Rossum – I’m not the type to ever have celebrity crushes, but if I were… Emmy is beautiful, talented, and in every way perfect to play the role of Andelusia Anderae. Hers would be a tough role. She’d have to pull off the lone feminine hero in a war stuffed chock full of horrific male villains. I’d like to think she could handle it.

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GarrettHenry

Henry Cavill – In the role of Garrett Croft, I’m not looking for the shredded Man of Steel guy (though I’m sure the ladies are). I’m talking about the subtle, reserved guy from The Tudors. He’s tall, his acting chops are solid, and he’s dangerous-looking enough to pull off the role of deadliest swordsman in the world.

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RellenChrisPrattChris Pratt – If I were younger, handsomer, and infinitely more talented, I’d cast myself as the sarcastic, brooding, hopelessly head-over-heels for Andelusia Rellen Gryphon. But since I’m not, you get Chris Pratt. Honestly, this was the hardest role to fill.

 

ChakranDavies

John Rhys Davies – If I could go back in time and make this movie in the late 80’s, I’d pick Pat Roach (Willow’s General Kael, Temple of Doom’s huge Thugee.) But John Rhys is more than capable of growing a wild beard and playing the psychotic Emperor Chakran. No echoes of Gimli here. Just a Furyon with a sword capable of butchering millions.

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LeePaceArchmyr

Lee Pace – He played the wicked Thranduil in The Hobbit series, and even more recently, the diabolical Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy. In Down the Dark Path, he’ll be asked to step up the evil even more. Playing Archmyr Degiliac (aka: the Pale Knight) will call for a quiet, sublimely calculating performance. Plus we’ll need a black wig and plenty of training with dual swords.

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BrucedConan

Conan Stevens – You know him best as The Mountain from Game of Thrones and Azog from The Hobbit. But in the role of Bruced (Broo-sed) Conan’ll be asked to play a cheery good guy with a penchant for beating evil’s ass. He’s seven feet tall. I’m sure he can handle it.

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SaulDaniel

Daniel Southern – From The 13th Warrior, only one dude possesses the beardness and grumpy badassness required to play Saul of Elrain. Yep. This guy.

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DacinJason

Jason Momoa – Much to every woman’s dismay, we’re going to ask Jason to keep his shirt on and grow a crazy/ugly beard. It’s the only way to play the role of Dacin of Dageni. But when you see him dressed in black Furyon armor carving his way through dozens of Graehelm knights, you’ll love him even more. I promise.

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A few secondary roles:

Christopher Lee – As the voice of the warlock/ghost Revenen (who’ll need to be mostly CGI)

Joanne Whalley – She’s aged nicely, and will serve as an authentic and wise Sara Gryphon (Rellen’s mom)

 James McEvoy – Maybe…if we can get him to tone down the Scottish accent, we’ve got our diminutive warlock, Dank.

 Sure, there’re plenty more roles to fill. I’ll need the vicious traitor, Nentham Thure, the wise, conflicted Furyon, Arjobec of Dageni, and the blustering, plaintive Gryphon captain, Marlos Obas. But that’ll all come later. Hell, by the time New Line Studios finally approves my pitch, a whole new crop of actors will be up to bat. My only hope is to get this done while Emmy is still in the biz…

Until next week,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

The official Tyrants of the Dead glossary

Three Books

Six Nations

Dozens of Characters

One Civilization bent on Mankind’s destruction 

 

TheOrbOfSoulsSlider

 

Welcome to the official Tyrants of the Dead glossary. Herein you’ll find descriptions and blurbs for every major character, place, historical event, and artifact appearing in the Tyrants’ trilogy. This appendix is for all the folks who’ve read the books and for those who are thinking about it. Fear no spoilers! No major event taking place in any of the three books will be revealed.

Scroll down to begin!

 

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CHARACTERS:

Andelusia Anderae – A young woman from the tiny Grae village of Cairn, Ande (as she’s known to her friends) dreams of a life that is not hers. She is the title character in Dark Moon Daughter.

Archmyr Degiliac – Also known as the The Thillrian, The Pale One, and the Pale Knight.  The son of a hated Thillrian lord, Archmyr murders so many of his father’s rivals as to be branded a butcher and forever exiled. He comes to prominence after being captured by the Furyon Empire and recognized for his ruthlessness.

Arjobec – A captain in Furyon’s legion, the aging Arjobec serves as a guide and oftimes moral compass for his master, Dacin of Dageni.

Bruced (Bru-sed) – Fiercest warrior of Gryphon, but soft-hearted and loyal. Bruced’s hatred of the Grae province of Mooreye is legendary.

Dacin of Dageni – The youngest of the Furyon warlords…and the most powerful. Dacin was raised in the brutal Furyon province of Dageni, largest of the slaver colonies. He defeated the hated Davin Kal in the span of three years, and is swiftly recognized by the Furyon Emperor as the warlord most capable of destroying Graehelm.

Daedelar – A swarthy Thillrian captain-for-hire, Daedelar boasts of having once sailed to Cornerstone and back.

Dank – Also known as Dancmyrcephalis or the Little Man, Dank is an advisor to House Gryphon, a well-traveled sage, and (as some believe) a sorcerer dabbling in black magicks. His oaths to himself far outweigh any promises he makes to Graehelm or its lords.  

Emperor Chakran – Furyon’s suzerain. To seize the Furyon throne, Chakran allies with Malog, rumored stronghold of the world’s last (and most wicked) sorcerers. Chakran desires the rebirth of Tyberia, a legendary nation he believes is his birthright to rule.

Emun Gryphon – Lord of Gryphon, and most popular of Graehelm’s Councilors.

Garrett Croft – Friend of Rellen, and most feared soldier of Mormist. To earn redemption for crimes against Graehelm, Garrett makes an oath to Emun Gryphon to forever protect the Gryphon household.

Ghurk Ghurlain – A captive in Thillria’s dreaded Sallow province, Ghurk is the son of a powerful Thillrian lord.  

Grimwain – A swordsman and fallen knight. After being exiled from Romaldar for making threats against the Romaldarian king, Grimwain travels east to the Mohrlahn, seeking the aid of the Anderae.

Jacob Nure – Nephew to the ailing Grae king and renowned for his martial prowess, Jacob is closest in line to the throne.

Jix – A diminutive Thillrian man in the service of King Orumna. Jix is tasked with fulfilling many of Orum’s strange requests.

King Orumna – The most corpulent and ineffective king Thillria has ever known. King Orum prefers to eat his way to prosperity than do anything to advance his kingdom.

Lord Ahnwyn – Lord of the Graehelm stronghold of Gallen Hold. Leader of the famed Triaxe Knights. Warden of the south.

Lord Lothe – Lord of Graehelm’s Barrok province, and the general of Graehelm’s northern army.  

Lord Tycus – An ambitious Thillrian lord. Tycus is often fair, but just as often harsh.

Marid of Muthem – A young soldier in the employ of Duke Ghurlain, Marid is woefully in love with Andelusia.

Marlos Obas – A cranky captain of the Gryphon guard, Marlos is appointed by Rellen to lead a cadre of soldiers to Mormist.

Myklokain – Rumored to be a member of Grimwain’s family, Myklokain is long-dead, but not.

Nentham Thure – Lord of the hated Grae province of Mooreye. Tall and crow-beaked. Councilor Nentham is universally disliked by his peers and rumored to have designs on Graehelm’s throne.

Nephenia of Yrul – Daughter to a high Yrul lord, Nephenia is married off to a Romaldarian noble in the hopes of gaining Yrul’s complicity during the war to come.

Ona – A mysterious and stunningly beautiful young woman from far southern Thillria.

Rellen Gryphon – The only child of Emun and Sara Gryphon, and the youngest of the high captains in Graehelm’s military.

Revenen – The Lord of Malog. Eldest of the Archithropian line.

Saul of Elrain – After Saul’s family is displaced by raids from the north, Saul bargains with Elrain’s king. In return for the promise of his family’s safety, he accepts the grueling task of delivering an important letter to the lords of Graehelm.

Sara Gryphon – Emun Gryphon’s wife, and the wisdom behind many of his policies.

Ser Arjobec – A Furyon captain, guide, and among the most trusted of Dacin’s advisors.

Ser Endross – Hardiest (and luckiest) of Ahnwyn’s knights, Endross is perhaps the noblest soul in all of Graehelm.

The Ur – An ancient civilization from beyond, beneath, and between the spirit realm, the Ur desire vengeance against mankind for removing them from power.

The Uylen – A race of cursed humans living in a haunted Thillrian forest. In recent years, it’s rumored the Uylen have wandered far from home seeking fresh prey.

The Warlock – The son of a powerful Archithropian decendant, the Warlock’s plans for Thillria are far-reaching.

Thresher – A masked iron knight in the service of Romaldar, the terrifying Thresher accompanies Unctulu and relentlessly hunts Romaldar’s enemies.

Unctulu – A loathsome servant of Romaldarian lords, Unctulu is entrusted with the care of the Needle, an ancient Ur artifact.

Vom – A powerful pupil in Revenen’s care, Vom trails Emperor Chakran throughout the war to ensure the Emperor follows Malog’s plans.

Wkhzl – A weary old shopkeeper in the Triaxe fortress city of Kilnhome. The strange relics contained in his store are like no other in the world.

Wrail – A wicked man from the nation of Romaldar, Wrail claims to possess powers of the Archithropian line.

 

DepthsofUndergrave1md

 

PLACES:

Archaeus – Capital city of Romaldar. Filled with white marble towers and elegant stone dwellings. Archaeus is also home to the dreaded Wolfwolde.

Cairn – A small village in northwestern Graehelm. Andelusia’s home. Cairn is a peaceful place, but harbors more than a few dark secrets.

Dageni – A smoking, pitted, volcanic province of Furyon, Dageni is home to tens of thousands of slaves who toil to extract precious Dageni ore.

Darken – A stinking, swampy forest in southwestern Furyon. Darken was once the site of an Archithropian burial ground, and is avoided by all wise folk.

Denawir – Capital city of Thillria. Denawir’s gardens are legendary, but less so its king, Orumna.

Elrain – Far north of Graehelm, Elrain’s colonies surround a massive lake. Scholars postulate Elrian was the site of the earliest battles between Archithrope and Niviliath.

Furyon – Not quite the foul, reeking realm Graehelm’s lords predict, Furyon is a land of beauty and deep culture. Until, that is, Emperor Chakran remakes it to serve the war against Graehelm.

Graehelm – The largest of the modern nations, Graehelm is ruled by both a king and an oligarchy of councilors. The Grae lands are largely inhabited by the decendants of Niviliath, the losers of an ancient war against the Ur-worshipping Archithrope.

Grandwood – The vast forest in Graehelm’s heart. Home to the hugest trees in all the world. Grandwood itself is larger than most smaller nations can claim.

Gryphon – The home of Eumn, Sara, and Rellen Gryphon. The old-world city is placed strategically between the Graehelm capital and the troublesome Mooreye province.

Illyoc – The largest city in Furyon. During the Emperor’s rule, Illyoc is transformed from a peaceful trade hub into a stronghold of war, complete with vaulting black towers and cathedrals to house Furyon’s nobles.

Malog – The black citadel of Furyon. Home to the direct decendants of Archithrope. Not built by mankind.

Midnon – A black fortress hidden somewhere in Thillria, Midnon is the Warlock’s stronghold.

Mooreye City – With seven gates and mighty walls, Mooreye City, citadel of Nentham Thure, has long been a source of worry for the rest of Graehelm.

Morellellus – Furyon’s prime trade port, and the harbor for its armada of warships. Morellellus was once a simple trade port, but has been completely remade by Chakran into a fearsome city.

Mormist – The mountain and forest realm of eastern Graehelm. Mormist is the buffer land between Graehelm and the sea (and Furyon).

Romaldar – A realm of vineyards, rolling hills, and silver lakes. Romaldar’s people have always envied Graehelm, but have long lacked the power to make a meaningful challenge to their northern neighbor.

Sallow – In Thillria, no place is more feared than Sallow. Its twisted trees and slate-capped mounds have long sheltered the dark, dismal Undergrave.

Shivershore – Southernmost province of Thillria. Hard to reach, harder to endure. Lying next to the Selhaunt Sea, Shivershore lives up to its name.

The Cornerstone – An island created by the Ur. A twisted, magical place where nothing ages. The site of the bottomless pit built by the Ur to ensure the doom of mankind.

The Nether Chamber – A dungeon far below Romaldar’s capital city, Archaeus. Thought to be a breeding cavern for the spirits of the Ur.

The Undergrave – A network of caverns below Thillria. The caves run too deep to be man-made, and yet…

Thillria – Weakest of the world’s nations, Thillria’s sometimes brutal climate and lack of resources render it uninvolved in the affairs of more powerful lands.

Triaxe – Mountainous home of the sturdy Triaxe knights. Southernmost vassal of Graehelm. Triaxe is also home to Erewain, largest mountain in the known world, and the legendary site of mankind’s final battle against the Ur.

Verod – A crumbling castle in westernmost Mormist, Verod was once home to a huge Graehelm garrison, but no longer.

Yrul – A great valley surrounded by sharp, jagged peaks, Yrul is home to a proud, strong people who are hated by most civilized lands.

 

Grae Map Public View File

 

EVENTS OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:

Archithropian War – The two thousand year-long war between rival nations, ended only after millions of deaths, countless cities turned to ash, and entire swaths of landscape brought low.

Destruction of Davin Kal – The precursor to Graehelm’s invasion. Emperor Chakran ordered the death of the Davin Kal as training for his protege, Dacin of Dageni. 

The Rebuilding of the Five – Legend tells that during the Archithropian war, the lords of the east, having failed to subdue Niviliath after a thousand years, chose to unearth and remake five artifacts of the Ur and use them to destroy their enemy. In truth, only one was remade. The others were simply found…and used

The End of Tyberia – Little is known about the supposed realm that once stretched from Elrain to Thillria. Scholars say it was a powerful kingdom fractured and divided by Graehelm lords of old. This claim alone is enough for Emperor Chakran to propel Furyon into war against the Grae.

 

BizCard

 

ARTIFACTS AND RELICS:

The Ur Blade – Though never called by its true name in the books, the Ur Blade was fashioned to be the destroyer of all other swords. When used in battle,  the Ur Blade can summon Ur fire and draw upon its wielder’s passion in such a way as to make them nearly invincible.

The Eye – Some believe The Eye was one of the five artifacts left behind by the Ur. This is untrue. The Eye was fashioned by men, and is merely inhabited by the Ur.

The Greyblade – Fashioned from a fallen meteorite by a master Romaldarian weaponsmith, the Greyblade is given to a powerful knight during his search for Grimwain.

The Moonblades – Grimwain’s twin swords. Pale as milk. Almost translucent. Utterly unbreakable.

The Needle – Several Needles have been found since the fall of the Ur, each with a different power. One in particular, the largest and most deadly, is unearthed by a Romaldarian knight in a graveyard under the moonlight.

The Orb – Rebuilt twice since the fall of the Ur, the Orb of Souls was the prime weapon of Archithrope and of Malog. The giant black sphere, lined with pale tines at its base, feeds upon death in order to enslave the living and ultimately ensure the Ur will be resurrected.

The Pages Black – A book of ten pages, each containing a different and increasingly more horrific power. The Ur despise the Pages, for the powers therein belong to them, and yet they adore whenever a mortal uses one of the spells.

The Tower – A common misconception is that Malog is also the Tower. Untrue. The Tower lies in Thillria, existing as a conduit for the Ur to influence mankind, among other things.

Wkhzl’s Dagger – A knife given freely away by the shopkeeper Wkhzl. It’s not meant to harm the living, but has a different purpose entirely.  

 

 ************************

Copyright 2014 – All rights reserved

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

 

Top 10 challenges of being an only child

I can’t recall the last time I answered to anyone.

I’m spoiled rotten in a sense, having obligations that are entirely under my control.

No sibling rivalry, no gift-giving nightmares, no Thanksgiving dinners. No blow-up family fights, no jealousy, no summers stocked with weddings and in-laws.

But long stretches of silence, sometimes deep and dark.

It’s true. All of it. Despite having four half-brothers and sisters, I’m essentially an only child. Strange, I know. I was raised completely separate from the rest of the crew, and thus enjoyed (and suffered) all the peculiarities of being number one all the time. My son is likely destined for the same fate, with all the good and the bad that being an only kid entails. It’s with this in mind I’ve decided to list the Top Ten Good and Bad Things about being numero uno.

And here we go…

1. Fewer people in your life –  I’ve heard friends talk about how they ‘couldn’t imagine life without my siblings,’ and yet I’ve eavesdropped as those same friends carved their brothers and sisters’ behavior to tatters. For my son, I wish he had a friend and confidant other than me and his cadre of Lego Stormtroopers, but I also love that he lives in relative peace, not having to endure the constant tug and pull of a little brother or sister. For me as an adult (sort of) it’s like being on an island. The beach, trees, and water are all mine, but no one else is here. I happen to love it, but perhaps that’s because I’ve never known any better.

2. Large amounts of time to contemplate – My favorite part about being an only is having the luxury of max me-time. Non-only friends have told me the exact opposite (that their favorite part is always having someone to talk to). Both arguments have merit. However, I tend to believe it’s easier to develop a creative passion when alone. An only has no choice in the matter. If he wants to play Hungry Hungry Hippos, he’d better invent his own competition. That’s all I’m sayin’.

3. Selfishness – See also narcissism. Booting one’s self from the center of the universe is no easy task. Learning humility and patience are challenges easier faced with siblings on hand. Need I say more?

4. Maximum one-on-one time with mom and dad – For the little ones, this a good thing. It’s a true luxury to be able to approach mom or dad for whatever you need, whenever you need it. Also, bonding opportunities (at a premium in households overrun with children) come hourly. It’s true that as an adult, I worry about all-my-eggs-in-one-basket syndrome, and if-he-turns-out-to-be-a-serial-killer-I-don’t-really-have-a-plan-B, but I wouldn’t trade my uninterrupted, five-hour long conversations with the G Man for the world.

 

Turkeys

Who’s really the kid here? Him? Me? Hell if I know…

 5. Holidays – While it’s true that I and some of my only-child friends share a snicker every time we hear about family gatherings gone awry, that’s hardly the whole story. In secret, while other huge families full of brothers, sisters, in-laws, and hordes of children are gathering for backyard-shaking parties, I’ll admit to sitting on the sidelines and being green with envy. ‘Looks pretty fun,’ I’ll tell myself. ‘Maybe I’ll sneak in and pretend to be someone’s cousin.

6. Empathy – From personal experience, this one is tough. Being an only child can boost creativity through the ceiling, but it can also result in ruthlessness. Growing up in a quiet household without any sense of other people’s feelings tends to leave one a little behind in the race. Kudos to you only-children who’ve managed to catch up. If you’ve got any pointers, I’m listening.

7. Sportsmanship – Until I developed a circle of friends in my teens, I had none of this. If I didn’t destroy my competition in every way possible, I went home hating the world. I see evidence of crappy sportsmanship in other only-children. I have to believe it’s due to never getting our asses kicked enough by older brothers or being humbled by having to play fair with younger sisters. Parents of only-children, beware. Teach them how to lose. It’s a key life skill.

Punchout

Your lunch money, or else!

8. A Shoulder to Cry on – Everyone needs this at some point in their lives. And if that person has a parent or spouse with whom to share sorrows, that’s great. But there’s nothing like a sibling (or so I’m told) for leaning on during tough times. They were there with you. They know what it was like.  Common experiences create common ground. My advice to other only’s; marry into a big family and be cool to your in-laws.

9. Vacations – Which is better: Riding alone with mom and dad or riding with someone to torment on the way to the beach? I don’t have the answer. I’m asking you. If anyone wants to experiment by riding with me in the backseat while Clearwater-bound, let’s do this.

10. All the Things I Haven’t Thought of – Here’s the thing; since I’ve never fought on a battlefield stuffed with siblings, sometimes I feel like there’s an entire world of experiences I’ve missed. Don’t get me wrong. I’d never trade being an only. It’s awesome. It’s epic. It’s do-whatever-I-feel-like-tastic. But still…I can’t help but be curious. As a side-note, and something I never noticed before today, every book and story I’ve written is populated almost exclusively with only’s. The heroes, the villains, the characters in the backdrop. Only’s, all of them save two. I guess that means I’m biased, eh? Maybe it’s time to step outside my comfort zone…

 

Love,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

Nether Kingdom – Prologue

What follows is a free excerpt from Nether Kingdom – Book III in the Tyrants of the Dead trilogy.

The first two books are available here and here and here.

Nether Kingdom is by far my darkest work yet. In writing it, I plummeted into my mind’s lowest caverns, wandering paths I never knew existed.

The full version of Nether Kingdom will arrive in time for Christmas 2014, just in time to darken the holiday season.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

 *** 

Servants of the Sleeper 

A

An hour before dusk, they came to Mooreye.

    As the sunlight drew back from the crumbling towers and broken streets, the two stalked the grounds as though they were the city’s new masters, free to despoil the kingdom of the dead. They moved like smoke, soundless as spirits, drifting through alleys and hollowed homes. The shadows of a thousand burned-out buildings lay heavy on their backs, and save for the plaintive caws of the quarreling crows, all was quiet in their wake. Mooreye lay dead, a tomb for the fallen, a stark reminder of what the Furyons had done.

    Just before nightfall, the pair began their work. Their stage was Mooreye’s grand courtyard, in whose center a pale tower speared from the weeds, and whose sides were fenced with iron spikes taller than any man. The first of the graverobbers, a bulbous beast of a man named Unctulu, licked his lips and wormed into the loam, his fingers like hungry larvae searching for their next meal. Nearby, Thresher drove his rusted spade into the dirt, sloughing aside huge gobs of soil. Their work was rapid and inelegant, for none were near to question it. No one had been to Mooreye since the Furyons destroyed it, and none were likely to come after the robbers’ work was finished.

    No man, no matter his origin, could claim such hideousness as Unctulu. As he knelt in the twisted grass and speared his maggoty fingers into the earth, his sparsely-toothed grin split his face like a festering scar across a pale, misshapen melon. Worse was his cadaverous skin, quivering over his bones, flapping beneath his half-rotted raiment of leather and rags. His only possessions were his bag, stuffed with all manner of moldering food, and his belt lined with some twenty cork-sealed vials, clinking constantly as he dug. Unctulu was heedless of the sweat rolling from his hairless, malformed head, and unaware of the gurgling, toad-like sounds oozing from his throat. Had anyone asked him, he would have told them he relished his disgustingness, that it was ‘not ‘Tulu’s job to be pretty.’

    Compared to his companion, Thresher seemed a titan, moving ten times more dirt than Unctulu. He said nothing as he tore great shovelfuls of soil away, and he never tired. Thresher’s face lay hidden behind an eyeless, featureless iron mask, and his body beneath rusted, lobstered mail. How it was Thresher saw the world, and how he exhumed so swiftly, none would dare ask.

    “Ah, Thresh, this is too easy, yes?” Unctulu gurgled. “A month more and we’ll be back home, feasting like kings. Well, you might not feast, but I will.”

    If Thresher heard, he gave no sign. Wordless, he continued to dig. His armor groaned and shuddered, but he moved as though completely unencumbered, gouging out great chunks of black earth with each stroke.

    “Slow, slow.” Unctulu patted a mound of soil. “I can smell it, can’t you? The grave’ll be as shallow as the Sleeper said. Easy work, after so long to get here.”

    Five shovelfuls more and Thresher hoisted his spade over his shoulder, laying it to rest beside the steel greatsword on his back.

    “Good, good.” Unctulu lapped up a strand of escaping saliva. “Yes, yes, this is the spot. Pale bones, we’ve found. Right where Master said.”

    The evening sky dimmed to a deep, somber gray. Burbling, Unctulu rummaged through his bag and produced a spherical lamp. “Yes, Thresh. Much better.” He stoked the lamp until it glowed like a tiny moon. “My eyes…not like yours. Need a little light for digging.”

    In the lamp’s pallid light, Unctulu clawed a last few fistfuls of dirt away from the hole Thresher had dug. “Look, look.” He shivered with satisfaction.

    “This is the one.”

    Half-covered in rotted clothes and decomposed beyond recognition, the corpse beneath Unctulu’s fingers was laid out in awkward fashion. “Buried right where he died.” Unctulu’s smile broadened. He dug the dirt out from between each rib, each spinal disc, each brittle bone from collar to knee. Smacking his lips, he removed a vial from his belt and poured its contents along the length of a protruding hip. The foul liquid fumed and sizzled, melting the rest of the dirt away. “Now, now,” he cackled. “Looksey, looksey, Thresh. What have we here?”

    Greedily, he ran his fingers along a leather belt looped around the corpse’s hip. Two empty scabbards were affixed to the belt, one to each side. Unctulu tugged the belt and scabbards loose, afterward dousing each with a second phial of black liquor.

    “See, see…” He slid one finger across the faint symbols etched on the scabbards’ steel caps. “The Raven. The crossed swords.

    “The marks of the Pale Knight.”

    The scabbard and belt were no ordinary items. The courtyard was no ordinary plot of land. The dry, dead grass and all the streets of Mooreye had been the site of a great and bloody battle. “Every grave, every cairn.” Unctulu grinned hideously, “Grae or Fury, dead and gone. But not this one. Of all the corpses here, this one’s different. Thillrian, he is. The worst of them, right where he should be.”

    Unctulu rose. Beside Thresher, hulking and silent, the bloated man stood a full head and half shorter. “Now is the time, Thresh.” He looked up. “Give me the item.”

    Thresher reached for the plate covering his left shin, finding a narrow seam betwixt the joining of two greaves. With fingers locked in a coal-colored gauntlet, he withdrew the object hidden therein. The night trembled, the breeze stopped blowing, and the last of the day’s light faded away.

    The object was to blame.

    It was a gnarled, needlelike tine, thick as a man’s thumb at its widest and sharper than any dagger at its point. Long as a thighbone, it looked fashioned of polished obsidian, but in truth its make was unknowable. When Thresher held it high, it made the shadows move, stirring the darkness like stew inside a cauldron.

    Unctulu looked longingly at the tine, his throat welling like a toad’s. “It’s time, Thresh. Remember what we’re here to do. Now and only now, you’re to let me have it. If I don’t give it back, you’re to butcher me, but otherwise I’m to use it.

    “Just. This. Once.”

    Thresher released the tine. Unctulu grasped it from its thicker, duller end and waved it from side to side as if to carve a lesion in the night. When Thresher reached for his sword, Unctulu grimaced. “Oh, all right. Well and well. Good and good. I’ll play nice.”

    Thresher left his sword in its scabbard. Sniffing the air and swiping the saliva from his chin, Unctulu hunched over the exhumed cadaver. “If you’d eyes, Thresh, I’d tell you to close them. This’ll not be pretty.”

    Unceremoniously, he stabbed the tine into the soil, wounding the dirt next to the corpse’s ribs. The tine punctured soil and loose stone as though they were water, sinking down to half its length. Gurgling, Unctulu left it in place, sharp end pointed to the heart of the earth, the other aimed straight at the star-pricked sky.

    “A long way we marched,” he drooled. “And all for one man. How many nights have we blackened the road, Thresh? How many times did the Grae almost catch us? I’d sooner raise up the whole city than this one cruel carcass. But it’s as the Master wishes, and so we’ll do as we’re told.

    “We’ll bring him back.”

    The tine lay half-buried in the loam. Mist arose from the punctured earth, the grey vapors swallowing the open grave and slinking across the bones like a tongue. Unctulu’s lantern light played across the mist. It gleamed white at first, then blue, then lavender. Unctulu held his breath as the vapors thickened, the mist winding in ever tighter circles around each bone, adhering to the marrow like mortar.

    “Look, Thresh. It’s working.”

    A tremor rattled the courtyard. The grasses near the grave withered and turned to ash. Where once the cadaver’s brittle bones had lain bare to the night, fresh tendons reknit themselves, and muscles, raw and red, took shape. Layer upon layer, pale flesh stitched itself atop a template of veins and sinew. Organs pumped to life, and a new heart spasmed, thumping a black rhythm in a body eight years dead.

    Faster than Unctulu could swallow ten breaths, the body became whole. The deep shadows lessened, and the night’s natural sounds resumed. Unbroken, the tine expelled itself from the dirt and rolled to a stop at Unctulu’s feet.

    “Disgusting, wasn’t it? It’s different watching it happen to someone else.” Unctulu snatched up the tine. “Ah…well…I suppose you’ll want this back.”

    Thresher snared the black tine and slid it back into his greaves.

    The body stirred.

    The man in the grave seized a sharp breath and exhaled.

    “Look at him.” Unctulu gave a three-toothed grin. “Not jealous, are you Thresh? Seems eight years in the dirt leaves a man in better shape than eight hundred. Worry not. You’re still prettier.”

    Thresher tilted his head. Behind his iron mask, thoughts unknowable roiled.

    “You want to know?” Unctulu asked.

    Thresher remained still.

    “Of course you do,” said Unctulu. “This’ll be the last of the ones Master raises, leastways for now. No one wanted him during his first life, and no one but Master wants him now. Look at him, whiter than his bones, waking up from his nightmare. Well…if his dreams were rotten, he deserved it. More than any other, I’d say. More even than me.”

    Thresher tilted his head again.

    “That’s right, Thresh. Don’t you know who this is? This be Archmyr Degiliac, mass murderer, ruin of the Furies, butcher and raper and slaver. The Pale Knight, they called him.

    “And they’ll call him worse yet.”

***

Copyright 2014 – J Edward Neill – All rights reserved