A Window on Salukia is A short story made up of a series of linked vignettes describing cyclic battles and aftermaths in fantasy, pseudo-contemporary, and science fiction settings.
A Window on Salukia is available in An Anthology of Battle, and as an individual title from Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, iTunes and Nook.
First Page: A Window on Salukia
We have been watching for centuries, observing many worlds, many ages, many times. We have been watching, trying to learn and understand, trying to avoid the mistakes of other civilizations.
Our observations are directed by a force greater than ourselves, and it is this force that takes us through the window of our observatory to the windows and the skies of other places and their eras of trouble.
It comes as a breeze and carries us away. The lesson of the moment concerns the hazards of war. Stand beside me. Watch. We will let the breeze carry us where it will.
* * *
The breeze becomes cold as if it has flowed across a polar ice cap. I feel shrouded by a fine veneer of frost, or as though I have been encrusted in tiny shards of glass. You look like a cake with too much icing.
The window we are blown through has lost its shutters to a sudden burst of opening magic, forcing itself past the protective wards hanging over the palace.
I do not know how we are sure we stand in a palace, but I am certain of it, and so, judging from your expression, are you. There are two armed and armored guards and an armorless man in a tunic and breeches in the room. There is also a woman and two children, a boy and a girl. The boy is the eldest, but not by more than two years.
Another wave of hostile magic washes over us, and the wizard, for such is the armorless man, continues the murmuring chant shielding his Lady and her children from the enemy that hunts them.
We sense the lower halls have already fallen, although there are some that still resist. The Lady must have her chance to escape, but her eyes glisten with tears at the lives lost on her behalf.
She pushes the second of her children through the hole in the stonework, and whispers her last goodbyes. I see the wizard turn as she pulls the lever that slides the granite block over the opening. This was not part of the plan. She was not meant to stay.
There is nothing he can do. The door is closed and already the hunters have found them. We can hear their foes trying to break down the door. The lady takes the wizard's hand for she has magic of her own. The soldiers prepare to defend their charges. I find our position beside the shutterless window suddenly too exposed.
There is another surge in the magic attacking the palace, and an exultant roar from the army outside. We feel the tattered remains of the protective wards blasted to wind-tossed fragments as the last defenses fall.
The wizard drops to his knees, only the hand of his Lady preventing him falling further. She draws him to his feet again and we sense the power she gives him.
Now we become aware of the battle raging in the palace grounds. Now we feel the distance between this tower eyrie and the earth below. The palace, castle, is built into and from the natural face of the cliff, and this is its highest reach.