When an Arach raiding party attacks a wagon train and moves on to take on the next town, Dannon is part of the out-riders who must clean up in their wake. The dead girl on the wagon is just one of many reasons he doesn’t like spiders, or the elves that ride them.
Blood and Iron is a short tale of sword and sorcery.
It is available as a free read on C.M. Simpson's blog or as part of An Anthology of Blades.
First Page: Blood and Iron
“The difference is not that he kills, but how and why he kills,” Stanislau said. “Every woman he touches. The only thing they have in common is you.”
Haft knew where this conversation was going. He’d had it before. Next Stan would be telling him they had to leave another city and Haft had his eye on the prettiest wench yet. Stan did not know about her; Haft could keep his secrets better than the petty sneak gave him credit for.
At least Haft did not have to make his living by sneaking. He only had to do that when wenching, sneaking and sometimes running. Angry brothers should be the only reason Haft had to leave a city… and maybe angry tavern owners. Haft did not care. The little people should not make their things so breakable. He glared at Stanislau.
Stanislau was a tall man, dark-haired and bronze-eyed, handsome and smart enough to turn his hand to anything. Smart enough to know an irritable Westlander when he saw one. He caught Haft’s look and raised his hands. He was not smart enough to back down.
“You know I’m right, Haft,” he said, and the Westlander wondered if it would one punch or two to make him stay down.
Stanislau was not a small man, but he was not as big as Haft. Haft curled his lip in a snarl. He knew no such thing. They had left the last city because of the killings, and Haft had been blamed for them. Stan seemed to have forgotten that, or maybe that was something the sneak did not know.
“Haft will be blamed,” he said. “Like before.”
The depth of his voice made it a pronouncement, the words rang like a truth. The bar stilled.
Stanislau looked surprised, and Haft suspected the sneak had known, but had chosen not to share. He reached for the wine bottle and clenched his hand around it, contemplating whether or not to tighten his grip so that the clay shattered or to raise it to his lips and drink. Drinking was the better option, but not too much. Haft was going hunting. He would rather wench, but he would not be blamed when he was innocent of the worst harm done.
“Be gone, wizard,” he said, looking past Stan’s shoulder.
“Our problems are aligned.” The wizard stalked up to the table and reached it as Haft swigged a mouthful from the bottle. Quick as light, the wizard reached across, took the bottle from Haft’s hand and tossed back a mouthful just as big.
“There,” he said, handing the bottle back. “We have drunk together. Now, we will speak.”
Haft had grasped the bottle instinctively. Part of his head wanted his sword, and part of his head reminded him the wizard was right.
“So, speak,” he said, his face like thunder.
“You’ve been seeing my daughter,” the wizard replied. “I do not want the Garitzik to kill her.”
“Garitzik?” Stanislau asked.
“You speak Westlander,” Haft said to the wizard.
To Stanislau, he explained, “The people of stone and shadow.”He lifted the two, heavy-bladed, short-axes from the table. When he called their names in battle his voice sounded like thunder and rockfalls. He had told Stanislau the words meant ‘Blood’ and ‘Iron’ but they meant much more. The great sword he carried over his back was called ‘Justice’, but Haft had never told Stan that. The sneak might ask him to use it more often.
END OF FIRST PAGE
If you would like to read more, Blood and Iron is available in An Anthology of Blades, which can be found at Smashwords, Amazon, CreateSpace, DriveThruFiction, OmniLit, Kobo and Smashwords partner platforms such as iTunes, Nook and Sony.