The book now features as the opening to a much larger tome, the release date is unknown as the story combines 4 stories and joining them into one, will be like knitting spaghetti :)
Anyway, this is my personal take: Well, what a story! You certainly know how to tell a tale and the imagery is very striking, as is the sense of suspense. Keep up the good work!
This is the new opening to the story arc :-
The man sitting at the back of the Mondoria Arms held the children’s imagination as he told the story of an ancient legend, “A great fire from the sky will devour the city and the city shall be purged by the flames of Tallier’s Revenge, and as man flees the city, the denizens of the underworld shall feast upon the putrid waste of those who left.”
Bill Marsh and his friend Joe Pearson laughed as Joe said, “Those soothsayers never give up do they, Bill.”
Bill glanced at the children sitting on the floor by the dying fire and replied, “No, you’re right, Joe, I remember being scared by tales of fiery death when I was a little one, and yet here we are drinking, and they are still going on about Tallier’s Revenge.”
Mondoria sat in the bowl of the Drachenweld Hills and had grown wealthy over the years, the reason being it controlled the vital sea trade routes to the lands of the far North and the West. With wealth came the pleasures of the flesh and as the city grew in size, the more people it attracted and the more sinful it became, until Mondoria was only spoken of in hushed voices.
The once powerful Convent of the Church of St. Tallier stood on a rock outcrop in the centre of the town and even though the church had a tiny congregation the church remained large in city life.
Like Joe and Bill, many of the people treated the soothsayer’s visions as a joke; until one night which changed lives forever.
The night watchman Phillip Johnson looked aimlessly into the skies above, nothing more on his mind than going home at the end of his shift, when suddenly the sky flared to a brilliant red and the streets became clear as day. As he looked up he saw the tail of a comet travelling towards the city, “Look out, it’s coming!” he yelled.
The comet didn’t miss the convent by much as it smashed into the bakery, setting the flour alight and starting a series of fires. The wooden structured houses daubed with wattle were soon ablaze, and the town became a raging fire storm as the heat from the comet caused fires to jump across the tightly packed streets. This once prosperous city was now becoming nothing but a burning shell of its former glories.
“Where’s the town guard when we need them?” yelled Helena Jacks, the barmaid from the Mondoria Arms, as she stood looking at the looters running through the city.
Phillip Johnson replied, “They were sent to fight a big fire on the outskirts of the city,” as he desperately fought to contain a small fire. The only thing he had to hand was a small pail. When he saw the blaze spreading, he yelled, “Can we have more help? Forget the houses on Armour Street, they’re too much for us now, all we can do is try to stop new fires from flaring up.”
Bill Jones the smithy called to Phillip, “We can’t get the horses across from Trench Road and without the horses we’re not even containing the smaller fires. Is there a way we can divert the river, so we can use that water?”
Phillip called above the raging inferno, “Not in the time left and with the shortage of manpower.”
Fighting for breath in the searing heat, Bill yelled, “I heard the Sisters wasted no time in claiming Tallier saved them from his wrath, when the comet missed the convent,”
Tired and sweating, Bill replied, “To my way of thinking, the comet missing them was more damned luck than a sign of his good faith; the tail went through the bell tower without even scorching, I wish those flagellants would stop walking around whipping themselves and help fight these blazes; this isn’t their fault.”
Driven to exhaustion, but still trying to fight the number of fires which flared up, Phillip called out, “If they did, we would have twenty or thirty more men.”
Bill sighed as he looked around, “Not many, but every extra hand means a little less to worry about; I bet the Thrugs are going to feed well tonight!” He said, looking at the Thrugmen skulking in the shadows, with teeth drooling as they spied the human and animal carnage. Flesh is flesh to scavengers, burnt or not, meat is food to the horrible things.
Thrugmen had become a plague in recent months, the half formed creatures with long front teeth and bent backs, unfit to work and scorned by all, they dwell in sewers. Their origins were unclear, one of the most popular discussions about them, said they were a people of some distant land which had been conquered and brought to Mondoria were they were beaten and starved.
Phillip’s mind changed to more immediate problems when he saw horses speeding up the hill and out of the city, “I saw James Morrtor and his gang heading out to the hills, we know what they’re up to.”
Bill looked at him and said, “You can bet if Morrtor is involved, the plan will involve gangs and stealing, his late father John was one of the most feared bandits around for many years.”
Phillip asked a question, which many had asked but nobody had answered, “How did he die? I heard many tales of the day and every one different.”
Trying to remember what he had been told, Bill said, “Like many of his type, the more crime he did, the more invincible he thought he became. He lived to the limit. The day of his death, his rogues took on far more than his band had imagined. The Guard had been told he was planning a raid on the Kerranmore road; their man had told them when and where. From the time Morrtor and his men attacked the wagons, they were involved in an ambush. The real target had been rerouted. The train they attacked was full of men of the city. As they struggled to hold ground, the guard leader picked his time and came charging in as the bandits turned to run. Hardly any of them escaped the fight and those that did were hunted down and taken to Kerranmore to be flogged.”