Tenbar the Terror: The Life and Crimes of Turic Bay’s Reaver Lord

•January 26, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Tenbar the Terror: The Life and Crimes of Turic Bay’s Reaver Lord

By Lady Betheny Agredda of Old-Hold



Turic Tenbar is perhaps the most well-known warrior in all Katahia, behind Earl Thaddeon the Wyvernlance or my own good sister, Lady Hera Agredda. However, he is also one of the most misunderstood. For instance, Turic bay was not named after him as some assume. Nor is he an Earl.

On a meagre spit of coastal land between Stelhold and Hustroplis Bay lies the county of Turic. It is comprised mainly of the fishing town which bears the same name, and a handful of farms and feudal dependants. But a few short decades ago, the Viscounts of Turic were but a minor vassal of the Stelhold Earldom, and a house of little renown. It was the sort of place which might easily have vanished between the margins of a history book.

This all changed with the coming of Tenbar, perhaps the most infamous pirate to have ever sailed the tumultuous Guien seas. Within these pages I hope to elucidate how such a man became so entwined with the high and mighty of Katahian courtly life.

The story of his ascension began with deprivation. There have been multiple biographies written on Tenbar, many contradicting each other, some even commissioned by the pirate himself. Most agree on his origin at least. He was a pauper from a villein family in Eastern Katahia during the early reign of King Aaren’s father. He absconded from his village without the local knight’s permission, and joined as a boy sailor on a merchant crew. He evidently learned much about sailing and seamanship from these early voyages, and rose quickly in the ranks. Maritime professions are almost always meritocracies by necessity; a commission bought by one’s wealthy uncle won’t help you govern the numerous intricacies of a working sea vessel.

He moved from ship to ship, crew to crew, travelling across Tibari, Vorn and elsewhere around Oellir’s wild coastlands. It seems in his late twenties, his hunger for power and prestige led him to smuggling, and eventually to piracy as he fell in with cut-throat crews operating in the lawless coves of the Grief Peninsula. In this he excelled too, being both a proficient sailor and a terrifying warrior. Some of his more outrageous histories speak of him singing in battle, dancing without a helmet when fighting boarding actions, daring his foes to slay him, but killing them with consummate ease, as if their deaths were but part of the choreography of a waltz only he knew was being danced.

He fought as a mercenary in the endless internecine wars between the penniless kings of Vorn, and served as a bodyguard to Achevin magi. He liberated slaves and burned temples. He stole from the rich, and he killed the poor wretches who sought to stop him. According to some tales I’ve read, a man very much matching his description was abroad in the Drench Lands at one point, hunting naga in the Strangle Swamps, selling their poison blood to mystics to make potions. Other tales have him trying to steal dragon eggs from the isle of sulphur, or rescuing children from the clutches of cannibal witches. There are as many stories about him as leaves on a tree. In some he’s the hero, in others the blackest villain. Who can say what the truth is? Perhaps he is both?

Whilst merciful to those who surrendered quickly, Tenbar brutally destroyed anyone who resisted his seaborne brigands, enacting cruel and extravagant ends for his victims. * He was a rakishly handsome savage, who feared no one. He crossed nearly every sea, and in the course of his many adventures ran afoul of both the Imperial Achevin Navy and the Magnallan Flotilla. It was even claimed he narrowly escaped the clutches of an Aelf cruiser on one occasion, though this seems an extravagant claim, even for Lord Tenbar. **

During this tumultuous time, he had his infamous ship, the Vampyre, constructed.

Based upon a heavily modified Katahian galleon, the Vampyre has been built and rebuilt so many times, it is perhaps more accurate to describe his ship as one of many Vampyres, a sisterhood of ships, bearing their master across the world entire. Years of adventuring and near misses sculpted the Vampyre into perhaps the finest Katahian warship ever put to sea, besides the royal navy’s massive nine-mast flagship, the Comet. The name of the ship comes from the blood-hungry monsters of Tureqi mythology; fallen servants of the war goddess Kelish the Red, whose cursed blood makes them immortal. Apparently, Tenbar learned the story from a captured Kelishei priestess, and enjoyed the tale so much, he not only named his ship after them, he had his men modify the mermaid figurehead on his ship’s prow to have fangs and claws.

Though he travelled the world for many years, gathering together his exotic crew of runaway slaves, freaks and outlaws, Tenbar’s main hunting grounds were always the Tolmesir Ocean, taking prey from either coast on a whim. It was as if he were punishing the land of his birth, and the nobility who had driven him out so many years ago. This earned him the animosity of near enough every faction in the area. The royal fleet tried tirelessly to capture or sink the Vampyre as it terrorized shipping and coastal villages across Katahia, and my own grandfather put a bounty on his head after my great aunt’s barge was run aground whilst travelling south to Hustroplis.

Though Katahia had no love for Tenbar the Terror, the Kustorik hated him most of all. The Kustorik have been raiding Katahia since the very earliest reign of the Aelfriend kings. Tenbar represented a rival to their own longship wolf packs prowling the Tolmesir. With childish glee, Tenbar often waited until the Kustorik raiders had successfully launched a raid, before following their pack and attacking them as they set out to sea and stealing their loot, as a lion might steal the kill of a hyena.

A deadly game of cat and mouse ensued, with each side hunting the other, turning the Tolmesir into a battleground. Kustorik raiders were drawn out of their fjords in ever greater numbers with the prospect of adventure and a chance to kill the legendary pirate. Meanwhile, the Imperial fleet hunted Tenbar and the Kustorik by sea, as Earl Bulwyf scoured the lands of Stelhold, searching for secluded coves which might shelter the Vampyre when not at sea, for on land, Tenbar was not so terrifying, much like a shark loses much of its menace when hauled upon the beach, gills gasping as it suffocates.

It seemed only a matter of time before the pirate was caught, and that his end would be bloody. What happened next thus surprised all.


Here we return again to the county of Turic Bay. These lands were poor in those days, with few farms or peasants to work them, and a fishing industry strangled by richer neighbouring counties. This, combined with high taxes levied by the Earl of Stelhold rendered the elderly and sickly Viscount Torred a pauper in his own halls. The Lord of Turic had several squabbling sons who were already carving up the tiny land between them before their father’s death, and a daughter, Flaed. Such a lowly house had few allies at court, and little prospect of attaining advancement. Thus, Torred sought advancement across the seas, amongst the wealthy families of the Tibari. One of the few treasures of Turic was his beautiful daughter, which he hoped would entice a prince or wealthy magnate to marry her, and bring trade and prestige to Turic Bay.

Despite her numerous protests, Flaed was quickly shipped off across the Tolmesir, to a foreign land utterly alien to her. Perhaps fortunately for her, she would never arrive at her designation. Unfortunately for her, the reason was the Kustorik war chief Baradan Red-knife.

Within sight of the Tibari coast, the sleek ships of the river reavers came surging from all sides, taking the Katahian cutter by surprise. Red-knife murdered the crew and put the girl in chains like an animal.

But as Baradan set sail north for the Kustor, familiar red sails soon appeared behind him.

The next part of the story is open to speculation, and there are several very different accounts. Some depict Tenbar as a dashing hero, leaping between ships to rescue the damsel in distress after hearing her plight. Other historians point out that Tenbar likely had no idea Flaed was even on board the Kustorik fleet, and that he attacked Baradan the same as he would any rival pirate.

Either way, the outcome was the same. Tenbar and Baradan fought a running naval battle along the coast. Seventeen ships against one. But the Vampyre was ironclad, wielding stolen Achevin cannons and ballistae, and a savage Katahian naval ram. The three-day battle ended with most of the Kustorik fleet sent to the bottom, and Baradan’s flagship boarded, and the war chief slain in single combat by Tenbar. *** Tenbar took the man’s skull as a trophy, and years after would often be seen speaking to it as if talking to an old friend.

Flaed’s chains were struck off, and she was taken to Tenbar’s quarters. Her captivity with the Terror was far more agreeable than as a brutalised slave under Baradan. Tenbar had her well fed and clothed, and gave her the run of his ship. His wild and exotic crew terrified and fascinated the girl, who had led a sombre and sheltered life before then. At night, Tenbar would drink with her, and regale her with tall tales of his many adventures fighting sea monsters and exploring lost lands of the far southern seas, and the lands beyond the Sprawl.

Many claim Flaed fell for Tenbar on that voyage, but this does not ring true for me. Tenbar was exciting certainly, and even as an older man he retained some of his good looks, but simply being rescued does not a romance make (no matter what lurid courtly songs would have you believe). For her part, I believe Flaed was shrewder than anyone gave her credit for. I have had the pleasure of meeting Lady Flaed in recent years, and she is a cunning politician, with a manic wit to match her husband. She was no waif, to be wooed by the dashing pirate.

Regardless of how it came about, eventually, their relationship became more than captive and captor.

When Lord Torred had heard that Flaed’s ship had been attacked, the news drove him to his sick bed, and within a year he was dead. Tragically, he died believing he’d sent his only daughter to her death. Barely a month after his passing, the watchtowers of Turic bay spied a vessel approaching, with distinctive red sails…

The Vampyre docked, and from her hold came Lady Flaed and her new husband, Tenbar. They’d married on a small island commune of Painted Priests, according to the religion of the Silver God. Now, Flaed had returned to reclaim her birth right as Torred’s firstborn. Tenbar soon took over Turic Bay, through fear and a judicious use of bribes. The Vampyre’s treasure chests were full, and he made sure that he was most generous.

Flaed’s brothers sealed the tower against them initially, but after Tenbar offered to double the pay of any man who served him, the fortress was soon overcome without the pirate having to lift a finger. Within a few short weeks, he and Flaed were joint rulers of Turic.

Whilst the locals grew to love and fear their new master, neighbouring Katahian powers saw Tenbar as an invader and interloper. Earl Bulwyf in particular saw this as an affront, as Tenbar had essentially stolen a portion of his Earldom.

Bulwyf went so far as to call his banners, and besiege Turic from the land. Tenbar attempted to placate him by offering to pay his feudal taxes to Bulwyf, but the Earl would have none of it, for he had long despised the Vampyre’s master.

The host from Stelhold was led by Bulwyf’s most experience knight, Sir Aethed of Sealance. If it came to a full land battle, Tenbar would have been finished. He might even have fled back into the sea from whence he came. Though Tenbar claims otherwise, other sources claim Tenbar was planning on doing precisely that, when his salvation came from an unlikely source. Lady Hera rode into Aethed’s camp, bearing a letter from the king.

The royal court had noticed in recent years the numbers of Kustorik raids had gone down drastically, thanks largely to the actions of Tenbar and his brigands. The King offered to ratify Flaed’s marriage and make Tenbar a true Viscount. In exchange, he was to become the King’s Privateer, keeping the Tolmesir clear of pirates and raiders, and making sure the trade routes between Tibari and Katahia remain open.

Tenbar readily accepted, to the relief of all. If he had refused, Tenbar would have certainly perished; if not on land, then by sea. As the siege wore on, the king had secretly sent his navy up from Hustroplis, and was poised to catch the Vampyre should it try to escape.

However, at the stroke of a signature upon parchment, Tenbar became Lord Turic Tenbar.

Turic Bay flourished under his leadership, as money and resources flooded in from across Guien through the expanding port city. Many nobles in private argue Turic Bay has become a den of villains, prosperity bought through moral decay.

After the passing of the old king, and the ascension of King Aaren, Tenbar enhanced his position, being granted permission to build a fleet of his own to better defend the sea lanes.

I myself have always found Turic Tenbar to be disarmingly pleasant in person when I have met him. He has an intensity which unnerves some people, and his irreverence for all social niceties might enrage the more conservative members of court; if he can do something to cause offence, he will. This earns him few friends at court. He is mockingly called ‘Tenbar the Tamed’ behind his back, for those who think he has lost his edge, and that Countess Flaed essentially made him her attack dog, to carve a little empire for herself.

These people do not understand Turic Tenbar at all. I have looked into his eyes, and I do not see a tame man. Flaed’s brothers are still missing, all these years later, likely murdered by his hand. Many of his enemies at court likewise go missing, and according to servants in the tower of Turic, screams can be heard late at night.

Even more worryingly, Tenbar might still be raiding, using his new fleet to disguise his actions.

Alas, such concerns have fallen to the wayside somewhat with the growing power of the Lord of Travesties in the East, and the ever increasing attacks of the Kustorik who have allied themselves with the Tureqi hordes.

Never has the need for a strong navy been higher.

Perhaps, if we mean to survive the terrors from across the sea, we shall require terrors of our own?


*(I will spare my more squeamish readers the exact details, but suffice to say the Vampyre’s sails are composed of more than mere linen… many have contributed to their creation… many paying the ultimate price…)

**(At one dinner at the Stelhold court, I heard the man recite in great detail how he once managed to sail his ship out of the belly of a massive ocean leviathan, which had devoured them whole off the endless Eastern Sea. Sufficed to say, the man enjoys a tall tale…)

***(More likely Baradan was shot by crossbowmen in the rigging, whilst Tenbar’s theatrics distracted him. It is a famous tactic of the old pirate, and one which countless arrogant enemies have learnt to their cost.)


Guien History: On the Subject of the Vilest and Most Detestable Hobgoblin Race.

•October 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment

On the Subject of the Vilest and Most Detestable Hobgoblin Race.

By Lady Betheny Agredda of Old-Hold


There are few races upon Guien for which revulsion is a near uniform reaction when asked to describe them. It is the received wisdom that the Hobgoblin race is a blight upon the world, a predatory and quintessential menace to civilisation.

A general physical description of a hobgoblin is difficult, for they show more variation than between the human race. Even on the individual level, there is little unifying about them. In general, they are hunchbacked, with scaly skin the colour of week old corpses, claws and fangs, and eyes of piercing, cat-like luminosity. Some have spines, others shaggy pelts, or ghostly pale skin, jutting tusks or needle-sharp teeth. There are some that burrow, and have rodent teeth and blind eyes, others with loping arms for climbing. There are as many forms of the hobgoblin as there are fish in the sea, or birds in the air. Their bloodlines have been inbred and corrupted for thousands of years at this stage, each new generation breeding a new slew of malformed monsters and mutants.

Many of the various monsters of antique bestiaries were, in fact, misidentified hobgoblins. Trolls, long thought a race of malevolent giants, are but elder hobgoblin specimens, grown swollen with evil longevity.

Everything about the hobgoblin seems inimical to life. Their blood is a noxious poison, black and viscous as treacle, their saliva corrosive. Eve their bodies rot but slowly, for even the worms and flies in the ground find their flesh distasteful. Scripture suggests the reason for this is that they are of the Utterdark, and are thus repellent to the world crafted by the gods (be they the gods of Selmyra, the Alloyed Pantheons, or others). I take a more practical, secular approach; their blood is a defence mechanism, as a porcupine’s spines, or a toad’s odious slimes.

On every continent of Guien there were once hobgoblins. Every history of every culture bound within the pages of the library of Old-Hold has mention of some manner of imp or gremlin, a fanged army of nocturnal monsters who oppose civilisation. In modern times, only Magnalla and Katahia have large populations of Hobgoblins; the relentless march of human progress on Oellir has quite comprehensive squashed the Hobgoblins in those lands. Some mythologies claim they are creatures born from the Hellish Utterdark itself, a kind of corporeal version of a Djinn or a demon. In Qortian legend, they were made by the gods to be a common enemy for the four founding races of the Lress, Humans, the Gnome and the Aelf, to unite against, to bring a peace through common hatred. If this was true, clearly the Qortian gods failed, for war remains the eternal lodestone of Guien.

I was very taken with the work of Ektor Kallibosi, Lector of the Akashian chapter of the Halogen Magi of Achevin, who took it upon himself to study hobgoblins, which once haunted the Warden Mountains. * He studied not just the bodies of the hobgoblins he was delivered, but also their animus… their souls (also known as the ‘sprite-spark’ amongst Katahian scholars). He came to the conclusion that Hobgoblins do not have individual souls; rather, hobgoblin-kind were only ever imbued with one soul, and as each new hobgoblin is born, this soul is stretched all the thinner. This might explain why it is only in numbers that the hobgoblins seem to display brilliance, and that their leaders become swift witted trolls, and their very smallest gremlins are hollowed out vessels of resentment and spite, without the will to oppose their masters.

Hobgoblins breed quickly, but mature slowly, which both makes them hard to eradicate, yet consistently underestimated. Because the majority of their race are adolescent beasts, they seem to be a diminutive race of spiteful imps, to be easily dispatched by valiant, upright men.

This would be an error, as proved in the reign of King Aaren’s father, with the rise of the Archbrute, which sparked the hobgoblin wars. Modern histories are filled with the accounts of Crown-Prince Aaren and his chosen brotherhood against the hobgoblin uprisings, of which my father was a part. Only through great sacrifice and pain were the armies of the Archbrute laid low, the Goblin King finally slain by Bulwif of Stelhold in single combat. **

For my part, I cannot claim to be an authority on the subject of hobgoblins. Due to my infirmity, I have seldom strayed beyond high castle walls. The closest I came to a live hobgoblin was on one occasion, when I was ten, and my legs still supported my weight with only the support of a cane. I travelled down to the dungeons, where my father had captured one of their breed. It was a malnourished, shrivelled thing, already dying when I saw it. Nobody was allowed to approach it, for it tore at itself constantly, using the drooling blood as a weapon to keep its captors at bay. Though it understood common trade tongue, it never deigned to speak it. It babbled in guttural tones, cursing us all until its final death rattle. It was only in death that the thing’s terrible yellow eyes stopped shining.

Though I know little of hobgoblins, I know enough to realise they must be fought. They refuse to negotiate, and think nothing of capturing or enslaving humans. They imbue nothing with beauty, but built cunning and cruel things. Though I think it is debatable whether they are born evil, their weak wills allow them to be governed easily by the strong will of evil beings, such as the various Lords of Travesty to have plagued Guien since the Starfall, or even the Fleshless Prince himself, cursed be his creed.

If the world is a fairy tale, the hobgoblin is the monster in the woods.

*(The Warden Mountain Hobgoblin clans were exterminated by the Tarnzak, only a few hundred years after Ektor’s studies concluded.)

**(There are other accounts which suggest it was one of Bulwif’s knights who actually did the deed, putting a lance through the Goblin King’s back whilst he was distracted, but far be it from me to come between an Earl of Katahia and his pride… The Archbrute’s skull can still be viewed in the banquet hall at Stelhold incidentally, if you ever have the inclination to visit.)

The Eater of Names: Cover revealed!

•August 19, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Salutations again my friends!

Today is a great day. For several months I have been waiting eagerly to show the work in progress cover of Eater of Names, produced by the awesome Tabby Stirling (follow her on twitter @VoleQueen). Well, as a late Sunday treat, I’ve been allowed to show y’all a sneak peek what Tabby’s come up with:

Eater of Names cover sneak peek

Isn’t that neat?

This is not quite the final version, but I am delighted with what’s been produced.  In particular I love that there’s a continuity of style between this and Hobgoblin’s Herald; I could see them happily sharing a shelf together on any bookshelf (maybe yours?)

It’s also delightful to see different interpretations of Mallory depicted.

You may also catch my blurb on the back cover, giving a hint at what is to come for our intrepit and morally dubious heroes in the adventures to come.

Eater of Names will be released later this year, and I cannot wait for you all to read it.

If you haven’t had chance to pick up the first book in the Guien Sequence, The Hobgoblin’s Herald yet, it is available on amazon here and here.

For updates on Eater, be sure to keep an eye on the Fox Spirit Books site, as well as following them on twitter @FoxSpiritBooks

Guien Lore Snippet: Of the Isle of Sulphur, and the Drakburnt Isegi peoples that dwell there.

•July 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment
[Hello again dear ones. In celebration of signing the official contract for the forthcoming Hobgoblin sequel, Eater of Names, here’s another snippet of lroe about one of the seldom visited lands on Guien’s beautiful map. Enjoy:]

Of the Isle of Sulphur, and the Drakburnt Isegi peoples that dwell there.

By Lady Betheny Agredda of Old-Hold


Far to the South of Oellir, off the eastern shores of the Grief Peninsula, lies the Isle of Sulphur. This is a relatively modern term for the ancient and rather sizeable island. It was given this moniker by Achevin merchants who settled there during the Father of Cities’ expansionist phase. This was on account of the stench of rotten eggs which pervaded the long-isolated island, and the name stuck in the collective consciousness of the civilised world.

What a shame it is that the merchants hadn’t settled in the northern reaches first, but had instead first ventured south to discover the cause of this stench.

How much better would ‘the Isle of Drakes’ been as a name? Alas, history does not bend to the whim of mortals.

The Isle is almost eight hundred miles long from its northern to southern extremities, according to the records of Achevin cartographers. Whilst the north is mostly rainforest, the south is covered in nourishing black soil which allows for strong and diverse agricultural crops to be grown. The south, however, is dominated by Mount Isegmaw, the tallest mountain in the known world.

In the north, the Achevins built a colony town, Vardefound. It is from the histories written by scholars visiting there that we have so much history of this lonely island. However, the Achevins were latecomers to the Island. The Isles were already colonised by the Isegi, a civilisation old before the Starfall, so they say.

The Isegi live in temples cities, carved into the foothills of Isengmaw, or else in primitive farming villages on the island’s interior. There are other minor tribes of people who dwell in fishing villages on the coasts, but they are of such minor importance to the Achevins, the individual names of their tribes are not recorded. They are the fish-people, displaced and subjugated by the Isegi. The Isegi in turn are only known by name due to the one aspect of their culture which the Achevins craved.

The Isegi were dragon-tamers. If there is one thing in all history to fire the imagination of even the most stolid scholar, it is dragons. *

According to the stories I’ve found, they found the first dragon eggs in caves in the steep sides of Isegmaw. They reared the hatching drakes by hand, till they grew large enough to ride. ** Over hudnreds of eyars, they were able to learn how to learn the secrets of wyrm-speak, a secret which remains closely guarded by the Isegi to this very day. This gave the Isegi, a primitive tribe of obsidian wielding savages, the power of flight and fire. All of a sudden, they had the ability to defeat every other tribe on the island within the space of a few months. Their dragon riders were legendarily dangerous, able to vanquish armies outnumbering them by thousands to one. *** The only thing keeping the Isegi from expanding across Oellir was the ocean; even small dragons are heavy beasts, and can only fly for short distances. A lengthy trip over the sea would result in drake and rider plunging into the depths. Since the Isegi knew nothing of ship building, they became isolated on the Isle of Sulphur.

As is the way with many isolated communities (such as the Yud and Ked of frozen Ashebos) their technological development stagnated. They were unassailable by their rivals, and had no need of labour saving innovation, simply using slave labour from the defeated tribes. Instead, they poured their efforts into building bigger and bigger temple cities out of the dense stones abundant on their island. They worshipped Isegmaw as a god, believing that beneath the great mountain slept a giant dragon of divine scale.

Unfortunately for the Isegi, this dragon eventually woke. Not literally of course, but one day the skies darkened, plumes of ash rising like a great column joining Utterlight and land. The mountaintop exploded, and the force of the blow shattered their capital city, and the pyroclastic flows that followed swept almost half their people into oblivion. Lava flowed over what remained, and their crops burned in the field.

Only a handful of dragons and their broods survived. It took the Isegi centuries to recover, and even then they were never as powerful as once they’d been.

It was these sorry specimens that the Achevin merchants came across when they eventually founded their colony. Achevin people are generally dark-skinned, as many in hot climes are, but the Isegi being in land shotter still, their skin was almost coal black, with white ink tattoos etched into curving patterns down their backs, the armour of their warriors woven with discarded dragon scales, hard as iron. The Achevins called the Isegi ‘Drakburnt’, joking their complexion was the result of a failed union between man and drake which left the Isegi overbaked; another hilarious derogatory moniker I’m sure…

Despite their condescension, the people of Vardefound saw great value in the Isegi. Dragon bile is an extremely potent fuel, which burns with a fierce blue flame, hot enough to melt steel like tallow so they say. Also, the leather of their wings in extremely fire resistant and tough. There’s a famous saying, that the only stuff which can cut dragon leather is the claw of a dragon or an Aelf-knife. My father owns a patch of dragon leather from his old campaigning days, but I’m not in the habit of cutting into antiques just to test an old wives’ tale.

In any case, these valuable drake products were highly valued in the metropolis, and the Vardefound colony became very wealthy, as did the Isegi. This wealth bought them a measure of independence. The Kings of the Isegi are one of the few monarchies around Oellir who are not direct vassals of the Achevin Emperor, though they still send representatives to the city on occasion. As for the governors of Vardefound, they have positions almost as high as Vassal Kings themselves.

The dragon riders of the Isegi rarely leave the island for war, even when provided great junks to help ferry their turbulent reptilian passengers overseas. Ships tend to get set ablaze when a dragon gets nervous.

The most famous dragon of all, the Imperial Dragon of Achevi, was in fact stolen from the Isle of Sulphur as an egg. Even hundreds of years later, this theft is still a point of contention between the Isegi and the Imperial throne.

Ever since that day, the Isegi have been particularly vehement in protecting their wyrms. There have even been minor wars fought on the island itself between the Isegi and bands of Achevin and Magnallan poachers, trespassing on the island in order to kill a prize buck, or pillage a nest full of eggs.

Long may they be thwarted. I dread the day dragons take route on the mainland. Imagine if even half of them grow even half as large as their imperial cousin? It would be a world on fire, the Age of Great Beasts come again.


*(That and Djinn. Folks love ghosts and devils I’ve found.)

**(This is usually when the juvenile dragon has grown to possess a thirty-foot wingspan. Drakes seldom grow larger than that. Too large, and they become unruly and impossible for even Isegi trainers to control, or else they get hunted down. It is claimed the Isegi cull their dragons before they get too large. I could well believe it. Dragons never stop growing, and the Imperial Dragon at Achevi is said to be so vast that it can no longer fly, and it scales are so thick some say even cannons could not kill it if it ever slipped its bonds.)

***(There’s a theory that the reason the Aelf bred their silver eagles was a direct counter to dragon riders.)

Guien Lore Snippet: The Mesmer Storks of the Warden Mountains

•May 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment
[Note: Hello again my friends. To continue my recent series of blog posts, below is another piece of background lore for Guien I have only managed to touch on in the main narrative of the upcoming Eater of Names, written in an in-universe style. Hope you enjoy!: ]


The Mesmer Storks of the Warden Mountains

By Lady Betheny Agredda of Old-Hold


Squeamish Katahian noblewomen, afraid to explain to their over-sheltered offspring the illicit vicissitudes of the sexual act, explain the origin of babies with the fairy tale of infants being delivered to expectant parents by white feathered storks. Setting aside the infuriating ignorance this seeks to promote in the young, I would wager none of these parents are truly aware of the origin of this myth. If they did, I imagine their soft hearts would be quite horrified…

… Thus I will explain this origin here. For the purposes of education of course. From what sources I can gather, this myth is a corruption in the tales of the Mesmer Stork, brought over to Katahia by Vornish merchants centuries ago.

According to my eye witness accounts and sketches, Mesmer Storks are gigantic tawny feathered monsters, standing a least seven feet tall at the shoulder whilst standing, with wingspans in excess of twenty feet. Their long, straight beaks are like great rusting shears, tapering to a point capable of piercing plate, and razor sharp edges able to snip the arm from a man as easy as one my cut a peach with a cleaver. But what is most remarkable about them are their deep amber eyes, said to possess the most tremendous hypnotic qualities (no simple sketch has been able to convey this quality to me myself, but that is to be expected. These were merchants, not artists). It is these eyes which are the source of the Mesmer Storks’ most disturbing traits. The storks indeed have hypnotic powers, but these powers are too weak to affect the sturdy mind of a healthy adult. But the soft, malleable mind of a child is a different story.

The Tureqi speak of Mesmer Storks swooping down upon undefended villages in springtime. They came to the isolated villages at night, snatching away any infants and young children they could. In some tales, the storks are thwarted by cunning mothers swapping out their children for rocks in their cribs, or brave fathers slaying the storks with horn bows, but more often than not the birds escape with their prizes. In nests hidden in the highest caverns, the children are mesmerized by the storks, turning them into their puppets. From then on, the child is a Stork Rider, bonded forever with the stork that stole them.

This story likely sounds like a work of dark fancy. And yet, the Stork Riders of the Warden Mountains are real, and are well-known as one of the tribes of Tureq. The diminutive tribesmen serve as expert scouts and spies for the Tureqi, wielding blowpipes and short bows to terrific effect. From what Tureqi accounts I can gather, the Stork Riders are tolerated by the other tribes, but they greatly disturb them. The Stork Riders have the frail bodies of children, most appearing no more than ten. And yet, many of their elders are known to be older than sixty summers.

I believe this is a form of magical symbiosis. The storks are able to prolong the life of a stolen child, keeping them as children to prevent them growing too large that that stork can no longer bear their weight. In exchange, the stork uses the Rider as an auxiliary mind, to augment its own. Before stealing a child, Mesmer Storks are noted to be mere animals, without thought or drive beyond the hunt. But once they possess a human, they gain a drive and cunning undreamt of. It is said when the Stork Riders talk, they speak as if they are the stork, that they are one and the same.

It is possible I am reading too much into this, that I assume the tail wags the dog. The more sensible explanation is that Stork Riders are simply a smaller breed of human, who have adapted to the high altitude and learned to tame storks as mounts in battle, and that the storks that stole children simply ate them. Yet why do their eyes match those of the storks? Why do they not age? And why do they speak as if mind slaves of the Mesmer Storks?

In any case, the Stork Riders have ever been a well-known component of the Tureqi hordes, ever since the Hobgoblin wars, long before the unification of the Tureqi under the Anax. Their hunting of gargoyles is also what drove that species to the mountains bordering the freezing wastes of Ashebos.

Be the Mesmer Storks psychic thieves or simply terrible predatory birds, neither prospect seems particularly fitting for a fairy tale designed to stop young minds learning about how wombs work…

Guien Lore Snippet: On the subject of the Khidd and the Great Sprawl…

•May 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

[Note: Here’s a little piece of background I wrote for Guien. In the process of writing the three books for Guien so far, I have a ton of extra background material about the entire world of Guien and its weird creatures and settings. I thought I’d share some of these in-universe snippets of lore with you, in the run up to the release of Eater of Names this year. Here is the first. Enjoy!]

On the subject of the Khidd and the Great Sprawl

By Lady Betheny Agredda of Old-Hold


Here in Katahia, we have myths about the Khidd, treating them more akin to spirits or imps of the Utterdark hell; cautionary tales to frighten children. Of course, we have little cause to think of the Khidd as more than fairy tale monsters. However, for the people of Eastern Oellir, the Khidd are a far more solid and pernicious race, and far from mythological. This treatise hopes to bridge the gulf of knowledge between our cultures on the matter of the Khidd, and to provide the layman a grounding in the origins, nature and history of this fascinating species.

The Khidd can be found in the far eastern reaches of Oellir, in a tangled, nightmarish forest known as the Sprawl, which stretches from the Warden mountains down to the Sulphur sea, and East as far as men have travelled. I have read lurid accounts of adventurers travelling thousands of miles through the Sprawl, finding empty cities amidst the poisoned trees; the lingering remnants of long-vanquished civilisations. These accounts claim they found no life there but Khidd and their spawn. I give these accounts but scant credence however, for if the Khidd were so overwhelmingly deadly, then how did any simple band of adventurers ever escape their grasp? Still, the east beyond Magnalla is a quiet place, which is likely due in part to Khidd encroachment. Perhaps there are entire civilisations beyond our known world, cut off from us by Khidd and their forests?

Whilst Katahian sources vary wildly in their descriptions of Khidd, from demonic hobgoblins with horns and stingers, to shapeless smoke creatures, the Magnallan, and Drenchlander accounts are remarkably consistent. They describe them as crustaceans with two sets of snapping claws and hideously toxic stinging barbs, with natural armour of glossy black, gigantic cousins of the common scorpion. There are even Tureqi sagas which sing of great champions doing battle with ‘spiders clad in black steel and shears to cut a man’s thread, swift as breath.’

Wherever the Khidd go, the Sprawl follows, which implies some sort of correlation. There are stories of the forests seeming to literally march with the Khidd as they swarmed over the land. Painted Priests of Turasser have suggested to me this is clear proof that Khidd are demonic forest spirits, and imply that all who follow the teachings of Selmyra and the nameless forest gods could summon Khidd at any moment, justifying their persecution. This is, of course, nonsense. I would advance a simpler explanation, proposed by the learned Magnallan Lanid of Akask, who has actually examined Khidd corpses first-hand. To Lanid, the Khidd live in symbiosis with the twisted trees of the Sprawl; they hatch their eggs in the boles of Sprawl-trees, turning their sap and ugly green as they gestate. Then, as the Khidd scuttle forth to hunt, they carry the seeds of the trees in their segmented shells, spreading the Sprawl’s progeny wherever they go.

Unlike more traditional enemies, Khidd do not fight as armies, with supply lines, strategy and morale. They are relentless, fearless swarming animals, devouring everything they can get their claws on.

I once asked my father, Marshall Agredda, what we might do to fend off a Khidd invasion here at Old-Hold. ‘Hope our walls are high enough,’ was his taciturn response.

From my collated accounts, the Khidd have always been here, predating even the Age of Great Beasts, with their frozen corpses captured in sediment stone. Indeed, I would go as far to say the first creatures to crawl from the primordial oceans were not our ancestors, but rather the great scorpions in their living suits of armour.

In either case, the people of Magnalla have fought the Khidd for thousands of years. Before the Starfall, the Khidd seem to have been driven to the edge of the world, becoming an almost forgotten peril. With the fall of stars and the end of the Gnomic hegemony, the Khidd returned with a vengeance, sweeping across the east like ravening locusts. It is believed that the threat of the Khidd was what forged the first alliance between humans and hobgoblins in the east. But even together, Magnalla would have been swallowed up by the Sprawl if not for the invention of the Djinn Trap by the scholar-mages of Alazea. Armed with these chained demons, and the other advanced weapons of the Magnallans, the Khidd were stymied.

The fight against the Khidd continues to this day, with the Reichgoblins constantly launching forays into the woods to destroy Khidd nests. We know this through stories brought back by mercenaries hired to help combat the primordial terrors.

For all we fear the Lord of Travesties, in whatever guise he takes, and the hobgoblin menace at home, I do sometimes wonder if we have learned to be frightened of entirely the wrong nemesis. For if the Khidd should ever triumph, thus would end civilisation, replaced by an eternity of chittering jaws and glossy black carapace.

The Hobgoblin’s Herald: A Year on

•April 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Hello dear readers,

I must first apologise for my lengthy absence from the blogosphere; a year in internet time is an eternity (and is hardly any time at all in the publishing world, unless you are a writing machine like Brandon Sanderson or Stephen King, or a big publisher with an avengers-like roster of full time authors).

Just thought I’d pop in here now to let you know what I’ve been up to, show you some cool-ass Hobgoblin fan art, and setting out what is upcoming from me.

Hobgoblin Herald Cover_

The Cover of Book 1, by the wonderful Tabitha Stirling (follow her @VoleQueen on twitter)

The past year has been a fun one for me. Not only was The Hobgoblin’s Herald for Fox Spirit Books released, I have also been writing the second and third entries in the series, Eater of Names (coming this year) and Fleshless Prince respectively.


Stunning fan art depicting some of the main characters of Hobgoblin’s Herald, drawn by the masterful Manuel Mesones (visit his Imaginarium here for more.)

On April 30th, the interview I did for Kendell Reviews last month will be out, so be sure to check it out on his site this coming Monday.

In light of the upcoming release of Eater of Names, I will also be doing a series of blogs themed around Hobgoblin’s Herald, and the world of Guien in general. Once I am given the go ahead, I’d also like to do a preview of the cover for Eater of Names, which incidentally Tabby Stirling has absolutely knocked out of the park.

When creating a world, there is so much history and supplementary material you create, much of it only being hinted at in the novels themselves. I tihnk this is a shame so have decided to create a few in-universe articles on some of the more obscure portions of the history of Guien I’ve come up with during the course of writing these 3 novels, and will be posting them up here semi-regularly in the run up to release day.

Guien Map B&W - A4

I’ll be delving into some of the dark corners of Guien, to see what lurks within.

Just as a final note, once again I will be attending Edge Lit 7 at Derby Quad this year, Saturday July 14th. If you’re going make sure to look out for me, say hi, and you know, maybe pick up a copy of Herald from the Fox Spirit stall if you haven’t already.

Goodbye for now, but watch this space. Interesting things be afoot…