Once the bloody battle of Yarra was over, the black-garbed mercenary known only as the Traveller wanted nothing more than to ride away and find himself a new employer and a new war to fight in. But then a dying man reached out to the Traveller to give him a silver locket and begged him to deliver a message.
The Traveller gave the man his word – and mercenary or not, he was still a man of honour. So he headed off to deliver the message, right into the heart of the vast and uncharted Jewodda forest, not knowing that he was about to meet his destiny…
Bonus Story: The Black Blade
It fell from the sky in a trail of fire during the worst storm the realm had ever seen. A sword as black as the night, corrupting all it touched. The black blade would bring one hundred and fifty years of blood and darkness to the land of Allagat, before it finally found its match…
Two short tales of epic fantasy of 8000 words altogether.
Read an excerpt.
List price: 2.99 USD and EUR or 1.99 GBP
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More formats coming soon.
Some additional information:
- The Hidden Castle is a short story of 6800 words, The Black Blade is a short story of 1200 words. Both stories are digital premieres and have never been published previously.
- The Hidden Castle is another story that originated in the creative writing workshop at my university. In this case, the prompt was “I came but no one answered. But I kept my word”, i.e. the words that the Traveller says just before turning away, when the castle gates do not open. Being an unrepentant genre writer, I constructed an epic fantasy story around this prompt.
- I even started writing a sequel to The Hidden Castle featuring the further adventures of Chani and the Traveller. We even get to meet the villainous usurper Aran Gator in that one. I abandoned it at approximately eighty percent completed, though I may finish it one day.
- The title is a reference to the Akira Kurosawa movie The Hidden Fortress, which I’m very fond of. The exiled teenaged princess hidden away in the woods probably came from there as well, though I wasn’t aware of it at the time.
- Another filmic influence on The Hidden Castle were the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s with their nameless and taciturn outlaws and bounty hunters. The Traveller is clearly in the tradition of those characters, though transplanted into an epic fantasy world instead. The Traveller has no name, because so far he has refused to reveal it to me. The exact nature of his history with the villainous Aran Gator remains shrouded in mystery as well, though these two share quite a bit more history than the Traveller lets on.
- Since The Hidden Castle is an epic fantasy story, albeit a short one, there is of course a map. I created it myself, partly handdrawn and partly computer generated. You can see a high-res version of the map here.
- The second story, The Black Blade, was originally written as a submission to an anthology about magic swords. It wasn’t accepted and languished on my harddrive, until I decided to include it as a bonus story with The Hidden Castle.
- The Hidden Castle is the first and to date only of my books to hit the number 1 slot on a bestseller list. Well, it was only a tiny category bestseller list at Amazon France, but it’s still a number 1 bestseller.
- The cover is digital art by Assnezana via Dreamstime.com.
- The old cover is a photo of Jever Castle in the town of Jever in Friesland in North West Germany. Jever Castle stands in the middle of a rather overgrown park, which gives it something of a fairytale quality. You can see the original unaltered photo here.