The Valley of the Man Vultures

The Valley of the Man Vultures by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertOn his way to Krysh, a city of fabled riches, Thurvok, the sellsword, must first pass through the Valley of the Accursed Blood.

Traditionally, those travelling to Krysh make offerings at the temple at the entrance of the valley in exchange for protection on their journey. But Thurvok scoffs at such superstition and decides to continue his journey without any divine protection. His refusal to make an offering infuriates the temple priest Alberon who promptly curses Thurvok.

Thurvok is not much bothered by this – he does not believe in curses. However, the valley holds dangers that don’t particularly care whether Thurvok believes in them or not.

This is a short story of 4400 words or 15 print pages in the Tales of Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

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More information:

  • The Valley of the Man Vultures is a short story of 4400 words or approximately 15 print pages in the Thurvok series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • The Valley of the Man Vultures was one of the stories written during the 2018 July short story challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per day in July 2018.
  • Like many of the July short story challenge stories, The Valley of the Man Vultures was inspired by a piece of fantasy art, namely this painting by Michael MacRae called “Hot Dirt”.
  • Unlike my other stories, the Thurvok series is credited to Richard Blakemore, whom regular readers will recognise as the pulp writer protagonist of the Silencer series. As for why the Thurvok series is credited to Richard Blakemore, in the Silencer story Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, Richard purchases the January 1936 issue of Weird Tales and is pleased to find a new instalment of a Conan serial by Robert E. Howard, a Jirel of Joiry novelette by C.L. Moore, a Jules de Grandin novelette by Seabury Quinn as well as one of Margaret Brundage’s famous covers. He also muses that he would like to take a stab at writing something like that one day. This throwaway scene got me thinking, “What if Richard actually did write a sword and sorcery series for Jake Levonsky?”
  • When I found myself writing a sword and sorcery adventure for the July short story challenge some time later, I suddenly wondered, “What if this was Richard Blakemore’s lost sword and sorcery series?” And so I decided to credit the story to Richard and pass myself off as the editor who rediscovered him. I even created a blog, a Twitter account and an Amazon author page for Richard and filled out a Smashwords interview in his persona.
  • Thurvok initially showed up as a lone wandering adventurer in the Conan mould, though by the end of The Valley of the Man Vultures he has found a friend in Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, and the series veers off into Fafhrd and Gray Mouser territory instead. However, Richard never mentions them as an inspiration (though they certainly were one of mine), because the first Fafhrd and Gray Mouser story didn’t appear until 1939, so there is no way Richard could have been familiar with the characters.
  • As the series progresses, Thurvok picks up further companions and the series moves away from its inspirations and becomes its own thing.
  • Thurvok was originally called Thurok. However, there already is a comic book and a videogame called Turok – Dinosaur Hunter (neither of which I’m familiar with), so I added an extra letter to Thurvok’s name to distinguish him from the comic book/videogame character.
  • The cover image is stock art by Phil Cold.
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