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SoftS Official Snippet #2

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SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by runsforcelery   » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:06 am

First Space Lord

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Okay, I posted the prologue from Sword of the South A while back. Here's the second snippet. I'm not sure what sort of schedule I'll be posting on, but I'll try to make it about one a week or so, assuming that my own far too frequently hectic and confused schedule lets me keep track of it.

Take care, all.



“Out of the way, you idiot!”

The drayman snarled, the heavy goods wagon swerved, and a redhaired man slid from under the horses’ very hooves into the gutter. The wagoneer’s round Belhadan accent drifted back in a picturesque curse, but the grating roar of iron-shod wheels drowned his profanity. And despite his anger, the wagon neither slowed nor stopped, for this was Belhadan, commercial hub of the north. Those who served the port’s voracity had little time for idle pleasantries with strangers.

Muddy water flowed over the pedestrian’s legs as the stamp of horses and rattle of wheels faded. The mingled smells of salt, tar, and garbage overlaid the scents of hemp and fresh timber, and thunder muttered. Night cooking smells rode a sullen breeze from the west, but their comfortable aroma couldn’t cloak the sharp, damp smell of the looming tempest. There was thunder in those clouds, and lightning, and the promise of cold, drenching rain.

The redhaired man shook his head and rose. He dabbed at his worn clothing, but it would never again attain sartorial splendor and he gave up with a shrug and peered into the wind. Gusts fingered his hair, and he leaned into them, feeling the approaching storm on his cheekbones. Belhadan loomed before him, laced with strands of glowing streetlamps, windows gleaming against the darkness. Much of the dwarven-designed city was buried in the bedrock of the steep mountainside and foothills its walls and fortifications crowned, but its broad streets were thickly lined with the above-ground houses, shops, and taverns preferred by the other Races of Man. Now the redhaired man scratched his jaw thoughtfully, then moved off towards the streetlamps leading towards the city’s heart.

He wasn’t alone. An old man in an alley straightened from his slouch against a handy wall and squinted warily at the low-bellied clouds. Then he raised the hood of his Sothoii-style poncho with resigned hands and waited until the redhaired man had half-vanished into the dark before he hitched up the sword belt under that poncho and followed softly over the paving.

* * * * * * * * * *

The thunder’s mumbled promise was redeemed in a downpour. The wind died in a moment, leaving the air still and hushed, prickly and humming. The next instant was born in the stutter of lightning and the hiss of rain. The wind returned, refreshed by its pause, billowing the skirts of the old man’s poncho and forcing the redhaired man to hunch into the raindrops which rode it.

The old man muttered balefully into his neatly trimmed beard as the younger man continued at the same pace. Tolerance for thunderstorms was a youthful vice sensible old bones no longer boasted. Rain pelted the old man’s shoulders like pebbles and wind threatened to snatch the hood from his head, but he grunted with something like satisfaction as he peered at a passing corner marker.

Ahead of him, the redhaired man scanned the darkened shops and warehouses as he trudged into the downpour, shielding his eyes against the rain with a cupped palm as he sought a haven. No one walked the streets in such weather — indeed, the approaching storm helped explain the drayman’s surly haste — but he glanced constantly over his shoulder, as if somehow aware he wasn’t alone on the deserted street. Yet no matter how quickly he looked, the old man always contrived to place a corner, a shutter, or an out-thrust stone buttress between them just before he turned.

His present neighborhood seemed singularly lacking in the shelter for which he searched, and the water gushing from rooftops and downspouts filled the street’s gutters. They were well-designed, those gutters, yet the last month had been rainy. They were already half-filled by older runoff, and the sudden, massive deluge flooded them and sent a sheet of water swirling out across the hard-paved street. It washed about the redhaired man’s ankles, and he grimaced as its icy outriders found the leaks in his worn-out boots. His feet squelched with every step, adding a fresh stratum of wretchedness to the night’s misery.

He turned a corner and paused suddenly as diamond-paned windows poured light out into the night, turning raindrops into plunging topazes in the instant before they slammed into the flooded street in dimpled explosions of spray. Then a door opened between two of those windows, spilling light and laughter, and a pair of sailors staggered out of it, arms draped about one another, loudly proclaiming their disdain for such a paltry zephyr.

They wandered down the street, drunkenly bellowing an utterly reprehensible ditty to the thunder, and the redhaired man’s smile was etched in the welcoming light before the door slammed once more. Taverns offered warmth, even to those with empty purses, he thought, provided one didn’t attract too much attention to one’s poverty.

He crossed the street and relief sighed from the old man’s lips, but he didn’t follow into that oasis of light and warmth. He watched the redhaired man enter the tavern without him, instead, for he knew something more than tempest prowled the night. He’d searched his mind at length and found no hint of what was to come, which was even more worrisome than it was unusual, but he cocked one eye speculatively upward and probed the storm for clues once more.

Finally, he shook his head, muttered something under his breath, and clapped his hands once, sharply. The sound of his clap vanished in a roll of thunder — a roll unaccompanied by any flash of lightning — and a blue hemisphere whuffed into existence about him. It was faint, its glow more sensed than seen even in the darkness, yet rain hissed into steam upon its surface, and he peered about alertly, eyes slitted against the faint blue haze. A longsword materialized in his gnarled, scarred hand, swinging easily, edged with a glitter of silver-blue radiance.

Something, yes . . . but what? His enemies wouldn’t wish to draw attention to their art: not in Belhadan. Wizards might be tolerated — barely — in some realms; with one notable exception, however, they received short shrift and a long rope in Belhadan. So what form would the attack take?

"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by Eagleeye   » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:42 pm

Captain of the List

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Thank you, David, thank you very much! That's an totally unexpected, but nonetheless very appreciated gift for St Nicholas Day! :D
Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:04 pm


Posts: 2292
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Location: East Central Illinois

Thank You! :D :D :D :D
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by Cyradis4   » Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:54 pm


Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:30 pm

Thank you!

But.... Could someone link to the post with the Prolog? I managed to miss that one....

Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by fallsfromtrees   » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:11 pm

Vice Admiral

Posts: 1949
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Location: Mesa, Arizona

The link to the first snippet is:

I don't know how to create a sticky post, or I woiuld do the equivalent of joat42 and create a post that has the links to the snippets as they are issued.

The only problem with quotes on the internet is that you can't authenticate them -- Abraham Lincoln
Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by BobG   » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:15 pm

Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 288
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Location: Westford, MA

Thank you, David!
SF & Fantasy: The only things better than Chocolate.
Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by Spacekiwi   » Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:20 am


Posts: 2634
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:08 am
Location: New Zealand

Your munificence knows no bounds..... !

Thank you. :D

its not paranoia if its justified... :D
Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by iranuke   » Sun Dec 07, 2014 12:15 pm


Posts: 235
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Longview, WA

Thanks for the snippet, it looks like we start this book in the deep end of the pool.
Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by quark   » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:51 pm

Lieutenant Commander

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Hmm, I wonder who the old man could be.
Re: SoftS Official Snippet #2
Post by Weird Harold   » Mon Dec 08, 2014 12:33 am

Weird Harold
Fleet Admiral

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quark wrote:Hmm, I wonder who the old man could be.

Mel Brooks, of course. :shock:
Answers! I got lots of answers!

(Now if I could just find the right questions.)

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