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SotS Official Snippet #3

Fans of Bahzell and Tomenack come on in! Let's talk about David's fantasy series and our favorite hradani!
SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by runsforcelery   » Mon Dec 15, 2014 8:37 pm

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His eyes flicked to the clouds, and he grinned. Of course. He lifted his sword’s tip to touch the underside of the hemisphere, then closed his eyes and murmured more words under his breath. Power welled, filling the blue shield with vibrating urgency, and the old man smiled at the familiar tingle and cracked his left eye to scan the clouds.

Nothing.

Well, such things took time. He closed both eyes and settled into a hunch-shouldered wait. He was reasonably certain what was about to happen, and he had no wish to carry it into the tavern. Indeed, he had every reason to keep any danger away from that inn. And at least his wards kept off the rain.

His wait was shorter than he’d feared. Thunder rumbled again, and a lance of lightning, blue-white and screaming, forked from the clouds. It smashed into his shield, rupturing the rain-shrouded darkness with prominences of destruction that splintered back towards the heavens which had birthed them. The old man swayed, and his grip on the sword hilt went white-knuckled as the lightning sheeted back in clinging waves of flame. The shaft of brilliance lingered unnaturally, ramming sullenly against the old man. It seemed to endure for hours, shifting and probing at his defenses with self-aware malevolence as his mind flashed through the calculations of a wizard lord, beating back the attack with his own shifting strength. The battle swayed back and forth as minds and wills clashed and struck like edged steel in skilled hands.

And then, finally, unwillingly, the bolt of light withdrew into the clouds and the savagery at its heart bled away into the all-absorbent earth. The old man straightened and opened his eyes, grinning up at the storm lashed clouds.

“Nicely played,” he told the storm calmly, sheathing his blade with a snap. “A lightning bolt. What could be more natural? A nice touch, but not, I think, quite good enough, My Lady!”

He bowed ironically to the raging sky and crossed to the tavern. The blue light retreated into his body as he touched the latch. It clung for a moment, like glittering blue frost, then vanished as he opened the door.

* * * * * * * * * *

The redhaired man paused inside the door and peered about. The place was crowded, the air thick with the smell of food and drink. Pipe smoke hazed the rafters, drifting overhead in a lazy canopy, and freshly spread sawdust covered the floor. Voices rumbled, glass clinked, and eating utensils clattered about him.

Most of the Races of Man seemed represented. Stocky dwarves brushed shoulders with ivory-horned halflings and the tall, broad-shouldered men of the northern provinces. There were even half a dozen patrons with the slashed eyebrows of the half-elven, and the dark-faced harper perched on the end of the bar boasted Wakūo blood, to judge by his hooked nose and bold, black eyes. Slashed doublets and silk breeches matched their finery against the plain shirts and canvas trousers of seamen while life and vitality bubbled like simmering porridge, rising even stronger and more welcomingly against the pound of rain on roof slates and the echoing rolls of thunder beyond the tavern’s stout eaves. It all made the redhaired man even more aware of his own bedraggled appearance, and he hesitated before plunging into the press in search of some corner in which a man with an empty purse might find a haven from the storm.

“Ho! Look what the wind’s blown in!”

The redhaired man turned towards the deep, jovial bellow . . . and froze in mid stride, as he found himself face-to-face with two fathoms of midnight-black death. He stood there, not daring even to breathe, as the immense direcat gazed up at him out of amber eyes. It was one of the great direcats of the plains, almost seven feet in length, not counting its tail, and well over three feet at the shoulder, with five-inch bone-white fangs. It was also the most feared predator of Norfressa, with absolutely no business in a Belhadan tavern.

He waited, frozen, anticipating its spring. But it merely seated itself and wrapped its yard-long tail neatly about its toes like some enormous house cat. It cocked its massive head to gaze straight across at him out of those frighteningly intelligent yellow eyes. And as it did, he realized no one else in the entire tavern seemed to consider its deadly presence the least bit out of the ordinary.

He inhaled cautiously, pulling his gaze away from the direcat by sheer force of will to look at whoever had spoken, and his nostrils widened in fresh astonishment. No stripling himself, he was overtopped by the man he faced, and his green eyes widened as he recognized a hradani. Not just any hradani, either. This was a giant among them; at six and a half feet, the redhaired man’s head barely topped the other’s shoulder. The white apron over the leathers of a fighting man — and the sheathed Wakūo hook knife at his hip — only added to the aura of unreality, for the hradani were the only foes more savage in combat than the huge direcat which sat with such bizarre daintiness at the giant’s side.

“It’s a powerful thirst as brings a man out on a night like this!” the hradani laughed, and the redhaired man studied the massive figure carefully, reassured by the other’s cheerful manner . . . and the fact that the direcat hadn’t yet pounced. He glanced back at the beast, and it yawned through its fangs as it returned his regard.

“Not thirst so much as an excess of drinking water,” he said, kicking his wits back to life, and smiled. The hradani’s tufted ears, fox-like and mobile, twitched in amusement, and his huge laugh bounced back from the rafters like enclosed thunder.

“Aye, I’m thinking Chemalka and Khalifrio are after having their heads together this night,” he agreed. “Myself, I’m one as prefers my drink in a mug and not so cold! If it’s something stronger than water you’re seeking, you’ve come to the right place in the Iron Axe.”

“I may have, but I fear the contents of my purse haven’t,” the redhaired man confessed candidly.

“No money?” The hradani eyed him thoughtfully, then shrugged. “No matter. I’ll not turn any man out on a night such as this. We’ll fire your belly with rockfish stew while the fire’s after drying your hide.”

He chuckled rumblingly at his own humor and turned to plow through the crowded taproom like a barque under full sail. The press parted before him like foam, and the redhaired man trailed gratefully in his wake. He stayed carefully clear of the direcat, but the beast only glanced at him as he passed and began grooming a scimitared paw. The redhaired man met its incurious gaze respectfully, for the cat must have weighed at least eight hundred pounds which made it worthy of all the respect he could muster.

“Leeana! Leeana!”


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by fallsfromtrees   » Mon Dec 15, 2014 8:51 pm

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MWW, Thank you Thank You Thank You. :D :D :D

Very curious. Obviously the hradani is Bahzell (who else would be calling Leeana), but why oh why is Bahzell acting as a barkeep in Belhaden. Boy there have been a lot of changes since the end of WMC.
========================

The only problem with quotes on the internet is that you can't authenticate them -- Abraham Lincoln
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by PeterZ   » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:57 pm

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Dang! Just how many realities will this grand opus cover? Methinks this Ken Houghton will be meeting many Bahzells and Leeanas as Kenhodan before completing his mission as Ken Houghton with his brother Champion of Tomanak.
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by MPCatchup   » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:08 pm

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Excited to finally be getting snippets from the new book and be able to revisit Bahzell. Just so confused with who this Ken Houghton is, I'm going to have to go reread the series to try to find my bearings.
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by PeterZ   » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:29 pm

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MPCatchup wrote:Excited to finally be getting snippets from the new book and be able to revisit Bahzell. Just so confused with who this Ken Houghton is, I'm going to have to go reread the series to try to find my bearings.


Just read the Sword Bother novella included in the last edition of Oath of Swords.
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by kbus888   » Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:38 am

kbus888
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Location: Eastern Canada

=2014/12/16=
Thanks for the snippet !!

I admit that while most of my
reading attention is presently
focused on the snippets of
the upcoming Safehold book (HFQ),
I do enjoy reading anything written
by RFC.

I do tend to organize the snippets
into a (home-designed) local html files
that I find easier to read using
any of the browsers at my disposal...
locally held and never kept on the
WEB nor in the Cloud, of course.

I only wish I had some talent as a
wordsmith to help me express my
opinions as clearly as does Mr Weber.

Instead I seem to have the ability to
recognize phrases written by others
that correspond to my thoughts and
opinions.

And I am a firm believer in plagiarism
as evidenced by the signature afixed
to my posts :lol:

Editted once for spelling

R
.
..//* *\\
(/(..^..)\)
.._/'*'\_
.(,,,)^(,,,)

Love is a condition in which
the happiness of another
is essential to your own. - R Heinlein
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:59 am

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Ken Houghton? I know who "Ken Houghton" is but this red-haired guy knows too much about Norfressa to be our friend Ken.

Of course, if the red-haired guy is be greeted by "our" Bahzell & Leeanas, where are their coursers?

The coursers would be a "little out of place" in the tavern's stable or in a fair sized town.

For that matter, if a hradani would raise a few eye-brows, a hradani married to a human woman would raise even more.


PeterZ wrote:Dang! Just how many realities will this grand opus cover? Methinks this Ken Houghton will be meeting many Bahzells and Leeanas as Kenhodan before completing his mission as Ken Houghton with his brother Champion of Tomanak.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
*
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:14 am

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

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Location: East Central Illinois

Ah, I just read the blurb for Sword of the South so Kenhodan could be Ken Houghton of "Sword Brother".

Of course, Kenhodan's (if he's Ken Houghton) knowledge of Norfressa could have been given him by whoever took his personal memories.


PeterZ wrote:Dang! Just how many realities will this grand opus cover? Methinks this Ken Houghton will be meeting many Bahzells and Leeanas as Kenhodan before completing his mission as Ken Houghton with his brother Champion of Tomanak.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
*
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by GlynnStewart   » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:30 pm

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This is starting to look like sufficiently 'alternative universe' Norfressa that I may have to completely disconnect this series from the main Bahzell books.

Not necessarily a bad thing, just a bit of a mental bump from what I was expecting.
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Re: SotS Official Snippet #3
Post by John Prigent   » Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:17 pm

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What makes anyone think that these are OUR Bahzell, Leeana, Wencit, and Ken Houghton/Kenhodan? We've been told by Himself (as Bahzell calls him)that there are many universes and our heroes have counterparts in all of them. Though if these aren't our people I'll be very interested to learn how they link to the Bahzellverse, and if they are, what they are doing incognito will be equally interesting to learn. Bring it on, RFC!
Cheers
John
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