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New short fiction: “A Single Thread”

My favorite things include ancient forests, medieval history, shared worlds, and people who have the ambition and imagination to start a small business.  So when Allen Drees of small-press game company IPG asked if I’d be interested in writing a story about the forest elves of Kingdoms of Legend, a Pathfinder-compatible setting based on Europe in 1415, of course I said yes.

I soon found another reason to love this project: the elven Forest Kingdom shares a border with the Kingdom of Poland. My father was born in Poland, and I’ve always felt a strong connection with the culture, history, and folklore. This story takes a new approach to a famous Polish legend: Smok Wawelski, the dragon of Wawel Hill.  It also features other spirits and creatures from Polish folklore, which cross over into the Forest Kingdom to complicate the lives of two less-than-perfect elves.

The ancient city Krakov is situated on the Vistula River. It was the royal seat in 1415, with the palace atop Wawel Hill. Caves beneath this hill are the purported lair of Smok Wawelski.  In the fantasy version, the caves extend far beyond the real-world caves (shown on the map, below), venturing south into the Tatra Mountains and westward into a primordial forest.  Humans no longer remember these caverns, for in past centuries, elves summoned magic to block off human incursions into their lands. We can still get a glimpse of these priomoridial woodlands in Białowieża Forest, a preserve that protects ancient oaks as well as the last herd of wisent, European bison.  In 1415, the oak, elm, ash and linden trees formed a canopy nearly 150 feet high. In the deep shade grew ferns, swamp alders and huge fungi. The elves shared the Forest Kingdom with herds of wisent, wolves, wild boar, tarpan (a species of wild horse), badgers, bears, moose, lynx, and eagles, as well as creatures and spirits we know only from legend and folklore. Psotniki, small fey creatures who love mischief, lurk in the underbrush. Woodland ponds might provide a lair for wodnik, a froglike humanoid. Powerful wards keep away most of the spirits and supernatural creatures that haunt the Kingdom of Poland, but the elves remain vigilent against invasion of any kind.

“A Single Thread” provides an introduction to the Forest Kingdom.  I hope you’ll enjoy this tale and consider venturing futher into the Kingdom of Legends setting.

This story is available for $.99 at the following online bookstores:

Barnes & Noble
Paizo Publishing
Google Play

Currently simmering: Many small pots

Weekdays are for novel-length fiction. Evenings and weekends are for short stuff. Here’s what’s cooking in the short fiction department.

“Mother, Daughter, Holy Geist,” a short story for the Foreshadows: Ghost of Zero web fiction, is finished. There may be some small revisions to coordinate the fiction with the accompanying music, an original piece based on music by St. Hildegard, a 12th century mystic, musician, and polymath.

“A Single Thread” is set in Kingdoms of Legend, a Pathfinder-compatible game setting based on Europe in 1415. It’s finished, revised, and awaiting publication.

“Fairy Tales” is another story for a shared-world setting. It’s for an anthology that explores various aspect of fey/fairy lore.

Tw0 short stories inspired by the Cthulhu mythos. One will be for the print anthology Madness on the Orient Express, due December 1.  The second short story is for a project that has not yet been announced, and no due date has been set.

A story for a themed fantasy anthology.  It’s an invitation-only anthology and it hasn’t been announced, so I can’t  give details. Submission period is December 1-30.

“The Necromancer,” a short story that’s essentially a rematch between the two young wizards who faced off in “The Illusionist,” has not been scheduled or contracted, but I’ve got a go-ahead of the informal “write it and send it in” variety .  The story will be very short–only about 2500 words–written as a single-episode piece of web fiction.

So.  That’s my short fiction schedule for 2012 and early 2013.  I’ll post an update on novella/novel publications soon.