Welcome to a brand spanking new serial fiction series, CITY OF SCARS, a dark fantasy tale set in a world plagued by war. Surprisingly, this series has no connection with my BLOOD SKIES novels, save for a few shared inspirations. It’s also going to be long as hell, so take a seat and strap in: the war is on!
CITY OF SCARS
“I want to go home,” Corgan said to Judah, and he regretted it almost instantly. That wasn’t something to be said in front of his men. “She has to die,” he said. “Otherwise, it will just start all over again. Sooner or later, she’ll win.” He poured some water out of his flask and splashed it onto his face. Even his canteen water smelled foul and old, but at least it kept him awake.
“You’re doing the right thing,” Judah said stoically. His voice almost sounded approving. Almost. “The men will do their best. They’re tired, they’re afraid, and they have their doubts, but they’re only human. And that’s what this is all about.”
Judah quickened his pace, and left Corgan alone.
Corgan dreamed while he walked. Images flashed before his raw and crusted eyes and stood side by side with the mind-numbing monotony of the Heartfang Wastes, where he marched towards certain doom.
He saw Ral Tanneth, much more splendid and perfect in his mind than it had ever had been in real life. The waters of the Gray Sea made soft collisions on the shore beneath the veil of mists, and gossamer birds floated up, straight as arrows sent into the sky. The city’s domed rooftops and arched bridges, many of which ran between the tower-like buildings, were pristine, free of any cracks or tears. People wound their way through the clear streets, robed and quiet and content, and Corgan even smelled the blackberries and heard the music of strings and felt the warm hand of the sun on his face. In his mind, that was how Ral Tanneth had been, before the War.
Corgan had been different, too. He saw a younger version of himself walking there in the stygian wastes. This younger Corgan had a full head of black hair, a strong and proud posture, and his face was chiseled and clean-shaven. What a sight he must have been now. Corgan hadn’t shaved in months, and he bore several ugly scars. Though he’d not looked in a mirror since well before the Company had departed Savan Karosh, Corgan felt the difference in himself. He saw it in the others, as well, especially Merrick, who’d once shone so bright he might have been chiseled from the sun, but who now held the look of someone who tried not to see what lay directly ahead, whose eyes always reached out to something that wasn’t there.
Corgan had been in love once, to Tyrene, a girl from a small village somewhere north of Tulan Lei. At least it felt like love, but they’d never really said the words. They’d just spent whatever time they could together, which was difficult with Corgan’s constant duties, but they made what time they had count: they sat by the stream, made love in inns or by the river, walked long walks and talked of little things. Goddess, he missed her. He’d not seen Tyrene since the war began, and that had been nearly a decade ago.
Corgan silently damned the Blood Queen, with her cabals and her armies and her monsters. Jlantria and Den’nar might have won only a temporary victory over her demonic brood, but it was a victory nonetheless.
He just prayed he’d live long enough to see her die.