Title: Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends
Author: A. L. Butcher
Genre: Fantasy, Short Stories
Five short tales of fantasy and fantasy romance set in the dark world of Erana; the world of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles.
The Moon on the Water: The tale of the love between a goddess and a warrior and the terrible curse it brought.
The Tale of Treyna the Beloved: When a mortal woman is pursued by two rival gods even the heavens are wrought by magic.
Storm-Born: A lonely magician finds companionship with a creature of the storm but magic demands a price, what price will it be?
The Blue Phial: A lesson in listening to instruction carefully, lest one makes an embarrassing mistake.
The Legend of Oeliana: A story of a nymph and a toad, jealous magic and debts repaid.
Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends Excerpt
The Moon on the Water
© A.L Butcher
War did not know this, and battle will be fought when it chooses. Trolls, elves and men are but its creatures. So the war continued, month after bloody month, and neither side prevailed. With battle came those things which walk alongside war – disharmony, chaos and hatred. It took much persuasion and whispered entreaties in the passion of lovemaking to convince Acionna to fight for the Var. When gods become involved in war the odds are unfair and a price must surely be paid, but from whom is never clear.
Acionna held the wild magic, the primal Power, the very essence of sorcery and for the sake of her lover and his tribe she brought it to bear upon those they fought. From her fingers ran the torrents of the mountain, fierce and unyielding as they swept away the enemies. Sal trolls grabbed at rocks or thrust their weapons into the ground to no avail as warriors were swept over crevasses and into the hard rock walls. The ground beneath her enemies rippled and cracked, tumbling warriors and unsettling their battle beasts.
The Sal themselves fielded greater numbers; their tribe spanned many settlements and their Shaman had learned the secrets of the dark magic, traded for gold, for prisoners of war and for blood. The warriors of the tribe of Var were pushed back, and the rocks were stained red with blood as the sickness swept their ranks. Blood poured from eyes and mouths, drenching all about them. Twisting tendrils of magic grabbed at throats like unseen hands, choking away life and squeezing out hope. The dead rose on feet of bone, in the days before the trolls burned their dead and limbs hacked from torsos leapt, kicking, scratching, blinding until the trolls of Varris trembled. Their Shaman Lirana called the magic from the Relic of the Moon as her sight faded from eyes pulled from her face by the hands of the dead and her throat constricted with the dark, curse magic of her foes. The death-words of a Shaman carry much Power and the magic flowed with her blood to turn the attackers before her to stone; statues now diving forward in attack, and one with a stone arm clutched about the neck of a dying troll Shaman. With their Shaman slain, the Var were demoralised, yet fought for their own survival as the Relic rolled from the hands of their queen.
Diving forward Hirik warrior Orlin Sal snatched the Relic of the Moon and raised it high; the victory chant of his tribe echoed among the towering peaks, a thunderous cacophony roaring among the paths and trails. The Relic soon reached their Shaman, who laughed and motioned her troops onwards. It was not enough to possess the Relic of the Moon, she wished to kill or enslave her enemies. More slaves bought her more magic, more wealth and more status. More blood could be traded with the fae. She had heard the words and seen the tendrils of magic from the previous owner and cried her own. Pouring forth like a torrent with the twisted darkness of the magic she held the Power turned her most of her kin and some of her foes to nought but statues. Frozen and fixed in rock and in time. Magic demands a price and on that plain of war, that price was the lives and the futures of those who fought. Magic is fickle. Magic is wild and magic may be a blessing and it may be a curse.
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British-born Alexandra Butcher (a/k/a A. L. Butcher) is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles, and lyrical fantasy series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
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Title: Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake
Author: A.L. Butcher
Coel, the bard, thinks his life has taken a turn for the worst, but he hasn’t met the Thiefmaster yet. An ill-conceived notion of earning more money to pay off his debt and escape a dark past leaves the minstrel in a situation he can’t escape and with a deadly bargain. Will he survive his mistake? Who is this mysterious patron?
Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake Excerpt
© A.L. Butcher
Darkness oozed lazily in the remainder of the room, nosing into corners, under furniture and behind Coel, unseen, part of it detached. “That was quite a performance, bard. You have some talent, and not just your music. Although your judgement is flawed, it is never wise to steal from a thief,” the voice was smooth, like liquid velvet and very sure of itself.
Coel’s hand moved towards the dagger nestling in his belt; it would not be the first time he had been called on to defend himself, although that was how he had ended up in this mess he thought bitterly. Just one mistake, then another and now, it would seem, another.
“I do not know of what you speak! I am not a thief.” His brain caught up and he continued, “How did you get into my room? The door was locked. I’m not a bloody fool.” Coel could hear his own heart pounding. There was something about this man which frightened him. He felt like a mouse beneath the gaze of a cat. Perhaps the hangman’s noose would have been the better option.
The slate-grey cloak swirled around boots of ebony leather and the cowled figure chuckled. “That lock was barely a moment’s work. I must have a word with the owner of this place about his security. I have yet to find a door in Erana which will not yield to me. You may as well remove your hand from that blade, or would you bet your life you are swifter than the Thiefmaster? I doubt it, boy, I doubt it. Believe me when I say you would be dead before that knife left its scabbard. It would be a pity to waste such talent, would it not?”
Coel removed his hand from the dagger, his sense telling him that continuing to draw it would be a terminal decision. Instead, he placed he placed his hand on the table and the voice breathed into his ear, Coel shivered, he had not heard the man move.
“I thought not. Sensible lad, if a lying one. This too can be a skill which can save your life, if it is used correctly and with assurance,” Darius told him.
This menacing shape was right behind him and Coel began to turn, opening his mouth to protest, and found a gloved hand on his jaw, firm but not unduly painful. “Curious are we not? This may sometimes serve you well. As for other occasions, it is wise to accept things as they are, this is one such occasion… Coel.”
The bard caught his breath, how did this man know his name? The sweat began to pool in his back, making his shirt stick unpleasantly to his skin. Had this man been hired to kill him? Had his mistake finally caught him up? Yet as Coel’s brain frantically grasped at any hope and his fingers tried to overrule his brain and reach for the dagger he realised the man had said he was a thief. A robbery, that was not so bad. It would not be the first time.
“This is not a merely social call; you are honoured for the Master of Thieves does not always test a potential recruit’s skills for himself.”
“I usually charge for my skills, music and other kinds if that is what you prefer. I can be flexible and my tastes are…varied. Perhaps just this once I might offer them for free. Take the coin and the trinkets, take it all.” Coel’s brain finally caught up with the conversation, “What do you mean potential recruit?”
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Title: Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse
Author: A.L. Butcher
Genre: Fantasy/Short Story
He who bargains with monsters beware! A hero forges an unholy bargain with a witch and learns magic never forgets.
In a land of forbidden magic, a mysterious cave holds both riches and danger for three adventurers who discover a mighty treasure and a terrible secret.
Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse Excerpt
© A.L. Butcher
On the nights when the moon rose to its fullest, its light a silver sheen upon the roof of the Great Hall, a terrible monster came. His voice was like the rasping of flesh on a blade, his countenance blighted and ugly, twisted like melted flesh with great weeping sores and a putrid smell. Many warriors had tried to vanquish this foul creature, and now their bones lay with the prince’s in the barrow to the east of Eadsham, the settlement that had been forged by blood and toil by the first king, Aedwin. Widows were aplenty and many children made fatherless from this awful beast. Doors were bolted and barred, and not even the lord himself dared to face it. Such was his shame.
The king grew ever older, and wishing to marry a man of bravery and honour to his daughter messengers once more rode out north, south, east and west in search of a hero, one with the fortitude to face this cursed beast, as they had done so many times before. On a night when clouds covered the moon’s light and rain fell in drops the size of marbles, the sky was rent with lightning as a great human warrior rode to the gates of the village. “I am Saelth and I have come to slay your monster,” he announced. His words were bold and his demeanour bolder. Behind him rode the fiercest of his band, axe men and archers, trackers and swordsmen. A mean crew indeed and feared about the land; fur-clad and blooded, they were blades for hire.
“We have slain creatures from nightmare and beasts that made grown men piss their drawers. Your curse will be lifted if the price is right!” His band nodded, for their rates were high indeed so that only lords and kings could afford their blades.
“No weapon forged by man can vanquish it! You’ll simply earn your place in the Hall of the Dead,” someone called.
Saelth looked around for the one who had spoken. “Then I shall go to the Halls of the Dead a hero, not one who cowers behind the table, or beneath the bed. I am no coward, nor simpering woman. Nothing is all powerful, or unable to be vanquished, save the gods.”
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