Upcoming releases, and a free story - the second part of The Alarming Appearance of An Absent Friend

About the Author

Writer of high fantasy and lawyer. Idealist and cynic. Contents explosive in presence of idiocy. Dragon lover.

Writing News, FREE Fiction and Barbarian Loot - May 2014


OK, I'm seriously chronologically confused - I've only just noticed that on the March newsletter I had 2015. Even worse, I almost did exactly the same thing on the May newsletter - independently of the first error. Am I rushing to 2015? If so, I don't know why, and I'm afraid I'll have to get there the same way everyone else does. The slow way.

Writing News

Stalking the Demon

The sequel to Confronting the Demon is well underway. I'm 75% of the way through the first draft, and if you happen to be in Australia and will be attending Supanova in Sydney in June, you’ll get a sneak peak at the beginning. If you’re not in Sydney, you’ll get a sneak peak in the July newsletter before the general public.

In the Company of the Dead

I’ve had to shelve this while I work on Stalking the Demon. I’m 65% through the first draft, but of course it’s full novel length and much slower to write.

A Dilemma of Twins

The Second Movement in the Symphony of Magic (of which A Magical Melody is the first movement). This short story is now complete and I’ve started shopping it around. It's been rejected once, but with the personal note that there's nothing wrong with the story, it just wasn't what the editor was looking for, and it should be submitted to other markets. I've already sent it off again to Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

A to Z Blogging Challenge

If you missed my A to Z Challenge posts, you might want to stop by the blog. There were reviews, discussions of my writing process, some new fiction, and of course the regular Monday Morsels.


Don't forget I’ll be attending Supanova, running in Sydney on June 15 – 16. If you’re in Sydney and you’d like a signed copy of Confronting the Demon, be sure to drop by the stand.

New Blogging Schedule

I announced this on my blog, but if you missed it, the new schedule is:
  • - Mondays – Monday Morsels, featuring excerpts from In the Company of the Dead and now also Stalking the Demon
  • - Fridays – Two Fridays of the month I’ll be exploring my planned trip to Britain in 2016. One Friday will be devoted to mythology, and another to medieval arms and armour.
Other posts will be as the fancy takes me.

Short Fiction - The Alarming Appearance of an Absent Friend (Part 2)

        If you missed Part 1 you can read it here.
Drada’s thoughts raced. ‘You set off the alert. You planned this. You planned me. Why me?’  Beneath the thick, dark wool of his coat, goosebumps ran down his arms. 
Gan’s eyes darted away, dark with the shadow of memories. ‘I know what they do with the prisoners,' he repeated. His words sounded as though dragged from him. ‘They’re taken to a sorcerer.’
Drada’s breath caught. His chest felt as if it were crushed until he couldn’t breathe. ‘A… sorcerer?’ 
Gan hunched impressive shoulders, appearing small despite his bulk. ‘Yeah.’ Blue eyes held Drada’s grey ones, but the sergeant looked like he’d rather be elsewhere. ‘You still got that chain?’
The colonel’s hand dropped to his belt pouch. ‘It’s…’ His throat seized on his son’s name. ‘It’s for Phaeton.’
‘I know.’
Drada’s mouth worked soundlessly. Gan’s face drooped in a frown and he patted the colonel’s shoulder awkwardly. Drada clutched the pouch and its precious cargo. He’d known this day would come, but it had always been tomorrow. Tomorrow didn’t need thinking about. Everyone knew tomorrow never came. 
‘You’re sure?’ Drada hadn’t seen his son for nearly three years, not since charges were brought for practising illegal, experimental sorcery on humans. 
‘I was virtually an uncle to that boy, Drada. I’m sure it’s him.’
Drada trembled, battered by a hurricane of emotion. When the storm passed, he found himself leaning against the wall and gasping for breath. Gan offered a hand, but Drada brushed him aside. His hand switched between the hilt of his sword and the pouch. Which? Neither option bore contemplation. One would put an end to it now, one would pass responsibility to others. One would offer irrevocable finality, the other the possibility of no closure at all. Neither should be for a father to execute. 
‘Where?’ His voice rasped, so hoarse it was barely audible over the stamp of his boots on the prison’s bare stone floor. 
Grabbing the candle, Gan hurried to catch up, his mail jingling. ‘Phaeton?’
‘Who else?’
Gan waved his hands to signal his helplessness. ‘The prison warden? The lord governor?’ His voice hushed. ‘Duke Alcon? Many are involved that you could want…’ He trailed off under the baleful, grey, glare. ‘This way.’
They took a narrow stairwell, spiralling deep underground. Drada counted the floors. They passed the prison’s upper levels and into the lower, forgotten levels; levels the king had ordered bricked up, levels heavy with the dark secrets of the past. Here broken brickwork marked where sealed doorways had burst asunder. No man with a hammer had wrought that damage. The edges of the bricks gleamed, melted and glassy in the weak candle flame; evidence a sorcerer had been this way.
They trod through the darkness of the horrific past, and deeper into ancient history; a time of whispered fear and half-formed legends. Finally, the stairs spilled out deep in the bowels of the prison. This was a place Drada had never stood, not even before the king’s edict. The walls here were rough, unformed by human hands. He stared into a vast cavern, stalactites and stalagmites spearing the empty space. In the distance, a red glow burned. Rumour spoke of a lake of magma, fuelling the worst and darkest of the ancient sorceries. Drada’s gut clenched. 
Voices echoed out of the glowing darkness, distorted and twisted by the confining stone. It was impossible to tell how many men or where. Drada shrank backwards into the cold, rough wall. 
Extinguishing the candle, Gan pushed him forward. ‘Prison guards. Making a delivery.’ He nudged Drada into a shallow hollow in the wall. 
Drada pressed himself hard against the stone, but the depression was too shallow to offer any real cover. His heart thudded inside his ribcage as the voices drew nearer. Gan dug his fingers into Drada’s arm. He froze. Sweat trickled down his nose as together they peered into the red shadows.

Barbarian Loot

Sword of Truth Sterling Silver Pendant

Love Richard Rahl? Love the Sword of Truth? Now you can have your own to wear around your neck! I’m not entirely convinced it’s as useful as an actual Sword of Truth (now that would be cool – you can totally put me down for one of those!) but I suppose it’s the best they can do…

Unlike the Legend of the Seeker TV series, the Sword of Truth pendant was designed in close collaboration with author Terry Goodkind to match his original illustration. While it did come in both 18” and 24” chains, only the 24” one is still available.

If you’d like your own you can find it here -
Copyright © 2014 Ciara Ballintyne, All rights reserved.