Black Gate Online Fiction: “Assault and Battery”

Black Gate Online Fiction: “Assault and Battery”

By Jason E. Thummel

This is a complete work of fiction presented by Black Gate magazine. It appears with the permission of Jason E. Thummel and New Epoch Press, and may not be reproduced in whole or in part. All rights reserved. Copyright 2013 by New Epoch Press.

Chief Gunner Clap looked over the new detachment of soldiers, fresh from Portsway, and grumbled. How did he manage to get grouped with these turf-busters? Not a one looked seaworthy, and even the sunburned flesh of the men couldn’t cover the pallor of seasickness. Two days they’d been aboard before the morning’s troubles started, and still they stumbled and moaned like drunken old women. Though he’d never admit it aloud, he missed the old marine Sergeant, Danvil, and his pitiful lot of “muzzle-monkey” marines. They were a fair-wind better than these, at any rate, and could swing about in the rigging near as well as a midshipman, popping off shots like armed monkeys all the while.

A sound of far-off thunder rolled across the ocean waves and Clap shaded his eyes and turned to look up the face of a distant cliff at the defensive battery that dominated the inlet. Whether a natural cave or the work of cunning craftsmen, it lay within the massive outcrop itself, just shy of the peak, and so was perfectly camouflaged and therefore doubly deadly — unless you knew what you were looking for.

There was a visible exhaust of smoke and the sound of incoming, heavy iron. It impacted a couple of pistol shots away, white wake showing in rough seas.

Just testing the distance, he thought, squinting back at the big gun and calculating the same, but they’ll never touch us out here. Can’t pack enough powder in a gun that size to push a ball this far. He turned his attention back to Third Lieutenant Illsby, who nervously cleared his throat before addressing them.

“Now lookee here, sirs,” said the junior officer uncomfortably, pacing before the assembled men. “You will accompany me. Others have already been chosen to go ashore with the Sergeant and Lieutenant. As you no doubt know, the Captain’s been nicked. They are going to find him and perform a cut and run. The acting Captain, Lieutenant Barnes, has given me the job of taking you, sirs, to quiet that damnable battery that handed us our backside earlier so we can sail back near to port and pound that town with a side or two of iron and make certain the Captains, one and all, return safely aboard. So that’s what we’ll do.”

And pray we don’t die on land, Clap thought, rubbing his mermaid tooth talisman. Shullum, Lord of the Deep, wasn’t too kindly toward sailors who went to the trouble to die on land.

Illsby wasn’t telling the whole tale. They’d nabbed the Captain, all right, ambushed the I.N. Grimhold with the battery in what was charted as a friendly harbor. But while they pounded away at the old girl, they’d gone and conjured the Captain away. Just a puff of foulest smelling hell-fire smoke, and he was gone. Few knew that particular detail. Clap wouldn’t have believed it, but he’d been standing nearby and seen it for himself. Fellmore, who was knowledgeable on these matters, had whispered that that meant a Vergolocus grade mage. And that meant trouble, no doubt, thought Clap, scratching his whiskered chin. Magicking always did.

The men looked uneasy and Clap couldn’t blame them, although he muttered a few curses at them on principle. The Surgeon-mage, Fellmore, had promised a draught to help with the sickness, but hadn’t produced it as yet, being more inclined toward his own drinks of a different sort when out to sea. Now, what with the earlier conjuring when they’d been fired upon, and now tending to the injured, there wasn’t any time.

Men were quietly whistling, singing and cursing, busily stoning down the deck, smoothing splintered planks where they’d taken fire, or splicing together damaged rigging. Aloft, men with a block and tackle hoisted a replacement yardarm in preparation for the assault on the inlet. For the first time in a long while, as he glanced again at the miserable marines, Clap envied his sailor brethren their shipboard duties.

“Now, it’ll be dark soon,” Illsby continued, “and there appears to be a storm approaching, so we won’t, most likely, have to worry much about the moon showing our position —”

‘Course keeping the powder dry in the rain and all might be a problem, Clap thought.

“We’ll just row in, nice and quiet like, scale that hillside, take the battery, and launch the signal rocket,” Illsby concluded, smiling confidently at the assembly.

Yes sirs, no trouble at all. Just shimmy up that craggy bastard of a rock face like a mountain goat, towing powder and rifles and all manner of whatnot with this bunch of bandy-legged grass munchers, simple as you please, fight our way in and take it. Oh no sir, no trouble at all.

Leastways he’d take a cutlass and buckler, just to make certain. Cannons were one thing, but Clap didn’t trust rifles. The idea of holding a little cannon to your shoulder, next to your head, and letting fly was much akin to sticking an explosive grenade down your pants. Just not a good idea. Big or small, if something went wrong you didn’t want to be holding it in your hand or next to your head. No — fighting should be done with swords and fists up close and cannons at range, just as was natural and the gods intended.

The storm was just beginning to blow, sheets of fine rain pelting the men slantwise in the increasing wind as they went about their duties. Behind the slate gray sky, the sun must have dipped at last below the horizon and almost instantly it seemed black as pitch. There was a quiet ringing of the bell as the watch changed, the soft tread of many a bare foot, ropes creaking under the weight as men climbed aloft.

Clap ceased his nervous pacing. He was a sailor, was he not? His place was here, on board. But no, they said, they’d need someone who could man the cannon in the battery properly, and who better than the Chief Gunner?

“Who better indeed,” he muttered to himself.

“Lower the boats,” ordered Captain Lieutenant Barnes from out of the dark. Clap helped on the lines and then was over the side, blaspheming at the awkward departure of the marines from the vessel as they scurried down the rope netting with oilskin covered rifles swinging from their shoulders to pummel the unwary.

“We’ve a lot of rowing to do and rough seas to do it in,” said Illsby, “so best get to it.”

Clap pulled the oar, listening to the quiet call of the Lieutenant keeping time from somewhere back at the rudder while nearby a marine heaved his meal into the sea. Illsby guided them using the lights of the town as far as he was able before cutting around the promontory, intending to land them on the dark, uninhabited side. Somewhere in the rain-streaked black behind them, the boats with the rescue party would soon be underway.

They had to be near the shore by now, Clap figured. He could feel the looming rock above, hear the unexplainable way the sound changed as they neared the beach, and he could smell it even though he could not yet see it. Then there was the sound of an oar snapping and Illsby had scarce muttered the ominous phrase ‘Damnation!’ when the boat lurched sideways as the hand of the sea grabbed it and smashed it into a rock.

“Swim, swim damn you,” Clap shouted as the boat disintegrated around him. He could hear shouts of alarm, prayer, and profanities interspersed with frantic thrashing as waves forced him repeatedly under and he was pummeled by the crew as they struggled against the sea.

Shullum, he prayed as he did his best to move away from the rock, I keep your ways and serve you well. I am not ready to go, not like this. Give me leave to set foot on land once more, and I will fill your halls with many a soul to do your bidding. So many, in fact, that you’ll not miss my own one bit.

Clap’s foot touched sand and then he was lifted again and thrown forward onto a rocky beach. There were sounds of crashing waves, of gasping and coughing, men groaning against the shock and fatigue of their escape. It didn’t sound like near as many men as had sat the boat, though.

“Call out and quietly,” Illsby said hoarsely. Clap muttered his own name and staggered toward the Lieutenant. There were a series of names sputtered as the other men crawled toward one another. When at last they were close enough to pluck each other from out of the shadows, there were only eight.

“Damn!” Illsby quickly assessed the situation. “It appears some rifles made the trip with those of you who made shore, but the powder went down. As did a good many men.”

“Powder packets I had on me is soaked through and through, Sir, and’ll be no good to no one,” said one of the marines. The other men grumbled agreement.

“Begging pardon, Sir,” said Clap, making obeisance toward Illsby. “But I’ve still got my cutlass and the men got bayonets with the rifles and, well, those worthless bastards up in the battery don’t know nothing about us not having powder and all, uh, Sir…” his voice trailed off as the adrenaline of nearly drowning waned.

“Right you are, Chief Gunner. They’d never have heard us in this storm. On we go of course. If we can surprise and overwhelm the door guard quickly and keep up the appearance of being ready to shoot, we might not actually have to at all.”

The men began the desperate ascent, fingers and boots blindly questing for holds to pull them up, while the Storm God ratcheted up his fun. The sky let loose with frigid, pounding rain and lightening creased the violently swirling sky.

“Never thought I’d drown on land,” Clap muttered. Ahead someone’s boot slipped from a rock and glanced off his head. He let go a long string of impressive curses and pulled himself over a boulder. Another flash seared his vision.

“Leastways I can see what I’m doing from time to time.” He glanced back down toward the distant beach and was surprised at how high they had half-climbed, half-crawled. “Whether I want to or no.”

It’s of no matter, he tried to convince himself as he clung desperately to a moss-covered, weather-worn stone. But try as he might, he knew it was just too high for any normal man to be; suddenly the slick rock and partial holds seemed malicious and threatening.

Luckily, as they continued to cut across the face of the promontory, they discovered a stone stair and rope rails that had been anchored for safe passage. The men gathered in a clump and leaned in, heads touching against the noise of the pouring rain.

“I think it best we stick to the stair,” Illsby said against the roar of the elements, “and when we see the door guard, on my signal, charge it quick. We can’t afford they call the alarm.”

Sure beats plummeting to our deaths from crawling all over this damnable rock, Clap thought. They’d be no men from the battery out and about in this, and they sure wouldn’t reckon on any company coming from out of this sodden gale. Anything to get out of the weather sounded like a brilliant plan.

Up they climbed, gusted by winds determined to knock them from their perch on the rock. The gods were wont to have their contests of strength, and Clap kept his mermaid’s tooth talisman close as he kept reminding Shullum that he was a sailor true, that it wasn’t his fault he was on land, that he really wished to return to the sea, to the ship, and that any protection the Great God of the Deep could lend would be much appreciated. As if laughing at him, the Storm God’s winds howled in Clap’s ears.

Ahead they could make out the flickering flame of a storm lantern, dimly illuminating a manmade doorway that looked little protected by the overhang of a small roof above. The same could be said of the drenched rat of a guard, huddled up in oiled skins with hat brim pulled to cover his face. Illsby gestured to several marines, and Clap was glad it was they that were going.

“Soon I be sending the souls I promised you, Great Shullum.” He tucked his talisman under his shirt and put a calloused hand on the worn hilt of his cutlass.

The guard’s head jerked up as the marines leapt into the small sphere of light and one clobbered the senses from him with a rifle butt before the guard could mutter a syllable of alarm. One marine quickly searched the downed man, pulling a pistol and several powder packets, as the other turned and waved them forward; Clap and the rest jogged behind Illsby to crowd under the scant cover of the overhang.

The marines unpacked their rifles and affixed bayonets. The long lengths of steel looked thin and fragile to Clap, and he was thankful for the seaman’s sword that he carried. The buckler would have been nice, but he’d lost that when the boat went down. “Not that I’m in any hurry to be reunited,” he whispered.

One of the marines climbed atop the roof and entered a window; a moment later the bar on the far side of the door rasped against the stone as it was retracted, and the rusted handle clicked open. Clap took position behind the marines and, bayonets forward, the group moved into the dimly lit hall beyond.

The hall was short, a stair descended to the right, to the left was a dark doorway from which snoring could be heard and straight ahead Clap could see a portion of the main battery with an untended cannon pulled back out of the rain. Illsby motioned three marines to head down the stairs, two to enter the sleeping quarters, and one to accompany him and Clap forward. Illsby was obviously keeping his wits about him, Clap thought, noting it was the marine with the loaded, dry-powdered pistol that happened to be with them. This lad’s going places for a certain.

There was a shout of alarm from the sleeping quarters, followed by the sounds of wood beating flesh and grunts of pain as a struggle ensued. Clap’s group charged forward into the main battery, any chance of surprise gone. For a moment it appeared the large chamber, with its view of the sea and harbor far below, was deserted, but then there was a loud crack, a brief flash, and the marine next to Illsby spun a half circle as lead tore through him. Another shot boomed in the confines and splintered stone stung Clap’s face. He felt the warmth of blood.

Clap saw two men in a shadowed alcove, both kneeling and reloading quickly. He turned toward them, ready to exact some bloody retribution when he noted a third man running to the open balcony, holding a signal rocket.

“There’ll be no sending alarm,” Clap shouted, sprinting toward the third man. Behind he heard Illsby get off a shot with the pistol.

The man’s face was illuminated as he threw the covering off a pot of smoldering embers, and Clap smelled the first hint of sulfur as the rocket’s fuse caught. The bastard was right quick with it, he thought, but not quick enough. His cutlass lashed out and the man went down under its edge. Clap grabbed the fuse, cursing as it burned his well-calloused hand, and yanked it from the rocket. Steel rang from behind.

The pistol shot had taken one man and when the remaining guard saw Clap he backed himself toward a corner, most likely hoping to simply hold out until help arrived. Illsby pounced on the lapse of concentration and entangled the other’s sword and Clap, seeing the opening, struck the man hard in the head with the flat of his blade.

“That seemed a little unsporting,” Illsby huffed. He walked to the marine that had entered the room with them, rolled him over, and noted sadly that he was dead.

“This ain’t no sport and me no sportsman, begging pardon Sir,” Clap replied. “Besides, he’s most likely alive if just a bit addled. Either way, he’ll not be a problem.” With a seaman’s speed, Clap tied the man’s arms behind his back and to his ankles.

Someone was running toward them. Clap leapt to his feet, cutlass already in motion.

“Come a charging up on me like that again and next time I might kill ye,” Clap spat toward a flush-faced marine as his blade stopped amid swing. “These ruddy whelps just as like to get you killed as be of any help,” he grumbled. But he was glad to see that it was one of theirs, because that meant they held the battery.

“What news, then?” Illsby said.

“Well, Sir, nobody was downstairs, just powder and provisions and the like. The quarters were taken with some resistance, and the living tied up proper prisoners. We lost not a one, Sir.”

“Except Krill,” said Illsby, motioning to the dead marine.

“Gods’ pity on him,” said the marine, doffing his hat. “He was a good man.”

Clap traipsed back to the windows and looked down at the town. A small number of lights were visible, homes and businesses mostly shut up against the storm’s fury, and the few harbor-markers that were still burning guttered and swung dangerously; they could go out at any moment. No, the town looked pretty much deserted. It was as good a night as any for a cut and run.

Voices continued to drone from the room, more marines informing Third Lieutenant Illsby of circumstances as they arrived. Clap ignored them and rummaged through the great coat of the man who had tried to light the alarm. He found a small looking-glass in an inner pocket and resolved to keep it, his long-range vision not being so fine as once it had been, though he’d never admit it.

“Impressive,” he said as he trained it on the town below. The lens magnified nicely and there was little distortion. Obviously not a cheap one-off, this one. There were multiple flashes from just out of sight, and Clap swung the lens around wildly to find them.

The rescue party had retrieved the Captain, Clap noted through the lens. It appeared they’d nicked them a prisoner as well for there was a tall, robed figure, trussed up like a hog, cowering between two marines. A robe meant a mage, most likely. Damn but they must have been running ahead of schedule. There was another series of discharges as a heated exchange took place.

It looked that they were cut off from their boats, penned in among a mass of shipping crates on the docks, and would soon be surrounded. Already there were men swarming through the town like ants, headed for the wharf.

“Lieutenant Illsby, Sir,” Clap shouted. “You’d best come.” Clap held the glass out to Illsby and pointed below, quickly telling him what he had seen. The Lieutenant plucked it from him and looked for several moments then cursed.

“Can you get a shot at them Chief Gunner?”

“Sir,” Clap said, “get those men to move this here cannon where I need it, and I’ll put enough iron down there that might free them up.”

Clap pulled a nearby bucket of powder cartridges to him as the men heaved the cannon to his instructions. Already set to fire into the harbor, it didn’t take long to direct it at the docks. It was an older cannon, using fuse instead of firestone and steel, but it would do. He pulled the plug from its end, shoved powder, ball and wad home, then sighted it using a hand hook to fine tune the aim. From another window, at Illsby’s command, one of the marines lit a rocket and sent it sailing toward the black sea to signal the I.N. Grimhold.

“Get from behind it fools and let’s hope she’s true,” Clap shouted, lighting the short fuse with some smoldering punk.

The stone floor shuddered beneath them as the cannon kicked and spat with a mind-numbing explosion of fire and sound. The humid, heavy air became hot and acrid. Clap ran ahead and peered through the smoke. Though he couldn’t see the details, it was chaos below for certain. The shot had managed to hit in the heart of a pocket of the guard, and those remaining seemed to be abandoning their posts to scamper away.

“Just like rats,” Clap laughed to himself, running a sponger down the barrel to clear it of ash before reloading. He found a store of explosive shells and rammed one home, then quickly punched through the packet of powder, set another fuse, and aimed. Lesson learned, the marines put their fingers in their ears as it went off. A dockside warehouse, where many of the displaced enemy had fled before resuming fire on the trapped party, went up in splinters and flame.

Clap shouted joyfully at the chaos. “Take that ye land livin’ dandies!”

“We need to take advantage of the confusion and get down there where we might be of help,” Illsby said. “Clap, I need you to keep it up. You’re the only hope they’ve got.”

“Sir?” Clap looked back at the Lieutenant.

“Chief Gunner Clap, you are to stay here and provide cover fire while we rejoin the men below for support. We’re of better use there than here. But we need to keep up this fire. Understood?”

“Aye Sir, understood,” Clap replied reluctantly. Who better to fire the gun than the Chief Gunner? Curse that damnable promotion, he thought as the enormity of his orders struck him like a whip before the mast.

He surveyed the other two, unused cannon in the battery. The one that pointed straight out to sea would be of no use to him, there being neither time nor means to maneuver it all the way across the room and around, but the one trained on the harbor’s approach might be manageable.

“Can you have the gents shove that other cannon there so it points down the hall toward the door, Sir?” Clap asked.

“Yes, of course,” Illsby said even as the marines were doing it. “We’ll be back for you as soon as the Grimhold arrives and the Captain is safe.”

“Yessir.” Clap turned back to look out toward the town.

“Gods be with you, Clap,” Illsby said as he and the remaining marines turned to leave and make their way to join the fight below.

Hear that Great Shullum, the Lieutenant says to be with me? Now, you surely wouldn’t want to disappoint the Lieutenant, him being an officer and a-sailing on your seas and all. Not that you’ve not been with me all along, mind, just don’t forget me now.

The rescue party had run their boats aground on a small beach on the far side of the town, off to Clap’s right, and he kept his eyes in that general direction. The commotion had alerted the town, lamps had been lit, and people brandishing all manner of lighting were running and scurrying all over the whole of it, making seeing a might easier.

A few well placed shots later, Clap was fairly satisfied that the rescue party had a safe enough avenue of escape back to their boats and so looked to slow the advance of the town guard. He was about to discharge the old girl when he caught sight of Illsby and the marines to his left — for who else could it be — trying to slip along the quays and join the others. A small stand of town guard stood between them and the rescue party and had turned to stop their advance. There was a furious exchange as he watched, and the first volley dropped another marine.

“Damn you whore’s runts,” Clap shouted, keeping up a constant stream of talk and profaning while he sighted and let fly.

The ball struck low. A townsman’s lower body disintegrated, along with the plank flooring, spewing those remaining with splinters, shrapnel, and enough gore to discourage any additional bravery. They beat a hasty retreat back toward the town and Clap waved unseen toward Illsby and the marines as they continued on, disappearing in shadow where he’d last seen the rescue party.

Out of the corner of his eye, to the far left, he caught movement. A knot of soldiers crossed the swinging rope bridge that lead to the rock promontory in which he currently sat, then disappeared from sight behind the cliff face.

“They be coming for you at last,” Clap said. He ran down the hall to the door, quickly glancing into the sleeping quarters where several bound men rolled pointlessly on the floor trying to untie their knots. He fought the urge to run in and kick one and instead barred the door. Then he went to the main room, grabbed what he needed, and loaded an exploding shell into the cannon that pointed toward the door. It wouldn’t be long now.

The cavern shook around him. A fine mist of stone and pebble trickled into his hair as a full broadside of cannon discharged from the black sea below. Clap ran to the window and looked down. The I.N. Grimhold, in all its splendorous glory, had sailed as close in as its leeway, wind and tide would allow and gave a good accounting to the town. Another broadside echoed, louder than even the Storm God’s own thunder, and hot iron made ruin of many a seaside building.

A red signal flare went up from the ink-stained waves beneath him as the rescue boats signaled their location. Clap let out a brief whoop of glee. They’d made it sure enough, and soon would be back aboard — there was a rapid series of dull thuds as rifle balls knocked impotently into the thick oak door — although too late for him, it would appear.

Though he had, in the Captain, all the faith a man can have in another man, Clap knew nothing short of a god could ever make it to the battery in time to free him. No doubt they’d try their best, but…

He pulled out his mermaid tooth talisman, made the Sign of the Sail, and prayed to Shullum. Then he laid a smoldering punk near the cannon, took up his cutlass in one hand and a pistol, rather reluctantly, in the other.

Smoke began to seep through cracks in the door. No doubt they’d covered it with pitch and set it afire awhile ago. The hinges rattled worryingly as, outside, men began to batter the weakening door with something heavy.

Clap adjusted his grip on the cutlass’s handle and pulled back the pistol’s hammer. He’d have some company to serve him when it came time to enter the Abyss-Lord’s Hall. Yes indeed, he thought as he touched off the cannon.

The door blew outward, a deluge of ash, spark and smoke, burning timber and razor sharp splinters. Somewhere beyond came piteous screams as the mass of wood, fire and iron tore into the men who’d been battering the door. Into that emptiness, filled with only the wailing of shattered and torn men, Clap charged to hold the door.

“Lets get ’em boys,” he yelled, hoping the suggestion that they faced many an adversary might give the men outside a second thought. But as the first man came into view, a mere silhouette in the dark and smoky hall, he knew the gambit hadn’t worked. Trust it wouldn’t be a pack of cowards what would climb this stinking heap in the dark.

Clap lifted the pistol and fired.

The man stumbled back out of view as Clap dropped the spent weapon. Already there were two more, yelling and screaming with battle rage and fear. Clap heard his own screams, sounding strangely distant and foreign, and then their blades met. Clap was a sailor first and foremost, and fighting in the crowded hall, so like below decks on many a ship, suited him fine. It did not go so easy for the town guard, and he was able to move them into each other, fighting first the one and then the other, until at last he saw a weakness and the first fell. More shades crowded from behind.

He lost ground, the press of bodies, of fresh arms with new blades forcing him back. Soon he’d find himself in the main room and then, with nothing to his back, it would all be over.

The air began to smell strongly of the sea and, strange as it was, Clap thought he could hear the gentle creak of plank and rigging as though he was once again on a ship, riding the swell of the great blue. Was this some ethereal vessel come to take him to Shullum, he wondered, as another guard went down under his bloodied blade.

There was the sound of a bell signaling a change of watch, of bare feet running on a deck, of men singing bawdy songs as they climbed the rigging. These grew louder as the sounds of clashing steel grew farther and farther away. And then the light dimmed and everything erupted in a yellow flash.

Clap bent over the rail and was sick.

Over the rail?

“Chief Gunner Clap,” said Illsby. “I told you we would be back for you. Sorry to keep you waiting, but we needed a little help from a most reluctant mage. The Captain, however, was very persuasive.”

Clap felt both the taint of magic about him, and like he’d been punched in the gut. His body shook and his mind fought a rush of vertigo as dual perceptions resolved into a single reality.

“When you are able, the Captain would like a word with you.” There was the sound of rustling as Lieutenant Illsby reached deep into his coat. “I believe this is yours.”

Clap stood momentarily dazed, his mouth hanging slack. He was standing on the Grimhold, sailing into stormy seas, the eastern horizon lightening with dawn.

They’d magicked him aboard. They’d put the screws to that evil bastard of a mage that had kidnapped the Captain and magicked him aboard. Oh bless them all!

He bent over and was sick again.

“Ill effects of transportation I’m afraid, Second Lieutenant Illsby,” said Surgeon-Mage Fellmore from somewhere in the crowd. That’s all fine and dandy, Clap reckoned, but knowing it didn’t make it any better.

Second Lieutenant? Clap knew that lad would be going places. Knew it all along.

“Poor sight that, a sailor what can’t hold his gut,” said a marine. Clap recognized him from the battery and ignored the gibe. He’d have to learn those men’s names, he thought.

At last he gathered his wits and looked down at what Illsby patiently held out to him. In his hand was the looking glass.

“It’s how the mage was able to find you,” the Lieutenant said.

Clap reached down and took it. “Thank you, Sir.”

There was a shouted hurrah for the Captain and officers, one and all. As the deck erupted in shouts of joy, someone pressed a mug of grog into Clap’s hand and called him a hero. From the poop deck above, the Captain looked down and removed his hat, acknowledging the salute and bowing his thanks to the men. Clap downed the grog and was handed another. And another. He could get used to being a hero.

Jason E. Thummel 3Jason E. Thummel’s work has appeared in Black Gate, Flashing Swords magazine, the anthologies Rage of the Behemoth and Magic and Mechanica, as well as many other venues both online and in print. Some of his Sword & Sorcery and heroic fantasy is collected in the titles In Savage Lands and The Harsh Suns, and the first two novels chronicling the supernatural adventures of occult detective Lance Chambers, The Spear of Destiny and Cult of Death, are now available.

The first Gunnerman Clap story, “The Gunnerman,” a tale of a desperate sea battle and a dangerous discovery below decks on a sinking ship, appeared as part of our Black Gate Online Fiction line in January. Read the complete story here.

Jason’s first story for us — “The Duelist,” an action packed tale of magic and deadly intrigue in an ancient city —  kicked off the Black Gate Online Fiction line on September 30th, 2012. Adventures Fantastic called it:

A solid sword and sorcery story… Androi Karpelov [is] a man with honor. And he’s willing to take great risks to satisfy that honor… The story moves at a nice clip, never dragging. Black Gate‘s online fiction debut has set a high standard.

Read the complete story here.

Jason can be reached at: feedback2jason(at)gmail(dot)com.


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