Tag Archives: Tales of Tellest

The Littlest Kobold, Read Along – Part Four

We’ve reached the penultimate part of The Littlest Kobold.  Keep those comments coming.  Enjoy!

 

The Littlest Kobold
A Story by Michael DeAngelo
-Part Four-
Narrated by Cristina Cruz

 

“Now, you remember what to do, right?” Virgil asked.

“I think we can handle running through the woods, Dad,” Jerrick was quick to reply.  Rion just nodded with an eager grin upon his face.

Standing once more, Virgil tousled his youngest son’s hair.  “Don’t forget:  Those can’t leave your feet,” he said, pointing at Leah’s torn up outfits tied around his son’s ankles.  “We’re counting on them to distract the dog from her scent.”

Jerrick sighed but finally nodded.  “Come on, Squirt.  This’ll be just like hide and seek, but let’s try and win this time.”

As his sons took their leave, Virgil turned back to the kobold’s room, where Camille and Abraham carefully shorn through Leah’s blanket.  The Hare paced on the far side of the room, chewing on her pointed nails.

“Let’s get this reverse kidnapping started,” Virgil said.  “What’s the plan?”

Abraham’s eyes lit up, and he rose to his feet.  “You mean you don’t have a plan?”

“I have the plan,” Camille insisted.  “Like always.  Papa, we can’t let Leah walk on the ground or else the dog can track her.  So we’re going to make her a sling like Kira has.”

The kobold snarled in protest, cocking her head to the side.  “You can’t seriously expect me to lie in that thing like a baby.”

“It’s the only way to get you out of here in secrecy,” the young lady insisted.  “We can’t very well go around with you upon my father’s shoulder.”

Clearing his throat, Virgil took a step forward.  “As tempted as I am to let this conversation continue, I really do think we should move along with this escape.  Let’s make the sling and get out of here.”

Camille nodded and enlisted her brother to help fashion the looping blanket.  In only a short while, they had crafted the thing and were ready to try it out.

“All right, Papa.  Here.”  Together, the siblings placed the sling over Virgil’s head, strapping it across his chest.  They tugged on it, assuring it was secure.  At that, Camille turned to Leah.  “Are you ready?”

With a sigh that shook her whiskers, the kobold nodded.  “Let’s get this over with,” she said, raising her arms.

Camille picked her up and placed her in the sling, allowing the kobold to wriggle until she found an agreeable position.  Both children looked at her when she furled her brow, staring off at some indiscriminate part of the room.  “What’s wrong?” the young lady asked.

Leah hesitated; she brought her gaze to Camille’s again only when she was sure of herself.  “This is actually very comfortable.”

With a snicker, the young lady helped her brother drape their father’s cloak over his shoulder, covering the tiny kobold.  When she was well hidden, Virgil blew out a sigh and nodded to his son and daughter.

They stepped from Leah’s room, the kobold huddled close to her rescuer’s chest.  As they took to the dirt-floored halls, Camille often found herself looking back.  She saw there the same look she always saw upon her father’s face: fearlessness.  If Virgil carried any sort of anxiety, it certainly didn’t show.

As they made their way out into the light of day, a new sense of purpose washed over them.  They turned abruptly from the path, heading away from their camp.  Their aim was Aspica, the city of the bay.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Together, the trio scrambled up the hill.  Though Leah did not weigh much, Virgil worked at steadying her, and without his hands providing balance, the ascent was treacherous.  Camille led the way while Abraham brought up the rear, offering a hand on his father’s back.  When they finally rose over the final slope, they were captured by the sight of the city below on the other side.

Aspica was one of the better hidden jewels among Daltain’s cities.  It hadn’t succumbed much to industry, only a small harbor on its south side, far from where shops and homes pointed toward the water.  Likewise, only one road entered the city along the northeast.  A farm there was perhaps the most urban looking plot, for all along the western side of the road, a simple fence stretched on for what seemed like a mile.  The sun shed its midday light upon the city.

A voice resonated about the area, carrying so loudly across the wind that Camille was sure sailors could hear it out at sea.

“Find her!” the voice boomed.  “I don’t care how far you have to travel or how long it takes.  Bring me the Hare.”

They knew it was Faroon who spoke, but it was as if he was right beside them.  A glance back down the hill was all they needed to witness the folks pouring out of the circus tent.  That canvas seemed darker, as though the clouds had taken root in the sky above it.

Virgil lifted the sling over his shoulder, much to the dismay of the kobold inside.

“Hey, hey!  What are you doing?” Leah snarled, almost falling out of the carrier.

The Destrite patriarch situated the sling over his daughter’s shoulder instead.  “I thought we’d have more time before they noticed you were missing,” he said.  “I’d like to think Jerrick and Rion found a way to escape to safety, but I can’t take that risk.”

“So what do we do, Papa?” Camille asked.

Once the carrier was safely secured across Camille’s chest, Virgil tugged a pouch away from his belt.  The contents clinked together, and he handed it to Abraham.  “I’m going to go back to camp and find your brothers.  Once they’re safe, we’ll take the carriage into town and pick you up.  Use some gold to stay hidden.  Rent a room at an inn, charter a ship for a few hours.  Whatever it takes.”

“Won’t Mama be mad if we spend all the money?” Abraham asked.

Virgil blew out an exasperated sigh.  “Try not to spend all of it, please.  I’ll explain the situation to your mother.  She’ll understand.”  Both of his children nodded, remaining silent.  “Well?  Go on,” he bade.

Turning on her heel, Camille began the descent, hugging Leah against her chest.  There was no cloak disguising the kobold then.  Their only hope in keeping her hidden was a quick escape.  Abraham held his sister’s arm and led her down the hill.

Camille shivered away the autumn air, the planks beneath her creaking and bobbing.  The bay was still, save for the gentle ebb and flow of the water against the wooden pier.  Leah was still, too, only her shallow breaths reminding the young lady she was still within the sling.

Beneath her boots, she felt the subtle thrum.  As Abraham drew nearer with hasty steps, the entire pier shook.

“Still nothing?” he asked.

Camille shook her head.  “I haven’t seen a single boat out there.  Where would they all be?”  She let her words trail off into nothingness, shaking it from her head.  “Any luck on your end?” she asked, turning to face her brother.

He gave a slight bow.  “Afraid not.  Nobody is home.  Or nobody is answering.”

“It’s like we’ve come to a ghost town.  Where is everyone?”

“You should just leave me here,” a quiet voice spoke out.  Leah rolled in the sling until she could peer out to the water.  “I’m a good swimmer… I think.  I’ll paddle over to the other shore.  They might not be able to pick up my scent.”

Camille was already shaking her head.  “No.  We told you we’d get you to safety, and we will.  I’m not going to throw you into the bay just because it’s our most convenient option.  Come on, Abraham.  We’ll figure something out.”

The siblings made their way from the pier, landing upon the uneven stone street.  One by one, they knocked on doors and windows, but just as Abraham had said, nobody answered.  A quiet sigh shook the young lady as she rejoined her brother.

“It’s like you said.  Nobody is here.”

“So what do we do?” Abraham asked.

“If we can’t find anything…” Camille started to say.  “Nobody is here.  Nobody to take issue with us borrowing their house for a few hours.  Don’t bother knocking anymore.  Try all the doors.”

Abraham swallowed hard but nodded his consent.  As they rounded the bend, though, he stopped.  Camille followed her brother’s gaze and noticed the lantern light that swung about one of the northern buildings.

“That wasn’t on earlier, I’m sure of it,” he said.

“Let’s go.  Maybe we can hide out in there,” she replied.

When they arrived at that building, they could see the picture window had been illuminated as well.  A trio of children’s dolls had taken up residence there, varying in their presentation.  The outer ones were stuffed, knit things, but the center was a porcelain doll that could easily have been mistaken for a small child if it wasn’t so still.  Camille knocked, and when she didn’t hear an answer, she pushed her way inside.

As the door swung open, a line of brass bells cascaded up and over, reporting a joyous little melody.  Both children and the kobold could hear the footsteps leading their way.

“Alexander?” they heard.  A woman came into view and cast a glance at her visitors.  She adjusted her glasses then and swept her dark hair out of her face.  “You’re not Alexander.”

“Apologies, ma’am,” Abraham said, drawing forth a furled brow from the woman.  “Miss,” he corrected.

“We saw the light on, and we thought you might be open,” his sister added.  “Everyone else is gone, though.  What’s going on in this town?”

The woman chortled and looked away.  “Come in and take a seat.  No sense telling you about it in the doorway.”  She led them inside.  Her shop would have been spacious, but rows of shelves made it quite cramped, except for the counter she had among the rear wall.  It was almost situated like the bar of a tavern, with a trio of stools at its front.  The owner made her way around while she offered seats to her guests.

“I should tell you, stories don’t come for free,” she said, drawing incredulous gazes from the children.  With a smile stretching her lips, she continued, “I’ll settle for your names.”

“I’m Camille,” the young lady said as she took her spot upon the stool.  She extended her arm, but as she sat upon the cushion, Leah rolled forward.  Camille drew her hand back and grasped the sling.

“A-and I’m Abraham,” her brother interjected.

The woman arched an eyebrow but shook the boy’s hand.  As she fell back upon her heels, she placed her hands on the counter.  “My name’s Gwendolyn, but you can call me Gwenna if it suits you.”  She sighed and leaned back.  “So no doubt you two just came from the circus.”

Camille froze for a moment but blinked away the tension.  “What makes you say that?”

With a shrug, Gwendolyn gazed past the children, peering down the aisles of the shop to the picture window.  The sun was beginning to set, leaving a shadow stretching from the glass.  “For starters, there’s nothing to do here besides see the town if the circus isn’t here.  And you wouldn’t be in town alone if it wasn’t the circus you’d come here for.

“Anyway, with that particular circus, you’ll rarely get both of us.  The town doesn’t think too highly of the Cirque de Malorum.”

“Why is that?” Camille asked.

“Well, Aspica is a friend of many people, from the dwarves in the mountains to the werewolves of the Grey Isle.  But the Cirque de Malorum, they’re not kind to anyone who doesn’t have coin to spare – or to earn for them.  And don’t even get me started on the way they treat their animals.

“From what I hear,” she continued, “things haven’t improved much.  So rather than show our support, when they show up in the forest up there, we disappear until they leave.  Once, we thought maybe they’d stop coming, but it seems it’s too queer a sight to pass up.”

“Well, I doubt anyone there today will ever return,” Abraham said.

“And why’s that?” the owner wondered.

Camille pressed out a nervous sigh and reached down.  “Gwenna, please tell me you can keep a secret.”  She didn’t wait to hear an answer before she presented the tiny kobold upon her lap.

Awake Released in Audio

Howdy folks.  I come to you with fantastic news today.  Awake has become the fifth and final Tales of Tellest novella to release on Audible.

awake_titling_acx

Narrated by Brandon McKernan, who has done work for us twice before, Awake is the tale of Venathryn of the Whisperwind Elves, who suffers from a terrible guilt made manifest in her dreams.

You can pick up Awake on Audible today for the low price of $6.95!

State of Tellest, November 2016

Howdy folks.  This is the first time that we’ve had the occasion to bring you two “State of Tellest” posts so close together.  I’d say that is a very good thing, because it means things are coming together at a quicker pace than ever before.

Part of that could be due to the fact that Tellest now encompasses so many different projects, from a handful of different people.  Let’s get right to it, shall we?

 

Legacy Novellas and Tales of Tellest Short Stories

A while back, we had mentioned that Brandi Salazar was brought on board to help us clean up our act—Act I, that is, to be clear.  She’s done a very good job of putting a further layer of shine on the stories from the original Tales of Tellest volume.  If you are one of our readers from the get-go, you should be able to update your reading devices to get some cleaner prose than before.

 

Tellest Legends Project

We’re coming along well with the Tellest Legends books.  The timeline is still looking promising, and we’re getting ready to run our second wave of edits on Lord of Thunder, starting today!  Those edits should go relatively quick; I’m assuming that the book is going to end up being roughly 4.5 hours total in reading time, so usually, my second pass takes about that long as well.  Then, it’ll go to our two wonderful editors, and we’ll get it ready for the Tellest Street Team prior to the March release of the book.

Since it’s November, most of the focus has been on the NaNoWriMo book (more on that in a moment).  We have to shift again in December, back to Dragonspeaker (which is first-pass complete), and to Stealing Seramore, which needs to find its feet again.  Arise, meanwhile, has been seeing some steady progress.  I write that book on the train to work in the mornings when I’m in my satellite office, so that’s been doing well.  I have a feeling that is going to run longer than the previous books of the new collection, but I’m still optimistic that we’ll get that prepared in time for the planned release date. After all, it’s still 2016!

 

Short Stories

I’m very happy to announce that we’re moving back into position with the Tellest short stories.  In fact, I made a whoopsie and didn’t include one of Aaron Canton’s shorts in the Tellest Newsletter as an exclusive like I believed I had, so we’re starting the new shorts up again today!

With my focus on the longer form novellas and novels at this point, I’m going to be letting Aaron helm our short story department for at least a little while, but I’ve got a handful that I want to put out before the second short story collection comes out in 2018.  Don’t forget, we’re trying to release at least 24 new shorts—but you’ll be able to catch most of them here first.

 

NaNoWriMo

I went from believing that my NaNoWriMo project, The Silver Serpent Chronicles, was going to end up being too short to fit the 50,000 words required to be a victorious novel.  As it turns out, I’m probably set to reach at least 75,000 words by the time the story is done.

Now for the bad news: I lapsed!  Between funerals, podcasts, noodgie dogs and just a little bit of writing burn-out, I fell about 3,000 words behind.  Now, that’s not exactly difficult to make up—I’ve had 4,000 word days before, and with a four day weekend in front of us, I can likely make that up—but it is just one more obstacle before me.

In any case, I have my doubts that I’ll be able to finish the project in its entirely in November.  What we’ll probably end up doing is shifting some things around to find a focus on the books that are coming out sooner rather than later.  I have to do the same thing for last year’s NaNo project, which is even longer than this one.  Once I fall back into that one, we’ll be in a very good place.

 

Audiobooks, Now and Future

Phew… tired of reading yet?  If you are, I’ve got some great news for you: the first round of audiobooks are complete, though we’re still waiting for ACX to approve the fifth and final “Tales of Tellest” novella, Awake.  Once that’s done, we’ll have five books in audio form, and that’s a pretty cool feeling.

We had considered also having the short stories produced for ACX/Audible, but there are too many hoops to jump through to do that properly, so the idea we’re entertaining instead is bringing on another voice to our team in order to capture the short stories in audio and deliver it straight to our site.  We’re still prepping that relationship and those goals, but keep your eyes and ears open for that in the near future.

Further away, what we’re anticipating for our audio goals is that we’re going to work on getting most of our novella and novel length projects narrated a lot earlier in the game.  Previously, we waited to see if people enjoyed the written content of the Tales of Tellest novellas before we moved along.  This time, we’re going all in on day one.  The day the new books release, they should have the appropriate level of polish, and we’re going to begin the process of prepping them for audio.  For sequels, we’re anticipating continuing along with the narrators of the first books in each series.  For new properties (Dragonspeaker, Heart of the Forest, Silver Serpent Chronicles), we’ll look for new narrators to bring to our team. There’s a very real chance that we’ll end up running over ourselves eventually.  20 weeks isn’t that long when it comes to whipping up some decent audio, but we’ll see what we can pull off!

 

Card Game

Yes, we’re still working on this little side project!  In fact, it’s coming along very nicely.  All of our alpha art content is completed, though there has been some thought given as to whether or not we could get one or two more sets of assets.

In any case, we’re getting ready to prototype our game in the coming weeks.  Christmas is a great time to test how all kinds of different people enjoy the game, from nerds to regular ol’ folk.

The great news is that even when we had zero art, the game ended up being a lot of fun to people who liked tabletop.  I’m hoping the gorgeous art we’ve been acquiring for around 18 months really helps to step up the enjoyment of the game even further.

You can see the latest cards—full cards—on our Facebook page. There are adventurer cards up now, but we’ll be showing off a selection of dungeon cards in the coming weeks as well.

Now, there is a spot of bad news here.  Since this is the first time we ever put together a tabletop game, there’s still some things that I’m trying to put together and understand.  The timeline is one of the things that I didn’t realize was going to be so hard to stick to.  Here’s our dilemmas so far:

We aren’t going to make it to Magfest and PAX East (sold out, drat!).

What we are still going to try and do is make it to AnimeNext, Philly Comic Con and Metatopia next year.  I really want to run the circuit for this game, and if we see a lot of genuine enjoyment out of it, we may try and jump into some other places as well.  The ultimate goal is to try and Kickstart this game, ala Boss Monster, but we shall see what we can pull off.  I’m very happy with the journey this game has made (even though I still haven’t settled on a final name for it yet). Time will tell if the destination is a happy one!

 

That’ll about wrap us up.  Even though it’s only been a month, it seems we had plenty to talk about.  Here’s hoping the next time we get to chat, there’s even more incredible Tellest news.  Thanks for tuning in!

Cheers,

Michael DeAngelo

Art – Leo Grab Bag

Hi there everybody!  Sorry for the slight delay in getting this week’s art to you.  It has been a very busy time!

This week, we wanted to share with you some of the side work that Leo has done for us.  Leo is as valuable a member of our team as anybody, and I’m so lucky to have met his acquaintance, even though he’s on the other side of the Atlantic!

One of the things Leo did for us was help us put together a bonus for all the folks that purchased the paperback version of Tales of Tellest. Below, you’ll see the bookmark that’s going out in the mail later this week into next week.

Tales of Tellest Bookmark Front

We also wanted to get together something that could serve as a generic short story cover, since we’ve got so many coming out these days.

wizard2

We came up with the idea to use Gaston, our do-it-all sage, as the model.  He’s got that quintessential wizard look, and it made this just look so darn good.

Short Story Panel

If you caught the short story we posted earlier this week, you may be familiar with this piece.  This is the first time it’s been shown in all of its glory, though.

Thank you again to Leo, who has always done such an amazing job for us.  He really deserves a lot of praise!

Keeper of the Void, Part Two

Once again, I want to thank everyone for their support of Tellest as we draw to close the first phase of our stories.  It was with all of you that we went on this journey, and I’m excited about taking the next steps.  Be on the lookout for more stories, art and other projects in the weeks to come.  Thank you so much!

 Keeper of the Void

A Story by Michael DeAngelo

-Part Two-

Before his eyes, the orb grew dark, his reflection peering back at him.  He did not realize it, but a great influx of mist had entered the void.  He shook his head, freeing himself of the trance that held his attention to the orbs.

“You see now what you are needed for?” Nyrshia asked.

Rhys turned and glared at the keeper of the void.  “No, not really.  Nothing I saw looked out of the ordinary in the slightest.”

“Because you’ve already set things right,” Vedas insisted.

“How could I set things right?  I’ve never seen any of those people in my life.”

Vedas shook his head while Nyrshia seemed to float away in the mist.  “You still don’t understand, do you?  Time is not some arrow shot forth to meet an end.  It is a series of waves on a distant shore, cascading against rocks, sending ripples through the ocean.  You are merely a ripple, Rhys, neither here nor there.  You’ve rescued these people from a break in the timeline, yet you’ve never strayed from your own.”

“You told me to witness the events in the orb, and so I have.  Give me the mirror, and let me be on my way.”

A smirk was all Rhys could see as Nyrshia disappeared into the mist.  “Very well.  Give him what he seeks, Vedas.”

While the keeper of the void disappeared into the miasma from whence she came, Vedas stepped forward.  He tossed the item to Rhys, watching as the human sprung forth to catch it.

“You know the power that thing holds, don’t you?” the cobalt-hued warrior asked.

“I’m aware,” Rhys insisted.  “I can save my people with this.”

“At the cost of your soul, perhaps.”

“Let me worry about my soul.”

As he said the words, though, the orb beside him transitioned once more.  He saw the woman inside, her smile so disarming he almost dropped the mirror.  Vedas caught that surprise, arching his eyebrow.

“You know, you should never steal something from a thief,” Rhys mentioned.

“And why is that?”

“Because they’ll steal something back.”

Before he had the opportunity to reflect on that comment—that threat—Vedas could feel his feet leaving the ground.  Rhys was already in motion, grabbing the orb beside him and holding it close to his chest.  He took several bounding steps while Vedas floated in the air.

“Your tricks will not work for long, boy!” Vedas cried.  “When I find you, I’ll rip out your insides and feast on your bones!”

As Rhys drew farther away, he snapped his fingers.  Vedas plummeted from the air, landing in a heap.  Mist scattered about, and when he rose to his feet, the human was gone.

Rhys inhaled a deep breath, straining through the miasma of the void.  With every long, quick stride, he could feel his lungs burning in his chest.  He couldn’t stop running, though.  Vedas’ words may very well have been true—perhaps his kind enjoyed the taste of human flesh.

Throughout his ceaseless race, Rhys could not find the exit.  Without any observable landmarks, there wasn’t even a sure way to know he had kept to the same direction.  Wary he may have been running right back to Vedas, he gripped the mirror and the sphere tighter.

“You know not what you do,” Nyrshia’s voice echoed out among the void.  It was almost as if it was rising from the ground beneath every one of the thief’s footfalls.  “Return the orb to us and all will be forgiven.”

Though her words sent a shiver up his spine, Rhys noted the concern in her tone.  The orb could be stolen—she was fearful of that.  Almost as soon as he considered that, he could see a swirling vortex in the distance: the exit.

“No matter what happens, you can’t bring her back,” Nyrshia insisted.  “It is a fixed point in time.  She was meant to be lost.”

That insight cascaded over him like a raging waterfall.  His pace waned for a moment, and he reflected on that idea.  His brow furled, and he resumed his hasty sprint, blood pumping furiously through his veins.

When he arrived at the portal, he could feel the perspiration soaking through his tunic.  A few labored breaths were all he allowed himself before he lifted the orb, peering at its contents.  Sure enough, it was the familiar woman again, peering back out at him as though she knew she was being watched.

“I don’t care what she says.  I’ll find a way to save you, Mother.”

One last burning breath was all he was afforded before he flung himself into the portal.  He wasn’t instantly faced with the lush countryside he had come from, though.  A tangible darkness swirled all around him, oppressive and filled with an unfamiliar energy.

A resounding crack echoed in that small area.  He lifted the mirror and saw his reflection, still unmarred.  Another crack roared out in that pocket of swirling energy, and he drew back, gazing at his other pilfered item.

The orb no longer displayed a single uniform image.  Dozens of events and places were shown across its cracked surface, and as it continued to lose its integrity, still more images appeared.

As though a powerful gust of wind had buffeted him, he was knocked aside.  Rhys watched while the orb rose in the air, luminescing between each of its many cracks.  The vortex, that little pocket of the void that he had entered, filled with that same bright light.  Silence entered the place—not the absence of sound, but the complete destruction of it, Rhys realized.  For as the orb continued to deteriorate, he could feel himself pulled toward it.  That painful tug had him screaming, but no sound emerged from his lips.  A shard of mirrored glass flew toward the floating sphere, and it took all his effort to turn the mirror about.

Fragments of glass remained, enough to see he was being stretched and torn in much the same manner.

The pain and the fear became too much to bear.  Rhys ceased fighting against that ominous pull and waited for the inevitable end.  Before his eyes, the orb exploded outward.  Hundreds of shards, many infinitesimally small, others large and vibrant, stopped in the air, locked in place.  He saw his outstretched hand and realized he, too, was unable to move.

The roaring of air preceded anything else, but the blinding radiance was quick to follow.  At once, those shards—of the orb and the mirror—drew inward, along with the man who dared to interfere with time.  In mere seconds, all those fragments collided and disappeared within the central point of the portal, where the orb had been suspended.  The portal, too, closed and faded.

All was quiet in the void, the displaced miasma settling once more.  Muted footsteps made their way toward where the vortex had been.  Vedas crossed his arms over his chest and scowled at the emptiness of the place.  He sensed the arrival of another  and pivoted back to the keeper of the void.

“He took the bait,” Vedas said.

“We knew he would,” Nyrshia replied.  “He is a part of time’s grand tapestry now.  Let’s hope he is good with a needle and thread.”

Vedas couldn’t bring himself to offer up even a polite grin.  Another orb swept by him, and he peered at its contents.  Sure enough, he knew the inhabitant.

Rhys climbed to his feet in a foreign time and place.  The mirror was shattered, though the frame was whole.  And beside him, a single fragment of the orb remained.

“It begins,” Vedas said.

The keeper of the void was already shaking her head.  “It continues.”

Tales of Tellest has Released!

Hello everyone!

I’m proud to announce that one of the last few pieces in our first big push—phase one, I’m calling it—is ready for purchase.  Tales of Tellest went live yesterday, bringing together seventeen different stories and four talented authors.

Tales of Tellest Thumb

Best of all, I think, is the price.  At $4.99, you’re making out like a bandit on the deal.  Since each of the stories are $2.99 (less Mageborn and Awake when they’re free), you’re really being given a decent bang for your buck.  The full book is over 600 pages, and this is just the first course of these wonderful stories that feature characters from the Tellest universe.

Be sure to pick up your copy on Amazon today!

Touched, Part Two

Click here to read part one.

Touched
-Part Two-

The scowl seemed etched onto his face.  He still muttered under his breath as he worked on the drawstring of his bag.  Tied tightly, it would not relent, daring him to continue looking like a fool.

The mule brayed below, but the merchant’s apprentice was focused on the task at hand.  The straw on the second floor of the barn would serve well enough as bedding, but a blanket he kept in his bag would make it all the more comfortable.  He worked on the knot with his teeth, the leather drawstring too tightly bound to unravel.  With that plan going unwell for a few moments, he took it in his hands once more, growling away his displeasure.

A loud snap delivered the news before he even realized what had happened.  The knot was released, but only because it ripped fully from the bag.  Its contents spilled out, rolling off the platform to the floor of the barn below.

“The gods hate me,” the apprentice bemoaned.

When he crept to the edge to see how his belongings fared, he was surprised to see the mule pulling away, the cart in tow.  The farmer’s lad was there too, urging the beast of burden on.

“Hey, what are you doing?  Those are my things.”

Once again, the boy only offered silence in return.  He stopped following the mule and the wagon, though, averting his gaze as the apprentice fumed on the second floor.  Hands and feet thumped against the rungs of the old wooden ladder, and the boy was face to face with the merchant’s companion.

“I’ve had enough of you,” he seethed.  “Just leave me alone.”

With his head bowed, the boy stood his ground.  “Leave,” he said meekly.

“Don’t worry, I don’t plan on staying long,” the apprentice returned.  “I know where I’m not wanted.”

When the boy lifted his head and made eye contact, the apprentice felt the muscles in his body tense.  He clenched his fingers into fists, ready for another altercation.

“Leave… now,” the boy pressed.

“It’s the middle of the night.  Do you see how dark it is out there?”  As he spoke those words, he considered how quickly time had passed.  Even he thought it was early evening at worst.

In no mood to be argued with, the farmer’s son grabbed his arm.  The apprentice pushed the lad away, ready to be pounced upon like before.

“Don’t try that again.  I’m warning you.”

“Listen,” the boy said.

One of the shutters on the second floor burst open, and a furious gust of wind roared through the barn.  The farmer’s son hadn’t severed eye contact in all that time, sending a shiver up the apprentice’s spine.

“Need to leave.”

A plaintive nod was set to the sound of the wind shrieking into the barn.  “Fine.  I’ll just go and get my—”

Before he could offer up any more thought, the farmer’s son had bent low and picked up the blanket.  The apprentice reached for it, but the boy spun away and stepped toward the door.

“What are you doing?” the apprentice asked.  “That’s mine.  Don’t you dare do anything to that!”

The boy’s small, fleeting steps grew larger as the older lad grabbed for his prized possession.  In a moment, he burst into a sprint the apprentice couldn’t hope to match.  But with the blanket dangling behind as the farmer’s son ran, he charged after, despite the odds of catching the thief.

Wind roared out in the field, and beneath that rumble, the apprentice could hear another call.  He looked toward the farmhouse, where his master frantically waved his arms and called his name.  Undeterred, he continued after the farmer’s son.

“Get back here, you contemptible little—”

Before he could even finish his thought, a loud snap resonated across the area.  He spun on his heel and noticed one of the barn’s shutters rip from its hinges, flung from the building into the crops on the end of the field.  He understood, then, what was happening.  The towering grey funnel advanced on the barn like an angry titan.  With debris already swirling inside it, the apprentice knew how formidable the storm had become.

“Come!” he heard, a soft yet stern voice breaking out over the wind.

The farmer’s lad was by the old stone well, still clutching the blanket.  Needing no further coercing, the apprentice sprinted in that direction.

The tornado tore through the barn like a shear through a sheep’s wool.  Wooden panels, shutters, and the rear doors flung through the air, some inhaled by the behemoth, others cast aside like playthings.  In moments, the barn could no longer support its structure, collapsing under the weight of so powerful a disaster.

Without wasting a moment, the farmer’s lad climbed onto the well, offering up a hand as the apprentice reached him.

“What are we doing?” he asked.

The boy answered with a nod, clutching the rope in one hand.  With that, he leapt into the well, disappearing within, taking the blanket with him.  As the twister barreled toward him, the apprentice knew there was only one way to go.  He grasped the rope and slid down as fast as he could, until his feet landed on the old wooden bucket.

“Down,” he heard.

The moment he hopped from the bucket, it was ripped up out of the well.  All was bright as the eye of the storm peered down at them, casting its sinister gaze their way.

Snatching the blanket away, the apprentice lifted it high over his head.  “Come on then, help me!” he bade.  The farmer’s lad did as instructed.  No sooner did they have the blanket above them did the rocks fall down.  Caught above their covering, though, they were safe from the storm’s wrath.

The roar went on for some time, deafening in their small sanctuary.  The farmer’s son tightly closed his eyes, rocking where he stood.  Even after the tumultuous funnel had moved on, the echo remained.  They could feel in the air, though, they were no longer in peril.  The apprentice lowered the blanket and saw the sky had grown bright again.  The farmer’s lad averted his gaze once more as that light filled the well.

“Hey,” the apprentice said, clapping the boy on his shoulder.  “Hey.  Thank you.”  He kept his eyes locked to the boy’s until he had his focus again.  For the first time in a long while, he allowed a smile to stretch across his face.

“You boys all right?” they heard.

When they looked up, they saw the farmer and the merchant peering down at them.

“No worse for wear,” the apprentice said.  “Thanks to your son, that is.”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

The autumn air was crisp and cool, but the quartet worked to a sweat.  It required some backbreaking labors, but not one of them complained, considering the luck they shared.

As he reached the top of the loft, the farmer looked out of the open side of the barn.  The farmhouse stood strong in spite of the disaster that had swirled through the area weeks before.  A scar had been left upon the field that would not mend for some time, but his home remained, and that was cause for celebration.  A shrill whistle left his lips, and the three folk below lifted the final side of the barn.  He aided them with a strong length of rope—the same one that had pulled the two younger lads from the well as the twister moved on.

Wiping his brow with his wrist, the merchant leaned against the wooden wall while the farmer lined up the joists.  He looked to Tess, who grazed the grass outside the fence without concern.  The cart was on that nearby dirt path, empty of many of the goods he and his apprentice had arrived with.  A grin stretched his lips, for he knew they had gone to good use, assisting those in Sungarden affected by the tornado.  Those provisions had not sold at an ideal price, but the merchant was never happier with barter than with those.

Though the twister had ripped through the farm and the barn, not one of them saw it for the disaster it was.  The apprentice was filled with an abundance of mirth since his encounter with that deadly funnel, wearing a smile his master had not seen so prominently displayed in some time.  He leaned against the final side of the unfinished barn, looking at his new friend, who stood just beside him.

The farmer’s son stared off to the north, the same way he did whenever he painted.  He lent his weight to the crew, and as his father hammered the joists into place, the barn supported him rather than the boy holding up that side.  He felt a hand on his shoulder, and though he didn’t spin on his heel to acknowledge the apprentice, he did turn his head just enough to declare, in his way, he was present and aware.

“All done,” the apprentice said.

NaNoWriMo, Patreon and Tales of Tellest

Phew, now that was exhausting.

As many of you may know, I participated in NaNoWriMo this year.  It was a completely new experience for me, since most of the writing I’ve done for Tellest thus far has been pencil to paper in a notebook before it’s transferred to the computer.  In that way, I end up editing my book twice as I write it.  For NaNoWriMo, I knew that I was going to have to leave that kind of writing to the side, or I would never make my target word count in time.

50,000 words in 30 days is something that seemed a little beyond my skills, but as of today—with one day to spare—I’m proud to announce that I was able to meet that lofty goal.  I’m a NaNoWriMo 2015 winner.  Heart of the Forest is well on its way.  At that word count, we’re at about 100 pages written, and I’ve just started the twentieth chapter.  It’s still a long way to go, but I’m committing to a new task going forward, as a result of this first NaNoWriMo experience.

From now on, I’m going to write at least one chapter of a story per week directly on the computer, just like I’ve done throughout this November.  It’ll be my writing in its rawest form, so it won’t necessarily be the best display of my ability, but it’ll fulfill my promise to you that there will always be more content from Tellest that is ready to read.

Now, this will go on to serve two purposes.  First, it’ll mean that there will be more stories to read at a quicker pace.  My guess is that Heart of the Forest will be around a forty chapter story, so I’m about halfway there.  At this rate, I’ll have it done by the end of April.  At that point, it’ll be time to sit down with it and throw in some heavy edits to make sure that it’s a story worthy of your attention.

That brings us to our second purpose.  Writing in that style gives me the golden opportunity to bring my stories to you a lot quicker than the way that I currently do.  The Tellest Patreon page is the place where chapters of Heart of the Forest are currently being uploaded every Wednesday.  You have to be a patron to get early access to those snippets, but I’m announcing today that you only need to spend $1 a month to get that access (it used to be $3).  And here’s some even better news: even if you’re not a patron, there’s a chance you’ll see some of our exclusive early content there.  There’s a 1-in-3 chance you’ll see the art we commission early, and there’s a 1-in-10 chance that you’ll get to read Heart of the Forest early.

And I guess that kind of serves a third purpose then.  The more people that we know we’re working for, the more diligent we are.  If you know anyone who wants to be a part of that, let them know.  Tellest will only grow because of it!

Last but not least, I wanted to let you know about Tales of Tellest.  We started this campaign a long time ago (it’s almost been two years!), but it’s about time that it’s wrapping up.  In the next couple of weeks, all five novellas will have been released, as well as all twelve short stories that we committed to.  At that point, we’re going to be releasing the entire collection on Amazon, followed shortly after by a paperback release.  I wanted to personally thank everyone who has been so patient with all of that, and we’re looking so forward to bringing you that piece of Tellest.

Here’s hoping for more frequent updates in the future.  With NaNoWriMo just about wrapped up, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled broadcasts!

Cheers,

Mike

Art – Tales of Tellest Cover by DLeoBlack

I am so very excited to show you the last big component of our Tales of Tellest: Volume one push.  I know it should have been a one year enterprise, but the Tales of Tellest grew a little out of control, and I can honestly say it was probably for the best.  You know when you’re expanding, you get those growing pains.  I think the same happens with a series and a world like Tellest, and the delays here and there made it possible to sort of age with dignity.  It gave us the time to really tackle things with the kind of poise and attention that we needed to give them.

There were a lot of ways that we could have gone at this particular cover, which brings all the stories we’ve created in the last 18 months into one package.  We could have had a series of characters all bunched together into one space, but as of stories that are in this collection, they haven’t actually met each other.  It would be disingenuous to put them all together if they’re introductions wouldn’t be made for several years.  So Leo and I determined that there would have to another thread that tied them all together.

That’s how The Keeper of the Void, the final story I’ve written for this collection, came to be.

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In Tellest, there are some things that are a bit beyond the existential. We’ve seen the Nexus, which connects the waking world with the afterlife, in addition to serving as a means for the gods to travel about the world in short bursts.  What we decided to do was add another layer of impossible to the world.  Whereas the Nexus affects space and mortality, the Void encompasses space and time.

Yes, time travel is a part of Tellest now.  In a lot of ways, it always was.  But we’ll get to that more later.  You can see that draft of the cover up there.  That’s the one we passed on.  We gave Leo the opportunity to create a character from scratch here, and he gave us two versions of a kind of “mad wizard” or “mad crone” to choose from.  We ultimately settled on our crone:

cover_1

This is Nyrshia, the eponymous Keeper of the Void.  She’s not really female, but beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.  She (it?) chooses to represent itself the way it does so that she can interact with us on a level that we would understand.

You can also see the orbs in the cover as well.  These are the ways that we’ve bound all our previous stories together.

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Here, you can see that idea beginning to take shape.  Since time is all relative, events sort of float around in the Void, ready to be observed—but rarely manipulated.

In this version of the cover, Nyrshia has been fleshed out a little bit more, and we’ve added the other big character to the story, a lad named Rhys who is a capable soldier that happens upon the Void.

The orbs are filled, as well, with the covers of the stories that we’ve written before.  You’ll see that The Bindings of Fate is in there as well, though it doesn’t fit in the Tales of Tellest collection—if we threw that in there, we’d have to put the other Child of the Stars trilogy books in there, and we’d be looking at around 1,800 pages worth of content, and this collection is supposed to go to paperback!

Orb Legend

We took a step back to our monochrome cover just so that we could indicate which stories should have gone where.  We kept our most popular stories in the biggest bubbles, and eagerly awaited the unfolding of Leo’s own brand of magic.

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This was the finished version of the cover, sans filled orbs.  Nyrshia is a bit more imposing in her finished form.  Leo captured the look of this character so exquisitely as someone who could be so disarmingly fragile but so powerful to behold at the same time. Rhys, meanwhile, looks a bit more brooding.

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Now this is some beautiful work.  The orbs are being used in their entirety here to great effects.  And the stories inside them? Magnifique.  You can also see that Leo did some redraws of some of Kimirra’s older story covers for The Littlest Kobold and Remembered in Gold.  We thought that they didn’t quite stand up to the rest of the thumbnails on this cover, and asked Leo to spruce them up a bit.

Funny enough, we still have some times translating between Leo and I from time to time.  It’s very far and few between and he does some quick turnarounds, but you can see here that we accidentally used As Darkness Falls instead of The Fall.  You can tell that I have too many opportunities to use that word, especially when you consider that another short story in this very collection is called Fallen.

Tales of Tellest Complete

And here you have it.  The final version of our final 2014-2015 project.  Obviously we have to slap the title and back matter on there, and are working with Paul Davies to do so, but this is the Tales of Tellest in all its glory.  We hope you liked it, and we’ll come back at you with more great content in the weeks and months to come!