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Contents Copyright by Bruce Durham unless noted otherwise
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The wizard strode to the table and inverted a timepiece. “When these grains empty, Princess, you shall present yourself to Shahar III, Rapasha of the Cimbran Empire. If you refuse, you will be sport for the men.”

 

The young woman stood by a large bronze tub brimmed with steaming water. Willowy and fair complexioned, she was dressed in a long powder-blue robe bordered with yellow lace and cinched at the waist by a jeweled sash. Corn-colored hair in two braids tumbled about her slender shoulders. Long fingers tightened nervously as she watched the two men who had moments ago entered her tent unannounced. Her prison.

 

The speaker was heavy, bordering on obese, possessed of a round face, mottled complexion and black, emotionless eyes. Clothed in a silk robe with matching cape, he clutched a small carved staff in one thick-fingered hand. The second man was short, his body bent forward from some old sickness. His black, greased hair lay plastered across a pronounced brow. He stared sullenly at the carpeted floor.

 

The woman fought to calm herself, and with effort asked, “Who are you?”

 

The fat man sketched a mocking bow. “I am Lord T’Walla, wizard supreme to the Cimbran Empire.”

 

“Empire?” she blurted, sudden outrage overcoming fear. “The empire so recently shamed on the field of battle, its army shattered by King Talik of Coranthe, my city freed of your vile occupation? That empire? Perhaps the Rapasha and his rabble should continue running, instead of enslaving innocent women.”

 

T’Walla’s eyes narrowed. “A sharp tongue, hmm? I would not exactly call Princess Selenne of Anticus innocent, would you?” He bowed again and left, the small man on his heels.

 

Selenne exhaled sharply, her eyes darting to the sliding grains of sand. Abruptly she froze. There was movement outside the tent, on the side directly opposite the entrance.

 

The canvas wall bulged in as a knife punched through at ground level and sliced up. The blade was withdrawn and a pair of hands gripped the cloth on either side, splitting it wide. A head thrust in, a young woman with shoulder length auburn hair.

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Night of the Meld
Excerpt
Great story! Awesome monster! - Michael Ehart - author of ‘The Servant of the Manthycore’
The Night of the Meld... zipped along with lots of good action and creepy adversaries - Chris Willrich
I can see why this was the featured story - Charles Gramlich - author of ‘Swords of Talera
The feel of the story is immediate, as if you are there, so that by the end you feel as if you have a right to be as weary as the fighters - Dan Nelson
8.5 out of 10 - Lyn Perry - Bloggin’ Outloud
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Issue out of print.

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