Schemers is the latest genre-crossing anthology of new short fiction from Stone Skin Press. From the classic myths to the pages of the Bible, from Shakespeare’s stage to the yellowed pulps of yesteryear, literature runs red with tales of plotting and betrayal.
In a sly dialog with the past, Elizabeth Vaughan ventures to the medieval period to brandish “The Weapon at Hand.” In its focus on a royal household and the need for an heir, she sets us up to expect a classic court intrigue, but then…
“You are new come to the King’s Hall, are you not?” the warrior asked, his voice rough with a barely hidden air of command.
I turned slightly, the silk of my sleeve catching on the rough edge of the table as a warrior settled on the bench beside me. He was a bigger man than I, but not so large as the other warriors that surrounded us in King Saer’s feasting hall. Still, of a solid build, bearded, long-haired, blond, as were all the rest, and blue-eyed, as were all the men of the north. Truth tell, I was sometimes hard-pressed to distinguish one Wesorix from another.
It would not be diplomatic to mention that, of course. As rough as this land was, as harsh as life here was, my position required that the niceties be observed.
“I am new come, yes, Warrior.” I still stumbled over the phrasing of their language at times. So as to distinguish him in my mind, I made note of the man’s armor, heavy fur cloak, and weapon, a fine axe with a long hooked blade placed within easy reach of his right hand. These details aided memory; armor and weapons varied as much as faces did in my homeland. “May I ask . . .?”
“Artheran Thirdson,” was the response.
I was too skilled to allow my eyebrow to raise. The youngest of King Saer’s brothers then, which explained his seating at this table. And his ease at arriving late.
For the rest, get Schemers from Stone Skin Press.
Elizabeth A. Vaughan, USA Today best-selling author, writes fantasy romance. Her first novel, Warprize, the first book in the Chronicles of the Warlands, was re-released in April, 2011.
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