Death by Name #2

SwordKera looked down and saw the side of the tower dropping away hundreds of feet below. She felt the familiar twist of sickness in her gut, a spasm of fear. It would soon pass, she thought. Arms shaking with the final effort, she pulled herself up onto the windowsill.

The alchemist sat on a low stool in the middle of the room. His face was bathed in the pasty yellow light of the candle beside him. All around the room were tattered books as thick as a man’s thigh, bottles and jars filled with all manner of foul-smelling ingredients. His desk was cluttered with glass tubes and coils of metal.

He did not seem surprised to see the figure in the dark purple cloak crawling down from the ledge like an overgrown spider. His face relaxed in a sigh of resignation.

“I don’t suppose I could persuade you to drink some tea?”

The alchemist’s long, delicate fingers indicated a small cup of amber liquid sitting on the far side of the table. Kera shook her head as she stood upright.

“Is there any point in calling my guards?”

Kera stepped towards the man, pulling her long blade free of its sheath. Sharp iron whispered against hardened leather.

“What’s your name, assassin?”


My father sat down beside me. I was crouched on the hard wooden floor of my mother’s kitchen, peeling potatoes with a dull knife.

“Are you ready to hear more about our family name?” He asked.

“Yes, I’m ready.” I replied. “Last time you said our name means death?”

Every part of my mind strained to hide the excitement which threatened to overpower me. It had been years since my father last spoke of the name Wraith. Scarcely a day had gone by when I did not long to barrage him with questions, but my father did not like to be pestered.

“Our family is older than any other. Your ancestors were heroes in ancient times and you carry their knowledge and their strength in your heart.”

“All families are the same age, otherwise where did they come from?”

His eyes bored deep into mine, searching for any sign that I was not serious, that I was teasing him. Finally, he seemed to be satisfied.

“You’re not ready yet. We’ll talk more later.”

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Death by Name #1 (short story)


-A new short fiction series; what’s in a name?-

My father told me the story of our family name when I was still very young. I did not sit on his lap or knee while the story was told. That is often how such tales begin, but a Wraith does not sit on laps nor allow their knees to be made into seats.

“A Wraith does not kneel.”

That was one of the things my father said, but not this time.

Imagine you are a child again. It does not matter how old. You are small, curious and afraid. The world is large around you, towering above your head until it seems that everything must suddenly fall down and flatten you.

“Kera, you are a Wraith.”

Of course that would be the first thing he said. But it was no surprise, every child knows their own name. What he said next I had never heard before. It was not the sort of thing any child ought to hear. We should think back to that moment and imagine my life if those words were never spoken.

It would have been a good life. There would have been bloodshed, mourning and loss; that is true of any life. But there would certainly have been less of it. Of course, it would not have been my life.

“Wraith means death.” My father said.

“No, it means a ghost.”

Every child will take an opportunity to prove to their elders that they know better. I should not have done so. It was the first time my father struck me in anger and the only time. With hindsight, I do not blame him. At the time, I hated him.

“I speak of the old tongue.” He continued to say over my wails. “But you are clearly not ready. We will speak again when you are older.”


Another fantasy series, Turnkey, begins here.

Worldkiller starts here.

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