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1. Fate's Test on Amazon (delayed information!)

Hi all,

I am sorry for not posting about this earlier but I have been unable to do much work on promoting my books. (a hyperactive 3 year old tends to make me too tired to focus!)

Anyway, Fate's Test has been released on Amazon for a while now. I wanted to let you all know where to find it!

Visit my Author Page on Amazon to find Fate's Test and other books by clicking HERE

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2. Sequel due to be published

Good news!


The sequel to Reaper's Challenge has been accepted by Netherworld Books and is due to be published before Christmas.

I will keep my blog updated with more info and cover images as and when they come!

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3. First Chaper, First Draft Sneak Peak

First off I'll apologise for not posting anything lately. I have been busy trying to get through the sequel to 'Reaper's Challenge'. I am currently approaching the 75% complete mark and thought it was about time I gave people an idea what was going on. So, here it is, the first draft of the first chapter of 'Fate's Test'. I hope you enjoy and if you have any feedback, please feel free to comment!



Release of Chaos

By T. J. Dipple

Chapter One


The slavers' den was dark and damp. The air stank of desperation, sweat and blood. Sounds of screaming, fighting and whipping filled the stale air. Frightened men were marched through the worst of it to encourage the feeling of hopelessness. They were made to watch as a man had his throat torn out by a pack of dogs, in the next pit two slaves were made to beat each other to death with clubs. All the while the pit wardens smiled and whipped the newest slaves who did not look disgusted or scared enough.

Tren, who was known as Recruit by the rest of his squad, stepped cautiously along with the crowd, making sure that he did not attract attention. The iron shackles around his hands and feet were no longer cold; his anger at the abomination of the slave den was too great to concern himself with his own predicament. All around he could feel the life being sucked out the slaves, even those who would not die for years.

A life in slavery was not life and it made him sick to his stomach.

He never thought of himself as a God really, but that was what he was. Over the last eighteen months Tren had felt his powers and abilities grow and grow. He could sense the Life of those around him. He could manipulate The Haze that settled over Kavernhive at night. He could even send the other Gods away with a wave of his hand.

He shuddered at that last memory. They had let Vitalik Gof of Life die at the hands of Reaper, God of Death. Vitalik had been Tren's Lieutenant and The Blades had known him as Lifa. Since his death Tren had seen nothing of the others; Time and Fate kepot their distance and as far as he knew, Reaper was still recovering from his defeat. The only one of them he would allow within the city was the Goddess Chance, an ally he desperately needed.

The crack of a whip brought him out of his memories. It had been eighteen months since Lifa had been killed and still it gave him nightmares.

The man next to him moaned as one of the wardens walked by. Tren groaned inwardly at what was coming.

The large man stopped and looked at them, his head was shaved and he had a tattoo that covered from his left ear to his broken nose. He grinned with a mouth missing a few teeth and unfurled his whip from his belt. Tren kept his head down and stayed quiet knowing that to look at the bully would only provoke him. The man next to him was not as smart.

The whip cracked against the new slave's back, the rough cloth of his clothes did nothing to stop the leather drawing blood. The man fell and a second blow came followed by a scream.

Before the third blow a hooded man moved between the slaver and his victim. Even under the hooded cloak Tren could recognise the build and the confident stance of a man who did not think he could be beaten. More than that, Tren could see the black and red flecked aura of Chaos surrounding the Guard Leader.


Tren groaned again as the slaver told Bane to move, the man's accent was thick and it was obvious he came from the Noman Islands; far to the south. His was the third different accent Tren had heard since he was captured.

"Move you swine!" The warden roared.

"No," Bane growled. Tren did not have to look to know Bane was flexing his large fists despite the shackles holding him. "Go and find someone who can defend themselves."

The warden grinned. "Like you?"

Tren saw the hood bob up and down. "Aye," Bane said, he pointed both shackled hands at the whip. "Like me, but if you attack me with that, I'll feed it to you."

The warden laughed and brought the whip back to strike. Before it could crack his face open Bane caught it. Tren could see the chaotic aura flare and shift. Catching the whip had to have hurt, but Bane showed no emotion as he pulled the warden to his knees and jabbed both shacked hands into his face. True to his promise, Bane wrestled the struggling warden to the floor, pinned him with his knees and was shoving the handle of the whip into his mouth before the others pulled him off.

Bane resisted, but shackled as he was it was not long before he went down under a rain of blows. The warden he attacked was choking and Tren could see the life draining away. He had no sympathy; any man who treated people like cattle deserved everything he got. Unfortunately, the whip was removed before it killed him. The warden vomited and was carried away gagging and cursing. Cheers rang up amongst the slaves, both new, and old. Tren smiled, hope never quite died.

"Quiet!" another warden shouted, which earned him a barrage of insults from the slaves. He cracked a barbed whip at the nearest face to him and the splatter of blood that resulted stopped the noise. The wounded man clutched what was left of his ruined face and screamed.

Tren looked away. What was happening here was disgusting, inhumane and to make it worse it was happening in his city. It had been during The Haze Killings eighteen months earlier when The Blades had destroyed the guild of assassins. Other groups had begun to fill the power gap in the criminal parts of the city. The slavers, in Tren's opinion, were by far the worst, and most successful.

Orphans, homeless and sometimes simply people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time had been going missing. After several weeks of investigation it emerged that the victims were taken to one of three strongholds within the city, all of which were underground. From there they would be transported out of Kavernhive to be sold to the southern islands.

"Larn will want him," one of the other wardens said. From the way the rest nodded it looked like he was someone important. He gestured over in Tren's direction. "Slave, carry him."

Tren moved forward, he doubted the man gave the order to anyone in particular and true enough as Tren moved there were no objections as he hefted Bane to his feet. The Guard Leader groaned and the slave line was made to move again.

"How was that, Recruit?" Bane muttered under his breath.

"Brilliant, Sir," he replied taking his leader's weight. "This was supposed to be reconnaissance though."

"Balls to that, Recruit. We had an opportunity and I took it. The others will have followed. They'll get us out."

"What if we're dead before they get here?"

"Then at least we can take a few of the bastards with us," Bane spat and then sagged. "I can't think of everything and the longer this goes on the worse things get. I never thought I'd rather the assassins but..."

"I know, Sir," he interrupted. "This place is wrong."

"Good man," Bane said. "You can let go of me now, Recruit. They can't hit as hard as they think they can. Does this run anywhere near your orb?"

Tren shook his head. "No, I would have felt it if it were close. I don't like that I couldn't stop this from happening."

"These things happen," Bane told him. "People will be bastards if they're allowed to be. It's up to us to stop them. Besides, you're God of Life; can a mortal even kill you?"

"I don't really want to test it to see."

"There's your problem Recruit, no conviction. Are you going to heal me?"

"Banshee told me not to."

Bane growled. "What?"

"I think her exact words were 'Don't let that arrogant idiot rely on your healing, Recruit. It'll make him lazy. If he does it again tell him I'll put his balls on an anvil and make sure he can't be healed'."

"She said that?"

Tren shrugged. "I had to clean up the language."

"Bloody woman," Bane grunted. "You can ignore her orders this once, Recruit, we'll just tell her I didn't get injured."

Tren shook his head. "I won't do it, Sir. Every time I do it weakens what Lifa did. Not by much, but enough. Like she says, you'll just have to start being careful."

Bane swore. "You get more like Lifa every damned day, Recruit."

"I'll take that as a compliment, Sir."

"Don't," Bane muttered.

The line halted in front of a platform. A door opened and a tall, well-dressed man stepped out. He wore brown riding boots with matching leather trousers. A brilliant white shirt draped over his upper body and was partially covered by a brown leather waistcoat. Tren saw the signs of a fighter, rather than a brawler. The man's movements were fluid and graceful. He saw Bane bristle in anticipation.

"Your lives belong to me," the man's voice had the sound of nobility about it. Or at least a life of privilege. "I am Larn Randell, but if I address you, you will call me master. What will you call me?"

"Master," The slaves repeated and dropped to the ground as the whips cracked. They all bowed, Tren with them. Only one man remained upright.

One of the wardens moved closer with a whip but the Guard Leader held up his hands. "Remember what happened to your friend who tried that?"

The warden hesitated as Bane stared at him. Tren could feel the power rippling beneath Bane, fighting to get out. It had been getting stronger ever since their encounter with the other Gods. Something had awakened within Bane, and although Tren had promised to protect him, he was not sure the power was a good thing.

The warden was saved having to make a decision by Larn Randell gesturing for others to bring Bane to him. He was dragged up onto the platform.

Larn looked Bane up and down, one of the wardens spoke too quickly for Tren to hear what was said, but Larn nodded. "You will bow to me, slave."

Bane spat at the man's feet. "I said this to someone once before and it still rings true. I don't bow to my King, what makes you think I'll bow to you?"

Larn addressed the crowd of slaves, some of whom had cheered at Bane's words. Others, those who had been there longer, kept their heads down.

"You think this man is strong?" the slaver asked them while gesturing at Bane. "This man is like you. He is nothing. You are mine, you will eat when I say, you will sleep when I say, you will shit when I say and you will bow when I say."

A whip cracked against the back of Bane's knees and he dropped.

"You will bow, or I will make you," Larn said.

Bane looked at him through his matted, dirty shoulder length black hair. "You're one of the new nobles aren’t you?"

Larn frowned. "You do not address me unless I ask it, and when I do, you call me master."

The whip cracked against Bane's back. He grunted and nodded. "Aye, I thought so. One of the new bloods, trying to get rich off Kavernhive's fame. Lots of money, but no power since the King put your kind on the edge."

The whip stuck again. Larn raised a hand to stop them and leaned closer to Bane. Tren could hear them, the room was so quiet.

"You know nothing of me, slave. You keep your mouth shut and do as you are told or I will cut out that tongue of yours."

Bane leaned forward. "You think threats are going to work? I know how your power works, slaver. I know how you create it, and I know how to break it," He hissed before he surged upwards and broke Larn's nose with his forehead.

The slaver fell back from the unexpected blow. Neither the slaves or the wardens knew what to do, they were so shocked. Larn had no such hesitation. He drew the rapier at his side.

"Forward!" Tren shouted and began pushing other slaves towards the platform shouting louder as he did. It worked. The slaves broke from their stupor; they surged into the wardens as one and overwhelming them in their desperation. Tren got to the platform as Larn went to cut Bane's throat. He tried to get between them but it was too late.

Then Larn just stopped moving.

Tren turned. In the confusion he had not noticed the doors behind them had been broken through. The Blades and The Valkyries were making their way through the crowd. At the back of the room the wizard, Scholar, was focussing his power on preventing Larn from cutting Bane's throat. Tren grinned, Bane would not be happy about it, but he was never one to miss and opportunity. Tren turned around in time to see Bane take Larn's rapier away from him and add another blow to the slaver's face.

It was over quickly. The wardens could control the slaves when they were docile, but there were not enough to deal with the masses of men and women once they were riled. Tren knew that Bane's chaotic power had something to do with the reaction; it had probably given them courage. Either way, it had worked and the wardens were now either dead, or held by The Blades.


Bane held the slaver down, which was an impressive feat given his wrists were still bound by the iron shackles. Tren hopped up onto the platform.

"See that, Recruit," Bane told him and nodded to the others. "I told you they'd follow. Tanner!"

"Sir?" the Lieutenant looked up from arresting one of the wardens.

"Get these filth to the prisons and then send for help from the barracks. We need these people processed and put somewhere not on the streets. I don't want either of the other two slaver scum getting hold of them."

"Already done, sir," Tanner replied and left the warden with Cobbler who hoisted him off the floor and towards the entrance. "Capper is on his way to the barracks and Mustrig's squad knew where we were going. We'll have help before the next bell."

"Well done, Lieutenant," Bane said proudly as he admired their work. "First round at the tavern is mine!"

"Who are you?" Larn asked through gritted teeth. "You'll be sorry. I have friends..."

Bane looked at him. "We're The Blades, and you're coming with us. I can guarantee you my friends are higher up than yours. Tanner!"


"Get this idiot to the prisons and let him stew for a while. We'll have questions for you about who is organising your little ventures."

Larn paled as Tanner pulled him up.

"Oh, Lieutenant," Bane said before Tanner dragged Larn away.


"If you find the keys, me and Recruit would like to be out of these shackles at some point today."

"I'll look into it," Tanner said grinning. "We might be able to find something."

Tanner dragged Larn away and Tren shuffled towards Bane. "One down."

"And two of these bloody pits to go," Bane responded shaking his head. "We need to stop someone stepping in to fill Larn's boots and close down the two other slavers. Someone is behind this, Recruit. It's worse than the assassins ever were and I don't like it. Not in my city. Are you sure you can't sense them?"

Tren shook his head. "I don't think it works like that," he said. "Do you think there is someone above Larn?"

Bane nodded as they stood watching the slaves being herded out of the slave pit. "There would have to be. Something of this scale does not just happen because a rich idiot has a need to feel in charge. There's purpose here somewhere. We just have to find it."




Lord Tallan Hurkar of Noman City scribbled his signature on the last of the requisitions and handed the pile back to his overseer.

"Make sure the funds are available," he said and pushed his chair out from the desk. The smaller man nodded and bowed slightly at the order. "Winter will be a busier time than usual I feel."

"Everything will go according the schedule," Overseer Praan promised. "The new work company have brought in fresh workers and we are already ahead of schedule. The granaries are full, the smiths had all the metal they need and the new buildings on the south-western quarter will be ready long before the snow settles."

Tallan nodded in satisfaction. He stood a foot taller than Praan and had the build of a guard. By King Reynold's order, every man who could, or would one day be Lord of one of his cities or towns had to have done at least a year of real service in the guard, or the army. By real service it meant no pampering, no grand tents on border patrols and no special treatment. Most of his friends thought it silly, but it had its uses. He was prepared for most things and best of all he could protect himself if his guards failed. And the people loved him for it; they saw him as one of them, despite his noble birth.

Praan backed away slowly, bowed again and then left Tallan to himself.

It had been a good day, and now that he knew his projects would be completed ahead of schedule he could relax. His wife would already be getting herself ready for the ball that evening, and most likely by now would be wondering why he was not doing the same.

It was his son's thirtieth year, and the celebration would be huge. Not just at the castle, but across the city, his son was almost as popular with the people as he was. Tallan left his study and made his way to his chambers.

"Where have you been?" his wife was standing in front of a full length mirror as her lady's maid put the finishing touches on her gown. "You had better not be late for this, Tallan. It is Makra's big day, he might forgive you for being late, but I won't."

Tallan smiled inwardly, but knew better than to let it show. "I won't be late Tess," he assured her. "Praan had a few things for me to look over. I have two hours to get ready and last time I checked it did not take me that long to dress myself."

"Don't be smart," she pouted. "Makra is being dressed and I want us to sit as a family before the celebrations start."

"Yes, dear," Tallan said as he poured himself a glass of wine. "You look lovely by the way."

"Don't try and charm me," she snapped but smiled despite herself and smoothed out the long silk dress. "But thank you."

He grinned and sipped the wine, it was smooth as it went down and before he knew it he had drained the glass. He sat down on the bed and watched as Tess's maid finished her tinkering with the dress. The room turned warm and he felt beads of sweat form on his head and back.

He looked at the fireplace, but it was empty, there was no fire to give heat.

"What is it, Tall?" Tess asked from the mirror. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

He felt his throat close up and he tried to talk. All he could manage was a choking splutter as spittle ran down his chin. He looked at his wine glass and tried to stand but his muscles failed and he fell to the floor.

Tess was there in an instant holding his head and stroking his face. "What is it? Tallan, what happened?"

He tried to speak, again, breathing became difficult and all he could do was raise his glass to show her, panic set in as he felt pain in his guts.

"Somebody help!" she cried and the maid burst back in with two of his guards. Tess's wails broke his heart as the poison made his world became darkness. "Help him!"



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4. The Perfect Hero?

So, I've started to branch out in my reading (granted, not that much, as I am now reading Science Fiction) but enough to get my mind working. I read my first Steampunk book 'Pax Britannia- Time's Arrow'. It follows the adventures of Ulysses Quicksilver and has sparked off this latest blog post. In the first chapter the man is shot, travels through time (something that rendered its last traveller insane and mutated), still manages to undergo a rooftop chase away from the police, defeats a half tonne robotically enhanced gorilla and is thrown through at least three panes of glass.

I'm not saying this can't be done (ignoring the fact he has already lost an eye in a previous books but still manages enough depth perception to leap from roof to roof), but through the rest of the book he is described as handsome, if a little tatty with stubble and an eye patch, and at one point was voted the best dressed man in England. He is an agent of the British Empire, a detective who solves the crime before the police do, has enough charm to stop people recognising him from the wanted posters, and survives an opera house falling on him.

While the book has been entertaining, it has also left me a little disappointed. The hero is too perfect, he has no recognisable flaws in his character and can seemingly do anything with very little effort. He reminds me of another hero of similar qualities, though this time it comes from outside my genre all together. Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt is another such hero. He manages to get out of every situation, and is still able to chat up a woman in the middle of a crisis.

In David Gemmel's Waylander book we have a well known assassin who is supposed to be the best in the world. He has the looks, he has money stashed seemingly everywhere and despite himself, he still manages to get the girl.

I prefer my heroes with their flaws, scars, character defects; the lot. Flaws make them real and help us sympathise with them. If you've read my previous posts you'll know I am a fan of unhappy endings and characters being beaten down in depressing ways. If they are not beaten down, I like them to have flaws. In my own book, 'Reaper's Challenge', Captain Bane is a man who gets the job done, no matter what the cost and that means expecting his men to die in the process if they have to. He would rather they didn't, but needs must. He is grumpy and serious and also has very little personal life. He is always working so he has never had a family. It's a simple flaw but it is one reason why he is so good at what he does, he has a poor work-life balance. Uylsses Quicksilver is all of the above things but with the added 'perfection characteristic' of being a social butterfly with time for everyone.

Heroes should be rougher. Take Logan Nine Fingers from Joe Abercrombie's books. His blunt personality is the complete antithesis of his Hulk-like tendencies. Or Roland in Stephen King's Gunslinger book who at that point in the story is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in order to reach his goal.

The main heroic flaw that occurs in fantasy is one of innocence. People who spring to mind immediately are Vin, from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy, Garion in The Belgariad, Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time and Frodo in Lord of The Rings. This flaw is always a good one to use as the hero starts off almost in the same place we do and as we grow more confident with the book, they seem to grow more confident with their place in it.

A fully working and perfect hero takes half the fun out of a book. Even if that hero is well established we should still see them learning as we go through the book or, in my opinion there is very little point in reading it. We identify with heroes because they are believable and carry the same flaws of character that we do; flaws that make a story and a struggle come alive as the hero battles through them to become a better person. Still not perfect, but definitely stronger because of it.


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5. Writing Fantasy ? Are we really that grumpy?

Writing Fantasy – Are we really that grumpy?

Last week I went to a book club meeting to discuss optimism in the speculative fiction genre. This included fantasy and science fiction. It seems that many books out there have rather a pessimistic view of both the human race and the world we live in. In science fiction it seems to me that very often a world that has become a perfect utopia has had to do, and continues to do some very questionable things to be achieved and maintained. George Orwell is an example of this, and probably his most famous sci-fi work 1984 is a good example.

I will focus this post on fantasy as I feel better placed to comment on it than sci-fi. One thing I will address is that on the whole I feel that fantasy is a very optimistic genre, much of the time good will triumph over evil. However, on the whole fantasy can also be a very depressing genre. I think pessimistic is the wrong word because in many books life goes on no matter what happens to the characters and what they have to go through.

So what is wrong with us? Do we need to depress people in order to have a good book? Do we really need to drag our characters through the mud and out again? Do the wrong people have to die, sometimes in very heartbreaking ways?

My answer is yes. There are some fantasy books that are very...I think happy and truly fantasy are the words I'm looking for. Lets take a couple of examples:

The Hobbit (Tolkien)

The Belgariad (David Eddings)

I really enjoyed these series, they were full of the things that have always captured my imagination, magic, strange creatures etc. However, all the while I was reading them I never really felt like the main character was in any real danger. In truth none of the main characters ever seem like they come close to death, you always get the feeling that they will come through it.

Like I said I did really enjoy these books, but there was something missing, danger. Danger is a part of life, we can't escape it. Danger gives books realism. In life, people die, sometimes the wrong people and it is not always fair. This can make for very depressing reading but some of the best books I have read are the books that highlight this point extremely well. They make you care for a character and then take them away from us.

Here are some examples:

The Malazan Book of The Fallen (Steven Erikson)

The First Law Trilogy (Joe Abercrombie)

Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin)

The Malazan Book of The Fallen (think ten books all as long as Stephen King's The Stand)is a series full of pain, death, disappointment, betrayal and loss. Characters die, but those remaining fight on...and on... and on. In this series of books the WRONG people die, and very often for the wrong reasons. Examples include Trull Sengar, a man who dies trying to return to his loved one. After enduring a long gut wrenching journey he is taken from us at the last moment. There are also people in the series that are dragged through all manner of pain and still soldier on, like Fiddler. He pretty much loses all of his friends and still goes on. Despite these examples and others there is also some optimism layered underneath. In the face of all the loss and pain that occurs over the series, life still goes on, and things get done. It is realistic and a brilliant series once you get into it.

Death and pain are a fact of life; everyone feels it at one time or another. Do we really want to read about it in books as well? I do. Fantasy is embellished, and the people sometimes exaggerated in their abilities, but for me there is something about it that still rings true. I believe Fantasy should be as realistic as possible, and in reality, bad things happen to good people. It is these moments that help us identify with otherwise unrealistic characters and help us sympathize with them. My own personal thought to leave you with may not be happy, but it is realistic. There is not, and should not always be a happy ending.

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6. Writing Fantasy: Creating Kavernhive

Writing Fantasy: Creating Kavernhive

By T.J. Dipple

Kavernhive, the sprawling city that stretches from one side of the horizon to the other. If you stand on the tallest building in the centre and look out, you still cannot see where the city ends. Kavernhive is special. It is the city where no one can be murdered at night, nor die an unnatural death. It is protected by The Haze; an orange mist that settles once the sun goes down. The Haze shifts when people walk through it, making sneaking up on someone near impossible. If someone is hurt, The Haze heals them enough so they will not die from their wounds.

This is the basis of my novel 'Reaper's Challenge'. Like all of my work I start with a concept first, something that interests me, that I can then build a story around. For Reaper's Challenge the idea of The Haze made the rest of the story easy to put together. The Haze needed to be there for a reason and have a creator. For this I used Vitalik, God of Life. He created The Haze as a way of fighting back against death. From there, if there was a place where the people were safe at night, a place that treasured life, then what possible strife could shake that place and challenge those living there? The answer was obvious, someone who found a way of breaking the magic of the city, and was able to kill during The Haze.

Once I had that idea the rest seemed to flow relatively easily for a novel. The Blades were the ones set to find the murderer and understandably, were angry that someone was threatening the peace of their city. They are men who take their job seriously and I attempted to keep them as earthy as possible. They are rough, hard men that have been shaped by their reputation. In and out of the job they are loud and, as usual when a group of men are thrown together they will mock each other. The history of The Blades is something I will draw upon more in a different post, but they have had dealings against dark wizards before 'Reaper's Challenge'. This is why none of them use their real names. In the world I created some wizards known as Namers can use someone's real name to control them, something that is shown in the book; it is a spell that takes concentration, but can be devastating to a fighting unit, so The Blades all have their nicknames.

With The Blades created, I needed someone to lead them, and they needed to be strong. This was where I drew upon one of my favourite characters of all time; Gene Hunt from 'Life on Mars' and 'Ashes to Ashes'. He is loud, violent with a short temper, and swears and drinks more than he should. I thought he was the perfect inspiration for Bane, Captain of The Blades. He will do anything to get the job done and will go through anyone or anything to achieve his goal. Bane has no inhibitions, he won't flinch at killing people who deserve it, but on the whole he is motivated by keeping the people safe. He is called a 'nasty bastard' by one of the other characters and this is apt. In the 'world' of Kavernhive, where during the day there are murders, fights, thievery in all directions the guards needed to be hard to do what they do. Bane is also important for other reasons that I won't go into for risk of spoiling the story for others. However, I will say that although 'Reaper's Challenge' is mostly from the point of view of Tren, the newest guard, it is Bane whom I would say is the main character.

Those are the basics and most important parts of the plot covered. There are small things which came up as a result of them, for example, The Order of Wizards, who send help in catching the killer. In a world where there is dark magic being used, I thought it could only work if there were some sort of magic order to deal with threats, otherwise our guards would have no chance at our murderer. Magic is not just used by people for fighting, it is used throughout the world, though in 'Reaper's Challenge this is not explored because it is not vital to the plot. However, magic is used to keep food fresh and keep underground storage caverns from collapsing. My aim was to have it integrated into the world in a useful way, and not just as a tool for people to get what they want.

My characters are not invincible. The Blades themselves suffer losses, quite heavy ones. I tried to find a balance between them being able to do what they do, but still have a little realism. There are not always happy endings, not everyone survives to the end of the story. There are also times when even the strongest of characters meets somebody better.

For those of you that have read 'Reaper's Challenge' I hope this post has given you an insight into the creation of the story. For those of you that have not read the book, well I hope it has sparked your curiosity a little!

Reaper's Challenge boils down to one thing. Life against Death, and in that struggle there are definitely no all together happy endings.

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7. My story in the Stourbridge Newspaper

Read the article below following a phone interview with Stourbridge News!

Amblecote writer's fiction fantasy becomes reality


5:00pm Wednesday 10th April 2013 in News.

THOMAS Dipple’s dream of becoming a fantasy writer has turned to reality with the publication of his first novel.


The 27-year-old Amblecote based science fiction and fantasy fanatic’s debut novel ‘Reaper’s Challenge’ is about to go on sale at major retailer Waterstones.


Thomas, who lives in Dennis Hall Road, revealed: “I’ve sent off novels before to publishers and heard nothing back from them.


“Then I got in touch with a small publisher in Somerset called Netherworld books. The editor said she loved the book and they’ve been positive ever since.


“When I finally picked up the book in printed format for the first time, it felt a bit strange and I just thought, this is just the start,”


Thomas has been writing epic fantasy stories since the age of 16 which has resulted in a number of his short stories being published in both magazines and online books.


He said: “My father has always encouraged me to write. He gave me a copy of ‘Lord of the Rings’ when I was 12 and that really fired my imagination.”


Thomas currently works as a learning officer at Think Tank in Birmingham, where he has written a number of stories to coincide with his job, but he yearns to become a full-time writer...

He added: “Just having something published is so fulfilling. I can’t wait to do more.”


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8. Reaper's Challenge in Paperback!

Reaper's Challenge is now available for purchase in paperback from Amazon.co.uk!

If you would like to purchse visit this link:


Happy reading!

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9. Reaper's Challenge e-book release!

Buy the ebook here

Reaper's Challenge is the first in a trilogy that follows a group of guards known as The Blades. They are a squad within the city of Kavernhive, a place with powerful magic that protects its citizens. At night The Haze settles over the city and prevents people from dying of unnatural deaths. Reaper's Challenge follows The Blades as they seek to stop a dark wizard who has managed to break the magic of The Haze and is killing people at night. The wizard is a servant of Reaper, God of Death and is seeking to destroy Kavernhive's magic, bringing panic and death to the city that has not been seen for decades.

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10. Forthcoming book publication


Publication of Reaper's Challenge with Netherworld Books.

Due for release in 2013 in print and digital formats. The first in a fantasy trilogy.

'Bane is the Captain of The Blades, a section of the city guard, who will fight the Gods themselves to save his people and Life itself'


This story doesn't release you from the moment you open the cover. It grabs you by the throat and forces you to turn the pages to find out what happens next. We cannot recomend it highly enough.' - www.book-reviewer.com

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11. New e-book with a shiny cover

Hi all,

It has been a while since my last post so I thought I would do an update. During the last few weeks I have been devoting most of my time to working on a novel which is nearing completion and will hopefully get sent off to lots of publishers. Until that happens I have published a brand new short story called Skyships & Airtunnels.

This is a good step for me because I have a professionally drawn front cover by illustrator Ann O'toole who is also a member of this website! See the cover below:

The story has been made available through Smashwords as usual and will be going up on Amazon tonight so keep a look out!

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12. The Last Stop hits Amazon kindle Store

Hi Everyone, I wanted to share the news. After months of procrastinating I have finally formatted my ebook 'The Last Stop' to the requirements of Amazon. This means the ebook is now availiable for download direct from the kindle store or from amazon.com. Visit the link below.

The Last Stop

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13. Ebooks Now Available

Ebooks are now available for download from Barnes and Noble and other websites. If you would like to download them check out this link!


Thanks for all your support!

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14. Why Write Fantasy?

Why Write Fantasy?

By T.J. Dipple

As an author who tends to write more Fantasy than anything else there is a question that I have to answer whenever I meet someone new. Why? Why write Fantasy instead of something that is 'real'? Or, there are many people out there, who hear the word 'Fantasy' and claim it is an easy genre and you are not really a proper writer. Over the years these questions and comments have gotten me thinking. What is it about Fantasy that appeals to so many people? Well, I may not have all the answers. What I can answer is why Fantasy appeals to me as both a reader, and a writer. And I can certainly dispel the idea of it as an easy genre. Let me begin with why I write Fantasy.

There are a few rules in Fantasy that everyone will have heard of. Part of the reason why I enjoy Fantasy is because of these rules. I will now examine these rules in turn.

1. The Rise of The Underdog

We've all heard the story. Farm boy grows up in a humble background and discovers it will be his task to bring down the Dark Lord who is the most evil being that has ever been alive. This is one of the major problems some people have with Fantasy, it all sounds the same. This is true to an extent; look at the evidence – Frodo Baggins (Lord of The Rings), Rand al'Thor (The Wheel of Time), Shea Ohmsford (The Sword of Shanara), Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle), Garion (The Belgariad) and even Luke Skywalker (Star Wars).

Let's face it, this is a common theme in Fantasy stories but at the end of the day, does this really matter, after all sometimes the best part of a book (even if it is predictable) is how they manage to vanquish the evil and the journey that they take.

Next, is it predictable that the underdog always wins? Again, the answer is yes. But look at it like this. If you read a book where the hero emerges, goes against the Dark Lord, and then looses, are you going to be satisfied? The answer is no.

Then there's practicality. Would the underdog really win? Would the Dark Lord even let the underdog get close enough to have a chance at destroying him? To get your head around this point think of the Dark Lord's point of view.

You are all powerful, with an army, or an empire of minions to do your bidding, and usually an elite force of evil minions. Then, you hear that from a small farming village someone has set out to take you down. With all of the other things on your mind e.g. managing armies and empires, forcing other nations and peoples to bend to your will, fending off other assassination attempts (let's face it, if you're evil people are going to try to kill you) and/or seeking to destroy the world are you really going to stop all of your other plans to get rid of a farmer? Probably not. You wouldn't even entertain the idea that someone that low could bring you down, even if there was something special about them.

You'd start by sending out a small force, it's just a farmer/village boy, no need to waste too many minions' time when they could be doing other things and harassing more important people. After they have been killed or overcome by our farmer, you might send a larger force, maybe even one or two of your elite minions. When they have failed to dispatch him you could decide to face him yourself. You are the master of darkness and he could not possibly beat you. Your overconfidence means you make a mistake and before you know it you've been beaten by a farmer who a year ago was milking cows.

It makes logical sense when you actually think about it, and though a recurring theme in many fantasy stories there is one common theme that these stories share. They are usually the best/most popular. People love to read about the underdog because it makes them think they can do more with their lives, I am guilty of loving these stories for that very reason.

2. The Rules of Chaos

It's all made up. You can write anything you want with no rules or worry that you're going too far.

This statement is one that I have heard a few times, and it is not true. Fantasy readers are not children. They won't accept anything that's put in front of them. It still has to be believable to draw them into whatever world they are reading about.

Fantasy must always have rules. But at the same time we can also write about anything that pops into our heads. The hardest part is finding out which of our musings can be developed into a living and breathing thing.

Magic is usually the source of this argument. With magic you can do anything and no one can stand in your way. Another bogus statement. If your characters can do anything and everything because they can do magic then they start to become dehumanised. The best Fantasy stories, with magic as a big part of the world, have rules and boundaries that keep the characters grounded so our readers can identify with them.

Magic is the physics of the Fantasy world. That place encompasses magic into its natural order and is usually as much of the story as the characters that use it.

Let us look at a few good examples of a well thought out magical system. We'll start with Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. In this magic is known as The One Power. It has two sides, one male, and one female. Usually the men are more powerful, but that male half of the one power is tainted by evil and as such the men could die anytime they use it. The female side is pure, but the danger is enjoying it too much and drawing so much that it destroys you. Two sides, two different sides of the same power but still both dangerous if too much is used, a good rule. While there are two sides to the same power, they are still used the same way. The magic system Jordan uses is based on weaving. Spells have to be woven in the correct way to be used, and different patterns create different spells. A fairly simple but effective idea of magic, it makes the system believable. Where I feel Jordan falls down is his use of the objects 'angrael' devices created three thousand years ago that enhance the users power. Small versions of these are acceptable to an extent, what I object to is devices so powerful they can undo creation and destroy everything. This goes overboard almost to the point of being comical. Magic should exist in the world, not threaten to destroy it. It should be as natural as lightning. Sometimes dangerous to us, but not threaten to destroy everything.

Another good example of a system of magic governed by rules is Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy that featured the Allomancers' people who could digest metals to give them different abilities. Each metal had an opposite, for example swallowing steel gives an Allomancer the ability to push on metals (this allowed the people to push themselves away from objects also), while its opposite iron would allow the Allomancer to pull metals towards them. There were very strict rules to this system, and these metals in particular. For example, you could not push or pull anything that was heavier than yourself; if you did it was your own body that moved. It was a system governed by physics. Allomancers who burned tin, had a boost to their senses, but bright light hurt their eyes, and they felt pain more than usual. Usually Allomancers could only burn one metal, so someone who could burn Tin could not burn any other metal. This was a good limitation and it gave the opportunity to have teams of Allomancers working together. There were Mistborn, who could burn all metal types, but even then, these individuals were still limited to the same physical capabilities and problems as regular Allomancers.

The Mistborn magic system is, in my opinion, the stronger of our two examples, it constrains the use of these abilities by putting real, and logical restrictions on them, which makes them more believable.

3. Hero – Not Superman!

Heroes, no matter what abilities they have, or how good they are, are not invincible. They can be wounded, make mistakes, even fall over because they lose their footing. So as a writer you need to be careful not to make your villain too evil and powerful, because then the only way for him to be defeated is for our hero to become an equal, and this can sometimes be unrealistic when he has grown up herding sheep.

There are heroes in Fantasy literature who seem to overcome every obstacle in front of them no matter what it is they face. An example of these characters is Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser, who both seem to be the best in the world at their particular talents. In addition to this David Gemmel was another author who had characters who were a little too good at what they did. Before I go any further, I must say I loved Gemmel's work, especially the Druss The Legend books, but even I have to admit that sometimes his characters were a little too good. Druss is a prime example. The first time we see Druss, he is an old man of eighty and let's be frank, he should have been past it a long time ago. Yet he still manages to lead a defence against one million tribal warriors and cut through them a lot of the time singlehanded. Wounds don't bother him much and all that really seems to bother him for most of the book is his arthritis, which is eased by being massaged by a young lady.

So, what should a hero be, if not capable of overcoming anything? Well, for a start they should be human. This means they should have doubts, and feelings just like everybody else. Heroes are exceptional, but they are still just flesh and blood. A good collection of heroes comes from one series for me. Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of The Fallen is littered with heroes. Real people struggling against something much, much bigger than themselves. The Sergeant Whiskyjack is a good example, he struggles with much within the series, keeping his men alive is just one struggle amongst many and because of this he carries himself off as a believable hero.

There are other rules in the Fantasy world, but I won't address any more here. As you can imagine working within these rules is not an easy task. It is the challenge of trying to write good stories within these rules that I for one most enjoy. One of the most exciting parts about it is that very often you will have to come up with something completely new in order to do it well, and without it sounding like every other story out there.

Another point to note is one of genre. There are many different genres, Horror, Thrillers, Crime, Romance, Adventure, History, and Mystery. Fantasy and Science Fiction are not always respected as genres, especially amongst English Teachers! That is a shame because at the end of the day if the author has created a half decent Fantasy world, with a good story, then their world will usually bridge all other genres into the same book. This is something that separates the Fantasy author from others, the ability to mix genres in this way is a formidable talent and one that should be respected. It is also another thing that makes writing Fantasy so much fun.

The final and perhaps the most important point is imagination. What other genre can spark imagination in readers as much as an entirely new worlds, with new peoples, cultures, beliefs, animals and science. I know Fantasy was what first sparked my imagination and made me want to become a writer, and I am sure that the sheer scope of this genre has been the spark that has given birth to a multitude of authors and will continue to do so as long as people have the imagination to create.

So there we are; the reasons why I love to read and write Fantasy. I hope I have answered the questions asked at the beginning, and maybe even gone someway explaining some of the things that make the genre so special.

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15. Teacher's Folly

Another story! This was first published in an anthology called 'Fantasmagoria' by Mirador Publishing. Enjoy!


Teacher's Folly

By T J Dipple



"Its not here."

Calcius shuffled closer to get a better look. "Are you sure?"

"Positive," Rikkaton replied. "Unless you can see something I can't."

Calcius squinted through the darkness of the tunnel and squashed himself down to wriggle past Rikkaton. "You dolt, lift the first two stones and place the third at the bottom. Then twist the lever three times to the right and push up. Not down. Did you even read the map?"

Rikkaton made the adjustments and smiled at the grinding sound coming from deeper inside the tunnel. The walls trembled as the mechanisms controlling the door ground open to reveal more of the long tunnel. Calcius and Rikkaton covered their faces as a bluster of dust washed over them. After their coughing had subsided they both looked ahead into the darkness of the tunnel for any glimmer of light, or clue as to what awaited them.

"It's dark," Rikkaton said. "And quiet."

Calcius looked at him.


"It's dark and quiet?"

"Well it is."

"It's the resting place of a six hundred year old cult that showed their love for their god by sewing their mouths shut. What did you expect? A group of minstrels sounding your arrival?"

Rikkaton grunted and pulled himself forward. "We're not in yet, you never know."

Calcius shook his head and followed Rikkaton deeper into the tunnel. They squirmed forward over the hard limestone for half a bell before the tunnel vanished and they were able to stand up. Other than their slowly burning candles there was a complete absence of light.

Calcius dusted off his clothes and stretched his back. "It's good to stand up again."

Rikkaton also stretched. He felt his muscles twitch in disagreement. "Shall I signal the others?"

"I'll do it," Calcius replied grabbing hold of the rope. "The Ferralind Chronicles say there used to be a torch by the entrance tunnel, see if you can find it."

He heard Rikkaton move off into the darkness and grabbed a hold of the rope tied around his waist. He untied the knot and gave it four sharp tugs. A few moments later he felt five tugs from the other end and found a small post to attach the rope to. In a bell the rest of their team would come through the tunnel bringing their supplies and equipment with them and the real work could begin.

He heard Rikkaton swear, and moments later a loud booming sound filled the cavern and a blistering light flared up. The white light consumed the room and dispelled any sign of the darkness Calcius had been in. Instead it was replaced with the eerie scene of the temple's final moments. The gold that coated the floor and walls of the temple could not shine for the cobwebs that had built up over the centuries.

Calcius stared in wonder, his jaw dropped and his heart raced. It was not the gold that caused it; gold was found anywhere. History was rarer these days, and Calcius was looking it in the face, literally. The petrified form of a Dian priest was inches from him. Calcius examined the stoned features, the coarse rock that moulded to every detail of the man's face, and even the weave of the stitches binding his lips together. The eyes were wide, and though there were no pupils, Calcius caught a shiver down his neck when he looked into them.

A hand on his shoulder caused him to cry out. Spinning himself around he saw Rikkaton grinning. As he struggled to catch his breath his friend clapped his shoulder.

"Sorry, old boy," Rikkaton said, his wide grin giving no hint of seriousness. "Didn't mean to scare you. Nice looking people weren't they?"

Calcius took a deep breath. "I don't think you'd look to good petrified."

"How did it happen?" Rikkaton asked.

Calcius smiled. He kept forgetting Rikkaton was still an apprentice. "No one knows for certain, and we probably never will. According to the chronicles the entire temple was frozen in time. It claims the priests angered their god. That's usually legend speak for natural disaster. It's one of the things we're here to find out."

Rikkaton nodded mesmerised by the petrified priest. "So I take it we're waiting for the others?"

Calcius laughed. "You think I'm waiting here for a bell while they come through? No, we're going to look around."

Rikkaton looked nervous. "But what about procedure?"

Calcius pulled a small book and black chalk from his belt. "It has its place, but when you're in a place like this, you can bend the rules once in a while."

The main chamber where they walked was vast, but mostly empty. Although the floor seemed to be made of solid gold there was no other sign of wealth other than the web covered throne that rested at the top of a small set of steps. Rikkaton and Calcius walked steadily though the petrified priests. Their faces appeared agonized, their open eyes screaming for help.

"How did they eat?" Rikkaton asked as he struggled to keep up with Calcius's fast pace. It was unlike his master to be so bold when entering a tomb; he was usually very cautious and careful.

Calcius glanced at him as he stepped past another priest. "What?"

Rikkaton gestured to the bodies. "Them, how did they eat if their mouths were sewn shut?"

"The legend says they ate by feeding a tube through and into their stomachs."

"You're joking? That's barbaric!"

Calcius laughed. "Its amazing what hunger will make you do. I don't know whether you noticed this Rikkaton, but cultists are strange people. These people treasured silence, so much they made sure they couldn't talk. They spoke with gestures and writing. The entire temple communicated using some sort of...sign language I suppose. Have a look at their feet."

Rikkaton looked down. "Soft shoes," he muttered. "No sound even when they moved. Are we going to find out how this happened to them?"

Calcius shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not. It doesn't matter. We're the first people here in centuries, the first ones to experience the tomb. That's what matters."

"Others won't be far away though, they never are."

Calcius shrugged again. "They have to abide by the laws. We get first salvage rights, and the credit. If they want anything before we're done they'll have to fight for it."

The steps leading to the throne were slippery, as they walked the kicked up the silky cobwebs and centuries of dust. Calcius glanced back towards the small knee high entrance and frowned. It seemed further away than it should have done, and there seemed to be hundreds of petrified figures that he did not remember passing.

As they neared the top he thought he could hear a faint clicking noise. The rest of the team could not have been here yet, could they? If the walk to the throne was so long then perhaps the others were here. He had experienced the loss of time before from being underground. Rikkaton seemed unaware of the sound and followed his lead up the steps.

Despite being made of gold, the throne was simple; it was designed like a normal block chair. There were no adornments of jewels like some other cults; there were not even any carvings to be seen.

"They were cheap." Rikkaton muttered as they both examined the throne for something more. "It was all a show. This stuff is only just purer than ore."

Calcius sighed and nodded. "It wasn't supposed to be a rich cult. But if you think, back then to have a place this big covered in gold, would have attracted a lot of attention. Even if it wasn't very pure. When the others get through we'll check the walls, see if we can find another room, there has to be more. No cult has ever existed that didn't have a library. I want an answer to what happened here."

Rikkaton looked around doubtfully. "You think we'll get one?"

Calcius did not answer he squinted through the cavern back down to the entrance. "Can you see that?"

Rikkaton followed his gaze. "What?"

"There, by the entrance. Is that rock moving?"

Rikkaton frowned. But then he saw it too. There was a faint grinding noise coming from all around them, only when they were silent could they hear it. "What's happening?"

Calcius watched the rocks, they were all moving, closing in towards the throne. But not just the rocks, the walls of the cavern too. The golden walls seemed to ripple as they closed in. In all his years he had never seen anything like it, the entire cavern seemed alive with moving gold. The walls flexed in, and out again; they started off slow, but with each contraction the pace increased.

"Cal!" Rikkaton shouted and grabbed his master's arms. "What do we do?"

"I-I don't know," Calcius said. "This is impossible, it shouldn't be happening."

"Well it is!" Rikkaton grunted. "What do we do? Do we try and get back to the tunnel?"

Calcius looked at the entrance that flexed in and out with the rest of the chamber. His heart was increasing its beat to match the walls. "We have to," he said. "We don't know what's happening.

They ran, both of them, as fast as they could towards the entrance. They passed the petrified priests without once glancing back. Calcius lost any measure of time, his heart raced and his mind struggled to comprehend what was happening. A passage from the chronicles ran through his head telling him the answer he refused to believe. They reached where the entrance should have been, neither of them could remember seeing it vanish. The walls and floor were now damp; a thick sticky liquid was seeping from them. The smell was unbearable.

"They did it," Calcius gasped. He looked around at the cavern. "They actually did it."

"What?" Rikkaton asked. He was busy feeling around for the entrance he knew should have been there.

"Do you remember the texts? The ones that spoke about what these priests worshipped."

Rikkaton frowned. "They worshipped silence."

Calcius grunted. "Go further. Who did they worship?"


"Remember what the texts said?"

Rikkaton's face changed from a frown to pure terror. His face paled and his eyes widened. "Impossible."

"It fits," Calcius told him. "Look at it. This place went from being a cult, to the main attraction for half the country. They treasured silence, they wanted their god with them, and so they summoned him."

Rikkaton shook his head. "It's ridiculous. The gods aren’t real. They don't exist."

"Look around you, Rik. Look at the walls. They're not moving, they're breathing."

"We have to get out of here," Rikkaton muttered, and began kicking at where the entrance had been. "We have to leave, now."

Calcius watched as the younger man kicked hard at the golden wall. It was his fault they were here, Rikkaton had tried to remind him of procedure.

With each kick the grinding sound grew louder and the walls shimmered, it felt like an earthquake. Calcius shook his head; they were not going to die because of him.

"Rikkaton! Stop!" Calcius grabbed hold of him and pulled him away from the wall. Rikkaton struggled against him but Calcius clamped a hand over his mouth.

Rikkaton tried to speak but Calcius's hand prevent the sound from being audible. All around the cavern seemed to relax.

"Stay still," Calcius whispered. "Look around you. They summoned a god. A god of silence. The more people came the angrier the god became. That's why the priests are the way they are. With the outsiders coming to the temple the god silenced them and sealed himself up. Stay silent. Understand?"

Rikkaton nodded and Calcius let him go. Both men stood in complete silence. The low groan from the walls began to slow down, and soften. Neither of them moved a muscle, the tension in the air lay heavy and even though the groaning eventually stopped, it was a long time before either of them dared to move. Silence lingered all around the cavern, nothing moved, nothing made a sound.

Calcius finally built up enough courage to move his head. He glanced down to the entrance. The opening had returned the same size as when they crawled through it. He pointed and Rikkaton followed his gaze and then looked back at him.

Calcius moved towards the entrance, nothing happened and Rikkaton followed. As he did he stumbled, his hand flailed outwards and hit one of the priests frozen in time. The body rocked, then swayed, and tumbled to the ground in a mighty explosion of rubble and dust.

Rikkaton's face was ashen. The cavern began to rumble and groan louder than it had before. The whole place shook violently. The two men struggled to stay on their feet. Calcius grabbed Rikkaton and pushed him into the entrance hole.

"Go!" he shouted at the younger man.

The crawled as fast as they could. The tunnel felt as though it was getting thinner. Rikkaton crawled as fast as his arms would drag him. His entire world rumbled up and down as his hands struggled to drag him along. He lost track of how long it took them, and all the while the fear of running into the rest of their team lingered at the back of his mind.

"Do not stop!" Calcius shouted from behind, though the sound of his voice was barely audible over the rumbling. "We're almost there!"

Rikkaton's back was cut and probably bleeding, he had bashed it against the low tunnel countless times and now every inch he pulled himself was an effort.

He passed a familiar marker; a chalk number three was on one of the rocks. He smiled. "The last checkpoint!" he called back to Calcius. They had crawled so far that the rumbling was now gentler. "We're nearly there, Cal! Cal?"

He turned as much as he could in the tight space. Calcius was quiet; he saw his teacher pinned down by the door of the final checkpoint. The rocks were grinding to seal it shut for good, if that happened his teacher would be cut in half.

"Don't stop, Rikkaton!" Calcius shouted in agony. "Turn around and keep going before the other doors close."

"I can't leave you like this." Rikkaton said and tried desperately to pull his teacher free.

"Yes you can," Calcius pushed him away. The pressure on his waist was excruciating and Rikkaton was making it worse. "This is my fault. I broke procedure. You were right, Rik, we should have waited. Get out of here."

"No," he said stubbornly. "I'm getting you free."

Calcius grabbed Rikkaton by the throat. "I'm already dead," he said through gritted teeth. "I don't want an audience. Get out of here and seal off the cave. Do...not... let anyone near it."

Rikkaton's eyes were filled with tears. His master could no longer breathe properly and he could do nothing to stop it. "Thank you," he said feebly. "For everything."

Calcius watched as Rikkaton crawled away into the darkness. He tried to draw a breath, but failed. The wall clamped down on his upper body. Calcius's last moments were filled with violent screaming and torturous pain.


Rikkaton wept all the way to the end of the tunnel. His master's screams echoed through the tunnel and they made him crawl faster.

Through the dark of the cave he saw a bright light at the end of the tunnel and he crawled towards it. He could hear rushed voices and shouts. The light of the sun almost blinded him as he made it to the mouth of the cave. Someone grabbed a hold of him, he could not see who. Their voice was just a blur of random noises, but he eventually understood.

"Rikkaton, we've got you. Where's Calcius?"

"Dead." Rikkaton replied. He could not get up from the floor, his body ached and he was tired.

He heard someone swear. "It's alright, Rik. We've got you. You're going to be alright."

"No," Rikkaton muttered. His hands trembled. The ground even outside the cave was still shaking, and getting louder. "I'm not. None of us are."

"What's he talking about?"

"What is it, Rik?"

Rikkaton put his head in his hands. "The god of silence is waking up."

As soon as the words left his mouth the rest of the team stared at him as the shaking ground increased.


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