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Michael Miller
1,134 followers -
Writer, Game Designer, Typesetter, Accumulator
Writer, Game Designer, Typesetter, Accumulator

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Going to Metatopia? Got something to say? Let +darren watts know about it!
Hey Metatopians! About a week-and-a-half remains to get your panel/seminar/whatnot proposals in. We have some really cool stuff here, but could use plenty more, particularly in a few key areas - dealing with retail and distribution (or not!), podcasting and vlogging and live actual play, actual design processes, and pretty much anything about the nuts and bolts of business and finance. Please pass the word!
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Chains: Seven

Sabit glared at Heguir with hatred smoldering n her eyes. “I was going to let you live. But now you are a walking dead man.”

“That is powerful talk for the woman chained to the wall,” Heguir said. He loomed over Sabit just out of the reach of any kick she might throw. “You are obviously a woman who is far too used to getting her own way. We will change that soon enough. “

“You’re a dead man, Heguir. The moment I slip these chains, I will—”

“You will cower before my terrible majesty,” the slave merchant bellowed and grabbed one of the of many talismans he wore around his neck. A tiny bottle of green sand set in a silver hawks’ talon vanished into his bony fist. He squeezed.

The ache in Sabit’s shoulder flared into a spike of pain. Her heart hammered in her chest, desperate to escape. Desperate to be anywhere but here. The slave merchant no longer appeared as a thin, cruel man to Sabit’s gaze. He was powerful. Dangerous. Angry. Fear gripped Sabit’s heart like a hawks’ talon.

Heguir smiled at his triumph. “Now that you have learned to fear my displeasure, we can have a more productive chat. That tattoo I had inscribed into your flesh cost a dear price. Only the unfortunates that can earn enough by their sale to warrant it get my magic grafted inescapably into their flesh. Your bearing speaks of a warrior’s past. Your interest in the warlord’s wench speaks of your ambition. Having one of the Old Sisters in your service speaks of your destiny. That’s the kind of woman who makes enemies. Enemies that would pay handsomely—both for your flesh and for this talisman that will keep you in line.”

He bend over Sabit’s trembling form. “Now, tell me, wretch. What is your name?”

— — —
Photo by Luděk Maděryč from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/metal-chain-in-grayscale-and-closeup-photo-86733/
Wayfarings of Sabit: Chains is copyright (c) 2018 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday (and the occasional Monday). You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller Find more sword and sorcery fiction at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.
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Chains: Six

Sabit struggled to wake from the pack of terrors that piled upon her like wild dogs in her slumber. Her head pounded. Her throat burned. Cold metal weighed on her wrists.

Forcing open her eyes, Sabit slowly focused on the dimly-lit roof far above. Distant sunlight smeared across the ceiling of rough stucco. She lay on a straw mat on the floor, her arms stretched above her head. Bronze shackles encircled her wrists, chained to a ring set in the wall. Sabit’s shoulder burned, hot and tender. Her head throbbed and her muscles were stiff, but Sabit’s body seemed otherwise unharmed.

Alongside Sabit were others stretched on mats on the floor, some chained, most not. Most of them of them bore the long, thin welts of whip-wounds across their backs. A woman in a dingy white dress glided among the fallen, applying poultices and tending to bandages. Upon the woman’s shoulder a tattoo of bright yellow ink contrasted with the dark brown tones of her skin. The swirls and twists of the symbol clawed at Sabit’s eyes with the roiling energy of dark sorcery. Her heart raced. Her breathing came in rapid pants. Her shoulder throbbed in desperate agony. What would happen to her, chained to this wall?

The woman turned, the motion hiding the mark from Sabit’s gaze. Sabit felt the icy grip of fear around her heart melt like snow gripped in a fist. The woman smiled and approached.

“Rest easy,” she said dabbing poultice on Sabit’s aching head. “You are have been claimed by the merchant Heguir. He is not needlessly cruel. You will be fed and cared for so long as you follow his will. You have nothing to fear here.” Her encouraging smile did not reach her eyes, the deep wells of their sadness untouched.

“You have been claimed by him as well?” Sabit asked.

“Yes. And my greatest suffering has been when I struggled to escape. You would be wise not to try to–”

“My captor is awake!” The booming voice of Heguir cut off the woman’s words. He limped into the room, leaning on a staff. Two beefy guards flanked the merchant, one of them holding Sabit’s spear. “Let’s see how my newest girl has fared against the nightmares?”

— — —
Photo by Luděk Maděryč from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/metal-chain-in-grayscale-and-closeup-photo-86733/
Wayfarings of Sabit: Chains is copyright (c) 2018 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday (and the occasional Monday). You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller Find more sword and sorcery fiction at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.
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Chains: Five

As Heguir dove forward, Sabit lifted her spear. She had promised the flesh merchant that his blood would flow for betrayal. Sabit always kept her word. The billowing cloud of purple-grey vapor enveloped Sabit as she thrust forward, plunging her senses into darkness. She felt her spear taste flesh, but there was no answering cry of pain, just the sound of her own beating heart, echoing in her ears like thunder.

Pulling back the spear took a long time. Too long. A month? A year? A lifetime? Then the scream came, but from behind her. Sabit turned, her body moving too slowly. Verdandi lay bleeding on billowing clouds of purple-grey smoke, cut down by Heguir’s vengeful bodyguard in the tent. Had Sabit left her friend in danger?

Laughter came from all around. Spinning, she saw Heguir pull a bloody knife from the heart of the woman Sabit had come to rescue. “She died because you came for her,” Hegui said, his words in the language of Sabit’s homeland, and the wheedling, belittling voice of Sabit’s long-dead mother. “You killed her, Sabit. You kill everyone you try to save.”

Should she run? Should she stand and fight? Wouldn’t that leave her friends open to attack? Wouldn’t that draw the notice of Kehnan and his army? Which way was safe? Forward? back? Up? Down?

Down.

The warm mudbrick struck Sabit’s head as its siblings cradled her body. Even the pain of the blow seemed far away, as if some other Sabit had struck her head. But that distance did not keep the blow from plunging Sabit into dark oblivion.

— — —
Photo by Luděk Maděryč from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/metal-chain-in-grayscale-and-closeup-photo-86733/

Wayfarings of Sabit: Chains is copyright (c) 2018 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday (and the occasional Monday). You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller Find more sword and sorcery fiction at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.
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Chains: Four

Heguir’s slave camp rose up out of the plains three parasangs to the south of the crossroads where he had insulted Verdandi’s wine. Near enough to the crossroads that he could buy and sell unfortunate souls from the aloof towers of Lytrops to the Broken Coast and beyond. Far enough from the watchful eyes of the tax collectors of the king of Bahteel that a few well-placed bribes served to shield his operation from the full weight of the tribute it owed to the king.

Heguir had poured his wealth into his estate. The wall of cut timber that encircled the compound was tall and well-maintained. Every fifth fallen tree trunk bore the visage of some god of wealth or other—every grinning tooth or rotund belly or coin-filled hand perfectly carved so that all the people chained within might see a deity of their own people prospering from the suffering of their backs.

The main house fronted the road, its two story facade of white stone and red tile overlooking the gatehouse of mudbrick. The archway of the gate spanned the road wide enough that six men abreast might have passed through—or six chains of slaves marched to the markets or the mines in a single column of misery.

The road Sabit and Heguir walked was dirt, packed hard by the numberless feet that had been whip-driven along it. As they approached the gate, the gatehouse’s brickwork spanned the road itself, so that one’s first steps within the compound would not be on dirt packed by human feet, but on dried brick shaped by human hands.

As they drew close to the gatehouse, Sabit stepped closer to Heguir and hissed in his ear, “We shall stop at the threshold. You will tell your men to bring out my friend. If you shout for help, you’ll be dead before the words leave your throat. I know how much you value your blood.”

Heguir nodded and took several mincing steps forward until his feet were on the edge of the brickwork. Each of the bricks had symbols pressed into them, in twisting, curving shapes of madness and suffering.

The slave merchant cleared his throat and stretched his head higher on his flabby neck. “Bring forth the—” His voice dissolved into a fit of coughing.

”Master! Are you unwell?” said the guardsman, leaving his post to approach Heguir.

The flesh-peddler shot him a look that froze the man in his tracks. Heguir took a few more tiny steps forward, Sabit close on his heels. His sandals rested fully on the mud-baked bricks, toes pointing north and west.

“Bring forth the—” More coughing. Two more steps, carefully placed.

Sabit’s hand tightened on the haft of her spear.

“Bring forth ... the nightmare!” Heguir bellowed and dove for the floor. Curls of purple-gray mist billowed from the carvings in the bricks where he had stood, enveloping Sabit in their dark, greasy embrace.

— — —
Photo by Luděk Maděryč from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/metal-chain-in-grayscale-and-closeup-photo-86733/
Wayfarings of Sabit: Chains is copyright (c) 2018 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday (and the occasional Monday). You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller Find more sword and sorcery fiction at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.
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Chains: Three

“I will take your eight silver qirsh for that trouble-making wretch you wanted.” grumbled the slave-merchant Heguir.  He walked a pace before Sabit, each step careful. He held his hands folded in front of him, the long, ornate sleeves of his robe concealing the tight ropes binding his wrists.

“That was the old woman’s offer, but you refused to deal with her,” replied Sabit. “I offer you your worthless life for the return of my friend. I make no guarantee of all your blood if you make trouble for me.”

“You think highly of your skills if you dare to lead me into my own house and threaten my life. Your spirit is bold indeed.” A smile oozed across Heguir’s face as he spoke. “If it were my fetters around your wrists, I would delight in strangling that boldness within you until you begged to service my basest pleasures.”

Sabit lowered the iron point of her spear to  prod through the merchant’s robes, just where his buttock met his thigh. “Pray I am not bold enough to banish your base pleasures to the realm of memory, flesh-peddler. When we reach your home, order my friend brought forth. All three of us will leave until I am assured that there is no pursuit. Only then will you count yourself lucky to be rid of both of us.”

Heguir turned to level a glare of icy hatred at Sabit. Jaw clenched in suppressed rage, he turned and resumed his plodding steps.

— — —
Photo by Luděk Maděryč from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/metal-chain-in-grayscale-and-closeup-photo-86733/

Wayfarings of Sabit: Chains is copyright (c) 2018 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday (and the occasional Monday). You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller Find more sword and sorcery fiction at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.
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Chains: Two
The square-jawed warrior looked as Sabit. “I am Heguir’s bodyguard, not a seller of skins like him. If I left my post for your silver, I would be no better than he is. You look as though you’ve known the crucible of battle. You know the loyalty of which I speak.”

Sabit nodded. “I do know the value of loyalty. I do not know what he has done to win yours, but he is not worth it, I assure you.”

With the speed of a mongoose, Sabit punched the man in the throat. He staggered back, groping for the short bronze sword at his waist. He’d barely pulled the blade from his belt when Sabit landed a kick to his arm that sent the sword flying.

The guard launched himself at Sabit, tackling her to the ground. Dust filled the air as they grappled. The guard’s arms--thick and strong. Sabit’s body--long and quick.

As the dust settled, the merchant emerged from the tent. “What’s all this?” he bellowed.

Sabit held the guard’s neck in the crook of her elbow. Her other arm pressed the back of his neck, slowing the blood coursing along his throat.  The guard’s eyes fluttered shut. Releasing the hold, Sabit eased his limp form to the ground.

Looking at the merchant, she said, “It looks as though you need another bodyguard. It is fortunate for you that my services are available.”

— — —
Photo by Luděk Maděryč from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/metal-chain-in-grayscale-and-closeup-photo-86733/

Wayfarings of Sabit: Chains is copyright (c) 2018 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday (and the occasional Monday). You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller Find more sword and sorcery fiction at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.

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6.3: MOUNT DOOM

On the slopes of the fiery mountain, dread decisions are made and the fate of Middle-Earth is changed forevermore.

6.2: THE LAND OF SHADOW

Frodo and Sam cross the barren land of Mordor toward the end of their long quest.

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Fun for sale!
The METATOPIA 2018 Page has been posted, along with the 2019 Super Saver Combo Page (your ability to pre-pay for both DREAMATION 2019 and DEXCON 22 at a significant discount).
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