Quentaris - Paul Collins
Shared world books already have the guidelines, so writers have to
adhere to them. Overlooking the town of Quentaris are the rift caves.
These lead to other worlds, so there are numerous stories to be told!
Adventurers come from far afield to try their luck in the caves. Some
return wealthy beyond compare, others disappear – some arrive
home completely mad. In Swords of Quentaris, I have a street urchin
called Rad, who dreams of being a famous guide like his great-great-grandmother,
Nathine. He steals a map from a pirate sky ship, and that is where
his quest begins.
If you’re going to write fantasy, you need
to read heaps of it. Everything you write comes from somewhere,
whether from something that you’ve read or strictly from the
imagination. Much of my earlier reading came only from comics. I
was a voracious reader of the Marvel Group comics, like Daredevil,
Spiderman and Captain America. Much of my writing is action-packed
and fast moving. It also helps if you know a little history. Of
course, research will always fill in the gaps if you don’t.
For Swords of Quentaris I used a little science fiction, although
only in as far as the holograms, and the control room where the
Hamil once spied on the Quentarans.
Rad is a street lad who yearns to belong to the Thieves’ Guild.
More than anything he would love to be a guide to heroes journeying
to the rift caves—but he knows this is well beyond his capabilities.
It’s while Rad is watching out for the infamous skycrawlers—raiders
from the rift caves—that his chance to become anything he wants
is offered to him. He steals aboard a skyship and finds a map pertaining
to the rift caves.
He escapes the craft and shows his ‘hard science’ map
to a famous fence, who then dies mysteriously. Rad realises that the
map is worth a lot more than he’d anticipated.
With the stablemaster’s daughter, Tulcia, he sets off to explore
the famous scar rift—a rift cave said to be an urban myth. Here
he finds all the proof he needs that the ancient race called the Hamil
But before he can claim what is his by birthright, he must escape
the Thieves’ Guild and the notorious Vindon Nibhelline.Only
then will he be proclaimed the greatest guide since his ancestor,
the famous Nathine.
We could always go back,’ Rad said. ‘If we can find the
Tulcia scowled. ‘I didn’t come up here to give up and
return empty-handed, Rad.’ She patted her half-filled pouch.
‘If you hadn’t been in such a rush to get going, I’d
have had enough gems to last a—’
From the left tunnel there came a dry crackling sound like wind-blown
autumn leaves. It was not a loud sound, yet it filled the wormlike
tunnel as though whatever hellish being made it, was a part of the
solid rock encasing them. As it neared, it became clear that it was
not a discordant sound, rather a rhythmic, organised sound of precision.
Like an army on the march—albeit a rather light-bellied one,
for the sound was not heavy-footed.
‘Rodents,’ Rad said, his feverish mind already detecting
a chittering, fiendish noise that was as imaginary as the holograms
within the Scar. ‘There must be thousands of them. On the scent
of blood I bet.’
Rad’s unease was infectious. ‘Whatever it is I don’t
like it,’ Tulcia said. She struck her sword against the wall
and scraped it along the stone as she quickly moved into the right
tunnel. Sparks flew from steel against granite.
Rad brought his own sword against the right wall and together they
moved away from the ominous marching sound.
Then Rad found the cross he had made earlier in the dust. He ran into
the seemingly solid wall without hesitation. ‘Tulcia!’
His companion was at once by his side in the alcove. They had barely
disappeared through the image when the army rounded the corner. This
was no mortal army though: the creatures were of bone and sinew, headless
skeletal caricatures of what might have once been mortals, curved
blades and leather bucklers held at the ready.
The warriors had a spectral blue light about them—an aura that
brushed every lump and curve of the crumbling walls, creating darting
Rad and Tulcia moved back against solid rock. ‘Ugh!’ Rad
croaked, his face ashen.
Tulcia’s hand tightened on his shoulder as though to quieten
him; although neither suspected these long-dead creatures could hear.
Seconds passed and the column of headless skeletons knew no end. Unaware
of the fact that he had been holding his breath, Rad pulled Tulcia
away from the mirage. ‘What manner of things are they?’
‘Magicked—whatever, I don’t care,’ Tulcia
whispered back. ‘They’re obviously either looking for
us or their stolen heads!’
‘Or their missing eyes,’ Rad observed, looking pointedly
at Tulcia’s laden pouch.
The tunnel was now full to the brim with the marching skeletal creatures.
Although headless, Rad imagined he saw the nearest creatures turn
to stare at them through the mirage. But the column marched inexorably
on without pause.
Rad’s heart leapt. The ragged line wheeled about to face them.
The scrape of bare bone on aeons old dust made Rad’s skin crawl.
He tugged Tulcia back from the fake facade but she stood transfixed,
her body almost intermingled with the wall mirage. With a quick flourish
of her sword she marked out the size of the illusionary wall. ‘We
can hold them here,’ she said falteringly. ‘Two of us
could hold this army.’
‘How can you kill something that is already dead!’ Rad
hissed. He grabbed at Tulcia’s pouch. ‘Give them back
their wretched eyes and maybe they’ll let us out!’
Tulcia shoved him away. ‘They’re afraid of something,’
she said. Feet wide apart, she waited for the creatures to charge.
‘Now’s our chance!’ Rad said. ‘While they’re
‘Aiyee!’ Tulcia spat and charged forward.