The Tomb of the Undead Slaves

The Tomb of the Undead Slaves by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThurvok, the sellsword, and his friend and companion Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, venture into the Rusted Desert to seek the tomb of the ancient king Chagurdai and the legendary treasure supposedly hidden there.

But once Thurvok and Meldom venture into the tomb, they find that a treasure is not all that’s buried there.

This is a short story of 4100 words or 13 print pages in the Tales of Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

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More information:

  • The Tomb of the Undead Slaves is a short story of 4100 words or approximately 13 print pages in the Thurvok series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • The Tomb of the Undead Slaves was one of the stories written during the 2018 July short story challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per day in July 2018.
  • Like many of the July short story challenge stories, The Tomb of the Undead Slaves was inspired by a piece of fantasy art, namely this one by Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, who was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist.
  • Unlike my other stories, the Thurvok series is credited to Richard Blakemore, whom regular readers will recognise as the pulp writer protagonist of the Silencer series. As for why the Thurvok series is credited to Richard Blakemore, in the Silencer story Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, Richard purchases the January 1936 issue of Weird Tales and is pleased to find a new instalment of a Conan serial by Robert E. Howard, a Jirel of Joiry novelette by C.L. Moore, a Jules de Grandin novelette by Seabury Quinn as well as one of Margaret Brundage’s famous covers. He also muses that he would like to take a stab at writing something like that one day. This throwaway scene got me thinking, “What if Richard actually did write a sword and sorcery series for Jake Levonsky?”
  • When I found myself writing a sword and sorcery adventure, which eventually blossomed into a series, for the July short story challenge, I suddenly wondered, “What if this was Richard Blakemore’s lost sword and sorcery series?” And so I decided to credit the story to Richard and pass myself off as the editor who rediscovered him.
  • I even created a blog, a Twitter account and an Amazon author page for Richard and filled out a Smashwords interview in his persona.
  • Thurvok initially showed up as a lone wandering adventurer in the Conan mould, though he quickly finds a friend in Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, and the series veers off into Fafhrd and Gray Mouser territory with The Tomb of the Undead Slaves. However, Richard never mentions them as an inspiration (though they certainly were one of mine), because the first Fafhrd and Gray Mouser story didn’t appear until 1939, so there is no way Richard could have been familiar with the characters.
  • As the series progresses, Thurvok and Meldom pick up further companions and the series moves away from its inspirations and becomes its own thing.
  • The Tomb of the Undead Slaves also starts the pattern that Thurvok and Meldom never really manage to hold on to whatever treasure or reward they are seeking. This is a common pattern in sword and sorcery, because if the heroes were able to keep the treasure they’re seeking they’d eventually settle down and that would be the end of the series. Indeed, something similar happens to Conan, when he becomes King of Aquilonia.
  • The cover image is stock art by Luca Oleastri.