On their way to the northern city of Khon Orzad, Thurvok, the sellsword, and his friend Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, travel along a road lined with the skeletons of executed heretics.
It’s a grim path that becomes even grimmer when Thurvok and Meldom come upon a blindfolded woman who is still very much alive tied to a stake by the side of the road.
Should they continue their journey or rescue the woman and risk the wrath of the priest kings of Khon Orzad…
This is a short story of 5500 words or 20 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.
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- The Road of Skeletons is a short story of 5500 words or approximately 20 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 Road of Skeletons 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 Road of Skeletons was inspired by a piece of fantasy art. Though in this case, it was a bit different than usual, because I did a tarot card draw to serve as inspiration. I drew the Eight of Swords and used the image rather than the meaning as inspiration, because it is a very evocative image.
- 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 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. With The Road of Skeletons, the third Thurvok adventure, the duo of adventurers becomes a trio, as they pick up Sharenna, who starts out as a classic damsel in distress, but quickly proves herself to be a formidable sorceress who saves both Thurvok and Meldom. As the series goes on, Sharenna becomes the most powerful member of the group.
- The cover is stock art by breaker213.