So what’s this book about?
The story follows a band of six adventurers as they try to upset the balance of the Kingdom. Years ago the king made a deal with a dragon to come and take up residence in the dormant volcano known as Mount Misery. The reason for this is that the Kingdom’s economy was in the doldrums.
Now that a dragon was there it ensured the beast would pull in all manner of creatures that wanted to bask in its power and possibly even profit off its vast hoard of treasure. The king knew that adventurers the world over would flock to his Kingdom to fight these monsters. The Hirelings system was created in which bands of adventurers would form and fight, bringing in much money to the local economy and tax revenue for the king.
What the deal was that the king signed with the dragon was anyone’s guess, but many had come to suspect one or the other had started to lose out. Fewer monsters began to appear as the years wore on, and fewer adventurers as well. The economy slowed, sputtered, and then ran out of steam altogether. Recession set in, and with it a loss of hope. Resentment soon followed and the Kingdom became a dark place indeed.
- Beldar Thunder Hammer: Beldar is an old and surly dwarf as well as the leader of the band. He brings it upon himself to put the band of adventurers back together after they’d split up.
- Glinny Farcaster: This is our human female spellcaster. She’s really good with spells, which in this book simply require ingredients and a few magic words. She’s working at a strip bar when the novel begins.
- Toes Villeroo: Here is our Elven ranger, someone quick with the boy and dagger but who says little. He’s working at the circus when the story begins.
- Theo Da’Covale: Another elf, this time a thief. He’s the jokester of the group, kind of like the David Spade character that gets on your, and the other characters’ nerves. He’s working at a shady thieves’ guild when the story starts.
- Dorn Two Handles: Here is our barbarian fighter, a strong man who’s tall, fearsome, and stupid. I’m still working in this part, but we either meet him on the docks or in the tavern.
- Ziggy One Head: Ziggy is another barbarian, and a replacement member for one of the original members that got…well, you can read that later. He’s about as dumb as a post but provides some much-needed muscle, and comic relief. He’s working in the mines when the story starts.
- Boom: No band of Hirelings would be complete without at least one odd character, and this one is an orc named Boom. The group buys him from Henri’s Fighting Pits when the story starts.
It’s been six months since the horrendous incident atop Mount Misery, the incident that broke Beldar Thunder Hammer’s band of adventurers apart.
Now Beldar’s putting the band back together with the aim of heading back up Mount Misery to end the Kingdom’s Hireling system for good.
Of course that would upend the whole socio-economic balance of The Kingdom and usher in a time of peace and plenty for all. The powers-that-be can’t have that, and they’ll do everything in their power to thwart Beldar and his band of Hirelings from bringing that about.
Tired of Reading Rubbish Labeled as Fantasy?
If you’re tired of formulaic fantasy plots and tired tropes than look no further, this novel has none of that trash! Here’s what you will find:
- Characters struggling economically;
- Graphic violence that’s not for the weary;
- A view of what really happens with battlefield spoils;
- The untold plight of monsters and the causes they care for;
- What becomes of the battlefield wounded;
- Sinister systems, not stupid villains;
- Characters that don’t suck up to you;
- Happy endings going out the window.
If any of those things appeals to your warped senses then I urge you to click ‘buy now.’ What are you waiting for? These characters could be kicking back a cold tankard at the tavern right now, but instead they’re waiting on you!
For fantasy with an attitude, read The Hirelings!
Not Convinced? Read These Interviews with Fictional Reviewers
“I liked the book, but you’ve got to consider I can’t read. Yep, I’m dumb as a post.”
– Art Finklestein, Orc
“The problem with this book is that it’s written in English. If it was written in Dwarvish I might have been interested – it does have a handsome female on the cover – and I just feel it would be to my tastes. <Reviewer is told the dwarf on the cover is male, not female> This here book ain’t worth the paper it’s written on!”
– Tamer Iron Mug, Dwarf
“This book ignites nicely, giving you exactly 248° Celsius. If you’re making invisibility potions, night vision potions, or any other manner of concoctions late at night in your lab this book can help you. I would only give it 4-stars because the book ignites much too quickly. Expect to only get 2 to 3 potions for each copy burned.”
– Gregor Gregorson, Gnome
“This book saved my life. When Old Nate was killed by an Ettin I took this book out of his bag, thinking it would be great for wiping my backside. It turned out to be a much better shield, however. See, I was running from battle and an archer hit me right in the arse. Well, thankfully I still had a portion of this book wedged in my crack so it stopped the arrow dead in its tracks. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in covering their arse before and after a fight!”
– Klud, Barbarian
Act Fast – Operators are Standing By!
As you can see, the response is overwhelming – The Hirelings does more than it promises! So what are you waiting for?
Operators are standing by – just write your note, include your gold pieces, and attach it to your carrier pigeon. Send them off in a generally northern direction and we’ll do the rest. Expect your copy of The Hirelings to get to you in about 20 fortnights, or less!
Discover what everyone is mumbling about incoherently at seedy taverns and grimy thieves’ guilds everywhere! Read The Hirelings Today!
Below is an excerpt of the very start of the novel, the introduction, which will eventually appear in the ‘Look Inside’ on Amazon. It’s not final yet, but here it is for your viewing pleasure:
“Bah!” Beldar spat. The dwarf crossed his arms over his chest and stared up at the tall human. “I don’t like the sound of it one bit!”
“Of course you don’t, Beldar,” Edgar said, his typical exuberance and cheery smile already softening the dwarf’s normally taciturn disposition, “you don’t like the sound of anything but ale being poured in a mug and coins being spilled into your hand.”
“There ain’t nothing wrong with that!” Theo said.
Hastings shook his head at the elf and tried to grab the flask of ale he was already raising to his lips.
“Hey, get your own!” Theo protested.
“We didn’t come all this way up Mount Misery so you could get us all killed with your drinking!” Hastings shouted.
“Enough!” Glinny yelled, and all eyes went to the female spellcaster.
“We can’t have him drinking–”
“He’s been drinking ever since we left Dragstown yesterday!” Glinny shouted, staring up at the tall human.
“Besides, I don’t think Theo’s going up into that tunnel anyway,” she added after a moment.
Hastings gave the barbarian a hard look for a few moments, but in the end just chewed on his mustache, a sure sign to all that knew him that he was about to give in.
“Fine,” he said after a moment, “but when we get up into that tunnel and get it cleared out I don’t want to come back down here to see a passed-out elven thief lying amongst these boulders.”
“I doubt Toes would let you down like that,” Theo laughed.
“Yeah, well I can’t remember the last time I saw Toes take a drink,” Hastings said.
“I know the dangers that alcohol has for elven blood,” Toes replied from his spot on the edge of the group.
“Bah!” Beldar spat again. “All this talk ain’t gettin’ us nowhere closer to that dragon.”
“He’s right,” Edgar said with his toothy grin, “what are we waiting for?”
“I still don’t think you two should be going alone,” Beldar said.
“Relax,” Hastings said as he came up and put his hand on the dwarf’s shoulder, “we’ll just go in and take a look, that’s all.”
Beldar may have been the leader of the group of adventurers in name, but all knew that it was Hastings that led them in both deed and spirit. Few could match the indomitable will and uncompromising standards that the human fighter put forth, and of all the Hirelings that cluttered The Kingdom, theirs was one of the most respected because of it.
“Oh…alright,” Beldar said after a few moments, “but if you get yourselves killed it’ll not be on my hands!”
“We’ll just blame it on the drunken thief,” Edgar said with a laugh as he gave Theo a light punch in the gut.
“Ugh!” the elf went, nearly doubling over.
“That’ll teach you to eat your breakfast and not drink it!” the human laughed as he walked up to Toes.
The elven ranger was tall for his race, and had dark brown hair. Edgar suspected that he had some human in his line somewhere in the past, but he’d never pressed the elf on it and didn’t mean to start now.
“Rope,” he said casually, smiling back at Theo.
Toes took the bag from his shoulder and dug around for a moment before pulling out a large bunch of rope.
“You know I could just get you up there with a spell,” Glinny said as Edgar walked back a ways and peered up at the high cliff ledge twenty feet above them and the tunnel branching off of it that led toward the dragon’s lair.
Edgar shook his head. “Where’s the fun in that?”
He looked up at the ledge and then back at Toes.
Toes already had a grappling hook out and sent it sailing through the air before the words were even out of Edgar’s mouth.
“Thanks,” the tall human said with a smile as he began threading one end of the rope through the hook.
“What do you think is waiting up there for us?” Dorn asked while Edgar tied his knot.
“Who knows?” Hastings said back to the tall barbarian. “There’s plenty of stories, most of them myth really, for no one’s ever been up into the dragon’s lair.”
“And lived to tell about it,” Toes added.
Glinny nodded. “I’ve a hard time believing no one’s made it up there before.”
“Right,” Theo said as he took another quaff of his ale, “at some point some of the king’s men must have come up and had a meeting with the dragon.”
Beldar shook his head at that.
“It’s been here for more than fifty years, ever since the king made the deal with him.”
“Well that deal soured a long time ago,” Edgar said as he tightened the last knot on the grappling hook, “and we’re gonna do something about it, aren’t we?”
He gestured for them all to move back and then started swinging the rope about in a wide arc. Soon he had it spinning quickly in a circle and then with a final grunt he released his hold on the end of the rope.
The hook and rope flew up the twenty feet to the ledge above and then over. Edgar yanked and pulled on the rope a bit until the hook found purchase above and its movements were stopped.
“She’s secure,” he said, then started walking to the tall cliff face.
“Be careful,” Glinny said as he started up the rope.
“Always,” he smiled down at her.
“Remember,” Beldar said, coming up to Hastings as the other fighter was just taking the rope, “clean out the initial critters and then signal us – we’ll be right up in no time.”
Hastings clapped him on the shoulder once again. “Will do.”
And with that they were both up the rope, then over the ledge and out of sight. The others gave uneasy looks to one another and sat down to wait.
~ ~ ~
“Ain’t much, is it?” Edgar said with a laugh as he and Hastings surveyed the large tunnel entrance.
“That just means what lies inside could be all the more fearsome,” the proud fighter said.
“Oh, come now!” Edgar laughed. “I doubt we’ll find anything more in here than a few crawlers and maybe some slime.”
“We certainly won’t find out by standing here gawking and squawking,” Hastings said with his own smile.
Edgar nodded. “After you, kind sir.”
“You always were the elegant lady,” Hastings said dryly as he moved past his companion.
“An elegant…” Edgar trailed off before giving a laugh, “boy, you’re something today, aren’t you?”
“Just feeling good is all, nothing more.”
“Well I hope your luck holds the same.”
Hastings didn’t say anything to that and the two fell into a quite walk forward, each holding their sword out at the ready. Hastings favored a large two-handed bastard sword that was taller than Beldar outside, and even a few short men. Edgar for his part preferred the shorter longsword and shield combination, though his shield had been shattered on the fight with the stone giants on the way up.
“Coming?” Hastings said over his shoulder.
“Oh…yeah,” Edgar said.
He must have been daydreaming a bit, so he did what he always did to stay focused – concentrated his eyes on the two large feather plumes jutting from Hastings’ helmet, one bright green the other bright purple. Nearly everyone laughed when they first saw them, but once they saw the proud warrior in battle they rarely laughed again.
Suddenly up ahead the feathers stopped moving and Edgar looked down to see that Hastings had stopped as well.
“Hear that?” the fighter said over his shoulder.
“Hear what?” Edgar replied.
“Sounds like scratching, like claws on the rock or something.”
“From up ahead?”
Hastings turned back to look at him.
“You can’t hear it?” he asked with surprise. “It’s everywhere!”
And then Edgar heard it too, a scratching sound that started to make his hackles rise. He looked back up at Hastings and saw the taller man swallow a knot in his throat.
“Get ready,” Hastings said as he gripped his bastard sword tightly.
The sound increased to a fever pitch, and was coming from somewhere ahead of them. It was turning to a grating sound that was beginning to give Edgar a headache.
“What is it!” he shouted after a moment.
“Stay here!” Hastings shouted back at him, and before Edgar could protest, the fighter was moving forward.
Edgar watched his friend and companion of many years move further up into the dark tunnel. After the fighter was a good fifteen feet ahead and near a turn he paused and Edgar saw his shoulders go slack, like someone had kicked the life from him.
“Oh mother of mercy!” Hastings said.
“What!” Edgar shouted. “What did you say?”
“Run,” Hastings said quietly as he raised his sword back up, determined to at least save his friend’s life if he couldn’t save his own, “run, run, run!”
Edgar’s eyes went wide at what he was hearing his friend say. No one could ever accuse Hastings of cowardice, but here he was telling him to run.
Instead of doing as he was told, Edgar instead ran forward. He was halfway to Hastings when he saw what had stopped the stronger man. The sight made his eyes go wide and a scream escape from his lips before he could even try to stop it.
~ ~ ~
“What was that!” Dorn said loudly, coming halfway to his feet.
“A scream, from inside,” Glinny said as she rose up and moved back to get a better look up at the tunnel opening, hoping to see something, anything.
“I’ve never heard either Hastings or Edgar scream,” Beldar said.
“Something’s up there,” Toes said.
“They told us they’d tell us when it was all clear,” Theo said, “are you saying we shouldn’t wait?”
“Yes,” Toes said.
Without another word he rushed forward and jumped at the rope leading upward. Within moments he was up it, over the ledge, and inside the tunnel.
~ ~ ~
Edgar ran for all he was worth, and didn’t for a second feel sick about doing so. He knew later that’s what he’d feel sickest of all about, but for now he just had to get away form those…those…things!
The thought of what they’d looked like came back to him and he shook his head in revulsion before rushing on all the more. At the next turn he chanced a look back and his foot caught something. He went flying to the tunnel floor.
That’s when he heard the scratching again.
“Oh no, no!” he shouted, but somehow the things had been on his tail all along, even if he’d been running so fast and his heart had been beating so loud that he’d drowned out the sound of them.
He raised his sword up to bat at the first thing, but it’s long, gnarled and twisted arms grabbed hold of one of his legs and started pulling it toward it’s large maw.
“Ah!” Edgar yelled as the thing jerked him and got his foot up into its mouth.
Edgar swung his sword, and even managed to hit the thing, but it didn’t let go, and then a second later another was there, and grabbing for his other leg. That’s when the first one bit down.
“Aaahhh!” Edgar screamed out, the pain excruciating.
He looked back down in shock, and immediately wished he hadn’t – there was the thing chewing away, blood issuing forth from its mouth, and a bloody and spurting stub where his foot had been.
Edgar knew he was dead, but he lifted his sword back up and readied another swing. That’s when the second thing bit into his other leg, taking off that foot as well. Then another rushed up and started in on his right leg, taking it off right below the knee. Tears of pain rushed down his face, but he no longer had the strength to scream.
Suddenly there was a high, screeching howl and Edgar forced his eyes open. He couldn’t believe what he saw – an arrow sticking from one of the thing’s lifeless eyes. Another shaft appeared in the next thing a moment later, and then in the thing beside it a second after that.
“I’ve got you!” a voice said behind Edgar, just as he felt himself being pulled up.
“Toes?” Edgar asked.
“Aye,” Toes said as he started dragging the human as fast as he could – already more of those…things were rushing up from further down the tunnel.
Edgar was in a daze, and it was then he managed to look down for the first time since seeing his foot gone.
“Toes, where are my legs?” he asked.
“They’re gone,” Toes said.
Edgar shook his head. “So are we, Toes, so are we.”
“Aye,” Toes said, “aye.”
If you want epic fantasy with an attitude, a sense of humor, and a heart you’ll love The Hirelings. After all, there’s nothing formulaic about this book, right?