An ex-spy wakes up in an inescapable 13th Century dungeon; no light, no food or water and no way out!
The Devil’s Own Dice is book 3 in the Ordo Lupus and the Blood Moon Prophecy series. Find out more.
An ex-spy wakes up in an inescapable 13th Century dungeon; no light, no food or water and no way out!
The Devil’s Own Dice is book 3 in the Ordo Lupus and the Blood Moon Prophecy series. Find out more.
Rip: Grail of the Secret Sun
Only the Vampire Priests understand the Blood Moon Prophecy: “A drop of His blood fills the cup and brings the Blood Moon Dawn.”
Watch the YouTube video trailer below!
“Lots of cool action and drew me well in.” – AHF Magazine.
Excerpt from Rip Orange
After perhaps an hour, during which time Tom began to believe his carriers had unlimited strength, the leader stuck his hand in the air and the column stopped. The snow seemed to ease and then stop altogether. While the strange leader laid out thick, flatbreads and salted rinds of meat on plates, the clouds cleared, and the sun began to warm Tom’s cheeks.
“Not so bad after all!” he joked.
His rescuers crowded around Tom while their leader, the only one wearing a white fur coat, raised a water-bottle to his patient’s lips.
“Good to drink?” Tom asked, feeling nervous.
The leader nodded. Tom tried a sip and found it to be water, clear and refreshing. He waited for any side-effects but only felt better. After eating some bread and meat, he felt better still and grinned. The leader raised Tom up by his shoulders and showed him the terrain ahead. The mountain path dipped down to a dry valley and then rose to a line of green hills. These lacked the icy caps of those Tom could see either side of the mountain they were on, but beyond these, far beyond and just poking through a haze of cloud, he could make out a single peak, rising much higher than any other hill or mountain. Upon its tip he could see no snow but only two jagged peaks, one white and one black.
“Where are we?” Tom asked.
The leader of his rescuers pointed to himself. He said, “Inyan! Inyan!” and pointed to Tom, who replied:
“Tom. Tom Merriweather.”
Inyan shook his head and pointed to tom. “Omacron! Omacron!”
“Omacron!” Inyan’s men echoed.
“No! Tom!” Tom repeated, but Inyan only laughed and moved to Lucky. He repeated his introduction.
“Alan!” Lucky replied. “But everyone calls me Lucky.”
“Alan Lucky!” Inyan replied, laughing. “Tallana!”
“Where are we?” Tom asked.
Inyan shook his head and furrowed his brow. Tom swept his arm around to encompass the whole landscape before them.
“Ah!” Inyan replied. “Atalan’Tea Llantu.”
“Okay. Nice.” Tom asked, “And that?” pointing to the high peak in the far distance.
“Tpatam t’akalliyan,” Inyan replied.
Inyan’s words sounded strange to Tom, guttural, with lots of glottal stops and sudden sounds that surprised him. But he found Inyan’s face reassuring. The stranger had a long face and doleful eyes that seemed sad in some way. His cheeks converged with his mouth in jowls that would make him look more and more like a bulldog as he grew older. But when Inyan smiled, he did so with his whole face, the creases in his cheeks disappearing as if a sun radiated from within. It was a simple, innocent smile that Tom had never seen in anybody, except children, during the war. And in Inyan’s eyes, as well as the apparent sadness, there lay a stillness that seemed like lake that had lain undisturbed for centuries. These features made Tom smile, so that he decided that he liked Inyan. Without thinking Tom reached out and took Inyan’s hand. At first the strange man from this strange land seemed unsure of Tom’s touch, but seeming to come to a decision, he clasped Tom’s fingers within his own and shook Tom’s hand heartily.
“Peroturnakar!” Inyan said, pointing to the sky.
“I’ve heard that word before!” Tom replied, not understanding the significance of the sky.
“Peroturnakar!” Inyan said, looking sad.
Tom looked up again and thought he saw something strange through the clouds. It seemed to him that high up there, above the clouds, the sky consisted of rock, faint but hanging impossibly over them and mountainous landscape.
Excerpt from Rip Blue
My brother had a ball. When you tried to kick it, it moved away from you. I grew tired trying to hit the thing.
“Don’t think about kicking it,” he told me. “The ball is designed to read your intentions. Think about nothing.”
It felt very satisfying when I finally got a foot on it and sent it into the back of the net.
A ‘beeping’ interrupted his memories.
So I have been asleep?
He tried to open one eye, but it felt gummed up. Screwing his face up to make tears, he eventually managed to open one, only to see a panel, which proved to be the source of the ‘beeps.’ A sign flashed, ‘Hello Omah,’ in in red letters. You’re in waking up phase. I’m administering stimulants. Please drink the water.’
“Oh great! Thanks! I hate cryo-sleep!”
A distant hum occurred at the same time as his cryo-chamber began to incline. The glass-lidded container, little more than a box, began to raise at his head’s end and continued inclining until he lay at a forty-five-degree angle. The lid opened and straps released his arms and legs. He felt sharp stabs of pain as a needle retracted from each arm, but didn’t have the energy to say:
Omah remembered the water and tried to reach for a cup in a tray section of the chamber’s rim. But his arm wouldn’t move. And then he noticed how black the water in the cup looked, blacker than ink. It seemed warm and inviting and seemed to expand as he looked at it. He felt he could jump right into it, Deep within the liquid, far, far away, there seemed to be a faint light.
It came as a relief to see an attractive, blue woman approaching him in a white jumpsuit. But when she smiled he saw that her eye sockets looked completely empty, not empty as in the eyes are covered over, but as in a black depth, like a liquid, filled her sockets, a depth so fathomless that Omah lost his balance trying to find their bottom. He slid out of the chamber, teetered for a moment on numb feet and began to fall forward, onto a glass cabinet of surgical instruments. A moment stretched out for what seemed minutes, allowing Omah to think:
“What a strange place to die!”
Omah had no control of his feet, so it came as a complete surprise when the trolley, upon which the cabinet sat, rolled out of the way just before his face hit the pane of glass. The trolley crashed into a wall shattering the cabinet and sending glass shards skittering across the floor while Omah fell in a painful heap on the floor.
“Oh shit!” the blue woman cried, hastily turning Omah over. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, I think so!” Omah gasped. “I … don’t know how that happened!”
“I know how you fell – toxins in your muscles making them unusable. I don’t know how the hell you kicked that thing out of the way!”
“Well, it didn’t move on its own! Your foot must have kicked it. Freakiest thing I ever saw! I better let the others know what happened. Let me get you into a chair!”
Excerpt from Rip Red
Omah’s head-up display on the visor of his helmet indicated to him the likelihood of criminal activity with a coloured halo around each citizen; blue for law-abiding, white for untouchables, red for Scum. He had always had a visceral tendency for violence:
His mother thought he had a look like a, “Whipped dog.”
His father told him to, “Keep his collar clean.”
The funny thing was that he had never seen a dog.
He took another look at the row of columns under the Hall on the far side of the street and suddenly couldn’t remember what he had just been thinking. Not only that, but he had the feeling something had changed irrevocably.
A puddle near his feet dragged his attention away from the display in his visor. The more he looked, the more he felt as if he were being sucked into the black water. It seemed endlessly deep, but a dim light, like a lantern lost at the bottom of the sea, seemed to beckon him down. Without thinking Omah stretched his gloved hand toward the puddle, but a boot stepped in the puddle, sending ripples out across its surface. It was only water. Omah looked up, feeling angry, and stared into the empty eye sockets of a man. Where his eyes should have been, only endless, dark emptiness could be seen. There was no light at the back of the eyes at all. It’s repulsiveness shocked Omah, making him jump back.
“Look out!” the man screamed.
A car’s horn blared, somewhere close behind Omah. He heard the screech of brakes as he leaped for the sidewalk. An instant later, the fender of a black car entered the space where his body had been. The car accelerated away before Omah could get its license plates.
“Thanks!” Omah said, scrambling to his feet and stretching out his hand to the stranger.
“No problem! You nearly got hit! I just wanted to ask the way to the Mayor’s Office?”
“Oh.” Omah couldn’t think for a moment, because the man’s eyes now looked completely normal. “Back that way, second left. It’s on your right, about two blocks down. You can’t miss it.”
“Thanks! Take care.”
Shalto Denner leaned as casually as he could against the side of the brick column buttressing the City Measurers Hall under the colonnade. Shaded from the main street he lit the rollup he had stuck above his ear. He had thought about giving up many times, but it marked you out as Void scum; an emblem that could save your life in tight situations. This was one.
He recalled that his good looks had often caught him out, so he slipped on a pair of dark shades. He still looked handsome; silver hair above a craggy face, cross-hatched by age lines and azure eyes. A girlfriend, more generous than most, had described his face as like a crystalline rock face, carved into the likeness of a man.
‘Can’t keep it up long enough to satisfy a woman anymore,’ he mused.
His thoughts were interrupted by a sparkle of light in the crowd. Looking more closely he saw the distinctive black helmet of a Municipal Policeman’s helmet and slipped round the corner to hide down Subaltern Street.
Omah could see a sea of blue, flecked with white in his display, no red. This made him suspicious. From the corner of his eye he thought he saw a single flick of red vanish round the corner of the old Measurers Hall.
“Ah ha! Got you!” he muttered. The midday heat made sweat seep into his collar. He slowly shook his head once to sooth an itch. He decided to pass Subaltern Street and double back, round the block.
“Something’s going on, Sector 4, corner of Subaltern Street and Main. Falcon 2 requesting back up.”
“Roger 2. Falcon 3 right behind you, half a block, on the right.”
“Crossing to right now. Stop on the intersection and wait. I’m gonna circle round and flush him out. Suspect he’s the lookout for something. These buggers always have complex crimes in mind these days.”
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In 2009 I paid for the National Archives to copy these Lay Subsidy Rolls (tax payments collected on cow hides), because nobody has previously requested this be done, so they were not available. These rolls (rots) may also be relevant to other genealogists, so I am sharing them here. I still have a record of the receipts.
Amounts are usually given in Pounds, Shillings and Pennies
The ‘j’ indicates the last penny of each amount
It would take me far too long to order these rolls (rots) according to their Borough, village or district and I could easily make a mistake, because they are so hard to read. Thus I will simply list them with their Roll file index name and leave it to others to dig further!
These are the relevant notes from the National Archives:
1. Document Reference(s): E 179/190/191
This certificate of assessment and individual assessment expressly relate to the levy in the rape of Pevensey in Sussex of the first payment of the subsidy granted to Henry VIII in 1543. The certificate, which also includes a list of the petty collectors appointed in the hundreds and boroughs, is dated 10 November 1543, and on its dorse is a note recording that the document was returned into the Exchequer on 29 November 1543. Aliens are listed separately, for the most part, and household servants of the wealthier payers are noted in the margins and bracketed, in some places.
Date Of Document 1543 Nov 10
Date Into Exchequer 1543 Nov 29
1) subsidy, 1543 Jan 22 x May 12, 1st: 1544 Feb 6
Instructions for Copying: Sheet showing all aliens (if separate sheet) and
then Hartfield, Rotherfield, Ardingly (not present), Mayfield,
cuckfield, Horsham Borough (if possible), Lewes (if
2. Document Reference(s): E 179/190/239
All the items in this roll are concerned with the second payment of the ‘relief’ granted to Edward VI in March 1549. All the documentation from each of the Sussex rapes has been stitched into the roll, some assessments facing the opposite way to others, so that the roll is confusing to find one’s way around. In addition, each rape’s assessments are on rotulets of different widths, and that for Bramber is on one long rotulet comprising 5 individual membranes. Readers should be warned that the roll is therefore unwieldy to handle. However, the place-names have been indexed in the order in which each assessment should be read, in the hope that this will assist readers who wish to use the document. The rotulets in the roll are as follows:
Rot 1: Certificate for Bramber rape, dated 18 April 1550, endorsed with a return date of 29 April 1550.
Rot 2 (5 mm): Assessment of Bramber.
Rot 3: Certificate for Hastings rape, dated 12 April 1550.
Rot 4: Appointment of collectors for Hastings rape.
Rots 5-9: Assessment of Hastings rape, rot 9 endorsed with a return date of 28 April 1550.
Rots 10-11: Certificate and assessment of Lewes rape, the certificate dated 4 March 1550, and the assessment endorsed with a return date of 3 May 1550. These two rotulets were inserted in reverse order, so that the certificate and the start of the assessment are on rot 11 and continue onto rot 10.
Rots 12-16: Certificate and assessment of Arundel rape, the certificate dated 19 April 1550, and the assessment endorsed with a return date of 25 April 1550. Also in reverse order, the certificate and beginning of the assessment forming rot 16 (2 mm) and continuing through to rot 12.
Rots 17-24: Certificate and assessment of Pevensey rape, the certificate dated 21 April 1550, and the assessment endorsed with a return date of 26 April 1550. Also in reverse order, the certificate being rot 25, and the assessment commencing on rot 23 and continuing through to rot 17.
Rots 25-26: Certificate and assessment of Chichester rape, the certificate dated 15 April 1550, and the assessment endorsed with a return date of 28 April 1550. These two rots are extremely wide and have been folded down the middle to fit them into the roll, being stitched only along half their connecting edges. Readers should open them out with care.
Date Of Document 1550 March 4 – April 21
Date Into Exchequer 1550 April 25 – May 3
Instructions for Copying: Hartfield, Rotherfield, Ardingly (not present), Mayfield,
cuckfield (if possible), Lewes Borough, Horsham Borough
all sheets showing alien servants.
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To celebrate, I will be giving away one, signed copy of Screaming Angels to my Newsletter readers in a competition on 16 October at 5pm BST. To sign up for the Newsletter before then, click here or go to the menu at the top of this page.
Yulia let the rare intimacy hang in the air. It floated away on the evening’s love.
“The biggest twist was at the end – I really didn’t see that coming” – Eileen Thornton
How the Soviets stole the secret of Rolls Royce’s best jet engine and built the greatest fighter in the world.
Don, the only member of his Rolls Royce Nene team that called his boss Ed, was a working-class Yorkshireman, Edward, a graduate from Dorking. They were Surrey chalk and Yorkshire cheese, but when Don had yelled “Pass Ed!” during a company football match, Edward let the term of endearment go with a smile and they had been close ever since.
“Right! Let’s tidy away and get testing!”
The seven men tightened every bolt on the jet engine’s outer casing, checked the test stand bolts for tension once more and wiped everything clean. Edward left the test chamber through the partition door and took up station with the rest of the team, behind the control panel. Don checked the last few hose connectors and left the chamber, closing the thick door behind him, but struggled to slide in the heavy draw bolt for a moment, with his back turned. Edward couldn’t see what Don was doing.
“Don’t touch the master door lock!” Edward joked.
“I never would. There! Got it!”
Edward completed the test form, pushing his spectacles up on the bridge of his nose to focus better:
Monday 22 July, 1946
RB.41 Nene MK.3 throttle-up test. Attending: Nene team, headed by Donald Hill. Manager: Edward Torrens.
“Right. Fire her up Don!”
Edward’s affable smile belied the tension in the small control room. The cream, concrete partitions had been designed to muffle the sound of WWII piston engines, not stop exotic alloy jet turbine blades, turning three or four times as fast, from exploding. Only a few weeks previously another of Edward’s Nene engineers had been injured when a fragment penetrated the wall and ripped part of his cheek away. As Don pressed the starter button, Edward wondered why such an alchemist’s brew of wires, alloys and unearthly, screaming power amounted only to the placid sounding ‘Nene’ in the Rolls Royce executives’ minds. Everything went well until Edward yelled into Don’s ear at the top of his voice:
Edward realised he had actually crossed his fingers, just before he heard a high-pitched, metallic ‘ping.’ He lunged for the red cut-off button and smashed it down with his fist.
Don and the others stared at him with blank expressions, as if trapped in a slow-motion movie clip.
“Duck!” Edward yelled, before dropping to the floor and scrambling under the bench, dragging Don with him.
The turbine’s shriek had dropped in pitch about half an octave in those few seconds, but then the air ripped apart with a giant explosion. The sound or rending metal, mixed with the sound of concrete being ripped apart and debris hitting the walls made them shut their eyes and pray.
Eventually, silence returned, followed a moment later by the blaring of alarms and the sound of rushing feet.
“I didn’t hear owt!” Don said between coughs. “Bloody good job the engine revs dropped a few thousand! Or else I don’t think any of us would be here!”
Covered in white concrete dust and debris, the others scrambled to their feet while Edward looked for his spectacles in the debris. He found the metal frames, but the round lenses were both missing.
“I heard it!” he muttered. “A fan blade breaking loose. One of the advantages of managing four test teams and attending all tests – not that Sanderson approves. You learn what to listen for! I lost my spectacles and I think some of the glass went in my eye. I can’t see!”
I won’t be posting more daily updates from the world of Rip here because it’s too time-
consuming. But I will continue to do so on Twitter and Instagram so if you want to keep
up, go to:
Brina didn’t remember what keelhauling was, but she decided she didn’t want to know.
Many of the ship’s crew stared at their feet while others dragged her to the bow.
“Do you think this a good idea?” she heard Devlin say to Brindley. “Suppose she dies? She probably will!”
“Then we won’t be docking in Tasman.”
“She’s only a woman!”
“Shut up Devlin. Do it now!”
The crewmen lowered Brina over the bow by the length of rope attached to her wrists while another sailor guided the other length of rope to the stern. He worked it under the moving ship’s hull and pulled it taught.
“Ready!” he yelled from the stern.
Six men lowered Brina to the crashing bow-waves, while three others hauled on the stern rope. Her feet touched the cold water, so she began to take deep breaths, taking her last a moment before her head went under. After that, she understood little of what happened, except that the sea battered her against the barnacle-studded planks of the hull and her lungs began to scream with the agony of asphyxiation. She held on as long as she could, feeling her chest convulse with its primitive urge to breath. The last thing she saw was a patch of light in the bottle-blue water behind her thrashing legs.
“You’re a lucky bitch!” a male voice said. “The Captain wouldn’t have revived anyone else but you!”
“I need a shave.”
“Let me show you. Take this off first.”
She tugged on the collar of his jumpsuit.
“Oh no! You’re not getting me naked that quick.”
“Ha! You’ll see us naked before too long. Don’t be shy.”
“Alright! Just strip to the waist then.”
Omah unfastened the sticky front tab and peeled the smooth, metallic top down to his waist, rubbed his bare chest out of embarrassment and gave Archivist a lopsided grin.
Now look in the mirror and say, “Shave!”
“Shave! Hey! What’s this! I have a white mark on my chest. Like a key!”
“Yes. I thought it was kinda cute when we were shown your body in one of our first briefings.”
“Oh god! You mean you’ve seen me naked?”
“Sure! All of it. And you’re quite a healthy man.”
Omah blushed and replied.
“But what does this mark mean? Do you have it?”
“No. You’re the only one. We don’t know what it means. You had it when you came to u- … . Oh there, now you’re jumping the gun! Or making me! Let’s do the shave.”
“But wait a minute! At least it’s something not blue! And Controller; he seems very emotionless and blank. Are you all robots?”
Archivist’s laugh sounded like the delicate titter of a teenage girl.
“It sometimes feels like it.”
“Androids then? Cyborgs?”
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Only available in kindle, this is from a new writer Lami Kamikaze. Its very funny and takes an unusual view of the conflicts shaping the modern world.
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“Ship!” he said out loud, not being able to remember the correct name of the intelligent machine. “Can you hear me? R19 or whatever you’re called. Ah, it had something to do with water. Now I remember. R1902, do you hear me?”
“I hear you Omah. But my correct name is R19020.”
The ship’s voice was low, soft and soothing. But Omah couldn’t tell if it was male or female.
“Can you put the light on please? I’m not sleepy.”
The light came up to a comfortable day-time level.
“Thanks! Also, I need something to eat. I’m starving!”
“Your last century was the late 13th of the 6th Age. Do you recall it?”
“Some of it.”
“Do you recall microwave ovens?”
“Now we have nano-generators. Some call them n-gens. They create almost anything, up to the size capacity of the generator, from a block of white plasma. To the right of your desk, above the bookcase, you will see its door. You may tell it what you want yourself by speaking clearly. But now I will do it for you.”
“I see it.”
“What would you like to eat?”
“Roast chicken with bread sauce, mushrooms, carrots, sprouts and gravy. Followed by hot apple pie and cream.”
“Coming right up!”
“You sound like one of those vid chefs!”
“When you see a red, flashing light, you can safely open the door.”
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