King’s Armor Prologue

I’m correcting and deepening King’s Armor again. Though I have a feeling it won’t be done by the end of the year like I’d originally hoped, every draft is getting a little better. Here is a prologue I wrote to help deepen the backstory of my most recent correction.
Prologue: Seventeen Years Ago
“This is a waste of time,” Draygan growled as he rose. The dim fire reflected dully on his hulking figure, rough gray skin, and long black hair. “One name, Tharib. One word.” He limped about the fire

and glowered down at prisoner two of his Maligents half held, half supported.

The man glared back, panting through clenched teeth, sweat and blood streaking his face in the uncertain moonlight.
Draygan hefted his barbed flail from one hand to the other as he leaned close. “Where. Are. Lysander. And. His. Family. Lodging.”
The Auloran didn’t reply.
With a snarl, Draygan swung his flail, raking the man’s chest. Tharib gasped as he buckled forward, only keeping his feet because of the tight grasp of his captors.
Draygan grunted and tilted his head slightly. The man raised his head, his lips tight but his eyes defiant. Draygan nodded to himself. “Very well. So you think you can bear the pain. But could your son, I wonder?”
Tharib clenched his jaw.
A footstep whispered from the shadows beyond the small hollow and another Maligent appeared. Draygan glanced toward him, and the Maligent nodded.
“Shall we fetch him?” Draygan questioned, turning back to his prisoner. “Your Havrain is what…ten? Eleven? He’s sleeping not far from here I believe, but it would be a pity to wake him for no reason.”
The man gritted his teeth. “You lie. You don’t know where he is.”
“Are you willing to take that chance?” Draygan beckoned to his scout and the Maligent tossed him a pendant. Draygan dangled the medallion from the chain before Tharib’s face. “Because I assure you, if we are forced to take the trouble of bringing him here, your Havrain will face the lash whether you speak or not.”
Even in the darkness, the man’s face paled and he grunted, jerking against his captors.
Draygan chuckled mirthlessly, then bent down, his eyes steely. “Where is the Captain camping this evening?”
Tharib closed his eyes and bowed his head, breathing heavily through clenched teeth.
“The Captain!” Draygan demanded, forcing the prisoner’s head up. “Or shall we fetch your son?”
“No…” the man’s voice broke and he let out a low groan.
Draygan crossed his arms. “Lie to me, and we’ll kill your son before your eyes.”
“By the Gihon.” Tharib’s voice was barely a whisper. “Where the Blackwood and the river meet. They will rest there tomorrow night.”
Draygan’s eyes glittered and he sheathed his flail. “Thank you, Tharib.” He considered the man thoughtfully then nodded to himself. “Bind him and leave him for the beasts,” he ordered, turning away. “Then meet me with the others. We have a Captain to kill.”

Allen Shran

Allen Shran is another major character in my trilogy. He’s fairly new to the Rebel cause, but assembled a group of Freedom Fighters and quickly became one of the Reasoner’s most wanted fugitives. The second most wanted man in America, to be exact, right behind the elusive pastor who’s code named Gideon. (This is a chagrining topic for Allen because, for the life of him, he can’t understand why the Reasoners value a pastor, of all people, above himself).
Allen was born the only child of a privileged family. His father was involved in politics, his mother in science. Allen spent his younger years in the best schools his parents could afford, but when he was eighteen, his mother died in an explosion at the lab where she worked. Though he hadn’t known her well, the death was still a blow and Allen and his father grew closer after that. The next year Allen went to collage with plans to join the Reasoner party and rise up the political ladder like his Father. He’d almost finished his studies when the dictator died and nearly a year of political turmoil, including hundreds of imprisonments and dozens of assassinations, followed.
While in collage, Allen had gotten chances to discover old works and histories he’d never dreamed of. Books on the founding of America and strange ideas that government should be by the people and for the people. When his own father was murdered part way through the struggle for power, Allen lost all faith in the Reasoner cause and abandoned it completely. He went into hiding, joined with with a small group of rebels, and quickly rose to be their leader, learning as he went. Now, at age twenty five, he has recently met Titus, who’s coupled to Gideon’s Sword, and is hoping to work with the Christians in one overwhelming revolt against the Reasoners.
While not a Christian himself, Allen has a grudging respect for the ‘religious ones’, if for no other reason than because they’ve managed to survive the Reasoners for over fifty year. He has few friends and doesn’t trust others easily. And, though he puts on a careless face, Allen is serious and conflicted underneath. He’s drifting, with nothing but his hatred of the Reasoners holding him together.

Titus Stephen West

My sister asked me why I did my first character profile for Scarlet Rose on a man who was hardly even in the first book. Because I wanted to, for some reason, I suppose. But the character today plays quite a big role in all three books.
Meet Titus Stephen West. At twenty, he’s the oldest child in the West family. Anna is two years younger and they’ve always been close. Ever since a narrow escape from Reasoner police, when Titus was only six, Anna has looked on him as a bit of a hero. And Titus has viewed her protection as his own personal duty. This isn’t to say he didn’t love his other siblings as well; they were all dear to him and when his mother, David, Bethany, and Sarah died, he masked his sorrow in silent grim work to save as many others as he could. And the incident has only enforced his protective attitude toward his two remaining sisters, Anna and Elizabeth.
Though two years have passed, and his sorrow has dulled, Titus is still serious, cautious, and very intense…and not without reason seeing he’s faced the possibility of death his whole life. He isn’t without a sense of humor however, which can appear at the most unexpected times…normally in the form of a very dry or sarcastic comment.
Titus is a strong Christian. He also has very strong political views…mainly that the Reasoners need to be thrown out of the government and the people should reclaim their freedoms. He is willing to fight for what he believes, but isn’t going to lead a rebellion himself. He doesn’t plan on getting married until America is free, however. And he intends to spend his whole life in the meantime doing what he does best, protecting the innocent.
How does he do this? Well, you must promise to keep this a secret but Titus is the second most powerful man in Gideon’s Sword. He is in fact, Sword himself…the code name referring to the leader of the military part of Gideon’s Sword. Though the Christians do not attack Reasoner patrols, they do set up sentries around safe houses and house churches and will defend themselves and buy time for the woman and children to escape. Titus has also led over a dozen successful prison breaks to rescue Christians the Reasoners have captured.
A few fun facts about Titus. He loves chess and refers to his sister, Anna, as the queen. He likes old classics, like Lord of the Rings and a particular seven book fantasy series by a certain author, Hope Schmidt (well, perhaps not). His favorite color is deep indigo blue and he likes to wear steel tipped boots. He carries several knives and is an excellent shot with about any gun.
Titus is a great friend, a loyal comrade, and a confident fighter. His friendship is a great asset. And if you are his enemy…well, all I can say is watch out. And, under no circumstance, mess with his sister.

 

Tramping of Feet

One of my first articles was on the speed and distance of horses. Now I’ve decided to write about the same topic as it relates to men and armies.
 
 A healthy adult, who is used to walking, can walk an average of 20-30 miles a day. Many trained walkers finish the 26.2 mile Portland Marathon in around seven hours…without taking breaks. If the walker does take breaks 20 miles a day is reasonable, while a steady walker with no breaks could cover 30 miles a day. Historically, the Western pioneers, where many people walked along with the wagons, normally covered around 20 miles a day.
The official average of a human’s walking speed is 3.1 mph. Now, obviously, there are variations to this speed if someone is old, young, or sick. Or if they haven’t walked very much. According to one account, a beginner can walk six miles in two hours fairly easily while ten or more miles will likely cause some blisters.
Figuring out running speeds is a bit trickier. People (and note that I’m talking about healthy trained adults) can sprint at 15.9 mph which equals 100 meters in 13-14 seconds. Now, seeing the Olympic qualifying time in 2012 was 10.18 seconds for 100 meters in the case of men (11.29 for women) the average person may or may not be able to run that quickly or for that long.
A moderately fit man should be able to run a mile in nine minutes. Two or three minutes can be cut off for a trained man and the record of a mile hovers under four minutes.
For distance running, I was finally forced to look up marathons for information (everything else seemed to be about health and fitness). In any case, the average finishing time for a 26.2 mile marathon in the USA is four hours, nineteen minutes for men and four hours, forty-four minutes for women. This equals a 9.5-10.5 mph speed kept up for the better part of a day. Elite marathon runners can finish the race in a little over two hours, but this is not a common case.
If a runner is needed in a story (or if it is the main character running) it’s not unusual for them to travel faster than the average person, so here are a few running records to give you something to base your times on. Remember, however, that the speeds listed below are on smooth tracks…not cross-country as most runners in a book will probably be.
Mile: 3 minutes, 43 seconds
5000 meters: 12 minutes, 37 seconds
10,000 meters: 26 minutes, 18 seconds
Half a Marathon: 58 minutes, 23 seconds
Marathon: 2 hours, 3 minutes, 59 seconds
Records that might be a bit more applicable include cross country times of 1 hour, 11 minutes for half a marathon.
And finally, army speeds. 15-18 miles a day seem to be about the average speed (with the army traveling around seven hours a day). 5-10 miles a day could be reasonable for a peasant army while a fully mounted army could travel around 30 miles a day. Forced marches, obviously, could would move the army faster for a day or two, perhaps doubling the average speed.

Walking source

Marathon source

Running record source

Army marching source

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Kagan Trent

So I’ve decided to do character profiles for Scarlet Rose, one a week for..well, I don’t know for how long. For awhile. So, first off, Kagan Trent.
Kagan Trent is 34 and is a quite complicated character. He’s a minor character in Scarlet Rose, though his importance will grow through the next two books…and I still haven’t figured out an end for him. He is, simply put, a Reasoner interrogator in a prison in Elkbend, and quite a ruthless interrogator at that.
While a child, Kagan had a rocky relationship with his father. His parents divorced when he was just five. He never knew his mother very well…she died when he was sixteen. His father, however was stern. He taught his young son that working hard and gaining a good position was all that ever mattered. But no matter how hard Kagan worked, nothing was ever good enough. And, though Kagan’s father died six years ago, Kagan is still determined to rise higher and higher, proving his father’s ideas about him wrong.
Currently, Kagan is working as an interrogator of Christians and Rebels in East Elkbend Penitentiary. His goal is to become chief interrogator of the whole of Elkbend with a possibility of moving on to larger prisons in Chicago, the capital of the United Reasoner States. And his present assignment is finding the Scarlet Rose and wringing from her information about the Christian underground. The problem? He has a suspicion that Anna West, the Christian girl who was arrested a few days ago, either knows about the Scarlet Rose or may actually be the Rose. Only she’s been mistaken for another prisoner and had her memories replaced, so not only can Kagan not question her but she’s loose, thinking she is someone else, and liable to remember her own identity any time and take off to the wind. He wants her in a cell but Oliver Pent and the scientists will have none of it.
In any case, Kagan is cruel. He’ll do what he needs to get done what he wants. If you make him angry, there’s no telling what he’ll do, probably kill you…you you’re lucky. But, in recent times, his focus has been so on the Scarlet Rose that he sometimes lets others go. He has a tender spot for young lads and for dogs. He loves the beasts. A dog was his only friend when he was young and he always seems to have a few about his house…normally strays that he’s rescued.
A tragic character, obsessed with finding the Scarlet Rose, Kagan hates Christians and has no love for the Reasoners. And all he sees before him is a chance for power. And beyond that, nothingness.

By Arrow Swift

Bows of many kinds appear in fantasy writing, among them the crossbow and long bow. Which one your character or army should use depends upon the culture, armor, and many other factors.
The crossbow was the first hand-held weapon that an untrained soldier could use to injure or kill a knight in late Medieval times. The most powerful crossbows could penetrate plate armor, killing at 200 yards or more. Longbowmen could also pierce plate armor up to 250 yards. The largest difficulty was that longbowmen were normally highly trained soldiers, who’d practiced from their youth to master archery. They were expensive and not easily replaced.
Anyone, on the other hand, could use a crossbow. They were easier to aim and could be loaded before hand, allowing a man to shoot quickly if surprised. But reloading took much longer. A soldier with a crossbow could shoot 2-3 times in a minute while an experienced longbowman would loose 10-12 arrows in the same time.
A crossbow could cast a bolt about 370-380 yards. Throughout Medieval times, crossbows became more powerful and one bolt from an actual Medieval crossbow shot 490 yards.

Well-trained longbowmen could commonly shoot 250-350 yards. Some modern archers using reproduced longbows have shot 350-450 yards while there is a claim of one man loosing an arrow 482 yards with a longbow.

And a few more random, yet useful, facts:
  • An arrow (or a bolt, if it’s from a crossbow) is not ‘fired’. This is a mistake many people make and which I am probably guilty of myself. The term ‘fired’ is related to gunpowder. Arrows are ‘loosed’.
  • Crossbows are kept strung and loaded. Longbows are kept unstrung and (contrary to some movies and books) shouldn’t be hung over the shoulder.
  • Medieval longbows were made to measure, and ranged from 6-7 feet in length.
  • The wood of the longbow was protected with a rub of wax, resin, and fine tallow.
  • Arrows called short bodkins were used for piercing plate armor while others called swallowtails were used to bring down horses.
And so, crossbow or longbow? Or, my personal favorite, the recurve bow? I’ve sadly neglected the latter weapon in this article and plan on writing about it in the future. But each bow has various strengths and weaknesses, so in the end the choice of which one to use is yours (or maybe your character’s, if you let them get away with it).
First source and second source for article.
First picture (source)
Second picture (source)
Third picture (source)
Fourth picture (source)
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Thundering of Hooves

Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? 
Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. 
He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. 
He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. 
The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. 
He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. 
He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. 
Job 39:19-25
 
Horses are beautiful, powerful, and full of fascination. Whether leading charges in battle, carrying kings in triumphant marches, racing across plains with urgent messages, or working in fields and carrying packs for traders and peasants, horse take their place in many books.
But, as epic as horses can be in writing, there limits to what they can do. So how fast and how far can horses really travel?
Horses have four basic gaits.
1. Walk: averages 4 mph
2. Trot: averages 8 to 12 mph
3. Canter: averages 12-15 mph
4. Gallop: averages 25-30 mph
Now it is obvious that a horse can’t sustain a gallop for hours on end. Even after walking it will eventually get tired. Here are a few accounts of horses through history to give you some basic references.
Mounted knights, during medieval times, could move fairly fast and cover 50-60 miles per day. Traveling 20-30 miles a day was considered a good distance, however. (Source)
During the 1860s, the Pony Express horses averaged nine mph over 25 mile stages.
In the Middle East, 26 mile marathons are won in just over an hour.
Texas Rangers once rode 60 miles between noon and dusk.
Mongol horses were hardy. In a history book I read, it said a Mongol horse once covered 600 miles in a single day. That’s 25 miles an hour…a sustained gallop for 24 straight hours. Unfortunately I don’t remember what the book is called, so I can’t verify the source. And this is not something any horse could do. A mounted Mongol army could travel 130 miles in two days, moving without a break.
But how about common travel? Here’s a handy list of the average miles per day a horse can travel under different conditions. This is assuming the horse is suitable for riding, conditioned for overland travel, and in good health. Also assuming that the weather fair, the roads/trails are in good conditions, and the travelers are riding for about ten hours a day.

On Roads / trails
Level or rolling terrain: 40
Hilly terrain: 30
Mountainous terrain: 20

Off-Road (or unkempt trails etc)
Level/rolling grasslands: 30
Hilly grasslands: 25
Level/rolling forest/thick scrub: 20
Very hilly forest/thick scrub: 15
Un-blazed Mountain passes: 10
Marshland: 10

Different conditions will make a change in time, as seen below.

 

 
A horse pulling a cart or a heavily laden horse: half the distance
 

 

Trained horses and riders (rangers, scouts, messengers): add half to the distance…though a horse won’t be able to keep up this pace for more than a few days at a time. An exceptional horse could maybe double the time.
Poor weather (heavy rain or wind): reduce distances by a quarter
Bad weather (heavy snow): reduce distances by half if not more.

(Source)

 

Found on Pinterest

 

 

What about the exceptional horses who make epic runs to carry urgent messages of invasion or pleas for help? How fast can some horses be pushed?

 

 

 

The Trevis cup is a 100 mile competition covering rugged and mountainous trails in the western United States. The Arabian horses that win this race, with little or no baggage, usually reach the end after about 17 hours.
In 1935, 28 riders rode Akhal-Tekes, a rare breed of horses from Turkmenistan who are known for their endurance, from Ashkabad to Moscow, This 2,600 mile ride included 215 miles of the harsh Kara Kum desert. They finished in 84 days.
The Marquis of Huntly rode from Aberdeen, Scotland, to Inverness (105 miles) in seven hours using eight relays of horses. Each horse averaged 15 mph for around 13 miles.
In 1886, Frank Hopkins rose a stallion 1800 miles in 31 days. He averaged 58 miles a day, traveling no more than ten hours a day, and the horse finished in excellent condition.
Found on Pinterest
Now, I have no idea how far or fast winged horses can fly, but here is a picture of what such a creature might look like. I want one. Anyway, I hope this has been helpful. For more writing details on horses (in general), this website has quite a bit of useful information.

 

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The World in 2212

Found on Pinterest
A number of the futuristic books I’ve read or seen, with tyrannical governments that are overthrown, happen in a world where just the nation involved is left…the rest of the world has been destroyed in countless wars. Now while this is very convenient, from a writer’s point of view, the rest of the world is very much alive in my Scarlet Rose Trilogy.
But since they were around, I had to figure out what do do with them. The Scarlet Rose Trilogy takes place in the United States and other nations do not play a big part in the story. But to make it realistic, I knew I needed to mention other countries at some point or another. What is the rest of the world doing while civil war rages in the US? I had no clue. But, after drawing on history (what the major nations did during the Civil War in the 1860s) and finally focusing on my problem, I partitioned the nations of the world into distinct groups.
England and the European Federation (something I made up) will accept representatives of the rebels fairly quickly and, as the rebellion turns into full scale civil war, they will support the freedom fighters. They’ll offer aid to refugees and perhaps some help in weapons, but won’t commit their own troops.
This lack of ground support is mainly due to the strength of the Russia/China alliance who support the Reasoners. It’s an unspoken agreement of sorts…neither side will send ground troops to the civil war though they will supply their favored side with weapons and aid.
Australia has no such compunctions and gives aid in both weapons and (probably) some soldiers. Whether these soldiers will be in the books or will just be mentioned is another matter.
The African and South American nations are neutral. Most take representatives from both sides of the conflict, though some are partial one way or another. Most nations are too war-torn to care very much about the civil war, though scattered aid groups based in different countries do send some help.
Canada is kind of like Switzerland during WWII. They remain neutral but (in spirit) support the rebels. Fugitives occasionally take refuge there and the Reasoners dare not attack for fear of drawing Canada into the war on the side of the rebels.
Mexico is also neutral though it (in spirit) sides with the Reasoners. Bands of robbers sometimes raid across the border and it is suspected that they do so with government permission…though the government actively denies such claims. These roving bands must be dealt with, though I don’t know how much this will come into the story either.
Disclaimer: This is merely my division of the world for the sake of my book. If you live outside the USA, please don’t take offense at how I’ve portrayed your country. I will admit that I may have some slight prejudice for or against some nations (though not the people of those nations) due to world history I’ve read…but don’t take it personally if your nation is viewed in a more unfavorable light than others. I had to balance the ‘good’ nations against the ‘bad’ simply for the sake of the story.

By Blade and Mettle

 
Swords and sword fights appear in many books and movies. It is also a subject that many writers work with, especially if you write lots of fantasy. Now, if you are anything like me, you may have seen sword fights in movies like Prince Caspian or The Princess Bride and base your own fights off common and seemingly ‘standard’ warrior moves and tactics.
But as I read more about swords, I realized a fact I already knew but didn’t think too much about. The swordmanship in most movies and books is for show only. Real sword fights were much different.
First there are a number of misconceptions about swords, some of which I was surprised to learn myself.
For starters, swords do not weigh 10 to 12 pounds. They were really not very heavy, averaging around 2.5 pounds apiece. Even the large, two-handed blades weren’t normally heavier than 4 pounds. (Now of course in a fantasy world your swords might be heavy. The swords I’ll be talking about in this article are Medieval type swords.)
Also, swords didn’t have blunt edges. Well, actually this depends on what the sword is meant for. If is is a thrusting weapon, then it might just have a well defined tip. But otherwise the swords edges could be sharp and many Medieval swords have been found with edges still sharp. One note…however sharp they were, swords were not meant to cut through armor. That was the whole point of armor, to protect the wearer from the sword. Even thrusting swords were designed to stab through the joints of the armor, not through the armor itself. (Now of course, you might have a super-strong warrior or an armor-cutting sword or something like that, but as a general rule…)
Now about the fights themselves. In most sword fights you see and read about, the blades constantly clash against each other, normally edge against edge. A more realistic scenario is one fighter parring the blade of another with the flat of his sword to avoid damaging to the edge of the blade. But there are other moves to a fight than just metal-bashing, including (at times) simply moving the sword aside so the opponents sword cuts nothing but empty air. Real sword-fighters were less animated and more cautious than many actors performing their choreographed moves. And sword fights general did not take long.
Now let me say right here that the information for this latter part of the article comes from a book I bought and read awhile back. It’s the best resource I’ve found for learning about realistic sword fighting enough to write about it (without learning how to sword fight myself. It’s called Medieval Swordsmanship by John Clements.)
Anyway, the credits for the list of things not to do in a sword fight (below) comes from the book I just mentioned, though I have reworded it a bit. These are notorious and common cliches of choreographed fighting which would (probably) never happen on a battlefield. 
  • Long, dramatic pauses as two foes lock swords and deliver terse short (and, admittedly at times, cool) lines. Swords, when they lock, only pause the fight for the fraction of a second. And, when a person is fighting for their life, they don’t stop to for cute insults and comebacks.
  • Punching and kicking when there’s an opening instead of just cutting or stabbing.
  • Closing in to hit the enemy with the hilt or pommel of the sword instead of the blade (there might be a time when a soldier does use his hilt, but if the fighter can use his sword, then he’ll use his sword).
  • Finishing off the enemy with a simple stab after minutes of nothing but trying to hack at him throughout the fight.
  • Spinning and twirling the sword in one hand during the middle of a battle (or the warrior spinning himself) might look cool but will probably be the last dramatic act the spinner will ever make.
  • Swinging at a disarmed opponent yet still missing him over and over. I mean, the person might be quick, but in a logical situation, he’ll probably be hurt or killed pretty quickly.
  • Missing a strike so that the inertia of the blow spins the attacker around.
  • Having the hero lose his sword and recover it. Sure, it could happen…maybe. It’s cool in books and movies. But for real life, if a soldier loses his sword he’ll probably be killed before he recovers it.
And really…how come the hero can spend ten minutes in a duel with the villain just before or after cutting down ten of minions in one minute? It’s just what happens in a book or movie, but that doesn’t make it realistic. (Not to say I am innocent of this myself, but it is something to keep in mind.)
Anyway, those are a few myths corrected and a few tips on what is not a realistic way to fight. For more information on how a sword fight should progress, I highly recommend the book I linked above.
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Elentisa

Originally the two countries in The Shield and Spear were Celestia and Voland (Celestia being the country where Thaniel lives). But the name ‘Celestia’ has been used too many times and it is a bit too common, and so I ended up changing the name to Elentisa. This means, among other things, that I need to make a new map of my country. But I don’t know when I’ll get around to that and so I’ve included a copy of the old map below.