Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

Aquila’s War: Chapter 3, Part 2

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First time reading? Catch up with everything on the Wingborn page.

Previous Chapter ~

This continues straight on from the last update. It’s a big scene in a massive chapter, so I had to split it somewhere.

Continue reading “Aquila’s War: Chapter 3, Part 2”

A Bit of Me, Overworld, Updates, Writing

NaNo 2017 Progress Report 1

So far, so tentatively good. I haven’t had a chance to write anything today, which is annoying because I know exactly what I wanted to do, but alas, life and admin got in the way. However, I have plans for getting lots more done tomorrow, which should hopefully carry me those annoying last few words over the 30K mark.

Progress! It is being made!

Have some snippets – no spoilers. (I don’t think…)

Aquila’s War Ch 1

Lyrai hated it. It was all so fake and false. Give him the wild wind and a miryhl’s wings any day of the moon over this nonsense.

Lyrai, Chapter 1

Day 2 – 2361 words
Overall – 4850 words

Aquila’s War Ch 2

“Don’t you dare speak to me of history. I have lived it.”

Lyrai, Chapter 2

Day 3 – 4520 words
Overall – 9370 words

Aquila’s War Ch 3 (½)

“They won’t keep anything they catch. Not in the narrow valley.”

Gedanon, Chapter 3

Day 4 – 2758 words
Overall – 12,128 words

Aquila’s War Ch 3 (½)

“Didn’t think.”
Clearly. “There’s a lot of that going around.”

Silveo, Chapter 3

Day 6 – 2880 words
Overall – 15,008 words

Aquila’s War Ch 4

“Cumulo says hello,” she murmured, and he smiled as he kissed her.

Mhysra, Chapter 4

Day 7 – 4252 words
Overall – 19,260 words

Aquila’s War Ch 5

You are needed, the dragon repeated. Your friends need you.

Mouse, Chapter 5

Day 8 – 3146 words
Overall – 22,406 words

Aquila’s War Ch 6

“Are you mocking your lieutenant, student?”
“Why, yes, sir,” she bowed to both Riders with a flourish, “I do believe I am.”
“Excellent.” Stirla gave her an approving nod. “Keep up the good work.”

Corin and Stirla, Chapter 6

Day 9 – 3215 words
Overall – 25,621 words

Aquila’s War Ch 7 + 8 (½)

No, there was nothing better than flying.

Lyrai, Chapter 7

Day 10 – 4243 words
Overall – 29,864 words

29,864 / 90,000 words. 33% done!

I might not be pushing on quite as fast as last year, but I’m pretty happy with it so far. Especially considering how out of practise I am and how much of my free time is being gobbled up by a greedy puppy. All in all, progress is good, and will hopefully pick up as the plot pace increases.

To all my fellow NaNo participants out there, I hope your stories are going well, and here’s to many more words to come!

Merry Saturday, everyone!

Free Fiction, Overworld, Writing

Surviving Stirla: Part 2


This is a free short story featuring characters from the Wingborn series.
For more stories and info about the novels, please head here.

|| Part One ||

This story takes place during Wingborn and features a survival skills lesson, taught by Lieutenant Stirla. If it were in the book it would appear just before Chapter 21.

Mouse and fire… what could possibly go wrong?

FIRE! ACTUAL FIRE! Gods, Mouse could hardly contain his excitement. He was going to learn how to make fire!

Not that he couldn’t light a fire. He was a country boy: he’d made up the hearth fire back at home more times than he cared to count. Even on the days when his brothers had pissed on the kindling and hidden the flint in order to get him into trouble. But he’d still lit it, because otherwise his father —

No. No. He wouldn’t think of that. He’d think of fire, and how to start it from scratch out in the wild. He’d listen to Lieutenant Stirla and learn how to survive. Not just in the wild, but everywhere. Because that’s what he wanted to be these days, a survivor. He didn’t want to think back to his life on the farm, or his brothers or father. He didn’t ever want to go back there. Not now, not ever. He’d far rather stay here at Aquila, where he had friends and instructors, where he could learn how to take care of himself, how to fight, how to survive.

There was no one here to lock him in the chest. No one hear to piss on his kindling. No one here to —

No. Stop.

Mouse shook his head firmly, dislodging his memories and tried to focus on what Lieutenant Stirla was saying. He was a big man, was Stirla, even bigger than Mouse’s father, taller than his brothers, with hands the size of dinner plates. But he wasn’t mean. He didn’t shout. He smiled, he joked, he laughed. He still made Mouse nervous when he came too close, but not because of fear. Or not just out of fear. He wanted to impress Lieutenant Stirla so much. He wanted to impress everyone. He wanted to be different. He wanted to be important, to be smart, to matter.

He stuck close to Derrain as Stirla urged them to break into groups and form smaller circles. Derrain was big too, but he was Mouse’s friend. He still wanted to impress him, but Derrain never made him nervous. Not like Mhysra. She was amazing. Mouse wanted to impress her all the time – no, not just impress her, he wanted to be her. Not just because she was Wingborn either, even though she and Cumulo were incredible in the sky. No, Mouse wanted to stand up to his family the way Mhysra had defied hers. She might have been quiet and a little shy at times, but she was strong. Mouse wanted to be strong too, so he nudged Derrain until he pulled Mhysra into their circle, along with Corin and Dhori.

His friends. Mouse’s friends. He’d never thought he’d have friends, and never ones as good as these. Nerves skittered through his body, making him bounce and jitter, even as they knelt down on the sandy floor and formed a little fire pit in the middle of their circle. He couldn’t sit still, this was too important.




He had to impress them all. He had to show them he was clever too, that he could be strong. That he would survive.

Lieutenant Stirla was talking as he walked around the room. Derrain and Corin moved away to collect kindling and wood. Mouse wriggling on his knees, waiting for the moment, waiting for his moment.

Stirla handed out flints to each circle, still talking, talking, talking. There was stuff about safety and covering tracks, watching out for damp wood and keeping back from the flames, blah, blah, blah. Mouse already knew how to light fires from flint sparks. That was easy.

“Here.” He grabbed the flint from Dhori’s hand. It wasn’t like Dhori needed it. He was so incredibly capable that he could probably light a fire just by sighing at a wood pile. But if he couldn’t, well, here was Mouse’s chance to show everyone what he could do, what he was capable of.

He might not know anything about how to fly a miryhl, he might not be any good with a weapon, nor add up his numbers too well, or remember his history just right, but he certainly knew how to use a flint to light a fire.

Stirla was still talking, this time about using twigs and fireboards and string and other things that Mouse wasn’t paying attention to. None of it mattered, because Derrain and Corin were back and they had kindling.

“Here. Let me,” Mouse insisted, heaping all the kindling into a big pile.

“I don’t think we’re suppose to use it all at once,” Derrain said, sounding amused as Mouse piled the wood on top. “We’ve a whole lesson to last through, you know.”

Mouse didn’t care. This was his one chance, his big chance, to impress everyone. He didn’t need to wait for the lieutenant to finish talking – because he was still going on and on and on and sounded as though he was never going to stop.

“Trust me,” Mouse said, feeling his jitters grow as he pulled his knife from his belt. “I know exactly what I’m doing.”

So saying, he angled his flint against the kindling and struck his knife blade against it. A shower of sparks fell onto the kindling, but nothing caught.

Frowning, Mouse tried again, harder this time.

Still nothing.

Growling with frustration and beginning to heat with embarrassment, he bent lower over his flint and struck, struck, struck, struck, struck, his knife becoming a blur as he scraped the flint again and again and again.

Sparks rained down, much like the weather beyond the window, and he began puffing hard from the effort.

“Hey!” someone shouted over the rushing filling Mouse’s ears. “Stop!”

Mouse scraped the flint one last time and looked up, blinking in confusion to find Stirla looming over him with a face like thunder. Just like back home. Just like his father.

He cringed downwards.

And the fire roared into life.


“SO,” LYRAI GREETED, sauntering into Stirla’s room that evening and sprawling in the armchair. “How was your day?”

Having been studying the worst of the damage in the mirror, sighing over the sight, Stirla eyed his friend over the bandages swathing his fingers. He rubbed the newly bald patch at the front of his head – which matched his missing eyebrows – and scowled. “I’ve had better.”

Grinning, Lyrai pulled an apple from his pocket and crunched into it. “Mouse and fire, eh?” he mumbled around his mouthful. “Who knew that would be such a… flammable combination? No wonder you were so cheerful at lunchtime. Everything went as planned, then?”

“Shut up, you arse,” Stirla huffed, stomping across the room to steal the apple from Lyrai’s hand.

At least, he tried, but with his fingers heavily wrapped in bandages, he merely thumped the fruit onto the floor.

Lyrai slowly finished chewing his mouthful as they both watched the shiny apple bounce over the carpet and roll under the dresser. “At least you didn’t burn down the practise barn.”

No, they’d just scorched the floor and the walls a bit. Gedanon was not happy.

“And you all made it out in one piece,” his friend continued, then looked Stirla over and grinned. “Mostly.”

Stirla made a rude gesture, but the effect was somewhat muted by the bandages.

Lyrai cackled.

“Some friend you are,” he groused bitterly.

His fellow lieutenant pulled another apple from his pocket and began to eat that instead. “Poor Stirla, why don’t you sit down and tell your Uncle Lyrai all about it? And try not to fret too much. Your eyebrows will grow back eventually, and I must say, the constantly surprised look is good for you. Lady Milluqua would approve.”

Having been lowering himself into the second armchair, ready to indeed tell his friend all about it, Stirla changed his mind. Bandages or no bandages, he was still perfectly capable of hauling his skinny runt of a so-called friend up by an arm and his collar and tossing him from the room.

Minus his apple, of course.

“Good to know you’re feeling better,” Lyrai chuckled, once he’d regained his feet. Standing in the hall, he straightened his uniform, smoothed his hair and shot Stirla a wink. “I’ll be sure to give Lady Mhysra a full report. Just so she can assure her sister of your rude health, of course.”

“Piss off, Runt,” Stirla growled, slamming the door on his friend’s laughter.

“Very rude health,” Lyrai shouted, pounding a farewell on the door before he left.

Stirla shook his head and took a vicious bite out of the apple, but this time when he returned to assess the damage in the mirror, he found himself smiling.

Thanks for reading!

Free Fiction, Overworld, Writing

Surviving Stirla: Part 1


This is a free short story featuring characters from the Wingborn series.
For more stories and info about the novels, please head here.

This story takes place during Wingborn and features a survival skills lesson, taught by Lieutenant Stirla. If it were in the book it would appear just before Chapter 21.

And yes, considering Stirla is teaching a group that includes Mhysra, Corin and most especially Mouse, it really is as dangerous as it sounds :D

Surviving Stirla

19th Gale Month

STIRLA WAS LOOKING forward to today. He’d been back at Aquila now for just over two months and, even if he did say so himself, he was definitely getting the hang of this teaching lark. Alongside his duties as a lieutenant, Stirla was feeling confident that he could do this. One day he would become a captain – and he hoped he would prove to be a good one.

He just had to get his students through their three years at Aquila first, equipping them with everything they would need to survive in the wild. Not that he ever intended to abandon them out there without him, but who knew what the Overworld would throw at them in the future?

Which brought him back to today’s lesson.

Grinning, he pushed his way into the classroom, delighted to see that his students had already pushed all the tables back against the walls, with the chairs stacked on top. They eyed him curiously as he sauntered towards the board at the head of the room, their looks turning wary as he rubbed his hands together with anticipation.

“Good afternoon, students,” he greeted cheerfully.

“Afternoon, sir,” they replied cautiously.

“Today’s a big day for all of you,” he announced, rocking on his toes and trying not to laugh as the first-years traded glances with each other. “You’ve been here for two moons already, and I’ve already taught you plenty about building shelters and telling good plants from bad. Now it’s time for the big one.”

Frowns and baffled expressions faced him, making Stirla smile. He had them nicely confused, which was how he preferred things. Well, all except for Dhori, of course. That lad had his arms folded over his chest, one dark eyebrow raised, a wry smile on his mouth, leaving Stirla in little doubt that he knew exactly what was coming.

Stirla raised both eyebrows at the student, silently asking if he was about to spoil his lieutenant’s fun. Dhori shook his head – smart lad.

Before anyone else could figure out the obvious, or start asking questions – as he could see Corin was itching to do – Stirla clapped his hands together. Their attention snapped towards him and he grinned once more.

“Come along, students. It’s time to face your fate.”


“WELL, THAT WAS nicely ominous,” Corin muttered as their class filed out of the doorway in Stirla’s wake. “What’s coming up next? Ritual sacrifice to appease the Gods in case we get caught out in a blizzard and separated from the rest of the Riders?”

Derrain and Mouse snickered and Mhysra smiled. While no one could deny that Stirla’s lessons were useful and full of all kinds of practical information they would all need one day or another, their lieutenant definitely favoured a dramatic style of teaching.

He taught them how to build a shelter in the forest, not because Riders often camped out in the wild and had to make do with the world around them, but in case one day their miryhl was caught up in a rogue gust of wind, separated from their flurry, thrown down a ravine and left wounded, with the Rider having to hike their way out in search of help.

Plant identification wasn’t simply to supplement supplies in the evening cook pot, but in case a great fireball struck the Overworld one night, killing off all civilisation as they knew it and leaving them to forage alone and starving in the uncaring wild.

Identifying poisonous berries had everything to do with future assassination attempts on despots attempting to seize control of the Riders.

Mhysra could not even imagine what they would be learning next, or what scenario Stirla had dreamt up to justify it.

“At least his lessons are never boring,” Mouse chortled, bouncing along as irrepressible as ever. Although he was usually the student who fretted the most over Stirla’s imaginary futures, he also seemed to revel more than most in the challenge of living up to each task. Even if he rarely did it well. Mouse was simply too bouncy and lively for patience. “I hope he’s going to teach us how to whittle our own weapons and how to hunt bears with twigs!”

“Just in case a great plague sweeps through the major cities, followed by catastrophic fires, and we have to take to the wild, existing solely on a diet of bunnies and berries,” Derrain said, winking at Mhysra. “And bears.”

She grinned as Mouse bounced even harder. “Oh! Oh! And we’ll learn how to make cutlery, ‘cause even the wilderness can be civilised some times. It’ll be so much fun!”

“I’ve never heard anyone get so excited over cutlery before,” Corin muttered.

Chuckling Derrain nudged his shoulder against hers. “Not even cutlery crafted out of three twigs and a bit of flint tied together with gut strings?”

“Ew.” Corin wrinkled her nose.

Even Mouse stopped bouncing long enough to pull a face. “No guts on the cutlery, Derry. That’s disgusting.”

“Maybe not the guts,” Dhori agreed, calm and quiet as always. “But sinew works wonders.”

Mouse and Corin both sent him a doubtful look. “What’s wrong with string?” Corin asked.

Dhori shrugged. “I thought we were taking to the wild with next to nothing, thanks to the plague and the fires and all. Not a lot of string in the woods.”

“We can use vines or something.” Corin dismissed his point with a wave.

Mhysra bit her lip and tried not to laugh as Dhori and Derrain traded exasperated glances. “I don’t think you’ll find many vines in the northern forests, Corin,” she told her friend.

While Corin shrugged over this unimportant detail, Mouse started bouncing again. “Oh, oh! We’ll make sure we flee to the southern forests then. It’s warmer down there. More animals to each too – and loads of vines!”

“And snakes and venomous spiders and as many things trying to eat you as you’re trying to eat. Not to mention the constant rain, the near unbearable heat, the flies and where even the plants want to take a bite out of you.” Derrain sounded almost cheery about it all.

“Sounds great!” Mouse remained unsquashable. “When do we leave?”

“Leave? For where? We’ve only just arrived.”

Mhysra wasn’t the only one to jump at the sound of Stirla’s voice. She and her friends had been so caught up in their conversation, none of them had realised they’d reached their destination.

Chuckling, their lieutenant led the way into a familiar, wide open room, with sand on the floor and the distant thump-thump-thump of the waterwheel in the workshop. The practise barn? Mhysra wasn’t the only one left frowning as she stepped inside and looked around, half expecting Master Gedanon to appear at any moment, wielding a practise sword and taking a swipe at each of them with it.

Yet as they filed inside and formed a loose circle around their lieutenant, no grumpy Ihran appeared to grumble at them. Nor did Master Derneon show up to smile and poke fun at his fellow instructor’s grouchy ways.

Stirla scuffed his feet on the sandy floor and looked around at their frowning faces. Then he smiled. “Usually I’d take you outside for this, but, well…” He indicated the nearest window, which looked out over the Lawn. The world beyond was grey and sodden and the wind was a near-constant whine around the citadel’s walls that Mhysra had learnt to mostly block out.

It was Gale Month and the weather was doing its absolute best to live up to expectations.

“Some might suggest that I wait until things clear up enough for us to continue this lesson outside,” Stirla went on. “But this is one of the most important skills I can teach you, and who knows, tomorrow the Gods might take it upon Themselves to throw another curse or catastrophe our way that’ll make the Cloud Sea look like a mild mist on a winter morn.” He paused to let them take in his newest scenario, making most of them chuckle, while Dhori simply shook his head. “So no time like the present.”

Clapping his hands and rubbing them together, as eager as a little boy at Midwinter, Stirla grinned at his curious class. “Let’s make fire.”

|| Part Two ||

Thanks for reading.