I don't promote too many Kickstarters even though I get a number of requests. Not all of them fit the mold of the blog subject matter and very rarely am I interested anyway, but that's mostly because I don't spend all that much time looking up Kickstarters. It would relieve me of my already limited funds way too easily hence the avoidance in general.
I am, however, interested in the Neverland's Library Anthology that is being Kickstarted at the moment because, well, look at this list of authors along with that beautiful cover above:
There's no wonder it's already been funded. Roger Bellini asked me to post an exclusive excerpt from the anthology and of course I jumped at the chance. This one's from one of my favorites, Tim Marquitz.
Without further blah blah blah...
Redemption at Knife’s End
He wound his way to the horse rail that separated the tavern from the road, and slipped around the far end. The weathered planks of the porch creaked beneath his feet but against his instincts, he did nothing to quiet the sound. A few heads turned his way, a handful of men carrying on a loud conversation near the door, but no stares lingered. Gryl breathed a relieved sigh as they went back to their talk, and then crept closer, squeezing past the men with effort to avoid bumping them. He could smell the alcohol that clung to their sweat. They’d be easy to rile in such states, and he didn’t want that. Not yet, at least.
The discordant wail of drunk-fingered players struck him when he entered the tavern. The banners, which hung from the thick rafters above, fluttered as though the music was a physical force. Patrons gathered about an inebriated foursome who plucked away, almost at random, at the instruments in their laps, a fifth’s drumming so poorly timed it was if he was playing to his heartbeat. It made for poor accompaniment, but with that cluster of people enthralled by the attempt, Gryl let his eyes wander to take in the rest of the Broken Lizard.
Though Korbitt was nowhere to be seen, his men had found a home near the stairs, their table pressed into the far corner. They sat in a loose half-circle, most of their backs to the wall. Each was armed with a sword and short blades. They wore an assortment of armor, but none were without it. They hadn’t come to celebrate. That meant the other men the woman was bringing would be prepared the same as their companions, shifting the odds against him.
Time had run short.
Gryl quickly confirmed Vai was nowhere amidst the twenty-odd patrons of the bar and hoped Rayk had told him the truth. He moved close to the wall and headed for the stairs, suspecting Korbitt would be up there with the girl. Nothing in the tavern noises suggested Gryl had been noticed, so he went on. He cast furtive glances at the mercenaries from beneath the cover of his hood, but like the men outside, they seemed too involved to care about anything outside of their circle. That was perfect.
He reached the banister and grasped its rail, setting foot on the first step.
“And just where do you think you’re going?” A mercenary asked; one he hadn’t seen.
Gryl ignored him and took a few more steps.
“I’m talking to you, you drunken son of a sheep-assed whore.” The man came around behind, chest puffed with misappropriated authority.
Chairs scraped across the wooden floors as the rest of the men got to their feet and started over. Gryl bowed his head. This was what he was trying to avoid. He muttered an incoherent apology and turned with aggravating slowness, but remained on the stairs. These weren’t the kind of men to simply let him apologize and walk away without consequence. He cast his eyes across the tavern for the clearest route to the door.
“Come here,” another of the mercenaries called out, waving him down. He already had a dagger in his hand, the steel shining in the glow of the lanterns. Several more men wandered over to be a part of the commotion. The charade had come to an inglorious end. He looked up at them.
“I know you,” the first said, his face twisted in an effort to place a name to the memory of Gryl’s face. “You’re—”
Gryl didn’t let him finish. He snapped the clasp of his cloak and spun it off, loosing it in their direction before he leapt over the banister. He bounced across a table and onto the floor as the mercenaries flung his cloak aside and gave chase, weapons drawn. The makeshift musicians stopped their clatter and the tavern went silent, Gryl drawing every open eye with his maneuver. He clenched his teeth hard, frustrated he was forced to abandon the stairs with Vai so close, but he couldn’t risk bringing a ravaging army to her doorstep. As of now, the mercenaries knew nothing of his purpose at the Lizard even if he had been recognized. As long as they didn’t stop him, they would never know why he was there. He made to bolt for the door.
Right then, the buxom woman burst into the tavern. A dozen men in ramshackle armor stormed in behind her, seeming curious about the disconcerting silence. Their eyes went wide at the scene before them. The woman screamed and bolted, shoving her way past the men at her back, but the mercenaries weren’t so easily dismissed. The smell of blood was in the air. They drew their weapons and advanced to reinforce their companions.
Check out the Kickstarter for Neverland's Library Fantasy Anthology here. In case you don't know who Tim Marquitz is (new to the blog?):
He is the author of numerous books, including the Demon Squad series and Blood War trilogy. His most recent project is editing the Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters anthology.