Outpost Goes on an Adventure

It’s that time again! Outpost, Book One in The Fylking, has left the Kindle Unlimited building and ventured out like an ornery cat into the great big world. If you do Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo or Smashwords, you can now get Outpost for only $2.99.

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Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

A race of immortal warriors who live by the sword.
A gate between the worlds.
Warriors, royals, seers and warlocks living in uneasy peace on one side of the Veil.
Until now.

In a war-torn realm occupied by a race of immortal warlords called the Fylking, trouble can reach cosmic proportions. Using the realm as a backwater outpost from which to fight an ancient war, the Fylking guard an interdimensional portal called the Gate. The Fylking’s enemies, who think nothing of annihilating a world to gain even a small advantage, are bent on destroying it.

After two centuries of peace, the realm is at war. A Gate warden with a tormented past discovers a warlock gathering an army that cannot die. A King’s ranger is snared in a trap that pits him against the Fylking’s enemies. And a knitter discovers an inborn power revered by the gods themselves. Caught in a maelstrom of murder, treachery, sorcery and war, they must rally to protect the Gate against a plot that will violate the balance of cosmos, destroy the Fylking and leave the world in ruins.

The god they serve is as fickle as a crow.

“The tone is excellent, reminiscent of some of the earliest examples of grim Norse fantasy.” – G.R. Matthews, Fantasy Faction

© F.T. McKinstry 2018. All Rights Reserved.

The Winged Hunter

The Winged Hunter Cover

Tansel is a gardener with a healer’s hand. Fey, they call her.
Her aunt, a dabbler in hedge witchery, calls her cursed.
To the most powerful wizards in the land, she is an enigma.

The Winged Hunter is the third book in the Chronicles of Ealiron, a heroic fantasy series that revolves around an assassin called Lorth of Ostarin, an assassin and wizard who serves the old powers.

Deep in the heart of Loralin Forest, folks whisper of the crowharrow, an immortal predator with the body of a male god, towering black wings and the claws and fangs of a mountain cat. A legend, they say. But the wise know differently.

Tansel of Loralin is a gardener with a healer’s hand. Sheltered by solitude, innocence, and the secrets of three generations of troubled wizards, she does not understand why, during a personal crisis, a mysterious mage named Caelfar takes her away from her forest home under a premise of protection. But her aunt Aradia, a witch, has been waiting. She knows a terrible secret involving Caelfar and the crowharrow, a diabolical seducer and destroyer of women. When the beast casts its spell on Tansel, only Aradia knows what it means.

Caelfar, while enormously powerful, is very old and worn for reasons long buried in his past. His desperation to protect Tansel from the crowharrow and a strong distrust of Aradia’s motives drives him to summon a wizard named Eaglin of Ostarin, the son of a god and master of the old powers. When Eaglin answers this summons, he is confronted by a secret of his own, an old wound in his heart that takes shape as the crowharrow itself. Thus tormented, he journeys to Loralin accompanied by Lorth, a wizard-assassin with an inborn vision into the Otherworld, and with whom Eaglin shares a turbulent yet appreciative history.

Sheltered by the wilds her entire life, Tansel is ill prepared to deal with the intensity of an immortal seduction spell, let alone the long shadows of wizards and the complexities of family politics. At the hands of the Otherworld, she and the wizards are swept up in a whirlwind of peril, deception, and upheaval that exposes a devastating connection between the crowharrow and Tansel’s bloodline.

Unfortunately, healing this curse will require a terrible sacrifice.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Can be read as a standalone story.

Novel, 270 pages
Second Edition.
Ebook includes a Glossary and a link to Maps.
Glossary
Map of Ealiron: Sourcesee
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“The novel resonates with the beauty of the natural world, of gardens and the numinous earth.” – Michael D. Smith, author of the Jack Commer Series

“The Winged Hunter is set in a world that is one of the most detailed I’ve seen in quite some time. The book contains rich description of sights and sounds that while evocative of the real world, have that touch of the fantastical that you can only find in epic fantasy.” – Patricia D. Eddy, Author Alliance

“The Winged Hunter provides another fresh look at a fantasy landscape. It is a quiet but powerful tale of innocence and maturity, broken promises, and the value of a well-kept garden.” – Alex Willging, Mr. Rhapsodist

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

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© F.T. McKinstry 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Chocolate, Metal and The Wolf Lords

I’ve just put the last line down of The Wolf Lords, Book Two in The Fylking. I should be dancing around, and some ghostly part of me is, I suppose, but the rest of me feels empty. Every time.

Staring into the void. It’s like something from the book itself, a nasty warlock’s spell that brings everything into some bleak dimension, throwing mortals, demons and gods alike into an existential crisis.

Let’s see. Chocolate, coffee, ice cream, scotch, they might help. Metal, naa, that doesn’t count, I’m always doing that. Well, chocolate too, for that matter. Oh, and coffee.

 
Editing! That’s next. Fortunately, I’m one of those sick bastards who loves editing. Under my reign, this will be bloody–and when my editor gets hold of it, then the real carnage will begin. Just in time for Halloween, my favorite time of year.

 
Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Outpost Cover ArtOutpost, Book One in The Fylking.

A race of immortal warriors who live by the sword.

A gate between the worlds.

Warriors, royals, seers and warlocks living in uneasy peace on one side of the Veil.

Until now.

“The tone is excellent, reminiscent of some of the earliest examples of grim Norse fantasy.” – G.R. Matthews, Fantasy Faction

Finalist, SPFBO 2016

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

The Wolf Lords Cover ArtThe Wolf Lords, Book Two in The Fylking.

A wounded immortal warlock bent on reprisal.

An ancient order of sorcerers hungry for power.

Warriors beset by armies of demons and immortals.

And a lonely hedge witch whose dark secrets could change everything.

…If only they could find her.

 
 
© F.T. McKinstry 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Wizards, Woods and Gods

WWG Print Cover Art

The Otherworld takes shape in this collection of twelve stories told on a rich, fairytale tapestry of swords, sorcery, romance, dreams, visions and verse. Some of these stories inspired my novels; others were inspired by them; and some take place in the same worlds. Many of these stories have been published in fantasy/scifi magazines.

This second edition, available in ebook and print, includes Water Dark, a novella that takes place in the world featured in the Chronicles of Ealiron. Also included are “Earth Blood,” “The Om Tree,” and “Pattern Sense,” which are available on Smashwords for free. The first edition ebook of Wizards, Woods and Gods was published by Wild Child Publishing, 2012; and Water Dark was published by Wild Child Publishing, 2013.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Click on the following stories for illustrations and excerpts.

Earth Blood – The earth keeps secrets. A warrior discovers ancient power in his veins when he’s plunged into the political corruption of a war devised to hide the truth of his mother’s death.

The Om Tree – Trees know things. A tree planted by a god at the dawn of a forest and raised in close proximity to an energy well beneath a wizards’ citadel knows a great many things. In this story, a wizard-assassin loses what is most dear to him and thereby learns the true nature of his art.

Pattern Sense – It all started with a mouse. A knitter discovers the strengths and pitfalls of an ancient power through the love of a warrior.

The War God Sleeps – When a lush, fertile land is seized by drought, a lonely hermit’s son ventures deep into the hills in search of water and there awakes a beautiful, yet terrible god whom the world has learned to live without.

The Fifth Verse – An ancient immortal entity defies the rules of her kind by falling in love with a mortal warrior, an indiscretion that leaves her grieving, pregnant and dependent on the help of a wizard whose army was responsible for the death of her beloved.

Deathseer – Under the influence of a mysterious observatory, the commander of a fearsome army is trapped in a conflict that eventually costs him his honor and the life of his brother, and drives him to accept an inborn magical ability that changes his destiny.

The Trouble with Tansy – An orphaned girl on the threshold of womanhood inherits a splendid, mysterious garden from three generations of wisewomen. When a roguish wizard attempts to impress her by disrupting the seasons, she must turn to the old powers for help.

Marked – The mother of a fey child learns the pitfalls of mingling with immortals when her boy is taken by a ferocious winged monster at the request of the god who fathered him.

Eating Crow – A masterful, wayward shapeshiftress angers a wizard who curses her by summoning a diabolical immortal hunter that puts her near death and forces her to seek the wizard’s cat, a gentle, mystical creature that alone can heal her wounds.

The Bridge – A visionary who spent her life preparing for a planetary alignment that will materialize a beautiful nature spirit only she can perceive, descends into her blackest fears when she is abandoned to a war for which she is indirectly responsible.

The Origin – A woodsman discovers that he is a god who created everything around him to know the love of a woman whose mortality drives him to the brink of annihilation.

Water Dark – In the calm deep waters of the mind, the wolf waits. This novella is a tale of desire and deception told on a fairy-tale landscape of arcane texts, herbal lore, visions and disasters at the hands of the powerful.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

WWG Print Cover ArtSecond Edition
175 pages
Reviews
Story Illustrations
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© F.T. McKinstry 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Outpost: Terms and Places

outpost glossary

Welcome to the Glossary for Outpost, Book One in The Fylking. Here you’ll find names, places, creatures and terms, including illustrations and references to relevant entries and posts. This glossary (text only) is now included in the book.

Place names can be found on the following map. Click to zoom.

Realm of Dyrregin

Realm of Dyrregin (click to zoom)

A link to this map is included in the ebook edition’s Table of Contents.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Aegir Sea: A large sea south of the Njorth Sea beyond the borders of Skolvarin and Fjorgin.

Ageton: A captain in the King’s Rangers. Commands the North Branch.

Angvald: King of Dyrregin, House of Merhafr.

Annalis: A Warden of Dyrregin from Olsc Amathin. See also Wardens’ Order.

Anselm: Eldest son of Damjan, the Master of House Jarnstrom. See also Jarnstrom Forge.

Aoneg (ah NEG): A vast, forested realm five hundred leagues west of Skolvarin over the Aegir Sea.

Apex: A term used by the Fylking for Tower Sif, which stands on the northernmost point of the Gate in the Vale of Ason Tae. Here the world of Math merges with an array of other worlds on which the Fylking conduct their business. The first line of defense again their enemies, it is guarded accordingly. See also Ason Tae, Fylking, Gate, Sif.

Arcmael

Arcmael

Arcmael: A Warden of Dyrregin. Son and heir of Lord Detlef Halstaeg. See also Detlef Halstaeg, Wardens’ Order. See post The Wardens’ Order.

Arrival of the Fylking: A historical account, often told as a myth, of the arrival of the Fylking to the world of Math roughly nine thousand years ago. The term is also used to indicate a reference date. See also Fylking, Return of the Fylking. See post The Wardens’ Order.

Arvakr: A horse belonging to Captain Ageton of the North Branch of the King’s Rangers.

Ason Tae: A vale located on the northern border of Dyrregin, cradled by mountain ranges and forests. Being far north, somewhat isolated and home to Tower Sif, the Apex of the Gate, Ason Tae is thought by outlanders to be wild, uncanny and dangerous. See also Apex, Gate, Sif. See Map of Dyrregin.

The Vale of Ason Tae

The Vale of Ason Tae

Banishing Sigil: A spell used by wardens to banish the Fylking. Involves moving the hand in a specific pattern. Created by the Fylking and taught to wardens to honor and acknowledge their free will, the sigil prompts the Fylking to leave a warden’s presence until he or she decides otherwise. Upon the foundation of the Wardens’ Order, the Fylking vowed never to violate this agreement. See also Exile Sigil, Fylking, Wardens’ Order.

Bear’s End: A large, rambling inn on the North Mountain Road, in Wyrvith Forest, surrounded by mossy, overgrown ruins, crumbling walls and dangerous underground passages. Originally built as a keep by a Catskoll warlord called the Bear, it was never finished, and the destruction of the Catskoll army is shrouded in mystery. See also Catskoll, North Mountain Road, Wyrvith Forest.

BlackthornBlackthorn Guild: An order of witches and warlocks created by King Magnfred, the first ruler to claim Dyrregin’s throne after the Gate War. Traditional dress is shades of brown and green stitched with branches. See also Gate War.

Blanch River: A river in Austr just south of the Ogjan Mountains.

Bren: A King’s Ranger of the North Branch. Sensitive to the Otherworld. Best friend of Othin of Cae Forres.

Bythe: A goatherd who lives outside of Odr, in sight of Tower Sif in the Vale of Ason Tae. See also Ason Tae, Odr, Sif.

Cathouse: A brothel. In Dyrregin, it’s traditional for cathouses to keep actual cats as pets. See also Night Guild.

Catskoll: A realm south of Skolvarin over the Aegir Sea.

Ceirn River: A river flowing from Lake Ceirn into the Njorth Sea, south of Grayfen.

Coldevin: Lord and Master of Arms for the Dyrregin Guard. Reports to King Angvald. See also Dyrregin Guard.

Hooded Crow

Hooded Crow

Crow Warrior: A mysterious Otherworld being that appears as a warrior riding a gray horse, dressed in gray and black and wearing the face of a bird with a long, black beak. Often shapeshifts into a hooded crow. See post The Trickster.

Damjan: An acclaimed swordsmith and the Master of Jarnstrom, a famous smithy in Odr. See also Jarnstrom Forge, Odr.

Detlef Halstaeg: Lord and High Constable of the King’s Rangers. Cousin of the late King Farcas. Reports to Lord Coldevin. Father of Arcmael, a Warden of Dyrregin. See also King’s Rangers.

Diderik: a captain in the Dyrregin Guard.

Dog: A mutt rescued from a cruel owner by Arcmael, a Warden of Dyrregin.

Dragon Warrior: An Otherworld rider clad in shining black scaled armor and a helmet shaped like a dragon’s head. Able to summon wind and storms.

Draugr

Draugr

Draugr (DROG err): A malevolent being created by Fylking sorcery for the purpose of striking anguish and terror into one’s foes. The spirit of a mortally wounded warrior is trapped between the worlds in order to control it. Partly in the mortal dimension and partly beyond, the draugr are unnaturally strong, able to shapeshift into mist or fog, and cannot be killed. This magic is forbidden, a violation of Elivag. Colloquially referred to as “ghouls.” See also Elivag, Fylking. See post A Zombie by Any Other Name.

Dyrregin (deer EGG in): In Fylking, “gateway of the gods.” A war-torn realm on the world of Math that contains and is defined by the Gate, an interdimensional portal built nine thousand years ago by the Fylking. Bordered to the west by the Njorth Sea; to the north by Isil; to the east by Maan Ket; and to the south by Skolvarin. See also Fylking, Gate. See posts The Fylking and The Realm of Dyrregin. See Map of Dyrregin.

Dyrregin Guard: The army that defends the realm of Dyrregin. Commanded by Lord Coldevin.

Earticael: A royal house and the ruling seat of the realm of Fjorgin. Located roughly fifty leagues west of Tower Sie. See also Sie War.

Edon: A captain in the Dyrregin Guard. Commands the North Companies. See also North Companies.

Edros: A Warden of Dyrregin. Mysteriously vanishes near Tower Sor and is never found. See also Gatetower, Sor.

Elivag (ELL if aug): The eternal rhythm of the universe, the ebb and flow of life force in all things.

Elivag

Exile Sigil: An invocation that breaks the cords between a warden and the Fylking, rendering the warden invisible to them. Ruled by Elivag, it cannot be broken or undone. Rarely used and never to be considered except in dire circumstances. See also Banishing Sigil, Wardens’ Order.

Faersc Conservatory: A great hall nestled high in the Thorgrim Mountains, where wardens are trained and initiated into the Fylkings’ service. Run by Skadi, the Mistress of Faersc, and protected by the Fylking. See also Fylking, Wardens’ Order.

Fagel: The constable of Odr. See also Odr.

Farcas: A King of Dyrregin who preceded King Angvald. Cousin of Lord Detlef Halstaeg. Died by choking on the bones of a game bird. See also Detlef Halstaeg.

Fell: A town located on the west coast of Dyrregin, in southern Austr. Steep, built on cliffs and easily defended from invasion. Once owned by shipwrights.

Fenrir Brotherhood: An ancient order of sorcerers who serve Loki, one of the Old Gods. Founded in Fjorgin. Symbol is a black wolf surrounded by leaves, moons and thorns. See also Fjorgin, Leofwine, Old Gods.

Fjorgin: A realm west of Dyrregin, separated by the Njorth Sea. Ruling seat is Earticael. See also Sie War.

Fomor Mountains: A mountain range that borders Isil in the far north and overlooks the Wythe Strait.

Fylking (FELL king): A race of immortal warriors that came to the world of Math through a rare alignment and built a portal called the Gate in order to pass between dimensions at will. The Fylking are invisible to mortals except those who possess second sight, but can contact humans in visions, dreams or a sense of unreality. Fickle, powerful, adept shapeshifters, they are often feared and misunderstood by both humans and beings of the Otherworld, who revere them as gods. The Fylking fall into two orders: the High Fylking, warlords who occupy and protect the Gatetowers; and the Guardian Fylking, hired blades that protect wardens, the mortal seers who serve them. See also Gate, Gatetower, Guardian Fylking, High Fylking, Wardens’ Order. See post The Fylking.

The Fylking

Garmr: A Dyrregin Guard outpost in the Ogjan Mountains.

Gate: An interdimensional portal used by the Fylking to travel between the world of Math and other star systems. Pentagrammatic. Maintained by the Wardens’ Order and protected by the Fylking. See also Apex, Fylking, Gatetower, Wardens’ Order. See posts The Realm of Dyrregin, The Wardens’ Order.

Gate War: A war that occurred roughly twenty-five centuries ago when the Fylking’s enemy, the Niflsekt, came through the Gate. They trapped and killed the Fylking and instructed mortals to destroy the towers after the Niflsekt used them to leave. The war left Dyrregin in ruins for a thousand years, accursed, until the wardens’ descendants rebuilt the Gate. See also Gate, Niflsekt, Return of the Fylking, Wardens’ Order.

Gatekeepers: A term used by the Wardens of Dyrregin to refer to the High Fylking of Tower Sif, the grim, volatile Fylking warriors who initiate wardens into the order. See also High Fylking, Sif, Wardens’ Order.

Gatetower: One of ten stone towers that comprise the Gate. Each tower gathers light from the sun, moon and stars and focuses it into a complex crystal array, providing an energy source. Each tower stands on a point or intersection of the Gate pentacle. The outer towers (points) include Sif, Sin, Sae, Sef and Sie; and the inner towers (intersections) include Sor, Sol, Soc, Som and Sos. The gatetowers are manned by the High Fylking. See also Gate, High Fylking, Sie War, Wardens’ Order. See post The Wardens’ Order.

The Gate

The Gate

Genfawr: A captain in the King’s Rangers. Commands the West Branch.

Gottfrid: A male prostitute at the Pink Rose cathouse. Good with a sword.

Graebrok Forest: A large forest on the northern border of the Vale of Ason Tae. Surrounded by myths and dark tales. See also Ason Tae.

ravensGrayfen Aviary: One of many aviaries where the ravens that serve as messengers to the King’s Rangers are raised and trained. See also King’s Rangers.

Grayfen: A town located on the west coast of Dyrregin, in southern Austr. South of Fell and west of Lake Ceirn.

Guardian Fylking: Warriors who protect the Wardens of Dyrregin. In Fylking hierarchy, the Guardians are mercenaries. Each warden is accompanied by a small company of Guardians who choose him or her upon initiation, and appear in certain forms such as animals or elements so the warden will know them. Rarely, they appear in their natural forms as warriors. See also Fylking, High Fylking, Wardens’ Order.

Gunda: A spiteful, gossipy villager from Odr. See also Odr.

Haldor: A lieutenant in the Dyrregin Guard. Commands the North Companies stationed in Ason Tae. See also North Companies.

Halstaeg: A royal house in Merhafr. See also Arcmael, Detlef Halstaeg, Merhafr.

Heige: A King’s Ranger and friend of Othin of Cae Forres. An adept archer.

Hel: A goddess in the Fylking pantheon who rules the realms of the dead. Term is also used to refer to the underworld domain itself. See also Old Gods.

High Fylking: Elite warlords deployed to the gatetowers to protect the Gate from both human and nonhuman intervention. Always appear as fully armed warriors. Grim and generally intolerant of mortal concerns. See also Fylking, Gate, Guardian Fylking.

Ingvar: A captain in the Dyrregin Guard. Good at hand-to-hand combat.

Jarnstrom Forge: An old and renowned smithy on the North River in Odr. Known for swords and weaponry. Run by Master Damjan. See also Odr.

Kidge: The mistress of the Pink Rose cathouse. See also Pink Rose.

King’s Citadel: A large citadel in the center of Merhafr, the ruling seat of Dyrregin. Houses the king and royals of the realm.

King’s Rangers: An elite brotherhood of warriors who keep order in the wilds of Dyrregin. Employ a complex system of messaging through riders and ravens trained to scout patrol routes and recognize their rangers’ appearance. The rangers report directly to the king through five captains who command the areas within the arms of the Gate pentacle: North Branch, East Branch, Southeast Branch, Southwest Branch, and West Branch. Coat of arms is a sword and arrow crossed over a pale moon with an embossed interlocking pentacle spanning the diameter. Motto: “We keep the balance when the gods turn away.” See also Gate. See post Wildcards.

King's Rangers Coat of Arms

King’s Rangers Coat of Arms

Lake Ceirn: A large lake in southern Austr.

Larfen: a township south of Tower Sol, east of the Fasos Hills.

Leofwine: Seneschal of Lord Detlef Halstaeg. Fjorginan, House Earticael. Member of the Fenrir Brotherhood. See also Detlef Halstaeg, Fenrir Brotherhood.

Wolf WildcardLone Wolf: An inn located northeast of Vota near the border of Wyrvith Forest. See also Wyrvith Forest.

Lysalfheim Hall: A meeting hall in the King’s Citadel in Merhafr. Part of the Rangers’ Square used for meals, companionship, gatherings and official meetings. Named after a midwinter constellation which aligns with the upper three points of the Gate pentacle. See also King’s Citadel, King’s Rangers, Rangers’ Square.

Maan Ket: The realm bordering Dyrregin east of the Cyrilian Mountains. See Map of Dyrregin.

Magnfred: First King of Dyrregin to claim the throne after the Gate War. Started the Blackthorn Guild. See also Blackthorn Guild, Gate War.

Magreda: A prostitute at the Pink Rose cathouse. A friend of Othin of Cae Forres.

Melisande: A woman of Odr in the Vale of Ason Tae. Lives in Graebrok Forest near Tower Sif. Nicknamed Millie. A renowned knitter and lover of Othin of Cae Forres. Considered fey, touched by the gods. See also Ason Tae, Sif.

Merhafr: (mer HAHF er): Ruling seat of Dyrregin. A large port clustered around the King’s Citadel on the western coast of the realm, near Tower Sor. Includes an inner ring of walls and a second ring that forms a semicircle from the northern side of the harbor to the Taeson River that bounds the city to the south. See also Dyrregin, Sor.

Mermaid: A cathouse in Grayfen.

Mimir: A large, wooded swamp east of the Rue Hills, in Patanin. Treacherous and difficult to navigate.

Minos: A royal house in Earticael, the ruling seat of Fjorgin.

Moor’s Edge: An inn located in the wilds of Ylgr near the northwestern coast of Dyrregin on the Wythe Strait.

Nestor: A King’s Ranger deployed to the North Branch. Took over the Ason Tae patrol from Othin of Cae Forres.

Niflsekt: The ancient enemy of the Fylking. A race much like the Fylking, immortal and unseen, yet serving the dark side of balance. Responsible for the Gate War in which Dyrregin was annihilated and left in ruins. See also Fylking, Gate War.

Niflsekt

Niflsekt

Night Guild: Hired blades who protect the prostitutes in Dyrregin’s cathouses. The Guild was originally established by the kings of Dyrregin to honor what had become a venerable occupation in a realm that had known centuries of war. Guardsmen mark themselves by wearing a black band from shoulder to waist. Colloquially referred to by rangers and guardsmen as “bats.”

Norn: A being in the Fylking pantheon. The Norns rule fate and destiny; spinners, weavers, workers of magic. The term is used by the Fylking to refer to Melisande. See also Fylking, Melisande.

North Companies: A large force of Dyrregin Guard stationed in the Thorgrim Mountains and the Vale of Ason Tae, to protect the realm from invasion from the south and west. Commanded by Captain Edon.

North Mountain Road: The main thoroughfare from Vota to the Vale of Ason Tae. Passes through Wyrvith Forest, the Thorgrim Mountains and the Wolftooth Pass.

Odr: A village on the North River in the Vale of Ason Tae. Close to Tower Sif, the Apex of the Gate and its most perilous location. Having settled centuries ago so near the Fylking’s domain, Odrians are reputed to be reckless and fey. See also Apex, Ason Tae, Sif.

Ogjan Mountains: A mountain range in northern Austr, east of the Thorgrim Mountains bordering the Vale of Ason Tae.

Old Gods: The pantheon originally introduced to Math by the Fylking. Includes, among others: Balder, a sun god; Freya, a goddess of fertility; Hel, keeper of the realms of the dead; Loki, a mischievous trickster; Thor, a god of war and thunder; and Othin, the Allfather. See also Fylking, Othin.

Olja: Wife of Damjan, the Master of House Jarnstrom. See also Jarnstrom Forge.

Olsc Amathin: A realm in southern Maan Ket bordering Dyrregin.

Others: Beings who inhabit the Otherworld. See next.

Otherworld: The vast realm of the unseen existing beyond time and space; the source and reflection of physical events. Inhabited by an infinite variety of beings referred to as Others, including nature spirits, elves, goblins, phooka, planetary entities and other natural forces. This includes the Fylking, who occupy the unseen dimensions and are often, though not always, respected as gods. The Otherworld can be perceived by mortals with second sight, though interaction can be dangerous and is ill advised without training and protection. See also Fylking. See posts The Phooka, Goblins and Creepy Horses.

Others

Othin of Cae Forres

Othin of Cae Forres

Othin of Cae Forres: A King’s Ranger of the North Branch. Melisande’s lover. Named after Othin, the Allfather. See also Othin (next). See post Ranger of the North Branch.

Othin: One of the Old Gods; also called Allfather, Magician, Wanderer, Trickster and Raven God. Accompanied by ravens and wolves, he often appears as a mysterious blue-cloaked figure. A notorious shapeshifter, he is considered tricky, unreliable, yet wise. See also Old Gods. See posts The Raven God and Norse Mythology and the Voices in My Head.

Otter River Valley: A valley in the southern foothills of the Vale of Ason Tae. A day’s journey from Odr.

Ottersun: A far northern village beneath the Fomor Mountains overlooking the Wythe Strait.

Patanin: A realm between the Thorgrim Mountains and the Taeson River.

Phooka

The Phooka

Phooka: A creature of the Otherworld. A shape changer, part human at times, or part or all animal such as a goat or a horse, always with dark fur. Bleak, uncanny and generally wicked, yet can also be beneficial depending on mood or circumstance. Considered a prince in the between realms. See also Otherworld. See post The Phooka.

Pink Rose: A renowned cathouse in the coastal city of Fell. Managed by Mistress Kidge.

Pisskin: Melisande’s cat.

Prederi: A King’s Ranger and a friend of Othin of Cae Forres. See also King’s Rangers.

Rangers’ Square: A garrison in the King’s Citadel in Merhafr, containing rooms, baths, kitchens and training yards in which rangers live between patrols. Strategically positioned on the eastern side of the citadel closest to the gates. See also King’s Rangers.

Rangers: See King’s Rangers.

Return of the Fylking: A date in Dyrregin history used to indicate a number of years after the Fylking returned following the Gate War. The Fylking arrived in Dyrregin roughly 9000 years ago, and reigned for 6500 years until the Niflsekt destroyed the Gate. The realm lay accursed for 1000 years until the wardens returned and rebuilt the towers. After 300 years, the Fylking returned through the Gate, and the Dyrregin calendar marked a new age at that time. The present time in which Outpost takes place is Return of the Fylking, 1245. See also Arrival of the Fylking, Fylking, Gate War, Niflsekt.

The Ages of Dyrregin

The Ages of Dyrregin

Rosalie: The daughter of Lord Detlef Halstaeg and younger sister to Arcmael.

Sae: An outer gatetower located in southern Dyrregin roughly twenty-five leagues from the Skolvarin border. See also Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking.

Tower Sef

Tower Sef

Sef: An outer gatetower located in the Njorth Sea off Dyrregin’s southwestern coast. Over millennia, the sea engulfed the granite shoals around this tower, isolating it from land. The wardens now tend it by sea using boats. Sailors avoid it for fear of the Fylking. See also Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking.

Sie War: A war two hundred years ago between Dyrregin and Fjorgin. Since the establishment of the Gate by the Fylking, Dyrregin held the coastal lands in eastern Fjorgin, including Tower Sie. Fjorgin claimed and won all the lands west of the Njorth Sea. Afterwards, the two realms drew up the Njorth Treaty. See also Sie.

Sie: An outer gatetower located in the realm of Fjorgin across the Njorth Sea. Once part of Dyrregin, Tower Sie was lost in the Sie War, but is still tended by the Wardens’ Order under the protection of the Fylking. See also Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking, Sie War.

Tower Sif

Tower Sif

Sif: An outer gatetower located on the northernmost point of the Gate in the Vale of Ason Tae. Called the Apex, Tower Sif merges with other worlds and is the first line of defense from attack by the Fylking’s enemies. Guarded accordingly by grim Fylking warlords, Sif is enshrouded by dark tales. See also Apex, Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking, Niflsekt. See post The Wardens’ Order.

Sin: An outer gatetower located between the realm of Patanin and the Cyrilian Mountains bordering eastern Dyrregin. See also Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking.

Skadi: Mistress of the Faersc Conservatory. A seer who serves the Fylking and trains the Wardens of Dyrregin. See also Faersc Conservatory, Fylking, Wardens’ Order.

Skaut: A rangers’ station located in the southern foothills of the Vale of Ason Tae. See also King’s Rangers.

Skolvarin: The realm bordering Dyrregin to the south. Separated by the Great River. The army that defends the realm is called the Skolvarin Guard. See Map of Dyrregin.

Soc: An inner gatetower located in Vinland. See also Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking.

Sol: An inner gatetower located south of the Taeson River, fifty leagues due east of Tower Sor. See also Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking.

Som: An inner gatetower located in southern Dyrregin fifty leagues southwest of Vinland. See also Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking.

Sor: An inner gatetower located on the western coast of Dyrregin near the port city of Merhafr. Rumored to be inhabited by sullen Fylking warlords with a proclivity for harming mortals. Site of the mysterious disappearance of a warden named Edros. See also Edros, Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking, Merhafr.

Sos: An inner gatetower located twenty-five leagues due east of Vinland on a peninsula on the western coast of Dyrregin. See also Gate, Gatetower, High Fylking.

Spruce Road: A road that picks up near the northern fork of the Blanch River in Austr and passes through the valley on the western flank of the Thorgrim Mountains. Often used as an alternate route into the Vale of Ason Tae in the winter, when the Wolftooth Pass is snowed in. See also North Mountain Road.

Roads and Rivers

Stone River: A township in the Ogjan Mountains on the road between Dyrregin’s western coast and the Vale of Ason Tae.

Stony: A long-standing member of the Night Guild who watches over the Pink Rose cathouse. See also Night Guild.

Straelos: Son of Lord Detlef Halstaeg and younger brother to Arcmael.

Taeson River: A large river south of the Fasos Hills that passes through Merhafr and into the Njorth Sea.

Tahslen: A port city in southern Dyrregin, due east of Tower Sef in the Njorth Sea.

Tasn: A King’s Ranger and friend of Othin of Cae Forres.

Thorgrim Mountains: The great mountain range in Northern Dyrregin that borders the Vale of Ason Tae. Home of the Faersc Conservatory. The Wolftooth Pass provides the most direct route over the mountains to the north. See also Faersc Conservatory.

Tower View: A tavern in the lower city of Merhafr that stands on the Taeson River in view of Tower Sor. Colloquially nicknamed the “Sour View” in reference to the grisly and mysterious tales that surround the gatetower. See also Sor.

Ulfhidin: A King’s Ranger deployed to the North Branch by Lord Detlef Halstaeg under shady circumstances.

Valdros: A township and ruling seat of the northern interior realms of Fjorgin. Standard is a hawk in flight on an evergreen background, and warriors of the realm are marked by a tattoo showing the phase of the moon when they were born.

Vargn: A Fjorginan warlock of the Blackthorn Guild. Once apprenticed to the Faersc Conservatory to be trained as a warden, he was refused by the High Fylking of Tower Sif. See also Blackthorn Guild, Gatekeepers, High Fylking.

Veil: The invisible boundary between the mortal dimension and the Otherworld. Known to be more easily crossed in certain locations, or during certain seasonal or celestial events. Can be opened or closed by the Fylking or by mortals trained in the magical arts. See also Otherworld, Wyrvith Forest.

Vinso: Son of Damjan, the Master of House Jarnstrom. See also Jarnstrom Forge.

Vota: A city on the outskirts of Wyrvith Forest.

Warden: See Wardens’ Order.

Wardens’ Order: An order of seers established nine thousand years ago with the arrival of the Fylking, who taught humans the arts of interdimensional perception and the properties of light, energy, crystals and architecture. The wardens built the towers, watched over them with human eyes and maintained them over millennia, gathering the energies of celestial bodies to provide a bridge for their immortal warlords. In return the Fylking protected them, and gave them the honor of representing them to humankind. See also Fylking, Gate. See post The Wardens’ Order.

Weaver: A term used by beings in the Otherworld to refer to Melisande. See also Melisande, Otherworld.

Whisper: A raven handler at the Grayfen Aviary, so nicknamed because she speaks to the birds in very soft tones. See also Grayfen Aviary.

Wildcards: A set of game cards showing wild animals painted in their natural habitats and representing their abilities and place in the order of things. A favorite game played by rangers. See also King’s Rangers. See post Wildcards.

Wildcards

Wildcards

Wyrvith Forest: A vast, ancient forest in the foothills of the Thorgrim Mountains south of the Wolftooth Pass. Reputed to be a dense haunt of Others, the forest is marked by a thousands-year-old entrance, tall and covered in carvings of the Old Gods. A raven, a messenger of the Otherworld, is perched on top, its half-lifted wings representing the creature’s presence on both sides of the Veil. See also Old Gods, Otherworld, Veil.

Yarrow: A hedge witch of the Blackthorn Guild. Lives in the Otter River Valley in the Vale of Ason Tae.

Ylgr: A desolate realm of marshes, brush, bogs and dark woodlands, located in northern Dyrregin between the Fomor and Ogjan Mountains on the Wythe Strait. Not patrolled by the rangers. See also King’s Rangers.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Outpost Cover ArtOutpost, Book One in The Fylking.

A race of immortal warriors who live by the sword.
A gate between the worlds.
Warriors, royals, seers and warlocks living in uneasy peace on one side of the Veil.
Until now.

© F.T. McKinstry 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Read an Excerpt from Outpost

Outpost Cover Art

Prologue

Edros stepped up to the standing stone that marked the boundary of the Fylking’s domain. Smooth and unadorned, the ancient monolith offered no clues as to its purpose. But it had tales to tell.

The city of Merhafr, a dense, lively port clustered around the King’s Citadel, spread out behind him like shells cast over the rocky hills plunging into the Njorth Sea. Edros planted his staff with a breath and started up the path toward Tower Sor, perched on the distant crags rising from the plain. The tower’s presence, normally as rough and volatile as the ocean winds, lay cloaked in silence. Gulls wheeled and cried around the height.

A shepherd appeared over a rise, driving a small flock of sheep. When he saw Edros with his warden’s cloak and staff, he quickly directed the animals into the brush and stood with his head bowed. The warden murmured a greeting as he passed.

The calm that cloaked the sea at dawn had given way to the unruly rifts and white of heavy weather. Wind carried the scent of brine, heather and wild roses. The warden’s Guardian Fylking, who took the shapes of watery places, began to withdraw as they usually did in the presence of the High Fylking, who ruled the towers. Unseen by all but their wardens, the immortal warriors kept their oaths and vigils by the sword. One by one, a whisper in his ear, water lapping on a shore, a cold spot in a lake, fell into quiescence.

Sor was one of ten towers that defined the realm of Dyrregin. Five inner towers, each 50 leagues apart and 35 leagues from the center of the realm, stood on the intersections of lines between five outer towers. The resulting boundary formed the Gate, a pentacle with a diameter of 213 leagues. In the nine thousand suns since the Gate was built by the original wardens under the direction of the Fylking, the sea engulfed the granite shoals around one of the outer points, Tower Sef, isolating it from land and giving all sailors except wardens something to avoid, as they might a siren’s song. War took Tower Sie, a second outer point which stood in the realm of Fjorgin across the Njorth Sea. Politics, bloodshed and treaties aside, no one interfered with the wardens in their business there unless they wanted to risk being destroyed by their Fylking. Being relatively new to the Order, Edros had not yet journeyed to Fjorgin. But he had heard the stories.

Being deployed on the rugged coast for thousands of suns had given the High Fylking of Tower Sor sullen, moody dispositions. Like the sea, the warriors were rarely silent. Today, however, Edros felt only the storm. He gazed ahead, rallying his inner senses around the tower with unease. The last time he had felt such quiet up here was after he banished the Fylking for frightening a ranger so badly he had lost his footing and fallen to his death on the rocks below. Such things happened around the gatetowers sometimes. Not everyone believed the tales, and fools abounded regardless. But it was the wardens’ charge to protect the citizens as much as they could—or so the high constable of the King’s Rangers had needlessly reminded him.

It was said the ranger’s spirit wandered the cliffs beneath the tower, cursing the Fylking. That was nonsense. The Fylking would never stand for such a thing, even if they could cross the boundaries of their dimensions and those of the mortal dead.

Silence. Nothing but the sea, crying gulls and wind in the brush. The tower gazed down with a discomfiting stare. On a parapet crowning the top crouched the shapes of dragons—so the Fylking called them—reptilian creatures with scales, long snouts and large bat wings folded against sinuous bodies. The creatures’ snaky tails twined down into the stones. Their eyes were empty.

A subtle prickle touched the warden’s navel as he began his ascent up the winding steps. The ground fell away, the sea grew vast and the wind quickened. Dark clouds streaked the sky like an infection. He reached the door, a tall arch of weathered oak with iron hinges shaped like talons. Rain pelted him. As he entered, a screech echoed from the stones, followed by a rush of warm air carrying the scent of wood smoke. His mind went blank as the smell filled his lungs. An impossible smell, in this place.

Edros slipped through and closed the door. He had never entered a gatetower to anything but cold and damp—except for that time the High Fylking had greeted him with the smell of roast partridge, a jest aimed at the late King Farcas, who died last winter with a wing bone lodged in his throat. They had never liked him.

“Hail!” Edros called out, stepping from the shadow of the thick stone wall.

The interior of the gatetower was as large as a warlord’s feasting hall, a cylindrical well rising seventy feet to a ceiling glinting with quartz crystal. Narrow, steep steps spiraled up the walls to a hatch that accessed the top. Thin openings placed here and there in the heights aligned the light of the sun, stars and moon. The Fylking jokingly referred to these as arrow slits, though as far as Edros knew, the inaccessible windows had never been used for that.

His heart skipped a beat as he saw the source of the smoke. In the center of the floor, directly on top of the crystal circle that focused the light of the heavens for the Fylking, burned a fire. Heather and broom had been ripped from the roots, tossed into a pile and lit as if by lightning. An old man stood there warming his hands.

Stunned by this flagrant transgression of the Fylkings’ domain, Edros strode forward and yanked his hood from his face. “Are you mad?” he said, none too kindly. “What means this?”

Where were the High Fylking? They would turn a man to dust for building a fire in here! Chilled to the bone despite the heat, the warden opened his senses to the subtle murk of the rising storm. Wind whistled through the arrow slits, as cold and strange as a nightmare lost to memory.

The old man said nothing.

“How did you get in here?” Edros asked in a quieter voice. He and the man were not alone. He sensed the stormy presence of a Fylking filling the tower vaults. Immense and unfriendly, this Fylking had no care for humanity, even hidden by the lofty ascendancy of the unseen. His antipathy was tangible.

The warden moved his hand into a Banishing sigil, his fingers curling one after the other into a fist, like a many-legged sea creature withdrawing into a shell. It had no effect.

“Don’t trouble yourself with that,” the old man said. “The Sor Fylking are dead and your Guardians scattered to the wind.” He straightened his back and shrugged his tattered cloak to the floor. He was fully armed and clad in shades of brown and green stitched with branches, marking him as a votary of the Blackthorn Guild. Once a noble order of magicians created by King Magnfred, the first ruler to claim Dyrregin’s throne after the Gate War, the Guild had been stripped of its thorns over the centuries and now comprised a harmless assortment of hedge witches and warlocks that served the Old Gods and studied the forces of nature, mapping the heavens, concocting potions for common ailments, talking to crows.

Edros had never heard of a Blackthorn warlock wielding arms or associating with the Fylking. Aside from hair the color of ashes, he was not as old as he initially seemed. He had smooth flesh and eyes like winter twilight, pale gray and ice cold. Something about him stirred the warden’s memory.

“Do I know you?” he asked.

The warlock gazed back, his expression inscrutable but for a sliver of scorn.

Blackthorn, indeed. Edros struck the floor with his staff and raised his voice to the stormy presence enveloping the tower. “Show yourself! What Fylking would disregard a sigil cast by a Warden of Dyrregin? You are bound to an ancient oath.”

The wind howled and thunder shook the earth, driving rain and snow into the tower, the spiraling frozen tears of fallen warriors, five of them, beautiful and lying on the floor like felled trees in broken armor made of stars, long hair tangled in blood, and fair eyes staring at nothing.

Dead? He had not believed the claim.

Edros broke from his trance as the warlock moved. Before the warden understood the way of this, the intruder pulled a knife from his belt and hefted it by the blade. By his side stood the shimmering form of a tall warrior clad in black steel, wearing a helmet in the shape of the spike-crested, fanged creatures on the parapet.

Niflsekt.

It was the warden’s last thought as the knife struck him between the eyes.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

You can read the first several chapters of Outpost here.

Outpost Cover ArtOutpost, Book One in The Fylking.

A race of immortal warriors who live by the sword.
A gate between the worlds.
Warriors, royals, seers and warlocks living in uneasy peace on one side of the Veil.
Until now.

© F.T. McKinstry 2016. All Rights Reserved.

The Realm of Dyrregin

Realm of Dyrregin

Introducing Dyrregin, a realm on the world of Math featured in Outpost, Book One in The Fylking.

In the tongue of the Fylking, an immortal race of warriors akin to the Otherworld, Dyrregin means “gateway of the gods.” At war for millennia, the Fylking came to Math nine thousand suns ago during a rare alignment, and built a portal called the Gate which they use to travel between Dyrregin and nearby worlds that concern them. The Gate is built in the shape of a pentacle with a stone tower on each point. The towers gather light from the sun, moon and stars and focus it into crystals, providing an energy source.

Each gatetower is manned by five elite Fylking warriors who watch over the realm and protect their interests there. The Fylking can only be perceived by seers, whom they train to maintain the gatetowers.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Outpost Cover ArtOutpost, Book One in The Fylking.

A race of immortal warriors who live by the sword.
A gate between the worlds.
Warriors, royals, seers and warlocks living in uneasy peace on one side of the Veil.
Until now.

© F.T. McKinstry 2016. All Rights Reserved.