House Spirits to Keep You Company

House Spirits to Keep You Company


The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

The Great Hunt

Classic SFF Review

A Wizard’s Sacrifice by A. M. Justice – Cover Reveal and Excerpt

A Wizard’s Sacrifice

Cover Reveal & Excerpt


Monthly Short Story Winner: Evil Bad-Guys

Welcome back writers and readers! I hope all of you had a lovely October and a wonderful Halloween! Some of you may not know this, but November is a very special month for writing. You see November is National Novel Writing Month. And while the stories in our contest are far too short to qualify as novels, I thought I would take a moment to explain what myself and some of my fellow writers will be up to this month.

In honor of National Novel Writing Month totally insane returning authors and unknowing first timers take the challenge to write a 50,000 word (or longer) novel in 30 days, starting on November 1st and ending on November 30th. This action-packed, month long writing exercise is called NaNoWriMo. It is an intense, fun, and unique way to get your creative juices flowing. It can, not only kick start your writing, but also get you in the habit of writing every day.

Many of the writers on the Fantasy-Faction forums are participating this year (myself included). If you’re a participant or think you might like to be (there’s still time to catch up!), then you should check out our NaNo thread on the Writers’ Corner board.

And now onto the slightly shorter November writing contests.

September’s theme was evil bad-guys

Cloak by sarahlikedaffodils

Evil is everywhere, lurking around every corner, waiting to jump out when we least expect it. Nowhere is this more true than in fantasy stories. Whether it be a necromancer raising an undead army, a ruthless general trying to conquer a neighboring kingdom, or just an evil alchemist plotting his revenge against the story’s hero; in fantasy evil is everywhere. But not every villain is good at being bad. This month let’s take our stories in a new direction and look at things from evil’s point of view.

September’s challenge is to put a humorous spin on necromancers, evil geniuses, mad scientists, or whoever is trying to kill our heroes today.


1. Must be prose.
2. 1,500 – 2,000 words.
3. Must show your fantasy villain in a humorous or comical light.

And the winner of September’s challenge is Funky Scarecrow with 90.9% of the vote! You can read his story, “An Extract from the Pages of the Dark Lord’s Confessions”, at the end of this article. Congratulations Funky Scarecrow!

You can view all of our past winners’ entries here.

October’s theme was haunted forests

Forest by sparksoffire

A journey through a forest can be a peaceful and centering experience. The beauty of nature, the earth below and trees above, can leave a man or woman feeling at one with the world and make them a better person for it. You are not here to write about this type of forest. This month we will tell a darker tale, of haunted woods and frightening beasts, that most wish to never have cross their paths.

October’s challenge is to write a short story or scene involving an evil or spooky wood as the main setting.


1. Must be prose.
2. 1,500 – 2,000 words.
3. Must take place in a forest or wood and contain an element of fantasy.

You can vote for October’s winner here.

Voting ends on November 29th. Check back next month to see who wins!

November’s Writing Competition

Urban City Photo by DovieMoon

Our contest topics lately have been nature or emotion related. This month we are instead going to take a cue from the not so natural world and write a story set in a city. Now your city needn’t be a large metropolis like New York or Paris, it doesn’t even need to be set in the present day. But it should have the urban qualities, which people associate with city life. Whether it’s an ancient kingdom’s walled capital, Victorian era London, or a large modern city of steel and glass, get ready to show us the good or bad side of a fantasy city.

November’s challenge is to write a short story or scene set in a city.

The rules are as follows:

1. Must be prose.
2. 1,500 – 2,000 words.
3. Must take place in a city and contain an element of fantasy.

Contest ends November 30th!  If you’re interested, you can enter here.

Good luck to all entrants! And check back next month for more Writing Challenge fun!

Now please enjoy our winning story short story!

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“An Extract from the Pages of the Dark Lord’s Confessions”
by Funky Scarecrow

I really can’t believe you expected my answers to fit in the tiny amount of space allocated for them. However, I’ve complied with your wish that I write all of my previous answers down yet again, but this time on a separate parchment and with even more addenda for the clarifications you requested. Is this to be my punishment for my imagined crimes? Endlessly rewriting the same answers to the same silly questions? If so, can’t we just skip to the show trial and then have me hanged? It must be better than this tedium.

1. Grishnabolg Lundkovskyi, Emperor of the East, Lord of the Black Lands, Master of the Eleven Schools of Sorcery, Architect of Destruction, Bringer of Hellfire, Archduke of the Volcanic Lands of Lysolt, Journeyman Blacksmith (second class).

2. Not paying proper attention to an idiot farm boy with an ancient artefact.

(Addendum to 2.) What, the truth isn’t good enough for you? Fine! Being “evil”. Apparently subjective judgements of one’s moral character are enough to warrant being zapped with bolts of magical energy, illegally extradited and imprisoned, these days.

And genocide. Pointy eared little shits had it coming.

3. Some farm boy with a ludicrous haircut.

4. I don’t remember the exact time. I was too busy being zapped with a bolt of ancient magic. Ask the floppy haired fop who discharged it.

5. Really? You want to know what I was doing prior to my “arrest”? I was going about my business being an “evil emperor”. You know the sort of thing, ordering villages burned to the ground, having female prisoners oiled and brought to my chambers, evil rites of black magic, oppressing people, lurking malevolently in corridors, that sort of thing. What do you think I was doing?

I was doing paperwork. Do you have any idea how much paperwork goes into administering the empire? Of course you do, you’re making me fill out this ridiculous form. My memory is bit hazy, due to the above mentioned bolt of ancient magic, but if I recall correctly I was signing an order that declared all farmers in the empire be educated about crop rotation. Hungry people are a bit rubbish at expanding an empire.

6. I don’t remember. As stated above, I WAS ZAPPED WITH A BOLT OF ANCIENT MAGIC! No matter what you were doing beforehand, that tends to loom large in the memory. The bloody great zap of magical energy has driven every other memory from my mind. So far as I know, the sequence of events went as follows; Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, some farmboy with a ludicrous haircut saying something about the nasty rain being finished or something, bolt of magical energy.

7. What sort of question is that? Don’t you think if I’d been aware that some twit from the back country was going to come and zap me with the Phylactery of Whatever the Hell it Was, I might have taken a few precautions?

8. No. I deny the charge in the strongest possible terms. It’s just a tool. You might just as well charge an innkeeper who makes a bowl of soup you don’t like with “engaging in acts of black cookery”.

9. You’re not catching me out like that. I’ve never used “black” magic.

10. It depends on how you deprive depravity.

(Addendum to 10.) Is that all it takes? In that case, yes. If that boggles your minds, try the Jhendari Mouth Organ.

(Further Addendum to 10.) [Redacted by clerk of the court, for the sake of modesty]

(Further Addendum to 10.) Ask your wife.

11. Is that rumour still doing the rounds? What was I supposed to do, starve to death? How was I supposed to know that help was on the way?

(Addendum to 11.) That doesn’t mean they were looking for me.

12. They had it coming. Those trees weren’t doing anything where they were and I needed masts for my naval fleet. Just because the empire was landlocked at that time, didn’t mean it would be landlocked for ever.

(Addendum to 12.) Yes, all of them. I’ve got better things to do than look over my shoulder for pointy-eared, big-eyed, tree-huggers bent on vengeance.

13. Of course not. If I went around slaughtering entire generations of children every time some smelly old woman declared this one or that one to the Chosen This, Prophesied That or Foretold Other I’d rapidly run out of new recruits, wouldn’t I?

14. Yes. Does this facility have security measures? Of course it does. I’d be foolish not to have security measures in my own castles and fortresses.

(Addendum to 14.) I think it was rather ingenious, myself. It’s not everyone who can create a castle made entirely out of fire, levitate the whole thing 100 feet in the air and then man the walls with the souls of the damned.

15. A little bit.

(Addendum to 15.) 100,000 infantry troops, 35,000 cavalry troops, 5000 war machines and their crews, 500 dragonriders, plus the various supporting people necessary for an army of that size. It’s not the size of the army that matters, but the fact that none of it was my fault.

(Further Addendum to 15.) It’s not my fault they chose to stay there. I told them we were passing through there on the way to the Great Eastern Ocean. They could quite easily have moved.

(Further Addendum to 15.) Well I moved almost a quarter of a million people there, didn’t I? And yes, I believe 30 days notice was more than adequate notice for evacuating an entire country.

(Further Addendum to 15.) It was a very small country.

(Further Addendum to 15.) All they had to do was get out of the way for a couple of weeks, then go back to their lands and lives, get out of the way again for a couple of weeks during our return journey, then go back home again and just carry on as normal; with the exception of paying one quarter of all national income for the nice new highway I built for them.

(Further Addendum to 15.) Yes, the ground trampled by my passing army counts as a highway. It was lumpy before we arrived, flat after we’d passed through. Highway.

16. How dare you? They aren’t “abominations” as you so crudely call them. They are creatures, like any other. You just need to get to know them a little better. And be imprinted on them when they first leave the spawning pit. It probably helps if you’re naked when you deal with them, as well. Don’t know why, but they all seem to hate when people wear clothes. Must be an error in the combining spells. Still, you can’t get everything right, can you? Once you get to know them, the Winged Bears are lovely. That being said, perhaps in retrospect we released them into the wild too soon.

(Addendum to 16.) It could be far worse, we could have released them in a cold country. I also think it makes for an excellent incentive for the people of Rhylosia to remain fit and in good physical condition. No one wants to look bad in the nude and the Winged Bears almost never attack a naked person. Unless they’re hungry. Or the person annoys them. Or wasn’t imprinted on the Winged Bear in question when it was spawned.

17. I refute that claim and resent the implication that worshipping the self proclaimed God of Evil makes His followers evil by default. People who worship the God of the Rivers don’t go around drowning all the time.

(Addendum to 17.) Well, yes; they did in my Empire. That was entirely unavoidable.

(Further Addendum to 17.) They couldn’t breathe underwater.

18. I don’t know what a coterie is, so possibly yes, possibly no. Is it a group noun, or a particularly large number, or something?

(Addendum to 18.) Oh, I see. Yes and no. I kept a harem, but no one was there by force, coercion or any other kind of compulsion from me or my minions. There’s a certain type of person who gets fixated on powerful people. I thought it best to keep all of them in one place. Safer for everyone else and safer for them. Despite how this tribunal is trying to portray me, I’m not a monster.

(Further Addendum to 18.) Not really. The harem was self financing, thanks to my steward being ingenious enough to think of charging people for tickets to watch.

(Further Addendum to 18.) The fighting which inevitably broke out between the crazy women who all thought I was their soul mate.

19. Absolutely not.

(Addendum to 19.) Once again, no.

(Further Addendum to 19.) For the last time, no. I did not, have not and never would build a weapon of mass destruction. I built a sophisticated territorial defence spell, on account of the unjustified aggression shown by my empire’s neighbours.

(Further Addendum to 19.) Of course it was defensive in nature. You don’t think I’d unleash a spell like that unless I was threatened, do you?

(Further Addendum to 19.) Well dozens of neighbouring nations and the first alliance of Men, Dwarves and People Who Might be Descended from Elves Several Generations Ago (See question 12 for details) in almost 1000 years looks pretty bloody threatening to me!

(Further Addendum to 19.) Only because building the Spell of Ultimate Defence was expensive. That sort of thing doesn’t come cheaply, you know.

(Further Addendum to 19.) You all could have just paid the ransom tribute donation to building costs and all of this would have been avoided.

20. Really? You put that question on this form? Very well. The heart of a a 17 year old virgin girl, lightly toasted.

(Addendum to 20.) I was joking. Just what ever the cook is making will be fine, thank you.

POSTSCRIPT – If “whatever the cook is making” could be delivered by a 17 year old virgin girl, that would be wonderful.

POSTSCRIPT POSTSCRIPT – Also, a brazier and a skillet. Many thanks.

You will all pay for this infamy. My vengeance will burn worlds, etcetera etcetera, so on and so forth.

Signed Grishnabolg Lundkovskyi, Emperor of the East, Lord of the Black Lands, Master of the Eleven Schools of Sorcery, Architect of Destruction, Bringer of Hellfire, Archduke of the Volcanic Lands of Lysolt, Journeyman Blacksmith (second class).

– – –

Congratulations again to Funky Scarecrow! If you’d like to enter our monthly writing contest, check out our forum for more information. Happy Writing!

Title image by CitrusTreeDesigns.


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