"The modern master of the gamebook format" (Rob Sanders)... "Can do dark very well" (Jonathan Oliver)... "Green gets mileage out of his monsters" (SFX Magazine)... "It takes a firm editorial hand and a keen understanding of the tone of each piece to make a collection this diverse work, and Green makes it look effortless" (Starburst Magazine)
Ade's story takes one of Shakespeare's history plays as its source of inspiration. I wonder if you can guess which one, from this extract...
A mace crashed into my side and I spun, almost falling to the churned ground. I arrested the second blow with my sword, pushed the pommel into the open visor of the armoured man and saw his mouth erupt in a shower of blood and broken teeth. I slashed, thrust back, and he crashed to the ground. To my left I saw our commander, Richard of Gloucester, his helm cast aside and terror in his youthful eyes, and I hesitated.
Richard was only eighteen, ten years my junior, but a natural leader whose prowess put more seasoned warriors to shame; he had distinguished himself on the fog-strewn battlefield at Barnet the previous month.
All that was now forgotten. He sank to the churned mud and carnage, on his knees, his sword abandoned. His hands clasped together, misshapen in steel gauntlets, and his head tilted forward.
Praying, in the midst of battle! A cold fury took me, to see our commander abandoning his natural ability and martial experience, to commend his soul to God rather than inspire his men to battle to the last breath. This is the moment when battles are lost: when men look to their lord and commander for strength and see only a mewling boy, resorting to grovelling on the ground like a tiny wren, hiding from mightier birds of prey.
“Richard!” I shouted, the protocol of using his title forgotten. My voice echoed through the slaughter field and I saw several combatants flinch. I strode toward him, stepping over opened corpses.
“Gloucester! To me, man!” I was within yards of him. He must have heard me, for I clearly heard his whispered words, his fevered exhortations – but I could not understand them. I froze.
His black hair was matted and drenched with sweat that ran down his lopsided cheeks. His words became guttural, his face distorted by a snarl, his thick lips twisted and drawn back from his uneven teeth so the prayer became even less intelligible – the snuffling, questing sounds of a boar. He shrank into himself, his drooping right shoulder exacerbating the crookback that his custom pauldrons usually disguised so well.
The darkness grew; shadows lengthened, hiding the carrion of battle carnage in their sinuous blackness. Plate armour and sharpened blades no longer reflected the summer sunlight – they became blurred, grey shapes from which the light shrank. I glanced up, and saw nothing above the treeline but thickening greyness, like the fog that had obscured the battlefield at Barnet.
Adrian Chamberlin lives in the small south Oxfordshire town of Wallingford that serves as a backdrop to the UK television series Midsomer Murders, not far from where Agatha Christie lies buried, dreaming in darkness. He is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural thriller The Caretakers as well as numerous short stories in a variety of anthologies, mostly historical or futuristic-based supernatural horror. He co-edited Read the End First, an apocalyptic anthology, with Suzanne Robb (author of the acclaimed thriller Z-Boat) and edited the supernatural warfare novella collection Darker Battlefields, coming from the Exaggerated Press in summer 2016. He is aware of the concept of “spare time” but swears it’s just a myth. Further information can be found on his website: www.archivesofpain.com