Here's the place to read a sample of Children Of The Furnace #1
BURNING Truth died in the fires. Only through courage can it be born again.
Dark, powerful and heartbreaking, Children Of The Furnace compels with a uniquely stunning world and one of the greatest characters you’ll ever be afraid for … Children of the Furnace Book One Burning
Anthem To The Strong
We are the Keepers of the Cool And the Workers of the Sink We cleanse the world of Helgas, bring it back from the brink Of the Furnace. Our strength will be legend, no room for the weak. Our sweat and our blood and our toil speak our grit. We spit on your frailty, we spit when you weep. To the Strong, to the Strong, to the Strong.
The Journal I never went to no school. Weren’t no school anywhere near us, for one thing, way up in the Manitoq Forest. Jest a bunch of old men – old to me, anyways – and Ty, working away logging. Ty said once: ‘I’d teach yer to read, if I had a book to do it with.’ But he didn’t have no book, so that was that. Patrice teached me, later. Taught me, after I left the Manitoqs. He still didn’t have no books, but this is how he did it: I’d tell him something – like a journal, he said – and then he’d write it down. And then the next night I got to read it back to him. Smartest kid I ever met, Patrice, least till I met Leah. Leah wrote in my journal too, cuz Patrice said I should read some words not my own. Course really she wrote em later, but when I came to bind her pages seemed to me they made no sense without I put them in order. So I sewed em in the right place for when they happened. Patrice is gone now. He had a dream that last night, said he dreamed I was all alone on a hilltop. The stars were out but the darkness was deep and he couldn’t see nuthin else but shapes all around. ‘It’s jest a dream,’ I said. ‘No it wasn’t,’ he said sharp-like, dark eyes bugging. ‘And if you’re all alone, where am I?’ ‘Yer there, somewhere.’ I said. ‘And I’ll look out for yer, I en’t never leaving yer.’ That’s what I said to him, but it weren’t true. I couldn’t save him. And now I am all alone on that hilltop, only it en’t no hilltop ’cept in my mind. It’s here, Ferule, and I know what the dark shapes are. It’s the Strong, and they’re coming for me.
Ty told me jest to drown the huskwolf when I found him. ‘They grow mighty big,’ he says when I walk in cradling the pup in my arms, cuz he’s too small and weak to walk. ‘They were bred for size, to be stronger’n any dog born naturally. A new breed for a harder life…. And then when they weren’t needed no more, cuz we didn’t need no sleds when the snows all melted, they went wild. And now they’ve been wild too long. They en’t fit to be pets.’ The huskwolf ma was dead. I found her in some hollowed out roots under a tree by Fifth Creek. Her back was broke. She musta taken on something big and got trampled I reckon: bison maybe, or a muskox. Maybe even a deer and got unlucky. The other pups were dead, all five of them. Only this one was still mewling, gave a twitch of his tail and showed his teeth at me.
I met a man up there coming back from Fifth Creek. Was a man I didn’t know, neither. Ty don’t like me meeting people. He says, ‘If they know yer here they’ll take yer away some place, send yer to school.’ ‘So as I can learn to read?’ I ask. ‘Yeah. I want yer to learn to read…. But I en’t ready for yer to leave yet.’ Ty promised my ma he’d bring me up right, before she died. Bring him up to hear the rhythm beating, she said, and to feel the heartsblood warm. Not Strong – not in their way – but strong in the ways of the heart. Don’t know what that means, but Ty reckons he’s done a fine job so far. True, too. He’s been both ma and pa to me, and for all his grumbling and his do this and do that and don’t waste yer time when yer should be working – well, it’s hard to say. But if I coulda had my pick of pas, don’t reckon I coulda done much better. He’s always looked out for me. I get restless sometimes lately, never going anywhere or meeting anyone. But it makes yer feel kinda safe and good, being where the people put yer first. I’m too busy cradling the pup to look out much for the path. Usually I’m always looking, looking for stuff that’s good to eat: creachers, fennel, hot radish, plantain. Or mushrooms, we got all sorts in the forest that are good to eat when yer fry em with wild onion in butter oil. So when the man hops out in front of me I jump sky high. The pup musta felt my heart go bumpetty bump, but he’s too weak to fuss much. ‘Hello there,’ says the man. He’s not too tall; hardly taller’n me, and Ty says I en’t got my growth spurt yet. Fourteen’s when it happens, he says, but I had my fourteenth birthday a while back and en’t started growing yet that I can see. This man’s fat, too. I stare at him even tho it’s rude. En’t never seen no one fat before. We don’t go hungry in Manitoq but we work too hard to get fat. This fella’s got big round cheeks that wobble all shiny when he talks, and a big round belly pressing up gainst this long heavy black dress he’s wearing. The dress’s kinda hitched up here and there so he can walk through the forest, and he’s got regular brown laced up boots and moleskin pants on under, but I reckon that dress would hit the floor if he let it go. Then it comes to me: Revout. Revouts wear em long black dresses. Ty told me: yer see one of them fellas, yer run and hide. That was a long time ago, though. I was jest a little kid back then. Reckon I’m a bit big to go running and hiding now. And I en’t scared. He’s too little and fat. I could push him over and run away easy, if he tries anything mean. ‘Hello,’ I say politely. ‘I didn’t know there were any children round here,’ the man says. ‘What settlement are you from, boy?’ I bristle a bit at being told I’m a child, cuz can’t he see I’m nearly a full grown man and bout as tall as him too. Think about trying a story, but I’m not too good at storying. And anyway there’s only one settlement round here and bet he knows that already so don’t know why he’s even asking. ‘Manitoq Creek,’ I say. He puts up his finger and makes to point it towards my face. I jump back quick, a bit frighted. ‘Don’t be scared. I’m just looking at that.’ ‘What?’ ‘That.’ He moves his finger in slow now, presses it down on the picture twixt my eyebrows. His touch feels spongy and sticky and he smells real bad where he’s lifted his arm up and come close: sweat but not clean sweat like Ty’s, dirty old sweat and something worse, cheese gone bad. ‘It’s a loveknot,’ I say. ‘A tattoo. I got it when I was born.’ ‘I know what it is,’ he says. ‘But do you know what it means?’ I shrug. Want to step backwards but I’m worried it might be rude. Comes of not meeting many people up here in Manitoq. When Ty or anyone goes to get their credits and supplies and stuff, they don’t take me. It’s two days to town without a horse and Ty says…. Well, he don’t say much about it. Cept ‘Stay here.’ Usually he sends someone else, anyway, and Ty stays in Manitoq Creek with me. So, I don’t know if it wouldn’t be rude to step back, and I stand still but feel uncomfortable cuz my skin feels crawly under his touch, and I hold my breath and try not to breathe his stink. ‘It’s the mark of the Heaters,’ he says. I jest carry on looking and trying not to breathe. I don’t know what a Heater is but I en’t gonna ask. I jest made up my mind I don’t like this fella too much, and I need to get going. I step back at last, can’t stand no more even if my manners is bad. ‘My Pa’s waiting, I gotta go,’ I say. ‘Who’s your Pa?’ ‘Ty. Ty Shirwud.’ ‘And who are you?’ ‘Wil Shirwud.’ ‘Ah. But you’re not really Shirwud, are you?’ I look at him and know my eyes have narrowed. How can he know Ty’s not my real Pa? ‘There’s no women round here in Manitoq, never have been,’ he answers me tho I didn’t say it out loud. ‘No families, no schools, just a few logger settlements. So….. I’m guessing there’s no Mrs Ty Shirwud up there in Manitoq Creek.’ ‘I gotta go,’ I say again, and turn and scoot off down the path before he can think of some other pestering to keep me there. I think about telling Ty, but it’s gonna be a big enough telling and talking getting him to let me keep the huskwolf. I decide to maybe tell him later. What harm can some little fat Revout do, gainst Ty?