Annette here, I am honored to hold the space for the debonair Tallis Steelyard, to share his new book! Of course, that means Jim Webster is along for this tour too! There is contact information for both gentlemen further down in this post. Without any further ado, I shall turn this over to my favorite poet from days of yore…. Tallis Steelyard.
Draw a bow at a venture
Asilrigg Wellhopper was a much admired young man, charming, tactful, and
frankly too handsome for his own good. He was, as they say, an adventurer.
Now I know that in modern parlance the word can be a synonym for ‘rogue’ or
‘bounder’ but in Asilrigg’s case that usage would have been unkind.
Within strict limits Asilrigg was almost entirely honourable. If a maiden
carrying a purse full of gold and leading a small child needed escorting,
the Asilrigg was the one you could safely entrust them to. The small child
would arrive somewhat more widely educated, the gold would be intact, and
the maiden possibly still a maiden. As I said, almost entirely honourable.
His presence in Port Naain was just ‘one of those things.’ I never found out
why he arrived here. Perhaps a temporary shortage of monsters to slay, or
tyrants to overthrow; perhaps he’d accepted a commission to deliver
something of immense value safely to the city? Frankly I never asked him and
those who did received various responses which translated as ‘I’m afraid I
cannot tell you.’
Still, he arrived in Port Naain with enough money to live rather well for
several months. During this happy period, he seems to have found his way
into polite society and polite society, always keen on novelty, welcomed
Now it must be admitted that free-spending young heroes of obvious gallantry
and irresistible charm never seem to lack for admirers. Asilrigg could well
have been swamped by them had it not been for his less than secret weapon,
his valet, Gort.
Gort was a weather-beaten, wry-faced, dark-visaged man. He scowled
perpetually, acted as Asilrigg’s valet in refined places and guarded his
back, axe in hand, when they ventured away from the comforting illumination
of civilisation. He it was who would interpose himself between Asilrigg and
an admirer. He had many weapons in his armoury, he could leer most
impressively, had a fine grasp of crude innuendo, and it is rumoured that he
could even break wind at will.
So those who wished to ‘set their cap’ at Asilrigg had to first separate him
from his valet. Effectively this meant when Asilrigg was invited to some
soiree and Gort wasn’t present. Unfortunately for the lady with Asilrigg in
her sights, she then had to somehow overcome the competition from sundry
other ladies who had the same idea. For Asilrigg there was indeed safety in
Lesser ladies would bow out at this point, but not Miss Melinia Verbit. A
young lady of wide accomplishments she was no shy and retiring wallflower.
If she had been forced to list her accomplishments, they would include not
merely dance and witty conversation, but hunting, fishing, and the use of
assorted improvised melee weapons. (The latter accomplishments almost
inevitable for a mettlesome girl brought up with six brothers.)
She laid siege to Asilrigg with the cunning that one of the great
condottiere captains of our glorious past would have admired. She separated
him from Gort by inviting Asilrigg in person to her home, and then separated
him from everybody else by suggesting they spent the afternoon riding out in
pleasant countryside to the north of the city.
Thus the battle was on, Melinia fighting with all her cunning against Gort
for possession of Asilrigg.
Melinia had considerable advantages; she was charming, witty, beautiful,
wealthy and not afraid of an active life. Gort was as ugly as sin, but
cunning and of course had known Asilrigg longer. Thus he knew just which
strings to pull which tugged most painfully at the young man’s heart.
Hence after a few months, with money running low, the Port Naain season
beginning to pall, and in spite of Melinia’s best efforts, Asilrigg
announced that he must return to the south.
Melinia redoubled her assault; she may even have tried weeping. Certainly it
is almost certain that the pair of them enjoyed considerable intimacy over
this period. But all to no avail. Asilrigg, with Gort riding behind him,
Melinia was not a lady to take this sort of thing lying down, (Whatever the
level of intimacy.) A betrayal such as this must be avenged!
In grim earnest Melinia rode south, remaining elegantly attired in spite of
the conditions she had to live in and overtook the dastard who had betrayed
her. Now as I’ve said, I am not one of her intimates, and have only various
second-hand tales of what came about. There are stories that circulate, of
her cunning, her skill, her ability to sleep fully dressed in a cave and
emerge next morning looking as elegantly coiffured as if she had been
accompanied by three maids.
On the other hand I was present when she arrived back in Port Naain and rode
directly to the house of Mistress Hanchkillian. The old matriarch was held
in high regard by the younger ladies, and her wisdom and approval were
Melinia walked into the grand salon and gave a slight curtsey. Mistress
smiled at her and asked how her trip had gone. Will an eloquent gesture
Melinia emptied a sack onto the floor. A human head rolled out. I stopped it
with my foot and found myself staring down into the twisted features of
Mistress looked at Melinia and raised an expressive eyebrow.
Melinia gave a complicated little shrug and said, “Well killing the other
one would be a waste.”
Mistress Hanchkillian smiled slightly. “Quite right my dear.”
It may be that you might not realise that Tallis Steelyard has just produced
his second book of stories and anecdotes. This is book, ‘Tallis Steelyard, a
harsh winter, and other stories,’ is available from the first of June.
The book is available to all discerning readers at £0.99 from
Were Tallis less busy he’d doubtless remember to thank me, Jim Webster, for
the efforts I make on his behalf. But you know what it is with someone like
Tallis who is constantly in demand. So I just get on with writing his stuff
down for him and from time to time making collections of his wit, wisdom and
jumbled musings available for a grateful public.
Tallis does have a blog, it is apparently de rigueur now for all writers. It
is available at
Riding in on his coattails I’ll merely mention that my own books can be seen
at Jim Webster’s Amazon page