Borderlands is currently a work in progress. The plan is to have a finished manuscript of between 50 and 60 thousand words. At present there are about 50 thousand words written. However, some of this is only in note form and needs expanding whilst other sections need thorough editing before the book is complete.
According to the current time plan, the finished book should be available by the end of 2017. If you join the newsletter you can stay up to date about developments and find out first where to get your copy.
In the meantime we have included a taster of the first few chapters of the book.
DreEeEep! The screeching rattle of Captain Ganse's signal whistle cut through the sounds of battle.
"Stop wasting arrows on it!" Though the Sheeldoyse's movements appeared slow, its massive strides carried it forward at an alarming rate. Seemingly ambivalent to their assault, the monster had continued to lumber across the blasted heath. Since first engagement, it had already halved the distance to the mountains. They had to stop it before it left the lowlands. The Captain needed a better plan of attack and she needed it quickly. "Sergeant! Concentrate the men near its front end. When I give you the signal, you keep it busy and distracted for as long as possible."
"Captain!" Her Sergeant saluted in confirmation before beginning to organise the men.
DreEeEep! "Axemen to me!" Her call summoned the four hulking axe wielders in the company. As they gathered round, she seemed diminutive by comparison, despite her own muscular and athletic frame. "Listen up! The Sergeant is organising a distraction for us. I'm guessing this thing is as dumb as it is big. With its front end busy, it'll hopefully forget it has a backside. That's when we climb on board and cut it open from above." She scanned their faces inviting questions.
"Hack through the shell?" The speaker glanced at his companions before rolling his shoulders nervously. "I'm not sure even we can do that!"
"True, the carapace is probably too thick. We need to find some kind of a soft spot. The neck area should be a good starting point." A quick look up into their eyes assured her that there were no more questions. "Okay. let's do this!" She slammed her fist against her breast plate. "Shield of the homelands!" As one they returned her salute and turned towards the monster. DreEeEep! "Sergeant. Now!" Across the battle field the Sergeant raised his hand in confirmation of her yelled command.
Pheeep! Though intentionally different to his commanding officer's to avoid confusion in the heat of battle, the Sergeant's whistle still galvanised the main body of men into action. With assorted battle cries, they ran in from the front quarter, spears and swords at the ready. Though the concentrated blows of the shorter weapons against the front legs must have been of some mild irritation to the Sheeldoyse, the lancing spears were far more effective. Concentrated around the head they jabbed in from all sides striking against the snout and lower jaw.
The effect was more than the Captain could have hoped for. Though the creature clearly remained uninjured by the onslaught, it was fairly annoyed and came to a complete standstill. Lifting a giant front foot, it reared up slightly pawing the air in anticipation of stamping on its attackers. This proved a gift to the Captain as its tail was now pressed against the ground to provide extra balance for its counter attack.
"With me!" Sprinting ahead she leapt up onto the top of the tail. Despite the glossy appearance the encrusted knobbles provided surprisingly good grip and the serrated ridge of the spine offered an almost stair like ascent. They dashed up the irregular steps and soon arrived at the carapace's up-turned rear edge. Without pausing the Captain hurdled the raised ridge. She pumped hard with her legs trying to keep up momentum as she attacked the steep curve of the rear shell.
Compared to the tail the carapace was much slipperier and she had only taken a few strides before her leather boots began to skid on the glassy surface of the creature's swaying back. Before loosing too much speed she drew the stabbing dagger from her belt and, diving forward on her stomach, drove it hard into the shell in front of her. It hardly made a chink but the very tip did just bite in the slick surface. A quick look behind confirmed the others had also lost grip and were now trying to crawl after her. She drew the throwing knife from her boot and held it up demonstratively to the men.
"You need to dig in!" She stretched forward, jabbed the knife in further up than the first blade and pulled herself higher. Working the dagger free, she then drove it in higher up again and dragged herself even further up. It was cumbersome work but working hand over hand she was able to continue the climb. Another glance behind her confirmed that her team had all caught on quickly. In fact, one soldier having saved on the effort of drawing any knives, was using his twin long handled tomahawks and climbing so fast he would soon overtake her.
As he began to draw level she spared a moment to look across at him. "Don't wait for me. Keep going until you get to the neck." His face stern from the effort of the rapid climb, he gave no acknowledgement but simply continued past her. He was barely ahead when the carapace suddenly dropped down level again.
With the monster's progress effectively halted long enough for the Captain to get on board, the Sergeant had ended the onslaught and withdrawn the men slightly to avoid getting trampled by the raised foot. As a result, the monster was back down on all fours again. The Captain sprang to her feet intent on chasing after the leading soldier.
Though the slope of the monster's back had reduced to a gentle hump, it was still difficult to move forward safely. Returned to all fours, the beast was again pushing ahead, its tail and head slashing from side to side in counterbalanced unison. Though still oblivious to the attackers on its back, its lumbering gait threatened to topple them off at any moment. Fighting for balance at every step, the Captain staggered forward in a crouch, glad that the surface was at least dry.
Using his axes for added balanced, the lead soldier had continued to make ground on the others and, after sliding down the front slope of the shell, had already clambered to his feet at the front edge. However, to the Captain's frustration, he hadn't start hacking away at once. Instead, after briefly looking over the edge at the neck and head beyond, he turned with a worried look on his face and waited for her to catch up. When she finally arrived at the front she realised why.
At the rear, the edge of the shell had turned up and out slightly giving the tail room to swing more freely from side to side. The neck, however, needed clearance to not only move from side to side but also up and down. This meant that the front edge of the shell turned up to form a giant saddle. From the top edge of this it was a drop of more than two men's height to reach the low hung neck. There was no way they could cut at it from up on the shell. Simply jumping down wasn't an option either. If the creature raised its head at any time they would be crushed between the heavy neck and the underside of the shell.
She pounded the raised edge of the saddle with her palms. "Shit!" She needed to think up a new tactic. "Okay, slight change of plan. We are going to have to work at the head end of the neck. We'll go one at a time. As soon you start hacking it'll probably realise that you're there and try and shake you off. Keep at it as long as you can. If you do start to fall make sure its sideways, you don't want to get trapped between the neck and shell." She indicated the lead soldier. "You're up first, get ready to jump!" DreEeEep! "Sergeant, get the head up again!"
Far below, her second in command acknowledged the instruction and set the men up for another spear attack. Within moments of the Sergeant's own whistle blast, the head began to rise.
"Here it comes! Ready.... Now!" With her slap on his shoulder, the soldier launched himself into the air. Though the gap was much larger than the Captain had hoped for, the head hung briefly still at the top of its stroke. She watched, as if in slow motion, as his jump carried him in an arc through the air, out over the beast's neck and towards the spiny skull. As he accelerated downwards, she realised that the head had begun to move again too, lunging down towards the soldiers below. It was going to be a much longer fall than they had anticipated and he was clearly going to land short of the head.
Hoping to at least grab one of the bony spikes protruding from the back of the monster's skull, he stretched himself out in the air. His arms strained forward but she could already see, he was going to fall at least his own body length short. The Captain bit her lip as, with no chance to cushion the landing the flat of his chest slammed against the broad scaly neck, driving the wind from his lungs. Dazed by the impact he struggled clumsily to stay on as the creature's heavy head wove violently.
The Captain screamed "Get to the head man!" It was as much from frustration as any intent to command. The soldier below was blocking the whole operation. He could neither start hacking where he currently clung nor could she get the Sergeant to lift the head for another axeman to make the jump. In both cases the man on the neck would most likely be crushed. He either had to give up and simply slip to the ground or find some way to clamber forward and onto the head. She glanced ahead, the mountains were looming ever larger, they were rapidly running out of time.
Fortunately, at this moment the monster decided to go on the offensive. Its head lunged forward, jaws slamming together with a sound like a tree trunk splintering as it bit and snapped at the fighters on the ground before it. When all the soldiers had successfully managed to dodge its attack, it paused for a split second confused by its own failure. With his wits finally gathered, the soldier snatched the opportunity to toboggan down the outstretched neck on his stomach.
Sliding up against the base of the skull he grabbed onto a bony protrusion and swung himself up onto the top of the head. Just at this point the Sheeldoyse finally gave up on its biting attack and its head clambered back into the air like a bear climbing a tree.
With the beast's next step forward, the ride on the head got even worse. Unbalanced from the start, the soldier worked cautiously from handhold to handhold until he had turned round to face the rear edge of the skull. Kneeling on wide spread legs and with one hand still firmly clamped around a horn, he leant out over the neck. Finally ready, he pulled an axe from his back and swung it down with all his might into the flesh covering the spine.
The Captain had been right. The hide of the neck was clearly much thinner than anywhere else on the monster and the axe head buried itself completely in the vulnerable flesh. The satisfaction of this first blow was short lived, replaced by shock and awe as the creature reacted to the unexpected stab of pain. It let out a rock shattering bellow and flung its neck back, propelling its head into the air like a startled game bird.
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