A sample from The Coming of the Sword

Sword & Sorcery

The Coming of the Sword is the last short story in the Niall of the Far Travels Collection.

Niall of the Far Travels gardner f fox dragon magazine tsr gary gygax kurt brugel sword and sorcery

For many days he had trotted across the ice field, always straining his gaze ahead, ever seeking the figure of the man he hunted. He was close now, so close that he needed no longer to stare at the ground in search of footprints. For there ahead, revealed in the weak sunlight of this northernmost region, was the man, Gunthar.

Niall grinned wolfishly. Soon would Gunthar face the death he deserved for the attempted rape of lovely young Althia, who was sister to Niall and daughter of Thorkon the Mighty. In less than an hour, Niall would be up with him, would draw his sword and take the vengeance that was due his family.

Niall shifted the white bearskin which covered his side shoulders. Under that skin he wore a mail shirt, covered by a leather kaunake. Around his middle was a broad leather belt from which hung a dagger and a sword. Over his shoulder was his horn hunting bow and a quiver of long war arrows.

Niall disdained the arrows and the bow. He wanted Gunthar face to face, to know — before cold steel killed him — what it meant to assault the daughter of Thorkon the Mighty. Niall trotted faster; his long, thickly thewed legs ate up the ground that lay between him and the man he hunted.

Suddenly the ground under his boots shifted, rolled, began to rise and fall rhythmically, as might the waves of the Cold Sea. Niall staggered and grunted.

“May the gods grant I catch him in time,” he muttered.

He ran faster, and yanked out his sword. As though the still-distant man heard that scrape of blade against scabbard, he looked back. Gunthar had moved into a passage with no exit; to one side was the eternal ice of a mighty glacier, to the other a massive rock wall rising upward to an unscalable height.

It might be that Gunthar realized the futility of further flight, for now he stopped, turned and drew his own sword. Niall ran toward his quarry, shouting in exultation.

The ground still rolled and pitched, yet Niall ran across it swiftly, balancing himself. He was used to the plunging, churning deck of a longboat on the Cold Sea, and this motion of the ground was not unlike the roll of giant waves.

Gunthar waited, pale and somewhat grim. He knew Niall, knew the ferocity of his swordplay, understood that few men could stand against him — without luck. Gunthar prayed to Loki, god of mischief, hoping that the god would come to him in his moment of need.

Niall hurled himself forward, lips parting in a snarl of fury. His blade swept around, clanged against the weapon Gunthar lifted to parry its deadly sweep. Steel sang. Almost instantly, Niall was driving in again, beating back that sword which opposed him. He drove Gunthar back on his heels, making him give ground.

The earth shuddered beneath them. Ice cracked. There was a muted rumble off to one side. It was as if the very world shared his fury, Niall thought, as he beat down the sword which faced him.

“This is the day you die, Gunthar,” he growled.

“I did no harm to Althia,” the other panted. “She screamed, and others came to stop me. I fled…”

“You fled to your death! You know the law! To him who transgresses against a priestess of Freya, there is only one reply! Death!”

The ground rolled upward, cresting where they fought, pitching them toward the mouth of the pass and onto softer ground, where tall grasses grew. Niall bellowed his war cry and raised his sword.

“Death, Gunthar!” he roared.

His blade flashed downward. It made an arc of light where the sunlight caught it. It slanted into Gunthar’s steel, brushed it aside, then continued downward into the man’s neck, cleaving through flesh and bone. Gunthar’s eyes rolled up into his head and he fell backward, mouth open in a soundless scream.

Niall of the Far Travels gardner f fox dragon magazine tsr gary gygax kurt brugel sword and sorcery

A sample of Chapter 2 from Cherry Delight: The Italian Connection

Sexecutioner Series

Chapter Two

Italian Connection cherry delight glen chase gardner f fox sexecutioner kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

I froze there for about one whole minute. One minute is a long time, if you measure it on a watch. My brain was numb, I was crying inside me. The man who was to take me to Europe as an Uncle Sam agent unbeknownst to him, lay white and still beneath me. I had killed him.

Cherry Delight had struck again!

The only thing was, I hadn’t meant to kill him. It wasn’t part of the plan. He had to be alive, to take me to wherever it was he was going to meet the higher-ups in his Mafia family. Without him, I was a failure.

I scrambled off him, heart thudding wildly. Maybe he wasn’t dead, maybe he’d just fainted. I grabbed his wrist, felt his pulse. None. I bent over his chest, listening to his heartbeat. No heartbeat, either. And when I put a mirror to his lips, there was not the faintest bit of moisture on the glass.

Oh, Joe Turessi was dead, all right. And I’d killed him.

I sat on the edge of the bed and wanted to cry. Damn! It had been in the bag. He had been ripe to take me to Europe with him. I knew it, my female intuition told me as much. I had ways of pleasing him. No other dame did. And now-this

My common sense realized he’d had a heart attack, a massive thrombosis. A fat lot of good that knowledge did me. Wearily I rose from the bed, moved to pick up the black satin evening gown and carry it to the closet.

I paused, staring at those garments on their hangers.

They all looked brand new. I wondered for a second if Joe Turessi had bought them especially for me. My fellow workers at N.Y.M.P.H.O. had learned that the Mafia man had a thing for seeing girls dressing and then undressing. They’d wangled an order from him for a visit from a Femme Fatale: me. And N.Y.M.P.H.O. had counted on my going to Europe with Turessi.

Well, it was a cinch I couldn’t go with him. But—could I go without him? On my own. With his consent. No, better than that: by his orders. I glanced over my shoulder at his dead body. Hmmmm, I’d have to do something about that corpse. Still, with a number of empty coffins in the storage chamber, that shouldn’t be too insurmountable a problem.

I ran downstairs in my black nylons and garter-belt. Hell, it was after hours, it must have been thirty minutes past midnight. The mortuary was in darkness outside the mirrored room. I fumbled around until I found a light switch.

Then I went hunting for his office. It was a wood-paneled room, outfitted with a big mahogany desk and swivel chair, with sombre files recessed behind heavy green drapes, a mantle-piece and fireplace where once logs had burned when this building had been a private home. There was a typewriter on a stand, covered.

I found typing paper in the desk, drew the Remington a little closer, and started to bang the keys. I wrote a nice letter introducing me to the man our International Intelligence unit assured us was named Benito Castracia. His title in the Mob was that of Coordinator, which meant he might be the bossman of the entire Mafia empire.

It took me half an hour to phrase the thing properly. When I was done I had a neatly typed missive. It needed a forged signature. I let my rhinestoned evening pumps take me upstairs so I could examine the articles in Joe Turessi’s discarded clothes where they lay on the mirrored floor. I found a driving license with his signature. I practiced it about twenty times before I scrawled it across the bottom of the letter.

I folded the letter and stared at it. What do I do now? I asked myself. I had no money, not even a handbag. Still. . . .

Joe Turessi would have money. He was ready to take a jet from Kennedy to Paris. He needed spending money. There had been a hundred clams in the wallet from which I’d borrowed his driving license. This meant he had some bread stashed away somewhere else. The funeral parlor safe? It seemed a safe bet, no pun meant.

I have been trained by experts to open safes, at least of the wall variety represented by the old-fashioned one that was hidden by a bit of that same green drapery that kept the filing cabinets out of sight. It took only ten minutes to find the combo.

There was three thousand iron men in the safe, plus his airline ticket on an Air France jet to Paris, another ticket for a subsidiary line to fly him south to Nice. From Nice, he would travel by rented car to Saint Tropez. When he arrived in Saint Tropez, there were reservations for him at the Byblos Hotel.

Italian Connection cherry delight glen chase gardner f fox sexecutioner kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

A sample of Chapter 5 from Kyrik and the Lost Queen

Sword & Sorcery

Chapter 5

Kyrik and the lost queen gardner f fox sword and sorcery kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

Kyrik tried to break free. He kicked back, found that the sole of his war-boot touched something soft and rubbery, but the downward tug was not to be resisted. Steadily he was drawn into the deeps of the cold water, with Adorla on his back.

The girl was hitting him with a fist, as though believing he was playing some game. She did not v know that something had hold of him, or if she did, then she was hitting him in an excess of terror.

The water was colder now, and Kyrik could feel a vague current flowing. There was something above him—a stone roof the top of an embankment?—and then he surged up into the air.

He gasped for that air, drew it into his lungs.

Beside him Adorla was sputtering and splashing. His arm drew her against him and he trod water, staring at a cavern that seemed cut out of rock, that was lighted by a tall pillar of glowing stone. His eyes touched that pillar wonderingly.

He knew of nothing it could be. Stone that glowed, with the cold radiance of the firefly. Yet it lighted up the cavern, it showed the rock walls and the stone ceiling from which encrustations of stone drooped downward, and the pool of stagnant Water.

That water rippled, heaved. Kyrik swam for the shoreline, if such it might be called, a low shelf of stone that rose upward from the water to form a little platform. He reached it, one arm about Adorla, and he dropped her, half-drowned, upon its surface.

He swung about and drew his sword. Whatever had gripped him in that river and drawn him here into its lair was still below the surface. The waters of the pool bubbled and churned, yet nothing appeared. Kyrik drew in deep breaths of the cold, wet air, and stared about him.

There were skeletons here, and bits of rusted armor, a broken sword, and here and there a golden chain that might have belonged to a woman. A chill raced up his back. Did all those who had been flung down that shaft end up here, in past years?

If so—how old was that thing which had clutched him?

“Illis—have you abandoned me?” Soft elfin laughter answered him. “Foolish Kyrik Have you so little faith in me?”

“Faith or no faith, you’ve tricked me somehow.” You will need the firestar! “Firestar? What magic is that?” He was so intent on what Illis might tell him that he came close to forgetting the thing that had dragged him here. But the waters swirled and broke, and a black head, wet and shining, in which two red eyes gloated at him, broke the surface of the pool.

His hand tightened on Bluefang’s hilt. The monster was coming up for him now. It rose slowly, water ran off its thick black hide, and up in front two arm-like appendages fitted with giant claws came stabbing upward through the air.

There was no name for this undersea monster—at least none he had ever heard. It was gigantic. He realized he was looking at only part of this thing that seemed almost to fill the pool. Those red eyes that glared at him were unwinking and steady.

They looked upon him as their prey. At his back, Adorla was sobbing. “What is it? Oh, gods of Alkinoor, what is that thing?”

Kyrik made no answer. He was too intent on watching those clawed arms that reached for him, that moved steadily closer—closer—as the behemoth moved almost lazily through the waters. Kyrik! Step within those claws—and strike! The thing surged upward. If it had legs, those legs braced and lifted it. Swiftly now those clawed arms reached outward—

Kyrik and the lost queen gardner f fox sword and sorcery kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

A Sample of Chapter 4 from Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse

Sword & Sorcery

Chapter 4

kothar and the conjurer's curse gardner f fox sword and sorcery kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

A mutter rose and swelled behind him as the peasants saw that pile of stone and rock and the armed men who were mere winks of sunlight on steel caps as they patrolled the sidewalks. Their feet began to drag and their murmurs of sullen dismay broke out into cries of fear.

Kothar turned, putting a hand on the cantle and sweeping them with his glare. “Fools! They’ve seen you now. It’s either go forward to fight—or have them sally out and capture you.”

“My wolves are in the bushes, Kothar. Once the fight begins, they’ll join us.”

“And if any man flinches—have them pull him down,” the barbarian snarled. He felt pity for these peasants, but he knew the robber barons. They respected only force and stronger sword-arms than their own.

They were thirty men and one woman marching into the stronghold of the fiercest robber-baron between the border and Alkarion. There must be a hundred men-at-arms inside Raven Garde, tough fighting-men, every last one. Kothar wished only for one thing: Frostfire. He would have felt more secure with its hilt between his fingers.

The men pacing guard duty on the sidewalks paid no attention to these dusty travelers. They saw the armor of the riders, the weary walking of the men-at-arms. They heard the keening of the women who were chained together. There was no reason to be suspicious. Only a madman would dare Raven Garde with so few swords at his back.

Through the wooden gate they passed without incident, on to an inner courtyard paved with worn, ancient cobblestones, Their horses’ hooves struck sparks on the stone, and then they were drawing rein.

The barbarian ran his gaze across stone walls and stairways leading up to solars. The fortress had been built around a square tower that was part of the keep on which was carved the image of a saurian face of black basalt, stamped with all the lusts and desires known to the race of men. The eyes glinted as though they knew a life of their own. Where the sunlight caught them, for a moment Kothar thought he saw an entity staring down at him; in a moment, that life spark was gone and he saw only the bulging eyes.

He swung a leg over his saddle cantle. In answer to that signal the disguised peasants gripped their lances, and ran at the soldiers lounging in the shadow of the armory, wearing only cotton shirts and breeks. They were unarmed. The lance-heads went into their middles and they died squirming on the cold steel, impaled against the wooden framework of the building.

Two men from the sidewalk shouted. The wolf-woman was slipping a round stone the size of an egg into her sling-cup. Around her head she whirled those leather thongs, releasing one at the apex of its circling. The stone flew true, thudding into the forehead of a soldier lifting his bow.

Again the sling twirled; a second man died. Kothar was flinging open the armory door. A dozen men inside the dirt-floored room, polishing armor and sharpening their swords and daggers, gaped at him with bulging eyes. He was across the space that separated them, his sword cleaving the air an instant before burying itself in warm flesh. He ravened like a madman, for of all those who had ridden into Raven Garde he alone was battle-wise enough to understand that not one of this small army of brigands must be left alive to carry on their grim trade.

His blade dipped and darted. He slew coldly, without regret or compassion; to the barbarian, this was a task that must be done. And when he eased the point of his borrowed sword to the ground, so that the drops of blood fell redly to the dirt floor and were absorbed, the muscles in his sword-arm ached.

kothar and the conjurer's curse gardner f fox sword and sorcery kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

A Sample of Chapter 3 from Kyrik and the Wizard’s Sword

Sword & Sorcery

A Sample of Chapter 3

Kyrik and the wizard's sword gardner f fox sword and sorcery kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

They ran before the gusts that grew in intensity as the sky darkened overhead and the waves grew rougher and wilder. The vessel was lifted by those waves and hurled forward, half out of the water at some places, as Olvia clung to the moldboards with both hands and whispered words under her breath that the wind blew away.

Only Kyrik seemed unmoved by the approaching storm. Occasionally his eyes would go to the sail where it strained against the slides and gaskets. His hand was steady on the tiller, always he kept the bow pointed away from the full force of the gale.

Olvia was a little green. When he noticed that she was swallowing hard, he called, “Lie down. Cover yourself with the spare sail you’ll find in the locker. This won’t be pleasant for you, what’s coming.”

She shook her head. “I can stand it.” He merely shrugged. The winds were blowing full force now, and the shallop was bucking and pitching as if it had become demented. Olvia made a mewling sound deep in her throat.

“Heave up, girl,” Kyrik shouted. “But mind you do it away from the wind.”

She gave a brief nod, coughed. Next moment she was hung over the edge of the boat, retching. The seawater came up to drench her wetly, so that from moment to moment she was almost out of sight beneath the waves. But in time she sat back, swallowing hard, though her features still seemed faintly greenish.

“Lie down,” he urged. “Try to rest.” She sank onto the cockpit boards and lay her head against the sack of food. She moaned, drawing up her legs, and turned on her side.

“Still want to find that treasure?” Kyrik sang Out.

She did not answer him. Kyrik lifted his face, feeling the drops of rain slam into him as the black sky opened. The wind was even fiercer, out on the open sea, and the salt spume stung where it lashed his face.

But he grinned, loving every moment of it, even when a cross-wave, wind-driven, threatened to overturn the boat. He righted it by a prodigious feat of strength, pitting his massive muscles against the pull of the waves, keeping the rudder to its proper position, whispering prayers to Illis that the sail would not blow away.

He had estimated the shallop correctly. It was a good sailor. It flew before that gale, skimming lightly through the waves, shaking them to one side or the other in masses of foaming water.

The hours went by and still he sat like a graven image, unmoving as he fought the elements. There was darkness all around him now. It was hard even to make out the sleeping shape of Olvia on the floorboards. But the storm was about to blow itself out, he could sense this in the lessening of the wind, in the ease of wave-tension against the rudder.

It would not come yet, though. These storms on the Sunless Sea were famous from Antherak to Parthenor. They took days, sometimes, before they lost their fury. It made no difference to Kyrik. He did not care whether Ammalauth-Vul were alive or dead. Only Olvia cared about that.

As the darkness faded slowly and the surging of the waves lessened, the girl sat up. Her eyes went to Kyrik, then upward toward the sky.

Kyrik and the wizard's sword gardner f fox sword and sorcery kurt brugel

click here for a copy

A Sample of Chapter 2 from Barbary Slave

Historical Romance

Chapter 2

barbary slave gardner f fox kevin matthews historical romance kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

It was the time of lamp lighting, one week after the day when he had killed Kefas on the street of Arcades, that Fletcher was summoned before the keeper of the house. He found Sinan ibn Ajaj seated at a teakwood desk, its top inlaid with mother of pearl. There was a large leather bag in front of the bald Turk. At sight of Fletcher, Sinan dipped his brown paw into the coins that bulged the sides of the sack. He counted out a handful, and pushed them across the table top to the American.

“Your alaik coins, Stefan. There’s a slave tavern run by Niccolo Gritti the Neapolitan, beyond the Street of the Sail-makers. You’ll find your kind there, nasrany, Christian dogs, Maybe even some Americans. Have yourself some fun.”

Fletcher stared, aware that puzzlement showed in his slack jaw and wide eyes. The Turk leaned back, thumbs hooked at his sash, grinning.

“Surprises you, doesn’t it? All slave masters aren’t as stupid as Ali ben Sidi! That’s why we hand out alaik slave money. Matter of fact, there’s a little slave community right here in the heart of Tripoli itself. Gritti runs a tavern. Carapoulous the Greek owns an odd goods shop, where an Italian can buy himself some maccaroni, or a Frenchman some pastry. I understand they have little flags for homesick Americans, too. Buy yourself one. It’ll make you feel better. And work better, too. The smart masters give their slaves a chance to let off steam by meeting at Gritti’s Olive Tree, or the Coq d’Or. Do they lay, plans to escape, there? What if they do?”

Sinan leaned forward, and his dark eyes blazed with mocking pride. “Where can they escape to, eh? The desert? They’d dry up and blow away inside two days. The sea? The corsairs own the sea hereabouts except where the cursed Americans sail their frigates! They’d bring ’em back and torture them in public. No, it doesn’t do any harm to let the slaves meet. They can’t go anywhere. They talk a lot and make plans that never come about, and are happier and healthier as a result. Their owners get out of them. Everybody’s better off, all the way around.”

Sinan pushed the silver coins forward. “So take the money and enjoy yourself. You can get drunk on whisky—mashallah! what an infidel concoction!—if you want.

Fletcher walked out of the palace to the street. Dusk was settling along the shore of North Africa, bringing the glow of lamplight from deeply recessed windows in the white walled shops and mosques. In the cool shadows he swiftly, passing a Berber tribesman newly out of the Fezzan desert sands, and a harem eunuch on his way to the sweetmeat shops.

There were a few corsair captains in turbaned helmets moving along the Street of the Sail-makers, readying equipment for fresh voyages upon the Mediterranean. Through the open doorways he saw the sellers of sails haggling over prices or displaying canvas to swarthy men with beak noses and spade beards, their left hands resting on the hilts of scimitars or curved daggers. American ships like the frigate Constitution and the schooner Enterprise maintained the blockade outside the harbor rocks, but the Mediterranean was a large sea, and the African shoreline boasted many little coves and inlets. Small feluccas and narrow barquentines could anchor unseen in the shelter of high rocks and tree-clad promontories. At night they could slip out into the sea and be a score of miles away by dawn.

The slave trade prospered at the hands of these ingenious sea captains. They brought their captives and their pirated loot overland from those hidden coves in camel caravans. Tripoli suffered from the patrolling of its coastal waters, by American ships, but not as much as it would have done without the hawk-faced corsairs.

click here for a copy of Barbary Slave
barbary slave gardner f fox kevin matthews historical romance kurt brugel

A Sample of Chapter 1 from L.U.S.T. be a Lady Tonight

Sexy Lady Spy

Chapter 1

lady of lust be a lady tonight sexy cold war spy gal gardner f fox rod gray kurt brugel

Download a copy from the GFF Kindle Library

I learned about L.U.S.T. in Haiti.

The League of Underground-Spies and Terrorists, that is.

At the time, I had no thought of becoming a spy. I was on, vacation and enjoying myself as I did not do at home, with the voodoo drums throbbing in the warm night air lying heavy on the slopes of Morne à Cabrits, a sea wind off the gulf bringing with it the languid scent of jasmine.

I was watching a naked girl dance la cumbia.

La cumbia is a voodoo dance, wild and erotic.

Her dance was getting to my date, George Norman, a fellow American vacationer, in Port Au Prince. The rhythms of the rada drums, those cylinders of wood and hide consecrated to the gods on banana leaves, before lighted candles and with votive offerings of food and drink, the eerie sounds of the lambi conch shells, the chanting of the mambo priestesses, were all around us. The clatter of the organ bells, the sight of the pretty mulatto dancer shimmying ecstatically so that her breasts shook like bowls of café au lait jelly, were filling George with a magic all his own.

His arms were tight about my middle, his eyes were fastened on the loins of the dancer his body was firm against my buttocks, His breathing was uneven.

“My, my,” he kept saying.

The mulatto girl was quivering from her knees tip to her shoulders, Her eyes were wide, staring. At her feet, the six votive candles blazed with a brightness oddly appropriate in the otherwise dark jungle-night. Her feet stamped, her heavy thighs shook, her soft buttocks jiggled as she moved between the waxen tapers, uttering soft cries.

La cumbia is a dance of passion. Just as the corybantes, those priestesses of Cybele worshiped the goddess in Sumer and in Babylon with their extravagant posturings, so this young woman was adoring the life force that is in every man and woman. Her body was tuning itself to the vibrations of her gods, and because of her efforts, was glistening with sweat.

Her dance was akin to the fertility rites of the ancient religions, where the women worshiped the life principle itself, giving themselves to the embraces of strange men for the greater glory of a goddess like Mylitta. In la cumbia, there are no patterned steps, it is an individual offering by the dancer by which she hopes to free her spirit, offering it to the god, and through the god, to her loved one. The blazing candles symbolize the sun, the first life force which brings ripeness to the crops and warmth to animal life.

On spraddled legs the girl was moving above the clustered candles. Her head was thrown back, her shoulders barely moved yet her heavy breasts were leaping wildly. It was a stance by which the god was said to enter into the body of his priestess, but it was also a pose which was designed to rouse the primal lusts of the onlookers.

It was rousing George, all right.

click here to get a copy of L.U.S.T. be a Lady Tonightlady of lust be a lady tonight sexy cold war spy gal gardner f fox rod gray kurt brugel