The 'Chronicles of War' is a series of seven complete and self-contained novels that narrate the fabled career of Epsilon Three, Holy Warfarer of the Martial Rite. Orphaned as an infant into a pagan cult of war, Epsilon Three (named for the month and the day he became a foundling) learns the strategies and tactics of war as a prodigy learns physics. Triumphant at the Festival of Alcorde, Epsilon's ultimate reward is banishment beyond the Great Barricade of Empire into a mysterious realm of magic and monsters. The second volume of the series, A Sea of Sand narrates Epsilon's passage from Oreset, a seedy port city, across the Desert Ocean to the distant, haunted steps of Verdune. Their passage is not an easy one, as monstrous insects plague them from dusk until dawn, spurred on by the ire of the most powerful wizard in the land, whom Epsilon mortally offended while setting a king once more upon Oreset's throne.



Epsilon rounded the headless statue, and was once more progressing along the bloodstone wall, when he met up with a fistful of ruffians, led by the offended gatekeeper. All five of the sloppy man's compatriots were large, well armed men, though they were scantily armored. All appeared to be quite angry.

"There he is," shouted the slovenly gatekeeper, handling his crotch obscenely! "That's him that cannot follow directions! That’s him what named your mothers for whores! Have at 'im, boys!"

Snarling savagely, the five charged, each raising notched and stained broadswords to menace their prey. Epsilon checked the strap of his helmet and reached for his buckler. Guiding Helmcleaver with his knees, he drew his sword coolly and prepared to meet the assault.

Some fifty sticks distance separated him from the five swordsmen, and they had to run up a slight, curving slope to approach him. Ever the tactician, Epsilon shook his head disapprovingly. They drew their weapons too soon and charged prematurely. As they neared, the Ritesman guided his stallion across the street and up onto the walk, where it was covered by a low, roofed awning. There he lingered, until all five men had climbed onto the walk and were nearing close enough to swing their weapons.

With a powerful spring of corded hindquarters, Helmcleaver jumped off the walk and came sharply about. The goons had only just left the raised porch, when Epsilon turned to meet them, blustering furiously. All five had raised their swords overhead to administer chopping blows, but had failed to note the awning above. When they attacked, all five blades sliced forward to embed in the cross supports of the low ceiling. At the sound of steel meeting wood, all five raised their stunned eyes in unison, and then lowered them again helplessly. Immediately, they began tugging at the hafts of their weapons, eager to re-arm themselves prior to their mounted foe's counterattack.

Meanwhile, Epsilon casually but quickly guided Helmcleaver around to the awning's two supporting piers. At its master's urging, the stallion kicked these out, one by one.

Now the five assassins were forced to catch the collapsing roof, before it could swing down and crush them against the wall. It was all they could do to hold it up, apparently, and they blew and strained to save themselves. Their blades were, necessarily, forgotten for the moment.

Epsilon next turned his stern attentions on the gatekeeper, who had turned to flee, while cursing the fates of stupid men. Helmcleaver easily ran the unsavory character down and knocked him, sprawling, to the cobblestones. As he slid, the slovenly man's face scooped through a dense pile of fresh manure. The gatekeeper sputtered and coughed, and wiped the shit from his eyes as he rolled over to sit up.

The Ritesman laughed heartily. "The color and smell suit you, citizen. The mask is a definite improvement over your natural features." He reseated the Warfarer's ornate blade and took up the reins once more. Helmcleaver circled the prone robber closely, his steel shod hooves dashing sparks and sharp splinters from the pavement. The keeper flinched at every clatter. "What a despicable coward you are! I would dash out your brains on the spot, scum, except for the danger of my stallion slipping in the mess! Now get up! Get up, damn you! Your witless friends are in need of aid, and you should not abandon them! Get over there, now, I say! Raise your hands and hold up your share of that roof!" The gatekeeper took his place in the ranks, and performed as instructed.

Epsilon stood in his stirrups to address the gang as a group. "Beware," he intoned, "you have all come before a Holy Warfarer of the Martial Rite. Empowered in the name of Empire as Prefect of all these Wilderlands and its peoples, I have summarily judged you and found you guilty of wanton criminal behavior. Your punishment is declared to be death!" All six men paled to hear this, both that they had vainly attempted to assault a Holy Warfarer and that the Warfarer had sentenced them to death for their crimes. "However, in light of this awning's need of your collective support, you are hereby redeemed until some kind citizen should come along to replace the piers. I hope for your sake that one happens along soon!"

Helmcleaver was away at a gallop, and Epsilon found himself sniggering sidelong from the corner of his mouth. Just as he breached the market gate, he heard a loud crash, which was followed by tumultuous cursing. His snigger erupted into gale force laughter, and he hurried back to the Swooning Dragon raging with merriment.

Returned to the inn, he entered into the rear courtyard via the overarched alleyway. From there he penetrated the rundown theater to enter the Captain's Room through its back door, horse and all.

He quickly tucked Helmcleaver into a stall, and removed the most important of his bags from the stallion's flanks. This was, naturally, the one that contained Dellas' purloined loot.

Mounting the balcony stair, he met a pleased Half Pint, "Master," gushed the midget joyously, "I had thought you gone forever!"

"Not hardly, Half Pint!" Epsilon returned enthusiastically, slapping his short friend on the back as he passed. "Come with me, little big man, and we shall discuss this city's fate as its lords! Cast aside that apron and let those mugs alone, for today you are made a god!"

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