Welcome to Winter’s Riddle, a long term pulp fantasy project describing adventure, mystery, wonder and horror set on the icebound world of Winter. Across these pages the Fencer, the Trumpeter, and many other characters play out their stories, delving into the ruinous past or ascending towards the bright high Summer future. Let this introduction be a starting point but not a restriction, the journey is yours as well so feel free to read the selections in any order you wish.
A resplendent lemur-man.
Chambersof the Heart picks up some time after. By now the travelers have wandered up from the polar south and encounter the remnants of civilization holding on in the aftermath of the Uplifting. They travel to the Steam City of Nock where the Fencer falls under the spell of an alchemist queen. The town hides a massive secret and the two can’t help but seek out this forbidden knowledge despite all that they awaken.
Some time later, after many other adventures, the pair make for the equatorial lands, where they encounter The Ice Mummies of Haga Ephos. Out past known civilization is a single, massive mountain long rumored to be the former home of monks tasked with all knowledge. Braving the wilds and ascending the slopes the two seek out the Answer to the Riddle in the past. What they find is an uncanny revelation in magic as they risk not only losing their lives, but the very purpose which drives them on.
A madman who bleeds art.
At this point the narrative shifts. A Gathering Beauty describes the many adventures undertaken by the Fencer and the Trumpeter before they attempt the strange heights of Haga Ephos. Guided by the green journal of a lost love they seek out hidden treasures in order to exorcise a ghost from the past and gather up some of the precious wonder taken from the world in the Uplifting.
The first such story is The Bodies, a tale of sensuous pleasure and bloody horror. In search for a mythical statue the pair must infiltrate the massive fortress of a despot known as the Slavemaster, an artist whose canvas is living tissue. There they free Rel, one of the despairing thrall kept by the tyrant, and together challenge the body riddle posed by that jealous creature.
The loneliness of sisters.
TheSmoke Monster details an amnesiac that awakens to find himself guest to a most lovely lady in a forlorn castle. Intent on remembering his past, and despite all hospitality, he ventures onto the smoke-filled valley, discovering two castles, two ladies, and one noisy beast who hounds both of them. A singular glimmer of light illuminates this journey, that of a strange, prismatic stone.
What follows is a city tale, Pale Blank Skin, set in the name-blasted post-metropolis known as Ruin. There Lumnos the Wordseller ekes out a life amongst the palace-tribes in a book store which despises customers. Two men come looking for a particular volume only to find it having been stolen just the night before. These
two, one a swordsman, the other a trumpet player, drag Lumnos into the depths of the city in search of their prize. There they discover the awful habitat of the lowest citizens and the bleak creature of vengeance calling for the death of the city.
|The deadly white page.|
ACrown of Many Skulls finds the two travelers suddenly awoken from a sort of hypnosis on the Badlands of Nysul. Once the home of many kingdoms, the Uplifting left the red stone canyons in chaos, where fading despots reign over scraps of power. Here they chase after an enchanted crown which grants power to words, no matter who wears it.
The current story is The Witch of the White Jungle, involving the strange symbiosis between a terrible biome and the town which relies on it, despite the dangers. Seeking after no physical thing, just an idea, the Fencer and the Trumpeter fall in with the people of Jomoth’orr on an expedition to that place where monsters throng and a lady of wild power waits with both curiosity and harm in her heart.
|Dreams of power and identity.|
Other stories lie at the fringes of this ongoing narrative. Found only in Kindle format, these stories flesh out the greater world of Winter. These offer great depth to the world, showing that the frame is ever expanding, the work unfinished, the wonder never doused.
First of these is a Summer story entitled Shaper of Souls which describes the inner journey of a vagabond magician into a magical simulation which then opens up into something more. Through the tale change is a chaotic constant, as erratic as Summer morality.
Next is part one of a two part novel. TheRefracted Man is a side story of the Fencer and the Trumpeter as they seek out an immortal glassmith on a distant island and almost drown in the troubles they bring with them.
|Severed heads make good friends.|
Lastly is a single novelette describing an incident of the Uplifting. Syzygy follows a magical creation, a thaumaton, as she tries to hold onto her identity after the death of her master. Found in the first Winter’s Riddle collection, Echoes of Nightmare and Song, Syzygy ties up the full spectrum of stories which make up this epic.Magic lies at the heart of the narrative, with the blue Stranger and red Sol standing like antipodes between which the Riddle plays out. Across this infinite conflict the Fencer and the Trumpeter carve a path towards a future and their Answer. Other things, wondrous and terrible, wait upon the horizon.