Blinded by Conviction

By Jackson Graham

1657 – Port Bristol, England

Those men attack ships and take their money—and kill the crew…” blindedbyconviction

Jade dove behind the trunk, stopping his ears against the horror. These brutes killed sailors and innocents alike. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to disappear. Minutes earlier, savage freebooters had barged into his family’s home, demanding money in their drunken stupor. At his father’s flat refusal, the buccaneers drew their cutlasses. Muffled cries rang out. Then silence.

Boots thudded as the men staggered throughout the house, searching for valuables. One pirate flung open the lid of the trunk, further concealing the trembling child, and rummaged through an unrewarding collection of blankets. Another wrenched the family coin chest from its poorly hidden position by the hearth and raised it high. As the footsteps faded, the boy waited, then he backed out of his hiding place. Jade shuddered in relief—and despair—and raced to the door, averting his gaze from the bodies of his family. [Read more…]

Honor Before Prejudice

By Jackson E. Graham

Scotland, Early 1298. One mile south of Neidpath Castle. honorbeforeprejudice

Failbhe (FAL-uh-vuh) Fraser rode on horseback through the small fishing town of Peebles. The sun cast joy upon all who walked under its rays, a temporary break in the usually dreary Scottish weather. The River Tweed’s flowing waters roared in the distance. Failbhe was a fit man of twenty—a Scottish knight from Neidpath Castle. Brown hair flowed down to his shoulders, and penetrating eyes of emerald scanned the surroundings. Woven in his family’s colors, his woolen shirt was partially obscured by the thick, dark cloak he wore. He headed for Traquair House to deliver a message to the Laird. The main road—no more than a dirt path—carved a straight line through the town, with houses and shops cast to each side. Townsfolk walked to and fro absentmindedly, going about their business. The weathered wood structures reminded Failbhe of the tool sheds dotting the courtyard of Neidpath Castle. Traveling incessantly since sunrise, his legs tired of the monotony of riding in the saddle. Failbhe’s gaze fell upon a large wooden sign reading “Tavern Murray,” hanging above the entrance to one of the buildings. Failbhe paused. It was not a place he would choose to visit, but thirst resolved the matter. He cautiously entered the tavern, keeping an eye out for troublemakers.

Failbhe pushed open the ramshackle door and blinked a couple of times to adjust his eyes to the dim light. Numerous lanterns hung from the ceiling, candles sputtering. Twenty mismatched tables crowded the room. Smelling the heavy odor of fish in the room, Failbhe wrinkled his nose. The customers were regular townsfolk, mostly fishermen, farmers, and tradesmen. A loud laugh exploded from one sitting near where Failbhe stood, and he instinctively put several feet in between the man and himself. As he settled down uncomfortably on one of the rather hard stools, a large man with a stained apron approached.

“What can I get for you this fine afternoon?” the man asked. A scraggly beard clung to his haggard face. Failbhe glanced at him. [Read more…]