A thief with dreams of adventure. An eternal battle against the Gods. Free drinks and grateful women.
Dirk is a scoundrel. Some would say a jerk. He’ll admit it. But his ambition only goes as far as his next heist. It’s not that he’s against noble causes or grand adventures. To hear him tell it, he’s had a few. As long as there’s something in it for him.
But when a childhood friend shows up with an unbelievable tale, Dirk must decide if he really is up for adventure worthy of the songs of bards. The last time the Kathaldi battled the Gods, they nearly destroyed the world. Can Dirk and his companions prevent the world from sliding into chaos once more?
If women and treasure await, he’s going to give it his best shot.
Come explore a richly detailed world of madness, monsters and mayhem, and help write the next chapter of The Kathaldi Chronicles.
Targeted Age Group:: YA & Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This story was inspired when I was idly thinking about what Atheists would do if God revealed him/herself and there was no denying it. Would they worship God? Then I thought about how that would play out in a fantasy setting. That led to the creation of my bad guys – the Kathaldi. They know the Gods are real but they refuse to follow them and encourage others to turn away from them, sometimes at the point of a sword. Soon I had the entire story for the trilogy.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The story demanded certain characters. I usually try to give each of my characters bits and pieces of people I know to flesh them out. I even note the names of the real people I'm using for inspiration in my notes.
Chapter 1 – The Beginning
Look, I’m not writing this to feed my ego. Or to get free drinks, or have ladies throw themselves at me. I’m sure that will all happen, but it’s not why I am doing this. This is for my children. I want them to know me and what I accomplished. What I was a part of. A big, significant, important, part of.
Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly who my children are but, mathematically, I figure I must have a bunch of them. This way, I don’t have to track them down individually and talk to them face to face. It’s a big time-saver for me. Great idea, right? As you read this you’ll see that I’m kind of an ideas guy.
So, to start off you should know that before the important events in this book took place I had some trouble with the authorities from time to time. I would not exactly say I was a thief, but that’s because thievery has a pretty bad reputation. A lot of other people did describe me that way, and I admit that it was accurate.
But, before I get too far ahead of myself I suppose I should step back a little, just to the beginning. My beginning. I was born. I was named Dirk because my father had to sell his favorite one to pay the midwife when I was born, and he wanted me to remember it. He liked reminding me of what they had to give up for me just to pop out of my mother. They were pleasant like that. "It was a difficult birth," my mother would often say. "And it ain't gotten any easier since!" They would both say that last part together, if they could. It never got old. Seriously. Never. Still funny. It's hard to say who I got my own awesome sense of humor from because they were both so darned hilarious.
At some point my dad left so my mom had to finish raising me and my siblings on her own. It didn’t bother me. And if it did, I am completely over it. It’s not a big deal. The important, relevant, part is that I had a friend. And not just that I had a friend, but who he was.
Thilos. He was an orphan who was being raised by a crippled friend of the family who actually turned out to be a good guy. One of the best. See, not all cripples are awful. Anyway, not your normal, unhappy, sad, orphan story. It’s kind of sweet, really.
Anyway, we met as kids, running around the streets, playing, having fun, and maybe causing a little bit of trouble. He taught me to fight and also how to read. Neither very well, mind you, we both needed other, better, teachers later on. But I might never have
learned how to read if my new friend hadn't convinced me how cool it would be. I'm not sure he was right about that, it's never gotten me any women, but I’ll admit that it has been extremely helpful.
The really important and relevant part is that we were still friends when the events in this book began, which is why he looked me up that day when he was in big trouble. By the way, this is not supposed to be some fancy foreshadowing – like we are enemies now, or something – it is just me trying to manage what to say and when to say it in terms of the present and the future. It’s kind of tricky. I don’t want to give things away too soon, or too late, or too never. I’m just a guy, trying to tell an amazing story, while some people judge me for every single fricking thing I do.
Chapter 2 – The Actual Beginning
I know what you’re thinking – that was a whole chapter? Well, write your own damn book. I am telling this story and the stuff in the first chapter wasn’t really a part of the main story that starts pretty soon here in this chapter, so I decided to make it its own thing and have the actual story start now, in chapter two. Happy? Unhappy? Great, because I don’t care. As far as I know you’re reading this a thousand years in the future and I’ve been dead for most of that time.
Anyway, one day I was relaxing at home in my place in Ansdron, one of the northern border cities, when there were a series of loud knocks on my door. I answered it carefully, dagger in hand, because people can misunderstand things that you do, you know? Judge you for your past actions, I mean. But it was my old friend Thilos, looking out of breath and worried. I invited him in, or at least I started to, but he pushed right past me before I could and quickly closed the door.
“Sorry to be rude, Dirk,” he said as he moved to the window and pulled the curtains closed, “but I’m being followed.”
I quickly slid up to a different window and used the large dagger in my hand to push just enough of the curtain aside that I could see the normal looking street scene outside as I asked, “Who is following you, Thilos?”
He sighed as he sat down on one of my comfortable, yet tasteful, chairs. “I don’t know if they’re actually following me right now, I think I lost them. But they are definitely after me.”
“Who?” I was getting a little frustrated which usually leads me to single word sentences.
Thilos shrugged with a slight smile. “The Warders.” He sounded a little embarrassed.
At this point I was quite confused. “The King’s Warders? As in Thilos, the King’s Warder?” Thilos had been a King’s Warder for almost seven years. It was all he had ever wanted to do, serve guarding and patrolling the borders, just like his parents and his guardian had done. He had joined as soon as he turned sixteen and qualified. So, saying the Warders were following him was like saying his parents were trying to kill him. Crazy!
He nodded, as if relieved I was following his insane logic. “That’s right!” He looked from side to side, apparently checking for eavesdroppers, inside my home, and lowered his voice to a whisper, “I think they’ve been infiltrated by the Kathaldi.”
Now, you readers already know what happened over the next couple of years but that’s because you live in whatever is the present for you. I lived in the present for me, which is the past (or even the distant past – I don’t know) for you. Suffice it to say that for me, in the ‘at the time present’, no one had heard of the Kathaldi being alive for centuries. So, this stuff Thilos was saying, even though he is a great guy and my oldest friend, sounded crazy as could be. I looked him over carefully but he didn’t look any different. Same brown hair and eyes. Same healthy looking grey skin. Still wearing the same old grey Warder’s uniform. He even looked sane, I guess.
Before I continue with the story, I guess I should take into account the fact that the kind of women I am most attracted to aren’t always that smart. So, maybe some of my kids, or grandkids, or their kids, or their spouses, or whoever else is reading this, are some kind of idiots and don’t know who the Kathaldi are, or were, or whatever. So, I’ll tell you, as quickly as possible so we can get back to my story. My awesome, heroic story. Dang, if some of you are really that dumb maybe you didn’t even know about the Kathaldi coming back and I just ruined the book for you. Oh well, you’ll probably forget about it soon. Man, I love dumb people! They make for the perfect audience. Anyway, Kathaldi is in the name of the book so you probably already guessed that they were involved with the story somehow. I hope you did.
Okay. So, in the olden timey days almost everyone lived quite a ways north of where we live now, and by that, I mean north of Ansdron, which is one of the most northern cities these days. There were supposedly a bunch of islands where everyone lived happy lives, enjoying the sunny beaches. That is, until the Kathaldi, who lived on just one of these islands, started stirring up some stuff.
The stuff they stirred up had to do with the Gods. The reason I am capitalizing ‘Gods’ is because this wasn’t a case of “are the Gods real?” They were definitely real. They weren’t interfering, or ‘helping’ as they called it, all of the time, but they showed themselves now and then. The Kathaldi weren’t idiots. They didn’t say the Gods weren’t real, they said we should ignore them. That, as if the Gods were our parents, we needed to move out on our own and ignore them, so we could grow up.
As you can imagine, the Gods didn’t care for that. At first, though, the Kathaldi only lived on one island and there were almost one hundred islands and all of the rest of them were full of normal people who worshipped the Gods the way they were supposed to. So, the Gods were like, “No problem, our true believers will prevail against those dufuses (or is that duffuses? I’m not a scholar. Either way, hopefully you know what I am talking about.) We’ll be fine.”
Of course, the Gods were wrong. (I am not trying to be sacrilegious here, I am just continuing the ‘Gods are like parents’ analogy because my parents were wrong all the time. Especially my dad who left because none of us would ever amount to anything. I mean, I became one of the greatest heroes ever, so obviously my dad was an idiot. I don’t care either way because he was a jerk and I am well adjusted. Screw him! See?)
Anyway, the big problem is that unlike most of the other islands who were just trying to get along and didn’t care what every other island was doing or thinking, the Kathaldi wanted everyone to agree with them and even to do what they said. It was like they were the wives and the rest of the islands were all husbands.
So, the Kathaldi started attacking the other islands. But they were pretty smart, they only attacked one island at a time. They also prepared, sometimes for years, before they attacked an island. During that time, they would send ‘agents’ to their target island and try to pave the way for an invasion with bribery, or lies, or whatever would help them take the island over. At the same time, they developed an entire class of people on the island of Kathaldi who were dedicated to the conquest of the other islands – the Warrior Monks of Kathaldi. Ironically, taking over the other islands was almost a religion to the Warrior Monks of Kathaldi. It’s ironic because they were basically fighting the idea of religion. Right? They argued that no one could ever be considered an adult if everything they did was dictated by the Gods. “We have to be able to make our own decisions!” they would all shout. Man, I hate those guys. The Kathaldi also had a lot of badass mages. Total jerks, according to history, but good at killing with magic.
So, long story short, they were pretty good at taking over the other islands, one by one. The other islands kept acting like, “Oh, I bet that is the last island they’ll take over. No need to band together and crush those creeps.” So, island after island kept coming under the control of the Kathaldi, but slowly, over decades. They were patient people, those awful, awful Kathaldi.
After a while even the Gods started to notice. At the time they didn’t interfere much with the daily lives of their followers, but they still got their strength from the number of worshippers they had. Since the Kathaldi were killing all of the priests on every island that they conquered, as well as any followers who wouldn’t agree to abandon the Gods, they started to notice their strength weakening.
Finally, the Gods decided to do something about it.
They rained down snow and hail and ice and rocks and all sorts of awful stuff and buried those islands under a mile of all those things that I just mentioned. The island people who could fled south to Mindolo, the continent we are on now. At the time it only had the other races like Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes and scary monster types living on it. The mountains to the north of our fair city, Ansdron, mark the beginning of the barrier separating us from what used to be a bunch of islands. Since we are attached to that barrier this became the Mindolan peninsula, but it is also a continent. Weird, huh?
This was around four hundred years ago, and nobody had seen or heard of any Kathaldi in all of that time. I’m pretty sure that everybody figured they were all dead. And it is pretty easy to tell a Kathaldi by looking at them. They are all white. Super pale white. I’m as grey as they come, like Mindolan men and women tend to be. The brown-skinned people mainly live in the western kingdom of Orcin. The different colors of men aren’t always friendly with each other. All of the Mindolans and Orcin don’t exactly love each other, you know what I mean? But we all hate the Kathaldi. What with them almost getting us all wiped out by the Gods.
Now that you know all this you can see why I was pretty confused to hear that the Kathaldi, who had been extinct for centuries, were after Thilos, but I decided to play it cool because that’s how I am. “Hmm, it seems like we have a lot to catch up on,” I said with a knowledgeable smile while raising one eyebrow like smart, worldly folk do.
Thilos laughed, nodding, “That we do, Dirk, but a drink might help me get it all out.”
I looked at him and decided I could use something to drink, too. “I guess I’ve got some Ral Malan Gold wine that I’ve been trying to get rid of. I might as well pour it down your throat as into the sewer.” I led him into the sitting room and motioned for him to sit in one of the chairs while I got the wine and some glasses.
“Ral Malan Gold Wine.” He shook his head wistfully. “You must be better than I thought.”
I smiled. “Let’s just say that over the years I’ve put my talents to good use.”
To interrupt for a second there are a few things you should know about this conversation. One, I was, and still am, better than Thilos thought I was. It is very helpful to be underestimated. And two, Ral Malan Gold wine is the most expensive wine you can get, so I was being pretty hilarious, and suave, to say I would just pour it down the sewer if we didn’t drink it. I know people say if you have to explain a joke then it wasn’t that good of a joke, but I think it might be different if you are explaining it to idiots. Like, maybe there’s an exemption for that. The Idiot Exemption. I like that. I feel like I will be using it a lot while telling this story. No offense.
So, we did some drinking and a lot of talking. Mostly Thilos did the talking since he was trying to get me up to speed with what had happened over the last week or so, but we both did the drinking. By the time he was finished we were off of the excellent Ral Malan Gold wine and on to my normal drink, super crappy and cheap wine – but it was still wine and once you have had a few glasses what’s the difference? It’s just being good with money at that point.
I apologize for the fact that I am going to have to fill you in on what happened to Thilos before he came to my place, but I wasn’t there, so it is pretty hard for me to describe what happened as if I were. Plus, I tried writing some stuff in the third person and it was awful. Here’s a sample of what I wrote where I imagined the leaders of the Kathaldi recently meeting to plot against the rest of the world:
The evil Kathaldi main leader guy walked into the evil meeting room early to soak up all the evil vibes from all the evil that had happened there over the last four hundred years. “Man, we have done some awesome evil, haven’t we? Those were great times.” He smiled evilly as he perused his evil memories, stroking his little chin beard thing slowly. “I can’t wait for all the other evil Kathaldi leaders to get here so we can plan some more evil against all those other non-super pale people that we all hate so much!”
As you can imagine I don’t want to talk about this a lot but suffice it to say that it sucked, and I stopped pretty quickly and decided to only describe what I lived through. So, all of this next chapter is entirely stuff Thilos said so it could be accurate, it could be colored by his beliefs or memory or by not wanting to embarrass himself, or he could just have totally lied to me. But that last thing is not like Thilos at all. He can be wrong, very wrong, but he is not a liar. When he tries to lie it is so obvious. It’s almost funny. Such a goody-goody. But no one is perfect – even me.
Chapter 3 – What Thilos Said
Now, I know that this chapter is called ‘What Thilos Said’ but let’s be realistic. This isn’t every single thing he said. I mean, come on, that would take forever! At one point he went on for a while about how comfortable my chair that he was using was. You don’t need that. Plus, I figure you know how books works, right?
Anyway, it all started while Thilos was on patrol, which means he was riding or walking his horse from one place to another. Sometimes on main roads and sometimes on little used paths and trails, but always on the lookout for trouble. That’s what the King’s Warders are paid to do. The trouble they are looking for, and occasionally find, can be little trouble, like somebody robbing someone or maybe getting injured whilst travelling, but it can also be big trouble, like a bunch of drants attacking a group of travelers, or an army of trolls heading towards a village. This day it was a big bunch of drants attacking a group of travelers which, if you remember what I just told you a few seconds ago, is classified as “big trouble”. Thilos did what warders always do when they run into “big trouble”, which is try to get enough information on what is happening so that when they sneak away, quickly and quietly, they can file a report and get a bunch of other people to deal with the actual problem. I call this the “run away” plan. Of course, this is not how the warders describe their work, so I wouldn’t quote me about that to any of them, unless you are looking for a fight. I’m probably safe because I’m such a big hero but you are presumably just a normal person so play it safe. Man, I am full of good advice. Is this just a heroic tale of me (mainly) saving the world or is it a useful guide on how to live a successful, happy life? Or is it both? It’s a lot to think about.
So, Thilos is leading his horse along some backwoods trail and hears the sounds of a large fight or small battle, depending on how you look at these things. Now, I know exactly what was going on and I would probably take the side of small battle, but you can make your mind up after I tell you what happened.
Here it is: Thilos snuck up on the scene of this small battle and, from hiding, saw the end of a fight between a bunch of drants from Skull Clan, fighting what appeared to be travelers making a pilgrimage somewhere. Drants are supposedly half human and half boar and were created by Drantor the Destroyer, a jerk who is the god of destruction. He’s pretty powerful because a lot of bad guys worship him and there are always plenty of jerks and other bad people around, right Dad? I’m not saying that because my dad worshipped Drantor the Destroyer, just that my dad was a jerk. Don’t read too much into every little thing I say. I say a lot of stuff. Who doesn’t? Now I am going to say some more stuff that is actually part of my story: Luckily, the Kathaldi don’t worship any gods at all so Drantor (the Destroyer) doesn’t get any strength from those losers. Drants aren’t super creative or thoughtful so Thilos knew they were from Skull Clan because all their gear has skulls on it and they hang actual skulls off their belts. Pretty straight forward. It smells great, too, because the skulls are at various stages of freshness. Plus, it’s really classy.
Thilos figured the humans were pilgrims because they were a mix of different professions and very few of them were outfitted as fighters. The weird thing was that even though the drants and their battle wolf pals outnumbered the pilgrims there were a lot more dead drants and wolves than there were dead humans. He also noticed that none of the pilgrims were yelling, or screaming, or talking, or even crying, neither the men nor the women.
All they did was fight. Every single one of them, men and women. There weren’t any children, which was also a little odd for a group of pilgrims. Not all of them had a weapon but they were really smacking those stupid drants and wolves all over the place.
Thilos didn’t stick around to see the end of the fight. He headed to the nearest village, so he could report. That happened to be Lantora, where his old foster father, Garrick, lives and mans the warder outpost which is a semi-retired kind of job, fit for a kindly cripple. I’m sorry but Garrick hates it when I call him a cripple, so I do it as much as I can. It is one of his legs that is all messed up, so it isn’t like he can chase me down to try to teach me a lesson. It would be funny if he did, though, because with his leg like that he wobbles a lot so to see him in a hurry always makes me laugh. He loves that. We’re very close.
So, Thilos stumbles onto a big fight where a large group of drants attacks a much smaller group of presumed pilgrims and even though they are outnumbered, and don’t even all have weapons they hold their own. Then he takes off to file a report. Ah, the exciting life of a King’s Warder. Are you with me so far?
He gets to Lantora and wakes up his foster father, Garrick, so he can report to him. At this point Garrick is barely awake and Thilos is freaking out a little bit, trying to describe everything and jumbling it all up because he is tired, as well as freaked out, so it takes a while for him to get the whole story out. They talk through what it meant and after a bunch of other theories from both of them, Garrick is the one who suggests it might be the Kathaldi. He just threw it out there, he didn’t really believe it. Either did Thilos. The only thing they did agree on was that they needed to go check out the clearing where the mini-battle took place in the morning.
The way they tell it they did just that. Got up the next morning and rode back to the scene of the fight. When they arrived, there was one drant survivor but he had a crushed knee and several other injuries so wasn't capable of leaving. He wasn't interested in, or capable of, sharing any information about the battle so they freed him from the stress of continuing to live and searched the area. The drants had outnumbered the "pilgrims" almost two to one, and had some attack wolves helping them out, so for the drants not to easily destroy the humans was the biggest oddity. There were a lot more weird things that they found, too. The unarmed combat, women fighting just as well as the men, and the silence of the humans while fighting and dying. I know I plan on making a crap-ton of noise when I go. The pilgrims didn't seem to have much stuff with them, either, like personal type items. Most pilgrimages take quite a while, so you usually see a lot of those. Thilos and Garrick couldn't even tell where these people were from. Or where, exactly, they were on a pilgrimage to.
All in all, after examining all of that Garrick was convinced it was the Kathaldi, and even though Thilos wasn't so sure he agreed to ride to Ansdron and report about it to the Lord High Warder, Jingle McFruity. Just kidding, Thilos agreed to report about it to the boss warder in Ansdron, Commander Leftson. Garrick returned to Lantora and off Thilos rode, feeling a little foolish for what he was going to report.
A few days later he reached Ansdron and after a few hours spent waiting to show him how unimportant he was, compared to Commander Leftson, he finally got to see the big man.
When he finally gets to talk to the commander, he tells him everything, a little hesitantly, because he doesn't know if he believes it, but he’s loyal to his foster father and doesn't want to make it sound like he thinks Garrick is crazy. Commander Leftson basically just nods and tells Thilos he will look into it and then orders four warders to escort Thilos to wherever he is staying, but with his eyes he is saying take care of this guy, meaning kill him. Thilos is suspicious so he tries to get away but ends up having to fight them before making his way to my place.
There! I know that was awful but now I, myself, am back in the story so the real adventure can finally begin. Well, I guess I already told you a little about when Thilos came to my place so actually we’ll be getting back to the real story instead of beginning the real story, but you know what I mean. Now we will be back to the good stuff, where I help save the world. Although, to be honest, that part doesn’t happen right away. But I do need you to meet some more people.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Buy Children of Kathaldi: Book One of the Kathaldi Chronicles Print Edition at Amazon
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