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Guest Post – Ambit and Snarl Imagine What Their Lives Would be Like if They Travelled 100 Years Into The Past by K.J. Taylor‘Okay,’ said Ambit. ‘So like… what d’you think it’d be like if you and me went back in time?’Smoke drifted from Snarl’s jaws. ‘What the hell are you talking about, Ambit?’‘I’m just wondering.’ Ambit took a long swig of beer. ‘I mean, a hundred years ago everything would’ve been really different, right? What if we went back there?’Snarl groaned. ‘You’re drunk.’‘So what?’ He took another swig. ‘Granddad used to tell me stories about what it was like before the Nine Mountains and all that shit. Before your kind came along.’‘Oh?’ Snarl cocked her head. ‘What was it like, then? I have to say I can’t really imagine the Land of Flowers without us.’‘Well it’s what all those twits out there want back,’ said Ambit. ‘You’d think it must’ve been pretty fucking awesome, right?’‘Hah,’ said Snarl. ‘All right, go ahead – enlighten me.’Ambit refreshed his drink, and looked around at the landscape ahead of them. The two of them were sitting on a hillside, underneath a large walnut tree, and the ground beneath them was lush with grass. Or it was lush everywhere except for the spot where Snarl sat. As usual the plants around the small demon had withered, and a few embers were still burning in the blackened remains of the grass under her double-pointed claws. And at the bottom of the slope, the grass ended.So did everything else. There were no trees down there, or any other plants. The ground was barren black rock, lit by a faint glow of the fireflies which were the only living creatures prepared to go there. Further away, Ambit could see lines of burning orange – rivers of flowing lava.‘Well,’ he said, ‘There wasn’t any demon country. The Nine Mountains were just mountains. Granddad said people lived on ’em. The land was really fertile and shit. Those villages got turned to ash the moment the eruptions happened, but nobody saw it coming or they wouldn’t’ve been there. Unless they were even bigger morons than most of the people I meet.’‘Huh,’ said Snarl. ‘Did you humans ever fight each other?’‘Dunno,’ said Ambit. ‘Probably not. Mostly us humans just want to farm things and whatever. And all the villages would sell the stuff they grew to the towns, and the towns sent food and other shit to the capital, for the King. But thing is…’ He scratched at his blue-spotted hair. ‘We didn’t have money back then. No demons around so we couldn’t take their eyeballs-,’‘Well screw you too,’ Snarl dug her claws into the smoking earth.‘Hey, that wasn’t my idea,’ said Ambit. ‘Anyway, before then we just traded. When the demons came along they started saying your eyes were valuable so people’d be encouraged to fight your kind. Something like that.’‘So if you and I went back to that time, I’d be safe,’ said Snarl. ‘Nobody would want my eyes, or be afraid of me.’‘Nobody would even know what you were,’ said Ambit. ‘Yeah. That sounds pretty great to me.’ He glanced down at his palm, which sported a large burn scar. ‘And there’d be no prophecy either. Would there? The Oracle wouldn’t be there to tell anyone about this whole Chosen One bullshit. Shit.’ He picked up his mug. ‘Wouldn’t that be great? We could go anywhere we wanted, with nobody bothering us. You wouldn’t have to hide from people, and I’d be just some arsehole trying to get laid.’‘Damn,’ said Snarl. ‘That does sound pretty good.’‘Yeah,’ said Ambit. He touched the silver spear which lay beside him, propped up against the tree. ‘D’you know if there’s any way to go back through time, Snarl?’‘No.’‘Well… shit.’ Ambit drank deeply. ‘Guess we’ll have to do this the hard way, then. Mind you-,’Snarl raised her claws. ‘I’m going to stop you right here before you turn this into one of your horrible puns, Ambit.’‘Some things are better when they’re hard,’ said Ambit. ‘Tell me I’m right.’She groaned. ‘Don’t ask me; demons don’t have sex.’‘You poor bastards.’ Ambit grinned. ‘How is your life worth living?’‘There’s more to life than that… squishy human business,’ Snarl hissed.‘Yeah, well, there should be more to life than being the fucking Chosen One,’ said Ambit.‘And I guess since time travel’s off the table we’ll have to figure something else out.’ He emptied his mug. ‘There’s got to be a way to break the prophecy.’‘There is,’ said Snarl. ‘And we’ll find it. I know we will.’*
By K.J. Taylor
Publisher: AUS Impulse (HarperCollins AUS)
Release Date: August 31, 2015
Length: 241 Pages
A fun adventure that satirises fantasy tropes in the style of Terry Pratchett.
Ambit Afterman is the Chosen One. Born with the mark of the silver bellflower on his palm and given a magical spear, he is the one whose coming the prophecy foretold.
Unfortunately, he would much rather drink beer and get laid - destiny can go fuck itself.
Together with his demon friend Snarl, Ambit sets out on a mighty quest - to make sure the prophecy doesn't come true, and avoid doing anything heroic under any circumstances. Along the way he will make polite conversation with demons, not deliver any great speeches, not train with the wise monks, and weasel his way out of adventure and into the nearest pub. But there may just be time to have cheap sex with the beautiful princess along the way.
EXCERPTOnce, long ago, the Land of Flowers was happy.’ The storyteller paused to look meaningfully at his audience. ‘Yes, very happy,’ he added. ‘But then the demons came. One day the sky went dark and the Nine Mountains erupted, with fire and smoke pouring into the sky. The land went dark and lava flowed over the earth, and the demons came crawling out of the ground – thousands of them, with burning eyes and metal teeth. They spread everywhere, killing everyone they found, destroying villages and towns, spoiling everything.’The storyteller’s voice rose dramatically and his audience, mainly children, listened expectantly. Around them other people were half listening. Adults relaxed in the shade after a long day’s work, and a young woman was singing for tips in the background. She provided a rather nice soundtrack.‘Today, the Nine Mountains are home to the nine demon lords,’ the storyteller continued, ‘and they send their minions out to oppress anyone living too close to the ruined lands they’ve taken for themselves. One day, perhaps, they will spread through the whole of the land and the human race will be wiped out.’‘Or maybe they’ll bore themselves to death first,’ a lazy voice put in from somewhere behind the audience.‘But there is still one thing that can stop the demons and put everything right again,’ said the storyteller, ignoring the interruption.‘The Chosen One!’ a small girl piped up. Around her, the other children buzzed excitedly.‘Fifty years ago, when the demons first came, it was said that someone would come with the power to drive them away forever,’ the storyteller nodded. ‘A special warrior, with a special weapon.’‘Bullshit!’ the heckler from up the back shouted.The storyteller glared in his direction, and went on doggedly. ‘Some say this destined one hasn’t been born yet. Others believe he is already here, and that one day, any day now, he’ll appear to begin the fulfilment of his great destiny. For all we know, he could be here today. He could be one of you, and you don’t even know it yet.’ He smiled at the fascinated children.‘I wouldn’t count on it, kids,’ the heckler threw in.‘When will the Chosen One come?’ a boy asked.‘Nobody knows,’ said the storyteller. ‘That’s all I know. But maybe, one day . . .’‘Maybe one day people will stop wasting time on fairy tales,’ said the heckler.‘Will you shut up?’ the storyteller finally snapped.The young man lounging on a rock by the wall of the town tavern only grinned at him, and when the other adults nearby muttered ominously, he grinned at them too. The singing girl took the opportunity to sing a little more loudly, and was rewarded with a faint rattle of demon eyes thrown into the bowl at her feet.Seemingly realising he wasn’t going to win this particular confrontation, the storyteller pushed his red-striped hair away from his face and turned his attention back to his listeners. ‘If you want to know more about the Chosen One, the monks in the valley are the people to ask,’ he said. ‘They know the prophecy, and they can recognise the Chosen One. Many people go to them asking if they’re the one, but all of them have gone away disappointed.’‘I want to go and see them!’ a small boy said immediately. ‘I want them to teach me how to fight demons!’‘That’s definitely something you can find there,’ said the storyteller. ‘The monks are always happy to take on new apprentices.’The boy glanced proudly at his friends, golden eyes shining with excitement.‘Oh goody, let’s all go and get ourselves killed,’ the heckler muttered. ‘Why is everyone letting this old goat tell their kids what a great idea it is to go and fight demons?’‘And I suppose a coward like you would tell them they shouldn’t?’ the storyteller threw at him.‘I’d tell them to make up their own minds, is what I’d do,’ said the heckler, idly rolling the shaft of a spear over his palm. ‘That’d be why you’re the popular one, right?’‘Well, I’m not too scared to go and see the monks,’ the golden-eyed boy told him.‘That’s because you’re a stupid kid,’ said the heckler. He winked at the singer, who had stopped singing and was now eyeing him with interest. ‘Hey, sweetie, want to see my spear?’‘Who are you, anyway?’ someone else asked. ‘I’ve never seen you around here before.’The heckler shrugged. ‘I’m just passing through.’‘Going anywhere in particular?’ the man asked.‘Trying to work out where I’m going at the moment,’ said the heckler, resting one long leg on the other and stifling a yawn. He leaned his spear, which was a shabby thing with its shaft bound with leather, against the wall beside him.‘One of the Dispossessed, are you?’ said the storyteller.‘Stop doing that,’ the stranger growled.‘Doing what?’‘Giving everything names,’ said the stranger. ‘It’s obnoxious. I’m not a Dispo-whatever; I’m a traveller. Labels are unnecessary. And right now I’m way too sober, so fare-thee-well, grandpa.’ He stood up, heaving a heavy pack onto his shoulder, and sauntered off into the tavern, snatching the spear along the way. The singer glanced around and followed him.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
K.J. Taylor was born in Australia in 1986 and attended Radford College and the University of Canberra, where she returned to obtain a Master of Information Studies in 2012. She currently works as an archivist.
She published her first work, The Land of Bad Fantasy, through Scholastic when she was just 18, and Harper Voyager went on to publish The Dark Griffin in Australia and New Zealand five years later. The Griffin's Flight and The Griffin's War followed in the same year, and were released in America and Canada in 2011. The Shadow's Heir, The Shadowed Throne and The Shadow's Heart have now joined them in both Australia and the US.