Only One Death
Introduction and Navigation
Only One Death
The First of The Tales of The Lesser Evil
If he does not find a way to save them, Dhinal knows his people will die. Every single one.
The apprentice shaman has travelled for years searching for the answer, along the way gathering a ragtag band of misfits, each harbouring secrets of their own. The latest member of this group, Strings, is running from something, her dreams haunted by flames and terror.
Together, they arrive in the bustling city of Eastsea, seeking a guide to the legendary and lost Amethyst Mountains.
Kees is tired of the city. She knows it is slowly killing her and longs to seek solitude in wild places, far away from the noise and stench of others.
Dhinal and Kees understand the wilderness does not care about you, it simply exists. Whether you live, or whether you die, is up to you, to your companions and to sheer chance. Winter is whispering in the high places, dangers-unknown abound in the forests, and fractures begin to appear in the group itself.
The truth, Dhinal knows, is that there are many ways to die, but only one death. And this journey will test them all, in ways they could not possibly imagine.
At its heart, Only One Death takes the well-loved trope of a group of adventurers on a quest, then turns this upside down and inside out, demonstrating how danger, secret motives and hidden desires can swiftly tear apart the strongest of groups—and Dhinal’s group is not the strongest. Not by a long way.
To receive each issue in your inbox, subscribe here:
Only One Death is a novella I originally crafted as a fun project, to take my mind away from my other fiction writing. As is so often the way, it morphed into something more, something different, a little feral and a little scary at the same time. This is why there are some fun things in there, such as the idea of the quest, of adventurers thrown together by fate and hoped-for fortune, or why there is an inn named the Mounting Pony, whilst also ensuring the title of the tale falls short, by a considerable margin.
As I scribbled and typed, a whole world of ideas opened up, characters arriving fully-formed and formidable, places so vivid I was sure I had visited them. Other things began to intrude, adding extra flavour, including a dream I had noted in my journal back when I was a teenager, or a recorded observation of a ruin, high in the mountains, from a later journal, along with that deep sense of clawing and gnawing fear which can come with trying to find a place and purpose in the world.
As such, this novella led me to a path I had not expected, creating the first section of a journey which has now grown into six stories, with a final pair on their way. These make up The Tales of The Lesser Evil. Each Tale is essentially standalone, but each also features returning characters or locations which give the reader a deeper experience when read in order. Each is also a part of what essentially became a rather long prologue to a trilogy of fantasy novels, outlined and currently being tentatively drafted as I write this.
I painted and designed the maps you see here to accompany the story—every fantasy tale needs a map, right? Each chapter of Only One Death will feature an original image or photograph which fits the story, also painted or taken by me. I think it makes sense to have one image per chapter.
The serialisation (I’m from Scotland, hence the spelling) of this novella will be released over the summer of 2023. Or winter, if you are in the southern half of our planet. This novella will initially be free to read, with a new episode in your inbox every Friday. After this, once complete, the archive will be only be available for paying subscribers, with additional download options also available.
The next Tale, Dust and Death, will follow in September 2023.
Don’t miss a chapter! Enter your email address here:
The Crow's Nest is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts, whether chapters of serialised fiction, news on works in progress, notes on the writing process, or essays on a variety of topics, please do consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Find links to each episode here, added as each email goes out to subscribers.
Many thanks for reading! If you have any thoughts, questions, or just want to say hello, do please leave a comment below.