One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. This year I’m taking part in the competition with my own team. You can keep updated on our progress and all of our content on my SPFBO 5 page!
Tales from the Asylum is a new feature I came up with for SPFBO. I wanted to create a unique opportunity for the authors to show off their story telling skills by taking their characters and putting them in an asylum room to see how they would deal with the situation. A lot can happen in a closed space…
Gregory Mattix grew up in the blazing heat of the Arizona desert. He obtained a degree in Business Administration at the University of Arizona, served in the military, and lived overseas for a time. He currently lives in Colorado with his wife. He is the author of the Extensis Vitae and Nexus of the Planes series.
Dakarai Creel woke with one hell of a hangover. No, not a hangover, he realized after a moment. This was something else. Either a poison or a drug. He could feel the aftereffects as his body worked to purge the toxin. Whatever it had been, it had been damn powerful to knock him out like that. With his regenerative ability, he could usually shrug off most such substances without being rendered unconscious.
“That bloody mage,” Creel growled as memory slowly returned. “Whoreson has shite for luck at dice and couldn’t stand to part with a few crowns.”
He remembered dicing at the country tavern and then pocketing five gold crowns after emerging victorious. Five crowns was as much as he made in several months of completing monster slaying contracts in these small country villages. His usual reward might be a few coppers, along with food or ale, dwarven spirits if he was lucky, though the rotgut found in such places left much to be desired. The mage had been both shocked and angry when Creel, with his highly attuned senses, detected the man’s use of subtle magic to try to influence the outcome. After listening to the mage’s unconvincing denials, they’d eventually agreed to a final winner-take-all toss. Creel had won, and afterward the mage had bought him that last ale, claiming no hard feelings.
Should’ve known better and passed on that damn ale, he thought.
The cell he found himself in was unremarkable as far as dungeon cells went–he’d been in both better and worse before. Torchlight came through the barred window of the door, and a particularly shrill scream echoed down the corridor. The presence of surrounding magic he could sense made him suspect this was no simple dungeon, but something else.
That bastard must have his own private cells to torment his enemies and those who’ve slighted him in some way, he thought.
Unless the mage had magicked him away somehow, he didn’t think he could be far from the town. His bones weren’t aching yet from the results of the old experiments that had made him into what he was, so less than a day had passed. Likely only a few hours.
The door was solid oak, its lock sturdy. As he was checking the door, he heard the shuffling of feet and glimpsed a short, scrawny figure coming his way, a ring of keys in hand.
A goblin for a henchman? He smiled at the thought. This can work to my advantage.
Creel was relieved to discover his enchanted mask was still in place. His weapons and gear were gone, but the mage or his lackey had missed the mask, which was unsurprising since it was nearly undetectable. It provided him with his human features, rather than the withered, ghoulish appearance that was his true visage. Concentrating a moment, he willed the mask to change itself to the features of the mage he’d faced over the pitted table in the tavern. Once he was confident it was set, he banged on the door.
“Oy!” he shouted at the goblin. “Get me out of here!” The mask wouldn’t change his voice or clothing, but goblins were stupid creatures and he was counting on its fear of the mage.
The goblin’s jaw dropped, revealing its spiny maw of teeth. “Master?”
“Aye! The bastard tricked me and locked me in here. Now he’s escaping!”
The goblin cocked its head just as another scream echoed down the hallway. “Master down there with prisoner.” It looked confused.
“Nay, fool! That’s the other prisoner. Hurry, open the door at once or you’ll be the one screaming!”
Creel hadn’t known a goblin could blanch, but found out this one could. The creature fumbled and dropped the key ring in its haste. It took a moment to locate the right key among a dozen or so. Finally, the lock clunked and the door swung open.
“Give me that.” Creel snatched the key ring from the goblin’s hand. “Is the prisoner’s gear where it’s supposed to be?”
“Me take good care of it, Master.” The goblin pointed down the corridor from the direction it had come. “Gear all there as Master commanded.”
“Good. Wait here and keep quiet.” Creel stepped out into the corridor and closed the door. He locked the goblin inside, then restored the mask to his ordinary features, those he had before the experiments, when he was still a man and not a monster himself.
He found his gear in a small guard room at the end of the corridor. Creel unsheathed his sword and clipped the key ring to his belt.
“Now, let’s find out what’s really going on down here. Bastard owes me five crowns, and then some.”
Note of the Author
If you’d like to get in touch, you can find Gregory Mattix on social media:
Gregory Mattix entered Scions of Nexus into SPFBO, which you can check out by clicking on the cover which will lead you to its Amazon page:
You can keep updated on our progress and all of our content on my SPFBO 5 page!
Oh fun! Creel’s mask is giving me 5e ‘Mask of Many Faces’ feels, or maybe the masks used by undead in Divinity: Original Sin (look, we’re all nerds here, okay?) It’s a really cool artifact that I think must lead to fun conflict resolution in the book.
Thanks to Gregory Mattix for the Tale and to Timy for hosting! 😀