Every Tooth and Blade: Volume 1

By Kalan Ray

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Four short stories set in a dark fantasy world.

– Keeper of the Carcass King –

“Even the very mountains would succumb to the unforgiving march of time and its indiscriminate slaughter of all those standing still.”

Alone atop a mountain in a forgotten desert, hidden in a crumbling monastery, Arneis has pledged his life to protecting the carcass of the god-king, Eloh. Aging and alone, he still clings to the hope that his king will return from death and walk again. He is last in a line of monks stretching back for more than 3,000 years and the final steward of the once powerful and respected deity. When his connection to the outside world is at last severed, death looms over him, along with the weight of a wasted life. He has precious little time remaining to force the resurrection of his god.

– The One Among Blood and Filth –

“She was a wilting rose in a garden of weeds, a moaning lament on an ulcerous stomach. Her powerful mind, keen through years of bootstrapping her own capacity for focus and finding hope in the darkest wells of disease, was at last caving. Her thoughts mimicked the pallid outward appearance of her body. She stood like a zombie among the living and moving people of the city.”

After being abandoned by her mother, beaten, and urinated on, a frail girl is taken in by the charismatic lord of a burgeoning city. Tasked with maintaining the royal garden, the future of her people and maybe even her life, will depend on the success of the flowers in her care. An explosion of violence around her reveals there is more to the plants than she thought, and perhaps more to herself as well.

– The Fate of Sora –

“They say Urayalel speaks directly to the dancers as they move. His voice carries through the blood of the sacrificed. As the drums beat, and the dust kicks into the air, Urayalel guides the worthy in their attempts to be covered. Whether their efforts are violent or not.”

Every fifteen years the people of Bata sacrifice the living. Their blood covers the faithful followers of Urayalel and guides them to their fate. Sora has never believed in these superstitions. Orphaned by their barbarism, and excluded by their zealotry, he is cast away to live on a small patch of land between their village and a volcanic wasteland. The time has come to perform the sacrifice again, and Sora is the honored guest. But, when the ritual is botched, he finds himself the conduit of their righteous anger. His only choice now is an escape into the wastes.

– Greaseknuckle –

“Few plants grew in its infertile soil, and the animals there were muscular and sinuous, with ferocious teeth and claws like jagged stone. It was a place that demanded a certain caliber of inhabitant, and that is what the Romii were: Bold, unbreakable, strong, and as vicious as the land that bore them.”

The Barnikaat Steppe is home to wild clans of monstrous people. Their violent despotism has stripped them of progress and left them with only the dirt beneath their fingernails. Panga, a brash warrior who has seen the ways of the better world, challenges the Grand Guuma to usher in a new era. Instead, he is thrown into an icy river and left to die. Now with the clan under attack, the ruling family must choose to free him, or be destroyed.

Author Kalan Ray

KALAN RAY began writing in elementary school when he chose to write short stories about superheroes rather than do his classwork. He has written poetry, horror, sci-fi, comics, and film treatments. When he is not writing, he can usually be found animating VFX action sequences on Hollywood films, or programming a new Virtual Reality experience. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Sylvia, and their two sons.

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