Set in a Dark Age forest fantasy world, "Good King David" mashes the stories of Absalom from second Samuel together with Shakespeare's Hamlet. It's surprising how well the stories fit together as I draw plot elements from each story to build something new. There's incest, murder, rape, and treachery, everything you would expect from a biblical tale. Here's an excerpt:
Uzzah strode across the courtyard, angling for the double gate, the only break in the palisade. A predawn mist swirled at his ankles and a damp chill seeped through the woolen tunic beneath his leather brigandine. Two small fires crackled on either side of the path. Ash glowing red spiraled upward in the heat and smoke before burning out to black and disappearing in the night sky. A stench came forth from hell or the gates, metallic and musky like battle and blood but faint like a memory.
A shadow passed the gate. “Halt,” shouted Uzzah. He gripped the hilt of his sword. “Who walks the King’s ground without leave?”
“And who challenges the King’s watchman?” the shadow answered.
“Ahio,” said Uzzah. The brothers clapped each other on the shoulders and then stepped closer to one of the fires to warm their hands. “I expected to find you on the wall.”
“I would be, but....”
Uzzah followed Ahio’s gaze to a dark corner of the palisade blackened with shadows from the walkway overhead.
“There’s something foul in the air tonight.”
“Aye,” said Ahio. “I came down to have a look.”
They nodded to one another, drew their swords, and advanced toward the wall, following the sick scent.
“Who’s there?” Ahio shouted in a tone backed with steel, a command rather than a question.
A groan answered them, a mournful, wavering note, reeking of festering wounds but very far away like the splash at the bottom of a well reverberating to the surface. The watchmen stopped their advance. That groan belonged to no mortal man or any animal they had ever slain. They held their position, fighting their instincts, forsaking a bolt for the safety of the fire because no soldier wants to be the first to flee. They waited, but whatever groaned spoke nothing more.
“Unfold yourself,” said Ahio.
The mist at the base of the wall glowed yellow and swirled with streaks of red, growing taller until it reached the height of a man. The watchmen stepped backward, gaping at the spectre coalescing before them.
The translucent form—a tall man with a stout body and arms like a bear—hovered in the shadow of the wall. Clotted blood matted a yellow beard that trailed down his chest. His gray mail was torn across his shoulder. Another gash sagged above the opposite hip. Splotches of dried blood, the color of ochre, stained the tunic as if he had splashed through a river of it. No helm protected his head.
“It’s Uriah,” said Ahio.
“Uriah the Geat,” said Uzzah.
Uriah the ghost turned his eyes to them. Once the deep blue of a glacier lake beneath a summer sun, his eyes weighed with the leaden gray of a rolling sea on the verge of a storm. With a tired, hollow voice, it spoke. “Send for Absalom.”