Thursday, June 19, 2014


Production on Jeremy Lee Riley's Pride of the Scouts is nearing completion. Arriving soon as both an ebook and a limited edition paperback. Only from Wamingo Publishing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014



From the memoirs of
Sebastian Delano Blayac
In the year 1325 AE

“It’s one piss poor excuse for a day,” Caleb said between striking a match on his boot heel and lighting his pipe.

"Looks that way, all right." I leaned against the railing of our sluggishly moving skiff-tank, Pathfinder, and peered out at the storm clouds looming above the jagged formation of rocks that passed for hills in this desolate area.

The sky was a somber gray, illuminated by occasional flashes of lightning. Thunder echoed off the jagged rocks with blustering and increasing regularity. A fine mist snaked through the valley and hills like the sinuous form of some spectral dragon. It seldom rained in this region, but when rain came, it was sudden, furious, and never lasted long.

Shortly after sunrise, the Pathfinder along with another skiff-tank, the Reaper's Revenge, entered a section of Kofteros known as the Dagger Hills. I had been on edge ever since we crossed the border. There was something in the air other than the approaching storm. A sensation that had caused the hairs to stand up on the nape of my neck and my skin to break out in gooseflesh.

Caleb noticed this (not much escaped his watchful eye) and he clapped me on the arm.

“What’s got you spooked, boy?”

“Do you feel that?” I asked. “I've got this sensation. Like...I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.”

Caleb blew smoke through his nostrils and grinned. “Like some giant’s foot is about to come down and stamp us into the dust, you mean?”

I considered this and nodded. “Aye. Just like that. Do you feel it too?”
“I do,” Caleb said. “We’re being watched. And whoever’s doing the watching doesn't have our best interest at heart.”

“Think they’ll pick a fight?” I looked the hills over, but there wasn’t a soul in sight. If the enemy was out there then they were well hidden.

“So what if they do?” Caleb said. “Relax. If something happens then it happens. Worrying will only make it that much worse, believe me.”

I gave another nod, this one less assured, and continued to watch the jagged hills for any signs of movement. Kofteros sat in the far western region of the Deadlands, far enough from the eastern empire of Elysium and its surrounding provinces that most of its land remained free of imperial control.

That isn’t to say that our emperor, the wise and canny Arius Adrastus, did not have his eye on the territory and its many resources, but in those turbulent days, as we fought to expand the Great Walls of Elysium farther into the surrounding Deadlands, a place as far removed from the cradle of civilization as Kofteros barely warranted a second glance.

Because of this, many barbarian tribes called the place home. Their clans were diverse and well-organized. Most had been forced into the region by the empire's continued expansion, making them hostile towards both the inner and outer territories. They would often raid neighboring towns or passing caravans and retreat back across the border, knowing that what scant authority existed in the area would think twice about following.

That the empire’s elite cavalry scout regiment would be sent to such a wretched place was a sure sign that the already strained relationship we had with the barbarian tribes had gone from bad to downright unfriendly.

A report had filtered in several days earlier pertaining to an expedition led by one of the emperor's vassals, the famous explorer Alton de Breilmaier. It appeared Breilmaier had encountered hostiles while searching for a route through the Knochen Mountains, which acted as a natural barrier between Kofteros and the Skala Sea to the northwest.

Breilmaier had hoped to open up trade with the island-folk said to exist just off the coast. The wealth of exotic goods these sea-faring people were rumored to harbor would easily fill Elysium's near depleted coffers. Needless to say, things had not gone as planned. The scouts were dispatched to search for survivors, if any were to be found.

We were nearing the point where Breilmaier had sent his last frantic transmission, stating that he was overwhelmed by Deadlanders and in need of immediate assistance. From my position on the Pathfinder's deck all appeared peaceful enough (or as peaceful as a group of jagged hills can look, that is).
“Do you think we'll find them?” I asked.
“Alive or dead?” Caleb said.

“Either, I suppose.”

“Hard to say. We must stay optimistic, but the reality of the situation doesn't bode well for anyone in that party.”

“And if they're all dead?”

Caleb puffed thoughtfully on his pipe. “Then we bury them and track down their killers.”

“To dispense justice?”

“Aye. If it helps you sleep at night.”

I glanced at Caleb, curious what he meant by that last remark. I knew better than to ask him. Some things he would tell me, others he would have me ferret out on my own. I had a feeling this was one of the latter.

“The barbarians are butchers,” I said. “They deserve what they get.”

“We're infringing upon their lands. Tell me, what would you do if things were the other way around?”

“The emperor only wishes to unite the lands.”

“With us on top.”

“What's wrong with that? Someone has to be, right?”

Caleb laughed. The wisdom of his forty-three years was evident in every line of his long, weathered face. I had known the man my entire life. Caleb and my father had served together in the military and fought in many campaigns together, earning each others trust and respect.

“There isn’t a man living I’d rather have watching my back,” my father once told me. High praise indeed coming from Alexandro Blayac, captain of the emperor's second legion and hero of the Boggarian Wars.

It was while Caleb and my father were off fighting in those very wars that I was born in the kitchen of our stately cottage, delivered by the cook and chambermaid. My mother, Lena, better known in polite society as the Lady Andreea, named me Sebastian, after my grandfather. I was the sixth of twelve siblings, and the third of four boys.

My family descended from a long line of heroes, whose exploits dated back to the empire’s sanguineous beginnings. From Xenodoros Blayac, who was instrumental in overthrowing Elysium's last king and paving the way for imperial rule, to Kol Blayac, who braved the Sorrowing Seas in search of pirates, our name carried with it a sense of pride and duty.

We had a responsibility to always be the first into battle and the last to leave, either on our feet in victory or carried off on our shields in defeat. It had always been this way, and the expectation was that my brothers and I would carry on the tradition. Not that we needed much prodding. Ours was a military family, after all. Service to the empire was the greatest honor one could achieve.

This was not to say that my father skimped on our education in favor of military service. To the contrary, Alexandros spared no expense when it came to his children's schooling. He understood that a well-honed mind was the greatest weapon in a soldier's arsenal. You had to be able to out-think your enemies on the battlefield, to predict their every move, and outwit them at every turn.

I had an insatiable hunger for knowledge from an early age. By my tween-years I was so far ahead of my fellow students that my teachers allowed me access to the archives between classes. I spent hours here poring over the histories of the ancient world, much to their approval. Most were convinced that once I had completed my mandatory service in the military I would forgo a soldier's life for that of an academic. How little they truly knew me.

I was my father's son. I lusted for the glory of battle as he once did. Never could I envision wasting away my days in some stuffy classroom as my chances for honor and everlasting renown gradually faded with the passage of time. So if it was true that I shined in my studies of the spirit and of the mind, then I all but radiated in my physical education.

Classes were primarily taught by lamed or retired soldiers who took their role of overseeing the next generation of soldiery with the utmost seriousness. Their jobs were to keep us fit, teach us the art of war, and see that we understood what was required of a vassal under the standard of our glorious emperor.

I graduated from the academy at the age of seventeen with top honors, ready to serve and die for the empire. I was given the chance soon after alongside my father and two eldest brothers, Joonas and Alaric, at the disastrous Battle of Tarkat. This was the emperor's first attempt at expanding the overpopulated empire farther into the surrounding Deadlands.

As anyone schooled in our rich history knows, Elysium did not always encompass the vast territory it does today. When originally constructed by the kings of old, the walls that enclosed the inner kingdom were meant to contain only a limited population. However, with the passing of several centuries and the transformation of the kingdom into an empire it wasn’t long before overcrowding led to disease, starvation, and death.

It took the Great Plague of 1314, which wiped out nearly a third of the population, to convince Emperor Adrastus that expansion was a necessary action. This was by no means an easy task. It meant seizing land currently occupied by other inhabitants. Some saw the writing on the wall and surrendered without a fight. The majority, however, wasn’t willing to go as quietly.

Tarkat was a relatively small province in Voor, an eastern region close to Elysium’s great walls. Barbarian tribes had been settling on the land for generations, all but thumbing their noses at imperial rule. Our armies lay siege to Tarkat in 1322, but we were ill prepared for the resistance we faced. The Deadlanders were outnumbered two to one, but they fought with a savage fury that was frightening to behold.

Many of our troops, mostly young boys no older than myself, broke formation and fled in every conceivable direction. The middle of our great phalanx collapsed. The officers tried vainly to reform the ranks. Most were slaughtered for their efforts, my father among them with an arrow through the neck. Alaric joined him seconds later.

Joonas and I made our stand along with the remnants of our army at what has been christened 'Reaper's Rock' by historians. Our situation looked helpless, but at that moment Caleb, who had been leading a separate attack to the north, managed to reform a thousand men into a brigade and attack the enemy from the rear.

Caleb's first wave shelled the entangled mass of combatants from a distance to soften them up for the impending attack. He was aware that he would be hitting friend as well as foe, but under the circumstances he had little choice. In the end, the opposition sounded the retreat, Joonas was killed by mortar fire, and Caleb was given a medal.

It wasn't long after that infamous battle that Caleb paid a visit to my family, offering his condolences for our loss and to beg forgiveness for his part in my brother's death. I thanked him for his kindness and assured him that neither I or anyone in my family bore a grudge against him for what had happened to Joonas. Caleb was a soldier fulfilling his obligation to win the battle at all cost. Had he not come to the rescue we all would have dined with the gods that day.

Caleb took me under his wing, becoming both my teacher and close friend. I learned that he once served as a member of the royal guard. He was quite intelligent, and was often called upon as an adviser to the emperor. I once asked him why he chose the life of a soldier when he could have easily spent the remainder of his days in the palace, content with his usefulness to the empire in any number of ways.

He smiled that sad smile of his that somehow passed for amusement and told me what I already suspected. He had an adventurous streak in him that could not be fulfilled any other way. He, like myself, wanted to explore, to carve new paths, to do something glorious with his life before he lost it to that unrelenting bastard, death. It was a sentiment I could easily understand.

Meanwhile, The senate was alarmed at how dearly Tarkat had cost us right out of the gate. An estimated twenty-eight thousand loyal subjects were reported dead. Another thousand were missing in action. Most were deserters who fled into the Deadlands during the battle, rightfully afraid to return and face our emperor's wrath. The cost of vehicles and equipment strained the already over-taxed plebs. Riots became a common occurrence in the streets.

The senate feared a full scale revolt if something wasn't done to quell their rage. They pleaded with Emperor Adrastus to call off his campaign, but he would have none of it. Instead, scapegoats were culled from the ranks. Generals, advisers, and instructors all found their necks under the executioner's ax. The emperor condemned his army as weak and undisciplined, unworthy of their roles as guardians of the empire.

That is, with the exception of us few who stood our ground at Reaper's Rock; we who fought and died to maintain a foothold into the undiscovered country. We were basked in glory. The emperor honored us further by announcing his plans to create an elite special operations unit, beginning with those of us who had shown our true hearts at Tarkat. The unit's primary duty would be to clear the Deadlands of all who opposed the expansion of our glorious empire.

So it was that the Cavalry Scouts were formed.

“...thinking it over?”

“Pardon?” I snapped from my daydreaming and shot Caleb an apologetic look.
“What I said earlier about us and the Deadlanders,” Caleb went on. “About what you would do if our roles were reversed. Have you thought any more on it?”
I sighed and said, “Is this another of your quizzes? Like the ethical judgments of soldiers during war and the difference between duty and revenge?”
Caleb puffed on his pipe and smiled. “Something like that.”

“What I don't understand is how you can defend these savages from a moral standpoint but not even hesitate when it comes time to kill them.”

“I do my duty as a soldier. It doesn't mean I can't sympathize with my enemy's plight.”

I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was listening. “Careful what you say. The wrong ears might hear.”

“Relax,” Caleb said. “My loyalty is above suspicion. As is yours, so quit avoiding the question.”

A burst of thunder echoed through the hills. I closed my eyes, relishing the cool breeze on my face as I considered Caleb's words. At last I shook my head. “I don't know what you want me to say.”

“Maybe I just want you not to lose sight of yourself.” Caleb blew a smoke ring into the air. The ring stretched to the point of breaking and then slowly dissipated as it drifted away. “You're a lot like your father, Bas. He was a good man, but all too often he put his duties above his own feelings. He did things that would come back to haunt him later in life.”

“So what,” I said, “you want me to put my personal feelings above my responsibilities to the empire?”

“I want you to think for yourself. Do your duty, but not at the cost of a guilty conscience.”

I laughed and clapped him on the back. “No worries, old man. My conscience is clean.”

“Good,” Caleb said humorlessly. “Enjoy it while you can.”

We watched the approaching storm in silence. It was 1325, nearly three years since Tarkat and the formation of the scouts. Before that battle I was a wet-eared pup fresh from the academy looking to make a name for himself. Now here Caleb and I were, well beyond the farthest reaches of explored territory. We stood in full battledress, our armor finely polished and gleaming despite the overcast day. Our helmets and ordnance were stored in the armory below deck.

Elysium's most renowned blacksmiths were tasked with creating the scouts' armor. What they produced exceeded the expectations of even the most enthusiastic among us. The armor was lightweight but ballistic-resistant and covered our chests, shoulders, and outer thighs. The remainder of our bodies were encased in aramid fiber suits that would automatically inflate over wounds to stop bleeding until medics could intervene.

Our helmets were designed with a special telescopic visor that could switch to infrared to better see in the dark. It also had a built in comlink, allowing us to keep in contact with each other during battle. This left our hands free to use any number of weapons built specifically for the scouts.

Chief among our arsenal was the battle-staff, a five foot metallic stave with a curved blade on one end and a barrel built into the other, which was capable of discharging twelve rounds of shot-shells. The battle-staff tilted the odds in our favor in close-quarters combat. We were trained mercilessly in the use of this weapon until we could wield it with deadly accuracy.

The .38 'Scourge' auto pistol was capable of firing forty rounds of ammunition without reloading. This was due to an extra magazine built into the pistol's grip. When one magazine emptied it automatically switched to the back-up. This little feature was handy in a life or death situation.

There was also the usual assortment of weapons carried by all soldiers—knives, grenades, back-up pistols, long-range rifles and the like—but the most unusual device in our arsenal was the LHED (Low-amperage High-voltage Electrical Discharge).

This piece of hardware could fire a jolt of electricity capable of stunning your prey for questioning, or, with the flick of a switch from low to high, fry him to a crisp. The LHED was large and cumbersome and took approximately sixty seconds to recharge after firing, so the scouts seldom relied on it when in the field.

Our cavalry cycles were made of lightweight armor along with a bullet proof face shield and two mounted machine guns on either side of the foot controls. Due to the Deadlands' rough terrain these wondrous machines were constructed sans wheels. Instead, they could hover up to five feet from the ground via an anti-gravity generator mounted beneath the bikes. This allowed us to ride freely without the worry of losing a wheel or becoming interred in anything from quicksand to man-made traps.

The cycles were quite expensive and meant to be used only for short distances. They, along with their riders, were transported from skirmish to skirmish within the protective hull of a skiff-tank. These armored behemoths were operated by a captain and crew, and served as a mobile barracks for the scouts during missions.

We lived ten to a room in twenty double-bunk compartments to a tank. It was cramped at best. To relieve the claustrophobia we often went topside to mingle with the crew or take pot-shots at wildlife and the occasional dust-dweller. This got so out of hand that the captain would allow only a few of us on deck at a time. We began drawing lots for the privilege and even getting into rows over it until our commanding officers threatened to ban going topside all together if we didn't shape up.

So was the glorious and much romanticized life of a cavalry scout. Truth is, we did see a lot of action in that first year, but as time drew on the Deadlanders learned to both fear and avoid us. With the steady decrease in opposition we were reduced to endless hours of sitting wedged between our brother scouts in compartments lingering with the smell of flatulence and body odor.

To kill time we cleaned our weapons, wrote home to loved ones, played endless games of Capture the Ace, pulled pranks on our superiors, and jerked off (the last of which we did with great zeal at every given opportunity). With egos swelling from past victories we were lulled into a false sense of security. We were the emperor's elite. A force to be reckoned with. The whole of the Deadlands cowered at our approach.

In other words, we grew soft. The Deadlanders did not. That they feared us was true. That they went into hiding was also true. But it was not to cower, but to wait—and to plan.

 Pride Of The Scouts, A Tale From The Deadlands. Written by Jeremy Lee Riley with illustrations by Dar Parsons. Coming soon in paperback, Kindle, and Nook. Copyright, 2014, Wamingo Publishing, by Jeremy Lee Riley and Dar Parsons. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


And just what is Jeremy Lee Riley doing in his hotel room the morning after his birthday? Why, he's drinking hot tea and working on the edits to his upcoming novella "The Shepherd of Evil" of course.


More artwork by Dar Parsons for Jeremy Lee Riley's upcoming novella "The Shepherd of Evil".

Thursday, May 8, 2014


The cover to our upcoming paperback. For those who read it in its ebook format you will remember it as Scout's Honor. We were never a fan of that name (too common) and since we revised much of the book's material we decided now was the perfect time to alter the title too.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


A sketch by Jeremy Lee Riley for The Shepherd of Evil, c. 2001. Look for Dar Parsons's own artwork to grace the novella's pages in the summer of 2014.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Here is a first look at some of the revised artwork by Dar Parsons for the upcoming Scout's Honor paperback edition. This is his work in the raw (i.e., before he puts on the final polish) so one can only imagine how good the final product is going to look.


A gift from my good friend and partner in crime, Dar Parsons. His framed original artwork for my Deadlands books. I hung them above my desk to inspire me as I finish the last two books in the series. -- Jeremy Lee Riley


The paperback edition of Scout's Honor, A Tale From The Deadlands is currently in the works. Revised by yours truly with all new illustrations by the super talented Dar Parsons. In regards to the revision, nothing major has been changed. The story is still 99% the story as originally published.

Keep in mind, though, that this was my first published book (meaning I was feeling self-conscious, intimidated and overwhelmed by this massive beast called publishing), and I was writing against a deadline. Because of this, the resulting material, in my opinion, is a bit stiff and awkward in places. But the biggest complaint I have received from readers is that, though they enjoyed the overall story, they had a hard time getting through the opening chapter.

Rereading the story, I immediately saw what the problem was. The first chapter is pure exposition. Instead of getting the story rolling right out of the gates I have the main character expounding for countless pages about who he is and where he comes from. Not exactly edge of your seat excitement, I know. Please forgive me. I was younger then. Time and experience have allowed me to see the light.

Now that I have a couple more books under my proverbial belt (meaning that, though that massive beast called Publishing still looms over me, I have learned to stave off its advances with the point of my well-sharpened pencil) I decided the time was right to go back and do a polish on the book that started it all.

The first chapter has now been integrated into the rest of the story, allowing it to flow more naturally. We begin with events already in motion; the characters are established and the action is set to take off. The back story is then divided up and peppered here and there throughout the first two chapters. Hopefully (can't express that word enough), this will allow the readers to ease more comfortably into the world of Sidoria and its many strange, indigenous lifeforms. I also took the opportunity to fix a few awkward word choices and stilted paragraphs.

The result is a story I am more comfortable with asking people to pay their hard earned money for. A fun, fast paced, action adventure story in the same vein as Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, or Edgar Rice Burroughs's Warlord of Mars series (not that I'm conceited enough to compare my fledgling writing abilities to these great wordsmiths of the fantasy genre, more that their great work is what I'm aspiring towards).

And if the story was getting a makeover then why not the illustrations too? As with the prose, the artwork was a rushed job to beat the curse of the ever present deadline. Dar Parsons's work on the Deadlands series has grown by leaps and bounds in just over a couple of books. Not to say what he had originally produced for Scout's Honor was substandard, he just knew he could do better. Now he's had a chance to prove it, and brother (or sister), let me tell you, he delivers big time.

So, that is my long-winded explanation for the revised edition of Scout's Honor, A Tale From The Deadlands. Think of it as a 'director's cut' if you will. The creators' preferred edition of their work. We're excited with the upcoming paperback (and ebook version) and hope you will be too. Thank you for your time and happy reading.

--Jeremy Lee Riley


That's right, faithful readers. Scout's Honor, A Tale From The Deadlands is set to be released as a paperback in the summer of 2014. This revised edition will be a limited quantity signed by author Jeremy Lee Riley and illustrator Dar Parsons. Stay tuned for more news as it unfolds!


L: Jeremy Lee Riley, R: Dar Parsons


WAMINGO PUBLISHING. Infinite Worlds at your fingertips. Join us on the following sites.




First illustration by Dar Parsons for Jeremy Lee Riley's upcoming novella The Shepherd of Evil, A Tale from the Deadlands. Tentatively titled: 'The Kings of Antiquity'.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


COMING SOON: The Shepherd of Evil. The latest novella in Jeremy Lee Riley's Deadlands Saga. Featuring stunning illustrations by Dar Parsons. Be sure to drop by this blog regularly for more updates. Or visit us on Facebook ( and Twitter (
Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.




The sign out front of the antique shop read: PARANORMAL PARAPHERNALIA.

One look through the bars that adorned the plate glass window and James could see how the shop had acquired its name. The interior was crammed full with a bizarre collection of knickknacks, baubles, furniture, and clothing from around the world.

An African tribal mask with baboon features hung on the wall next to a disturbing painting of a three-armed Cyclops embracing a lamb. Below it sat a chair made of what appeared to be human bones. A bust of the Greek monster, Argus, stood beside it. Leaning against the bust was a Tibetan ceremonial staff. A meticulously handwritten sign claimed the staff belonged to a Buddhist monk who had spent half his life in the mystical valley of Shangri-La.

James wondered if anyone was gullible enough to fall for such drivel, but considering the three-thousand dollar asking price he figured anyone with pockets deep enough to purchase such an item was doing so more for the story than the staff itself. It would make an excellent conversation starter.

The really expensive stuff was locked away in glass cabinets. Items such as Celtic rings engraved with strange runes, a gemstone necklace said to belong to the infamous witch Marie Balcoin, a handcrafted onyx jewelry box from India, and (surprise, surprise) several shrunken heads adorned the shelves alongside signs detailing each item's history and asking price.

James grinned despite himself. He had heard the store's owner, Paul Delroy, was an eccentric individual, and a cursory glance was all the proof he needed that those rumors were true.

He checked the entrance and saw that the roll gate was down and locked. The shop's hours were listed as nine to five Monday through Friday, and noon to five on Saturday. It was a quarter after five now. When Delroy had called him at the Wharton Gazette and requested an interview, he suggested that James meet him at his apartment above the shop after closing time.

James walked around the side of the brownstone and found a private entrance to Delroy's residence half hidden between two tall bushes. There was no doorbell, but a large knocker in the shape of a bat stared at him with red glass eyes. James banged the knocker against the door. While he waited he checked his briefcase one last time to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything.

He had been hounding Delroy for weeks hoping for an interview with the reclusive antique dealer. Delroy proved a hard man to reach. All calls to his shop and residence went straight to voice mail, and James had been so busy at the Gazette, as well as finishing the first draft of his latest true crime novel, that he hadn’t been able to pursue the man as efficiently as he would like.

The Gazette was James' main source of income. He worked the City Desk with a preference for the Crime Beat, especially where serial killers were concerned. He was fascinated with them. He had even helped the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a case a few years ago involving the Crossroads Killer, a deranged drifter who left a trail of bodies throughout the Midwest. The case had led to his first best seller, Tracks of a Killer.

Since his first book, James had published two additional titles. Neither was as successful as the first, and that was putting it mildly. An utter train wreck was closer to the truth. But things were about to change for the better. He had a good feeling that his upcoming book would put him back in the spotlight, because this time he wasn't just writing about the serial killer, he was going to take an active role in his capture.

How was that for a twist? He could already see the cover blurb: Best Selling Novelist James Raghnall brings a vicious killer to justice in this riveting new masterpiece. The critics and public would eat it up, he was sure of it.

The killer in question had committed a string of murders right here in James' hometown of Wharton, Indiana. Four bodies had been discovered to date, all butchered in or around their homes, their remains arranged in bizarre patterns that had so far stymied local authorities. James thought it was some kind of cult at first, but the arrangements of the bodies did not match any known cult practices.

Wharton's sheriff, Chris Baylor, had determined that the murders were committed by a single individual, someone with a penchant for knives or the equivalent thereof. Some experts were theorizing a sickle. All the victims had been hacked and slashed to death. There was no strangulation, no smothering, no blunt force trauma. Whoever this person was, he liked it up close and messy.

James checked his mini-recorder to make sure the tape was wound to the start. He then placed it in the breast pocket of his blazer and flipped through a yellow folder containing photos of the murder scenes along with several newspaper articles featuring headlines like ‘Massacre on Forsyth Street’ and ‘The Wharton Goblin Strikes Again.’

He had coined the moniker ‘Wharton Goblin’ in one of his articles about the murders. The name stuck and soon all the papers from Maine to Florida were using the Wharton Goblin when describing the killer. This was much to the sheriff’s chagrin. The last thing he wanted was a public spectacle, the exact opposite of James, who saw these murders as the perfect opportunity to rekindle his flagging writing career.

James placed the folder back into the briefcase and banged the bat-shaped knocker again. He began to wonder if anyone was home. Delroy's message was as cryptic as it was unexpected. He had left it on James' voice mail while James was arguing with his boss about one of his stories being passed over in favor of some fluff piece on the latest teenage fashion.

Delroy's voice was refined and sophisticated, his pronunciation of every word slow and deliberate. The message was short and to the point: “Mister Raghnall, I understand you wish to speak with me in regards to the Wharton Goblin case. I may have information you can use. Come by my home after five. I trust you know where I live. Good day.”

James had every intention of keeping the appointment. Not because he thought Delroy possessed information on the Wharton Goblin. More to the fact, he suspected Delroy was the Wharton Goblin.

He had no real proof outside of a writer's intuition. Delroy simply fit the psychological profile of a serial killer. He had no wife or children to speak of, few if any friends, and those who knew him described him as a real odd duck; the kind of person who kept to himself and only interacted with others when it was deemed necessary to do so.

Delroy's IQ was said to be well over a 160. One of those genius prodigies who coasted through college and could have easily snagged any high-paying job in the country. Hell, in the world.

This begged the question of why such an individual was wasting his time running an antique shop in bumfuck, Indiana. The red flags were so obvious that James was surprised Sheriff Baylor and his button-down brigade hadn't noticed them too, but Delroy wasn't even on the department's suspect list.

James came close to sharing his observations with the sheriff, but reconsidered at the last minute. Why share the glory when he could take it all for himself? Here was a chance to do something totally unique. He could make himself the hero in his own story.

Not that he was going into this blind, deaf and dumb. There was an outside chance he was wrong about the antique dealer. Being a recluse and a weirdo doesn’t automatically make one a serial killer. Still, if he was right—and every instinct screamed that he was—then he felt it prudent to bring along a little protection.

James caressed the .22 pistol in his hip pocket. Its presence gave him the confidence to see this mad scheme through to the end. He knocked again, but there was still no answer. This was getting ridiculous. James pulled his blazer tight against himself to ward off the chill in the late October air and looked up at the second story window.

He could see the faint glow of a light inside…and the silhouette of a figure staring down at him.

The hair stood up on the nape of James' neck. He stepped back for a clearer look, but the figure was gone. Had someone been watching him or had he imagined it? Just for the hell of it he tried the doorknob. Anything was better than standing here in the cold, waiting for someone who may or may not be home to answer. The knob twisted in his grasp and the door creaked open.

James was surprised. Delroy locked his store up tighter than a drum, but left the door to his residence unlocked? Of course, it could have been left open specifically for him. His arrival was expected, after all.

He peeked inside and saw a narrow hallway to the right of the foyer and a staircase to the left. Macabre music drifted down from the second floor. It sounded like Franz Liszt's ‘Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2’.

How utterly proper.

Hello?” James called. There was no answer. He called again with the same result. Maybe the music was drowning him out? That would explain why Delroy hadn’t answered the door.
Decision time. Should he enter or try back some other time? The answer was obvious enough. Delroy had invited him, hadn't he? And who knew when he would get another chance to speak with the man. There was a story here, and reporters went where the story led them, plain and simple.

Here goes nothing, James thought.

And on the heels of that: No, not nothing. Here goes everything.

He stepped through the door and shut it behind him.

 Now available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

 Copyright, 2013, Jeremy Lee Riley, Wamingo Publishing. All right's reserved.


Another review for Jeremy Lee Riley's novella, The Darkness Dread. Thanks, Kristin! And you can rest assured you haven't seen the last of this dark and disturbing world.


Author Jeremy Lee Riley posing twixt two of artist Dar Parsons's cover illustrations for his Deadlands series.


According to Dar Parsons, this is a Wamingo. Draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


An excerpt from The Creature of the Baradoons. Written by Jeremy Lee Riley, with illustrations by Dar Parsons.


As Recorded in the Journal
of Dr. Demetre Jaeger
in the year 1361 AE

The dying man was discovered by a group of farmers and brought to my office here in the town of Raven’s End.

I had just finished my final appointment and was about to close the office for an hour so that I might slip over to Roseby's Saloon for a couple of drinks. It had been a relatively slow day consisting of a sprained ankle, a minor cooking burn, and a fractured arm from falling off a ladder. Nothing that would throw the town into turmoil should their only doctor decide to drown his boredom in a schooner of ale and a slice of Momma Roseby's mishmash pie.

I was fishing through my pockets for the keys to the front door when it crashed open, missing my face by mere inches. The farmers hurried in, a half-dozen at least, and all sharing the same panicked expression. In their arms was a writhing, screaming man drenched in blood.

My first thought was that one of the farmers had fallen into the combine. It wouldn't be the first time such a tragedy had occurred. But I quickly recovered my senses and noted that the injuries appeared to be the result of a vicious attack, most likely from a wild animal.
The farmers were all speaking at once, some nearly shouting in order to be heard over the man’s screams. Their foreman, a broad-shouldered giant named Huy, quieted them with a curt bark and then quickly explained to me what had happened.

"We was working the fields near the foothills. Séamus saw him first. He was staggering along, barely able to walk. Looked like he'd come down outta the mountains, but—"

"Never mind that right now," I said. "Just get him on the table and hold him." I rummaged through the cabinets for my supplies while Huy and the others heaved the man onto the operating table. They wrestled with his flailing limbs, keeping him still long enough for me to administer a sedative. Once it took effect and the man had quieted I asked Huy to finish his story.
"He was screaming something 'bout his village. Don’t know what he meant, he wasn’t making much sense. We did what we could to stop the bleeding but, gods, there's just…” Huy shot a queasy glance at the man on the table. “There's so much blood."

I ushered the farmers out the door with instructions to fetch the town magistrate at once. I knew he’d want to see this. Once alone I washed my hands and then removed the patient's clothing for a better look at his wounds.

My initial assumption appeared correct. The man had been mauled by some sort of animal. He had suffered lacerations and punctures to his head, neck, left shoulder, torso and left thigh. The wounds looked to have been made by a carnivore with a jaw measuring around a foot in width and a foot-and-a-half in length. The fact that he could have sustained such injuries and still be drawing breath, no matter how increasingly shallow, was truly remarkable.

The man was shivering uncontrollably. With the amount of blood he had lost he must have been freezing from the inside out. I needed to restore his blood volume, increase the hemoglobin levels. But with the primitive equipment at my disposal there wasn’t much I could do. I didn’t even have a means of determining his blood type. Perhaps if I was home behind the protective walls of Elysium I could save him, but out here in these wastes his chances were next to nil.

The man groaned and muttered something under his breath. Gently, I leaned in close and asked what sort of animal had done this to him. His shivering became more violent, his breathing more erratic. He let out a high-pitched wail and clawed at my shirt with a trembling hand. I took his hand in both of mine and told him that everything was going to be okay. The most important thing for him to do right now was to rest and regain his strength. The man responded with a heart-wrenching sob.

I let go of his hand and turned to see town magistrate Whelan Daumier standing in the doorway. He was a tall, bearded man with a robust frame and a mane of graying blonde hair that hung shy of his broad shoulders. His faded blue eyes peered at me from the leathery folds of his sunburned face.

Whelan had been the magistrate of Raven’s End for going on twenty years. He and I had been friends for most of that time. He was one of the few decent people I’d met out in these wastes. Honorable to a fault and dead serious about his profession, he did not play favorites when it came to upholding the law in his town. I had learned that the hard way when he once locked me up for public intoxication.

Whelan nodded to me and had himself a look at the patient. “Heard the farmers found him wandering through the fields,” he said. “Heard he was losing blood by the bucket loads. How’s he still alive?”

He barely is,” I replied. “Frankly, I’ll be surprised if he survives the night.”

The man let out another moan. Whelan cleared his throat and shot me a sidelong glance. “Can he...can he hear us?”

I doubt it. He’s pretty far gone. I wouldn’t be surprised if he—”

CREATURE!” The man jerked his head forward, screaming in our direction. “IT CAME IN THE NIGHT! IT KILLED 'EM ALL! CREATURE! CAME IN THE NIGHT! EVERYONE’S….dead.”

The man’s voice cracked on the last word. Having used up the last of his strength he laid his head back on the table, let out a shuddering sob, and grew still. I checked for a pulse.
Is he…?” Whelan began.

Aye,” I said. 
What was he going on about?”

I was silent for a moment as I pieced the story together in my mind. The picture that began to form was less than encouraging. “The farmers said he came from the mountains. There’s a small village up there, as I’m sure you know.”

Wait,” Whelan said, “are you saying that whatever did this to this man also attacked the Taivan Village?”

The village in question was a tiny community established in the Baradoons by the Taivi mountain dwellers over a century ago. They stopped in town from time to time to trade goods and stock up on provisions. The general lot tended to be clannish and secretive, interacting with the townspeople only when necessary. This had not won them many friends with the locals.

I retrieved a sheet from the closet and draped it over the body. “You heard his final words, the same as I. ‘Everyone’s dead’. What else could it mean?”

Whelan’s face paled. “Gods, Demetre, I’ve kin up there.”

I know,” I said. “Let’s pray it was an overstatement on this poor fellow’s part. He was hardly in a rational frame of mind.”

Maybe so, but something chewed him up and spat him back out. Crazy or not, he went through an awful lot to warn us.”

I shook my head. “Let’s say some kind of creature did attack the village. There’s no way it could wipe out everyone. The villagers have weapons, they have the numbers. There’s just no way.”

Whelan looked a little relieved. “Maybe you’re right. But why didn’t more people show up here? My son, he would’ve brought his family to town first thing.”

The thought had crossed my mind as well. Whelan’s son, Gerald, had married Abelia, daughter of Ahren, the village’s chieftain. By law Abelia was not permitted to leave her mountain home, so Gerald became a member of the clan. They had a daughter, Branda, two years ago. Gerald had a good head on his shoulders. If trouble had befallen the village he would’ve been the first to get his family out.

Maybe he was afraid to make the long journey here with his daughter in tow,” I said. “Those mountains can be treacherous, even to an experienced climber.”

Whelan ran his fingers through his beard, lost in thought. At last, he said, “This guy’s gotta be full of it. There’s no way one animal could wipe out an entire village.”

The man did say it attacked in the night, right?”

Whelan’s brow furrowed. “I think so. What about it?”

Well, the villagers would’ve been asleep for the most part. They would’ve been caught off guard. The village isn’t that big. There’s what, forty-five…fifty people up there? They would’ve been disoriented, disorganized. Easy prey.”

Are you saying they were eaten?”

Maybe. Whatever did this to this man is enormous. Didn’t you see the size of his wounds?” I pulled back the sheet to allow Whelan another look at the dead man’s ravaged body. “Naturally, it didn’t eat everyone at once. Maybe it simply killed them and is saving the others for later. You know it’s rather cold up in the mountains this time of year, so the bodies would be well preserved for—”

Enough!” Whelan slapped a box of bandages off the counter and stepped to the open door for some air. “Gods, my family may be dead and here you are talking about them like they’re a frozen supper.”

I mentally kicked myself for my insensitivity. “I could be wrong,” I said. “I am just theorizing, after all. I mean, the only way we can be certain is if we go up there and see for ourselves.”

Whelan didn’t answer for some time. He leaned against the door frame, staring out at the mountains that towered over the town like a giant's hand reaching for the heavens. The Baradoons rose along the northern border of Eulimi, separating the region from neighboring Nabron. It was one of the largest mountain ranges in the known world. Its five peaks, Tos, Nambre, Haelia, Vair, and L'Deia, varied in height, with its tallest, Nambre, around nine-thousand meters high.

The Baradoons were shrouded in mystery, and was the stuff of legends even during the Age of Kings. It was once believed that the mountains were home to the sky god, Valdueis, who watched over all from his great throne high atop Nambre's summit.

Raven's End was founded by miners near the southeastern base of L'Deia half a century ago. The iron ore they extracted from the rock was lucrative enough to attract other prospectors, and with them came the usual assortment of boomtown followers, including families, merchants, saloon owners, whores, religious fanatics, and broken men looking for a fresh start.

The town flourished, becoming one of the richest in the Deadlands. This was due in part to adventurers and explorers who came from all over to brave the Baradoons' treacherous terrain and attempt to chart its many nooks and crannies, pouring much of their wealth into the town’s economy in the meantime. 
The mountains have never been mapped entirely. Unpredictable weather, treacherous terrain and unexpected mishaps were to blame for that. Explorers have died, been injured, disappeared, or just given up and returned home in frustration. 
Many have told stories of strange occurrences in the dead of night; the sound of footsteps outside their tents, accompanied by strange, guttural sounds. Their pack animals have been found slaughtered and their supplies strewn for miles up the mountainside. Some even claim to have seen hairy beast-men watching them from far off distances.

I have always taken such tall tales with the proverbial grain of salt. Sounds in the night could be any manner of wildlife, from shadow cats to wolves. As for the beast-men; if I had to guess, I would say they were the product of mass hysteria brought on by altitude sickness or the irrational need to believe in something that wasn't really there.

But that was before Huy and his companions had brought the Taivi man into my office. His death had created more questions than answers. Most prominent among them was what sort of creature could have caused such fatal injuries?

The mountains were vast; any number of undiscovered species could have flourished there, free of our interference. But the Taivi had lived in these mountains for generations without any harm coming to them. Could a whole village have truly fallen prey to this thing overnight?

Even if that was possible, why the sudden attacks? Had the creature entered their territory in search of food? Had the Taivi instigated the attacks somehow? Or was the dead man on my table its only victim, his ravings about a ravaged village the product of a traumatized mind?

So many questions. My overworked mind couldn’t settle on just one.

Whelan drew a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh before turning to face me. He was doing his best to remain calm, but concern for his family was playing havoc on his nerves. "I'm going up there," he whispered. Once he had spoken the words out loud a sense of urgency came over him. He grabbed my coat and shoved it into my hands as he steered me towards the door. "It's my duty to go. I'll put together an expedition and we'll see if this man's story is true or not."

"And if it is?" I asked.

Fire danced in Whelan's eyes. "Then so help me I'll hunt this creature into extinction!" 

 Copyright, 2012, Jeremy Lee Riley, Wamingo Publishing. All rights reserved.