'Within Odin's hall,' the priest had said as he placed Thorvald's sword on the altar, 'you will face yourself over and over again. Every you that could have been will be seen by our lord. Only if you are the most heroic, the most fearless, the greatest that you could be, only then will you be chosen for Ragnarok.'
Now, as he stood between the mirrors, surrounded by his other selves, Thorvald wondered if he was the greatest he could be. Surely not. If he was the greatest he would have fought on, and his warband with him. Perhaps they would have retreated to the forests and harrassed the invaders from there. Perhaps they would have taken to the long boats, raiding the coast like their ancestors had. Perhaps they would have charged the foe head on one final time, screaming their battle cries to the last.
But then, who could fight the gods themselves?
Thorvald looked in the mirror, wondering which of the thousands of faces had fled to the forests, which had gone to sea. Would he look different after feeling the salt spray on his scars, the wild wind blowing his beard? He could not tell how different each face was from his own. Were they different at all, or was this his one true and only face?
Other things also showed in the mirrors. The sides of Odin's elaborately carved throne, angular, square-edged serpents writhing up its sides. They did not flow as they did in the carvings of his people, but twisted at sharp angles, from the pointed tips of their tails to their flat nosed heads and jagged teeth. Behind the throne was a purple curtain, and it twitched for a moment, then was swept aside as Odin himself stepped into the room.
The Aesir was as magnificent as Thorvald had imagined. His footsteps shook the floor as he ascended the dais to his throne. His shoulders were wide as the mightiest warrior, draped with chainmail and furs. His all concealing helmet, with a hole for only one eye, was carved with scenes of hunting and battle, encrusted with flat blue gems that shimmered as he tilted his head. A long dark beard flowed from beneath the helmet, running almost to his waist. In his hand he held the spear Gungir, ten feet long and viciously barbed.
His magnificence was all the greater by comparison with the men who followed him round the throne, ledgers in hand, quills at the ready. The Aesir's servants from across the great ocean with their pale brown skin, their coal black eyes and their feather fringed clothes. They all seemed obsessed with writing, from the guard keeping tally at the city's gate to the scribe at the guest hall recording everyone's name. Three times on the way into the palace Thorvald had given details to some scribbler on parchment, never an account of his heroic deeds, merely of his name, his age, his home.
The petty minds of the palace clerks were reflected in their mincing appearance. They wore tunics and skirts of white, thin cloth with embroidered borders, such as a woman might take pride in. They blackened the skin beneath their eyes and wore delicate jewellery, its gold threads barely holding in the blue gems that looked so bold on Odin's helm. Why did the gods surround themselves with such petty delicacy?
'Thorvald Jorundson,' Odin boomed. 'Step forward.'
Thorvald bowed his head as he approached the Aesir. Even Odin's boots were weighty with iron, the better to trample his foes.
'My lord,' Thorvald said, 'I spoke to your messenger at Viborg market. He said that you wanted warriors, even those who had defied you, brave men to sail the sea and fight in Ragnarok.'
'And have you defied me?' The room rattled at Odin's voice. It was deep and rich, flavoured with the accent of the gods and their followers from over the sea. Thorvald's father's father had told him that, when they first arrived, the gods did not speak in the tongues of men, but only in their own lilting language. In time, as their identities were revealed, they had learned the language of their conquered subjects.
Thorvald looked up. If he was to face his god, he would do so like a man.
'When you came from over the sea, in my father's father's time, our family did not believe you were who you claimed. We went to the hills. For forty years we have ambushed your men, raided your farms, hunted your messengers.
'But we have seen the wonders you make. The great stepped temples. The roads and bridges. The stick that roars. We have seen other kin bands enslaved by them. Mighty warlords bent to your will. The isle of Britain brought to its knees, as it once was by our forefathers. We believe now that you are the Aesir, and we wish to fight for you in the final war.'
Odin's one eye twinkled, a spark of light in the shadowed pit of the helm. He rose, towering over Thorvald.
'You understand what it is you ask?' he said. 'To leave everything behind. Your homes, your lands, your possessions. Even your blades will be left here for your journey across the sea. The swords of your forefathers will be left to rust, while you take up new arms in the land where Ragnarok rages.'
Thorvald nodded his head. He had heard rumours of this, but he had heard many different rumours. Some said that those who took Odin's offer sailed off the edge of the world and into oblivion. Some said that they sailed back through time, to be reborn at the dawn of legends, spirits with no end or beginning. Some said they were nothing more than sacrifices to the gods, their blood running red down stepped temples in a land where the sun shone brighter and the forest grew greener. But these were the tales of non-believers. Thorvald had listened to them eagerly in his youth, the stories fuel to his defiance. But he was tired now and age had granted him wisdom. Only the gods could achieve the things he had seen, and if the mighty Odin called him to war then he would willingly go.
'I understand, my lord,' he said, 'and my men will follow me.'
'How many men do you lead?' Odin asked.
'Thirty,' Thorvald replied. 'Thirty-nine women and five children follow us.'
A scribe's jewellery jingled like bells as he noted the numbers. He shivered and pulled a fur closer around his shoulders. The leaves were barely brown on the trees, and already it was too much for these woeful specimens.
'Yours are brave men?' Odin asked.
Odin took a step down from the dais. He lowered Gungir and thrust the spear's tip at Thorvald. 'Place your throat to the point and swear it.'
Thorvald stepped forward. The blade pricked his skin, a trickle of blood running down his neck and into the matted furs across his chest. 'I swear it. They are the bravest, the strongest, the hardiest I have ever known.'
Odin raised the spear and placed a hand on Thorvald's shoulder. Thorvald was overwhelmed by awe.
'There is a place for you, Thorvald Jorundson,' Odin said. 'You and all your kin band. You will sail together across the sea, with your wives and children for comfort, and you will fight for me in the end time.'
Thorvald suppressed a confused frown. Why were the women and children coming? Even the eldest boy child lacked the strength to strike with a spear, and what was the point in giving comfort when they went to death or glory?
'Something bothers you?' Odin asked sternly.
'I...' Thorvald looked up at his magnificent visage, the great dragon writhing down the front of the helm, and he swallowed his doubts. 'No, my lord.'
'Very well.' Odin turned and strode away. 'My servants will tell you what to do. Good luck in what is to come, Thorvald Jorundson. I hope you find a mighty death.'
The curtain lifted and Odin disappeared behind the throne.
One of the scribes stepped forwards. His head jutted out, and Thorvald was tempted to punch it right in, to crumple his haughty glare into broken teeth and face powder. He even wore perfume, the scent of flowers cloying in the nostrils of honest men.
'Where are you staying?' the scribe asked. He had Odin's accent, but none of his gravitas.
'Harald Strongarm's guest hall,' Thorvald replied. 'By the harbour.'
There was a scratching of quill on parchment before the scribe looked up again. 'There is no boat for four days,' he said. 'Someone will come to inform you of the details.'
Without the least gesture of respect the servant turned and disappeared around the throne. Thorvald glared after his reflection in the mirror. Such spindly limbs, so easy to break. They could barely lift the curtain behind Odin's seat. Why, Thorvald wondered, did the gods of legend use such pitiful men?
Another servant held the hanging open for the scribe, and they paused to exchange some inanity in their strange language. As they did so, Thorvald saw past them into the chamber behind the throne.
Odin stood reflected in the mirror, out of his boots, a full foot shorter than he had seemed. His fur cloak fell from one skinny shoulder, a wad of padding visible between them. Assisted by two servants, he lifted the great helm from his head, his long, manly beard coming away with it to reveal a smooth, effeminate face, the skin around his eye darkened, fragile rings of turqoise and gold dangling from his ear. Gungir lay abandoned on the ground, a servant treading on it as he passed with a tray of drinks.
Shock and confusion roiled through Thorvald's mind. What was he seeing? Where was the mighty Odin of legend? Was his appearance merely a trick? He knew the arrival of the gods had not been as his forefathers had expected. Their boats were strange, their customs alien, their servants not real warriors but sorcerers who killed from afar and closed for the fight only when they were forced. Everything they had done since to earn men's trust, the shows of strength and signs of honour, was it all a lie?
But the father of the gods was meant to be cunning as well as strong. Maybe he had chosen this illusion to bring his people together. A clever ruse to overcome the strangeness that came with divinity. Yes, thought Thorvald, that must be it.
But the thought did not sit easy in his heart. He turned, and each footfall stretched out like an hour as the sound of his boots echoed back at him. He watched the guards who lined the hall. They looked small, complacent, dressed not in armour but in coloured tunics, bright white with a blue trim. He could kill them all with his hands, the hands that clenched and unclenched at his sides, if not for the sticks that roared, that killed from a league away. Each guard had a stick at his shoulder, and a shorter one at his side. Was this really Odin's way, for his warriors to slay with such magics, rather than with true might?
He reached the door. The priest was by his altar in the porch, the weapons piled upon it. He sniffed as Thorvald approached, looked out across the city, smoke rising from a thousand chimneys, pigs and children squeeling in the streets.
'My sword,' Thorvald said.
'You won't need that old thing,' the priest said. 'Odin will arm you for your journey.'
Thorvald hesitated, looking at the priest's narrow, rat-like face.
'Does Odin always appear like this?' he asked.
The priest frowned. 'What do you mean?'
'So tall and strong. So powerful.'
'Of course. He is Odin.' The priest shook his head. 'Now hurry on. There are other supplicants waiting.'
As he trudged through the city, boots thick with street mud and sewage, Thorvald turned the audience over in his mind, seeking to understand what he had seen. Odin had judged him on the things that mattered, on his strength and prowess in battle. To feel the tip of Gungir at his throat, to gaze into that one eye and feel his life in the balance, it had filled Thorvald with fear and honour. He had been judged by a god, and been found worthy, as he had hoped.
But how had he been judged? He had not been challenged to combat, by Odin or any of his guards. He had not told the tales of his glories, described the battles won and lost, the enemies defeated, the prizes taken. He had not even shown his scars. How did Odin know that he was worthy? The Aesir was wise, his one eye all seeing. Could he see into Thorvald's past, or pierce the depths of his heart to find out what lay there?
One eye. He had only seen one side of Odin's face as the curtain was pulled back, and so had only seen that one eye. Something about it had not seemed right, but was that just his doubts tricking him? There was no time for doubt in battle, no space for it in a warrior's heart. Thorvald pushed the feeling back down and strode on through the city.
The crowds parted before him like a smooth sea before a longship's prow, scurrying away from the burly, scarred veteran. Locals or travellers, Norsemen and foreigners, minions of the gods and their halfbreed spawn, all stepped out of his way, fleeing the sight of his scowl. Some wore the plain clothes of honest travellers, others the patterned cloth and feathered trims of the foreigners, their bright colours matching the painted stone of the Aesir's buildings. The layered barracks, rising in steps half the height of a man, the raised platforms of public granaries, even Odin's hall itself, a tall jagged pyramid amidst the hunched hovels of the locals.
He took a long route back to Harald Strongarm's guest hall, past the market place with its bustle and chatter and down towards the sea. There he stood a while at the docks, watching the ships loading and unloading. Some were being filled with copper and tin from the mountain mines. Others with sheep and wool from the hills, or cloth dyed pink or pale blue. But many carried men. One of the vessels of the gods had just arrived, fresh from its journey across the ocean. Soldiers marched down its plank, shivering in their flimsy tunics, looking around them with wide eyed wonder. They stared at the paleness of the natives, at the crude Norse clothing, at the wattle and daub huts that lined the older parts of the docks. Some of them stared at Thorvald, but he kept his anger in check. He knew that he was a fearsome and fascinating sight, and had no need to challenge them in their insolence, these men who carried the death sticks, men with strange customs and stranger names like those he had met in Viborg - Tecocoitzin and Acacitli, Centehua and Uacalxochitl.
Men were boarding ships as well. One was being loaded with slaves - men, women and children captured in war or bought from Frankish traders. They tramped up the boarding plank in chains, heads hanging in shame and misery, their clothes little more than rags, bones showing through their wasting flesh. Another vessel was being boarded by a band of warriors, brave men with their heads held high, muscled and scarred, their clothes simple but well kept, many of them wrapped in furs. They were followed by their kin, women leading young children up the plank and onto the creaking deck. The men boarding the ships could not have been more different. Yet the two ships were all but identical. The same hulls, the same masts, even the same flags snapping in the breeze, a pennant carrying the angular image of a winged snake. The glorious warriors heading for Ragnarok travelled the same way as the bedraggled slaves.
More people travelled these days, and a warrior could not rely on finding hospitallity in the hall of a local lord, earning a night by the fire with the news he carried and the stories he could tell. Those warlords had given way to the gods and their ever-distant servants, and guest halls like Harald Strong-arm's were now a weary traveller's best hope. These guest halls took in anyone, but they did it at a price. Olaf, Thorvald's brother and second in command, had been shocked when Harald told them that they must pay to stay. It had been all Thorvald could do to stop Olaf punching Harald and starting a fight with his armoured guards. Now Olaf skulked in the shadows at the edge of the hall, watching the others as they sat by the fire and bought ale with their dwindling stores of gold.
Thorvald pulled a stool over and settled down beside Olaf. They sat for a while in silence, watching Old Sven tell the tale of how he had lost his finger and gained a herd of cattle. Sven was growing grey, and the story grew longer with each telling, but Thorvald still remembered how well they had eaten that winter, and how well his father had respected Sven.
'I was granted an audience with Odin,' Thorvald said at last, watching Sven down a horn of ale as he reached the climax of his story. 'We leave across the ocean in four days.'
Olaf almost smiled as he looked at his brother. 'This is good,' he said. 'There is no honour here any more. No glory to be had, no spoils to be taken. We will go to fight, that the world can be born anew.'
Thorvald nodded. He wanted to be able to share his brother's pleasure, his sense of anticipation at what was to come. But he couldn't shake the image of warriors and slaves marching to the same fate, or of the thin, alien Odin he had seen revealed in the mirror. He touched the scar that ran down the left side of his face, a memento of his most closely fought and best celebrated battle. Had he dodged an inch the other way the Norwegian raider would have taken his eye, maybe more. Instead the man had met his own end, his blood spilled crimson across white sands, his boat in flames. No-one had escaped them that day, and even with his face sliced open Thorvald had walked away with pride.
'You and Odin, you nearly had much in common,' Olaf said. 'Which eye is he missing?'
'The left,' Thorvald said.
'How does it look? As scarred and ugly as you?'
Thorvald shook his head. 'It was hidden by his helm.'
Olaf nodded. 'The gods go ever ready for war.'
Thorvald looked him in the eye. 'What would you say if I said he was not as I expected? That the gods, underneath it all, look not like warriors but servants and clerks?'
Olaf laughed and slapped him on the shoulder. 'I would say that you are a funny man. The world has become so weak I can almost believe it.'
Thorvald looked away. Night was falling outside, but the hall was brightly lit, the fire reflecting off a mirror that hung between the beer barrels. It was not as highly polished as Odin's, the image it reflected warped and dirty, but it cast light back across the room. Thorvald stood and went to face the mirror, staring at his reflection. Was it one of his other selves that stared back, a Thorvald from another life, a wiser Thorvald, a stronger Thorvald? He raised his left hand to his scar, running the finger down puckered flesh and time-hardened skin. In the mirror, his other self raised its right hand in the same slow, sad gesture. This much, at least, they shared.
Thorvald stood at the base of Odin's palace, looking up at the grand edifice, its layers of yellow-grey stone like a giant's staircase rising towards the sky. Each layer was half the height of a man, and ascending them would have been an undignified task if not for the steps that ran up the front, flanked by angular carvings of men and beasts. At the summit, above the hall's main entrance, a pair of altars were flanked by flag poles, banners flying the Aesir's sign of the world snake.
In the courtyard before the palace the ball game was being played, Odin's soldiers facing off against a band of half castes and servants. Thorvald had seen the game once before, in a town they had passed through on the road, where the Asgardians kept a fort and a temple. The teams had played for an hour or more, throwing the ball back and forth, running with it up the court, bouncing it off the wooden walls of their arena. Afterwards, Thorvald had handled the ball, felt its strange texture, firm yet yielding. He had thrown it against the wall himself, astounded by the way it bounced, the force with which it flew back at him. The players had laughed at his amazement, used to the wonders the gods brought.
Here, the stakes of the game were higher. The leader of the winning team, the priest had explained, would ascend to Odin's chamber and be granted fine jewels for honouring the gods. The loser would be led to the top of the temple when the sun was at its height, his blood flowing down the sides in sacrifice. Rust brown stains showed where other players' blood had poured from the summit. It seemed a waste of good men to Thorvald, and a fool way to die, but there were still men eager to take their place in the game, for their glory and that of the gods.
Thorvald walked slowly up the steps, approaching the priest at his altar, the guardian of the doorway to divinity. The priest's face screwed up into a web of wrinkles, turning into a deeper frown as Thorvald came within the range of his failing vision.
'I know you,' the priest said. 'You were here three days ago.'
Thorvald nodded. 'I have a question for Odin,' he said.
The priest's laughter was the croaking of a crow. 'You do not simply walk up and ask the all father questions,' he said. 'You have had your turn.'
Thorvald scowled. He was not surprised. No god should be so idle that they sat waiting for him, but this setback did nothing to quell his inner turmoil. 'Maybe you can answer then,' he said. 'Are priests not the mouthpiece of the gods?'
'We do have insight greater than most, due to our enlightened position. ' The priest puffed out his chest, running a hand across the top of the altar. 'Go on, what's your question?'
Thorvald pointed up the temple steps, to the dark stain at the top. 'Does this happen to all those who strive for the gods but fail?'
'Oh yes,' the priest said. 'There is no place for failures in Valhalla.'
'So those who could never succeed, the weak and the useless? Are they sacrificed as well?'
'Men are needed to build and work the land,' the priest said. 'If all but the greatest were sacrificed, who would do that? No, only a proportion of the poor, a few hundred, are sacrificed, at the appropriate festivals.'
Thorvald nodded. There had always been sacrifices. His grandfather had told him how, even before the Aesir arrived, sacrifices had been made to them at the beginning of summer, and at times of great change. Blood spilt to gain the gods' favour, some dying that others might live.
'There is not much blood for hundreds of people,' he said, still looking up the temple.
'It happens elsewhere,' the priest replied.
'Across the ocean?'
'Yes. In Valhalla.' The priest had trouble with the word, its hard edges softened by his smoothly lilting tongue. 'It is... closer to the gods.'
'So the slaves boarding the ships, they will be sacrificed?'
'You are a clever man, I can see that. There's no getting past you. Yes, the slaves are to be sacrificed, but we do not tell them this before they board the boats. It makes them more...' He paused to find the word. 'More cooperative.'
Thorvald nodded. 'And those boarding the other boats?'
'The other boats?'
'The boats I and my men will board, to cross the ocean for Ragnarok?'
'Oh!' The priest's laughter was different this time, high and womanish. 'Well, those ships go to a different place, where you will be armed and sent to fight. Of course. But excuse me now, I see other supplicants coming.'
'Wait.' Thorvald grabbed the priest's arm, squeezing tight the nut brown flesh. 'How will I know I am getting on the right ship?'
'Because Odin sent you,' the priest said. 'And who could doubt the word of Odin?'
Thorvald skulked at the edge of the hall, shrouding himself in shadows. The others sat around the fire, drinking and eating their fill, one last raucous night before they boarded the boat to destiny. Even Olaf joined in the laughter, happy now that action was near, now that he had the prospect of violence.
A hunched figure wobbled out of the firelight, a ramshackle silhouette tottering on legs made uncertain by age and mead. Old Sven, Sven the Scabbed as the men called him, came to sit beside Thorvald. Sven was the oldest of the kin band. His days as a warrior were near their end even when Thorvald was a child, and yet the thread of his life wound on, while men younger than him went screaming into the darkness. He had taken more wounds and survived more diseases than any man Thorvald had ever met. His muscles had withered away, and his hair fallen out leaving straggly grey whisps, yet still he lived on.
'Chief!' The word whistled through the gaps between Sven's remaining teeth. 'S'not good, you sitting out here on your own. C'mon and drink with us!' The old man slumped onto the bench beside Thorvald, tried to drape a companionable arm across his shoulders, and almost slid to the floor.
'Do you remember when the gods came?' Thorvald asked.
Sven nodded. 'I was young.' He contemplated the end of his own waggling finger, came to a conclusion. 'The ships. And the death sticks. People said they must be gods. We didn't believe them. More fool us!'
'Did you see Odin?' Thorvald asked.
Sven snorted. 'Wasn't called Odin then,' he said. 'Or was, but not in their words. Moctezuma, they called him. Before they learned our names for them.' He raised his contemplative finger again. 'What sort of name's that? Moctezuma?'
'Did you see him?' Thorvald asked.
'Your grandfather did.' Sven shook his head. 'Said he just looked like a man. A funny skinned little man.'
'When I saw him in his hall, he was grand and tall, in furs and armour,' Thorvald said. 'He was everything a god should be, proud and strong. But then, I thought I saw him for a moment, his reflection in a mirror as he disrobed, and he was as you describe, nothing more than these other foreign men, fragile and effeminate.'
Sven's face piled wrinkles on wrinkles, a thoughtful frown further crumpling his skin. 'You think there is a trick here? That he is not Odin?'
Thorvald shrugged. 'Maybe Odin has good reason to present himself as other than he is. There are many stories of the gods using trickery.'
'One god more than others,' Sven said. 'Not all of the Aesir are mighty warriors. There is another...'
'You think he is Loki?' Thorvald glanced around as he spoke the name. It was said that naming Loki, in the wrong time and the wrong place, could summon him from the shadows. 'That he did all this?'
'Maybe. Whoever these people are, they are not of our world. But that does not mean they are who they say they are.'
Thorvald stared at the men laughing around the fire. Was he about to lead them into the trickster god's trap? To doom his kin? To destroy his honour?
'Why would he,' Thorvald avoided Loki's name, 'want us?'
'Why does any god want sacrifices? For his own honour and his own power.'
Sven passed his tankard to Thorvald, who took a long drink from it. The ale was watery and poorly brewed, but it soothed his throat and stoked the fire in his belly.
'What can I do?' he asked.
'Nothing.' Sven took back the tankard, drained what was left. 'You cannot defy Odin. Unless you're sure it is not him, better do as he says. I've seen many things in my life, but I know this. There's more dishonour in disobeying a rightful lord than in being tricked by a wily god.'
Thorvald stood between Harald Strongarm's ale barrels, staring at his other self in the grimy mirror. By the last flickerings of that night's fire he could see his face, a patchwork of shadows and light that shifted as a breeze toyed with the fire. Most of his men were sleeping now, ready for their great journey in the morning. A few still talked around the fire, telling hushed stories of their adventures. Their forefathers had raided across the sea, fought with axe and sword to claim a piece of fertile land. Now they were leaving, travelling to their own fight. To Ragnarok.
Or to a pitiful death, sacrificed on the trickster's altar.
Thorvald ran a finger down his scarred cheek. What would he face in that final battle at the end of the world? Ice giants who could crush him as easily as he squashed an ant? Dire wolves of fire and fury that that would rip him assunder with a flick of their claws? Warriors more mighty than any man he had met, strong as bears and swift as swallows? Was this what was worrying him? Was his search for a trick nothing more than a coward's way out, an excuse not to face a certain death?
The right hand of the mirror Thorvald caressed its scar, lost in its own thoughts.
The right hand.
A scar on his right cheek, though he was injured on the left.
The Odin he had seen in the hall still had his right eye, and so did the Odin in the mirror. But if the mirror Odin had his right eye, the figure he reflected had his left.
The Aesir in the hall had two eyes.
'Up!' Thorvald roared.
His men rose in an instant. They had slept many nights with one eye open, watchful for their enemies. That instinct was strong. Even the groggiest put his hand straight to his sword.
'We have been tricked,' he hissed. 'It is not Odin who asks us to board his ship. It is the deceiver.'
No-one questioned him. The same instinct to follow their leader, the honour that had nearly doomed them all, led them to follow him now, as Thorvald grabbed a burning brand from the fire, took a knife in place of his abandoned sword, and stormed out into the pre-dawn street.
The city blazed behind them as they ran into the wooded hills. Thorvald could hear the crackle of ships smouldering at their docks, and the rattle of the death sticks as Loki's soldiers pursued him and his men, trying to pick them off by the weak light of the rising sun. His band was smaller than an hour before. Some women and children had been too slow, and Sven had turned at the city gate, holding up the soldiers while the others escaped. One last act of heroism from an old drunk. They would tell his tale down the generations, the grey haired ancient who dared to defy the gods.
But the tales were not over. They would not rest, Thorvald swore. They would bring fire and bloodshed to this land, until Loki was driven back into the sea, every last invader butchered or drowned. He swore it by the blood in his veins, by the beating of his heart, by the thrill that filled him as they ran, to freedom and a new dawn. Theirs would be tales to last until the true Ragnarok.
They would live free, or they would die trying. And this Thorvald, this one out of the thousands that could have been, he was determined to live.
© February, 2013 Andrew Knighton
Andrew Knighton lives and occasionally writes in Stockport, England, turning his respectable history degrees into the far more entertaining form of short stories. When not working in his standard issue office job he battles the slugs threatening to overrun his garden and the monsters lurking in the woods. He's had over forty stories published in places such as Murky Depths, Redstone SF and the Steampunk Reloaded and Steamunk Revolution anthologies. You can find out more about his writing atandrewknighton.wordpress.com