Just so you know.  Mickey Rory’s Beyond the North Tower is now in Smashwords Premium meaning that beside Kindle, it is now available as an ebook on a number of different sites including ibooks, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. Here’s a bit of it:  Chapter 1, Tragedy form the novel Beyond the North Tower by Mickey Rory.




The rider was brisk and assured. He rode quickly down the narrow trail that edged the cliff overlooking the sea. There was a recklessness about him that angered the colonel.

As he brushed past, the colonel could see the ruthless arrogance of aristocracy in the young riders eyes. He registered the emblem on the clasp of the cloak, a great cat springing, its forelegs outstretched, claws bared, its teeth white against the tawny background.

“Out of my way,” came the soft snarl of voice from close behind him and he heard a horse nicker and his niece gasp.

The scream that followed was an icy blade that ripped remorselessly through the colonel’s senses tearing apart his past and present lives forever. It brought his mind instantaneously to full attention. He wheeled his horse to view a scene that near tore his heart from his chest. A dappled mare, eyes wide, scrabbling desperately for hold, two legs already beyond the crumbling mountain pathway and over the abyss. Her young rider with a shrill, panicked cry pressed closely to her, arms wrapped tightly about her neck. It was an image that etched deeply into the colonel’s brain, burned in place for the remainder of his life.

He leapt from the saddle, arms outstretched to grasp the young rider and pull her from danger. At the extent of his reach he frantically grasped for the nearest hand that was clasped in a vice grip of fear on the mare’s neck. The colonel still stretching tried desperately to hold it and pull it loose. Too late!

With a last scream, the mare slipped over the edge. The child astride it, shifted towards him, arms breaking loose from their grip on the horse’s neck and grabbing desperately at the outstretched fingers of the colonel’s hand. There was a fleeting moment of contact, then, nothing. For what seemed like a helpless forever, the colonel and his young niece’s eyes met, then she was gone. There was no mare, no child, no screams, just the far off pounding of surf and the startled cry of a sea bird, its quiet flight along the cliff side interrupted.

A last frantic dive to reach the small hand as it dropped away had left the colonel lying face down against the broken earth that edged the trail. Slowly he pulled himself closer to look down. Between the folded stone of the cliff face and the unbroken stretch of silver blue sea, there was, far below, a tiny stretch of cockleshell strand. On that strand, horse and rider, finally separated, were two still, tiny figures.

The rider might have been gone from sight as the colonel raised himself from the edge of the cliff, but he would never forget the crest, or the look of cold arrogance on the fine features of the face.

With a burst of reflex honed sharp from years in His Majesty’s service, the colonel pushed himself to his feet, raced to his steed and leapt up to its saddle. Within seconds, the two were hurtling at break neck speed down the trail that ran along the cliff’s edge overlooking the sea.

Where the decline became less steep, horse and rider veered from the path to slip and slide their way to where the sea met the land. Then back along the water’s edge they raced. Across cockleshell and sand and through shallows where the water lapped as high as the stallion’s breast they pressed on until they reached the tiny strand where horse and rider lay.

The colonel dismounted quickly and ran intently towards the twisted figure of the young girl. Without so much as a sidelong glance, he passed the mare, which was writhing and groaning and trying desperately to rise up on its shattered legs. Falling to his knees beside the child, he bent carefully over her, brushing a honey blond tress from her face. He studied her carefully, gently touching a droplet of blood that lay at the corner of her mouth. He started to tremble as he closed the lids over her sightless, fading eyes.

Although no stranger to death, the colonel could not prevent the tears that filled his eyes and shook his body. Oh so gently he picked up his niece, as light as a cloud in his arms, carried her to his horse, laid her across the saddle and secured her. His hand brushed against the coolness of her cheek as he pulled the steel blue, pearl-handed revolver from the holster attached to his military saddle. Checking the chamber quickly, he walked back to where the mare continued to writhe and whinny plaintively. Through tear clouded and burning eyes he surveyed her body, then bent down beside her, resting his hand against her muzzle. She stopped her agonized movement and gazed softly up at him with large brown eyes. He patted her gently as he set the barrel of his revolver just behind her ear and pulled the trigger. The nearness of flesh muffled the pistol’s report. The mare made one sharp arching motion, and then lay still.

Three days later, the same colonel stood before his king. This time his outstretched hands held across them a field officer’s Sabre, a weapon both practical and ceremonial, along with the links of rank as he bent to lay them at the foot of the throne. He looked straight ahead to avoid seeing the young boy who shook with tears in his mother’s comforting embrace.

The king fidgeted uncomfortably in the throne chair and looked down at his hands as if examining them for the first time. Then, looking up, he met the colonel’s eyes squarely. “So, there is no way we can change your mind,” said the king in tones that were neither statement nor question.

“No, your highness, there isn’t.” replied the colonel with conviction.

“You’ll be sorely missed,” said the king, deliberately turning to look at the tearful boy at his side. “It will be a great loss to us all.”

“To me as well, majesty. My years of service to you and to Prince Rafael and to all your family are cherished ones. But, I must leave. I can no longer serve as a member of the Life Guard. Riding at my niece’s side I could not save her life. How could I continue to accept such responsibility for my liege and heir to the crown of this nation that I have served for so many years.”?

“It is a tragic thing, your niece,” said the king, “but it was an accident. You could not have anticipated…”

“Hardly justifiable when one’s whole life is dedicated to anticipating and preventing anything that might risk the wellbeing of one’s charge, highness.” There was a finality to the colonel’s tone.”

“Very well, then, colonel,” said the king, “I accept your resignation as a member of the Royal Life Guards and accept your sword, but only to hold them for you. I neither rescind your honorably gained ranking, nor your rights as an officer of the crown.”

“An unnecessary kindness Your Majesty…”

“Enough, enough,…Go, do what you have to. I do understand.” The king’s tone softened. “You know that you will always be welcome here, Arram. Our kingdom, our home is always open to you.” He stopped.

The colonel bowed, setting the sword at the king’s feet. He turned briefly to smile at the crown prince and his mother, both of whom returned his smile through tears. He then turned and walked from the room. He didn’t see the prince run to hug his father, or their following him with their eyes until the huge doors clanged shut behind him. He clearly saw among the crowd of courtiers lining his path the emblem of the great cat springing, against the tawny background above a pair of icy, arrogant eyes.

Colonel Arram Nevil, youngest man to ever hold that rank in the Imperial Life Guards, Personal bodyguard to Raphael crown prince, loyal soldier, faithful servant, passed through the palace gates to the salutes of his fellows and disappeared into the crowds of people that carried on their lives around the palace and its enormous towers.

His search for personal peace led him down pathways to places he had never suspected even existed. Life among the common folk was a rude one for the schooled and aristocratic former Royal Life Guard yet he slipped into the role of rough spoken peasant with untold ease.


He returned years later to settle in a small house on the outskirts of the capital. He had learned many things on his travels and was able to make a meager living selling arcane and amusing creations of his own construction in one of the lesser markets of the city.       His days with the palace guard were far behind him. As of yet however, and unbeknownst to him, they were not yet finished.


If you enjoyed this, pick up the book at one of the ebook distribution site: Kindle, Ibook, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and more.  $3.99 US.

Coming Soon: Michael MacNeil’s Sci-fi novel Legacy Earth is being edited.  Catch a bit of it on Nosepeople Production’s Max Penman blog