S.L. Barrie

Dreams come true and sometimes so do Nightmares

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Here you will find information on published works by S.L.Barrie, unpublished works, original content, extra material relating to the debut fantasy series Sandman Chronicles and musings on writing, publishing, reading, family and other interesting nuggets.

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My journey to becoming a published writer has been a long one, a dream that I have had since being a child. I have written everything from novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, sonnets, long form poetry, blogs and songs in all variety of genres. Now finally, after nine years of researching and developing my ideas, which funnily enough all started with a very vivid dream, I can now share, with all you lovely people, my debut fantasy series.

I hope you will continue this journey with me and together, we will make history and maybe even become legends.

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Here’s a little taster of Book 3 in the Sandman Chronicles Series – Ashes and Elms.

The Prologue

 It was a gift from the people of Hemerus. A gift to commemorate the peace alliance that Nyx, Queen of Nights and Hemera, Queen of Lights had forged. A crystal filled with the purest light that Hemera could bestow. It was placed within The Watchtower of Oneiroipolis, its light a shining beacon of unity. Like the Pharos of ancient Greece, this lighthouse was created to show Oneiroi, the winged spirits of sleep and dreams, the way home and keep them from straying too far into darkness, and was renamed The White Tower for its illuminated edifice.
After it was decreed that Olympia would be divided into two lands, Hemerus and Erebus and no Hemeran could ever again step foot in Erebus and likewise no Erebusian could walk in the lands of light, such a gift can so often become a curse. There were those who thought the light was a way of keeping Erebusians weak, docile and compliant, so that there would be no more attempts to claim the lands of light in the name of darkness and no more wars between the two domains.
It did not work.
Oneiroipolis was the seat of power of Oneirus and ruled over by four brothers. Their kingdom spread from the City of Dreams through Lethargia, once known as Dryargyros, because whenever Selene, the Moon Maiden, walked through the woods, the leaves of the trees that once grew there shimmered silver in her light and the spirits that dwelled within the trees would sing. Not songs of melancholia like the Nightingales at the crossing of Cocytus, the River of Lamentation, but songs of joy and frolic. But as with all things that are pure and light, they can be persuaded to darkness. It was the same for the spirits of the woods. Their songs of merriment turned to lullabies, designed to lull Selene into an eternal slumber, to prevent her from returning to The Halls of Light, which would see her power to dispel the darkness of Erebus restored.
However, Selene has not been seen in Olympia for an age, so Lethargia remains a place that can lull those who enter it into a deep sleep. And when we are asleep, we are at our most vulnerable.
There were many kinds of trees in Dryargyros, but there was a particular tree that, in their youth, was a favourite of the brothers. A great Elm that they would climb and fly up to the very top. From their lofty perch they could see above all the other trees and look out across Olympia and spy the light from the Golden Hall of Mount Olympus and the stormy black clouds over The Dark Mountain of Erebus.
Looking northwards, they could only see the swaths of poppies that bordered their lands, but far beyond that, was Titanus, once known as Ouronosia by the peoples of the south, because all they could see on the horizon was sky, no land. There lay the remains of a once great city, which stood at the foot of Mount Othrys. The city has since become a necropolis, littered with the bones of monsters and the race of Giants who came before. The Black Castle of Kronos, Lord of Titanus, long since abandoned with The Forgotten City, a name bestowed by those who remember nothing more than a legend.
To the south the brothers could see the wheat fields and meadows of neighbouring Elysium, but far beyond that, The Dead Pans of Thanatus, a dry and dusty desert, where three rulers sit alone, without the company of any residents. They sit at the top of a flat pyramid in three seats, one for each ruler who had been given the duty of judging the souls who entered their lands and which direction they should take. They guard the Skales of Judgement, a long staircase cut into the earth, that is not visible unless shown and it leads into the lowlands of Hades’ realm, in the common words of men it is known as the Underworld.
All this the brothers could see from their Elm. They could also see the light of Hemera, but not to the west where she dwelt, but to the east, towards their home and The White Tower. They were grateful for this gift, grateful for not being led astray into darkness. But amongst those who did not value this gift was Moros, the Black Doom, a most malevolent offspring of Nyx. He distrusted all who were guided by the light of The White Tower and despised any who walked willingly under its net. He would not be ruled by four brothers who in his eyes, were weak for allowing such a curse to fall on the lands of Erebus. Moros named the city Theialogos, the City of Bright Words and the tower, Phonogion, the Talking Tower, for he said that ever since the Light of Hemera had been placed within the Tower, it whispered and filled their heads with words and thoughts that were not their own. They were lies meant to turn them all from Erebus, but to turn from the lands of darkness and into the lands of light was death, anyone who could not see that, was already corrupted.
And so, Moros brought an army from the very depths of Erebus, demons of torment, bloodshed and wrath, to topple The Tower, unseat the brothers and rule from Oneiroipolis himself, dooming them to darkness and despair.
“Come walk with us and we will sing
And play for you on Lyre string
We wake and we rejoice for you
Within your light we shine anew
Selene your waxing light
A blessing on the darkest Night
Selene your light has waned
Restore us our Nyxphosi Maiden”
Phantasos was idling on a long sofa near one of the arched windows that faced the gardens, his arm under his head like a pillow, looking up to the vaulted ceiling, singing softly to himself, tossing a shiny red apple into the air and catching it, while the walls shook around him.
“Here you are, you were supposed to come straight back with your report.” Morpheus burst into the room scowling. “What are you doing in here anyway?”
“Thinking.” He replied, still tossing his apple.
“Well I hope you’re thinking of strategy.”
“I’m thinking of all the ways I’m going to make Moros bleed, when this is over.” Phantasos caught his apple and took a bite.
“Wonderful. But we must win this first, so perhaps you could join us in working out a plan.”
Phantasos sighed and stood up from his lounge, his green eyes flashed with mischief as he smoothed back his long black hair, and tugged at his purple tunic, embellished with silver thread that hemmed his cuffs and collar in a pattern of swirls, and sauntered over to the door, he closed it behind him just as Icelos threw open the heavy double doors at the fore of the room.
“Brother, the walls of our city will not hold against Moros’ ground force.” Icelos strode into the banquet hall, sweat and dust on his brow, his black leather breastplate scored with claw marks.
The hall had been temporarily transformed into a war room, the long stone table covered with a map of Erebus, carved figures placed strategically around Oneiroipolis. Dust spattered the paper, raining down from the ceiling, Morpheus brushed it aside.
“What’s the matter Icelos, you’re not afraid, are you?” Morpheus chuckled.
“Me? Never. But Akhlys has been circling her Keres. If it were not for our Katapteres keeping them at bay, they would have torn down The Tower long before now.”
“What of our air forces, where are they now?”
“Rounding up stragglers. Each time they break formation to try and get behind our lines, they’ve chased them down and driven them back.”
“Give the order not to disperse. We need all our strength focused.” Morpheus spread his hand over the position of The White Tower on the map. “Akhlys knows we’ll stop them getting too close, she’ll have determined our numbers by now. She is sending rogues out to divide them, make them weaker. If they stick together and hold line the Keres won’t get through.”
“I don’t think it’s wise to concentrate our entire aerial defence and abandon the strays. If even one of the Keres breaks the line.”
“What of our ground defences?” Morpheus asked, ignoring his brother’s warning and advice, brushing aside another spatter of ceiling dust.
Icelos did not respond, he simply stared into Morpheus’ eyes, unblinking, hot air coming down his nose, like a disgruntled bull.
“They breached the outer wall near the north gate, here.” Phantasos said, pointing to the map. “Pononis and Aporia managed to get through with a few hundred Baselings. Just a bunch of low bred Nothoi, it was taken care of.” He waved his hand dismissively and plucked a few grapes from a silver bowl on the corner of the table and popped them into his mouth.
“How many of our own did we lose in the skirmish?”
“None.” Phantasos filled a goblet with wine and offered it to Morpheus who declined with a shake of his head.
“Not that I’m not thankful to be spared losses, but how is it that not a single one of our army fell?”
Phantasos gulped down some wine, still swallowing as he spoke.
“That was the clever thing of it. Apate and Dolos took care of them. Apate made it seem like there were thousands of warriors on the other side of the wall.” He chuckled at the thought, sipping some more wine. “The mutts practically cowered at the sight, but not being the brightest of creatures they went ahead and took them out, claws and teeth striking at nothing but air. Then Dolos he...”
“As much as I love a good tale, we need to start thinking about how we bring this to an end. I don’t know about you three, but I’m getting tired of all this posturing.” Hypnos moved closer to the table, his silver armour, rippling with waves of blue in the dim light of the room. “We’ve managed to keep them at bay, great, but it’s not enough, they’re not retreating and they’re not giving up.”
“Well, what do you suggest we do?” Morpheus asked.
“Perhaps we send an envoy, Philotes or Eleos perhaps, and broker peace terms with Moros.” Hypnos offered, ever the peacekeeper.
Icelos choked on his flagon of water, laughing heartily.
“You think friendship and compassion will win this war?” He ran the back of his hand across his mouth, wiping away the dribbles. “Wake up Hypnos, you send either of them to face Moros, he’ll kill them in an instant. They won’t have time to treaty because their heads will be on the ground.”
“Then what’s your suggestion brother? Scare them into submission?” Hypnos mocked.
“Meet them head on in the open field of battle. No more cowering behind our walls. The best defence is a good offense. Keep our Katapteres trained on the skies, if Akhlys or any of her battle feeders try to break us, our archers will drive them back. Position a few more guards at The Tower.” Icelos moved some of the carved figures around the map, placing them in position. “Here in the Roost, at the Great Arch of the Tholoseum and several more in the surrounding structures as an extra precaution. Geras could make himself useful, put him here, right at the heart of the trouble.” He placed the figure of Geras on top of the drawing of The White Tower. “Anyone manages to advance, he can just wither them, easy. The rest of us, you, me, Hypnos and Phantasos, we lead the bulk of our army out onto the Arkypedio, for he who wins the field will never yield. Isn’t that right?”
Morpheus looked at his brothers in turn.
“I think we should vote on it. Do we meet them on the field of battle?”
“You know where I stand.”
“And I stand with you brother.” Phantasos slapped Icelos on the back.
“Hypnos, are you in agreement?”
He didn’t have a chance to answer as the doors to the hall were thrown open once again and Adikia hobbled in with Nemesis under her arm, dragging her up the length of the floor, her wings trailing limply.
“Come help me with her. Don’t just stand there gabbing like a clutch of old fishwives, while we’re out there fighting to save your skins.” Adikia’s voiced bellowed through the hall, gruff and rasping.
“Remember who you’re speaking to Adikia.” Icelos glowered, looking at the Daimone’s own skin, which was every inch tattooed with images of those she had hunted and slain, symbols of long forgotten beasts, Giants and Titans.
She bowed her head and placed a clenched fist to her breast.
“Forgive me my Lord.”
Morpheus dove forward as she let go of Nemesis, her weakened body slumping to the floor.
“Bring her through to my lounge.” Phantasos offered, guiding them into the smaller room at the back of the hall.
Morpheus scooped Nemesis into his arms and carried her over to the sofa and propped her head on a pillow. When he stepped back his hands were red, he removed her breastplate and saw that her undershirt was soaked, he lifted it and blood seeped from a large wound in her side. Her wings were torn in many places and the left wing was clearly broken as the bone splintered at an odd angle.
“What happened?” Morpheus asked, rolling a sheet that was draped across the back of the sofa and pressing it to the wound firmly, causing Nemesis to groan.
“She was fighting with a Keres and got shafted by one of our Katapteres bolts. She fell, broke a wing on the landing, took out part of the Tholoseum when she did.” Adikia ran the back of her bloodstained hand across her nose, leaving a smear of black blood on her cheek.
“I can still fight.” Nemesis winced, trying to stand.
“Just rest. You need to rest.” Morpheus gently pushed her back down.
“But that’s not why we’re here.”
“Did you come for the wine?” Phantasos snickered. “It’s one of Dionysus’ favourites, or so I’m told. A fruity summer wine, spiced with cinnamon, quite invigorating.”
“No. I did not come for the wine you…” Adikia glanced to Icelos whose face thundered with warning. “No, thank you my Lord. Perhaps if we stand victorious after the day, we can celebrate with a glass or two.”
Phantasos raised his cup in agreement and downed the contents.
“Right now, we have a more pressing matter. It’s Moros, he’s called a meet on the Arkypedio. He’s out there now, under a canopy, waiting for you.”
“How do you know?”
“We took two prisoners. They came to the southern gate to inform us that Moros wishes to call a truce.”
“If they’re envoys, why did you take them prisoner?”
“It was Phallax and Hoax my Lord.”
“Pseudologoi.” Icelos spat on the floor. “You can’t trust a word they say, they speak in nothing but lies.”
“Not this time my Lord.”
A scream of pain ripped through the room as Hypnos set Nemesis’ broken wing and wrapped it. He placed his hand on her cheek and instructed her to look into his eyes, which flashed with purple and green hues before settling on a bright and vivid blue. She calmed almost instantly.
“It’s true my Lord. Before I fell, I surveyed the field, what they said is true.” She rose from the sofa and stumbled over to them, pressing her hand to her side, sweat beaded on her skin. “Moros is out there, dining with his companions under a white canopy.”
“So what if he is. So what if those liars tell the truth of it. They could still be lying about his intentions.” Icelos turned about agitated.
“You know as well as I do what his actions mean. There’s only one way to learn the truth of it.”
“Morpheus, you can’t seriously be contemplating meeting with him. It’s a trick, don’t you see that?”
“Wasn’t it you who desired to ride out and meet them?”
“In battle not in surrender.”
“Not surrender, but peace as Hypnos suggested. Do you want to see our lands torn apart?”
“Tell me brother, if Moros believes as we know he does, that he has the right to rule here and we know he has the numbers to take the city, why would he seek a truce?”
“That question is exactly why we need to meet with him.”
“You’re a fool and you’ll doom us all.”
“If I may my Lords.” Adikia stepped forward. “There’s more. Moros has withdrawn his forces and halted his attack.”
“I don’t believe you.” Icelos said.
“It’s true, listen.” Nemesis looked up to the ceiling, which had stopped quaking and crumbling.
They stood listening to the quiet for a few moments. Icelos stormed from the room, swept his hand across the map on the table sending the carved figures scattering. He turned to leave, thrusting his sword into his hip scabbard.
“Where are you going?”
“To meet Moros. I’ll stand by your side in peace brother if that is Moros’ wish, have no fear of that. But if it is to be war, I’ll kill you myself.”
The four brothers, clad in armour bearing their insignia, mounted their steads. Hypnos atop a black stag of Lethargia. A deep part of the forest behind the Argypheon falls. The silver water that runs down into the hidden valley below is what gives the stags their silver antlers and the hinds their silver coats. Beside him strode a grey Griffin, that had fallen from the sky many years ago. Griffins are known for their golden feathers and fur and are guardians of golden treasures, it appeared to Hypnos that the colour of this Griffin is what saw it discarded by its kind and they bore the names Kerages and Konis. Phantasos rode a beast of his own design part bull, part lion and part scorpion, known as the Phantasma, it could strike terror into anyone who witnessed the creature, but it was only as real as the beast itself. Morpheus and Icelos were atop a pair of black Hipponyx, gifted to them by their mother, the wingless offspring of the steads that pulled her chariot. Morpheus’ steed was gentle yet brave, fleet of foot and quicker of mind. Morpheus needed never to utter a command that the beast did not instinctively act upon, and its name was Phrenokes, for its swift intuition. Icelos’ steed was jet black, its eyes red and its mane and tail billowed like smoke and its name was Phoboskía, the Fearshade, for when the shadow of the great beast fell upon you, fear was the last thing you would feel before a quick death.
They rode out of the main gate and onto the field, with Adikia, Philotes, Eleos, Sophrosyne, Epiphron, Anaideia and a quarter of their army. Nemesis, Geras, Alastor, Dolos, Apate and Elpis stayed behind in the city with the rest of the Oneiroi and Daimones, guarding the White Tower and keeping  a watchful eye on the skies, for in the distance Akhlys continued to circle her Keres.
As they neared the canopy where Moros was sat with his companions, Morpheus and Icelos dismounted and passed the reigns to Adikia, who pulled the Hipponyx to one side. Hypnos and Phantasos remained mounted, the scorpion tail of the Phantasma flicked defensively at Eurynomos, who was seated at the end of the table on a chair of bones, that the flesh eater had coated with a vulture skin, his dark blueish skin looked sweaty and pustules wept a black bile, a consequence of dining on the rotting flesh of corpses within the bowels of the Underworld. Moros had obliged his dietary needs and the Daimon gnawed at the leg of some poor soul as if it were a chicken’s.
“Brothers, welcome. Please take a seat and eat.” Moros waved his hand to a couple of empty spaces. “What is ours is yours. Although I would leave Eurynomos to his own feasting, he doesn’t like to share.”
A grunt rumbled from the Daimon’s cracked blue lips, followed by a belch of the foulest decayed stench.
“I think I’m going to be sick.” Sophrosyne mumbled, her face paled with disgust, holding a gloved hand to her nose. She was the embodiment of moderation and such indulgence was repulsive to her.
“That’s because you’re weak.” Momos said with a sneer. His sharp pointed nose, long wide smile, large black eyes and greasy hair, made him look too sinister to be a jester, his mockery was far more malevolent, designed to twist your thoughts and make you truly believe his words.
Sophrosyne shrank back a little from the table, her grey eyes cast downward as she nervously pulled at her long, pale, plaited hair. She positioned herself behind Anaideia, whose ruthless nature would not see her so easily manipulated.
“You’re all weak. You’ve been corrupted by the light of Hemera.” Hybris rose from her seat, her many bracelets and necklaces jangled as she gestured passionately. “That Tower must fall and with it Theialogos. Moros must rule here. He is the only one fit to rule, unlike you, he is pure.”
“Hold your tongue Hybris, we have long been companions and for the love I bear you I give you this warning, but if you speak so insolently again, I will rip your tongue from your skull.”
Moros held up his hand, stopping Hybris from speaking again and incurring the unforgiving wrath of Anaideia. She clenched her bejewelled fist and sat down.
“So, you don’t wish to seek peace terms with us?” Morpheus asked.
“On the contrary. Once the four of you relinquish the city to me and The Phonogion is no more. We will have peace.”
“For how long? Until you move to start another war with Hemerus?”
“I am no warmonger. A continuous battle?” Moros tutted as he carved off a piece of his steak. “What I want is an end, not a beginning. An end to Hemera’s influence over Erebus. Only with the return of darkness will there be peace.” He took a sip from his cup.
“And you think taking over our city will mean an end?” Icelos laughed. “Even if you take it, we will rule again, there will be more battles, more wars.”
“Indeed. But perhaps in the wars to come, we will be on the same side once more.” Moros took another sip from his cup. “But for that to happen, we must destroy The Tower and if the only way to do that is to remove you from my path. I will. I’d rather you just give me the keys to your kingdom instead.” He shrugged. “Do that and I might even allow you all to remain in my city.”
“You’re mad. If you want the city, you’re going to have to kill all of us first.” Icelos motioned to the sizeable force behind him.
Moros sighed.
“I was afraid you were going to say that.”
“I know.” Icelos smirked.
“And I know that’s why this meeting was doomed all along.” Moros returned a sly smile.
“What is he talking about?” Phantasos steadied his beast, as it skittered nervously, sensing something.
Before anyone could answer, Melissa landed in front of them, her large bee like wings barely able to flutter as they were all four of them crumpled. One was shredded as though something with sharp talons had tried to pull it off. Melissa was able to bring sweet dreams to people, but she had no honey coated words for them now.
“It’s a trap.” She said, trying to catch her breath. “Apate and Dolos have betrayed us. The city is overrun. They came through the eastern gate. My lords, Doom has come to Oneiroipolis.”
Icelos and Morpheus looked at one another then to the table where Moros and his minions were seated. One by one they faded. A deception at the hands of the traitors Apate and Dolos. Icelos growled and upturned the table, drew his sword and cut down the canopy.
“I knew we couldn’t trust them, those lying bastards. We should never have left the city.”
“Do not despair brother, it isn’t over yet.”
“This isn’t some dream Morpheus, nor a fantasy, we’re not about to wake up.” He looked at each of his brothers in turn.
“It is not a nightmare either.”
“No, this is worse. This is our reality.”
The brothers rode for the city where Moros stood atop the wall, looking down upon them grimly.
“It’s over brothers. You can still leave with your lives.”
“The life of cowards. I think not.” Phantasos called up to him.
Moros closed his eyes, his shoulders hunched with a deep sigh, he raised a gauntleted hand and let it fall. With that the gate splintered open and a Cyclops crashed through swinging its club, knocking Phantasos off his beast. The Cyclops was followed by a plague of Nosoi, one laid its scabby hands on either side of on Oneiroi infantryman and his skin blistered with sores and turned a pallid grey. He crumpled to the floor as a quivering sickness took him over.
“What was it you called me brother? Mad? I’m not mad, but they are.”
Moros laughed as a group of Maniai scrabbled over the city walls, their grinning faces twitched with frenzy. One vaulted high off the ground, grabbing the heel of an Oneiroi as she tried to fly away. It pulled her down and several more Maniai piled on top of her, their razor-sharp nails and needle like teeth ripped into her, sending black feathers flying. Her screams stopped suddenly, as her throat was torn open and blood gurgled and spat.
Morpheus reeled around surveying the carnage about him. The field was stained with blood, feathers and flesh, bodies were heaped and broken, Kerages lay wounded, its abdomen opened by a pike wielding Daimon, after goring several Nosoi on its silver antlers. Their carcasses remained dangling, impaled against the crumbling wall of the city. Good Oneiroi were dropping from the sky, taking bolts from the Katapteres that were now turned upon them. The Keres taking wounded Oneiroi down and feasting upon the fallen. Konis the Griffin, swooped upon one of the Katapteres, gripped the wooden frame with its talons and pulled it apart, destroying it in a shower of splinters. It released the large beam of wood and metal on top of a group of Baselings that were swarming the lower level of the city. The Griffin circled back and steadied itself in front of a clutch of Maniai, it beat its wings forcefully, a gust of wind tossing them back into a defensive line of wooden stakes that fenced the city wall. Konis picked up two archers positioned atop the wall, spiralled up to the clouds and dropped them from the great height, taking a bolt to the chest. It screeched and fell limply, smashing through the roof of a house on the upper courtyard villa.
“Fall back.” Morpheus raised his voice above the noise of battle. “Fall back.” He dragged one of his Oneiroi companions to his feet and shoved him in the opposite direction. “The city is lost. Fall back. Retreat.” He cut his way through several Daimones that blocked his path and came up behind Icelos and watched as he sliced off the arms of a putrid looking Nekrosoi, a rather nasty race of plague carriers, whose touch could rot the flesh. It dropped to its knees and Icelos finished it off by snapping its jowly neck. Morpheus grabbed his brother by the shoulder, Icelos swung around, his sword stopping just at the nape of Morpheus’ neck.
“Brother, we must retreat.” Morpheus said, eyeing the blade’s edge against his skin.
“We are doomed. Oneiroipolis is taken.”
Icelos lowered his sword as the ground began to quake. A resounding crack and a flash of light split the air. A rumbling like thunder followed, but it was no storm. The White Tower collapsed in a cloud of dust and the city was bathed in blood and darkness.
“NO.” Icelos bellowed as he lunged at Morpheus, swinging his sword pushing his brother to the ground. Morpheus cracked his head on a lump of broken wall and the last thing he felt before the cold darkness took him, was a warm spray of blood.