dark fantasy

A Haunted Past: Prequel Fatal Empire Story ‘Keeper of Prophecy’ Now Available

I’ve spent a lot of the past few months in the Dharakmeni Empire–a dark realm, filled with deadly intrigue. The core books follow Raziel’s journey as he attempts to navigate treacherous politics and forbidden magic as an assassin apprentice. It was a bit of a challenge to pick up the narrative where I had left off at the end of Keeper of Secrets back in 2012/2013 (even though I always intended to come back to it), so I decided to give a shorter adventure a go and write a prequel story.

Writing a prequel adventure from Raziel’s foster-father’s point of view (Admon) for ‘Keeper of Knowledge‘ was an easy choice. Admon is an established character from Keeper of Secrets, with an implied backstory I enjoyed fleshing out. But what I really wanted to do was try something from Raziel’s mother’s perspective (Moriah), which was quite a bit more intimidating. She doesn’t appear in Keeper of Secrets, and much of her backstory is unknown by the other characters. What little the other characters do know about Moriah is a mystery.

I knew it would be challenging to write a story about her past that revealed more about her, while not giving away too much and spoiling the main books. At this point, Moriah only existed as a character sketch, and in the memories of the other characters. So I started off by throwing her into the deep end to find out what she was made of. Then she dragged me down with her. Continue reading →

Posted by Jacquelyn in Writing/Publishing Updates, 0 comments

Free Fantasy Feature September 2021 | The Unclean: A Fantasy Short Story

An appointment with the Mage-Lord.

Jared can sense the fulfillment of his destiny approaching as he rushes through the cobbled streets with his blue mage robes flapping behind him. The kingdom of Galdavia prizes the mage gift above all others.

And Jared takes pride in his abilities. He knows he belongs at the Mage-Lord’s side.

Nothing can come between him and his rightful place.

A stand-alone dark fantasy story and winning entry of the Writers’ Journal Fiction Contest (2010) by the author of the World of Lasniniar series, Jacquelyn Smith.

Now, you can read it for free on this site for one month only. This short story also comes in ebook and paperback format–both on its own, and as part of the Rubicon Short Story Collection.

Get the ebook at:


Buy ebook direct from the author

Paperback available at:


The Unclean: A Fantasy Short Story

Jacquelyn Smith

Jared was late. He cursed as he weaved his way through the back streets of the city, hoping the shortcut would get him to his destination in time. He dodged a cart filled with fish, pushed by a swarthy man from the docks. The man stumbled, overturning his wares onto the cobblestones. Jared hiked up his blue mage robes to step around the slimy mess, dead fish eyes staring up at him. He tried his best to breathe through his mouth. The air reeked of fish and garbage. The man shook his raised fist and yelled after him. Jared ignored him and ran on.

An appointment with the Mage-Lord! It was every young mage’s dream. After graduating first in his class at the academy, one of his instructors had pulled him aside to let him know his hard work had caught the Mage-Lord’s attention. Jared couldn’t believe it. He had already risen higher than he had ever dared hope. The youngest of five children, he was the only member of his family to be born with the mage gift. Oh, certainly his mother had a gift for weather-witchery, and his sister, Charlotte, could speak to animals, but the mage gift was something different. In a kingdom like Galdavia, where the king himself was a mage, those who could command such power shaped the fates of those under their protection, and could rise above their base-born status. And to work for the Mage-Lord was the most coveted position in all the city. Jared couldn’t wait to tell his family. They would be so proud.

A mangy dog leaped from the shadows of an alley to stand bristling and growling at Jared’s feet, nearly causing him to jump out of his skin. He gave a flick of his wrist, releasing a mere whisper of his power upon the creature. It gave a startled yelp and ran. Jared regretted the waste of energy, but he didn’t have time to deal with the sorry animal. He looked back over his shoulder to make certain he wasn’t being followed. It wouldn’t do for him to draw any more attention.

Although most of the people who lived in the city of Marat respected and revered the Mage-Lord, there were always those who would wish him harm. Jared didn’t understand how anyone could be so horrible. If not for the Mage-Lord, the city would be overrun by the Unclean. It was through his wisdom and guidance that the city was segregated to keep the rest of the populace safe from their taint. With the number of mages in the city dwindling while the Unclean seemed to multiply, it was becoming an increasingly difficult task to keep the foul things under control. Soon it might be Jared’s job to help the Mage-Lord deal with the situation. He felt a surge of pride.

As though summoned by his thoughts, a shadowed figure detached itself from the stone wall Jared was passing to clutch at his billowing sleeve with grimy hands. Continue reading →

Posted by Jacquelyn in Free Fantasy Feature, 0 comments

Expanding the Empire: 3 New Fatal Empire titles, including a free bonus story

Keeper of Secrets Fatal Empire coverOver the past few months, I’ve been picking up the threads of the Fatal Empire fantasy series, which I started waaay back in 2013-ish by publishing the short novel Keeper of Secrets. It’s been ages since I first started writing the series, and it’s taken on a bit of a different shape in my mind since then. But I’ve finally gotten around to it again, with a renewed sense of excitement of where it might go.

Last summer, I put out A Visitor’s Guide to the Dharakmeni Empire, just for my subscribers. This was a short, tongue-in-cheek traveler’s guide to the main setting of the Fatal Empire series, written in the voice of Yarden the Wanderer–the Shining Kingdom’s foremost adventurer and devotee of the Keeper of Wonder. (Yarden also appears in a cameo role in “Legends of Lasniniar: The Wanderer,” just for fun. [Well, for fun, and to introduce him to Lasniniar, where he can have the opportunity to write more guides, lol.])

I recently wrote a second book along the same lines, A Visitor’s Guide to the Shining Kingdom, which will be the setting of a future project in the series. This month, I’ve publicly released both guides for $0.99 each. Paperback formats will also be coming very soon. (There was a weird issue about the apostrophe in the titles that created a holdup with the paperbacks. An apostrophe! I kid you not.)

Since I was putting the Dharakmeni guide out on the market, instead of giving it away to subscribers, I wanted to swap it out with something new I could send to my subscribers instead. This month, I’ve started offering “Keeper of Knowledge” to all new and existing newsletter subscribers–a short story prequel from the Fatal Empire series that explores some of Admon’s backstory and isn’t available anywhere else. (If you’re not a member of my adventure squad newsletter list, it’s totally free to join, and you can unsubscribe any time. You will also get a free copy of “Legends of Lasniniar: The Reef.”)

Another short prequel will be coming out in August, which explores Moriah’s backstory. Keeper of Wonder (Fatal Empire Book 2) is currently in the revisions phase. It’s turned out to be twice as long as Keeper of Secrets, and will likely be coming out in September. On top of all that, the overall look of the series has gotten a bit of a facelift. Here are all the details for both guides and “Keeper of Knowledge”: Continue reading →

Posted by Jacquelyn in Writing/Publishing Updates, 0 comments