Party with the Stars

Party with the Stars: Matt Larkin

Have you ever wondered what might happen if you could throw a party of your choice and not only could you invite your MC(s) but other literary figures as well? In this feature, I ask you to imagine exactly that scenario and some more. Meet Matt Larkin and let’s get the party started!

Matt Larkin Party with the Stars invitation
The Host
aka The Author
Matt Larkin

Matt Larkin writes retellings of mythology as dark, gritty fantasy.

His passions of myths, philosophy, and history inform his series. He strives to combine gut-wrenching action with thought-provoking ideas and culturally resonant stories.

The Main Guest(s)
aka The MC(s)

A consummate craftsman, Volund turns every work into a masterpiece. But his master came with a cost and his scars run deep. Unable to face the world, he seeks solace in his chosen few companions, hoping to deny the darkness he knows lurks within his veins.

Special Guest(s)

Volund would invite Anasûrimbor Kellhus, eager to wile away the night in deep conversation, secretly hoping the other man would offer even false promises of redemption.

The Entertainment

The Main Attraction

The roasting of a mammoth Volund and his brothers hunted down.

The Music

Two Steps From Hell: Mercy in Darkness

Two Steps From Hell should probably cater the whole thing!

Fuel: Innocent

The song actually inspired some of the ideas that became the Eschaton Cycle (the universe Volund exists in, so …)

Wadruna: Voluspa

Because, well, it seems needful

Blue October: Bleed Out

Volund knows he’s a mess and he’s desperate for someone to save him, even knowing it costs others to do so.

Disturbed: The Animal

Because this girl Timy recommended it to/for Volund.

The Party
aka Who Let the MC(s) Loose?

Volund would sit in solitude, alone, save if approached by someone. He’s more into deep conversation than revels.

About the Book

Volund’s tale is part of a greater universe of reimagined myths and legends, and acts, in particular, as a prequel to my Norse tales.

Matt Larkin’s Finalist novel is Darkness Forged advanced to the Finals by Kitty G. You can connect with the author here:

To read about more parties and to follow our process in the SPFBO 6 Finals, please visit my SPFBO 6 Finals page!

Excerpt from, Darkness Forged by Matt Larkin

In the distance, a wolf howled.

Damn it. Night was fast approaching. He either had to claim this place or find somewhere and build a fire. As the sun set, the mist would thicken. And with it, vaettir would grow bolder. Darkness unleashed draugar, trolls, and … worse. Vaettir even dvergar feared.

This place offered an unknown risk, but also his best chance.

He approached the hall in a crouch, staying low, hand on the sword hanging over his shoulder. He had crafted it himself, in the great forges of Nidavellir. Pattern-woven dverg steel—adamant, they called it—stronger than blades carried by men. Strong enough to cut down a varulf if need be. And yet, naught stirred as he approached.

The wall around the compound was nigh eight feet tall, much too tall for him to see over once he had drawn up against it. Runes marked it, but the work was sloppy. The dvergar had not built this place, though they might have taught the men who did. Remnants of one of the Old Kingdoms, perhaps. Volund jumped up and grasped the top of the wall. His fingers slipped immediately. A thick layer of ice coated it. It would make going in that way impossible.

That left only the front approach. The builders knew what they were doing in that much, at least. He edged along the wall, cringing at each crunch of pine needles beneath his heels. The gate had long since rotted away. Slipping his sword free, he peered around the wall’s edge. The stone hall lay beyond, its entrance off-center so one could not charge straight from the gate to the door. From here he could see that the door, too, had fallen away.

Volund slipped around the wall’s edge and crept nigh to the entrance. Still naught to see. The sky grew darker with each passing moment. He had no choice now. It was too late to search for other shelter.

More runes marked the hall proper, though they had faded. Perhaps they still offered some protection, barring the house against vaettir. Hard to say for certain. Had he more time, he might strengthen those runes, but not now, not tonight. Torch in one hand, sword in the other, he stepped inside. The shadows retreated at the light as though they resented it, and, almost, he swore they hissed at him. The main hall was open, not unlike a modern longhouse. On the far side, a wall separated the main hall from back rooms, so the keeper had once had enough wealth to want to hide it. If luck held, maybe he would even find a treasure hoard. More importantly though, in the center was a stone fire pit. Volund drew closer. No kindling, of course. The last of the Old Kingdoms had fallen some eight hundred years back. If this was such a ruin, of course naught would remain.

A long, low growl from behind set the hair on the back of his neck on end. He turned slowly to see a mound of fur lurching from the shadows on the far side of the hall. It lumbered forward, its gait uneven, its form massive, five, maybe six feet tall at the shoulder. A cave bear. A fucking cave bear had chosen this place to hibernate, and he’d awakened it. Thing had to weigh half a ton. And it was coming closer, moving faster with each step.

Volund backed away slowly, torch held out before him. If the bear feared it, it might well count for more than his sword. He ought to have trusted his first instinct and passed this place by. The bear snarled again.

Heart pounding, Volund’s vision narrowed. Those shadows grew thicker, enclosing the bear until he could see naught else. Yes. If he slew the bear he’d have meat. A lot of meat. Yes. It had chosen its home poorly.

“Well, then,” he said, “come on.”

The bear growled once more, then barreled forward. Fast. Volund thrust the torch at it and dove to the side in the same motion, even as it swiped with its claws. Those dagger-like weapons scraped stone, shrieking. The torch caught the bear’s foreleg, and it roared in pain.

Volund came up from his roll and thrust the torch again, barely warding off the enraged animal. It did not like fire, but that wasn’t going to keep it at bay for long. It reared up on its hind legs. Volund flung himself to the ground, rolling away as fast as he could. In an instant the bear had closed the distance and swiped again. This time, he flung the torch in its face. The cave bear howled, pawing at its singed maw. Instead of retreating, Volund leapt forward and swung his sword with both hands. The adamant sliced through muscle and bone, severing the bear’s foreleg at the joint. Off balance, it pitched forward.

This time, he did leap backward, immediately running for the far side of the room. A wound like that and the bear would bleed to death. Eventually. The cave bear bellowed, half running, half falling forward at a more uneven gait, driven mad with rage.

It was going to rip him to shreds before it died. He dashed into one of those back rooms and froze for a moment at what he saw. A forge—an ancient forge, long cold. It was naught compared to the smithies in Nidavellir where he had trained, and yet … it called to him.

He shook himself and backed away from the door. Almost immediately the bear slammed into the doorway and began to wedge itself through. Had it not bulked up for the winter, it would have fit through all the quicker. But that would buy him only a moment. The forge had a back door. He could retreat that way. He could.

Instead, the bear’s rage seemed to seep into him. It licked at his mind and soul, drew him forward. With a cry, he rushed forward and hacked straight down with his blade. It cleaved through the bear’s skull and muzzle and stuck, held fast by the bone. The bear dropped to the floor, yanking the sword from his grasp.

His muscles trembled. It was dead. And still, he saw naught but that bear, surrounded in darkness. Calling him. With a foot planted on its shoulder, he yanked his sword free of the skull. Before he even knew what he was doing, he hacked into the bear again. And again. He chopped the skull into bloody bits, screaming with wordless rage.

Finally, he fell to his knees in exhaustion.

Cold sweat had soaked through his tunic and breaches. It stung his eyes. He mopped his face with his palm, and his hand came away smeared in blood and brains. His chest was tight, heaving. The bear now blocked the doorway to the main hall. Where his torch was.

The mist had not crept in through the back door, but he wasn’t about to take chances. He dug another torch from his travel bag and immediately set about trying to light it. With his trembling, bloody hands, it took a good many tries before it caught. When it did, he rose and drifted about the forge.

It was still in good condition, though he had naught to burn here, either. All the tools, though, they remained. In fact, these looked to have been forged from dverg steel as well. Maybe that was why they had remained rust-free after so many years. Nidavellir had traded with the Old Kingdoms. Trade was how the dvergar put it. In reality, they graced humanity with pittances, in exchange for slaves and sacrifices. Much as they did now, save the powerful Old Kingdoms might have received slightly better terms than the dying petty kingdoms now scattered across the North Realms.

A few more generations, perhaps, and if Mankind had not yet wiped itself out, the dvergar were like to enslave what remained. The age of man was ending fast. All the more reason for Volund and his brothers to remove themselves from these lands. He needed to find Altvir with all possible haste.

And yet … this place …

Volund ran his fingers over the masterful tools. With these, he could make almost aught. Things for trade, for information. The only reason he had to stay at this forge. Spread the wealth around and someone must have seen Altvir.

The thought of her sparked fresh visions, and he slumped down to rest. Volund tossed the torch into the forge’s fire pit and shut his eyes. He could almost see her. Feel her soft hands massaging his temples and banishing the need for fear or anger. Suppressing the rage and replacing it with light.

He needed her light.

To read about more parties and to follow our process in the SPFBO 6 Finals, please visit my SPFBO 6 Finals page!

Timy, also known as Queen Terrible Timy hails from a magical land called Hungary, born and raised in its capital city, Budapest. Books have been her refuge and best friends ever since she can remember along with music. She might be a tiny bit addicted to the latter. Timy is the owner and editor of Queen's Book Asylum. Timy is also the co-owner/manager of Storytellers On Tour, a book tour organizing service dedicated to indie SFF authors. In her free time (hah!) she likes to scribble things, collect panda stuff, go to concerts and travel.

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