Author Feature – from ‘The Laughing Man’ by Robert J. Barlow

A homeless man wandered the streets of Berlin, his hair was thinning and he wore three threadbare coats over each other, pushing his few possessions in a shopping cart. He shook his head and searched for something, his hands roaming through thin air as he became frustrated. A black sedan pulled up in front of him and four men in suits got out. Without a word they bundled the struggling man into the car and took off. They were never seen again.

In New York a young woman with a power suit and power hair made her way out of work, cutting a shortcut down an alley and plugging her headphones into her ears. A tall, bald man in a leather jacket approached her from behind, the sound of boots on gravel obscured by the tune. She hit the ground seconds later.

In London a mohawked musician slung a guitar onto his back and walked out of the bar he’d been playing in. He sung softly to himself and stopped when three beautiful women approached him. He gave them his most charming smile and the most stunning of them approached him. She leaned up to kiss him and broke his neck.

On the Stockholm leg of her tour a popular teen singer was gunned down in broad daylight. Security reports said she was shot by a crazed fan. The police never identified the killer.

A pair of children ran through the Beijing streets, scrambling and stumbling through a crowd. They tried to give away no angle of attack, to vanish into the crowd and hide behind people. They didn’t blend well enough.

A building that contained the boardroom of a fortune 500 company was bombed. The explosion took out several floors and cost thousands of innocent lives, including the company’s entire board. No clear motive was presented.

Only one thing was found in common on every scene. Two circles, one white with a red dagger inside it and one black with two intersecting triangles.

To those who didn’t understand, it seemed random, like a sudden burst of unreasonable violence in a world full of unreasonable violence. Dead men and women in a world of dead men and women. Senseless tragedy in a world of senseless tragedy.

To those who did understand, the answer was clear. The Seraph were falling, the Eldritch were rising, and the Legion and Lost were going to war.

It was harvest time. Magical potential was about to be discovered and for a few of those who would be caught in the crossfire there would be adventures, or tragedies. The rest, would be found by the wrong side and killed before they ever began to understand why.

Forty seconds either way changed everything for one.

From The Laughing Man by Robert J. Barlow.

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