These are the unpublished works of my brother-in-law, Michael Thomas Smith. I encouraged Michael several times to get his voluminous work out of his head and onto paper, but the depths of his procrastinations were fueled by an overwhelming depression since the death of his wife, Kathirene. Before his own death in 2009, our relationship had become considerably strained, due to his procrastinations to follow through on even the most mundane of tasks in his personal life.
We can never take back the harsh words spoken nor deeds done after a loved one has passed on, so it was with my own regrets. However, about a year after his passing, I came across a folder that had been packed away in the back of our closet of Michael’s most prized imaginative writings. I vowed to myself that his story would, in some form or fashion, become known to others.
These stories are about the misadventures of two friends, and take place in an ancient fantasy realm called: The Land of the Seven Empires. Inspired by Fritz Leiber’s tale of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Michael’s two main characters were loosely based on himself and a close friend of his named, Don E. Walker. In fact, it was both Michael and Don themselves who first collaborated in conjuring these stories into being, but Michael who later developed their detailed background histories and genealogies further.
Along with the stories is a map, I drew from rough sketches by Michael. There was even a time when Michael and I created the actual board game of KINGS; which was the vehicle that brought the two main characters together. Our game-making venture later fell through, but it was quiet an adventure in itself to invent and craft. The rules of the game are provided in an appendix as another insightful example of Michael‘s complex thinking.
It is my sincere hope the reader will enjoy these brief stories as much as those of us who first heard them told.