Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ranger of Mayat (Book 1 of Pistols and Pyramids) by Jim Johnson

Release date: October 22, 2015
Subgenre: Weird Western

About Ranger of Mayat


The Scales Are Out of Balance

When Tjety, an exiled Ranger of Mayat, discovers a ransacked village along the lawless northern Kekhmet frontier, he marshals his training and divine hekau magic to hunt down the ruthless cultists responsible for the attack. But can he find them before their prisoners are twisted into mindless slaves serving a necromancer bent on shattering the tenuous balance between order and chaos?

Ranger of Mayat is the first episode in PISTOLS AND PYRAMIDS, an all-new monthly series best described as an ancient Egyptian-themed weird western with magic. And mummies. Lots of mummies.



Thin lines of gray smoke slithered into the gloaming sky. As Tjety and Heker crested a slight rise in the hardscrabble road, the humble rooftops of at least twenty mudbrick buildings moved into view. The small village was tucked into a clearing set between the road and a wide bend in the river. It wasn’t hearth smoke coming out of chimneys or cooking pots—the buildings had been set afire.
Bodies lay scattered throughout the small village and near the river. Woven baskets of fish, no doubt the day’s catch, were strewn about, the contents rotten. Tjety rode closer into the village, senses alert and his mouth set in a firm line against the murder and waste on display.
A third gunshot rang out. A gangly man dressed in rough linens and leathers and a dirty homespun headcloth strode out of a house’s open doorway and then holstered his still-smoking revolver. The man spat into the street and then looked toward the village’s large conical storehouse. “Pashet! Uni! I’m done here. Let’s get moving.”
Two more hard-looking men stumbled out of the storehouse, their arms filled with baskets of foodstuffs and supplies. They were likewise dressed in rough riding leathers and plain headcloths.
Tjety gritted his teeth. Gods-damned clanless border brigands. He walked Heker along the far side of the village, careful to keep the burning mudbrick homes between him and the three bandits.
The older of the two looters called out. “Come an’ take yer fill, Meret. Stuff ain’t gonna last. Me an’ Uni got our shares.”
The gangly man, Meret, moved toward his allies and tossed them a few choice swear words in guttural Hesso. Tjety didn’t know the language well, but a quick flex of his hekau was enough for him to get the sense of the words.
Meret said, “We was told to finish off the villagers, Pashet, not loot the place. We gotta get the caravan moving before Master Deshi gets dirt all up in his nethers again.”
The youngest bandit, who by process of elimination had to be Uni, stumbled, which caused his precarious armload to topple over. Grain and assorted vegetables spilled onto the ground. He cursed at the mess and then gestured toward one of the dead villagers. “They ain’t gonna need it no more, Boss Meret. Ain’t no sense leavin’ it to spoil, yah?” He glanced at Pashet, as if seeking confirmation or reassurance from the older man.
As the three brigands fell to arguing, Tjety realized that surprise was on his side, right now. He gathered his reins in one hand and heeled Heker into a gallop. He gripped his pistol at the ready and tore around the buildings toward the bandits, crying out a wordless challenge.
The bandits were faster than he expected. Uni dropped the last of his stolen goods and went for his revolver, clearing the holster just as Tjety blasted two rounds into his chest. The young bandit crumpled to the ground, his pistol dropping from his grip as his mouth fixed itself into a silent “O” of surprise.
“Who the fuck are you?” Pashet cried out as he dropped his stolen booty and drew his revolver. He managed to get a wild shot off before Tjety’s next bullet caught him in the left shoulder and spun him around. Pashet staggered his way toward one of the nearby buildings.
Meret chose to dive into an open doorway, making Tjety suspect that perhaps he was the wisest of his little band.
As Tjety guided Heker through the village, he took careful aim toward Meret's cover, hoping for a clear shot, but the bandit didn’t present himself. Tjety wasn’t about to waste ammunition firing blindly.




About Jim Johnson:

 Jim Johnson is the author of the Pistols and Pyramids series as well as other prose fiction series currently under development. He has written sundry other pieces of fiction, including several stories published in the Star Trek universe, and has freelanced for pen and paper roleplaying game companies, including Decipher and White Wolf. Please visit for more information on Jim and his interests and writing.

Jim lives in historic Alexandria, VA with his wife, newborn son, and several crazy cats.

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