Kevin Pettway is a normal person, much like you, who married well enough that he was allowed to pursue his dreams of not having to work for some asshole who makes 90 percent of the profits from Kevin's efforts. (Thanks, Lena!) It is a steadfast truth that creating things that make people happy is a lot easier when you're not working for that asshole.

Before he started writing, Kevin thought that the most fun part of this job was going to be actually writing. Once begun, he learned that the true best part was working with an editor, because an editor is paid to treat your fantasy bullshit seriously, and that feels amazing.

Now that the first series is over, it turns out that the best part is meeting the people who might, or even might not, be interested in reading what he's written. Chatting at conventions and game stores, even talking with the receptionist at the doctor's office when she finds out what he's written, it's all a sublime and humbling experience that lights a rosy fire in the core of a person's soul.

Assuming, you know, he has one.

So what does Kevin want you to know about him? That he is married, lives in Florida by a river which will eventually sweep his house away, with two of the cuddliest dogs ever to deaden your legs? Sure. But mostly he wants you to know that he began making these books because he loved it, but he kept making them because he loves all of you.

A Good Running Away by Kevin Pettway

If the enemies of your enemies are still your enemies, who are your friends?

Smart-mouthed Keane and feared-warrior Sarah escape the mercenaries of Wallace's Company to start somewhere fresh, where no one is trying to kill them. Keane steals the company's wages in return for his attempted murder, and Sarah agrees to the plan.

Unfortunately, Keane doesn't have one.

On the run from the vengeful lord marshal and his wicked mercenary cutthroats, Sarah and Keane hop from danger to disaster. One con too many lands the friends between the King's Swords, who are notoriously hostile toward mercenaries, and Wallace's Company, who are notoriously hostile toward thieves who steal their pay.

What began as a good running away becomes a trap between a rock and a hard place. Keane must plot a way out of this mess and keep them both alive, even if that means impersonating a dead royal embroiled in an arranged marriage.

Now entangled in intrigue far beyond their paygrade, Keane and Sarah must choose a side or risk the collapse of an entire kingdom.



  • "The antagonists are uncommonly complex characters, as a result, adding further realism to the convincing setting. The author sketches and hints at elaborate multiracial and multicultural societies without subjecting the reader to boundless exposition. The story moves at a good pace, helped along by characters' banter, which can be a tad too glib at times but employs inventive (and vulgar) curses and insults."

    – Kirkus Review
  • "A well-realized and lively caper."

    – Kirkus Review
  • "This is my kind of fantasy. Irreverent, let's call it."

    – Eric Flint



Bright noonday sun warmed the broad grassy glade, providing no comfort at all to a shirtless Keane as his fellow mercenaries threw him into the wooden-barred prisoner cart. Over four hundred freemen of Wallace's Company laughed and waved their spears in the air as they engaged in their third-favorite pastime, turning on their own.

Banging shoulder first onto the hard boards, Keane winced and sucked in his breath against the sharp pain. He rolled forward and stood, dodging the butts of spears that jabbed at him between the bars. His brown skin purpled where rough hands had torn the shirt from him.

"Rabbit-dicked cowards," he yelled, trying not to think of all the times he had been one of those holding a spear. "Anyone wanna climb up in here and—Oldam's cock ring—ow!" A poke in the small of his back sent him against the rear bars where another haft glanced across his temple. He knew better than to try and grab a spear. That would only cause the others to get turned around before coming back in, point first. But it was hard not to do, and he couldn't take a lot more of this.

He knew how much more was coming.

Someone else's scream climbed above the din of the mercenary army from in front of Keane, and a wave of quiet swept out across the throng. The man who hit Keane in the temple, thin and bedraggled with crisscrossing scars on his forehead and cheeks, was flung to the ground, his broken spear tossed on top of him. A huge woman stood behind the unconscious man, bringing a bloody grin to Keane's face.

At six-foot-two, Sarah stood above most of the assembled mercenaries, which alone did not account for the looks of fear thrown her way. She too was Pavinn, her brown skin only slightly darker than Keane's. Her black hair was pulled behind her head in braids and run through a leather sleeve. She was a year or two younger than he was, though he couldn't be sure exactly by how much. Neither of them knew their own ages for certain. Keane's arms showed hard muscle, but he had seen Sarah break a man's forearm by accident in a wrestling match just by grabbing him with her hand. And right now, she stood watching the crowd with grim brown eyes, a naked broadsword in her fist.

A circle formed as soldiers moved away.

The mail of her hauberk jingled as Sarah stepped up to the back of the prisoner cart, and one side of her mouth quirked up. Her dark green cloak rustled in the breeze.

"I take it you haven't seen Harden yet," Sarah said to Keane as if not surrounded by hundreds of evil men, "since your guts are all, you know, still inside you."

"Can we have this conversation while we're running away, please?" Keane asked, brushing blood from the wound on his temple out of his eye. He turned his head in a slow arc to take in the assembled soldiery. "I'd like to leave before anyone scary shows up."

"Too late there, ya weedy little shit," came a gravelly voice from over Keane's left shoulder. Captain Eli Whister, foremost of the Wallace's Company captains, strode into the empty ring around the prisoner cart. Eli was a grizzled old veteran, bald with an iron-gray beard and unexpectedly kind eyes. He was Andosh, light-skinned and powerfully built, but short for his people. His black leather armor, mail peeking out in the joints, was faded along the curves and creases from exposure to the elements.

"Sarah, you just leave now. This don't concern you."

"I think that depends on what the old man has in mind for my friend," Sarah answered. Tension crept up along Keane's spine at the menace flowing from the two relaxed warriors. His chest burned, and he realized he was holding his breath.

The empty circle grew as the mercenaries scented the potential for real bloodletting in the air.

"I don't know what Harden's got in his mind," Eli said, holding out his hands in a gesture meant to show openness but was actually an old swordsman's trick to distract from a sudden blade draw. It didn't fool Keane, and it wouldn't fool Sarah. "Whatever it is, I'm sure he'll wanna talk it over with you first, won't he? This ain't gotta end the sharp way."

"You know everything the old man is thinking." Keane found his voice and rounded on Eli. "You're his brain, that's why he keeps you in his ass. You haven't had a thought in the last twenty years that wasn't clenched in there by the old man's bowels. He wants me dead, and that means you want it too."

His one chance at getting out of here was to get under Eli's skin so much the veteran captain lost his cool and came after him. That way, he might be distracted enough for Sarah to jump in and get a fast kill. Once they were running, none of these other cowards would stand against them.

Well, not against Sarah, at any rate.

"Children, children," said Harden Grayspring, Lord Marshal of Wallace's Company as he stepped out of the crowd. He hopped between Eli and Sarah. "Sarah, put the blade away, and we'll talk like civilized murderers."

Tall and lithe, Harden wore his near-fifty years well, his honey-brown eyes full of light and energy. His clothes, on the other hand, were all onces—a once-purple coat, once-brown pants, hat, and shirt—long ago faded to gray. His brown skin stretched tight over his bones. He could have been Andosh or Pavinn. Most people mistook him for whatever they were.

"Only one way you get to make an example out of Keane," Sarah said. She did not sheath her broadsword. "And the rest of your captains don't seem to be backing you up. How do you want to play this out?"

"I can't have insurrection in the ranks, my girl," Harden said, sweeping an arm to indicate the mercenaries. "If we don't have our rules, then we're no better than the animals."

"You're really making this too easy," Keane said, thinking of a dozen animal-rectal comparisons for a mercenary lord marshal.

"Then change the rule," Sarah offered. "What's the benefit of being the boss if you can't be the one to tell everyone else what to do because some rule is more important than you are?"

A few chuckles broke out amongst the crowd.

Harden removed his wide-brimmed gray leather hat and scratched at his scalp through stringy gray hair. "Eli," he asked over his shoulder, "was the intestine thing for not obeying an order one of my rules or one of Wallace's?"

"Neither, sir," Eli answered. "That'd be from Burrfist's time."

"Really?" Harden twisted and stared at Eli. "It just sounds so much more like something Wallace would have done."

Eli shrugged.

"Regardless," Harden said and returned to Sarah, "it wasn't my rule, so it should be changed. Keane, for disobeying a direct order, you will be confined to the prisoner cart for three days. Do it again and I'll likely kill you on the spot. Do you understand me?"

"If I disobey another order, don't get caught," Keane replied.

"He's just impossible not to want to kill," Harden said to Eli.

"He gets it," Sarah replied, brows drawn and mouth downturned at Keane. "He'll do what he's told, and he'll shut his yap and make it easier for me to save his life,"—one eyebrow went up—"won't he?" Her sword disappeared beneath her cloak.

Keane looked away and waved a hand, dismissing the conversation. Harden would just try and find a different way to kill him when Sarah wasn't around. He wasn't the type to accept a denial for long.

No sense in prostrating himself to the old bastard just for a knife in the ribs.

Harden led Eli away, shaking his head and chuckling to himself. With the failure of any entertaining violence appearing, the soldiers walked off in search of their first two favorite pursuits—drinking and fucking.

As soon as she could no longer be overheard, Sarah leaned against the cart. "Do you think you can keep from making anyone else want to kill you for a few hours? I need to make arrangements."

Keane pulled himself upright and looked down at Sarah. "You can't tell me what to do. How many opportunities have I ever had to make fun of people from the safety and comfort of a place like this?"

"Do you want me to count?" She glanced around. "Where's Simon?"

"Oh no, not that halfwit." Keane shook his head. "We can't be that desperate."

"See you later. I'll bring some food or something in a couple hours. We'll discuss it more then."

"No more boiled leek and cabbage dinners, please," he called after her, retreating back. "All the beatings and threats have me gassy enough already."