An ill-conceived bet brings Mangos and his new companion Kat to a vast no man’s land full of relics and magical anomalies in search of a fabled helm! Can Mangos and Kat retrieve Gorman’s helm or will they perish in the haunted wilds of Keres?
Mangos is the Mongoose, a skilled, boastful, and hotheaded swordsman, while Kat is the Meerkat, a beautiful yet mysterious woman who favors the oblique approach to her well-chosen blade. Together, these two adventurers made a host of enemies great and small. Inside Cirsvoa #6, Jim Breyfogle tells the story of how the Mongoose and the Meerkat met, in “The Battlefield of Keres.” And, like so many adventures in print and on the tabletop, it all starts with a little alcohol in an inn.
After a night of carousing, Mangos is left with a headache and an impossibly unwise bet–to find the helm of Gorman. His rival, Thierry, is quick to savage Mangos’s pride over that bit of foolishness. But before Mangos has to pay for the previous night’s drinks, help comes in the form of Kat, who knows where the helm rests–in the fifty-mile wasteland that was once the battlefield of Kerres. And, years after the final battle, this scar of a wolf-lair still claims victims from the treasure seekers unwise enough to enter. But Mangos and Kat aren’t the only souls seeking the helm of Gorman among the lethal secrets of Kerres.
Along the way, the duo discovers that they work well together. Mongos might be a proud hothead, but he is clever enough to keep up with and build upon Kat’s lessons on history and magic. Meanwhile, Kat falls outside the twin clichés awaiting an adventuress, that of being a prize or overcompensating action girl. However, she can keep up with Mangos’s expert blade in a fight. Somewhere in the battlefield’s desolation, the two make the easy choice to team up for more than just convenience. In Mangos’s words:
“Then let us pursue without asking what we chase, and when we catch it, let us chase again.”
After reading a number of new fantasy genres that tend to spiral into apocalypses, it is refreshing to see adventurers strive against the more intimate and immediate concerns of rivalry, pride, and ambition. Fortunately, Jim Breyfogle navigates the urgency of such small stakes without devolving into soap opera.
The prose is contemporary transparent, which takes some of the impact away from the grandeur of the desolate setting and the traps within. However, the dialogue is natural, and fairly elevated above the current tin-eared fantasy snarkfest standard.
“The Battlefield of Keres” is an excellent start to a series that has proven itself to be Cirsova’s answer to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. May there be many more tales of their adventures.
* * * * *
Cirsova Publishing will be launching a Kickstarter for the illustrated first volume of Jim Breyfogle’s Adventures of Mongoose & Meerkat soon. Be sure to click “Notify me on launch” so you don’t miss when it goes live.
Also, for a limited time before the Kickstarter, Cirsova Publishing will be offering “The Battlefield of Keres” and the rest of Cirsova’s 6th issue for free on Amazon.