Category Archives: Novel

Scream Again!

Children’s author, WILHELM SCREAM, has been at it again. He has also written his second book, this time turning his attention to werewolves. The follow-up to BAD BLOOD: A Tale of Two Vampires is PARDON MY WEREWOLF! A Hairy Story — and it’s available now!

When lowly kitchen boy Luca Turnspit is recruited by the Queen to be a companion for her lonely son, he learns the Prince’s dark secret in no time at all. The pair strike up a friendship but their hopes for the future are endangered by the arrival of a man from the past and by local cat-owners who have genuine concerns and flaming torches.

A fast-moving and funny story that is only a little bit gruesome, PARDON MY WEREWOLF! is suitable for readers of all ages.

Available in glossy hardcover, floppy paperback and on Kindle, for all you technological whiz kids.

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Where The Bee Sucks

One of my books which I think deserves more love is this one from six years ago, WHERE THE BEE SUCKS. You know how in Dan Brown’s books (The Da Vinci Code etc) people tear around following clues before arriving at some secret that could topple the Catholic church? Well, I thought I’d do something like that, but with Shakespeare. Bardolatry, it’s called. What if people were tearing around Stratford (instead of Florence) trying to piece together a mystery that would shake the Shakespeare-worshipping world? Namely, the authorship of the plays! As my macguffin, I introduced the idea of Prospero’s Staff, from the original production of The Tempest. Characters tear around trying to piece together this mystical object.

Who are the characters? There’s Hank Brownlow, television historian, after his latest scoop. His name combines Tom HANKs (who’s in all the films of Dan Brown’s books) and Dan BROWN. Little insight there to how authors name their characters! There’s Harry, who works as a tour guide, dressed up as Shakespeare, leading groups around Stratford. Harry is a frustrated actor (Who isn’t?) – In a case of life imitating art, a couple of years after this book came out, I too became a tour guide, dressed up as Shakespeare, leading groups around Stratford! I enjoy it more than Harry seems to.

And then, because this is a fantasy, there’s Ariel. Not the washing powder or the Little Mermaid, but the fairy figure from The Tempest. He turns up, because why not? and he mistakes Harry for his creator, because of Harry’s work clothes.

There’s mystery and thrills to be had, with the main focus on comedy. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations is coincidental…

Still available to download for Kindle, Kobo, Nook and all the rest of them, WHERE THE BEE SUCKS is just waiting for you to enjoy.

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Available NOW!

Ahead of the 18th December release of the e-book version, the PAPERBACK edition of my latest book, BANISHING THE BOGWITCH is available right now on Amazon sites across the world.

That’s your Christmas shopping sorted in one fell swoop!

Also, keep an eye on my Facebook page in the next few days. I’ll be launching a competition on there for the chance to win a copy.

Please get ordering, reading and reviewing! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the dreaded Bogwitch!!

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What’s This?

All will be revealed in due course! Watch this SPACE!!

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Filed under Novel, Preview, science fiction

COMING SOON! Get ready to meet the BOGWITCH!

I’m very pleased and excited to announce that my latest novel

BANISHING THE BOGWITCH

is available to pre-order now from Amazon.  CLICK HERE!

When Little Fladgett’s annual Banish the Bogwitch ceremony is disrupted, a child goes missing. Locals believe an old evil has come back to terrorise the town. With the local police woefully under-resourced and clueless, teenager Jenna, her grandmother, a would-be psychic, and a reporter off the telly join forces to investigate. Horror and humour combine in this fast-moving contemporary fantasy from prolific author William Stafford.

People are always asking where writers get their ideas.  All I can say to that is, “It depends!”.

In the case of this book, I saw a meme on Facebook or somewhere (see below) that really made me laugh.  I liked the idea of a bog witch and felt there was fertile ground there for a story.  Research told me that bog witches do exist, although they prefer to call themselves ‘new age practitioners’ or something like that. As my story took shape, I moved further from the meme, but that’s not important. The meme provided the impetus I needed. My imagination and research did the rest.

The town of Little Fladgett is entirely fictitious.  It’s ‘somewhere’ in England — wherever there’s a large expanse of bog.  The occult practices mentioned in the book are riddled with dramatic licence.  This book is not a manual on How To Conduct A Séance, or even How To Search For A Missing Child.

I’ve tried to blend mystery, thrills, horror and, of course, humour in this story.  I hope you’ll find something in it to enjoy.

PRE-ORDER NOW FOR THE DECEMBER 18th RELEASE!

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Beware! The Peckish Dead are abroad!

With his third adventure now available, here are some thoughts about unlikely hero, Hector Mortlake.
The Man
Working as a hack writer, Hector Mortlake when we first meet him is single and seeking inspiration.  He embarks on a trans-European journey and, inspired by Chaucer, decides to collect tales from his fellow travellers with a view to deciding a winner.  Hector is a bit of a prig but basically a decent cove.  And he’s gay, which, at the fag end of the 19th century is not quite the thing to be.  He meets a younger man named Cuthbert on the Orient Express and they team up to defeat a horrific Water Nymph.  Hector enjoys lording it over his new valet although it is quite clear the pair are devoted to each other, and it is Cuthbert who most often ‘wears the trousers’, so to speak.
Hector’s past is much of a mystery – he’s remaining tight-lipped about his background but I suspect details will be teased out in future novels.  We know he has aspirations to move in higher social circles and would love to earn enough from writing to be able to retire.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that he is good enough!
The other love of his life is his car, Bessie, an early Mercedes Benz.
Bessie
The Books
We first meet our arrogant narrator in KISS OF THE WATER NYMPH – an account that turns out to be his first bestseller.
Kiss+of+the+Water+NymphHis second exploit, XOLOTL STRIKES! turns out to be his first flop, despite being as outrageous and outlandish an adventure as the first.
xolotl
Now, his third and craziest tale is available to the public – will Hector achieve his goal and re-top the bestseller list?  Or will he be consigned to the bargain bucket of poorly-selling fiction?
peckish
Victorian hack Hector Mortlake and his trusty valet Cuthbert are at it again. This third outing takes them to the Scottish Highlands – but that’s just the start. A mysterious portal and a ghostly gang of ghouls threaten to separate the pair for good. With a host of new characters and their craziest story yet, Hector and Cuthbert deliver high adventure and shameless innuendo in equal measure. Fans of William Stafford’s inimitable style will not be disappointed.

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Merridew

In my Hector Mortlake books, the plot is interspersed with stories told by other characters.  Here is an extract from the latest, the third adventure, during which Laird Baird recounts a strange encounter from his childhood.

***

When I was what the native speakers around these parts would call a ‘wee boy’, I attended the little school down in the village.  The establishment was an indulgence of my father’s, a kind of patronising, philanthropic gesture.  In reality I believe he was trying to ensure that the next generation of tenants in the crofts on his land were at least halfway literate.  I was sent there, I suspect, to see if my father’s money was being well spent, and it was my sorry lot in life to endure complementary tuition every evening at the feet of my governess, the formidable Miss Trout.

All that is background to the crux of my tale.  One afternoon – I must have been seven or eight years old at the time, if you can imagine such a thing – I was late home from school.  There was no particular reason for it; I was merely dawdling along.  Lollygagging, you might say.  Footling about.  Idling away the time.  I was reluctant to get to Miss Trout’s lessons, which seemed to consist of knocking the local accent out of me.  I was beaten as soundly as a rug, infested as I was with the vowel sounds and cadences of my classmates.But never mind any of that.

There I was, as I say, ambling through the valley, absently admiring nature’s beauty in small details: the hairs on a thistle, the splash of heather across the grass – when my eye fell upon a circle in the sward.  The grass was of a darker colour describing the circumference and the blades seemed to be growing in a different direction to the rest.  I knew what it was at once.

A fairy ring!

The schoolmistress, Miss Gander, had warned us of these things, declaring them to be as deadly as a body of water that has a kelpie in it.

Naturally, as a seven-year-old boy, I was thrilled to bits to find such a phenomenon but the teacher’s words echoed in my mind.  I must not set foot in it or dire consequences would befall me and it would be my own stupid fault.

In the interests of science, namely to see what would happen, I scoured around for a pebble to toss into the centre of the ring.  I was not a bad shot and quite the champion hopscotch player in the school’s tiny yard.

Nothing happened.

My little stone just sat where it landed, exactly as one would expect.

After five minutes of watching, I gave up and turned my back, resuming my homeward course.  I had not gone more than a dozen steps when I was struck on the back of the head by a stone – my stone!  I wheeled around but could see no assailant.  The circle in the grass lay empty.

A chill ran through me and I was covered in goose pimples from the crown to the toe, as though I had very recently been plucked.  An icy breeze curled around my bare knees, tugging at the kilt I was obliged to wear.  On that breeze, or in it, for aught I could tell, came girlish laughter.  I spun around again.

“Who’s there?” I stammered, my throat suddenly dry.

The breeze stopped.  I stood stock still, too terrified to move or to run away.

“Show yourself!” I commanded, doing my best to sound as fearsome as Miss Trout.

The breeze whooshed around me; I tried to swat it away like a swarm of midges.  The air shimmered.  A twisting column filled the fairy ring and a figure appeared – the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.

My height she was, but her slender, elongated limbs made her seem taller.  Her hair was green as luscious grass and bedecked with garlands of daisies.  Her skin was pale.  Opalescent, you might say, and her eyes were large, like perfect emeralds.  Her garments seemed to be fashioned from mist sewn together with cobwebs and studded with dewdrops.

This beautiful creature giggled and my head swam and my heart swam and my entire being was giddy with bliss.

If you have ever been in love, you will have some slight inkling of what I experienced.  I was a seven-year-old boy – what did I know of falling in love?  Now, at ten times that age, I am not sure I know any more on that subject than I did then.

But I knew, deep in the core of my soul, I loved her and I always would.

“I am called Merridew,” she said without speaking.  “What be you?”

“I’m Jonathan,” I somehow managed to get out – or perhaps she plucked it from my head like one of her daisies from a meadow.

“Shall we play?” she smiled and all my insides melted like butter yielding to a heated knife.

We chased around the valley and rolled down the slopes.  We paddled in the burbling brook and hopped from stone to stone.  We blew dandelion clocks and made wishes – until a cold thought struck me: I must have been gone for hours.  Miss Trout would have reported my absence.  Father would be both worried and furious.  He would have men out searching for me, beating the bushes as though I were a recalcitrant grouse.

“I have to go,” I announced, and we were both flooded with sorrow.  “But I’ll come again tomorrow.”

“Aye,” said Merridew sadly.  “If tomorrow comes.  You must tell no one about me, or you will see me no more for as long as you live.”

She stepped into the fairy ring and vanished.  I thought I caught a glimpse of gossamer wings at her shoulder blades but too soon the vision was gone, evaporated and lost, like the sudden awakening from a delicious dream.

I ran home at full pelt, as though that would diminish the punishment I had coming.   Miss Trout was waiting for me on the front steps.  How hideous she was in comparison with my new friend – my new love!

“You are just in time,” she declared.  She marched off to the classroom.  Puzzled, I checked the hall clock.  I was only ten minutes behind my usual homecoming.  How odd!

Needless to say, I took in nothing of Miss Trout’s lessons that evening.  I have some vague memory of her rapping my knuckles with a ruler for something or other.  Nor did I get any sleep that night as I relived the afternoon I had spent with Merridew and I anticipated, with unbearable eagerness, seeing her again the following day.

How the time dragged!  And how I longed to tell someone – anyone! – about my fairy friend.  But she had told me not to and so I did not.

Well, not directly, anyway.

The last hour of the school day was given over to drawing.  Miss Gander doled out coloured chalks for our slates and we were instructed to depict our favourite flowers.  Which seven-year-old boy does not have a favourite flower?  All of them, I imagine.

I lost myself in that hour, the chalks skidding and smudging across the slate until its entire surface was covered.  Miss Gander, touring the room to inspect our efforts, took up my slate and frowned.

“Jonathan Baird, what is this?”

It was my turn to frown.  “Do ye no like it, Miss Gander?”  How Miss Trout would thrash me for that!

“It’s – it’s – beautiful!” the teacher gasped.  “But it’s no exactly what I asked ye to do.”

She showed me my own drawing.

The face of Merridew smiled at me from the slate.

“It’s just lovely.  And the detail!  And technique – how did ye –”

But Miss Gander’s questions were drowned out by a chant that arose from the other bairns.

“Bairdie’s got a girlfriend! Bairdie’s got a girlfriend!” they repeated, to my vexation, embarrassment and mounting fury.  I snatched back the slate and, with tears springing from my eyes, erased the picture with my sleeve.

“She is not!  She is not!” I cried.  My stomach tightened like a fist and I hoped I had not said too much.

After school, I ran and ran, my face still hot with emotion, to the valley and the spot where I had found the fairy ring.

But of course, it was not there.

I have not spoken of it until now.  I tried to live my life in the manner expected of me.  I studied, I grew, I married, became a father and all the rest of it – all out of duty – but nothing, no joy, no feeling ever came close to that meeting with Merridew.

I devoted my time and all the resources I could muster to finding her again.  This library was accumulated over the decades that have elapsed since that lovely afternoon.

But it has all come to naught.  And now my grandson has disappeared – or perhaps he has been taken as punishment for my transgression.  And I fear I shall see neither him nor Merridew again.

fairy

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An epic begins…

Here is the opening to my epic fantasy, NAVARIN, THUNDER AND SHADE, in which I wander into Game of Thrones and Tolkien territory.  Ish.  I hope you’ll want to read the rest.

 

The wizard was dead by the time they got there. He had put up a good fight; it was the green and purple blasts from his hands that had drawn them to the scene, the deadly flashes lighting up the woods and the evening sky like one of the Duke’s beloved fireworks displays.

Broad inspected the wizard’s assailants – what was left of them – ragtag outlaws sprawled in a ring around the deceased magician. “He killed the lot,” he said, grimacing at the twisted remains. The attackers were contorted and scorched as though they had been hit by forceful fire.

“There’s not a mark on him,” said Shade. “They didn’t get near him. Didn’t get the chance.”

Broad raised a quizzical eyebrow; there was no need to give voice to the question.

“What killed him?” Shade said it for him. “Exhaustion, I’d say. Must have used all his energy fighting off these rascals. He just ran out of life.”

“Poor chap,” said Broad. “I wonder why he just didn’t turn them into frogs or something. Why did he obliterate them?”

“They don’t do that frog thing really,” said Shade. “Perhaps he was protecting something. Something these fellows were after.”

“So it wasn’t a random attack in the forest?”

“You know I don’t believe in random,” said Shade. He gestured to the nearest outlaw corpse. Beneath the grime and tatters glinted the armour and insignia of the Duke’s men. Broad gaped; Shade was always the first to pick up on these things. “Have a look in his poke.”

Broad approached the body and stooped over it, one hand on the hilt of his sword, just in case. The wizard was half-lying on the shapeless sack, his fingers clutching it, bunching the neck. Broad had quite a wrestling match on his hands before he could free the bag and peer inside.

“Nothing.” He sounded disappointed.

“Well, this is a waste of time,” said Shade. “I’d stamp my foot if I could.”

Broad glanced at his strange companion. It was true: Shade was fading fast, was hardly corporeal at all. He was like smoke in the shape of a man, and the smoke was thinning, becoming transparent. Broad could make out the stripes of the tree trunks behind him. “And there’s nothing for you…”

Shade managed to shake his head. “We were too late. He was long gone.”

Too late to save the wizard. Too late for Shade to feed.

Broad sprang up and did a quick tour of the outlaws. He found one slumped against the trunk of an oak, with breath still rasping through a hole where his throat used to be. “Here’s one!” he cried. “He might be enough for a snack.”

Shade floated over as though wafted by a breeze. Broad turned his back and walked off; it made him uncomfortable whenever his companion fed. But we all have to eat.

“Just don’t make that sucking noise,” he pleaded without turning around.

“I don’t suck,” Shade was indignant. He swooped over the dying man.

“Matter of opinion,” Broad muttered. He tried to think of something else while Shade replenished himself. He was being ungenerous; he knew that. If it was not for Shade, Broad would have died many years ago, but would death have been worse than being joined to the weird creature for the rest of his days? Sometimes, Broad thought it might not.

“Hurrah!” cried Shade, turning cartwheels across the clearing. He bounced around, full of vim and vigour until a baleful look from his human companion prompted him to contain himself. He was always the same after a feed, so full of life. “His name was Jolf,” he reported. “He was in the Duke’s guard and was going to ask somebody called Rosahild to marry him. Well, I guess that’s never going to happen.”

“What else? Was he in the know, this Jolf? Why was a pack of guards disguised as outlaws and attacking a wizard?”

Shade shrugged. “Jolf was along to make up the numbers, to add a bit of muscle. He wasn’t party to the finer details.”

Broad surveyed the scene again. Finer details. Absolute bloody shambles, more like, with emphasis on the bloody. The Duke was renowned for, among other things, his hatred of wizardry. Was that behind this attack gone wrong?   Or was that the intended result, the death of the magician? Or was there something else?

“You’re thinking again,” Shade teased. “I can tell. You get that crease in your brow.”

Broad swatted at him and the backs of his fingers came into contact with something like lumpy fog. Shade was always more solid after a feed. He struck a pose.

“Yes, yes, muscles, you said,” said Broad. “Very nice.”

Shade stuck out his tongue. “They won’t last, I know. Not like yours, Mister Carcass of Beef.”

But Broad did not want to be drawn into one of Shade’s bickering matches. He walked away so he could look back at the scene from a distance and try to take it all in as a whole, to picture the way it might have played out. The wizard had been surprised. Surrounded. These two blocked the path in front, those two must have crept up behind. These four must have dropped out of the trees…

“We should get moving,” Shade advised. “While it’s still dark and I’ve got my strength – well, technically speaking, good buddy Jolf’s strength.”

“Shouldn’t we bury them first?” asked Broad. “The wizard at least.”

Shade pulled a face. His features were temporarily those of the late guard Jolf. “Waste of time. Let the wolves have them for supper.”

“Doesn’t seem right,” said Broad. “Doesn’t seem respectful.”

Shade let out a long-suffering sigh. Humans and their ways. “You’re too squeamish about your dead,” he scolded. “They are gone, all gone. What’s left is just meat. Honestly. Let the wolves benefit not the worms.”

“But someone should say something, at least.”

“What? Like don’t come back and haunt us? Don’t get up again? It’s hollow superstition; I keep telling you. Dead is dead is dead.”

A howl, not as far off as Broad would have liked, settled the matter. They would get moving to avoid being an entrée for the banquet that lay waiting for the wolves. Instead, thought Broad, we shall be more of a running buffet.

He paused to retrieve the wizard’s poke and, murmuring apologies, hurried after Shade who, with Jolf’s long strides, was already some distance ahead.

Navarin,+Thunder+and+Shade

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New book out now!

My 24th novel has been published this week.  It’s my most complex – it’s certainly the lengthiest! – a fantasy adventure, complete with my sense of humour, of course.

NAVARIN, THUNDER AND SHADE

A young man and his strange companion, a weary warrior out for vengeance, a young girl on the run with a child, and a trio of wizards bent on ruling the world are just some of the characters in this epic fantasy adventure from prolific author William Stafford. Fans can expect his trademark humour as well as plenty of action and originality in this all-new addition to the fantasy genre.

navarin

Buy the book here!

 

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Fantasy novel coming soon!

My 24th novel is due to be published soon.  It’s an epic fantasy, a bit of swords-and-sorcery with, I hope, an original slant.  It’s called NAVARIN, THUNDER AND SHADE and it opens as follows:

The wizard was dead by the time they got there. He had put up a good fight; it was the green and purple blasts from his hands that had drawn them to the scene, the deadly flashes lighting up the woods and the evening sky like one of the Duke’s beloved fireworks displays.

Broad inspected the wizard’s assailants – what was left of them – ragtag outlaws sprawled in a ring around the deceased magician. “He killed the lot,” he said, grimacing at the twisted remains. The attackers were contorted and scorched as though they had been hit by forceful fire.

“There’s not a mark on him,” said Shade. “They didn’t get near him. Didn’t get the chance.”

Broad raised a quizzical eyebrow; there was no need to give voice to the question.

“What killed him?” Shade said it for him. “Exhaustion, I’d say. Must have used all his energy fighting off these rascals. He just ran out of life.”

“Poor chap,” said Broad. “I wonder why he just didn’t turn them into frogs or something. Why did he obliterate them?”

“They don’t do that frog thing really,” said Shade. “Perhaps he was protecting something. Something these fellows were after.”

“So it wasn’t a random attack in the forest?”

“You know I don’t believe in random,” said Shade. He gestured to the nearest outlaw corpse. Beneath the grime and tatters glinted the armour and insignia of the Duke’s men. Broad gaped; Shade was always the first to pick up on these things. “Have a look in his poke.”

Broad approached the body and stooped over it, one hand on the hilt of his sword, just in case. The wizard was half-lying on the shapeless sack, his fingers clutching it, bunching the neck. Broad had quite a wrestling match on his hands before he could free the bag and peer inside.

“Nothing.” He sounded disappointed.

“Well, this is a waste of time,” said Shade. “I’d stamp my foot if I could.”

Broad glanced at his strange companion. It was true: Shade was fading fast, was hardly corporeal at all. He was like smoke in the shape of a man, and the smoke was thinning, becoming transparent. Broad could make out the stripes of the tree trunks behind him. “And there’s nothing for you…”

Shade managed to shake his head. “We were too late. He was long gone.”

Too late to save the wizard. Too late for Shade to feed.

Broad sprang up and did a quick tour of the outlaws. He found one slumped against the trunk of an oak, with breath still rasping through a hole where his throat used to be. “Here’s one!” he cried. “He might be enough for a snack.”

Shade floated over as though wafted by a breeze. Broad turned his back and walked off; it made him uncomfortable whenever his companion fed. But we all have to eat.

“Just don’t make that sucking noise,” he pleaded without turning around.

“I don’t suck,” Shade was indignant. He swooped over the dying man.

“Matter of opinion,” Broad muttered. He tried to think of something else while Shade replenished himself. He was being ungenerous; he knew that. If it was not for Shade, Broad would have died many years ago, but would death have been worse than being joined to the weird creature for the rest of his days? Sometimes, Broad thought it might not.

“Hurrah!” cried Shade, turning cartwheels across the clearing. He bounced around, full of vim and vigour until a baleful look from his human companion prompted him to contain himself. He was always the same after a feed, so full of life. “His name was Jolf,” he reported. “He was in the Duke’s guard and was going to ask somebody called Rosahild to marry him. Well, I guess that’s never going to happen.”

“What else? Was he in the know, this Jolf? Why was a pack of guards disguised as outlaws and attacking a wizard?”

Shade shrugged. “Jolf was along to make up the numbers, to add a bit of muscle. He wasn’t party to the finer details.”

Broad surveyed the scene again. Finer details. Absolute bloody shambles, more like, with emphasis on the bloody. The Duke was renowned for, among other things, his hatred of wizardry. Was that behind this attack gone wrong?   Or was that the intended result, the death of the magician? Or was there something else?

“You’re thinking again,” Shade teased. “I can tell. You get that crease in your brow.”

Broad swatted at him and the backs of his fingers came into contact with something like lumpy fog. Shade was always more solid after a feed. He struck a pose.

“Yes, yes, muscles, you said,” said Broad. “Very nice.”

Shade stuck out his tongue. “They won’t last, I know. Not like yours, Mister Carcass of Beef.”

But Broad did not want to be drawn into one of Shade’s bickering matches. He walked away so he could look back at the scene from a distance and try to take it all in as a whole, to picture the way it might have played out. The wizard had been surprised. Surrounded. These two blocked the path in front, those two must have crept up behind. These four must have dropped out of the trees…

“We should get moving,” Shade advised. “While it’s still dark and I’ve got my strength – well, technically speaking, good buddy Jolf’s strength.”

“Shouldn’t we bury them first?” asked Broad. “The wizard at least.”

Shade pulled a face. His features were temporarily those of the late guard Jolf. “Waste of time. Let the wolves have them for supper.”

“Doesn’t seem right,” said Broad. “Doesn’t seem respectful.”

Shade let out a long-suffering sigh. Humans and their ways. “You’re too squeamish about your dead,” he scolded. “They are gone, all gone. What’s left is just meat. Honestly. Let the wolves benefit not the worms.”

“But someone should say something, at least.”

“What? Like don’t come back and haunt us? Don’t get up again? It’s hollow superstition; I keep telling you. Dead is dead is dead.”

A howl, not as far off as Broad would have liked, settled the matter. They would get moving to avoid being an entrée for the banquet that lay waiting for the wolves. Instead, thought Broad, we shall be more of a running buffet.

He paused to retrieve the wizard’s poke and, murmuring apologies, hurried after Shade who, with Jolf’s long strides, was already some distance ahead.

hat

 

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