Tag Archives: adventure

Quilp’s Quest

“Are you sure you were not followed?”  Professor Quilp’s eyes darted up and down the narrow street before he closed the door, bolting it and turning the hefty key in the lock.

I gave him every assurance that I had stuck to his instructions to the letter, doubling-back, zigzagging my way through the bustling souk, even turning my coat inside out at one point.

He nodded but I could tell he was too agitated, too worked up to be satisfied.

He ushered me into a darkened study; the only illumination came from a green-shaded desk lamp.

“Did you bring it?”  The prof was practically salivating.

“Of course!” I felt in my pockets.  Panic struck me.  I patted myself down while the professor trembled with anticipation.  Then I remembered my coat was inside out!  Seconds later, the item was produced.  Quilp snatched it from me and held it under the lamp.

“What is it?” I had to ask.  To me it looked like a worthless washer of the kind you can buy for a dime a dozen at any hardware store, but the professor was smacking his lips with delight.

“This, my boy, is the next part of the puzzle.  This is the ring from the staff of Amon-Ra.  This ring enables the staff-bearer to direct unfathomable power!”

“Oh.  Cool, I guess.  And where is this staff or Eamon Holmes, or whoever?”

“Amon-Ra,” the professor gave me a sour look.  “The staff is the ultimate prize of our quest.  First, we must translate the markings on this ring.  There’s a man at the British Museum who is mustard at that sort of thing – but he has, alas, been kidnapped and it falls to us to release him from his captors; we are not the only ones interested in acquiring the staff.  Then we must secure transport to Cairo, where a contact awaits with the other half of the map that reveals the location of the sacred daggers we shall need to fight off the demonic, hound-headed sentinels who guard the submerged temple of Bastet, which contains the scroll with the incantations to summon an army of scarab beetles that will devour our rivals and lead us to the Valley of Peril where we must solve the riddles of the Sphinx in order to pass through to the Forbidden Realm.”

He paused for breath.

“Gee, I don’t know, Professor,” I rubbed the back of my neck.  “It sounds like an awful lot of work to me.”

Our eyes met for a moment.  I thought Professor Quilp was going to yell at me or at least tell me how disappointed he was in my attitude.

Instead, he gave me a sad little smile.  He tossed me the flat little hoop.

“You’re right.  I’m far too old for this kind of thing.  Go, boy, into the kitchen.  I think you’ll find that doodad is just the thing for fixing the dripping tap.”

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Finger

“I’m sorry, darling.  There is no other way.”

Cyril gulped, his eyes fixed on the barrel of the gun his wife was pointing at him.  He raised his hands slowly.  “Celia, please –”

“It’s no use.  Now, hand over the finger and I’ll be on my way and no harm done.”

Cyril looked pained.  So that was what it was all about.  That blasted finger.  More trouble than it was worth, he was sure of it.  And they had only escaped from Nepal by the skin of their teeth.  And for what?  So his wife of twenty years could betray him as soon as they got back to their Buckinghamshire mansion?  After all the adventures they had shared?  After all the scrapes they had got into and the fun they’d had getting out of them again?

Not on his nelly.

“Oh, do hurry up, Cyril.  Pull the finger out.”

The chuk-chuk of a helicopter over the house provided the distraction Cyril needed.  As Celia’s eyes flicked to the ceiling, he karate-chopped her wrist.  She fired the gun – blasting a priceless Oriental vase to smithereens.  Cyril twisted her arm and threw her over his shoulder.  A glass-topped coffee table gave way beneath her and the gun flew across the room.

Husband and wife scrambled for the revolver.  Cyril stamped on Celia’s hand.

“Ow,” she recoiled.  “If only you’d shown this much energy in the bedroom, I might not have had to look elsewhere.”

The remark struck him like a blow to the sternum.  “You’ve been looking elsewhere?”

Celia smirked.  “Might have.  Might not have.  Oh, don’t be such a tiresome bore, old chap.  My lift is here.  Give me the finger and let me go.  I’ve got a buyer lined up already and I’m going to be rich beyond my wildest dreams.”

Cyril reached in his blazer pocket.  His fingers closed around the golden digit, the fabled finger of the Great Cham.  It was said that one kiss of the finger would grant you your heart’s desire.

But there was always a price to pay, a terrible cost.

And now, as he looked down at his treacherous spouse, wiping a trickle of blood from her lip with the back of her hand, he realised what price he must pay.

He dropped the artifact to the carpet.  Celia seized it and laughed in triumph.  She got to her feet and gathered up her bags.  Powerless, Cyril could only watch her go.  It was as though he didn’t know her at all and never had.

“Tell me,” she turned at the door.  “You kissed it, didn’t you?  You kissed the finger.  What did you wish for?”

Cyril sighed.  His shoulders slumped.  “I wished for you to be happy, my love.”

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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.

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Buy the book here!

 

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Adventure on the High Seas

Fresh off the boat and newly married to the Governor’s daughter, Dominic Drubbins finds his new life in the Caribbean thrown into turmoil by a pirate attack unlike any other. Enthralled by the dashing Sebastian, Dominic takes to the high seas but as he learns more about his enigmatic companion and the ways of the world, he comes to realise what must be done if he is to have his happy ever after. William Stafford, author of Leporello on the Lam, returns to historical fantasy with this action-packed adventure, a tale of piracy, derring-do and love.

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The title comes from Shakespeare’s King Richard II:

“Not all the water in the rough rude sea

Can wash the balm off from an anointed king

Disappointed by the Pirates of the Caribbean films and inspired by the Cosmo Jarvis song Gay Pirates I wanted to write an adventure with romance and fantasy elements.

Get on board with Dominic and Sebastian as they navigate the Devil’s Triangle and the stormy waters of their own relationship.

The Rough Rude Sea is available now from Amazon,Omnilit, Kobo, and all good e-booksellers.

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A sneaky peek, me hearties!

As well as writing the third Brough & Miller story, I am editing a pirate adventure I wrote last September, getting it shipshape for submission to the publisher.  I was inspired by one of my favourite songs, Gay Pirates by Cosmo Jarvis, but as I got deeper into my story, I realised it also has things in common with Barry Manilow’s Bermuda Triangle!

Here is the opening scene to give you a taste of things to come.

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I met the love of my life at my wedding reception. Lousy timing has plagued me all my days.

We made eye contact across a crowded room – corny, I know but that’s how it happened.  I was gazing, absent-mindedly, from the top table, looking out on the sea of faces, wigs and assorted headwear as my wedding guests – our wedding guests, rather; I must acclimatise myself to pluralising all my possessive pronouns – as they tucked into the veritable feast my new father-in-law had laid on, like so many hogs at so many troughs.  I had no idea who most of them were, being newly arrived in the colony.  My ship had been delayed for want of wind – a pity the same could not be said for those who had supplied the speeches.

And then I saw him, gliding through the guzzling horde like a swan.  His back was straight and his head was held high, balancing on it a prim, unadorned white wig; in his hand a silver platter on which he was conveying goblets of Rhenish wine.  My eyes tracked his progress across the room.  He seemed to me an ethereal being, made of light and beauty, untouched by the sweating, grunting and gobbling of the mere mortals around him.

“Dominic?” A small hand squeezed my thigh.  I turned to see the inquiring face of the bride to my right.  My bride!  My wife!  “Are you quite well, my love?”

I was unable to find words.  The hand rose from my leg and pinched my chin.  The silk of her glove was smooth against my skin.  Only two hours before had I shaved for the first time in weeks.

“You’re gaping like a landed fish!” this girl, my wife, laughed.  “Is there something wrong with your repast?”

I continued to gape at this pretty stranger to whom I was bound eternally.  Her eyes seemed inordinately large to me.  They searched mine, trying to read me.  I hate it when people try to read me.  I closed my eyes and got to my feet, pushing my heavy chair backwards with a scrape.  I tore my napkin from my shirt front and discarded it.  Everyone was looking at me, in anticipation or indeed dread of yet another interminable speech.

“Cecily, I…” I murmured.  She continued to look up at me, smiling in a manner that was at once patient and patronising.  I felt sick.  I stooped to whisper to her.  “I have to make water.”

She blushed and nodded.  Suddenly her smile seemed to be for display purposes only.  She returned her attention to her own plate, pecking at it with her fork.  If her appetite were to continue in this vein, she would not cost me much to keep.

I made my way across the platform and stepped down onto the floor proper.  Relieved that I was not going to make a general address, the guests got back to their muttons, figuratively and literally.

A bewigged servant – not the vision I had spotted earlier – bowed his head and opened the door.  I thanked him even though you must never thank the servants – how many times had Mother drubbed that into me, in the hope that one day I would better myself and attain a social standing that obliged me to have servants?

Well, Mother, I mused as I strode along the corridor and away from the banquet, how do you like me now?  Have I climbed a high enough ladder for you yet?

Governor Wilkins’s mansion sported more in the way of corridors than most.  The walls were lined with portraits, darkening paint in gilded frames: former governors, friends and family, worthies of history…all pompous arses by the look of them. I felt their eyes upon me as I, lowly Dominic Drubbins from Bristol, walked among them.  I could almost hear their disdain.  I could almost feel the air being sucked into their flaring nostrils.  I could imagine their affronted questions.  What’s he doing here?  Things have reached a pretty pass indeed if we are to admit the likes of him into our ranks!

Where I was going, I didn’t know.  As I said, I was newly arrived in the colony and had not yet had the opportunity to explore the grand mansion that was to be my home and place of work.  My buckled shoes, new and pinching my heels somewhat, made satisfying clip-clops as I strode along the chequerboard tiles.

I could keep walking, I realised.  I could be out of there and down at the docks in minutes.  I could jump on a ship – any ship! – and be away from the bride with the big eyes and her insufferable pompous arse of a father and the life that had been laid out for me with very little consultation of yours truly.

I didn’t want to be the Governor’s clerk.  I didn’t want to be married to his daughter, however pretty and sweet she may be.  How I had come to be in this sorry situation I wasn’t entirely certain.  Mother of course had had a lot to do with it.  Forever pushing me forward, recommending me here, introducing me there, shoving me into places I didn’t want to go every-bloody-where.  Her scheming and machinations had backfired on her somewhat when it became apparent that my social climbing involved separation from her by the width of an entire ocean.  She had sobbed into her scented handkerchiefs as she had waved me off but her eyes were full of pride for a job well done.

I think I had allowed myself to be swept along with all of this just to be free of her at last.  And what had happened?  After the most tedious and uneventful and slow progress across the Atlantic I had arrived on the day set for my wedding and was thrown into a blur of activity, tossed from barber to tailor to priest like a doll.

I should keep walking.  I really should.  Take charge of my own destiny for once.

I was about to do so, having located the back door of the mansion where my egress could occur with the minimum or even the complete absence of attention when my bladder informed me that it would be better for the both of us if I were to empty it first.  You can’t argue with reasoning like that.

I scanned about, looking for the necessary.  The third door I tried opened onto a closet in which stood a huge copper pot already half full and heady with urine.  Governor Wilkins would not require his guests to step outside to the latrine on as special an occasion as his daughter’s wedding day.

I unfastened my breeches and, taking myself in hand, let nature do its work. Ahh!  Is there any relief like it?  My water splashed into the copper, a strong and admirable jet to put a racehorse to shame and I was just shaking off the last drops when I heard the door open behind me.

“Er – just a minute, please!” I called over my shoulder, still shaking myself.  I tucked myself away, certain a drop or two were still very much with me and turned to find myself facing the servant from before.

He was taller than me and slender.  A smile was playing on his generous lips and his eyes – turquoise and bright – bore into mine.  He raised a long finger to my lips and pulled the door closed behind him.

“Hello,” he said in a breathy whisper.  “I’m Sebastian.”

I kissed his finger.

It began.

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Octavius Mint & the Indigo Dragon

My third novel has just come out!

Irrepressible, intergalactic good-time guy Octavius wakes in a grey room. He has many questions – not least of which is how he came to be there. Making good use of his quick wit and pretty face, Octavius embarks on a series of adventures in which he strives to uncover the secrets of his past and unravel the mystery of the Indigo Dragon. This funny and inventive story will entertain fans of science fiction, fantasy and saucy humour.

As in Leporello on the Lam, the title character narrates his own story – although he has more in common with Don Giovanni than Leporello.  I tried to avoid describing Octavius’s appearance; I have left it to the reader to build a picture of him- he is the dashing, confident, cocky, devil-may-care hero we all might like to be.  As for the plot, I can’t talk about that much because I don’t want to spoil the surprises, but I hope you’ll find some inventive ideas in there if you choose to let Octavius take you with him.

Buy the Book!

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Someday, My Prince

My second novel is a fairytale fantasy suitable for all ages.

The inept evil sorcerer Diabolos plots to usurp the throne of Meritania but finds his schemes foiled at every turn by handsome window cleaner Nick. Will Diabolos be able to seize the throne? Will selfish brat Princess Alisande ever grow up? What is the secret of Nick’s past? Where is your fairy godmother when you need her? And how will the kingdom cope with the destructive enemy headed its way? A romantic fairy tale adventure with a wry sense of humour, “Someday, My Prince” is a modern bedtime story for anyone who enjoys Disney movies and pantomimes.

I initially conceived the idea as a television series.  Every week Diabolos would try some evil scheme that would be doomed to failure, but as I got into building the characters and their back stories, I realised there was a bigger tale to tell.  As with all fairy stories, there is something else going on beneath the surface.

Buy the book!

Watch the animated trailer!

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