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Re: Jungle fantasy? Would the heroes have to drink Um Bongo rather than mead to make it an authentic jungle fantasy?

Some serious suggestions: The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle - Professor Challenger and friends find a plateau inhabited by dinosaurs in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. (I would clasify this as fantasy - though it is borderline)

Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb (set in the Rainwilds - a magical rainforest)

The old Tarzan Novels

The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling - boy raised by animals - seems very fantasy to me!


March 31, 2011, 07:38:41 AM
Re: Jungle fantasy? Elven Star - from the Death Gate series by Weis and Hickman.

Black Lung Captain - Chris Wooding's steampunk fun... it has a really nice jungle scene (amongst others).

March 31, 2011, 08:55:38 AM
Re: halloween costume - forum style I found the host. :D

October 29, 2013, 02:34:22 AM
Re: Contest Theme Ideas Fantasy pictures or cover art can work nicely as inspiration (classic cover art, like Mick van Houten's work, or much weirder stuff - there's a lot of it out there). So can those photos of abandoned places I keep seeing links to...like these: https://imgur.com/a/D9iDC.
Lines from poems or music lyrics can be pretty inspiring, too. 
What I love about these sorts of group challenges is that even when you have a single starting point everyone comes up with such amazingly different responses.

March 11, 2014, 09:11:16 PM
Re: Deadhouse Gates - Finished! I just finished this.

I need chocolate.  Lots. Of. Chocolate.

March 14, 2014, 11:05:36 PM
Re: Memories of Ice - Book Three: Capustan Jeez!

I thought the war in DG was bad enough - it was absolutely horrifying and left me completely drained...but Capustan? That was something else - I felt physically sick for most of that. How could someone live through something like that and walk away sane?! The Tenescowri. Manipulated into becoming such base, savage creatures in order to survive...hideously abhorrent and yet so tragically sad. And when Itkovian tried to  bring peace to all the souls that had died and it looked like that was going to destroy him, I was in bits.

Whiskeyjack and Korlat....Awww  :D

Hetan is hysterical...I choked on my tea when she suggested Silverfox should get it on with Kruppe!!

So, the second gathering didn't go according to plan ... or did it? Nightchill is obviously cooking up something and the rest of Silverfox seems happy to be a part of it. And just who did she promise the T'lan Ay to? Curious!

Is Paran going to have to sacrifice himself and swap places with Draconus in order to free him without releasing everyone/everything else? Or does he just need to pop back into the sword for another chinwag...Draconus did mention in the prologue that he would be needing to make the power in the sword not quite so final, so maybe there is a way out and he is just waiting for the right time/ opportunity...hmm.

Be interesting to see which group get to Coral first and who will actually dispatch the Pannion Seer.

March 20, 2014, 10:57:16 PM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread I'm first again this month, but after promising this, I had to get it out there.
So here you have it: "One Rogue, Four Women and Escape on a Bicycle"
Coming in at a trim (for me) 1,485 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
         Jack laughed and spread his arms wide. “I swear, it’s true! Four of them at once!” Catcalls and cries of “Liar!” greeted this declaration. Someone threw a fig. The rogue jumped up on the table, setting the chandelier swinging and flinging hot wax on his audience. “You think this couldn’t handle it?” he shouted, grabbing his codpiece to great laughter and guffaws. “My brave soldier here could find the one virgin in a king’s harem with the lights out and my hands tied.”
   “I think your brave soldier couldn’t find the piss pot with the light on and your fly open!” yelled someone from the balcony.
   “I’ll tell you what really happened,” called a new voice, one with feminine tones and a cultured accent. It was lost in the commotion like a flower in a garbage heap until the speaker raised her voice with a righteous cry. “I’ll tell you what really happened!” And the whole room held its breath.

   I’ll tell you what really happened. I was handing around tea for the Delacroix sisters - delightful cucumber sandwiches and good Darjeeling - and they, good souls, were enlightening me about society in my new city; when one of them, Mary, I think, whispered “And then there’s Jack.” Jack Stinson, a rake if I’d ever heard of one, had arrived some months earlier and begun a circuit of the eligible maidens and even the ineligible matrons. He was a fine shot and an honest card player so the men welcomed him. As for we women, I suspect we are all susceptible to strong shoulders and a talented tongue.
   The bell rang and another recent acquaintance appeared. It was not more than three minutes before the poor thing was in tears and weeping on my shoulder. We had the truth out of her, and a great determination filled my soul. Jack Stinson must get what he deserved, or in this case, reap what he had sown.
   I know a little magic. Not your parlor trick, sleight-of-hand frivolity, but a true thing handed down from a branch of my family that once owned plantations on exotic Jamerica. The first order of business was to discover how widely the rogue had spread his affections. I set the calling cards of all the women with whom I’d had intercourse in a circle around a delicate glass bottle, and pushed it into a lazy spin. The four of us held our breaths as the bottle stopped first at one name and then another to expostulations of “She would!” and “I never!” and even “I didn’t think she had it in her”, which made me laugh but caused our poor betrayed one to dissolve in tears again. When the bottle pointed at the senior Miss Delacroix, her younger sister’s mouth twisted as though she’d eaten an unripe persimmon, and when it next pointed to the younger sister, things threatened to storm and thunder right there in my sitting room. However, it was soon evident that the bottle would stop at every one of the twenty-three lady’s cards and we four subsided into a simmering, amazed silence. Then we set our plans.
   I made it known I would appreciate an invitation to Lady Baldwin’s soiree, and I know she was thrilled for me to attend. Jack was there, and came to me like a bee to the finest orchid in the garden. I have to admit pleasure at being the envy of every female eye in the room. I should not have been surprised that Jack was the finest dancer I had ever partnered, or that his conversation was in decidedly good taste. But I was unprepared for the originality of his ideas or the effect of his flattery upon me. We set an assignation for the next day, Herod’s Hotel, noon.
   He arrived in a sweat-stained suit and straw hat, saying he had been experimenting with a velocipede and offering to take me riding with him. I think he was taking my measure. Had I been at leisure to enjoy his company, I might have risen to the bait.
   We had a private room in the restaurant. Not even for this noble cause could I afford to risk my reputation by taking a suite upstairs. We dined - a delicious rump roast and breasts of the finest fowl. As the dessert was served, I at last turned the conversation to magic, explaining that I had gypsy blood and could bring him into contact with the Other World.
   “That would be most rare”, said he, and we began. I set the empty bottle of Tolkane ’54 on its side, and began to spin it lazily.
   “Jack, I have come for you,” said a bodyless voice. “You have betrayed and dishonored me.” I attest that Mary’s imitation of a spirit was so much like the real thing that even I shrank.
   “Who is it?” cried Jack, his eyes wide.
   “One who loved you when alive,” the elder Miss Delacroix continued. “But Lucifer has set me loose on you, Jack.”
   “No!” he cried, “Whichever you are, I swear your death was not on me.”
   But now a second voice called out, and I summoned a mist to swirl through the room. “Jack!” it screamed. The younger Miss Delacroix could certainly have taken lessons from her sister, for I couldn’t believe her to be a spirit for one moment. But Jack was growing more agitated. “Jack! You deceiver. How could you leave me for her!”
   It was terrible acting, but Jack was up from his chair, and pacing around the chamber like a man possessed.
   Now the third voice sounded, and I swear that the very hair on my neck stood on end, so authentic was it in its pain and loss. “Jack,” it whispered. “I loved you, Jack. But you took from me what can never be returned.”
   Jack sputtered in surprise, stopping his pacing and gripping the back of his chair. “Angelica?” he asked hesitantly. “If you’re looking for the pearls, I can explain that -“
   “NO!” screamed our poor sister, “NO!” A cold wind started to whip through the room. “It’s too late, Jack! I told you I would, and I’ve gone and done it!”
   At this, my companions threw open the doors of the room and stood revealed in white robes, holding flaming torches. “We have come for you!” they cried, and Jack, brave Jack, threw himself on my breast, crying “Save me!” then ran screaming from the room. We hunted him then through the hotel, for the staff - well-paid for this adventure - made certain of the front door.
   Suddenly, our man burst from a maid’s closet, dressed in a woman’s sleeping gown, robe and blond wig, pursued by Angelica as though the hounds of hell were at his heals. He hurled himself wildly against the plate glass window of the hotel, shattering it into a thousand pieces and finally rolling into the gutter. The four of us were hard on him, and we chased the rogue into the street. His two-wheeled contraption was there, and he threw himself upon the seat. Then leaning over the steering bars, he pushed desperately with his feet to build up speed. His robe was flapping in the wind behind him as he cycled away, and we truly thought we’d seen the utter end of Jack Stinson.
   We stood in the street, our clothes in disarray, our chests heaving, and smiles of triumph on our faces. (Though poor Angelica was still looking positively ghostly.) Then I raised my hand to straighten my hair and discovered that the scoundrel had stolen my earrings, my necklace and even a small gold ring I wore on my left pinky.
   This wasn’t the story I told the crowd, of course.

   “Please, for the love of God and the saints, have mercy on a fallen woman!” she cried. “This black villain must do as he promised and marry me, or I shall be ruined!”
   At this, the audience turned a bleak though bleary eye on Jack, and some of the more drunk of the jury began to scale the table to seize him. A cry rose up to bring a rope. The rogue ran the length of the table toward his accuser, dodging glasses and tankards with nimble feet, and he might have reached her had not a drunken crone thrown a beer bottle and knocked him off his aim. He ended up face-first in the bosom of the bar maid, who pushed him off with a practiced hand and sent him sprawling to the ground in front of the woman he’d so deeply wronged.
   “I want my jewels back, Jack,” she hissed.
   Jack smiled wickedly and launched himself back onto the table. “That’s not what really happened!” he yelled over the chaos.

   Friends – Let me tell you what really happened.

March 04, 2015, 03:22:34 PM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread Here's my attempt - Loose fingers and looser morals (1273 words) :)

Spoiler for Hiden:
He knew he had to stop. He was good at what he did, damn it, he was the best. But that was precisely why it was going to get him killed. Ross walked alone despite the festivities. It was past midnight, the debauchery around him told him so. The dirty cobbled streets were a mess of celebrations, empty bottles and fallen drunks. He smiled with satisfaction as he walked. It had been a bumper harvest for Torr. They had gone all out.

For a charming gentlemanly pickpocket such as himself, tonight had been a very busy and fruitful evening. He had robbed until all his pockets, even the hidden ones in his long coat, had been filled. Ross had robbed until he could squander no more. Even his hat was stuffed with jewels. He should have stopped hours ago but there was need within. If he was caught now he’d hang before sunrise.

He calculated what he had pilfered that night. Was it 20 or 23 gold rings that jangled on his person? Not to mention the various gold and silver pocket watches that gleamed even in the dark. He grinned upon remembering just how many wallets he had snuck away. And of course the precious gemstones and the jewellery he’d slipped from ladies necks.

Ross lit a cigarette already missing Torr’s generous taverns he’d spent his evening in. He would not need to work for many years if he chose, he knew too well it wasn’t financial gain that bound him to trickery and theft. He knew he would come back for Yule. He was careful, he never went on these rampages in his home town where his lucky lady dwelled, a day’s ride away.

He sighed, the night was done. He was all alone in Torr. At least his children, all sired with different women would be ecstatic with what his hoard would bring. It was not easy being an honest womaniser for after the deed came babes, and they could be expensive. Still he loved them, a few even showed promise in their father’s line of work. He would train them when he found himself less busy.

“Clear off!” Growled an inebriated angry landlord.

A buxom young woman was thrown roughly from the packed out tavern and fell heavily on Ross almost knocking him over. She was blind drunk. Ross smiled.

“Oh excuse me Sir,” She slurred, her face was pretty but that was not where he looked. As I said, he did already have a woman. She, unfortunately was far away and even if she were near she would no doubt be fast asleep and Ross was not ready to sleep away this pleasant night.

“It’s no trouble at all being bothered by such a beautiful maiden as you,” he grinned as he slowly raised his hat to her careful not to let out his newly acquired jewels. She took his arm and smiled before stumbling to the floor unapologetically. Her curls fell around her face and she looked up helpless with big green eyes.

Perfect, he thought.

“I insist on making sure you get home safely and without trouble to yourself.”  This would be too easy he thought, she would be an easy mark to charm, already filled to the brim with rum and laughter.

“Why thank you kind sir. You’re a true gent, and there’s not many of you around. I think I may have drunk too much tonight.” She rubbed her head and allowed him to pull her up.

“Haven’t we all?” He grinned placing his arm tightly around her shoulders and guiding her not to where she lived but to an out of the way backstreet inn he knew where no questions would be asked.

“It’s a very special night tonight.” She purred and to his great relief did not seem to notice that the inn was not her home. Fortunately it was not until the door to his room was locked and she was sprawled upon his bed that she realised she was in his room and not hers.

“Oh I see,” She murmured quietly as she stroked the sheets, “Order some blackberry wine won’t you, it’s my favourite.”

Ross did as he was asked and poured her a generous amount, “You must have some too, I insist upon it,” she said.

“It’s not to my taste, but if you do insist…” He raised his eyebrow as he poured for himself. She beckoned him to lie beside her. How could he resist?

“You must always drink blackberry wine at Lammas,” She explained, he noted she smelt of delicate sandalwood and flowers.

“Lammas?” He couldn’t believe his luck, the wine was expensive but strong, and he wanted her as drunk as possible.

“Lammas is the old name for the harvest festival,” She took out a corn dolly from her ample cleavage and handed it to him. “Now it is the Goddess who presides, the Great Lord has been cut down with the corn where he withers and dies.” By now Ross was only half listening, it turned out she was a lunatic, but what a chest she owned.

“Oh dear,” He uttered as he topped up her glass.

“But don’t worry,” She exclaimed, “He will be reborn from the reap of the harvest.” She kissed his cheek, “You can keep that dolly until spring.”

Ross concluded that this woman was quite mad and only vaguely listened when she began to tell him about a magical picnic she had attended earlier in the day. She was very beautiful but soon he grew bored with talking and began to yawn. He was more tired than he realised…

Scarlett saw him fall asleep but carried on with her rambling until she was sure the powder she’d slipped in his drink had taken its full effect. She sat up and jumped off the bed, sobriety and sanity suddenly restored. Quietly she cleared her throat and finished the last of her drink. She looked for the cork and resealed the half full bottle for later.

Looking back at her new friend she saw with pleasure the bulge in his trousers and with a small dagger concealed upon her she slit his pockets and marvelled at what came tumbling out. She held out her bag and filled it with gold, rubies, watches and chains that were hidden upon him. She even took back her beloved corn dolly.

Under the soft lamp light he slept peacefully with even breath she was glad to note. Scarlett stroked his soft face and kissed him upon his cheek, she was truly sorry to go for he was a marvel to look upon.

“You’ve been had Sweetheart.”

The innkeeper asked no questions as she made her way downstairs to the bar, he did not comment on her sudden restoration to a sober switched on woman fully in command.

She took out a few penny coins from her bag and slid them across the bar towards the inn keeper.

“These coins are to pay for that poor man’s room for the night,” She turned to leave but sighed wistfully and dug once again and took out a few more, “And this is for a hearty breakfast for him tomorrow.”

The innkeeper raised his eyebrows glad that she had not killed her mark, “That’s very generous of you Scarlett.”

“Well I do believe when he wakes up tomorrow he’ll be feeling very sorry for himself,” From her bodice she pulled out a magnificent gentleman’s gold ring and placed in the inn keeper’s hand.

“You’ve done me proud, sweet daughter of mine” He grinned.



March 05, 2015, 07:17:28 PM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread Sorry, Kid. (538 words)

Spoiler for Sorry, Kid.:
“Sorry, kid. I don’t do charity.”

The kid sighed and stared at the floor, a forlorn look on his face.

“Come on, don’t look like that. This life… it’s not one big adventure. It’s not what you’d think. I’m always on the run. Can’t stay in one place too long—it gets messy real fast. No friends, no connections, nothing really. It’s not for everyone.”

The kid scratched at the floor, refusing to meet the man’s eyes.

“Sure, if you can bear the downsides it’s a good life. The thrill of the con. The rush you get when the law is chasing you down. The satisfaction when it all goes to plan.” The man shook his head. “But it’s not something you should wish for. You’re young, free, you can go ahead and take whatever path you want. I’m telling you, kid, you shouldn’t come with me. You shouldn’t choose the life of the outlaw. Not if you can help it.”

The kid glanced up at the man through his eyelashes.

“You should stay here. Live the life of luxury. Sure, it’ll probably kill you some day, but why not enjoy it while it lasts?” The man leaned on the wall and looked around, taking in the scenery.

A vast mountain range rose on the horizon, its majesty half-hidden in the haze of distance. The farmhouse stood on a small hill, a high point near the edge of a plateau. The plain spread out before them, reaching almost as far as the eye could see—a patchwork of farms, forests, and grasslands, punctuated here and there by lakes and the occasional river. The summer breeze made the forests shiver as deer weaved in and out of the tree line. Goats and sheep flocked in the fields, and birds wheeled high above.

“You won’t find another place like this if you walk for a hundred years.” The man sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I’m almost tempted to settle down here myself. It’s one hell of a view.”

The kid sat down and sighed again.

“I still have to go. It’s not the place for me.” He hesitated. “Don’t feel bad about it, okay kid? It’s not that I don’t like you. I just… can’t take hangers-on. It’s for the best. You’d tire of the road, always being on your guard, never knowing where your next meal would come from. Wondering when you’re gonna slip up and get caught.”

The kid looked up at him, eyes reproachful.

“You’re just not gonna give up, are you?” A wry smile passed across the man’s face. “Look, the biggest problem is that you’d just get in the way. You can’t help. I’d have to train you. And that’d take months. It’d take time, which is a luxury I don’t have enough of as it is.”

The kid moved forwards and took hold of the man’s sleeve.

The man glared and tugged his arm away from the kid. “Fine. I won’t stop you. But don’t go around telling anyone that I’m your pal, or we’re gonna have some problems. Got it?”

He stalked off, shaking his head in disbelief. The goat watched him leave, scratched an itch, and sauntered towards the open gate.

March 05, 2015, 08:24:37 PM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread Hi everyone, here's mine for this month. Sadly, I had to cut the bicycle from the final draft as it was starting to take over the story. I guess time will tell if I was right to do so!

Heroes in the Shadow 1483 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
A fellow Bligh had once met in an opium den had quoted the assassin, Hassan-I-Sabbah, to him: ‘Nothing is real; everything is permitted.’ Clearly he never tested the theory by trying to squeeze into a incredibly flimsy pine cupboard, Bligh reflected, hooking a fingernail on the door and pulling it shut.

The timbre of the footsteps changed as they rounded the corner, heading ever-closer towards Bligh’s hiding place. The owner of the footsteps was trying to be stealthy, but failing. Bligh reached into his coat for a weapon, wincing as his elbow bumped into the panel.

The footfalls stopped.

Bligh tensed, every muscle trembling. The smell of wood dust was near-overpowering; he could taste rank spit in his mouth. He adjusted his grip on his cosh.

On the count of three, he thought. One-

He flinched as the door was yanked open and a powerful light shone into his eyes. Blinded, he made a feeble swing at his assailant, tripping over his own legs as he tried to scramble out of his bolt-hole. He tumbled onto the floor into the foetal position, waiting for the crunching impact of boot and leather cudgel into his head and back. The pause lengthened.

“You alright down there, Mr Bligh?”

Bligh looked up in annoyance at the silhouette looming behind the glare.

“Get that bloody light out of my face,” he snapped.

“Sorry,” Stubb pulled the shutter down on the dark lantern, plunging the corridor into gloom. “I wondered where you’d gotten to.”

“Never mind that. What are you doing, clomping about, lighting up the building? Do you even know the meaning of the word ‘subterfuge’?”

“No,” replied Stubb with complete honesty.

Bligh glared at him scathingly and stood up, retrieving his greasy bowler hat from the floor. “Did you see the guard?” he asked.

Stubb patted the blackjack hanging from his belt with a knowing wink that looked anything but. Bligh turned on his heels, motioning for Stubb to follow, cursing under his breath the circumstances which necessitated having Stubb for a business partner. It had been tough, adjusting to the challenges of the new industrial age, and the grave-robbing trade had been hit harder than most.

It used to be so simple. You’d dig a body up, replace the grave soil so no-one was any the wiser, and sell the cadaver to the highest-bidding surgeon, biologist or pet food manufacturer. Granted, it had gotten a bit competitive a few decades ago, with many of the resurrection men resorting to murder in an attempt to provide the supply for the demand, but surely that was how an economy was meant to work?

But laws had changed, and the demand had dried up. Most of the grave robbers went on to other work, and the talent pool had shrunk considerably. Nowadays, a gangling oaf like Stubb was the best that Bligh could hope for. And finding corpses required increasingly creative thinking, hence their location.

The corridor ended into the main hall of the College of Medicine, a huge rotunda set about with pillars and statues of venerable physicians. A vast chandelier dominated the room, its lights extinguished. They tiptoed through the oppressive gloom of the balcony floor towards the Office of Anatomical Studies. Bligh knelt down in front of the door to pick the lock.

“Mr Bligh?” whispered Stubb.

“What?” Bligh grimaced around the spare pick held between his teeth.

“I still don’t understand why we’re here.”

Bligh arched an eyebrow. “What part don’t you understand?”

Stubb’s eyes rolled into the top right corner of their sockets, as they always did when he was thinking too hard.

“We’re here to steal a body, right? Because we can’t get one anywhere else?”

Bligh nodded impatiently as he fiddled with the lock. “Not one that’s in good condition, no, and our client is paying particularly well for that detail.”

Stubb’s mouth worked like a dying fish for a moment as words queued up behind it to be blurted out.

“I thought you said the client was a lecturer here?”

Bligh nodded. “In this department, in fact.”

“So we’re basically stealing one of his own corpses?”

Bligh fumbled the pick with a muffled curse and turned to Stubb. “We’re professionals, Stubb. We cannot simply tell an employer ‘No, sir, we can’t get you a cadaver, there’s a shortage on’. This is just a temporary measure to keep our reputation intact, and reputation is everything in this business. Now shut up and let me concentrate. This lock’s being a bastard.”

All was silent for a few minutes, bar the scratching of Bligh’s lock picks.

“I wonder if one of those keys I took off the guard would work,” Stubb wondered aloud.

Once Bligh had stopped swearing, he took the keys from Stubb and tried them one by one in the lock. A waft of astringent stung their nostrils as they entered the laboratory. They moved along the aisle between benches towards the cold storage at the back of the office. Stubb wrenched the handle open and they looked in.

The store was empty. Wicked looking hooks gleamed along the empty rails. Bligh stood stock still, a thunderous expression on his face.

“Right, then,” he muttered. “Come on, Stubb.”

“Are we going?” asked Stubb, like a disappointed child.

“Of course we’re going!” snapped Bligh. “It’s empty. There’s nothing to take.”

“What about that one?” Stubb pointed over Bligh’s shoulder.

Slumped at one of the desks was the body of a man in a teacher’s gown and mortar-board. Bligh had missed it on the way in due to the fact that the mortar-board, and the head it was perched on, were lying on the table next to the body in a pool of congealed gore.

Not in perfect condition, thought Bligh, but hopefully good enough. His mood brightened considerably.

“Well spotted, Stubb. Now, pick up the gentleman and let’s be on our way.” He stuffed the head into an old onion sack and Stubb hoisted the body onto his shoulders.

They made their way back to the ground floor window they had entered by. Stubb was unusually quiet which, although refreshing, was rarely a good sign.

“Something on your mind, lad?” asked Bligh.

Stubb shrugged. “It doesn’t seem right,” he muttered. “They’ve got so much stuff and we’ve got nothing. I never had chandeliers or chairs. My parents and me, we shared a single bed until I was seventeen.”

Bligh quashed the many, many questions prompted by this statement. He turned to Stubb and put a hand on his arm.

“Now listen to me, Josiah Stubb. You’re a good lad. If you apply yourself, you’ll go far.” Stubb straightened proudly underneath the dead academic hefted over his shoulders.

“But you need to have a good think about where your life is going,” Bligh continued. “What are we, Stubb?”

“Grave robbers.”

“No, that’s what we do. What we are, Stubb, is heroes.”

Seeing Stubb’s habitual look of confusion grow more pronounced, Bligh elaborated.

“People in this city work their shifts, pay their taxes, worship at the nearest church and get their opinions from whichever newspaper they think relates to them the most. They live their lives according to the dictates of lawyers and gentry who wouldn’t piss on them if they were aflame. Not us though, Stubb. We are the last of the truly free; we who live on the edge and move in the shadows.”

Bligh pointed out of the window to the row of fine houses across the street.

“Every one of those folk laying a-bed right now are dreaming of swapping places with us. For all their money and finery, they’ve no spark, Stubb, no danger, no reason to live. I for one, wouldn’t give up this life for all the silver cutlery and porcelain bidets in the world!”

Stubb beamed proudly. “I never thought of it like that. I’m a hero, Mr Bligh!” He puffed his chest out.

“That you are, lad.”

The two men manhandled the body out of the window.

“What do you think happened to him?” asked Stubb, gesturing with a jerk of his chin.

“I find it rarely pays to speculate in such matters,” replied Bligh. “Suffice it to say that, as long as our employer-” He tailed off uneasily as a thought occurred, and pulled open the sack.

“Oh bloody hell!” he hissed.

“What’s wrong?”

Bligh held the head up by an ear. “It’s the client! I thought I recognized him. He must have fell foul of one of those heated academic disputes!”

“What are we going to do now?” asked Stubb despondently.

Bligh thought for a moment. “I suppose we could pretend we kidnapped him and ransom him back to his family in pieces.”

Stubb nodded happily as the two men continued through the murky streets.

“It’s nice being a hero, Mr Bligh.”

March 08, 2015, 10:47:50 AM