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fantasy novel chapter 41
questing hero novel text online
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Warning: this novel is intended for an adult audience. It contains violence and vulgar language and, additionally, contains at least a little sexual content.

THE WORDSMITHS AND THE WARGUILD by Hugh Cook - Chapter 41

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Chapter 41

        Draven and Togura escaped from the wrath of the Rovac by putting to sea in a dinghy. They didn't go far. Dawn found them in a sheltered cliff-walled inlet.
        "Strip!" said Draven.
        "What?"
        "Take your clothes off."
        "Are you mad?"
        "Do what I say!"
        Togura, reluctantly, obeyed. Draven searched him and his clothes minutely.
        "So you haven't got it," said Draven, disappointed.
        "I haven't got what?"
        "The death-stone. What else? You let me down, you useless heap of turdshit. You failed me. After all I've done for you! We could have ruled the universe. I should cut you up for sharkmeat!"
        Draven, angry, thwarted and vengeful, seemed to be working himself up to a killing rage. Togura, eager to make amends for his failings, almost blurted out the truth about the missing ring to command the green bottle. Then restrained himself, suspecting that Draven might cut to his gut to be sure of getting his hands on it. As Draven drew his knife, Togura cried:
        "It's the dralkosh! Yen Olass Ampadara! The evil one! She's making you do this! You're still under her spell!"
        "What?" said Draven, amazed.
        "Yes," said Togura, desperately. "You told me all about her. She killed you. She chopped you up. She resurrected you."
        "Oh ... that," said Draven.
        The pirate was, for some reason, suddenly acutely embarrassed. All the rant and rage drained out of him; looking rather shamefaced, he sheathed his knife.
        "Get dressed," said Draven, speaking roughly, as if harsh words could dispell his embarrassment. Then, in a more conciliatory tone: "I was wrong to draw on you. That was my failing. You were right to remind me of the Ampadara woman. But speak no more of it - the subject is painful."
        "I'll never mention it again," said Togura, dressing.
        Conjuring with the name of Ampadara had been a desperate ploy. It had worked. So there really had been a woman in Tameran by the name of Ampadara, who had had dealings with Draven. Togura was starting to suspect that the history of Draven and Ampadara was not quite as the pirate had told it, but he also suspected that he would never be sure of the truth, and that the matter of Ampadara would be an unsolved mystery for as long as he lived - which, if the Rovac caught him, would not be long.
        By this time, the sinking caves had uncovered a fraction of a deep-tunnelling cave. Draven pointed to it.
        "That's where we're going to hide."
        "In there?"
        "That's what I said."
        "Well ... hadn't we better wait for the water to go down a bit more?"
        "This is as low as it gets."
        It was impossible to row into the cave, for the edges of the rock almost scraped the edges of the dinghy. Togura and Draven had to lie flat on their backs in the oar-boat, and walk it into the cave, bracing against the roof with their boots.
        Within, the cave opened up into a vast chasm, half water, half air. Flaws in the rock above pierced upward to the sky, but the wan light which filtered through those flaws was scarcely as strong as sunlight.
        "My father found this cave," said Draven. "He never told a soul, save me and my brothers."
        "What if your brothers betray you?"
        "One drowned when diving for gaplax. One fell off a cliff. One died of the plague in the year of two comets. One's a slave in Chi'ash-lan - if he's alive at all. One's the king of Chenameg, or used to be. One went trading east of Ashmolea - for all I know, he's in Yestron. There's none to betray us."
        "So we're safe then."
        "For the moment."
        The moment steadily lengthened. They camped on a rock ledge above water level. They drank from a slow-dripping seepage filtering through the rocks, but they had no food. Togura whiled away the darkness by playing his triple-harp, softly, softly.
        And waited.
        He was constipated. He remembered his father, Baron Chan Poulaan, quoting a common little maxim on the subject:
        "If you don't eat you don't shit, and if you don't shit you die!"
        However, on the third day, when Draven was sleeping, Togura obtained relief. Prospecting for treasure he found it; he cleaned the ring then hid it away in the toe of his left boot. By now, having listened to Draven lamenting his loss often enough, Togura knew how to use the ring. He only had to put it on his finger, and turn it, and he would be inside the green bottle which he had stolen from Elkor Alish.
        Togura was tempted to experiment, but did not. Though he was very, very hungry by now, and knew there might well be food inside the green bottle, his priorities were simple: Safety first.


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The text on this page is part of the fantasy novel The Wordsmith and the Warguild by Hugh Cook, which, when published in North America in 1988, was divided into two separate volumes, The Questing Hero and The Hero's Return. This text can be read for free online. However, the text is copyright - all rights reserved. For permission to use this text or any portion of it contact Hugh Cook.

The Wordsmiths and the Warguild was first published in 1987. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1998, 2004, 2006 Hugh Cook.


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