I am reluctant to publish too much of my book-in-waiting for fear that it would spoil the twists and turns of the story, but at the same time… fuck it.
Below you will find a chapter from mid-way through the book, in which our protagonist, in seeking his kidnapped wife, has finally arrived at Bloodroot, the city of her captor, the wicked Prince Vena. Our hero is rather excited to get in there and start stabbing people, and in his haste has left his companions trailing behind (his accumulated companions are: Selladore, a cross-dressing pirate, Glob, a pungent stable girl, Boomlay, a large witch, and Edgar, a fat little panda).
Now, observe our hero, as he boldly approaches the city gates atop his loyal donkey, Alfonso.
Impetuous, I leapt from Alfonso’s back and began to sprint to the city gates. I heard Selladore call out for me, somewhere far behind, as though in another world. All that mattered now was my girl. To my surprise, no arrows fell upon me as I charged, and no company formed to block my path beneath the city gates. It seemed they had little to suspect, what with my unassuming arrival on donkeyback.
With the grace of a sunbeam I raced betwixt the baffled guards, who could only turn and call out to me in vain. I lighted over the city streets, unable to think of anything but Astra. The city but was a blur. I shouldered my way through the throng of peasants and followed signs for the cathedral, readying myself for the fight of my life. I could hear the church bells!
I whirled around and pounded the cobbles heading for the cathedral, grabbing terrified townsfolk on the way and screaming at them for directions. Guards from every street corner were starting after me, but I did not care. The time for action was finally at hand!
I found the cathedral, an enormous and showy thing with little in the way of genuine character, squatting atop a heap of marble stairs. Haha! I leapt up them three at a time, my sword waving wildly above my head, fire churning in my irises. At the top of the staircase were two enormous oak doors that rose twenty feet above me. With a rebel yell I threw them open, sending several warbling choirboys clattering to the ground.
“I object!” I cried, hearing my own, frankly quite magnificent voice echoed back to me half a dozen times. I didn’t know whether it was the right point in the wedding to object, but surely the congregation would get the gist.
The cathedral was vast, packed to the rafters, and every head swivelled in my direction. At the far end, through an enormous stained glass window depicting bold victories of centuries gone by, brave sunlight streamed into the hall. I had arrived at the perfect moment: the wedding was well underway, the priest was droning passages from a dusty old tome, and every single pew was filled. Dignitaries, diplomats and generals, high priests and witches and wizards and useless socialites, all clad in marvellous colours, all stood on their feet, every twitching eye locked on my own blazing pair – hungry for vengeance! Hungry for justice! Hungry for salvation! Hungry for – Astra!
And there she was.
My girl. She stood a hundred feet before me, as beautiful as all the youth that has ever been lost, as kind and tender as a dandelion’s kiss on a summer breeze. She was all in white, a veil over her face, haloed in a ray of golden light. She raised a hand to her mouth as a gasp shook her, and I knew that her body was in that instant filled once more with hope. I was her hope, and she was mine, reunited at last – O, my heart was ablaze!
“My love, I have come to rescue thee!” I cried, laughing as I raced down the aisle toward the alter, past two hundred heads a-gaped and be-hatted. Then I saw him, too – the wicked Prince Vena, stood beside my beloved, his eyes fixed on me. He was shorter than I had envisaged; twisted, wicked and wreathed in a cloak so impossibly black that it gleamed purple in the light. He looked at me, his mouth agape, and I knew then that never in his wildest dreams did he imagine I would catch him.
“What are you doing?” he babbled, half a second before I smashed into his round belly with my shoulder. As we soared through the air entwined, me gaily pounding his face in as we flew, I pondered on the possible meaning of his odd utterance. Surely he should have known precisely what I was doing, given that he had kidnapped my wife and held her hostage for a month and was forcing her to marry him at knifepoint. We crashed down hard, and I felt troubled by this notion as I hoisted the evil prince up over my head by his britches and flung him arse-first through the stained-glass window.
The cathedral was silent as I sheathed my sword and straightened my tunic, contented with my gleaming brilliance. From beyond the window, barely audible, there drifted a faint, bewildered groaning. Satisfied that I had dispelled the immediate threat, I turned to Astra, eager to calm my frantic eyes with the grace of her visage, and soon after for our lips to lock, for our souls to sing once more in perfect harmony. I turned to Astra, but she had vanished. There was just some woman in a white dress wearing a rolled-up veil, staring at me with her mouth open.
“Where is Astra?” I demanded.
The woman continued to gawp, looking from the prince-shaped hole in the window, to me, and back. Something was amiss, it seemed.
Ohhhh. Oh dear. Ohh shit!
Realising my error, I apologised profusely (and more importantly, quickly) to the bride for defenestrating her husband-in-waiting, bowed, and hurried away down the aisle before anybody could gather their wits. Heckles began to sail overhead as I scurried towards the door, head down, mumbling apologies. You can imagine the abuse:
“You’ve shattered my fiance’s pelvis, you monster!”
“Get a haircut!”
That sort of thing.
But no matter! Pelvises heal, and my love was so close I could almost smell her. My heart was doing press ups and my legs busting out squats and my brain was three sets deep into a burpees blowout, and I would save Astra or be absolutely stabbed to bits in the process. I slung aside the choir boys that had regrouped in an attempt to block my exit and exploded forth from the cathedral, still trailing one particularly determined young lad from my ankle. I kicked hard and he tumbled away down the stairs to the bottom, whereupon raising my eyes I saw a very large group of soldiers assembled. The crest of Bloodroot – what looked to be a screaming turnip with a knife in it – adorned their armour. They drew their swords as one, and the mob regarded me in cool silence.
“Aye,” I growled, my voice carrying far across the newly-emptied square. It seems the civilians had sensed battle on the air, and had fled. A wise choice. “So this is how it’s to be then, is it? Fifty to one, in the name of love? If that be so, there is only one thing for it.” I bowed curtly and flourished my blade. “En garde one and all, thy sow-breathed pack of chubworth oiks!”
Quietly regretting using the word ‘oiks’, I sprang from the top step and fell upon the whole festering pack of them, booting and and biting like a peasant on three grams of Swamp Salts. As you will surely by know have realised, I’m a dab hand when it comes to fisticuffs, but even I have been known to struggle against a rambunctious horde of iron-clad brutes. It seems my adrenaline-soaked state of mind had goaded me into biting off a little more than I could chew, though in this case that metaphor doesn’t quite go far enough; it was less that I had bitten off a little too much, more that I had crammed a whole courgette down my gullet.
A small army of Bloodrootian soldiers were now giving me what-for. They had formed a tight circle and I was pinballing around them, shrieking like a spanked hog, being slapped and kicked from all angles. I managed to twat a couple of the buggers, but largely their fists crashed down with gross impunity. So far, it seemed my rescue mission was faring rather terribly. ‘Goodness me,’ I thought to myself as someone planted their foot hard in my arse and I flew across the circle, my head whipping back from the sudden acceleration, ‘I hope Astra doesn’t stumble across me like this. How very undignified.’
Just as I was beginning to wonder if the soldiers were ever actually going to stab me or merely nipple-twist me to death over the course of four hours, I heard an anguished scream that, just for a change, hadn’t originated in my own windpipe. I looked up through my bleary, punched-to-ribbons eyes, just in time to see a red flurry dart between the ranks of thugs, parting limb from owner with the measured grace of an early spring snowfall. I recognised that shade of red – a feather boa – Selladore!