The Siege of Pugglemunt Pt 6 (ghosts)

When we reached Mr Wiggle it was too late: he was a pile of bits on the floor.

“Oh for goodness sake,” I declared, pulling out my sword and waving my candle around. “Alright, who ate him?”

Nothing happened for a long while. Then, slowly and quite unpleasantly, an ill wind began to blow: cold and damp. My candle flickered, and a bit of straw blew out of Roy and went right in my mouth. I was retching and spitting and scraping at my tongue when, from out of the stone walls of the dungeon, a collection of pale blue figures drifted. They hovered around me and Roy in a circle, encircling us slowly in a rounded O sort of shape.

“Which one of you ate Mr Wiggle?” I asked, angrily. “Tell me or I’ll kick off.”

“We all did,” said the ghosts. “Sorry.”

“He was one of my ten best knights, you callous cabal of capering cadavers!”, I said, in a whip-crack of courageous wit.

(I didn’t actually say that but we can pretend I did okay, write it down and don’t tell anyone or I’ll have you strapped to a rocking chair and pelted with hedgehogs.)

I frowned at the ghosts.

“That was absolutely not on, you hear me?”

“Sorry again,” said the ghosts. “We’re really sorry. No idea what came over us.”

It went quiet for a while at this point, which was quite uncomfortable because I wasn’t sure what to say next. I mean, really, I ought to have kept scolding them for eating Mr Wiggle — out of courtesy for my knight more than anything — but he was already dead, and yelling about it wasn’t going to re-alive him. Plus, they’d apologised, and you shouldn’t keep telling someone off if they’ve given a proper apology. Then you end up being in the wrong.

“Okay,” I said. “Fine. Wildly indefensible of course, but we’ll let sleeping dogs lie.”

“Sleeping dogs?” said Roy, who’d I’d forgotten was there and frightened the life out of me. “He’s only been dead half an hour.”

Angered that Roy would speak to me in this manner, I plucked his sack-head from his shoulders and launched it over-arm like a rugby ball, deep into the blackness of the dungeon; it went ‘aaaahh’ as it bounced away into the dark. A second later, his stick-and-straw body turned on its wooden heels and shambled away after it.

“Right,” I said, dusting my hands of hay. “What news is there from the underrealm? I trust you’ll have heard about Bloodpunch’s encroaching forces.”

The ghosts nodded.

“A lot of new ghosts arrived in the underrealm yesterday. Some of them had the sigil of Fort Foyst on their shields. They all kept talking about this Chief Bloodpunch.”

This was disconcerting news; if Bloodpunch had already sacked Fort Foyst, he was only a day’s ride from Pugglemunt. Shit!

“Did they mention any weaknesses he might have?” I asked. “Exposed skin? Tantrums, kooky penchants, kinks, that sort of thing?”

“None whatsoever,” said the ghosts. “Although they did all keep going on about how charismatic he was.”


“Alright ghosts. Thank you for the information. Now just to reiterate, while I appreciate your help, I am very annoyed about Mr Wiggle. He had a cat, you know. Who’s going to feed it? Well, I suppose I’ll have t—”

Actually, this is probably a good time to put the word out, you know. Here, we can just pop an advert in the pamphlet to find the cat a new owner. Yes, of course it’s allowed, I’m the King, whatever I say is allowed is allowed. Look, just write in the centre of the page so it’s clear it’s an advert and not part of the story. You can use a different colour if you like. I don’t know! Green. Gods, do you have any independent thoughts at all? What am I saying, of course you don’t, you’re a scribe.

Chapter Three: In Which We Make So Many Arrows

Lady Blanket, of course, needs no introduction. But let’s give her one anyway just in case any out-of-towners end up with one of these pamphlets.

How do you think the pamphlet’s going so far, by the way? I was wondering whether I’m showing the peasants my motivations strongly enough. You know, as a character. Do you think I ought to come across as a bit more spurred on? Lackadaisicality (it’s a word, I am The King) is poison to a reader, you know – you can’t have a listless protagonist. A leading man must be dynamic, purposeful, decisive. He has to exude raw animal magnetism on every page, and of course while that bit’s nicely covered, I do wonder whether my motivation is coming across as believable.

I do care about the peasants, of course, broadly. I mean yes they’re pig-shit thick and they stink of dirt, but they’re also my peasants, and for anyone to try and slay them – well, how would you feel if somebody got into your hovel and, I don’t know, tipped out all your herbs and spices? Exactly – you’d be saddened. Vexed and saddened!

That’s how I felt when I thought about Big Chief Bloodlungs or whatever the hell his name is getting in here and sprinting around disembowelling everyone. And, for as long as I draw breath, I — actually, just pop this bit in quotes would you? Make it look like I said it:

“As long as I draw breath, the people of Pugglement will remain firmly embowelled.”

In fact maybe we can put that on the front cover when we’re done? I don’t know. Let’s talk about it over lunch later. NO YOU CAN’T SIT AT MY TABLE, MAN. Are you insane? No. I will sit at the high table in the Great Hall and you can sit, I don’t know, on some sort of much, much lower table in the… corridor. Or something. Whatever, no, you can’t sit with me so don’t ask again or I’ll rub… hot oil… onto… you.

Don’t — don’t look at me like that. I misspoke. I MISSPOKE.

Alright: on to Lady Blanket.

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