Short Fiction: The Case of the Spurious Sorcerer
Old friend Seamus Cooper, author of The Mall of Cthulhu, stopped by yesterday and dropped off a story in manuscript form. “A little break from my arcane studies!” he said before disappearing into the night. I present it here for your amusement.
the case of the spurious sorcerer
By Seamus Cooper
“Well, this is awkward,” Quince said, his hand deep into the chest cavity of the body that had, until recently, belonged to Sotworth, the town drunk. He had been so absorbed in his work that he hadn’t noticed the angry villagers breaching his walls and making their way into his laboratory.
He’d been unperturbed by the “death to the Necromancer” chants—they were a daily affair. He had initially addressed the angry mob, insisting that he was not, in fact, a necromancer, just a scholar of natural philosophy, but they had been understandably skeptical, given that he got regular deliveries of corpses he’d purchased in advance from their owners or from shady characters who showed up at his gates. And now those same gates had been breached by the torch-wielding idiots who daily called for his death.
“Now before you do anything rash,” Quince said, pulling out Sotworth’s shriveled liver, “take a look at this.”
There was a gasp from the mob. “Now this is a structure I call ‘the liv-er’ because you need it to live!—an organ we all have, but I’ve come to believe it plays a part in turning wine to urine. For look at the shriveled state of Sotworth’s!” The crowd did not react as Quince expected, but he quickly realized how to remedy the situation.
“Of course, you’ve never seen a healthy live-er before! Now compare, if you will, with the healthy liv-er of the specimen I acquired last week. You’ll find it on the third shelf, eighth jar from the right.”
A woman with long brown hair and a meat cleaver in the hand not holding a torch said, “Specimen, necromancer? That ‘specimen’ was my father!”
Quince’s knowledge of the inner workings of the human body was without peer, but his knowledge of how to best interact with people who were still alive, especially those who wanted him dead, was sorely lacking. “And by the looks of his liver, your father never touched a drink!”
The woman lunged at Quince with the cleaver, and even as he ducked, he was sure he could yet convince the crowd with logic. “Now the liver secretes a substance I call ‘Green Goo,” which—” he began, but his anatomy lecture was cut short by the application of a torch to his tunic.
The crowd roared, and Quince fell to the floor and rolled, extinguishing the flames on his tunic. The flames that had subsequently been set in the rest of his laboratory, however, raged on. “My notes!” he cried. “You clowns! Your idiocy has set back knowledge of the human body—” with this he began to cough as thick smoke began to envelop the lab.
Which was when Quince realized that he should probably worry less about his notes on the human body and more about the body that had made the notes. Fortunately, though he’d been too absent-minded to check the solidity of his gates, he knew his system of trapdoors and tunnels was intact. He unlatched the nearest trapdoor, poured himself through it, and ran for his life.
One month later, Quince awoke in a forest glen before the dawn, sick with worry. He was spectacularly unsuited to life on the road. With no money, he could not buy food or shelter, and with no wilderness skills, he could not hunt or construct his own shelter. He had been subsisting on kitchen scraps he “borrowed” from pigs, but while pigs could extract nutrition from stalks and peels and eggshells and bones, it was much harder for Quince to do the same. He hadn’t eaten in two days and feared he might die of starvation.
He had begun his studies in sorcery before deciding that the mysteries of the human body were far more intriguing than those in his now-burned magickal tomes, but he did remember a handful of tricks, both magical and not, from the beginning of his training many years ago. Perhaps he could do sleight-of-hand tricks for children at their birthday parties. But Quince was a scholar, unfamiliar with and mildly disapproving of both children and…entertainment. He’d rather steal and take his chances, though, as a hoarder of information, tomes, and body parts, he disdained the act of theft. But was it worse to be a thief than to starve? He supposed his stomach would let him know, for hunger is a great cure for the curse of conscience.
Once the dawn broke, he packed his meager belongings and walked back to the road. After only a few hours, he arrived at a medium-sized village that had clearly seen better days. The nicer buildings had mold covering their thatched roofs, while the meaner ones sported visible holes. The road was chockablock with holes and protrusions that would surely challenge even the sturdiest of wagon wheels, and the growth of vegetation in the market square showed that it had been quite some time since a market of any size had taken place there. As Quince walked toward the market square, he did notice something odd: temples to two competing gods of commerce on either side of the square next to two taverns, both of which had customers already a-stagger with drink coming out of the front doors when it was not yet lunchtime. Or perhaps said customers had begun drinking last night and only just concluded their revels. Though, again, the state of the town suggested that few residents indeed possessed the coin for such an epic drinking session.
Quince suspected he would not be able to find much prestidigitation work at children’s parties here, for joy seemed like it would be mightily out of place in such a setting, and as for thieving…well, it seemed extraordinarily unlikely that the denizens of this particular town would have anything worth stealing. Well, perhaps he could do some sort of work in the kitchen of one of the inns in exchange for a bed for the night. He could still peel a potato and chop a carrot, after all. What a change it would make for him to sleep in a bed. His back nearly sighed with delight at the prospect.
But which inn should he choose? Time and penury had worn them really about the same. He suspected that either one brought an equal risk of food poisoning, bedbug infestation, and violence at the hand of a drunkard, but then a high-pitched scream emanated from the one nearer him.
This, of course, should have firmly decided Quince to choose the other inn, but he had a brief moment of inspiration: if someone was in distress, perhaps he could help, or at least pretend or promise to help, and this might allow him to eat a real meal and sleep in a real bed without doing any peeling at all.
In the years to come, he would curse himself and this moment many times, for it set him on a path both unexpected and frequently annoying.
But at this moment, Quince ran headlong into the tavern where the scream had originated. When he entered the tavern, he noticed the darkness and smell of long-since spilled beer that he expected, along with the smell of long-since-expelled urine that he hadn’t expected but that wasn’t fundamentally surprising; a handful of patrons so drunk and/or surly that they were not even looking in the direction of the commotion; and the commotion, which was a woman Quince assumed was the landlady screaming and crying, “he’s dead! He’s dead!” while a handful of men apparently not that drunk but still surly, surrounded her, muttering and mumbling.
Quince ran toward the screaming woman. “Madam. Who is dead?” Quince said in a voice that he hoped conveyed calm, compassion, and command.
“My husband! Upstairs!” she cried. At that moment, a man dressed so well he could only be the mayor of this stain on the map burst through the front door accompanied by an old man and a teenage boy, both with rusty swords drawn. The town watch, no doubt.
“No one move!” the elder watchman said as though he were stopping a mad rush to the exits rather than a woman recounting her distress while dipsomaniacs struggled mightily to sit upright.
“Morag,” the mayor said. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Button! He’s dead!” she said.
Button, Quince thought. Imagine being named for a common household object rather than a noble fruit. Perhaps he ultimately was crushed under the weight of his very stupid name.
“Let us see,” the elder watchman said. He went behind the bar and through the door Morag gestured at. The mayor, the younger watchman, and Quince followed, feeling that his expertise as an anatomist qualified him to assist in this investigation.
Button was dead at his rustic wooden desk, the inn’s book of accounts open before him. His face was gaunt, his dead eyes sunken in dark-circled sockets. His hands appeared to be devoid of all flesh, merely papery skin stretched thin over bones. A drop of green liquid dribbled from the edge of his mouth. “Poison!” the elder watchman cried, though given the state of the inn, Quince did not believe the tavern’s own food and drink could be ruled out as causes of death.
“Search the tavern!” the watchman said. The junior watchman quickly ran into the hall and the senior watchman turned around and saw Quince as if for the first time. “Who are you!?” he said.
“I am a traveling anatomist,” Quince said. “I heard a scream and thought I might be of assistance.”
“Anatomist?” the watchman said. “What does that mean? By the looks of you, it’s a fancy word for beggar!” he laughed uproariously.
“I have long attended to my studies rather than my vanity,” Quince muttered, stung by the entirely justified criticism of his filthy, reeking, partially-rent garments, “and now I have the greatest knowledge of the human body in all the Seven Realms!” Never having reached the part of his magickal studies that would have allowed him to glimpse any of the other realms, Quince had no idea if this boast was even remotely true. “Now if you’ll just allow me to examine the bod—”
“We’ll have none of your necromancy here, beggar!” the watchman cried. “Much as Morag loved poor Button, I’m sure she doesn’t want to see him returned a staggering, mindless corpse in thrall to the likes of you!”
Quince sighed. “I am not a necromancer. Have you ever seen a necromancer? They resemble nothing so much as walking corpses! Sallow skin, sunken eyes, patchy hair…no necromancer could maintain this kind of lush beard growth!” He stroked his eight-inch beard, thus revealing that his vanity, though secondary to his studies, had never been fully vanquished.
“Quiet, toad,” the watchman said. “My so—er, deputy approaches.” As there were but three upstairs rooms in the tavern, it had not taken the young man long to accomplish the task. He brought forth from one of the rooms short-haired young woman who greeted the watchman’s intrusion into her rented bedchamber with a string of obscenities and speculations about the watchman’s parentage so colorful that Quince could not suppress a chuckle.
Unfortunately for her, one of the junior watchman’s parents was, in fact, present in the form of the senior watchman. He evidently did not take kindly to the lodger’s suggestion that he had been cuckolded by an outhouse imp whose diet consisted of runny fecal matter. So he had his son, who, if truth be told, did bear a certain resemblance to an outhouse imp, now that it had been pointed out, rifle through all of the lodger’s possessions. Which led to the discovery of a dagger (not surprising. Anyone traveling alone usually brought a weapon of some sort, though Quince, having fled his home in a hurry, had none) and a vial of poison, which was much more incriminating.
“Poison? Confess, murderer!” the elder watchman said.
The young lodger looked baffled. “Murder? I haven’t murdered anyone!”
“What of the landlord of this inn, dead at his desk of poison not ten steps from here?” the watchman said.
“What motive would I have for killing him? I mean, this inn is a disgusting shithole, but so is the entire town. I’m certainly not going to murder anyone for it. And if I were to poison someone, why would I return to my bed not ten steps away instead of stealing away under cover of darkness?”
Quince found he liked the young woman, if only because she a) was correct about both the inn and the town and b) was clearly the second-smartest person in the room.
“Insolence!” the senior watchman cried. “You shall hang o’the morrow!”
“O the morrow?” the lodger said. “Who talks like that?”
“Deputy!” the watchman barked at his son/assistant. “Confine her to her room!”
“Yes sir,” the deputy said, clearly energized by the prospect of having something, anything at all, useful to do at long last. “Uh. Missmadam? Can you kindly return to your room?”
“Well,” the accused said, “since you asked so nicely, I will. But tell me, who shall empty my chamber pot? Or shall I just let it overflow and pour into the hallway?”
“We’ll send the chambermaid,” the deputy said. If this place has a chambermaid, Quince thought, I’ll eat my entirely-theoretical-at this-point hat.
“Well, that’s that,” the watchman said as the deputy closed the door and stood beside it, staff in hand. “One murder solved. Just have to get the executioner here o’ the morrow!” Smiling and whistling, he went down the stairs.
The landlady appeared at Quince’s side. “Fool,” she whispered after the departing watchman, before looking at the deputy. “Sorry, Jer—but you know it’s true.”
“I am focusing on my sacred duty to the town and am ignoring all distractions,” The deputy said. Apparently he was smarter than he looked, or at least not quite so foolish as to think his father not a fool.
“He cares more for keeping what little peace we have in this village than for the truth. Everyone knows who killed Button, and it wasn’t this…poor idiot child,” she said, gesturing at the door behind Jer’s back.
“I can hear you!” the lodger shouted from behind the door.
“Who, then, did the deed?” Quince asked.
“His brother Candle,” the landlady said.
“Is everyone in this town just named after random objects?” the lodger yelled.
The landlady addressed the door. “If this stalwart lieutenant of the watch were not on duty, I assure you there would be a second murder in my inn this morning. Hold your tongue, girl!”
“Ooo Thuck!” the lodger returned, apparently literally holding her tongue. Quince stifled a laugh with great difficulty.
“You, bedraggled stranger,” the landlady said. “No one in this town knows you or indeed knows you’ve been here. Go over to Candle’s tavern and see if you can find evidence. He’s the killer.”
“Madam, why would he kill his own brother?”
The landlady sighed as if Quince were the biggest idiot on earth. “They’ve been estranged for decades. I can’t possibly run this dilapidated money pit by myself. I’ll have no choice but to sell out to Candle, and then he’ll own the entire town!”
“Such as it is!” the lodger screamed.
The landlady looked at the closed door with pure hatred in her eyes. “Jer. Give me five minutes in there, and I’ll teach that street rat some manners.”
Jer, visibly uncomfortable, shifted his weight against his rusty, never-wielded-in-anger halberd. “Uh, I…”
“Forget it,” the landlady spat. “I’m going to be alone with my grief. Stranger, I’ll give you food and lodging for a month if you can prove Candle killed Button,” she said, and disappeared up the stairs to her room.
Quince pondered his surroundings and thought if he were not flirting with starvation, a month in this place would be more punishment than reward. But he was flirting with starvation, and even such fare as a bankrupt tavern in a shithole town was able to serve would be preferable to pig slop. Probably.
“Yo!” the lodger/prisoner’s voice came from behind the door. “Bedraggled stranger! You find the real killer and I’ll do even better—I’ll get you out of this town!”
Quince sincerely doubted that anyone who was voluntarily staying in this place had the wherewithal to improve his situation, but, then again, the young lodger had paid for her room rather than exchanging it for dubious amateur espionage work.
“I, Quince, shall find the true murderer!” he pronounced, trying to forget that the last time he had displayed such confidence was when he thought an impromptu explanation of live-er function would forestall the destruction of his home.
He wandered across the scrubby market square, wondering as he walked how anyone, especially a tavern owner, procured food in a town with a disused market square. Shrugging, he continued to walk toward Candle’s tavern. Though it looked to be the twin of the tavern now owned by Button’s widow Morag, it sounded remarkably different. For this tavern had music playing and the loud, raucous sounds of a drunken crowd enjoying itself.
Quince pushed the door open and peeked his head in. Behind the bar, a large man with a bald head and carefully-coiffed handlebar mustache locked eyes with him and bellowed, “Stranger!”
The entire tavern fell silent, and Quince felt dozens of eyes upon him. “Humblest apologies,” he said, not at all eager to see if he could escape a homicidal mob twice in the space of a month. He started to back out of the door.
“Button is dead!” the barkeep, whom Quince assumed to be Candle, said. “Drinks on the house! Welcome!” With that, the music and conversation resumed, and Quince approached the bar. Having studied the effect of strong drink on the live-er, Quince was reluctant to partake, but he decided that refusing a free drink would be socially awkward and that a place like this certainly watered down its ale thus making the danger to his live-er negligable.
He accepted a mug of ale and said to the bartender, “Who is Button? And why such joy at his demise?”
“Button was my good-for-nothing brother! He’s been a boil on my ass since we were born! And now I’m free! Free!” With that, he ran to the other end of the bar to serve another customer thirsty for free ale.
Well, Quince thought, the widow Button was not wrong in her assertion that Candle had motive. But did he possess the poison needed?
With Candle overwhelmed by tending bar at the celebration of his brother’s death, Quince felt this was an ideal time to snoop around. As Candle poured out another mug of ale to a patron who had clearly had too many already, Quince slipped behind the bar and into the kitchen, where he was immediately confronted by a woman holding a wooden spoon in a most threatening fashion.
“Yes, I do have work for an itinerant beggar! The drunken masses will soon be demanding to be fed. Grab a knife and peel potatoes with all due haste! I’m Spark, but you can call me boss.”
Quince, affronted, thought about asserting that he was no beggar, but rather the foremost anatomist in all the Seven Realms, but he realized that a) though he had not explicitly begged, it was really only a matter of time and b)this would be a good way to get information from the woman he assumed to be Candle’s wife. So he grabbed a knife and set to work peeling potatoes while his new employer, who had notably not set his wage for this task, set about chopping some very sad-looking carrots and onions.
“Your husband seems thrilled at his brother’s death,” Quince ventured.
“Yes, but he’ll be weeping in my arms tonight, sure enough. Hating Button gave his life meaning and brought some excitement to the drudgery of running a dying tavern in a dying town. What will he have to look forward to now? Nothing but his own slow march to the grave.”
Button peeled in silence for a moment while he thought of his next conversational salvo. He wished he had a corpse in front of him—even that of an animal—because that would make him feel comfortable, in his element. But even animal corpses seemed to be absent from this kitchen. “So, uh, begging your pardon but the rumor about town is that Candle hired that girl to kill Button.” He assumed that the news of the young traveler’s detainment would have traveled as quickly as that of Button’s death.
“Hah!” Spark laughed. “Hired her! With what? The promise of a room in poor repair? Mind you, that’s what I’m hiring you for, but by the looks and, frankly, smell of you, any room at all would be a marked improvement for you. But it would be poor wages for murder, surely.”
“Indeed,” Quince said.
“Less talking, more peeling!” Spark barked, and that marked the end of Quince’s investigation, though not of his potato peeling. Two hours later, he ventured out the back door of the kitchen to relieve himself and saw, to his surprise, the town burial ground abutted the tavern’s rear door. He wondered if this was the basis of the feud—one brother forced to operate a tavern next to the foul miasmas of the burial ground while the other’s inn sat in a corpse-free (until this morning, anyway) zone.
Walking back to The Tavern Formerly Known as Button’s, Quince was dejected. He had discovered nothing of use, though at least he had a place to sleep tonight. But the idea of the young woman dying for a crime she didn’t commit rankled him most severely. Having had his own life upended (and nearly ended) by a false accusation, he found that the idea of someone else dying for a crime they didn’t commit awoke a previously unknown passion for justice in his bosom. He cursed himself for his weakness—he would simply never survive as an itinerant by showing empathy for his fellow creatures. “We’ll all be corpses one day,” he said aloud. “For some that day comes sooner than for others.” Still, it galled him to see the most interesting person in this miserable town converted to corpsedom before others who deserved it more.
He decided to say his goodbyes to the woman, and to apologize for his failure to save her, and so, when he reached Morag’s inn, he ascended the stairs, asked the drowsy young watchman for entry to the room, and walked through the door. He found the woman fast asleep on her bed. “You’ll sleep soon enough,” he whispered. “Awaken, and savor your last few hours of life!”
Without opening her eyes, the woman said, “Savor life? In this town?”
Quince cracked a smile. “I bring you my apologies, Ms….”
“Call me Sam,” she said.
“Sam. I have been unable to find Button’s killer and thereby save you from the axe.”
Now she sat up, opened her eyes, and laughed. “You insult me, sir! Do you think I couldn’t escape from this room? There’s a window right there! I can drop the ten feet to the ground and be out of this town in seconds! Who’s gonna stop me? That clown who runs the town watch? His outhouse imp son?”
“I can hear you!” the junior watchman said through the door.
Quince conceded the point. Now that it had been pointed out, he had to admit that escape from this “prison” would be trivially easy, even for one as old and slow as himself. “But then why ask me to help?” he said.
“I felt sorry for you. You’re clearly unsuited to life on the road. I mean, look at you.”
“Sorry? For me! I will have you know I am the foremost anatomist in the Seven Realms!”
“Which doesn’t seem to be doing you much good in the food, shelter, and clothing departments,” Sam replied.
Quince, defeated, sighed. “Yes, well, you can’t investigate the mysteries of the human body without people thinking you’re a necromancer, and so it is true that my expertise is not in high demand. Or, to be frank, any demand at all. And clearly I am not good at finding murderers.”
Sam got out of bed and stretched. “Speaking of which, I gotta start getting ready to leave. Hate to lose my dagger and poison here, but oh well. But your problem, murder solving wise, is that you clearly don’t know much about how people’s minds work.”
“Well, I have spent decades in isolated study.”
“Right, so you didn’t absorb this one nearly-universal truth. When a married person is murdered, their spouse did it.”
Quince was stunned. “Morag? But you heard her! His death has left her destitute!”
Sam gathered her possessions into a sack and slung the sack over her shoulder. “It left her free. Shackled to Button and this shitstain of a town and this turd of a tavern for life, and now, suddenly, she can go wherever she wants, do whatever she wants.”
“But with no coin, one’s options are limited, as well I know!” Quince remonstrated.
“Well, it’s the only explanation that makes sense. Unless your expertise suggests a better explanation.”
Quince thought out loud. “If only I could have access to Button’s corpse, I might be able to get a fuller idea of what killed him. Knowing the action of the poison would help narrow down what kind of poison it might be…as it is, his emaciated, sallow corpse will just be taken to the burial ground behind his brother’s ta…hang on. I think my expertise may actually be suggesting a better explanation!” He pounded on the closed door.
“Fetch your idiot father! Wake the mistress of the house! I know who really killed Button!”
Sam looked at him. “So who was it?” but Quince was already on his way out the door.
“No time, no time! There’s one more piece to the puzzle, and I know just where to look!” Quince said as he bounded from the room with the energy of a much younger person. Indeed, with more energy than the young person charged with guarding the door. Morag shuffled down the stairs, and Quince nearly bowled her over as he headed up the stairs. “Your husband’s study holds the key!” he said.
“I have the key around my neck!” she said. “What in the Seven Realms are you talking about?”
Five minutes later, Morag, the watch captain and lieutenant and Sam were all crammed into Sam’s tiny room. “If they don’t believe you, I’ll be going out the window,” Sam whispered to Quince, who nodded in assent and hoped he might be of some use in the caper.
“Inside every human body is a structure I call the live-er. Because you need it to live!” he began.
“Don’t you need everything inside you to live?” Sam asked.
“Shh!” Quince said. “Now, this structure helps us turn our food and drink into shit and piss,” he said. “It does this by secreting a substance I call green goo. It was this goo, and not poison at all, that was dribbling from Button’s lips when he died.
“Now—why would this be? Well, you all know what a Necromancer looks like—sunken eyes, sallow complexion, skeletal frame. Indeed, the very description of Button.” He glanced nervously at Morag, but she nodded at the truth of his explanation. “The practice of Necromancy takes its toll on the live-er, thus giving its practitioners such an appearance.”
“Are you suggesting that Button…was a necromancer?” Morag said. “I find it hard to believe. That man was never competent at anything in his life!”
“Ah, but I did not suggest that he was a competent necromancer. I believe that he attempted necromancy. Because, obsessed with his feud with his brother, he sought to end it once and for all by reanimating the corpses buried behind his brother’s tavern!”
The watch captain nodded his head, thoughtful. “The presence of shambling corpses would make it difficult to attract custom,” he said.
“But fortunately for all but himself,” Quince continued, “Button’s apparently lifelong incompetence extended to his practice of necromancy. He performed a spell incorrectly and, I believe, caused his live-er to explode, killing him instantly and sending a jet of green goo up through his mouth. I believe you’ll find the same leaking from his anus if you care to examine it.”
A moment of silence followed.
“That idiot,” Morag finally whispered. “I told him! I told him that his hatred of his brother would be his undoing!”
“So you, madam, believe that your husband dabbled in…necromancy?” the watch captain’s last word emerged as a horrified whisper.
“And was so bad at it that it killed him? Absolutely,” Morag said. “Completely in character.”
“I found this among the accounting papers,” Quince said, producing a torn scrap of parchment covered in runes written in what appeared to be blood. “It appears to be a portion of a spell.”
“Burn it!” The watch captain cried. “Burn it now!”
There followed some arguing between the watch captain and the watch lieutenant as to which of them would be tasked with burning the evil magick (it fell to the son), and some perfunctory apologies to Sam and the return of her dagger and poison.
“I’ll prepare your room,” Morag said to Quince, “though I doubt we’ll actually stay open for a full month. Thank you for solving this mystery,” she said, leaving the room.
“Well, I must admit,” Sam said, when only two of them remained, “Your knowledge of the human body did wind up solving the case.”
“Maybe,” Quince said.
“What do you mean, maybe?”
“Well, it’s as plausible an explanation as any, but I did not find a spell among his papers. Now it’s entirely possible that he found a scroll and it self-immolated upon use, but perhaps the wife did it after all. I tore the back of a receipt and hastily scribbled something that looked like magickal runes on the back. My explanation certainly fits the evidence, but, without further investigation, I cannot rule out Morag.”
Sam laughed. “Then why…you knew I was in no danger! Why fabricate evidence?”
“Well, I knew you were innocent. And I find I’m far more concerned with ensuring that an innocent person doesn’t suffer than I am with ensuring that a guilty one does. But, on a more pragmatic level, you promised to get me out of here,” Quince said. “You are right that I have no talent for life on the road. If I were to stay here, I would be no better off in a month than I am now, excepting perhaps that I might get my body and clothes cleaned.”
“I was just…I was pretending! I can’t get you out of here!”
“You can take care of yourself in a hostile world, which is more than I have been able to do. So—you made a sham offer, I created a sham solution. Let us now depart!”
Sam shook her head. “All right. But the first thing we’re going to do is steal everything in this place that isn’t nailed down.”
“Ha ha!” Quince said. “Your jests are most—”
“No, I’m serious. Go to the storehouse and grab anything that looks like it’ll travel. I’ll loot Button’s study.”
Five minutes later, the two comrades, laden with purloined food and knickknacks, took to the road.
Author Seamus Cooper adds, “If people like this, tell them to send it to someone else! If readers enjoy this, I’ll write more adventures for Quince and Sam instead of poring over mouldering grimoires!”