The Slaughterfish, and Truer News
Posted by Anneque D. Machelle
The Slaugherfish: A True Story As Happened To Somebody Fictional
It was my son Blaise’s first time at home alone and I worried about bandits, but business in Whiterun was pressing and Blaise assured me he’d be fine. I told him to take care of our house on the lake and set out early in the morning, joined by my good companions, the mage Erandur and the vampiress Serana.
I had not gone more than fifty metres from the house when I tripped over the cold dead body of the local woodcutter.
“Oh damn,” I said, looking either way for guards. But we were a long way from the nearest town here and there was no one about. It surprised me that the woodcutter had been out this far, but there he was, lying slain on his own axe. I couldn’t find a mark on him. He was lying in the shadow of the cliff on which my house perched; had he fallen? He could have been struck down by bandits. Or the poor fellow simply may have died for no good reason, as we’d sat in the house so close by, deaf to his cries for help.
I didn’t know, and neither Erandur nor Serana had advice worth heeding. I did what one should in such circumstances; robbed the body of all its useful possessions and dragged it to the lake shore to get it out of sight of guards patrolling the road, and young Blaise in the house.
Yet as I glanced up at my home from the shore, the woodcutter’s cold body limp in my arms, I realised that Blaise should have a perfect view of my hiding spot were he to stand at the back of the property.
“We’re going to have to dump him in the lake,” I told Erandur, who only nodded. He took the woodcutter’s legs as I gripped the deadman’s arms, and together we waded into the frigid lake water. Erandur was a good foot shorter than me and unable to go far from shore, but there was a bit of a current dragging the water around the lake’s outskirts to the north-draining river, and so we let the woodcutter bob in the current, hoping it would drag him downriver and away.
We waded back to shore. Serana met us with raised eyebrows. With my heart heavy I turned back to the lake to see the woodcutter’s body performing an awkward wave, his head and arm trapped above the water, his body undoubtedly snagged on some unseen rock or log just a few yards from where we’d dumped him. The poor man looked like he was flagging for help.
I turned to Erandur, who stood on the shore wringing water from his furs. I suspected he already knew what I was about to say. “We’ll have to drag him out further.”
We swam out to the woodcutter. The water was cold, but the dread of being discovered was colder. Stay inside, Blaise, I prayed. Stay away, guards.
Erandur and I took an arm and a leg of the woodcutter and began the painful swim out to the centre of the lake. Serana deigned to join us, ploughing in a graceful swan stroke through the waves. We weren’t quite in the middle of the lake when I felt a sharp nip on my ankle.
Erandur seconded the cry. By the Divines, what? Then I saw a glint of a silvery, ugly face under the water – we were being attacked by slaughterfish!
I laughed – what else could I do? I got a mouthful of muddy water for my efforts, but that wasn’t the worst of it. Serana, the idiot, thinking us under attack from lake orcs or something else vastly more terrible than a couple of fish, cast her raise dead spell on the water around us, and with a fizz of necromancy and a groan of the golem, the woodcutter shuddered back to life.
I won’t tell you what I said then, but rest assured I was no longer laughing. If the guards saw this – if Blaise saw us splashing about in the lake with a nearly naked dead body chasing us, he’d never go outside again.
Erandur dispatched of the slaughterfish with a couple of quick spells while I floundered onto the small island in the lake’s middle and retrieved my sword.
“S’all right,” Erandur called, swimming more easily after me now that the woodcutter was swanning after Serana. Adventurer, mage, vampire and undead – what a parade of increasing gruesomeness we made. “I took care of ’em.”
He had indeed. I sheathed my sword and thought a moment. Serana’s raise dead spell lasted only a minute. We were halfway across the lake, and it was narrow here, a neck stretching into the river. I glanced into the forested hills rising from the far bank.
“Let’s keep going. If the woodcutter follows us, his body will drop down dead on the far side. There’s no one over there. He’ll be doing our work for us.”
Erandur nodded solemnly. Disposal of bodies was a business he took seriously.
We called Serana after us, and she led the woodcutter after her, and our grotesque parade splashed on. I reached the far bank with my lungs burning and my arms aching. Erandur was close behind me, and Serana close after him – I had no watch but I thought we’d made it within the minute. So then, when I turned, and there was no sign of the woodcutter, I felt-
What? Relief? It certainly wasn’t relief.
“Where in oblivion has he gone now?” I barked at Serana. She merely shrugged and simmered at me. I shouldered her aside and splashed back into the lake. I ducked my head under the water – nothing. The woodcutter had sunk to the bottom or drifted down stream or had come back to life enough to retrieve the guards.
Erandur, kneeling in the water beside me, nudged me sharply. “Oi, what’s that?”
We ducked out heads under again and he pointed to a smoking white heap plastered across one muddy dune leading into the lake depths.
I pulled my head out of the water with a gasp. “Serana!”
She was inspecting her nails, and rolled her eyes to me with an exaggerated gasp. “What?”
“Do your raised dead turned to ash when the spell expires?”
Another roll of the eyes. “Duh. What else would they do?”
I glanced at Erandur. “If I hit her in the head with a mace, don’t encourage me to reset and save her, will you?”
He patted my shoulder. “Friend, consider it done.”
So with the woodcutter laid to rest at the bottom of the lake, Blaise and the guards none the wiser, and Serana’s fate sealed, we three set off in pursuit of adventure and coin in Whiterun.
Now, to the afore-promised truer news!
My very first podcast, Indie and More Book Review went live today! It’s really exciting stuff. I felt a great sense of accomplishment having made it. No one at home much cared. Buuut that is the tell-tale of modern times and people’s willingness to keep up with it. On the plus side, I’ve had some great co-operation from authors and readers, and I’m really looking forward to continuing Indie and More as a series, spreading the love, and improving my podcasting skills.
You can check the podcast out here.: http://www.buzzsprout.com/17574/128574-indie-and-more-book-review-episode-1
Feel free to comment and share. Every little makes a big difference.
This Week’s Reading list:
- Kings of Infinite Space, Frank Francis
- Tuned to a Dead Channel, anthology from Dagda Publishing
- Eternal Dark by Alexandra Lanc
- Clarity by Anna Herlihy
- On Venusian Cloud Colony Number Nine by D. James Fortescue
- Jex Collyer’s gorgeous and sinister short fiction
- The Gateway by Glenn G. Thater
- Bastard’s Grace by Wendy Palmer
- Soul Breaker by Trip Ellington (who is a really great guy)
- Case of the Cursed Star, A Lady Thrillington Adventure by Havelock James
- Amfibians and Reptiles by Colton Hornstein
- My Babylon by James L. Wilber
- Sole Sacrifice by K. C. Max
- Curiosity by Helen Valentina
- The Death of Eve by Shaun Penny
Indie and More’s sister podcast, Literature Emergency Broadcast, is due to be released next Friday. All audio sorted (I’ve had a hell of a time getting a headset. You’d think buying two of them in the last week would mean I at least had one today… nope), it should feature an interview with the lovely, the wonderful, the gallingly talented Anna Herlihy.
For anyone who has signed up, the newsletter will go out today. I should have it automated in the next week, complete with a welcome newsletter for those who sign up.
NaNoWriMo is going swimmingly. I hit the 1/4 mark of Love, Charybdis yesterday. Tomorrow is the first NaNo writing marathon! I wonder if I can go the whole eight hours without needing the bathroom…
That’s it really. The site schedule has been fairly consistent over the last fortnight, which has been a highly desirable milestone for me to reach. For the foreseeable future I’ll be hosting articles on Mondays, short stories alternating with comics on Wednesdays, reading list and news on Fridays, as well as the podcast releases weekly and the newsletter every second Friday. Once we have some podcast show notes, those will go up either on Saturday or Tuesday, and there may also be some anecdotal stuff throughout the week.
All told it’s been a fantastic, busy week. I hope I can give half as much to my readers as they give to me, and the same again to those wonderful authors providing so much escapism material. Have a great weekend, read well and write hard!
About Anneque D. MachelleAnneque "Dangerpus" Machelle (rhymes with ranger wuss) is a rebel and a rogue from way out west. Strictly banned from interactions with other human beings, she spends her days amongst molluscs, dogs and lizards, whom she counts as her closest friends.
Posted on November 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged book podcast, book review, books, fanfiction, fantasy, indie author, nanowrimo, reading list, science fiction, short story, skyrim, speculative fiction. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.