Diamond Cascade: Shifty vs. The Shark

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Alturiak 16(?): …Cleansing, as he passed, the filth of the undead and the unnatural from the secret caverns and grottos of the shores…

Here’s a shout out to all wizards who are really, really stupid. Not the ones who are just a bit stupid, but the ones who simply have no capacity to think before they act. Here’s the situation: You’ve just climbed out of an underwater tunnel that’s now filled with sharks, cutting off your only retreat. You’re in a dead-end cave with assorted aquatic undeady things that you know damn well can paralyse everyone around you and a pirate captain who just might well be nowhere near as human as he seems. The only decent swordsman nearby literally has his plate-mail pants around his ankles (underwater cave, remember). He’s also the closest thing you’ve got to a cleric (y’know – for the undead turning thing and for the making you better after you’ve had your head ripped off and your brains eaten and so forth). You have one spell left and no, it’s not Dimension Door. The only thing going for you is that Captain Eats-Elves-Raw-For-Breakfast seems to want to talk a bit before he feasts on your vital organs. Do you:

a) Parlay and see if you can find grounds for co-operation or at least compromise and barter?

b) Engage in conversation while your comrades strategically position themselves, readying spells and items for maximum tactical effect.

c) Engage in conversation while your tank at least pulls up his pants.

d) Magic Missile the fucker and then think about what to do next afterwards.

If you answered d), then you are clearly meant to be adventuring as part of our thing-we-laughably-refer-to-as-a-team. If your answer is e), do what it says in d) only without the thinking bit, then congratulations, you are, in fact, Wizard Daftboy.

So there we have it. And this is how yours truly came to be sandwiched between a gang of aquatic ghouls and a ravening pirate psychopath who also turned out to be a wereshark.

Hang on a minute.

Now if I hadn’t been too busy making aquatic undead heads explode with my swanky new arrows of explody-goodness (What? So I’m the only person with magic arrows?) then I might have stopped to wonder about that. A wereshark.

That works. . . how, exactly? As far as I can tell, the creature that’s happily ripping my so-called friends to pieces has turned into what is basically a big man with a shark’s head. With gills on his neck. Not having any trouble breathing, I notice, although I think he has to keep running and he might suffocate if he stood still for too long. Certainly seems to have the whole blood frenzy thing going for him, judging by the state of Mr Pants-Still-Round-His-Ankles.

I’m about as far as wondering what happens if you take a wereshark into a desert, and whether there are fresh-water weresharks and salt-water weresharks by the time it became apparent that ordinary swords and sticks and absurdly shaped dwarven axes aren’t actually having much impact. And, because in a moment of bizarre charity I gave the only other magic sword we ever found to someone who turned out to be a murderous doppelganger (I hate you, Stalker), I’m the only person with an enchanted weapon.


Obviously there’s only one thing for it – lend it to someone else for a couple of minutes – but that’s starting to be a problem. Caleb Knight of Something is lying on the floor with his plate-mail pants still round his ankles, only now it’s in a big pool of his own blood. The Mad Monk’s more likely to cut himself than anyone else, Crazy Dwarf. . . Well, he’s crazy, and that leaves Wizard Daftboy, who’ll probably just wet himself, and the Halfgit, whose most likely course of action would be to bolt back to the town and sell it as fast as she possibly could.

So this is how I end up toe to toe with Captain Sharkface or whatever his name is. I’d like to say I fought him hard and I fought him well and in the end I sent him to hell. But what actually happened was that Shifty snuck round behind him and stabbed him in the neck lots with a silver dagger. Apparently that works too.

Afterwards, there’s only one thing left to say.

“So am I the only one who can do any healing magic?”


More Chainsaw (26/10/2010)

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Over on Steve Feasy’s blog, Alexander Gordon Smith explains why we’d all gang up on him if we were ever stuck on a desert island together. Most of the gang will be at Foyles on the 31st for the store’s Angels vs. Demons event, which I’m rather sad to be missing, even as Joe Public.

I have seen the draft cover of The Order of the Scales, and I that pretty much made my week last week. I’ll put it up when it’s been. I pride myself on not buying books for their covers EVER, so it’s just as well I’ll be getting my author copies of this one. The dragons… The colours… I can’t stop looking at it.

Excuse me. Have to, er… go do something else now.

Diamond Cascade: NPC Jones [1]

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Alturiak 16(?): Thus, Diamond Cascade continued to engage the most noble of the North Coast, those few who had not sunk into the depravity around them, to his cause…

So anyway, there’s this big cave full of water and sharks and we’re on one side of it up on a slightly burned ship, and on another side of it, the tide’s gone out enough to reveal a half-submerged tunnel that’s clearly the way out and the only way we can get to it is either swim and be eaten by sharks or scramble around the rocks and hope we don’t fall in, and I’m like “So am I the only one who can Spider Climb?” And then when we manage that with some ropes and a bit of shark-distraction, I’m like “So, am I the only one with a light spell?” And then there was some more climbing (or falling, on the dwarf’s part) and then there were some caves that were still filled up with water and I’m like “So am I the only one who can breath underwater?” And then after all that there’s the shark-man thing and I’m like: “Oh crap, you mean I’m the only one with a magic sword?”

Admittedly there was the bit with the underwater corpse-things and then Wizard Daftboy and the Mad Monk were all “So are you telling me we’re the only ones immune to paralysis?” But none of the rest of us were in much position to answer that.

I do hope Wizard Daftboy gets on and has an accident soon so we can go back to the good old days where I’m the only one of us who knows magic when he sees it.


[1] Anyone remember NPC Jones? CUDADS newsletter, issue 1, from about 1987 applies. Also my first official editing post…

The Hand of Ming (22/10/10)

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Caught on camera in the alleys behind Downing Street…


Equally dubious going on over here, as Alex Bell interviews Sam Enthoven for the Chainsaw Gang

Back to Work (19/10/2010)

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Sadly there’s not so much fun to be had with this week’s collection of reviews, but one of them comes from a site called Ranting Dragon, so they’re immediately in my good books:

“Though you will immediately notice the depth of this world, it has not been given the attentions it deserves yet. However, that is what gives The Adamantine Palace its tempo, and I’m unsure if that’s such a bad thing.” Ranting Dragon. Interesting comment. Haven’t seen anyone say anything quite like that before, but that’s definitely the choise I was making when I wrote it.

Also, what amounts to a ’suitability for its target audience’ review for Thief-Taker from Readplus in Australia: The novel does contain positive messages and meaningful themes for teenagers about growing-up too fast and wanting to live in an adult world before they are fully prepared to deal with the full consequences.

There’s an interview up at Literary Musings, in which you can find out one or two little snippets about where the dragon books are going, although I should point out that nothing is certain until it’s published. In a possibly more interesting interview (in that it involves monsters and eating people), Sarah Pinborough interviews Alex Milway on her blog today. In theory.

Have finally started writing again after what’s been month off altogether now. The Black Mausoleum rumbles onwards once more. And yes, I’ll put up an page for it in the bibliography at some point. Maybe when it’s done.

Sarwat Chadda and Devil’s Kiss (18/10/2010)

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It’s not long since I joined up with the Chainsaw Gang experiment, but I’ve now read Sarwat Chadda’s Devil’s Kiss (Sorry, Retribution Falls, but he had a VIP pass).

Devil's Kiss

Billi SanGreal is the first girl in the Knights Templar. She might not like it, but that’s the way it is, the way it’s been since she stumbled into something she shouldn’t when she was ten. Then again, maybe she didn’t have much choice. Her father is the Templar Master, and her mother was murdered by monsters.

At fifteen, her life is a rigorous and brutal round of weapons practice, demon killing and occult lore. Lessons and a whole lot of bruises, whether she likes it or not. Everyone wants something from her. Her father wants another warrior for the order. His right-hand, Gwaine, wants her gone. The enigmatic Mike Harbinger, he wants her phone number. Even the devil himself wants something from Billi SanGreal, but there’s not too many people giving a thought to what Billi wants – a slice of a normal life, please.

Trouble is, when you’re born and bred a demon-slayer, when you’re the most kick ass weapon-wielding heroine around, normal isn’t on the menu.

I am Michael, the Angel of Death. It was I that rained fire on Gomorrah … I am God’s killer and I will not be judged by the children of clay.”

Billi spat in his face.

Billi SanGreal. Like Buffy. But with teeth.

If you’ve been following any of the Chainsaw gang at all, you’ll know by now that we’ve been asking each other a few questions. Here’s what Sarwat had to say:

What’s your favourite book? The Hobbit. It’s the reason I write fantasy.

What’s your favourite monster? The minotaur. I love the old Greek myths and this is the one I remember best from my childhood. Tragic and terrifying. I can really picture the dark, bone-littered labyrinth with the massive beast-headed monster at its heart.

Favourite bad-ass monster-slayer? Buffy. She’s got the look, the Scooby Gang and the attitude. And it’s the title, ‘SLAYER’.

(no surprises in that answer, once you’ve read Devil’s Kiss)

If you could make a pact with the Devil, what would you want in exchange for your immortal soul? An afro. I know it’s shallow and superficial and I should be wishing for world peace or something, but an afro would be very cool.

The Chainsaw Gang are all trapped on a desert island with no food. Who would you eat first and why? Alex Milway. Young, succulent, not too fatty. Some onions, garlic and maybe a touch of corriander, tumeric and yoghurt I think he’d make a lovely curry. With rice, of course.

And remember the great Chainsaw Gang Giveaway. Earn your chances to win the entire chainsaw library by commenting on our blogs, tweeting about us or writing on our facebook pages.

Diamond Cascade: Well, it was about time we had some pirates in this story

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Alturiak 16: Thus, Diamond Cascade engaged the most noble of the North Coast, those few who had not sunk into the depravity around them, to his cause…

Turns out that while me and the Knight Of Something were putting out the Wizard Daftboy’s fires and patching up those of The Monk’s victims who hadn’t been separated from any organs they couldn’t afford to miss, Wolfgirl had gotten back to talking the bloke who’d cause all the fuss in the first place. Turns out the captain of the White Wyvern is suddenly and unexpectedly short of a few hands, on account of some bunch of completely insane… Oh, wait, that was us. I don’t know how all this worked out. I was more than a little drunk, and then there was some other place and then another place and some more wine and some ale and maybe some brandy and some other stuff that frankly could have been anything and then there was the bawdy house with the mermaids, or maybe I made that up, and then something to do with the Halfgit and the discovery that three-foot-tall women can do things you really wouldn’t think of. Or maybe I made that up too. Possibly some mushrooms were involved. I’m not sure I had any sleep. And then there was supposed to be some other bar that was down the bottom of the cliff by the sea, only it turned out it was a ship and then I think I spent the rest of the day alternating between being passed out in a corner and throwing up over the side.

Apparently we’ve struck some sort of deal. In exchange for a ride to where Captain I’ve-Already-Forgotten-His-Name-And-Why-We’re-Looking-For-Him, we’re going to deliver his ship. There’s some sort of blah-blah about reefs and tides and secret channels and sharks and being back by a certain time and then there’s some rowing and all of a sudden we’re coming up to the shore and nosing our way into some half-submerged caves and there’s a ship in front of us, hidden in the cave. Can’t help noticing that the cave entrance is about twenty feet about the water and the ship has a sixty-odd foot mast. Maybe they take the mast down and row out? If any of us had a clue about ships or sailing, I’m sure that would help.

Mr sea-cave is suspiciously empty (apart from the sharks in the water), but that doesn’t stop us from  managing to smash our little rowing boat into a rock and sink it when a rather more appropriate course of action would have been to nose up to the ship and tied up gently alongside. Ah well. I know exactly how I’m getting back.

Mr sea-cave is also suspiciously devoid of other ways out. Mad Elf has a go at kicking something off by setting fire to the ship to see what will happen, but pretty much all that happens is that we watch our one and only remaining way out of here burn for a bit and then get the idea that maybe we should put the fire out. There’s some arguing and some searching and some shark-baiting, but I’m too busy sitting on a ledge making up a song.

There once was an elf, a very fine elf
And a very fine elf was he,
He sailed on a ship, went on a trip
And now he’s at the bottom of the seaaaaa
Playing with a shark?
Oh what a lark!

There once was an elf, a very fine elf
And a very fine elf was he,
By the light of the moon, he found an underwater tomb,
And now he’s an elf zombieeeeee
Eaten by a ghoul!
Oh what a fool!

There once was an elf, a very fine elf
And a very fine elf was he,
He said he was a wizard, now his home’s a whale’s gizzard,
What a sorry end for a fine fairyyyyyy
Don’t have a moan,
Just should have stayed at home!

There. See. Much more useful. Mad Elf Monk and Wizard Daftboy certainly seem to think so.

Actually, doing nothing at all would usually be more useful than anything we do.

Eventually the tide goes out and we get to figure out where the pirates went. On account of certain things not being underwater any more.


More Chainsaw Goodness (13/10/2010)

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Up and ready for you: Sam Enthoven interviews Alex Bell. Everything you wanted to know about the creator of Lex Trent, including how he likes to turn people to stone, and who she’d most like to eat!

Best Review Ever Not (12/10/10)

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The next stop in the Chainsaw Gang tour: Alex Gordon Smith reviews interviews David Gatward.

And an assortment of review for Thief-taker that have piled up over the last few weeks.

“…Berren’s imaginary city is full of recognizable people and emotions all of which are brilliantly conveyed in Stephen Deas’s spare and powerful storytelling” www.lovereading4kids.co.uk

“any reader, young or old, should give this a try and see what I am talking about.” Literary Musings

“…gripped me enough that I want to read the sequel! Great, unique storyline with well-crafted characters.” Chicklish

One from Australia too: “The characters are interesting and even mysterious … a good, well-written story for teens.” Ysfetsos

But the world is a big place, filled with diverse opinion. “The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice’ by Stephen Deas is another example of mediocrity that shouldn’t have been let past the editor’s desk,” Yes. Stupid editor. Blame him, but don’t worry, the hose is quickly turned on me. We could also call it “very soggy and misshapen cake, or book, depending on how far we’re taking this analogy.” Why? Well because it plot has been “thrown against the wall like the proverbial pasta to see if it’ll stick” with “one contrivance after another” and “Nothing is explained, everyone acts entirely unrealistically, and by the end of the book the characters you have been reading have as much depth as a sheen of water on the driveway.

Crikey, Fantasy Book Review. That sure sounds like a that sucked as a reading experience. And I kept you up late and made you miss sleep and everything, even though you skimmed and skipped large chunks? I do apologise.

Reviewed by an aspiring fantasy author who, I guess (I hope!) reckons he could do a lot better. Well go on then. Let that wasted evening goad you into achieving something and not be wasted after all.

Chainsaw Gang: Interviews and Giveaways (11/10/2010)

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Over the course of the next two weeks, members of the gang are going to be interviewing each other on their blogs:

Later TODAY: Sarwat Chadda interviews Sarah Pinborough

Tuesday 12th Alexander Gordon Smith interviews David Gatward

Wednesday 13th Sam Enthoven interviews the inimitable Alex Bell

Monday 18th: Sarwat Chadda will be interviewed HERE, and I shall be reviewing Devil’s Kiss (which I have been reading this week and look, there’s two things it doesn’t take much of a brain to realise don’t mix – teenagers and Secrets With Which Man Was Not Meant To Meddle).

Tuesday 19th Sarah Pinborough interviews Alex Milway

Wednesday 20th I explain to Alex Milway exactly which of member of the gang I would most like to eat.

Thursday 21st Alex Bell interviews Sam Enthoven

Friday 22nd David Gatward interviews Steve Feasey

Monday 25th Steve Feasey interviews Alexander Gordon Smith

William Hussey and Jon Mayhew are too busy doing things like actually writing their books to be engaging with such tomfoolery, but who knows? They might still get eaten.

To make this a bit more interesting, there are various opportunities to win prizes (largely that’s going to mean free books). I’ll be giving away something from my bag-o-prizes to anyone who sufficiently amuses me. BUT, probably much MORE exciting and a lot less fickle, there will also be the opportunity to win the entire Chainsaw Library (or at least, the latest book from each of us).

Apparently.To win the Chainsaw Library you need to score a token. Each token goes into a vast hat at the end of the competition and one name will come out. The lucky victim will receive signed copies off each member of the Chainsaw Gang. You can earn yourself multiple tokens, so make sure you visit each and every blog. It’ll be entertaining AND educational.

+1 token if you link the blog/website to yours (per blog)

+2 tokens if you stick our Chainsaw banner up somewhere

+1 token if you comment on the blog (per blog, but only for the first comment on each blog)

+1 token if you tell me who your favouriate SF/F/Horror villain is and why

+1 token if you tweet a link to this post (but I won’t know you’ve done that unless you include @stephendeas in your tweet, so make sure you do that!)

Note that each of the blogs is awarding tokens for much the same things, but not necessarily exactly the SAME things.

The closing date of the competition is Friday 5th November. The Chainsaw Library competition is open to UK residents only (really sorry about that!); any extra prizes I might whimsically award will be up to my discretion.

Anyway, Sarwat’s interview with Sarah is ripe and ready, so get commenting!

Diamond Cascade: Wolfgirl Says Something

Posted in DC

Alturiak 15

“The Valdas killed my parents.”

“OK. For some reason I’d been thinking it was a vampire. You said it was a vampire.”

“It was a vampire wearing the sign of the Valdas.”


Not sure if Wolfgirl is mad, delusional or simply immensely unlucky. My parents were killed in much more normal ways, involving swords, rape and burning, I imagine. Rather I was here and able to speculate than had been there to say for sure but only to a cleric with that still-conspicuously-absent-from-our-repertoire power to Speak With Dead.

The Monk drags us off to some diviner to try and find out something about the Valdas. She’s way too expensive for any of us to afford, but The Dwarf sort of lost his purse last night after I choked him out and so I buy a question from her anyway. Easy come, easy go. I ask here where the creature that killed Wolfgirl’s parents can be found. Bleedin’ miles away, that’s where. “Upon the earth of his home he rests, by a river that runs bright red.” Well the only river I know that runs bright red is the Crimson River and that’s over the other side of the mountains, not to mention all the orcs and the slimies and whatever else is crawling around the borders of Osmuld. So in short, bugger that.

Ah well. At least I get a good night out of the diviner’s receptionist and what’s left of the dwarf’s gold.


Chainsawy Goodness (8/10/2010)

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When I think of chainsaws in films, for some reason I always end up with the iconic Medieval Dead image and that scene in Smokin’ Aces where one of the neo-nazi hitmen ends up sitting on his own chainsaw. What WAS that film on? However, after various things I’ve said about dragons being emasculated in fantasy literature, the following kinda caught my eye: “We’ve decided to spread the word that in amongst the shelves of angsty, pale and love-lorn undead and eco-friendly lycanthropes there is blood, there is dread, there is fear.” And “it’s time that monsters got back to doing what they do best, being MONSTROUS.”

Well quite.

The Chainsaw Gang is setting out to be “the new wave of writers delivering old school horror,” and while I’m not a horror writer and never will be, I’m all for monsters being properly monstrous. Hence the Chainsaw Gang has become the new wave of horror writers with a fantasy author tacked on. Or something like that.

Put another way, Alex Bell invited me in and you don’t say no to Alex.

Now and then, therefore, there will be posts about Chainsaw Gang events and schedules of where and when the various members will be doing signings and so-forth. For now, let’s start with the who’s who:

Alex Bell. Author of The Ninth Circle, Jasmyn and most recently, Lex Trent vs. The Gods

The Gang’s founder and grand master, Sarwat Chadda, author of the Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess. I shall be reviewing Devil’s Kiss in a week or so along with a short interview with Sarwat, during which he will reveal which of the gang he would most like to fall upon and devour.

Sam Enthoven. Demons, death and destruction. Innocent people turned into mind-controlled psycho-killers, like the good Lord intended.

Steve Feasey. You can never, ever, have enough werewolves (eh, Mark?)

David Gatward: The Dead, The Dark and The Damned.

William Hussey. Modern science and ancient horrors.

Jon Mayhew. Spooks. Demons. Knife-throwing heroines. Enter dark, fog-bound Victorian London and the awesome Mortlock.

Alex Milway. Yetis: Seriously under-represented in modern genre literature, but Alex is putting that right.

Sarah Pinborough (aka Sarah Silverwood): Whose stories have a way of burrowing under your skin and then eating you from the inside, rather like those Scarab beetles in The Mummy.

Alexander Gordon Smith. Author of the Furnace series which is about a prison built miles underground and run by demons.

On Saturday 23rd October, most of the Chainsaw Gang (but not me) will be at the Crystal Palace Children’s Book Festival so you’ll have Alex Milway, Alex Bell, Alexander Gordon Smith, Sam Enthoven, Jon Mayhew, Steve Feasey and Sarwat. Other events will apparently follow in Norwich and Richmond. However…  In the next couple of weeks there’ll be a lot of activity and a BIG competition being run across the many blogs of the members of the gang, kicking off on Sarwat’s blog on Monday.

Signing (7/10/2010)

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Waterstones in Haywards Heath, 11am, Saturday 16th October.

Yes, I know that’s not much of a post. Oooh look – a spider.

About the size of my hand and living outside my front door for the last week

About the size of my hand and living outside my front door for the last week

Diamond Cascade: Some Bandits When You Need Them

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Alturiak 14: Thus, Diamond Cascade engaged the most noble of the North Coast, those few who had not sunk into the depravity around them, to his cause…

Look, in the big scheme of things, in the grand world-spanning story of Diamond Cascade, greatest troubadour of the land, hero of the people, saviour of kings and crap like that, the whole sordid business of a visit to the North Coast will be a footnote. Diamond Cascade helped deliver a letter. Whooo-hooo. All the thieving and the drinking and the whoring and the less we talk about any of that the better, no one wants to know about that. Sure, there might be a little twinkle in the eye as I sing my made-up tale, but no one wants to know that what Diamond Cascade actually did was spend a month and a half so drunk he could barely remember what colour the sea was, routinely woke up in a pool of his own vomit, contracted several diseases and only left to seek his fortune again because he couldn’t afford to pay for a cleric to make them better on account of having spent half his money on strong drink and loose women and lost the rest playing dice. Even if that’s pretty much what I’m aiming for here. I don’t know why. I just want to forget the whole shitty business with Stalker and Holli. Wipe it all clean and start again. Gods know, I’ve done that enough times.

Ordinarily, that wouldn’t have been a problem. Stalker would have done the same and so would The Gnome, only with more sex and less drinking. But sometimes, when I don’t pay attention, when I least expect or, frankly, want it, my erstwhile comrades actually manage to achieve something. Maybe it comes down to having all this new blood around us. By the time I emerge the following afternoon, bandy-legged and a little sore around the edges, they’ve been up, had breakfast, tied their shoelaces all on their own and then gone to see someone who’s something to do with the ships about some of the stuff we’re supposed to be interested in and now, apparently, we’re looking for some pirate bloke called Serious who sails around on a ship named after a musical instrument and stole some treasure off the something-to-do-with-ships bloke, who will, in return for the return of said treasure, tell us some stuff that apparently we want to know. Or someone that we know wants to know. Or something. It’s all a bit confusing, and mostly what I pick up is the the Caleb, Knight Of Something doesn’t like the something-to-do-with-ships bloke one little bit on general principle. Can’t see pirates working out much better for him, but we don’t have time to get into that question, because by then it’s getting dark and (yes, look, I had a good night) we’re off to some place that has a name but which we’ll call Seedy Dive because that’s what it was. Seedy, loud, full of smoke and noise and the smell of beer and sex. And more naked people than you might have imagined.

My kind of place, if a little low-brow. I’m all for settling in and seeing whether I can score for free, but no, Wolfgirl has to go asking questions and find herself a pirate to talk to (given the track record of my companions, I make a big and generous assumption about the talking bit) and the next thing I know there’s half a dozen men moving in on her and Mad Dwarf is hurling himself at them like a rabid gerbil with an axe the size of a church and The Monk is right behind him, and I still haven’t got around to having the conversation with any of them that until one of them learns to Talk With Dead, launching into a homicidal mania at the first sign of… well, anything at all really, isn’t going to help us find things out.

So I try to stop them. As does Caleb, Knight Of Something and the wizard. Three against three. Admittedly with some pirates in the middle who are nominally in the fray too, but their role in this turns out largely to involve tripping over each other and getting serially stabbed and thumped, oft as not by accident, until they fall down.

It’s only later that I begin to wonder whether jumping on the back of a frenzied berserker dwarf and choking him out in the middle of a fight was such a good idea. At the time I’m too distracted by Caleb, Knight Of Something realising that the Wolfgirl he’s grappled to the ground is called Wolfgirl for a reason (two, actually), and Wizard Daftboy trying to stop the amazingly fast and agile Mad Elf by rolling an amazingly slow and cumbersome ball of fire about the place. And setting fire to the Seedy Dive.

Unfortunately, my dream outcome, in which Wizard Daftboy and Mad Elf have at each other, Caleb, Knight Of Something tried to separate them, ends up killing them both and retires to a life of sorrowful penitence somewhere far away, fails to happen.