Archive for The Wolf’s Will

The Wolf’s Will – Scene 001

Scene One

In which we meet the plot

Lord Redfox died peacefully of a heart attack, and everyone agreed that it was appropriate.

The traditional way for an Alpha to die is at the hands of another werewolf, younger and more aggressive. But Redfox had not been a traditional alpha. He had spent his life as a peace maker; he had stopped the trade in dryad skins, set up mining co-ops with the dwarfs and was considered singly handedly responsible for bringing several species of dragon back from the brink of extinction, and now he was sitting in the morgue, thought Yellowbird, doing nothing more interesting than cooling gently.

The fact that something is appropriate doesn’t stop it being a huge anticlimax.

Yellowbird had a glass of well aged scotch in his hand, after all it was practically a butlering tradition to dip into the liquor cabinet, and anyway he was mourning thank you very much, and he was looking out of the large glass windows, which looked out on the wrought iron gates.

“They’re here”, he muttered to himself, “body’s not even cold yet and already the first of them are here”

He took a closer look – plumes; – the pompous jackass actually went and put giant feather plumes on his horses. Oh that goes so well with the golden mermaids on the sides, and the ivory canopy. Yellowbird stepped away from the window shaking his head. Plumes. On the other hand, he thought, given how much that thing must weigh he made excellent time getting here.

Yellowbird let himself fall into the red plush recliner, it was very faded and the stuffing was poking through in a few places, but it was comfortable, and Lord Redfox had never cared what something looked like as long as it did its job.

He could hear a thumping sound, followed by the sound of yelling from outside. He sipped his scotch and didn’t bother to check. That young fool outside would never make it through the thirty days. You always saw people like him, who thought that it was first come first serve when it came to wills, and Lord Redfox had a huge family, so he certainly wouldn’t be the last. But werewolf wills, they were – competitive, – the man would only be here a day or two and then something would have forced him out, and good riddance to the fat pink slob.

Yellowbird swirled his scotch and thought. No, the real power players, they will wait. Oh they be very active in a dozen completely untraceable ways but they won’t make a move for the manor itself until the last possible moment.

He drained his glass and stood up, he was no longer the butler of Redhall, he knew that, but the work wouldn’t stop just because the master was dead.

“We will be very busy, over the next few days”, he announced to the house in general “I shall stay until the will has been read and everyone has gone home”. Then in a much quieter voice he added to himself, “Then there will be time to rest”.

He walked away, and life went on.

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 002

Scene Two

In which we meet our hero

Greg never wished chaos on his office; no sane boss would, but he was always glad when it descended; if only because it gave him a huge advantage over everyone around him. He didn’t understand why other people didn’t seem to be able to remain calm under stress, but he had accepted it as his personal edge a long time ago.

He was pacing a wide lap around his entire building; he found that this made him easier to get to at times like this. The telephones were playing a piece of Mozart whenever they rang, and Greg had hoped that this would have a calming effect on his workers, but looking around he could see them flinch on every beat; he made a mental note to try heavy metal next time.

He noticed Sandra from the front desk sprinting towards him; she had forgotten to take her headset off first and its cord was flying behind her, whipping passersby. “Problem Boss! The Troll Bridge Workers Strike! The Company Settled.”

“To the full demands?”

“Yes Boss!”

“Get Mikey to call his contact in the company, this smells of corruption. And get Clare to do some interviews with the dryad community, those extra apples will have to come from them.”

“Yes Boss!” and she was gone, she ran flat into Frankie who waded on without noticing. “Sah!” bellowed the huge man “The report’s out and we were right, Dess Kanke was embezzling”

Greg yelled back over the background roar of telephones, “Casey has an ‘I told you so’ story prepared, run it page 5”

“Yes Sah” and he waded away. Tony Tony, his chief reporter vaulted cleanly over him, stack of papers in hand and laughing like a schoolboy. He loves this, Greg realized, everything in need of fixing and everyone relying on him.

Greg felt a tug on his trousers and turned to see two giant brown eyes looking up at him, “Hello Lucy”

“Hey sir. The copiers jammed sir”

“Give it good hard kick Lucy, I’m no mechanic”

“Yes sir” and girl wandered off in the vague direction of the copier room. Greg shook his head and paced away, he wasn’t quite sure how Lucy had come to work at his newspaper, certainly he hadn’t hired her, and he would have remembered that, wouldn’t he?

The chaos sunk in on him again. There were people yelling, telephones ringing, paper being ripped from one pile and thrown into another, verbal sparring and at least one small fist fight, – it was like being back at school again, – there was Andrew, the new boy on the front desk, running toward him; ducking and weaving the whole way like a ballerina who has had something unpleasant and slimy dropped down the back of her leotard. He got within two meters of Greg and pulled back sharply; wearing the expression of a man who has run as fast as he could to deliver an important message and is only now considering the effect it might have on the recipient.

“Well Andrew, what is it?”

“Ahhhh.” Said Andrew, his eyes drifting to the gaps between cubicles

“What’s your message Andrew?”

Andrew swallowed, “We regret to inform you”, he said standing to attention for reasons best known to himself, “of the passing of your uncle Redfox, His will shall be read on the 30th of October at eight o’clock in his home of Redhall”. Then he stood there staring directly ahead; there didn’t seem to be anything else.

“Get Ants to do that thing he does with airline tickets and get me two first-class for Alice Springs tomorrow, and tell Tony Tony to come to my office after today’s paper goes out.”

Andrew nodded, but he was still at attention and staring straight ahead.

“Dismissed?” Greg guessed, and Andrew sprinted away looking about as relived as a theme park visitor who has just found the toilet block.

Then Greg got back to work. After all the world doesn’t stop turning just because someone’s uncle died.

There was a crunching sound, followed closely by a soft tinkling sound like a dozen little gears rolling on the floor. Exactly like that as a matter of fact. Greg shook his head and paced off to where they kept the spare copier, and life went on.

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 003

Scene Three

In which our heroes unite

The office was peaceful. The work was all done. The paper was out. There was nothing else left to do, but there was still half an hour on the clock so everyone just lay around drained and exhausted, but happy. Tony Tony loved these moments; tomorrow everyone would be running around all over again, but for now the whole world was calm.

Tony Tony remembered that Greg wanted to see him in his office, he wondered if he would still be there. Then he answered himself, of course Greg would still be in his office; the man had no idea how to relax.

He eased himself up from the pot plant he had been resting his weight against and set off down the hallway. The whole way down people called out to him, and reached out to pat him or shake his hand, Sandra even lifted herself from where she was half passed out over the emergency copier, to give him a hug. This was their victory and everyone felt that it was well earned.

Greg’s office was second from the end and it looked exactly like all of the others, on the door was written ‘Greg – Editor’.

Tony Tony had found that people were always disappointed the first time they walked into Greg’s office, there was always this expectation that an editors office should be some luxurious place, fit for a power mad emperor. Tony Tony had been around for awhile and he had come to the conclusion that an office isn’t nearly as important as what it contains.

Greg was sitting at his desk with three piles of papers and four variations on the theme of highlighter. Tony Tony wasn’t even slightly surprised. “Hey Greg,” he said,” What’s up?”

Greg glanced up, and even though his face was blank Tony Tony caught the strange sensation of warmth, “Hello Tony Tony, how’s that charity you set up?”

“Scrying crystals for the blind? It’s going great man, we got just over a thousand donated crystals last week and we’re still growing! My business partner showed me the plans she drew up yesterday”

“What plans?”

Tony Tony was feeling mischievous, and with a grin replied, “You remember how I said it would be nice to have my own building to use as a distribution hub? I mean we are distributing the donated crystals all over the city”

“Yes, I remember”

“And you remember that my business partner trained as an architect”

“Yes” Pause “I see, really?”

“Absolutely, I have the plans for the start of my own little empire sitting on my desk at home, and all I need is a little money to push it through.

This seemed to be what Greg had been waiting for. “Would a hundred thousand be enough?”

Tony Tony felt alert all of a sudden, he had known Greg longer than anyone else in this country and he knew his editor rarely thought hypothetically, “It would defiantly help a lot.”

“My uncle Redfox is dead”

“Well. Sorry to hear it”, Tony Tony leaned back in his chair and focused on the ceiling, “You told me about him once didn’t you? He was an alpha and about the only member of your family didn’t violently object when you decide to become a vampire”

“Yes, he was very progressive in that respect, and now he’s dead. Now, tell me what you remember about werewolf inheritance law”

“Well, not much, the big one is that a beneficiary must be present at the reading of the will or they forfeit their inheritance”

“And their share is distributed between those who are present”

“That right, it’s a bit of a strange law I always thought”

“So does everyone else, but it’s traditional at this point”

“Ok, so what you’re saying is that there’s a good chance you will be in this will.”

“Yes, and even if I’m not, as a close blood relative I still stand to inherit a share if a beneficiary doesn’t make it”

“Right, I guess that’s plan B. Was your uncle rich?”

“The fact that he lived in Transylvania made the country about 70% richer than it would be otherwise”

“I’m going to call that a yes. Ok, so you have rich uncle and stand to inherit, where do I come into this?”

“’Had’ a rich uncle, and you come into this because I’m going to need your people skills to get there”

“To the reading?”

“Yes”

Tony Tony snorted,” I think a private jet would help you out a bit more there.”

“No Tony Tony, not here, here it would work against me. Think about those laws, if a beneficiary could ensure that he was the only one present then he would inherit everything. Werewolf inheritances get, competitive. It’s a game, and some of the older werewolves are very good at it.

“So you can’t travel openly.”

“Or legally, and if you help me to receive my inheritance I will give you a hundred thousand dollars.”

Tony Tony settled deeper in the chair with a slightly dazed expression on his face, “Can we just walk away like that?”

“Your business partner can cover the charity, Mikey can cover you here and we can call Rowind in again to cover me”

Tony Tony said nothing, he was hunched in his chair and he had his fingertips resting on his forehead. Greg seemed to know what to do; he touched Tony Tony’s shoulder and waited until their eyes met “Please Tony Tony”, He said, “I need your help with this one.”

Tony Tony watched back. Then, very slowly an amused smile spread across his face, “Exploiting werewolf law in a life or death situation against opponents with everything to gain.” He chuckled and offered his hand, “I’m in”

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 004

Scene Four

In which our heroes cross a desert.

There was a loud thud as the planes undercarriage hit the ground. Followed by a much louder thud as the fuselage hit the ground. Then there was a horrible drawn out grinding noise as several million dollars of meticulously folded and riveted aluminum dragged itself across the ground and ripped itself to buggery. Finally there were some gentle tinkling noises, backed by the low bass rumble of a single tire rolling away from the wreckage. Then there was a long uncomfortable silence.

“Well”, announced Tony Tony to the otherwise silent plane, “that is the last time I fly on a plane that Ants picked out!”

“Oh don’t be so dramatic”, said Greg, while folding up his newspaper;”We made it, didn’t we?”

“Well, we’re back at ground level again, I don’t think I can argue with that” he glanced out of his window, his heart beat starting to return to an almost normal level, “Hey”, he said, “We fell way short; I can see Uluru in the distance.”

“Really?” said Greg who had finished collecting their luggage from the over head compartments, “That’s good, we’ll head there then.”

“What? I thought you wanted to go to Alice Springs.”

“No, I just wanted our flight records to reflect that that was where we were going.”

Greg was a very calming person to have around in an emergency and Tony Tony caould feel his customary grin starting to return. “You are a very difficult man to predict, you know that Greg?”

“Thank you, I’m relying on that to make me hard to stop.”

“Ok”, Tony Tony hoisted himself up and together they headed for the back of the plane, “So you wanted to go to Uluru this whole time?”

“No, but both Alice Springs and Uluru have plenty of road access, we’re heading for Adelaide.”

“Adelaide? What’s there?”

“A large colony of Wind Surfers”

Tony Tony considered this, “I tried windsurfing once, and it was fun, once I stopped falling off but-”, He threw his head back, his eyes unfocused “-Right, from that article we did a few years ago, that giant annual migration that they do. To Italy, right”

“Right, which geographically speaking is a hop skip and a jump from Transylvania”

“Thus taking everyone by surprise when you show up half a continent away from where you should be”

“Well I had planned on lying low for another twenty nine days once I was in Transylvania, but yea, you understand”

Tony Tony thought about this, and then whistled through his teeth while nodding slightly.

“Thank you, you’re up.”

A rather pretty stewardess in a rather ruffed uniform was sweeping towards them. Tony Tony locked eyes with her, rested his hand on her shoulder, and gave her his most winning smile. “I want to thank you for what you did back there, keeping everyone calm.”

“Oh”, she said faltering slightly, “I that’s my- I mean it was my- Thanks” She looked away, blushing.

“I’d like to take you out to dinner sometime, do you have a number?”

*

About a minute later he met up with Greg outside, “I don’t think that getting her number was really necessary”

“Well it worked didn’t it? I notice she didn’t object to two potentially concussed passengers walking out through a jagged hole in the side of an aircraft into a desert they have no equipment for.”

“Tony Tony, how old do you think that girl was?”

“I’d say, early twenties”

“This would make her literally half your age”

“Well you don’t need to bring that up”, said Tony Tony, looking hurt, “and anyway”, he said, his grin returning, “I’m not married at the moment, and that makes me fair game. So if you have problem with my methods”, he said, his grin getting much wider, ”You could always do it yourself”

Greg said nothing at first but after a while he said, very slowly, ”Tony Tony, do you remember when we met the Countess of Lester, and you told me to turn on the charm?”

“Yes”, said Tony Tony, his grin now taking up most of his face, “Yes, I do!”

“Good. As long as you remember that, I know you didn’t take that suggestion seriously.”

They walked in silence for a moment.

“Tony Tony?” said Greg

“Yes?”

“What was going on when you got her talking about clever linguists?”

“Cunning; and it was just research; I asked her what kind of man she liked.”

“Ah, well I know you’re experienced with the tongues of Japan and Morocco”

“Yes, I have a certain familiarity with the tongues of all 7 continents”

“Good grief, even Antarctica?”

“Even Antarctica.”

“Tony Tony?”

“Yes?”

“You do realize that I know exactly what you’re talking about, right?”

“I was wondering, but thank you for clearing that up.”

They kept walking

“Greg?”

“Yes?”

“Uluru is a very long way away across a patch of baking hot desert.”

“That’s right”

“Do you have any idea how we are going to get there?”

“Not as such, no.”

They stooped walking

“Hum”

“Yea”

They continued to not walk.

“You trained as a mage, didn’t you?”

“Yes; I also dropped out. Anyway we’re not looking to blow up the desert.”

“Right, but you’re a vampire”

“Yes?”

“I’ve never been very clear on what being a vampire lets you do. Can you turn into a cloud of bats or something?”

“No that’s a feat only a high level vampire can perform. They can also control animals, heal the sick, and make their eyes glow an imposing shade of red. I mostly got in it for the immortality.”

“So what level are you?”

“First”

“What does that let you do?”

“I can levitate small objects, as long as I’m touching them.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

Tony Tony found this eyes being drawn back to the downed aircraft.

“Small objects, heh?”

“Yep”

Tony Tony’s eyes found a part of the tailplane that had ripped off, his grin became more pronounced.

“How about light objects?”

*

Fifteen minutes later the Uluru avenger[1] was speeding away across the desert.

“I have to say Tony Tony that this was one of your better plans.”

“Thanks Greg, I like it too”

“But can you explain to me again why we can’t sit on top?”

“The airflow over the top needs to be smooth and fast, if we were up there we wouldn’t have any lift”

“Right, and the reason we can’t go more than a few feet off the ground?”

“That’s down to ground effect; we would lose our cushion of air if we tried to go any higher. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no reason, I am glad we’re mobile. But in future I would appreciate it if I didn’t end up staring face down at rough ground moving past about three inches from my face at 100 kilometers per hour.”

“I’ll bear it in mind”, said Tony Tony, looking apologetic “Where were you planning on going when we reached Uluru?”

“I had planned on renting a car and driving down to Adelaide”

“That’s a two day trip isn’t it?”

“At least”

Tony Tony thought about this,” I think”, he said carefully, “that I know a way to get us there faster.”

“What, how?”

“One of my ex-wives’ former fiancés set up here, he was an inventor.”

Tony Tony waited, but Greg was silent.

“He lives a little bit out of town; we should hang a left here.”


[1] Greg had wanted to know what they were avenging, and Tony Tony had replied that they were avenging in a general sense.

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 005

Scene Five

In which we get hints of opposition

Ring-Ring Ring-Ri-Click

UTI764

Ring-Ring Ri-Click

Well Charlotte?

It’s a bust Mam; they wandered off as soon as the plane stopped

Damit girl, why didn’t you stop them?

I was in the wrong part of the plane! By the time we were released from emergency duties they were already gone.

Right. You brought them down in the desert like I asked?

Yes Mam

Then where could they have got to?

We-We landed near Uluru, Mam

What?! Stupid girl! Enough inaccessible desert to swallow most of Europe and you put them down right next to a major tourist attraction!

Yes Mam, sorry Mam

Alright. Never mind, it’s too late to change it now.

Should I go after them, mam?

No, it would look suspicious if you left now. Make your way back to France by the usual means and await orders.

Yes Mam

Send your files to Devlin and Johnson, They’ll check out the car rental places around Uluru.

Yes Mam. Good day Mam

Good day, Charlotte

-Click

Several thousand miles away, Lord Greenbadger lowered his headphones and took a sip of his cranberry juice. Well, he thought, that was unexpected

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 006

Scene Six

In which our heroes cross a lot more desert, at a much higher speed.

Greg was trying, but the object he was looking at wasn’t making much more sense inside his head than outside it. Still certain nasty suspicions were beginning to form.

“Tony Tony?”

“Yes?”

“What, exactly, am I looking at?”

“Well it’s a Zorb, they’re big in this place, and great for desert crossing”

“That bit I understand, What I’m having trouble with are these things attached to the side”

“Oh”, said Tony Tony, non-comitial

“Yes Tony Tony, What exactly are they

“Well they’re speed boosters, you know, so we can go faster, I mean that is-”

“They’re RAM jets aren’t they Tony Tony”

“Dats a right”, said the grizzled toothless man beside them, “me own rocket powered balls” , he said with gratuitous winking, “available for hire or rent”.

“Are they safe?” Greg asked.

The question seemed to confuse the man

Greg let the matter go, “I don’t think we’ll be able to steer these thing, except in the sense of large scale geography. Do you have a double hulled one?”

“Aha, dat wouldn’t work, dey would tip ova.”

“Ah, good point. Then-”

“Sides with a single hull, there’s more room fo, tumblin” said the man, while winking and nudging like a malfunctioning GIF

The was a long silence, broken only by the continuous ‘eh, eh,eh’ from the man.

“Ah, we’re both men”, Tony Tony helpfully pointed out. The man didn’t stop winking and nudging.

Greg was tired of waiting, “Let’s just pay the man and get out of here” he said to Tony Tony, already climbing into the closest monstrosity

Tony Tony followed him, “huh, I wonder how you start this thing?” he said.

Something flew in through the entrance hole, landing neatly in front of Greg. He picked it up; it looked suspiciously like an old Playstation controller. He held it out to Tony Tony and asked the question that had been bugging him since they had arrived, “Tell me the Truth Tony Tony, is this guy completely insane?”

“I honestly couldn’t tell you Greg, but I am very keen to find out.” replied Tony Tony.

Tony Tony brought his finger up to the X button. Greg made no move to stop him.

There was a deafening roar from outside, and centrifugal forces suddenly became an intimate part of the two men’s lives.

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 007

Scene Seven

In which our heroes are tailed

Devlin was dozing in the hot sun when Johnson knocked on his window and climbed into the driver’s seat, He jerked upright and tried to cover his lack of professionalism, “Well, did it help when I left?”

“Not really”, replied his partner, “he just kept the innuendos coming, by the end of it I swear he was implying something about livestock”

“Oh” Said Devlin, sagging visibly, “well in that case I’m sorry I, you know, left you there”

Johnson nodded sagely, “It’s all right I understand”

“No really, I”

“It’s alright”

There was silence for a beat

“So did you get any information?”

“Actually yes, they were here, they took a Zorb and went north”

“Ok,” Devlin rubbed his forehead, “where does that lead us? No-one else saw them, so they must have come straight here. That means they must have known about this place in advance, so we should check the connections in-between those two and the old man”

“The old man had quite a lot to say on the connections between those two and himself”

“Really! What did-”said Dante, slowing down as thought caught up with him, “never mind. North. What’s north? Most of Australia really, so we have no idea where they’re going.”

“Ah but we do, I broke into the old man’s house on my way out and-”

“You broke into his house!” Said Devlin, horrified

“All is fair in love and war”, Said Johnson, mildly.

“Yeah but-,” he paused, searching for words and then gave up, “What did you find?”

“All the spheres had tracking devices, they’re one went north at first but course corrected south south east, they’re making a direct line for Adelaide”

“Adelaide, why are they going there?”

“I don’t know, but if we can stop them there it won’t matter much”

“Right, can we catch up with them?”

“No. Even in the jet, they have too much of a head start”

“So we report ahead.”

“Yep”

Devlin nodded and found himself drifting away, he let it happen. The matter was settled until they got back to the jet, and there wouldn’t be any more work until they could use its high powered antennas.

He found himself wondering about his partner and why he was doing this job, presumably he had his reasons. Twenty nine more days, he thought to himself, and then, if we do our job right, we all get what we want.

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