Crudpile crept quietly through the house. He made his way to the kitchen. It was dusk, but enough daylight remained outside for him to make out objects in the gloom without having to shine a light. Lord Andresen had told him to be careful, not to draw any attention to himself. Crudpile shivered at the memory of his warning.
‘If you fail me in this Crudpile, your life will be a tortuous misery from this day forwards. Do not think you can hide from me anywhere, in any of the Three Worlds, if you displease me.’
Crudpile had whimpered his understanding, and repeated his loyalty to the Andresens before scuttling off on his mission.
That mission was to provide a distraction in Beltheron. ‘Something that will keep the pitiful Lord Matthias and his attendants preoccupied while Atros delivers its real plan of attack,’ Lord Andresen had said. ‘When that happens, all of Beltheron will quake before me, and the dreams of Gretton Tur, the Wild Lord, will finally be realised.’
That is why Crudpile now found himself in the kitchen of Matt, Jenn and Helen’s house in the middle of Beltheron city. This was his great chance, he knew it. No matter how scared he was he knew that if he succeeded here then he would be given respect, a worthy place in Atrossian society and, most importantly of all, money. Crudpile craved money. He had never had much, and what little he had always seemed to disappear in bars like The Hunter and Holva on Atros, or into the pockets of people who were better at cards than he was.
He had been given careful instructions before Piotre Andresen had opened up the pathway which had taken him straight to Beltheron's city gates. A crumpled street map in his pocket and shown him to the house. He knew that Mathias now spent much of his time in the great hall and that Jenia usually went with him. They wouldn’t be back until late in the evening.
That only left that brat of a girl, Helen. She had crossed his path too many times before, Crudpile thought, and every time she did it always ended up the worse for him. Well this time he would have the last laugh. This time he would use his opportunity well and get revenge on her and her whole dratted family.
It wasn’t that Crudpile was particularly evil or cruel, but he was weak. Weak and greedy, and that is sometimes a deadly combination.
He had waited patiently in the shadows under the eaves of a low building at the end of the street until the sun had started to go down. Finally Helen came out of the house and walked towards the main piazza. She hadn’t even glanced in his direction. He grinned to himself.
It was an easy thing to use a piece of wire to pick the lock of the house and soon he was inside.
He gazed around the kitchen. There were the usual pots and pans ranged on shelves and hanging from hooks in the ceiling. Cupboards which would be stacked with food, and drawers filled with cutlery and other cooking utensils. But Crudpile was looking for something in particular. His eyes roamed around. There, on the large oak table in the middle of the room, was a glass pitcher filled with water. There was a gauze cloth covering the top to keep out dust and insects, and a couple of glasses laid out next to it.
Crudpile grinned. This was going to be simpler than he had dared to think. He lifted the gauze from the pitcher and placed it carefully on the table top. Licking his thin lips with concentration he reached into another pocket of his ragged jacket, taking out a small vial of clear liquid. There was a wax seal on the stopper. He snapped it off and poured it slowly into the water. There was a small hissing sound as the two liquids began to mix, and a faint steam rose out of the pitcher. Crudpile waved his hand backwards and forwards over it a couple of times until the steam had disappeared. Bending down he then looked intently into the pitcher. It was perfectly clear. No one would ever have noticed that there was anything strange about the water inside it.
Satisfied that his job was done, and done well, Crudpile turned and headed for the door...
...and don't think I'm giving you any more secrets about what happens next! However, I have left the synopsis below so people can still read that if they wish.
Beware! If you have not yet read the first two books, the following contains spoilers that you might not want to know just yet.
Synopsis of The Beltheron Darkness
Serrion and Orianna are still reeling from their battles with Larena's bird army. Friends and allies have been lost in the terrible struggle in the Great Hall of Beltheron, and Helen has discovered treachery at the very heart of Lord Ungolin's domain.
Piotre and Sophia Andresen are still undefeated. In Atros City they prepare for a final attack on the Land of Beltheron. Using old magic and knowledge they create a Dark Miasma, a dreaded cloud that threatens all it touches.
A small group of Beltheron soldiers is sent to Atros City to try to stop them. They must also rescue Vishan, the agent who is being held prisoner in the dungeons of Piotre Andresen's castle.
Meanwhile, Serrion's visions of the future are becoming more vivid and real. He is taken to meet T'yuq Tinyaz, the Seer of Beltheron, who teaches him how to use his visions in a new way. Her lessons show him that there is still a chance to avoid the horror and destruction that their enemies are planning.
But if he is to succeed, Serrion may have to turn his back on all those he has come to love, and Helen's discovery concerning the truth about a trusted friend could ruin everything...
Even with Matt, Jenn and Orianna beside them, can they succeed in finally defeating the Lords of Atros, before the Darkness envelops them all?
If that has left you wanting to know what happens next, get your copy here.
Many thanks and happy reading!