One again Private Inquisitor Jak Barley cannot escape dreaded adventures – this time murderous bank robbers, nasty goblins, furious dragon chases, demonic foes and becoming the quarry of the Assassin’s Guild.
“What-t-t-t?” I managed to croak in answer to the incessant hammering on my sleeping room door. I keep it bolted along with several magical wards after a number of tedious attempts upon my life by diabolical assassins, blood-thirsty necromancers, and numerous bat-turd crazy priests and neophytes of ancient and deranged deities. Other than that, my life is fairly normal.
I am back to yawn-inducing cases dealing with unfaithful spouses, stolen silverware, and runaway teensters—and I intend to keep it that way. You will not be kidnapped by piss dragons for investigating a horse theft, hounded by nasty wizards over a missing spouse case, nor forced to traipse through monster-laden wastelands to answer a simple paternity question. I now choose my private inquisitor cases wisely in my hometown of Duburoake, and again, that means no adventures. I hate adventures.
“Come on Jak, open up.”
What kind of hedge-born miscreant would be trying to wake a person this early in the morn?
“Jak, it’s almost afternoon. Open up, you dipsomaniac.”
“Ugh-h-h,” was all my dry throat could sound. I tried opening my eyelids, but it appeared some twisted jester glued them together. I was forced to pry them apart with palsied fingers.
What had that demented lunatic been shouting last night as he kept refilling my ale mug? “There be no tomorrow.” Yes, in principle there be no tomorrow. The clock strikes midnight and it be today, with tomorrow pushed another twenty-four hours away. We all chase a tomorrow that never comes. Unfortunately, today has again arrived and it be not pleasant.
My idle thoughts were just about to lure me back into a feverish slumber when the caller again began shouting. “Jak Barley, get out of bed, you lazy ne’er-do-well sot.”
Like some pitiable prisoner coerced to climb the steps to the gallows pole, I forced myself to sit up and then fight the sudden centrifugal force that threatened to send me rolling across the room to be plastered against the wall like some youngster in a harvest carnival ride. The spinning slowly receded to where I could safely pull on my trousers, though it set off an angry outburst behind my eyeballs.
“Jak, get up, you wretched lay about.”
I lurched to the door and waved my hand across the latch, letting the ring cancel the charms placed upon it. The magical band and its wards were a gift from my betrothed, Morgana, a novice witch at the Kuu Academy of Mystical Arts and Witchcraft. Beginning at the top, I slid the five bolts over and then hesitated at the latch. I knew the grotesque vision I would see on the other side. I sighed in resignation and opened the door, there to view the huge, mocking, obnoxious, leering, and gleeful smile of my supposed friend, Lorenzo Spasm.
“Holy crap, Batman, what wizard cursed you with that aging spell?” he exclaimed.
I was used to his outlandish phrases and words because that is what they literally are—outlandish. Spasm claims to be an inhabitant of a parallel firmament, one similar to our world in many ways, but devoid of any magic. Partial proof of that claim is Spasm’s immunity to spells. Any enchantment will rebound off my friend and back onto the mage or witch who cast the curse.
“What in Hades do you want? Cannot you see I am ailing?” I managed to moan. I could not even lift my head to look in him eye-to-eye without setting off another round of thunderbolts.
Lorenzo is about six-foot, two inches, to my five-nine. I took in his droopy mustache and slightly greying hair that went to his shoulders—and the outlandish mixture of clothing reflecting his exotic wanderings. It is difficult to estimate his age, though I would guess in the late forties. He was taciturn when it came to personal details and background.
“Downed by the brown bottle flu is my guess,” Lorenzo observed with little sympathy. “You reek of a brewery.”
My answer was a glowering stare that failed to wipe away his enthusiastic demeanor. “What do you want?” I finally asked.
“I have a job for you. It seems . . .”
I slammed the door in his face and staggered back to bed. Anything Lorenzo found so enjoyable could only mean peril and hardship. I made the mistake of not locking the door and Spasm pushed it open. He crossed the room to open a window and then took a chair at the foot of the bed.
Keywords: fantasy, private inquisitor, goblins, witches, demons, adventure
ALSO BY DAN EHL
Jak Barley, private inquisitor, hates cases involving damned creatures like vampires and zombies, but that's just what he finds himself helplessly in the middle of. Jak has come to hate adventures. He would prefer the boring cases of his earlier years in the profession when dealing with errant husbands or minor pilferings. Still, somehow he finds himself eluding corrupt officials and creatures of the night that want to suck his blood and eat his brains. He does find help in his friend and publisher of the Weekly Tattler, as well as his mysterious friend Lorenzo Spasm from a parallel firmament—one similar to Jak's world in many ways, but devoid of any magic. He also finds support from his girlfriend, Morgana, an apprentice witch.
Private inquisitor Jak Barley is ready for some down time after battling Ghennison Viper Mages, being attacked by piss dragons, and fighting off priests of Dorga the Fished Headed God of Death. That is why Jak was not a bit amused to have a scruffy mage insist that he is to be one of a group of questers decreed in an ancient prophecy that must cross the icy Alf Mountains to foil the return of the Old Gods. To do so meant using a map all too heavily dotted with "Here Be…" warnings that read like an "Idiot's Guide to Monsters."
And why are Westian Lizard Wizards targeting young red-headed maidens and who is behind the numerous and bizarre attacks upon Jak? Once gain Jak finds himself saying, "I hate adventures."
As a private inquisitor, Jak Barley’s job is fairly mundane-finding errant debtors and missing property, or proving the unfaithfulness of roving spouses. It’s not a vocation that makes many friends.
Though a frequent patron of dark, wretched bars seldom visited by the more fastidious citizens of Duburoake, he still can be squeamish about some things – such as ghosts and rabid magicians.
Barley’s latest cases are just that more upsetting, dragging him into contact with sinister specters, malicious mages, irate harpies, creepy death deities and royal plots.
It will take all of his backstreets cunning to stay alive, as well as the help of alchemist Olmsted Aunderthorn, his half brother, who uses the latest metaphysical laboratory techniques in solving crimes.
Private Inquisitor Jak Barley wonders if his drinking cohorts at the King¹s Wart Inn are playing an elaborate prank on him. What else is he to think when seven dwarves want his help against a wicked witch they blame for poisoning an innocent young maiden staying with them named Frost Ivory?