The extract below is jsut to give you a flavour of how ‘Gwion Dubh; Druid Investigator’ works, thinks and works on his cases.
adventure, ‘The case of the Cornish Patsy’ was published in Feb 2013. To obtain books, or for
information on special offers for the two books, email Penny.
The Druid detective stories are the perfect present for your friends, and can be sent signed/gift wrapped on request. FFI on this or any druidic matters, email touchstone[at]druidry.org
THE CASE OF THE MEDDLING HONEY
from the casenotes of Gwion Dubh (Extract)
transcribed by Penny Billington
Chapter one: into the wide green yonder.......
It was a mild night in the forest that never sleeps.Below
the dark sky, the heart of the deep wood holds its secrets. But one lone druid
has made it his job to plumb them. I moved......cautiously
Gwion Dubh: Druid investigator.
Yep, that’s Dubh, pronounced ‘Duv’.
Those Celts have a lot to answer for.
You’d be forgiven for asking what sort of work a druid Gumshoe does. Well,
pretty well any thing, really. But the booze, broads and in flagrante delicto
bread and butter stuff tends to go to the regular guys in the Yellow Pages. My missions
came generally from higher up, you might say. And crossing dimensions might
enter into it. Probably best not
to ask about the Big Boss at this stage. But on forest command, he’s at the top
of the tree. When he pipes, you dance.
So here I was, out on my latest case: to investigate strange
anomalies in the food chain. And what did that mean? Your guess
is as good as mine. Still, mine not to reason why......
I thumbed my belt, checking my wand for quick access. Best
to be sure. There’d been an incident with a shaman last year that had come
perilously clear to sending me a bit too near to transmigration, and these
trackways looked ripe for booby traps.
I hitched up my druid camouflage, tucking its skirts into my
belt: the reassuring clack of knife hitting hip flask reminded me that I was
carrying the two chief necessities of my job. An emergency smudge stick
suspended on a thong round my neck and garden flare tucked into my boot
completed my ensemble. Except for the shades of course.
Did I ever trip over a
tree root? Please: I am a professional. And the punters expect a certain image.
With these shades, a waft of smudge and a confidential manner I could milk a
dryad for information and watch her disappear beneath her bark thinking we’d just
had a pleasant flirt.
Why the hipflask? Well, not all the denizens of the
forest are so rarefied. Take gnomes, for example. Grumpy little mothers, most
of them - it’s all the wood chopping, and a chip on the shoulder, for which I
don’t blame them. By the time those Grimm brothers had finished their hatchet
job, the whole species was a laughing stock. Hence the need for the
aforementioned hipflask. Strictly not to be touched, you understand, except in
case of dire emergency....
A silver moon shone through the trees, lighting my path. I
tuned in and distinctly heard hedgepigs snuffling through leaf litter. Just
underground and to my left, near the bole of a grandaddy oak I felt the
vibrations of a badger about to break cover. All well so far. In the distance a
she-fox shrieked and I felt my back hairs bristle...
The night quietened as the pigs went away. The oak shivered
and I almost took its hint that I’d been pressing the bark for long enough now
and should be on my way, when a new rustling came out of the stillness. I leapt
for the tree’s large bole and teetered a few inches above the forest floor as,
within seconds, the undergrowth came alive with small mammals. Voles,
shrews and mice swarmed over the
leaf litter, taking no notice of my movements as I dragged the hem of my robe
tightly around my ankles. No use looking for trouble.
After a few minutes watching them bustling, as at home in
the open as a high priest at a sabbat, I realised that my mission was in front
of my eyes.The vermin were getting antsy, that was the size of it. The
rodents were getting uppity. Whoever had heard of fearless mice? And it looked
like they’d been playing bigtime whilst the cat was away. For a fearless mouse,
every nook and cranny in the forest is honeymoon central with en-suite
facilities. Well, at least I knew the problem now. Predators; where were the
predators? I stepped away from the oak, threatening the vole population with
every step: I swear they looked annoyed as they dodged, and I knew I wouldn’t
get a wink of sleep that night or I’d wake bald & shaven with the feel of
rodent teeth too near my throat for comfort.
WSo, back to predators. At that very moment, the forest floor
emptied. At lightening speed the rodents wheeled as one and disappeared under
the leaf litter. Above me I heard the brazen clatter of a bird’s wings and
ducked instinctively as a giant owl flew over. The white flower-face with the
stubby, wicked beak seemed to hold my gaze. I’d seen owls looking wise, smug
and disdainful before. Actually, the genus bobo bobo and I had history: hell,
I’d been given the bum’s rush by one, a beautiful tawny, when I was a rookie. I
just needed a winged familiar before I set up in the sleuthing business and I still
remember that owl’s response to my request. You’d have thought I was a pellet
she’d just regurgitated. So little Gwion was the only druid on the block who
setup his sleuthing business aided and abetted by a blackbird.
Tonight I got my revenge for that slight. I’ve seen horny,
small, barn, eagle, long eared, screech and tawny owls, looking sniffy, snotty,
smug and pretty sinister on occasion. But I have never seen an owl looking so
confused. The undergrowth quivered: I don’t often anthropomorphise, but I’ll
swear those hidden rodents were laughing.
The penny dropped. In sudden horror, I watched the flower
face clatter back into the
The owl; scourge of vermin. Why? Because their flight is
soundless, that’s why. Not each feather rasping out a warning like a football
rattle. No wonder the mice were cocky - and reaching epidemic proportions.
Noisy owls; it was a reversion of the natural order. Like polluting druids or
ego-less witches, if you get my drift. Who could have done such a horrible
What was out of kilter in this forest?
It had to be a spell to knock out all the predator’s hunting
advantages: question was, how far had it gone? The circle glowed, and as if in
answer, the fox shrieked again. Mating. In August???? Another piece slotted
into the jigsaw. Wrong, wrong, wrong. That fox wasn’t calling, she was hunting,
but something had forced an early warning device on her: her own cries. How
sick was that? I wondered how many nights she’d barked out her warning. How
thin was she now? I tuned into the ground, smudging a rabbit hole and laying
full length on the ground. I could almost feel those plump little bodies,
procreating like.... well, like rabbits: safe and warm in the dark; numbers
growing, growing, growing as they hopped unconcernedly away from the warning
bark of their main predator.
Below their burrow, curled abjectly when he should have been
racing through the tunnels to stave off night starvation with a couple of
bunny-burgers followed by slug surprise, I sensed a large badger. Seemed like
he’d just given up.
Balance. Balance before all. The natural order. It’s a Druid
thing. I prepared to get to work.
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