The extract below is jsut to give you a flavour of how ‘Gwion Dubh; Druid Investigator’ works, thinks and works on his cases.
Gwion’s new 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 wood.
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 thing?
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.
To buy this, or one of the other books, or to find out more about them, just email touchstone[at]druidry[dot]org