By Craig Shaw Gardner

Wuntvor has stuck the chilly eye of loss of life himself, who seeks so as to add the hapless apprentice to his morbid minions...

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I am still . . your answer . . ” I whispered in reply. For I was sure it was the specter, speaking to me through the broken trees. “. . cannot escape . . everywhere . . Death is . ” This was too strange. I had to investigate, even though it was surely one of Death’s tricks. But I knew I would have to face Death’s tricks and more if I was to rescue my master. I stepped forward and drew my sword. ” Cuthbert, my enchanted blade, yelped. ” I looked out at the dead forest. Now that I had walked closer to the ruined wood, I noticed that the forest floor was covered by wisps of fog that seemed to be moving in anything but a random pattern, as if they were following some predetermined design.

I glared at the smirking Snarks. ” I demanded. “Oh, long enough. ” The demon nodded pleasantly at Norei before turning back to me. ” I began, pointing back toward the clearing where the rest of our party rested. “If you don’t—“ But my beloved put a restraining hand upon my elbow, stopping my tirade before it could properly begin. “No, no, let the demon be. ” Snarks nodded his agreement. ” I was horrified. Norei and Snarks agreed about me? ” Norei laughed softly. “No, no, your technique needs no improving whatsoever.

Nasty brayed. “She has tons of this stuff. ” Smarmy sighed. “It was so hard finding something appropriate. You already had an enchanted weapon and any number of magical companions. ” “Indeed,” I replied heartily. ” Smarmy hit his forehead with both of his wringing hands. “Oh! How forgetful can I be? ” He pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from his pocket and handed it to me. “The Incantation,” the parchment read.

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