Originally Chapter 31 in Winter's Line...


     Goblinque reached out to Evelyn and Derek and whispered, "This Jericho must be dealt with once and for all."
     "Cheryl's crawling now," Evelyn said. "If I put her in her crib and she doesn't wish to sleep, she transforms into a squirrel and escapes her crib."
     "Jericho has been a thorn in our side for countless generations," Derek said. "His ward is unbreakable."
     "No ward is unbreakable," Goblinque said. "You simply need to try harder. He must be using layered white granite."
     "Layered white granite is a myth!"
     Evelyn asked, "How many of our people did he kill this time?"
     "They, Evelyn, there are two of them now," Goblinque said.
     Derek closed his eyes and let out a slow breath. "Who did they kill?"
     "They killed Henry of Loxley," Goblinque said. "And Michael of Heathrow."
     Evelyn moved to the stove and started tossing logs in on the fire. "They had no minions with them?"
     "They had five minions."
     Evelyn looked into the fire. "Two warlocks did not kill seven vampires."
     "This Eriq Winter commands the wicked bow."
     "And you want us to go and face him?" Evelyn asked. "I've been shot with arrows before, and I don't enjoy it."
     Derek rubbed his hands over the newly lit fire. "Now is not the time, Goblinque. If we leave Cheryl alone for a minute, she tries to escape the house."
     "The other day I found her by the back door in wolf form clawing at the door and barking to be let out!" Evelyn sniped.
     Derek said, "Did you scold her?"
     "No, I didn't scold her. She's only two."
     Goblinque laughed. "Derek, you must find a way to defeat the layered white granite."
     "You can't possibly be certain that's what he's using," Derek said. "What if he is using white granite layered with obsidian sheets?"
     "Only a strong dark knight can maintain such a ward for any length of time."
     Evelyn said, "These two warlocks are strong."
     "The time to go to war is at hand," Goblinque said.
     "You say that every time we talk," Derek said. "You know how Evelyn and I feel about war."
     Goblinque smiled. "Yes, and I keep hoping you'll change your minds."
     "These two, Jericho and Eriq Winter," Evelyn said. "Sooner or later they'll find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Derek and I will strike."
     "Yes," Derek said, "when they are within a days ride I'll sense them, and we shall strike."
     "Anyone carrying around that much white granite in their heart will be easily detected, if they come near here."
     "We should take a more direct approach: strike at them before they can return to Oxford," Goblinque said.
     "And leave Cheryl with William?" Evelyn asked. "He hardly knows how to hold a baby."
     William howled, "I heard that!"
     "It's true!" Evelyn said.
     "Goblinque, have you ever faced masters of the wicked sword and the wicked bow at the same time?" Derek asekd.
     Goblinque said, "Once. I can defeat them."
     "Then you don't need us."
     "We haven't had a war in a long time," William said. "It seems everywhere I turn there are warlocks and priests."
     Goblinque said, "Move east."
     "We've been to the east," Evelyn said. "The food is tasty, but it's very different being Caucasian among all those strangers."
     William said, "They're not strangers to the east. We're the strangers."
     "Yes, that's exactly what bothers me."
     Goblinque let out a little whimper almost like a small child. "I don't want to go to England alone and engage these warlocks. I could scour the isle for them and never find them."
     William let out a low thunderous growl. "I'll go with you."
     "Of course, my friend. By the time the two of us could get there, they would be back in Oxford, and we'd need an army."
     "So, we raise an army!"
     "The high council is in Oxford," Goblinque said. "And it'll upset the balance too much, if we slaughter them. The warlocks have a purpose in our world."
     "They're growing too numerous," William said. "We must act."
     "Who have you been talking to? I must meet them."
     William laughed. "I've just been thinking, my liege. War might not be a bad thing. I've a bad feeling the longer we wait the more muskets we'll have to face."
     Goblinque nodded. "Yes, I have to agree."
     Derek said, "That is no excuse to go to war."
     Evelyn said, "It's a reasonable excuse, Derek."
     "What?" asked Derek.
     "The time may be now," Evelyn said.
     Goblinque said, "Then we're going to war?"
     "Well, no. I just agree the time may be right."
     William said, "If the time is right, we should march!"
     "The time may be right for you and Goblinque, but it isn't right for Derek and me."
     William sighed.
     Goblinque whispered, "I have seen a vision in a dream, and war is looming."
     William shuddered. "I have been dreaming of young men without pants lately. I wake up shivering with a queasy feeling in my gut."
     Evelyn said, "What a tragedy it is to dream of young men without pants."
     "It's a bad thing, Evelyn," William said.
     "The question is: are your pants staying on in the dream?"
     William said, "I don't think that's terribly important."
     "How long have you been having these dreams?" Goblinque asked.
     "It's important," Derek said. "We must know. Do you keep your pants on in these dreams?"
     William yelled, "Bugger off!"
     "How young are these boys that you dream of?" Goblinque asked.
     "Damn you, Goblinque! They're at least eighteen!" William shouted.
     "I mean, are they old enough to have hair growing down there?"
     "I try not to look down there in the dreams!"
     Goblinque laughed.
     "Perhaps you just need more female company," Derek said.
     William hissed. "We live in this stupid little town, and there's one slut and one whore. I have done the slut a dozen times and the whore fifteen times."
     "You keep a steady count?" Evelyn asked.
     Derek said, "He marks his calendar."
     William said, "You're both scum!"
     Goblinque said, "It has been ages since you turned a girl, William."
     "That's not a bad idea..."
     Evelyn snarled. "William! You'll not curse some young maiden with such a plague."
     "The slut in town sleeps with so many men I expect to catch something when I do her, and the whore asks two copper pieces each time!"
     "Two copper pieces is cheap!" Derek said.
     Evelyn said, "How do you know?"
     Derek titled his head to the side. "I heard stories in my youth."
     Evelyn nodded.
     Goblinque said, "Perhaps you need to travel, William."
     "Hmmm, if it'll drive away these nightmares, then perhaps it's a good idea."

-End of Chapter 3-