After a hunt, King Kurval of Azakoria and his entourage make camp at the village of Ogwall. However, something is not right in the village. All men of fighting age are away at a mysterious ritual and the remaining villagers are clearly afraid of something.
Kurval investigates and learns that the mysterious ritual in the woods involves sacrificing the young Celisa to the dread worm Thibunoth.
Kurval is furious, for he outlawed human sacrifice in the kingdom of Azakoria. And so he sets out to save Celisa, deal with the monster and punish those who would violate the ban on human sacrifice.
This is a novelette of 9600 words or approx. 32 print pages in the Kurval sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.
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- Worm Fodder is a novelette of 9600 words or approximately 33 print pages in the Kurval series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- The basic plot of Worm Fodder – the hero has to slay a monster and rescue a damsel-in-distress who is about to be sacrificed to said monster – is one I’ve used for the Thurvok series a few times, most notably in The Cave of the Dragon and The Temple of the Snake God. However, with Kurval the basic story plays out quite differently, because he can do more than just slay the monster. Since he is king, he can also outlaw future human sacrifices.
- Kurval’s vizier and royal adviser Izgomir, whom we first met in King’s Justice, reappears, as does Ragur Falgune. It was clear to me from the beginning that Izgomir would play a recurring role in the series, because both his position and his function as a foil for Kurval make him useful. On the other hand, Ragur was initially intended to appear only in King’s Justice. However, I liked him, so I kept him around.
- Ragur’s bride, now wife, Nelaira is mentioned, but does not appear, because a hunt in the woods is no place for a pregnant woman.
- Kurval’s stallion Shadowmane, whom we first encounter in The Plains of Shadow, and his faithful hunting dog Trak, who was introduced in King’s Justice, also reappear.
- Unlike most of my other stories, the Kurval series is credited to Richard Blakemore, whom regular readers will recognise as the pulp writer protagonist of the Silencer series. As for why my sword and sorcery fiction is credited to Richard Blakemore, in the Silencer story Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, Richard purchases the January 1936 issue of Weird Tales and is pleased to find a new instalment of a Conan serial by Robert E. Howard, a Jirel of Joiry novelette by C.L. Moore, a Jules de Grandin novelette by Seabury Quinn as well as one of Margaret Brundage’s famous covers. He also muses that he would like to take a stab at writing something like that one day. This throwaway scene got me thinking, “What if Richard actually did write a sword and sorcery series for Jake Levonsky?”
- When I found myself writing what would become the first Thurvok adventure for the July short story challenge sometime later, I suddenly wondered, “What if this was Richard Blakemore’s lost sword and sorcery series?” And so I decided to credit the story to Richard and pass myself off as the editor who rediscovered him. I even created a blog, a Twitter account and an Amazon author page for Richard and filled out a Smashwords interview in his persona.
- The cover is stock art by Serhii Selin.