Sir Rupert Triumff. Adventurer. Fighter. Drinker. Saviour? Pratchett goes swashbuckling in the hotly anticipated original fiction debut of the multi-million selling Warhammer star. Triumff is a ribald historical fantasy set in a warped clockwork-powered version of our present day ! a new Elizabethan age, not of Elizabeth II but in the style of the original Virgin Queen. Throughout its rollicking pages, Sir Rupert Triumff drinks, dines and duels his way into a new Brass Age of Exploration and Adventure. FILE UNDER: Fantasy [An Age of Alchemy / A Dashing Swordsman / The Queen Must Die]
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Dan made his name in the tie-in SF and Fantasy fiction field, selling more than 1.2 million copies in English language of his Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 novels for Games Workshop's Black Library imprint. They've also been translated into ten other languages. He's also recently made the UK fiction charts with original Torchwood and Doctor Who novels. His comicbook scripts, for major publishers such as Marvel, DC Comics and the UK's 2000 AD, have attracted critical plaudits and strong sales on both sides of the Atlantic.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
TRIUMFF: Her Majesty’s Hero
By Dan Abnett
Being the true and authentick account of the expl’ts and
incid’nts following the re-turn to London of
Sir Rupert Triumff, adventurer,
from his celebrated Voyage of Discovery to the Meridional Climes.
Never before made publick.
Given in this, my hand, this XXIIIrd day of Aprile,
XX hundred and X Anno Domini,
in the splendid reign of the thirtieth Gloriana.
Wllm Beaver, esq.
Editor’s Notice to the Great Variety of Readers:
For those readers unfamiliar with the affairs and nature of the Anglo-Hispanic Unity, care has been taken to furnish Master Beaver’s manuscript with footnotes and commentary to make all such matters comprehensible.
However, this editor has been charged with making the following basic facts known from the outset. The Anglo-Hispanic Unity, the longest-lasting and most powerful Empire ever to arise upon this terrestrial stage, was founded in the year Fifteen Hundred and Seventy-Five, following the marriage of Queen Elizabeth the First of England to King Philip the Second of Spain. Said union of power and lands, including as it did the virginal tracts of the New World, soon eclipsed all other nations of the globe, and has persisted since, through a worthy line of potent female monarchs, all styled “Elizabeth Gloriana”.
The other matter that helped to preserve the pre-eminence of the Unity was, of course, the Renaissance, which thoroughly reawakened the Sublime Lore of Magick, dormant since Antiquity. The schools and employment of the Esoteric Arte of Magick were monopolised by the Church and Church-Guilds of England, and ensured the Unity’s absolute command and superiority over all the World, especially the British bits of the Unity.
This didn’t please the Spanish bits very much at all. But that’s another story.
Part of this one, in fact.
The Persons of the Story
SIR RUPERT TRIUMFF, gentleman adventurer and lately come discoverer of The Vast Southerly Continent
AGNEW, his man
LORD CALLUM GULL, Laird of Ben Phie, Captain of the Royal Guard
CARDINAL THOMAS WOOLLY, first minister of Her Majesty’s United Church
SIR JOHN HOCKRAKE, Duke of Salisbury, a scoundrel
ROUSTAM ALLASANDRO DE LA VEGA, Regent of Castile, Governor of Toledo, and victor of Lille
ROBERT SLEE, of the Queen’s Privy Council
THE DIVINE ALEISTER JASPERS, a junior officer of the United Church
UPTIL, a noble autochthon from foreign climes
DOLL TARESHEET, a notable actress of the Wooden Oh and these parts
NEVILLE DE QUINCEY, a police surgeon and examiner
MOTHER GRUNDY, of the countryside
GIUSEPPE GIUSEPPO, an Italian gentleman of ingenuity
TANTAMOUNT O’BOW, a villain
& in addition, divers servants, ladies and lords, as well as some personages I might have forgotten in this compilation, along with copious hautboys and tapers, and fanfares on all entrances and exits the setting is the present day staged in the modern style. Vivat Regina!
The First Chapter: Which is set upon St Dunstan’s Day
It had rained, furiously, for all of the six days leading up to St Dunstan’s Day.
Water rattled off slopes of broken slates, streamed like horse-piss from split gutters, cascaded from the points of eaves, boiled like oxtail soup in leaf-choked drains, coursed in foamy breakers across flagged walks, and thumped down drainpipes in biblical quantities. For the same measure of time that it had taken the Good Lord God to manufacture Everything in Creation, the entire city was comprehensively rinsed.
There was water, as the Poet had it (the Poet, admittedly, was wont to have it mixed with brandy), everywhere, and every drop of it was obeying Newton’s First Law of Apples.
In the rents of Beehive Lane, near Boddy’s Bridge, un-potted chimneys guzzled in the rain and doused more than a score of ailing grates. The steep cobbled rise of Garlick Hill became a new tributary to the Thames, and the run-off that washed down it from the foundations of the spice importers’ hilltop barns had loose cloves floating in it and tasted like consomme. At Leadenhalle, the rapping of the rain upon the metal roof drove several market traders temporarily psychotic, and deprived many more of their usual cheery dispositions, and so the cheap was suspended until the inclement weather subsided (“if sodden London don’t subside first” remarked more than one tired and emotional stall-holder). Many worried that if the fantastically grim weather persisted, the Great Masque that coming Saturday might itself have to be abandoned. And that didn’t bear thinking about.
The Fleet, the Tyburn and the Westbourne all spilled beyond their courses, and enjoyed wild excursions through the streets of the ditch-quarters and the wharfs. More refuse was then moved by force of flood than is in a month by the municipal collectors, though, to be fair, the Noble Guild of Refuse and Shite Handlers had been on a go-slow since 1734, following a dispute over the scale of Yuletide gratuities.
The city’s watergates were all choked to drowning point, each gagging like an over-eager sot on an upturned bottle of musket. Conduits thundered with the passing pressure, their stonework trembling, and voided themselves with huge tumult into the Thames, casting up mists of rainbow spray from their cataracts. Men from the Guild of Cisterns and Ducts visited each city conduit daily in turn and stood, dour and drenched by the spray, shaking their heads and tutting.
The Cockpit on Birdcage Walk became so full that the stewards had to open all the public doors to vent the water before gladiation could begin that night. Small boys had been found sailing rival armadas of paper man-o-wars from the pit rails. Even after the stewards’ action, some said the only birds worth betting on that night were ducks. When it did eventually occur, the cockfight proved to be a notable and famous bout, featuring a title fight for the Bantam Weight Champion of All London. The contenders were Cocky Joe, a six-pound, experienced fighter trained by John Lyon of Poplar, and Bigge Ben, a twelve-pound newcomer presented by one Thomas Arnes of Peckham. The eventual victor, Bigge Ben, was later disqualified when it was discovered he was a cunningly disguised buzzard, and Cocky Joe reinstated, though by this time he was full of onion and three-quarters roasted.
The rain fell on all. It made no distinctions for rank, and offered no exceptions for situation. It hammered on the unprotected heads of the impoverished and loose of bowel in the jakes of Shite-berne. It drizzled off the leaded glass of the Palace Mews. It fell with a continuance and persistence that was nothing short of impertinent.
From Cornhill to Ludgate, not one thing in the whole Vale of the Thames prospered, except perhaps the osiers and watercress in the marshes.
When one of the wags in the Rouncey Mare off Allhallows Walk remarked upon the fact that there was no superstition associated with so many days of rain before St Dunstan’s Eve, it was volubly decided that there bloody well ought to be, and bloody well would be before the tavern closed, so long as liquor sufficiently inspired the collective imagination. Indeed, sometime after ten that night, a handsome and appropriate saying was devised by a drover of advanced years named Boy Simon, but sadly it had been forgotten by the time daylight crept in and announced the dawn of St Dunstan’s Day.
The towers and steeples of a hundred and nine churches shivered at the dismal morning and driving rain, and bells slapped out the hour of daybreak as if the water had softened their clappers. Most of the City’s population grimaced in their states of sleep and rolled over. Those up and active through the necessity of their various offices shuddered grimly and went about their business in hats, hoods and long, soggy capes. A carter, late delivering for a fishmonger in Billingsgate, overturned on the corner of Windmill Street, and his entire cargo swam off through the neighbouring byways. Shortly afterwards, a magistrate in Rudlin Circus was painfully thrown when his horse was bitten by a passing turbot. The fishmonger was sanguine, however, as sales of fish had fallen dramatically in the course of the week.
One of the hundred and nine churches tolling out that lubricated morning was St Dunstan’s Undershaft, near the New Gate, where the aforementioned saint’s day was about to be celebrated. Dunstan, a ninth-century Norfolk lacemaker, died piously during the notorious Woolcarder’s Revolt of 814, and was canonised in 1853 during the Diet of Cannes. He is the patron saint of boundaries and hedges, lacemakers, undergarments and impalement, though not necessarily in that order.
In the damp shade of St Dunstan’s porch, valiant observers of the martyr’s festival (the eleventh day of May) made garlands of flowers and ribbons, and glumly offered small lace keepsakes showing the saint “being martyred on the sharpened fence” for sale to empty streets. The deluge had kept almost everyone away. Large sections of the regular congregation had found drier things to do, and a promised coach party of pilgrims from the provinces, composed in the main of folk from the popular Christian sects the Orford Doxies and the Exeter Terrestrials, had not materialised.
Even the priestesses in the Temple of the Justified Madonna across the road from St Dunstan’s had decided for once to wear clothes. They stood, red-nosed and corset-clad, in the windows of the seminary, and occasionally waved encouragement to the St Dunstan’s band across the street. Needless to say, the folk of St Dunstan’s didn’t wave back.
Two streets behind St Dunstan’s, an alley too insignificant to have a name of its own led through the rents to Chitty Yard. It was raining there, too.
The yard was a paved square, forty feet across, flanked on one side by the dingy rears of the rents. To the other three it was enclosed by the back of the once-imposing Chitty House. A small fountain, in the shape of a dismayed griffon, stood at the centre and had been dry for seventy-three years. It was full now, of leaves and rainwater.
The Chittys had come into money late in the previous century, thanks to a small miniver business that had flourished at a time when cuffs and collars were worn hirsute. They had built Chitty House as a headquarters and town residence, and occupied it continuously until the last Chitty had died of fur on the lung twenty years previously. Since then, the building had been a tannery, a hostel for drovers, a bordello (twice), a store for timber, an eating house, and a singularly unsuccessful farrier’s (one Joseph Pattersedge, who suffered from chronic hippophobia). Now it was empty, with its rafters open to the weather, and its environs were of interest only to vermin, weary beggars or those in need of privacy.
At dawn on St Dunstan’s day, four of the latter were assembled in the hidden yard. One was a diminutive, portly Spaniard from Valladolid, who huddled from the rain under the stoop of the storehouse wing, his ruff and waxed moustache as limp as his expression. He clutched a velvet cape and a plumed hat that did not belong to him. Opposite him, across the yard, stood a rake-thin man of Suffolk descent, an imposing figure over six feet tall, dressed in a simple suit as grim as his countenance. He too held clothes that were not his. Every few seconds, he winced slightly.
The other two individuals in the yard were trying to kill each other.
Lord Callum Gull, Laird of Ben Phie, Captain of the Royal Guard, Scottish to the marrow (“and loyal to the courgette” as the old saying goes), edged around the yard with four feet of basket-hilted steel swinging from his hand. His red hair was plastered to his skull, his linen shirt was sticking to his rangy form, and his breath was rasping through defiantly clenched teeth. He knew well his Livy, his Caesar, his De Studio Militari and his Vegetius. He knew extremely well the finer points of The Art of War, particularly the one on the end of his rapier.
Sir Rupert Triumff, seafarer, Constable of the Gravesend Basin and celebrated discoverer of Australia, was commanding over a yard of sharpened metal of his own. His black locks hung in ringlets around his brow, his shirt had acquired two extra slits since he had put it on that morning, and he was humming a song about the Guinea Coast for no real reason at all. Triumff had once read the title page of Vegetius, owned a risible translation of Livy, and often quoted Caesar, even though he had never been within ten feet of a copy. He was not, at that stage, entirely sure what day it was.
Triumff danced and stumbled around Gull in a way that looked almost, but not quite, deliberate. He tossed his rapier from hand to hand. The gesture suggested he was a nimble, gifted swordsman, but in truth had more to do with the fact that he couldn’t remember which hand he was supposed to be using. Each exchange of grip caused the slender witness in black to wince again.
With a snarl, Gull lunged for the umpteenth time, and added another vent to Triumff’s left sleeve. Backing up rapidly, Triumff looked down at the gash, tucked his blade under his arm like a cane, and fingered the damaged cloth.
“Fuck,” he remarked.
“En garde!” barked Gull, and crossed.
Triumff spun hastily, ducked, and came up again holding his sword by the blade, with the basket grip bobbling threateningly at his adversary. There was a pause. Slowly, Triumff adjusted his depth of field from his opponent to the nearer hilt, noticed the blood dribbling from his fingers, and dropped the rapier smartly.
“Poxy thing!” he said, sucking at his sliced fingertips. Blood collected in his beard, and spattered his doublet, making it look as if he had been punched in the mouth. He continued to complain through his stinging fingers.
Gull tapped Triumff on the breast-bone with the point of his sword. The Scot’s black eyes always looked angry, even when he was not. It was said in the Royal Guard House that if Gull’s lids were ever peeled back during slumber, he’d still glare with the liquid black eyes of an enraged bullock. Now, his demeanour perfectly matched his natural expression.
“Pick up,” he said softly, his words gnawing into the air like acid, “your bloody sword, you cussed knave. Though I’ll delight in filleting you, I’d rather do it while there’s a blade in your hand.”
Triumff looked down at the urging sword tip, and then up at Gull, and nodded.
“Right... right... of course...” he replied, turning to look for his fallen blade. To the side of the yard, the man in black covered his eyes, and started in on the Lord’s Prayer, sotto voce. The man in black’s expression increasingly resembled that on the face of the fountain’s stone griffon, which in turn suggested that the mythical creature had been intimately violated against its will, and without much in the way...
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