Bruno Trask & The Dark Lady’s Jewels – Michael Pryor

e-book available here!

Cover blurb
A hilarious fantasy novel about a young boy on the run from the Dark Lady, the world’s most famous elf.

When Bruno Trask accidentally ends up with one of the world’s most precious jewels, the Black Star, the only thing to do is run. For the Black Star belongs to the Dark Lady – a rich, powerful and dangerous elf.

Pursued by the Dark Lady’s hairy henchmen, Bruno finds himself in the most unlikely places. There’s a dwarf who wants to be a comedian, a young elf who’s one hundred percent style, and an assortment of tap-dancing zombies, goblins, ghouls and gnomes. But Bruno also has to avoid ogre security guards, giant goldfish and ghost ships that sail forever through underground drains…

‘Michael Pryor turns fantasy into funtasy!’ Dirk Strasser, Aurealis.’

Michael Pryor says
I love writing humour because I think some of the most important truths about ourselves can be discovered through what makes us laugh.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a funny fantasy book. But – as usual – I wanted to write it with a twist. The usual fantasy setting is roughly medieval, with some elves, magic and stuff like that thrown in. I began to wonder what would happen if this standard fantasy world grew up a bit, and moved on beyond their middle ages. What would this world be like in the rough equivalent of today? Instead of castles and villages, we’d have shopping centres and high-rise office blocks. Instead of blacksmiths and goat herds, we’d have security guards and big business. And that’s where Bruno Trask and the Dark Lady’s Jewels started!

Bruno Trask and the Dark Lady’s Jewel begins:
Bruno Trask could only see out of one eye. He was hot, tired and sweaty, and the dragon costume smelled like an ogre’s armpits.

‘Hi!’ he said desperately. A young mother stared at him. She had a baby in a chest pack and a little girl hanging onto her leg. ‘Read all about new Dragon Crush,’ Bruno ploughed on, ‘the most nutritious snack drink you can buy.’ Bruno held out a pamphlet, but his dragon head sagged forward over his eyes. By the time he’d straightened it enough so he could see, the woman had gone.

Bruno was sick of being Roger the Smiley Dragon. The shopping centre was packed, but no-one wanted to read about Dragon Crush. He sighed and leaned against a pillar outside Wands’R’Us.
He remembered seeing the ad for the job. At the time, it seemed too good to be true. A couple of hours dressed up in a dragon suit, handing out pamphlets – how hard could that be? Plus it was good money for a twelve-year-old.

So Bruno had gone to the address on the ad. Just like lots of others.

The factory had looked like a heap of rubble with a roof on it. A ghoul was out the front, smiling and writing down names on a clipboard. The ghoul wore blue trousers, a bright purple shirt and a bow tie that was so green it looked like a squashed frog.

‘Sign here, kid,’ the ghoul had said. ‘You’ll be a perfect Roger the Smiley Dragon. Trust me.’ Then the ghoul’s arm fell off.

The ghoul rolled his eyes. ‘Geez, I hate it when that happens,’ he mumbled, and he picked up his arm and jammed it back on. Then he grinned and looked at Bruno. ‘I’ve just gotta pull myself together, right kid?’

Bruno had only nodded. He hadn’t had much to do with ghouls, but he knew that they were always optimistic. Which was strange, considering how they kept losing bits of their bodies all over the place.

Once everyone was signed up, the ghoul had explained about Dragon Crush. It was going to be the biggest thing in refreshment beverages since water had been invented.

The trouble was, Dragon Crush was terrible. After Bruno tried it he knew the Dragon Crush company was in trouble. The drink was supposed to be full of secret vitamins and energy boosters, but in reality it tasted like a combination of broccoli juice and liquorice. With bubbles.
Still, he didn’t have to drink it; he just had to promote it. Hand out pamphlets, be Roger the Smiley Dragon. Piece of cake. And he’d been looking forward to seeing the Avalon Mists Shopping Centre, the new mall in the centre of town. It had been designed by Clearsong and Associates, one of the most famous elvish architectural firms in the country.

The shopping centre had a fourteen-level underground car park. It had interesting fountains. It had a forest of marble pillars. It had a food court that could feed a decent sized country. It had more shops than you could poke a stick at. And if anyone did try a bit of stick poking, they’d be taken away by the very efficient security guards, mostly werewolves and ogres, with a few goblins apparently doing special undercover work.

When Bruno had first arrived at the shopping centre, the ghoul from the Dragon Crush factory was leaning against a pillar and scratching his left leg – which he held under his right arm. When he saw Bruno, he shoved his leg back on and waved. As he gave Bruno the costume, he explained how easy the job was and how they were all going to make a fortune. Right then, Bruno realised, he should’ve run away.

The dragon costume was ancient. The fabric was thin and nearly worn through in both knees. The head weighed about as much as a small bus. After he put it on, Bruno tried looking at his feet, but the head overbalanced and he fell over. It took him a couple of minutes to stand up again, and when he did he was puffing like a bullfrog in a ‘Show Off Your Chest’ contest.

The ghoul looked at him, smiled, slapped him on the back and nodded. After which his head fell off. Without blinking, the ghoul caught his own head in his hands and slapped it back on his neck. ‘Get out there, kid!’ he enthused, ‘Hold your head up high and bring Dragon Crush to the world!’