The sequel to the first RuneScape novel is set to venture to shelves on the 25th in North America and the 22nd over in Europe, and we’ve got a sneak peek at one of the chapters. RuneScape: Return to Canifis will center on a new threat to the city of Varrock, where people have been disappearing, murdered, and some spirited away to the land where vampires rule.
Following the adventure of a group of comrades ranging from the heroes seen in the Battle of Falador, to the wizard of Castimir, Return to Canifis will sell for $7.99 USD (or £5.99 if you’re across the ocean).
The book is written by Tom Church, who wrote the first novel. For those worried an outsider may not be able to capture imagery and places hardcore fans hold dear, you should know that he’s been playing RuneScape since 2006 – the man has some experience under his belt, and knows the way of the digital realms he writes about.
Without further ado, here’s an exclusive preview from the book itself:
The yak stopped dead.
Its youthful owner gave an exasperated grunt and tugged on its lead from his position in the saddle of his horse. Reluctantly the yak took a few steps, and then stopped again, snorting in disagreement with its master.
“But we’re nearly there!” the blue-robed wizard argued, gesturing east toward Varrock. They were only a half hour’s journey away, and he was eager to enjoy a soft bed for the first time in several nights. Even in the last few moments of twilight, he could see the grey walls of the city beckoning him. Torches were lit at regular intervals along the parapet. Somewhere from the west, a bell rang out. He counted the carillon’s cry.
Was that ten, or eleven? Probably ten, for the light is not yet gone.
He sighed and tugged the yak’s lead again, while urging his horse on.
Neither animal moved this time.
“Oh, come on!” he cried.
The yak stared dolefully at him.
“If you don’t move, I’ll turn you into an ass,” he threatened. “How would you like that?”
The yak didn’t move.
“Could you really do that?” a voice called from the left, under the trees.
The startled wizard dropped his right hand to the pouches that were fastened to his belt. Something chinked, sounding like a number of pebbles being jostled together.
“Who’s there?” he demanded.
A dark figure moved under the boughs, and the wizard thought he detected the faint sound of… jingling? Quickly he grabbed the wooden staff which was secured at his horse’s flank. Deftly he undid the straps and raised its knotted tip. A red glow sprang forth and illuminated the scene, basking the shadowy stranger in comfortable warmth.
Startled, the wizard arched his back.
It was a jester, dressed in a red and black, close-fiting outfit. He held a sceptre in his hand and wore a three-pointed hat upon his head, bells jingled at the end of each of his three liliripes. His age was hard to guess, he seemed neither young nor very old. He was tall and skinny and his long legs reminded the wizard of the storks that frequented the shore near the Wizards’ Tower.
The outlandish character bowed, and as he did so he tripped. Head over heels he went, landing directly before the unamused gaze of the critical yak.
The wizard laughed involuntarily. That earned him a comical frown.
“It’s not nice to laugh at someone else’s misfortune,” the jester chastised, clambering to his feet as a second figure stepped into the red light. Uttering a small cry, the wizard swung the glowing tip of the staff in the direction of the newcomer.
It was a goblin. He carried a broken-tipped spear and sported ill-fitting chain mail that was too big for his small frame. As he moved, the dented bronze helmet he wore slipped down over his eyes. The creature gave a strangled gurgle in his confusion, and righted the helmet.
“Do not fear him,” the jester said. “He lives by the roadside, and begs off strangers.”
“I do not fear him,” the wizard replied, his composure regained. “From the look of him, he’s certainly not a fighter. But he should be careful not to make a nuisance of himself, for if he does, most likely he shall be slain.”
“He knows,” the jester replied, his expression serious. “But that is neither here nor there, my friend. Travellers of your order are rare indeed these days.” He paused, and his expression lightened. “Would you perhaps join us for a late supper? I’ve roasted a chicken over a fire.”
He’s certainly a friendly fellow, the wizard mused. Then he glanced in the direction of the walls, which the darkness had reduced to little more than a black outline.
“I would like to get to the palace soon,” he admitted, “for I have spent three nights under the stars.” The wizard eyed the yak. “Thanks to him!”
“Then we shall eat first,” the jester insisted, “and then I will take you to the palace, for I am heading there as well. But tell me, what is your name, wizard of Saradomin?”
The wizard dismounted stiffly. His legs ached after hours of riding.
“My name is Castimir,” he answered. “And you?”
“Castimir? The companion to the famous Kara-Meir? Then you must be a friend of Theodore’s.”
“My name is Gideon Gleeman. Jester to King Roald Remanis the Third,” the fellow said, extending his hand. “I am honoured to make your acquaintance.”
“Yours is a fitting name for a man whose trade is laughter.” Castimir smiled and took the jester’s hand in his own, content to spend a few more hours under the stars–as long as it was in good company.
It was an hour before midnight when Castimir entered the city. He led his horse, while the jester led the yak, for despite the wizard’s offer he had not dared to mount the beast. The yellow-clad guards at the gate knew Gleeman well, and when they saw Castimir’s blue robes they smiled broadly. It seemed to the wizard that their expressions were somehow hopeful.
“Did the Tower send you?” asked the first. “Have you come to stop the creature?”
Despite his confusion, Castimir nodded purposefully.
“I help wherever I am able,” he replied, trying not to sound as uncertain as he felt. “But I come at the invitation of Squire Theodore, of the Knights of Falador.”
The guard who had spoken looked angrily aside. His friend bit his lip, as if summoning his courage.
“We don’t need knights,” he spat. “Not even those who come from Falador. Only magic can help us–”
“That is enough!” came the command from the parapet above. “Let them pass.”
The two guards parted and let them through, and they walked onward, passing those few individuals who were still abroad on the city’s darkened streets. In the light of the torches, Castimir caught the looks they gave him.
They are all afraid here, he observed. Even the guards. Whatever plagues them, they think that I may be able to provide some sort of salvation. I can see it in their eyes.
It was a look that made Castimir wince every time he saw it, for to him it represented betrayal. Few knew the vital truth that lay behind the wizards, and the reasons they were so few in number.
How they would panic, if only they knew. And how our enemies would rejoice! Pushing the thought to the back of his mind, he spoke casually.
“I would have imagined Varrock to be a busier place,” he commented. “Even at this hour.” Before them, to the north of a great square, stood the palace of King Roald Remanis the Third, its large walls surrounding two immense baileys that lay to the east and west of the fortified main building, where a single tall tower rose up into the night. “Why are so few out and about this fine evening?”
“Tomorrow is the Midsummer Festival,” Gleeman explained as they approached the guardhouse. The jester turned his head aside and continued. “No doubt folk are busily making preparations, and saving their strength for the celebration.”
He’s avoiding my stare, Castimir noted.
“I myself have been preparing for some days now,” the jester added. “Far away from the hustle and bustle of the palace.”
“And what will you do?” Castimir inquired. “For the celebration, that is.”
“Tight-rope walking, acrobatics, and more,” Gleeman replied with a flourish. “And my own flavor of magic. For example…” He opened his hand to reveal several of the pebble-like runes that were so precious to the wizard.
My runes! Castimir’s hand darted to his pouch. That’s impossible.
“Where did you get those?” he cried in alarm. “Give them back!”
“I took them while we ate,” came the reply. “Your dagger, too.” The jester spoke without a hint of guilt, sounding pleased that his skill had inspired such a vehement response. Without any hesitation, he returned the objects to their rightful owner. “The baubles are very pretty, my friend, and ever so rare.”
“Rare indeed and every one precious,” Castimir snorted, frowning and checking the rest of his pouches–as well as his deep pockets. Nothing more seemed to be amiss, and his good humour began to return. “How did you accomplish such a feat?” he asked. “Sleight-of-hand, my friend,” the jester said whimsically. “Sleight-of-hand.”
Gleeman summoned the captain of the palace guard, and within a few minutes Castimir was standing in front of a short man with a belligerent face.
This is a man who takes his duty seriously. He looks as if he has no love for strangers.
“You are expected?” the man, Captain Rovin, asked him brusquely.
“I am, sir. Here is my invitation.” He handed the captain a letter with the royal seal of King Roald clearly displayed. Theodore had sent such invitations out to all his friends, promising them rooms at the palace for the several days surrounding the Midsummer Festival. Captain Rovin looked at it quickly and nodded.
“This seems in order,” he acknowledged. “A room has been set aside for you. Your friends have already retired to their quarters. A servant will stable your beasts and a maid will show you the way.” Suddenly the captain’s face turned grimmer, and when he spoke again, he did so in a cold tone. “It is not often we get heroes staying at the palace, and we are busy enough here as it is without pandering to the needs of arrogant youths. Perhaps, just maybe, we can find a use for you in Varrock.”
With that he turned away.
Castimir bristled at the deliberate slight.
Not so fast.
“Only if I think such use is worthy of me, Captain Rovin,” he replied loudly, so all could hear. “But regardless, a wizard still needs to sleep, and to eat, and to bathe–especially those of us who are famous. So if you will be so kind, I think I will take my leave of you now.
What do you think about the excerpt from Runescape: Return to Canifis? Have you read the first RuneScape book? Are you excited for the second?