The slaughterer spun round and crashed to the ground. The lucky charms went everywhere.
As the cloddertrog stomped off, cursing under his breath, Twig hurried over to the slaughterer. 'Are you all right?' he asked, reaching down to help him to his feet.
The slaughterer rolled over and blinked up at him. 'Blooming rudeness,' he complained. 'I don't know!' He looked away and began gathering up the charms and returning them to the tray. 'All I'm trying to do is scratch an honest living.'
'It can't be easy,' said Twig sympathetically. 'So far away from your Deepwoods home.'
Twig knew the slaughterers well. He had once stayed with them in their forest village, and to this day, he still wore the hammelhornskin waistcoat they had given him. The slaughterer looked up. Twig touched his forehead in greeting and reached down with his hand once again.
This time, with the last of the charms back in place, the slaughterer took a hold and pulled himself up. He touched his own forehead. 'I am Tendon,' he said. 'And thank you for stopping to see whether I was all right. Most folk round here wouldn't give you the time of day.' He sniffed. 'I don't suppose . . .' He checked himself.
'What?' said Twig.
The slaughterer shrugged. 'I was just wondering whether you might care to buy one of my lucky charms.' And Twig smiled to himself as, unbidden, the slaughterer selected one of the leather talismans and held it out. 'How about this one? It's extremely potent.'
Twig looked at the intricate spiral tooled into the deep-red leather. He knew that, for the slaughterers, the individual designs on the charms each had its own significance.
'Those who wear this charm,' the slaughterer went on as he tied the thong around Twig's neck, 'shall be freed from fear of the known.'
Excerpted from Stormchaser by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell Copyright© 2004 by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. Excerpted by permission of David Fickling Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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