The body of the dog sprawled under a bush. Blood stained the brown and white fur. Hugh crouched by it. Next to him Sharif leaned closer to the ground, staring unblinking at the crushed bushes and red-stained leaves. Karen, the other shapeshifter, dropped to all fours on the other side and took a long whiff.
Shapeshifters had their issues, but Hugh never agreed with Roland’s disdain for them. He understood Roland’s position well enough and recited it with passion when the occasion called for it, but when it came down to it, shapeshifters made damn good soldiers and that’s all he cared about.
He braced for the uncomfortable flash of guilt that usually flared when he thought Roland was wrong. It never came. Instead the void scraped his bones with its teeth. Right.
“He got some bites in,” Karen said softly, her voice tinted with sadness. “Good boy.”
Sharif bared his teeth.
The dire wolf was big and old. One of the shepherds had snapped a polaroid of him two night before when the beast prowled the tree line, studying the cows in the pasture. From the paw prints and the pictures, the old male stood two feet and ten inches at the shoulder and had to weigh close to one hundred and eighty pounds if not more.
Wild wolves didn’t follow the strict alpha-beta pecking order people assigned to them. That structure was mostly present in big shapeshifter packs. Hierarchy was a primate invention. Instead wolves lived in family groups, a parent couple and their young, who followed their parents until they grew up enough to start their own packs. But this beast was alone. Something happened to his pack and he hunted by himself. A night ago he tried to take a cow. The dogs and guns ran him off. Then the magic hit.
The old wolf was a smart bastard, smart enough to figure out that when the magic was up, guns didn’t bark. Still, he stayed away from the pasture and went for the easier target instead, a ten-year-old girl picking pears from the ground in the orchard while her parents were on ladders harvesting the fruit.
The two dogs with the harvesters did their job, and their job was to give their life for their humans. They found the first dead hound at the edge of the woods. The second was here. Now it was up to human Dogs to settle the score.
“Heartbeat,” Sharif whispered.
Hugh reached out with his magic. The dog was a mess, torn and bitten, but a faint, barely-there heartbeat shivered in his chest. Hugh concentrated. This would be complicated.
He knitted the organs together, repairing the tissue, sealing the blood vessels, mending the flesh like it was fabric. The two Dogs by his side waited quietly.
Finally, he finished. The dog raised his head, turned in the brush, and crawled toward them. Sharif scooped the hundred and twenty-pound hound up like it was a puppy. The dog licked his face.
“He lost a lot of blood,” Hugh said. “He won’t be walking for a bit.”
“I’ll carry him,” Sharif said. His eyes shone, catching the light.
“We’re only a mile in. Take him back and catch up,” Hugh told him.
The werewolf turned smoothly and ran into the woods, silent like a shadow, the huge dog resting in his arms.
Karen took the lead and they followed the scent trail deeper into the wood.
If he never saw another rhododendron bush until his next life, it would be too soon, Hugh decided. The damn brush choked the spaces between trees and getting through it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk.
They pushed their way through the latest patch. The endless rhododendron finally fell away. The woods stretched before them, the massive oaks and hemlocks rising like a forest of thick columns, cushioned in greenery.
A shadow fluttered between the trees, trailing a smear of foul magic. An undead.
The day was looking up. Hugh grinned and pulled his sword out.
The undead dashed right and stopped.
Another smear appeared on the left. Two. If it was Nez’s standard rapid reconnaissance party, there would be a third, each piloted by a separate navigator.
Karen waited next to him, her anticipation almost a physical thing hovering in front of her.
“Happy hunting,” Hugh said.
She unbuckled her belt with the knife sheath on it, unzipped her boots, and gave a sharp tug to her shirt. It came open. She dropped it on the forest floor. Her pants followed. A brief flash of a nude human, then her body tore. New bones sprang up out of flesh, muscle spiraled up them, sheathing the next skeleton, skin clothed it, and dense grey fur burst from the new hair follicles. The female werewolf opened her monstrous jaws, her face neither wolf nor human, swiped her knife from her clothes, and sprinted into the woods to the left.
Hugh started through the woods toward the foul magic staining the leaves. The magic receded. Run, run, little vampire.
Another vampire to the far right, closing in fast. The front bloodsucker played bait, while the one on the left would close in from the flank and try to jump him. They didn’t realize he could feel them. This wasn’t the Golden Legion. The Masters of the Dead would’ve just met him two on one. These were likely journeymen, piloting younger vampires. The undead were damn expensive. Didn’t want to risk the budget, did you, cheapskate? It will cost you.
He ran through the forest as fast as the terrain would let him. Tree trunks flew by.
Thank you so much for the snippet!!!!!!!! I am so excited for this book 🙂
Elaine Clements says
Love the new home page. I’m becoming really interested in Hugh’s story, didn’t think I would ever care to read more him!
Elaine Clements says
didn’t think I would ever care to read more of him! Must learn to proofread…
ahhh! So excited for this book!
Every one of these snippets you guys post makes my day 100% better. Thank you so much, and I can’t wait to read the whole story!
Squeeeee! Now – when does this book come out!!!! *ducks for cover* Just kidding!!! O_O
Love the Hugh snippets, cannot wait for the book!
Fun! Can’t wait for the book!
I wonder since I haven’t seen anything yet (may just not have looked too hard) but will Hugh’s Book come out before or after Kate 10 (Magic Triumphs). Would it be after since Kate 10 has a title? Anyone know?
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Hugh’s book should come out before Magic Triumphs, which is set for release in the spring of 2018.
Awesome! Even when it feels like a long time, you guys release such good material at what I feel is a really quick pace. Maybe I have a bad memory but I feel like when I was in high school it would take a year or two for my favorite authors to have a new book published, though to be fair I don’t know if they had other careers besides writing which may have been a cause as well.
Either way thank you so much for the snippet!
Excellent news! Does that mean Magic Triumphs is mostly written and now you are layering in the parts connected to Hugh as you write Hugh’s story? Or are you working on both at the same time? (although I hope not, for your sakes – that way lies exhaustion)
This snippet is marvelous; thank you so much! I do enjoy seeing Hugh’s perspective unfold.
Soo looking forward to this book! I imagine a wealth of new info on Roland, Hugh and the KD world in general. It will be an excellent read, I am sure of it. Thank you for the snippet as well!
Theodore D. says
I am really enjoying these snippets… and I look forward to the book!
Ah hah! That addresses one of the comments from the previous snippet, about how Hugh could work with shifters when he had such disdain for them previously. Turns out he was parroting Roland’s viewpoint.
Thanks for the snippet!
Hugh is complicated.
Patricia Schlorke says
Amen to that.
I seem to have had it more or less backwards.
It’s interesting insight on how Hugh’s link to Roland functioned – clearly he could have his own opinions, clearly there was a pretty profound set of emotional effects. (I’m somewhat curious where Voron’s influence factors in here. I remember that Kate and Voron traveled with a were-rat at one point, and that where Kate learned a lot of what she knew about shifters.) Though people are more than a sum of their parental figures.
hehe, when I read the first two paragraphs I was like – aha, so that’s what Hugh really thinks about shapeshifters! The Authorlords showed mercy and decided not to torture us with curiosity till the release ’bout it 😀
Bonus points to Hugh for saving the dog 😉
barbie doll says
I am so enjoying reading about Hugh. He will always be a not nice person but he is so interesting. Seeing him sniping at Roland and Landon Nez brings out a wicked glee in my soul. I am waiting for he and Kate and Curran to meet face to face. The different view from the party line is revealing. It will be entertaining to see him wooing a strong person other then Kate, but that wasn’t wooing that was power. Seeing him heal the broken dog feels so right. He is not just a one dimensional villain. Like all of us he is good and evil. I wonder what Doolittle would say. Contrary to all thought I am greatly looking forward to his book. Thanks for writing it. What a wonderful April fools gift.
If Hugh and Curran do meet up. Curran will do his best to kill Hugh. Cats hold a grudge!.
Not just Curran. Let’s remember Aunt B was murdered under Hugh’s watch.
Tori O says
This is exactly what I needed today! Thank you.
Really looking forward to this as you guys do complicated characters very well. It’s always a pleasure.
That was cool. Thanks!!
Shannon from Florida says
So Hugh has a heart after all just as Roland has where Kate is concerned. It makes neither of them good, but it shows they still have feelings. Hugh was not allowed to have any opinion except Rolands’ for most of his life now he has a chance to be his own person…it will be interesting to see where that leads him and ultimately who’s side he will be on.
Many thanks for the snippet ?
Best wishes from the other side of the pond ??
really looking forward to this!! thank you for the snippets!
Trying to decide if Hugh saving the dog is a red herring. Other than saving Doolittle in Rises (for which I am personally grateful), I don’t recall any other act of consideration from him. I suppose we will have to wait for more context. Sigh.
Alex R. says
He heals Ascanio as well. As a ploy to get Kate out, so not a considerate act, per se.
Definitely not considerate, as he went back and forth a few times, breaking bones as well as healing them. That was quintessential High in my mind.
Cheryl zuccaro says
The first time Hugh and Kate fought together was because he would not abbandon the horses to the wierd orange creatures with the horn on their chests, can’t recall what they were called. Healing a dog moves him up in my world, although I admit I have always had a soft stop for the monster
Very Nice snippet ?
Really makes me wonder…?
Will humans as a race ever see eye to eye with each other? Or will we for ever be caught in imaging “the enemy” as less human.
We will never fix it once and for all. We have to keep fixing it all of us every single day. I really hope our off days will be limited ?
Almost literally a pet the dog moment 🙂
This was awesome, thank you!
Jocelyn Malone says
Ah rhodies. I rather agree with Hugh on that one. I live in the Seattle area, and they’re lovely for max a month or so every year, and then they’re ugly PITAs for the rest of it. They would take over the woods post-Shift.
Thanks for the snippet! I’m really looking forward to this finished product, particularly (though I read and enjoy all your work).
Ahaha! I was having the exact opposite reaction, as a former Seattle-ite, though from an urban standpoint I agree with you. When you’re out in the woods, well, the rhodies tend to be fairly sparse – and let’s face it, in anything short of old growth, nothing is sparse, and if you’re in the rain forest, even old growth isn’t sparse! Also, they aren’t full of thorns. Would you like a brief run down on all of the things that are full of thorns, native and otherwise? …so they’re kind of a nice break. (I used to do a lot of overland hiking – we had a “no trails, no people” thing going on – and helped a friend with some wild seed collecting, which often involved wresting seedpods out of thorny plants.) When they’re under a well developed tree canopy, rather than being the impenetrable bushes we all know so well, they’re kind of lacy understory tall bushy things. When you happen to catch them in flower, they’re just magical. (Especially since chances are everything else is green and grey and wet. This is a good reason to take up hunting mushrooms, since at least you’ll learn to appreciate the wet.)
But… yeah. Get out of the woods, and they are the bushes that want to eat western washington. The former owners of my old place in Woodinville kind of loved them too much, and they grow alarmingly – it was quite terrifying. My version of gardening involves things that are useful. (They can be pretty too, but there are plenty that are both. I have a fruit tree problem the way some people have a drinking problem.) Luckily a friend who was a landscape designer was staying with me and helped sort me out.
Whenever you post a snippet I get the distinct urge to squeal like a fangirl at 1D concert. Thank you so much, the snippet was great!
Alisa Hylton says
Sigh. Happy sigh. I so want to loathe Hugh, you are making difficult:-)
I am so looking forward to the inevitable confrontation between Kate, Hugh, Erra and Roland… all the people Roland, in his infinite wisdom, screwed over and thought beneath him in one way or another. And I remember his “more in sorrow than anger” pronouncement that Hugh wouldn’t survive the century after Roland purged him. Oh, delicious! More, more!
History has shown how humans have an infinite capacity to follow strong leaders who turn out to be immoral @sshats; that Hugh, raised from a half-feral child by a man who had millennia to hone his “wise father” act, would do the same is not a shock. How and why Hugh changes, now that is a story. I love it, and I can’t wait to read more!
Thank you! Can’t wait to read the whole thing!
Patricia Schlorke says
What a nice surprise. Thanks, wow, and squee! 😀
Thank you had a rough week and coming home was subway troubles so this is a nice treat. Hugh is complicated want to see how he grows. And can’t wait for Kate and Curran and Roland reactions to “new” Hugh. I’ve learned to love end of week. Always snippet or posting from you. Thank you again .
KD books have me laughing, cheering, crying, but this Hugh story is like a sore tooth. I just can’t leave it alone and pliers seem the best solution. Please don’t get me wrong I LOVE the snippets one and all. …Hugh…/falls over.
Thank you for such a yummy conundrum.
This is awesome 🙂 Thank you 🙂
You guys are doing an amazing job with this! Thanks for the snippet!
Thanks for the snippet. I wasn’t sure I would want to read this book but every time I read a snippet It makes me want to read the book.
I really wasn’t interested in a Hugh redemption story until you started sharing snippets.
Also, thank you for describing real pack structure!
Susan Linch Ravan says
Thank you for a wonderful snippet! They are like bits of candy. Also, your daughters are lovely and I love that dress!
Thanks for another snippet, I’m looking forward to seeing how all the people/relationships shake down in Hugh’s book! Do we get to see more of the reason behind Hugh’s apparent about-face on shapeshifters at some stage? I do hope do because two sentences of self reflection from someone who hasn’t come across as all that self reflective in previous books doesn’t quite work for me…
It’s being hinted at. I’m sure the full book will explain further, but to give too much now would be a spoiler since this book I feel will be very much about his redemption.
He’s lived in Roland’s presence for a very long time from a young age. He obviously regarded Roland as a personal god with his mentions of “heretical” thoughts. His prior bias against shapeshifters was Roland’s bias… the bias his personal god espoused. A god that he was magically enthralled to, and could bid him to do anything that god wanted him to do.
It will take him some work to work that out, and this snippet seems to be hinting at the beginning of that process. If it hadn’t been for Roland (and Voron), Hugh might not have been so screwed up… or maybe he’d actually have turned out worse… who knows? He had been practically feral when they found him as a young homeless child…
Roland twists people and uses them. Hugh will likely never be a “good guy”, but he may well shape up to being a really good anti-hero… someone who does bad things for good reasons.
Remember Christopher is also one of Roland’s cast offs. Kate loves and hates Roland. It will be interesting to see what happens when Roland has to face the consequences of his manipulations (including Erra and dear old Mom). Love the snippets. Thank you.
Bill G says
Loving it. But now he’s caring for animals, even. How can I maintain a proper level of hate? Zooterkins!
Even bad guys have pets. 😉 It’s usually their struggle to have empathy for other people that’s the problem…
*EVEN MORE SQUEE!!!!!!*
::Happy Dance:: LOVE … thank you!!!!
Squee!!! So enjoyable I am squirming with anticipation.
Wonderful! Thanks for the Friday snippet.
Awesome! Just awesome!
Thank you so much.
Oh wow Hugh saved the dog. Now I’m starting to like him despite myself.
Sigh of Happiness. I will not admit to any squeals of joy upon finding this.
Thank you for the snippet.
Waiting for the next fix.Sigh.
Squee!! I’m loving these Hugh snippets! Thank you for sharing!
H’mm. so Hugh is free of the emotional straitjacket or at least has been let loose from it. I was wondering what would become of him. Heck, if Erra could become a person of interest rather than a villain there are all sorts of possibilities for Hugh. Thanks for the explanation of the change of heart regarding shapeshifters. Momcat
Ange in Oz says
Oooooh, thank you for the snippet. And thank you for complicated characters. I did note that you didn’t put up anything for April Fools’ Day this year! ?
Jeannette K says
Ok I admit it! I was in the leave Hugh a bad guy camp, he was so loathsome there was no chance of redemption!! Then the authorlords did their magic and now i can’t wait to see what happens next…
You are amazing is all I can say.
Oh yeah and Thank you!
Thank you! I love all the Hugh snippets.