Стивен Браст: Tiassa

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Стивен Браст Tiassa
  • Название:
    Tiassa
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  • Жанр:
    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2017
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Tiassa: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Vlad Taltos is an Easterner an underprivileged human in an Empire of tall, powerful, long-lived Dragaerans. He made a career for himself in House Jhereg, the Dragaeran clan in charge of the Empire s organized crime. But the day came when the Jhereg wanted Vlad dead, and he s been on the run ever since. He has plenty of friends among the Dragaeran highborn, including an undead wizard and a god or two. But as long as the Jhereg have a price on his head, Vlad s life is messy. Meanwhile, for years, Vlad s path has been repeatedly crossed by Devera, a small Dragaeran girl of indeterminate powers who turns up at the oddest moments in his life. Now Devera has appeared again to lead Vlad into a mysterious, seemingly empty manor overlooking the Great Sea. Inside this structure are corridors that double back on themselves, rooms that look out over other worlds, and just maybe answers to some of Vlad s long-asked questions about his world and his place in it. If only Devera can be persuaded to stop disappearing in the middle of his conversations with her

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Dedication

For Matt


Acknowledgments

Emma Bull, Pamela Dean, Will Shetterly, Adam Stemple, and Skyler White are the main people who pointed out where inside the vaguely shaped lump of marble an actual book was concealed. Alexx Kay once again helped me keep my chronology straight, and all of those who update Lyorn Records helped yet again. Thanks to editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden, to Irene Gallo and her Poignant Proletarians of Production, Anita Okoye for editorial handholding, and copy editor Rachelle Mandik. I must also thank my friend Brian Murphy, because reasons.

Additional copyediting and proofreading by sQuirrelco Textbenders, Inc.

The Cycle

Part One: Analysis

1. Devera the Wanderer

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a human assassin in possession of an important mission must be in want of a target. I found mine in South Adrilankha, the Easterners’ quarter, in a district called Heart’s Road. I always wonder where those names come from, you know? Maybe someone cut someone’s heart out and it went rolling down the street. More likely it was named for some Lord Heart who owned a vacant lot there once, but I like my version. Anyway, that’s where I was, in the open-air market just past where the Tinsmiths’ Guild used to be.

I’d been on the run for several years at this point, and spent most of my time looking over my shoulder; but I’d managed to find an old friend of my grandfather’s who had let me stay with him for a couple of weeks in exchange for certain services. There were few services I’d have refused if it meant not living in flophouses for a few days, so I agreed at once. All of which brought me to a small circular market in the ghetto, where, as I said, I found my target.

She was an Easterner, of course—or human, if you prefer. A shriveled old woman, dressed in garish purple and wearing a silverite necklace with clamshells. Loiosh, my familiar, spotted her first, and said into my mind, “There, Boss. No, further to the right.

I didn’t approach her directly; I walked around the edge of the crowd that had gathered to watch the antics of a fat man and his squirrel, and studied her from thirty feet away. She stood behind a long table; at her back was a small wagon. There were no signs of draft animals.

I watched for about ten minutes, because you need to get a good feel for your target. A few people would approach her, speak, and leave; once in a while someone would buy something. Eventually, I strolled up as if I just happened to be going by.

I let my eyes shift, and I stopped, as if something had just accidentally caught my attention. She looked at me, a little wary, a bit interested.

“Well,” I said. I gestured with my chin. “That looks like a javorn sausage.”

“It is,” she said, her voice neutral.

I nodded and started to move past. Stopped. “Haven’t had that in a while,” I allowed. “How much?”

“Sixteen,” she said.

I chuckled. “No, seriously. How much?”

She scowled at me. “That is my own work. Hours of time, mixing, measuring, securing the freshest seasonings. Sixteen is a bargain. Though because I have a weakness for witches, you can have it for fifteen, and you’ll owe me a spell sometime.”

“How do you know I’m a witch?”

She snorted and repeated, “Fifteen.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I was thinking maybe six.”

“Six,” she said. “Unless you’re speaking of six silver, you are insulting me. The recipe for this sausage has been passed down in my family for nineteen generations. I will not offend the memory of my ancestors by selling it for less than fourteen.”

“All right,” I said. “Eight, then. But you’re robbing me.”

She sighed. “Very well, twelve. Though I don’t know why I should. I grow the marjoram in my own garden, and I use only the illataakertben Eastern red pepper, imported by a secret supplier who disdains any but the very finest, then dries and grinds it himself. But you seem nice, if cheap, so you can have it for eleven.”

“I am cooking a meal for a friend who has done me a kindness. A penny more than nine, and I’ll be unable to purchase anything else to go with it.”

“Nonsense,” she said. “Sell those fancy boots. Or the cloak. Or the sword. Why do you need a sword? We’re peaceful here, and you have those for protection should you accidentally walk somewhere you shouldn’t.” Here she gestured at Loiosh and Rocza, perched on my shoulders. Then she added, “I will go to ten, but no further.”

I sighed. “Ten then, but only because you’re so beautiful.”

“Hah,” she said. “For that, I’ll throw in an onion.”

I smiled. “Thank you,” I said.

She wrapped up the sausage and the onion, and sent me on my way.

It isn’t that I needed the money, or begrudged it to her, but haggling with the sausage maker is part of any recipe for javorn sausage, and who am I to buck tradition?

When I got to the house, I fired up my host’s stove, then unfolded the stove cover and put a pan on it to get hot. I sliced the sausage, browned it in goose fat with the onion, garlic, flathat mushrooms, and four kinds of peppers. I served it over toasted edesteszta bread. My host said kind things about it. His name was Imry. He had almost no hair, but nearly all of his teeth, and he moved fast for his age, though he couldn’t seem to entirely straighten up. The point is, it was really good, and it was the last good meal I had for some time.

While I was there, I filled him in on my recent history—you know, offending the Jhereg, being chased by assassins, acquiring a Great Weapon, that stuff. He didn’t seem all that interested. As we ate, he told me about his neighbors in great detail. Not complaining, for the most part, just telling me what they were like, and what they talked about, ate, and did for a living. It wasn’t all that exciting, but after the last few years I didn’t mind a little boredom. He eventually started reminiscing about my grandfather. I liked that better. Apparently, when he was young, my grandfather had made most of the mistakes apprentice witches make, with occasionally dangerous and sometimes hilarious results. I also learned that my grandfather had once been a great cusser, being well versed in obscenity, profanity, scatology, and curses in at least nine languages. I liked the stories, but I’d never tell my grandfather I’d heard them.

After we ate, Loiosh and Rocza had some of the scraps while I cleaned the dishes; it was the least I could do and it killed some time. These days, time was mostly what I was killing, and I was all right with that.

The next morning we broke our fast with the leftovers, which I warmed in bacon fat along with the bread. We sat around and drank coffee, because he didn’t know how to make klava and I didn’t want to insult him by offering to teach him, talking about nothing in particular, when there was a clap at the door.

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