Anthology: Thieves World: Turning Points

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Anthology


Thieves World: Turning Points

Edited by Lynn Abbey

In memory of

Poul Anderson

Marion Zimmer Bradley

John Brunner

A. E. van Vogt

and

Gordon R. Dickson

Contents

LYNN ABBEY… Introduction

MICKEY ZUCKER REICHERT… Home Is Where the Hate Is

ANDREW OFFUTT…Role Model

DIANA L. PAXSON…The Prisoner in the Jewel

SELINA ROSEN…Ritual Evolution

DENNIS L. MCKIERNAN…Duel

ROBIN WAYNE BAILEY…Ring of Sea and Fire

JODY LYNN NYE…Doing the Gods' Work

LYNN ABBEY…The Red Lucky

JEFF GRUBB…Apocalypse Noun

RAYMOND E. FEIST…One to Go

LYNN ABBEY…Afterword


Introduction

Lynn Abbey

Cauvin thought he'd made himself froggin' clear: He was a work-ingman, a stonemason who liked the feel of a heavy mallet in his hand, not some froggin' songbird caged up in the palace.

"He says he'll beat me, if you don't come," the stranger-a youth not out of his teens-insisted flatly, desperately.

That didn't sound like Arizak perMizhur. Sanctuary's froggin' tyrant was a hard man, not a cruel or vindictive one, or so Cauvin remembered. Cauvin had a thousand froggin' memories of Arizak perMizhur, all of them clamoring for his attention. Problem was, almost none of those memories were his. Five months earlier, on his way to smash some old bricks, he'd gotten his sheep-shite self caught up in the death-wishes of Molin Torchholder, an old man who'd had his froggin' finger on every worthwhile pulse in Sanctuary for a half-century. Everyone knew the froggin' Torch was a liar, a schemer, a hero, and the priest of a vanquished god. What they hadn't known was that the old pud was a witch, too, and before he breathed his froggin' last, he managed to cast all his lifetime's worth of memories into Cauvin's skull.

If he'd had the power, Cauvin would have summoned the Torch's shade and forced him to take back his froggin' gift. If he'd had the power, which he didn't. Cauvin remembered the ways of witchcraft but he couldn't do anything with them, not yet anyway. Along with his memories, the Torch had managed to bequeath his god to Cauvin. Vashanka now skulked in Cauvin's dreams.

Cauvin could handle the memories and Vashanka's bitter prophecy. He'd survived a childhood on the streets of Sanctuary and adolescence in the grasp of the Bloody Hand of Dyareela. He was a froggin' master at ignoring the unignorable. But he wasn't the only one who knew about the Torch's legacy. Arizak perMizhur knew it, too. Sanctuary's tyrant had relied upon the Torch's cunning to govern the city his Irrune tribesmen had conquered ten years ago and would never understand. Arizak was getting old himself and crippled by a rotting foot, but his mind remained sharp. He knew exactly how to get Cauvin-and his inherited memories-moving.

"I'm off to the froggin' palace," Cauvin called across the stone-yard to his foster father, Grabar.

"Be careful," Grabar replied nicely, as if Cauvin's absence wouldn't wreak havoc on the day's labor.

Then again, why wouldn't Grabar bend over backward for him? Tucked away among all the Torch's memories were the hundred-odd boltholes where the old pud had stashed his considerable wealth and Sanctuary's treasures, beside. Shite for sure, with a little effort, Cauvin could have bought his foster father out of the stoneyard. He could have bought himself a magnate's mansion fronting on the Processional or resurrected one of the abandoned estates ringing the town, even the great Land's End estate of the exiled Serripines. Frog all-Cauvin could have bought Arizak out of the palace-if he'd wanted any part of the life that went with wealth.

Cauvin did have a clean shirt in his quarters over the shed where they stowed their tools and stabled the mule, but pulling on a clean shirt halfway through a workday was just the sort of thing he refused to do. He did pause by the water trough to sluice himself off. The water was breathtakingly frigid, but midway through winter, it was water, not ice.

Sanctuary had had a few bitter days, but nothing like its usual winter. The old folks-older than Grabar-who remembered before the Irrune, before the Bloody Hand of Dyareela, and all the way back to the days when the Rankan Empire had thought to make something of this city stuck on its backside, they whispered that magic must be returning to the city, as though the presence of a few wizards could change the weather…

They once had, the Torch's memories rippled through Cauvin's mind. They might again. Be careful.

Cauvin shrugged away a dead man's thoughts and followed the youthful servant onto Pyrtanis street.

"Just so! Just so! You move now. Quick!"

Cauvin waited alone in the shadows of the audience chamber. The servant had melted into the tangled corridors, first froggin' chance he got. Arizak sat in his cushioned chair at the center of the chamber-not his usual place, which was on the dais at the rear. His bandaged and blanketed foot was propped up on a separate, higher stool. He'd twisted sideways over his hip-a posture that had to be painful, though not as painful as a slowly rotting limb. A servant stood behind him struggling with the butt end of a long spear from which three lanterns-all lit and smoking-dangled.

The man doing the speaking, the mud-covered man in tattered fur and leather, was the tyrant's brother, Zarzakhan, the Irrune's sole shaman. The way his mud shone in the lamplight, Zarzakhan was fresh from a spirit walk with his god, Irrunega, and considering what the shaman mixed into his mud-blood, horse dung, and stinkweed oil-Cauvin was froggin' glad to be upwind and watching as Zarzakhan seized sixteen-year-old Raith, the most able of Ari-zak's sons and potential heirs, and stood him face-to-face with an older Irrune warrior, whose back was to Arizak.

"See? See?" Zarzakhan chirped. "Tentinok blocks the sun. His shadow falls on Raith. The moon is hidden from Tentinok's eyes."

From his chair, Arizak grunted and rearranged himself. Zarzakhan immediately grabbed Raith by the shoulders again and guided him into a new position between Tentinok and Arizak, with his back to Arizak. The shaman then spun Tentinok around to face both Raith and his father.

"Now, Raith blocks the sun and his shadow falls on Tentinok. For Tentinok, it was day, but becomes night"-Zarzakhan gave Raith a shove that sent him staggering toward Cauvin-"then the shadow is gone. It is day again."

Another grunt from Arizak. "If this were true," the tyrant decreed, "then each month as the moon grew full, it would disappear and later, instead of resting, it would sneak into the heavens to swallow the sun. My own eyes have seen that this is not so. The sun and moon move above us bringing the light of day and the light of night. The makers of light do not hurl shadows at our eyes, brother. This is nonsense."

Zarzakhan slammed his staff against the stone tiles. The servant started at the noise and nearly lost his grip on the lantern-hung spear.

"It is Irrunega!" The shaman shouted the name of the one god of the Irrune through the swaying light. "The vision Irrunega shared with me, to warn me-to warn you, my brother, that twice, soon, the shadows are coming! Prepare! Mischief hides in the shadows. Sorcerers-wizards, magicians, priests of lesser gods, and witches. Irrunega has seen them creeping-slouching-toward Sanctuary. Prepare!"

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