Tag Archives: fantasy

An Oath of Dogs – Interview with Wendy N. Wagner

Today, I have the privilege to chat with Wendy N. Wagner about her new book, An Oath of Dogs (Angry Robot, July 2017.) For those who aren’t familiar, Wendy is managing editor of the Hugo Award-winning Lightspeed magazine, as well as the author of two novels set in the Pathfinder RPG world, Skinwalkers and Starspawn.

CC: Welcome! An Oath of Dogs was released earlier this month. Congratulations! Give us your elevator pitch for the novel.

WW: An Oath of Dogs is the story of a woman who moves to a new planet only to discover that her boss has been murdered—and it looks like their company did it to cover up a much larger crime. It also features a heroic therapy dog, lots of alien plants and creatures, a sect of neo-Mennonite farmers, a mysterious pack of wild dogs, and a botanist with a love of beer.

CC: Sounds like a lot of cool hooks for readers. What was the nugget that started the story in your head? A character, scene, or event?

WW: I had an idea about wild dog packs that made me want to explore the relationship between people and dogs. I kept playing around with the idea, and it grew into part of a much more complicated story about the way we explore and develop new places and how we treat the landscape around us.

CC: How long did it take to write? Do you have a normal writing time, or do you fit it in when you can?

WW: This book took a long time to write! Maybe two and a half or three years, even. I got the idea for the story while I was working on my first Pathfinder tie-in novel, so I didn’t get a chance to really start working on it for a while. Then I got hired to write a second novel, so that slowed it down even more.

I try to write in the morning, after my daughter has gone to school and my husband has gone to work. I walk the cats, drink some coffee, and then write for an hour or two before I do my freelance work.

CC: So you’ve told us who the protagonist is, but tell us about a side character you love.

WW: Oh, it’s so hard to choose—I wound up falling in love with all the side characters! Probably my favorite is Olive Whitley, a young girl who befriends the main character. Olive loves wandering in the woods and studying nature, where she harvests plants to sell to local artists to help her family make ends meet. She’s just a really, really good kid. A little weird, but good.

CC: Which question about An Oath of Dogs do you wish someone would ask? Ask and answer it!

WW: Well, this is extremely nerdy, but I wish someone would ask about the scientific names I used. I feel very clever about coming up with them. I used taxonomic names based on the names for plants that currently exist, but I gave them a third component based on the name of the planetary system. The world An Oath of Dogs is set on is called “Huginn,” and it orbits a planet named “Wodin,” accompanied by the tiny satellite of “Muninn.” All the celestial bodies in the system are named for Norse entities, and it’s called the Yggdrasil system. So if humans were from Huginn, they’d be Yggdrasil homo sapiens.

CC: Those are great details, and I love the Norse influence… Speaking of which, gardening is another passion of yours. Tells us how it inspires/influences your writing.

WW: I love plants, and I love dirt. Everything I write winds up having a lot of plants in the background, simply because plants are a major part of the way I see the world. A world just doesn’t feel like a world unless it’s packed with growing things!

Since I find biology and horticulture so interesting, those sciences usually play the main role of “science” in my science fiction. I like writing about the future and imagining that people have traveled to new worlds, but since I barely pay attention to technology in our current world (at least while it’s working), I don’t spend a lot of time imagining fancy gadgets and crazy technology for my books.

CC: An Oath of Dogs explores the relationships between humankind, animals, and the landscape. Do you think it’s important a novel have a social message?

WW: Not exactly. I think it’s important for a novel to grapple with culture, because I think that as an artist, part of your job is to play around with cultural elements. And because you’re a human being, of course your work has a political, moral, philosophical, and sociological stance, no matter what you’re writing about or what genre that you’re working in. The more you try to understand and control the political, moral, philosophical, and sociological stance your work is taking, the more mature your work will feel and the stronger your craft will become. But that still might not feel like a “message,” per se.

CC: Your first two novels, Skinwalkers and Starspawn, are set in the shared Pathfinder world. How was it controlling your own universe in its entirety this time? Did it make the writing process easier or harder?

WW: Writing in my own world is vastly easier. I think the best fiction features characters and settings that grow intrinsically out of each other, and that’s almost impossible to achieve in a shared-world setting where your story can’t have any long-term effect on the world.

CC: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

WW: Yes and yes.

While I’ve had to write really in-depth outlines for projects (all of my tie-in work had to have multi-page outlines approved before I could start writing) and really appreciated having them as a tool for writing, I’ve also written things where I only had a very loose outline. I definitely like knowing a basic structure, but I don’t mind finding things out as I go.

CC: Now for fun, who would win in a fight, Kate Standish or Jendara (from An Oath of Dogs & Skinwalkers, respectively)? Compare their strengths and weaknesses.

WW: Jendara, definitely! Standish is tough-minded, and she has a fairly physical job, but Jendara is a combat veteran. Plus, she heats her house with wood and cooks on a wood stove, which means she’s constantly splitting logs.

While I was researching the Jendara novels—she lives in part of the Pathfinder world inspired by Viking culture, which meant lots of reading up on Vikings—I learned that one archaeological dig had uncovered a war horse with a cut in its leg bone containing shards of mail and other bone. Further examination made the archaeologists realize that a fighter had chopped their sword through the horse’s chain mail coat, through one of its front legs, and only finally come to stop in the bone of the horse’s second front leg. And that was with one blow! I can’t imagine that kind of strength, but it was far more common in less sedentary centuries.

CC: What if they teamed up? Who would be the sidekick?

WW: If those two teamed up, they’d be unbeatable. (Well, unless they found a keg of really good beer. Both of them are a little too fond of beer.) They both have incredibly hard heads and refuse to take no for an answer. But Standish would have to be the leader, because Jendara can be a bit rash, and she’s terrible at making plans. Then again, people like Jendara a lot more, so if it was a bigger group, she’d make the better leader. Standish is really good at getting people angry with her.

CC: Any other writing projects you’re working on?

WW: I’m working on a ton of stuff, but I’m not sure I can talk about any of them! I do have some fun short stories coming out, including one in this awesome anthology that looks like a Ouija board.

CC: That looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for stopping by, and good luck with all your writing endeavors!

An Oath of Dogs:
Kate Standish has been on the forest-world of Huginn less than a week and she’s already pretty sure her new company murdered her boss. But the little town of mill workers and farmers is more worried about eco-terrorism and a series of attacks by the bizarre, sentient dogs of this planet, than a death most people would like to believe is an accident. That is, until Kate’s investigation uncovers a conspiracy which threatens them all.

More About the Author:
Wendy N. Wagner grew up in a remote town on the Oregon coast, a place so small it had no grocery store and no television reception. When the bookmobile came every two weeks, the whole town gathered to explore its latest offerings. Books were her lifeline, her window into the outside world, and soon, an obsession.

Wendy’s short fiction has appeared in more than 30 anthologies and magazines, and she has written tie-in fiction for the award-winning Pathfinder role-playing game (including two novels). Her third novel, AN OATH OF DOGS, is due out July 2017.

As well as writing, Wendy is also the managing/associate editor of LIGHTSPEED and NIGHTMARE magazines. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her very understanding family. You can follow her exploits on www.winniewoohoo.com.

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Marion County Fair 2017

I had a great time meeting new fans at the Marion County Fair this past weekend. Thanks for everyone’s support and enthusiasm for THE LAIRD OF DUNCAIRN!

Fey Matter Update

THE LAIRD OF DUNCAIRN received a great review today from Cecily Wolfe:

Well-developed characters and plot make this historical fantasy a true pleasure to read and become lost in. Readers looking for a strong female protagonist will find her in Effie, who is believable and likeable. A very unique and fascinating story – I definitely can’t wait for this series to continue!

I am so happy readers are enjoying the first installment of The Fey Matter series, and I hope the second will be in their hands within the year! I’m currently revising book II–as yet unnamed–and am eager to hand it over to my publisher (City Owl Press) by the end of summer!

The Augurwraith by Craig Comer – Part VIII

The assassin appeared at her side. He held the crossbar meant to wedge the doors in place, but instead, he heaved the beam at the newcomers. It clattered along the floor at their feet, causing them to slow and jump out of the way.

Lucendes reached into his shirt and plucked out the totem, handing it to her. As Saja felt the cool glass, a shiver went up her arms. The last time she’d seen Tarim, he’d run a hand through her hair as they strolled through the potters bazaar. Would he remember?

“Do it now!” Lucendes said. “As Khouri instructed!”

Saja glanced up. The thugs were almost on top of them. Raising the totem, she hurled it at their feet. She found her voice and shouted, “Tarim, son of Yusri!” The totem shattered, and a flash of white light seared Saja’s eyes, blinding her.

She stumbled backward into the doors. Dark shadows grew solid as her vision returned. All but one.

“Tarim,” she whispered. He was clothed in the fine vest and shirt of one of the Kitame’s guard, with a silk sash of blue wrapped around his waist. Hanging from a belt was a curved sword.

He wasn’t the boy from Saja’s dreams. That Tarim was more solid, somehow more real. The Tarim before her was blurred, as if the details of his face—the glint of his eyes and ridge of his cheeks—weren’t fully formed. Or perhaps they were just hidden from this world.

The augurwraith studied the foyer, taking in the minions of the Horned Man, who’d stopped in horror of their new adversary. It shifted its gaze to Lucendes, and finally, to Saja. Joy swelled in her chest, then dwindled to nothingness.

No recognition showed in its features.

The creature drew its giant blade and snarled. One of the thugs dropped his stave and ran. The augurwraith turned and sprang forward, cleaving a path through the other men. Where its sword met flesh, great rents blossomed. Its movement was a drifting mist, its already blurred features seeming to dissolve and reform with each step.

A man with a short sword hacked at the creature’s back, but the steel slid through the augurwraith like a stick through a spider web, pulling tendrils of mist in its wake. The creature slashed low, and the man clutched at sundered legs as he fell.

The remaining minions bolted for the far reaches of the room, where a pair of doors and a corridor led off to other parts of the storehouse. The augurwraith pursued them, its whirling blade a dark streak of shadow.

Saja trembled, not quite comprehending what she saw. Tarim. And the creature. Existing together, yet not the same. They couldn’t be. She took in the butchery, and something steeled within her gut. No, she thought. This couldn’t be how she remembered him. With a determined step, she strode forward.

Across the foyer, the augurwraith disappeared into the corridor. Saja quickened her stride. She’d reached halfway to the edge of the room, when Lucendes grabbed her shoulders.

“Let it be,” he said. Saja tried to shrug him off, but his grip tightened.

“I have to see him,” she said, “the real Tarim. My Tarim.” She squirmed in his embrace, straining against his wiry arms. Her hand found the knife at her belt, and she drove its butt into his gut.

He shuffled back, releasing her, and they glared at one another. Lucendes’ face was a tense mask, his skin pulled tight around his eyes and lips. Saja knew if he lunged with his dagger, she would die.

But the assassin relaxed and shook his head. “It is foolish to hope such things,” was all he said.

Saja ran. Bodies lined the corridor, leaving a trail easy to follow. She rounded a corner and hurried down a flight of stairs, as a scream echoed from below. Her feet hit dirt, and she leapt toward an open door just as a stout man with graying locks burst through from the other side.

Saja grunted as they collided, and the wind was knocked from her lungs. She was thrown back and landed hard on her rump. The man cursed, staring down at where her knife stuck from his chest. His knees buckled, and he dropped.

Saja blinked, but she had no time to dwell upon what she’d done. Scrambling to her feet, she padded around the man and peered through the door. The augurwraith stood within, stalking a man who already clutched at a flayed hand. Several tables lay overturned and broken, and in the far corner, a trapdoor rested open against the wall.

But it was the form huddled against the near wall that halted Saja’s breath. Her father lay with nothing but a soiled cloth wrapped about his waist. Purple welts covered his body, and caked blood matted in his hair.

She rushed to his side, and the movement brought the creature spinning toward her, sword raised high.

“No!” she roared. “You are Tarim, son of Yusri, not this creature!” Fury burned within her chest. At her father and the guild. At Lucendes and the thieves of Kuthahaar. And at Tarim. The apprentice had wounded her deepest of all. She’d thought to tell him of how much she loved him, but now as she stood before him, she felt only the anger of betrayal.

“You could’ve run,” she said. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and her body shivered. “We could’ve hid from my father and found a life together. But you abandoned me and ripped that life away.”

The augurwraith’s face remained hard, but it lowered its blade. “You are wrong, Saja, daughter of Sukahn,” it said.

A voice gasped in wonder. “Tarim, I dared not truly believe.” Saja’s father gawked at his former apprentice, then racking sobs overtook him. “What have I done?” he cried.

“You did what you thought best,” said Tarim. He turned his gaze to Saja. “As did I, no matter how much it hurt you.” He paused, and the silence seemed to suck the air from the room. “What is done, is done. You must find a way without me.”

“Is that all?” she asked, though she knew Tarim’s words for truth. He’d tried to save her and her father the best way he could, the only way left to an apprentice bound to a penniless drunkard of a master.

The apprentice shimmered as if its shadowy form was suddenly taken by a gust of wind. “Do not seek me again. It only brings me pain.” Tarim’s face grew sorrowful, then began to fade.

As the augurwraith dissipated, Saja felt a void open within her. A great hunk of her old life ripped away, and with it went the false hope she’d tucked deep in her heart, one she’d never admitted existed, even to herself. The hope Tarim would return to her. In that void, Saja realized she would need to forge resolve and strength. He’d given his life for her future, and she meant not to squander that gift. She’d rescued her father once but would need to do so again. She loved him still and would not abandon him the way he’d abandoned her.

Across the room, the remaining minion of the Horned Man stared at Saja in bewilderment, clutching his bloodied hand. “Run, fool! To the Under!” barked Lucendes. The man jumped at the assassin’s command and scampered to the trapdoor, disappearing down a hole in the floor.

“Saja,” said her father, shoulders jerking as he continued to sob. “I ruined us. Who will trade with me now?”

“Don’t worry, papa,” she replied. She helped him to his feet, then grinned at Lucendes. “I am your new apprentice, and I believe the Tanner’s Guild will soon be sending you more work than you can handle. And at a very favorable price.”

The assassin laughed. “Perhaps,” he said. “The Blessed One does take care of his own.”

THE END

Originally published in Pulp Empire Volume IV.

© Craig Comer

A Fey Matter II Rough Draft Complete!

Feeling excited and accomplished this past week, as I’ve finished the rough draft of my second Fey Matter novel. As yet untitled, it currently weighs in at 95K words (though I’m sure it’ll grow a bit in editing) and follows Effie as she uncovers a series of shocking events springing from the aftermath of THE LAIRD OF DUNCAIRN.

effie-snipit“That notoriety persuaded her little did not lessen the desire that gripped her to have a voice in the matter, one that would rattle the empire and shake free the parasitic hold of prejudices against the fey.”

Work on THE LAIRD OF DUNCAIRN continues as I get my marketing ducks in a row. I saw a mock up of the cover, and I’m excited to reveal it, hopefully sometime soon!

BM_Small_newLast, Garrett Calcaterra, one of the co-authors of THE ROADS TO BALDAIRN MOTTE has posted his novella from that book for FREE on Wattpad. What, free? Yep, and if you like that, you can also check out his YA fantasy novel, DREAMWIELDER, as well.

The novella is entitled, ON THE BLACK WIND TO BALDAIRN MOTTE, and you can find it by clicking here.

The Augurwraith by Craig Comer – Part VII

Despite the sun’s absence, the day’s heat continued to infest the city as if some great hearthstone burned unseen. Saja and Lucendes strode through the alleys of the Tanner’s District, guided by the light of the moon. The streets still held a host of denizens, but the peddlers had gone home and the craft shops had closed. The only hint of commerce remaining came from the jovial chatter spilling from the district’s alehouses, and on occasion, from the moans of pleasure emanating from the shadows.

It’d taken Khouri the afternoon to prepare the summoning totem—a lock of Saja’s hair tied around a garnet-encrusted glass medallion, steeped in an unction of oils—and Lucendes had used the time to set his plan in motion. He’d returned to the augur’s house wearing a loose robe of green over his shirt and trousers. It hid the half-dozen daggers he now carried. To Saja, he’d given a small knife, and its weight at her hip felt strange, like an unwanted reminder of the bond between them.

As they crossed a star-shaped plaza at the convergence of several streets, three men in similar green robes joined them. Saja regarded the men, then peered into the shadows. “Only three?” she asked.

“Our strike needs to be fast,” said Lucendes. “Too much commotion and the Seers will send the city guard. They watch the city from above, like falcons circling, but with Magi enhanced eyes. It is how the Sultan keeps his peace.” He pulled his lips tight, not quite the grin he wore earlier in the day. “But don’t worry, we have all the strength we need.” Saja thought of the totem he’d tucked beneath his shirt, and nodded.

The assassins marched on in silence, each knowing what was expected of them. Saja’s heart battered her ribs so hard, she thought they’d shatter. For her sake, she hoped these other men were as good as Lucendes. She concentrated on taking deep breaths, trying to keep her mind from the bloodletting to come.

Thankfully, she didn’t have to wait long. Two of the assassins peeled off from the group as soon they turned down a narrow street lined with sandstone buildings. They quickly disappeared into the darkness, and when Saja stared after them, Lucendes slapped her rump.

She spun on him, raising a hand to strike him back. But he caught her wrist and wrapped his other arm around her shoulder. Laughing loudly, he leaned into her as if they were an amorous couple returning from an evening out. The remaining assassin dropped back, giving them space.

Saja fumed but went along with the ruse. Lucendes led them down the street in a slow procession, chortling and babbling nonsense. He tapped at Saja’s shoulder as they went, and at first she thought he was trying to get her attention. But then she realized: he’s counting!

They approached a storehouse flanked by a pair of taller buildings. In its center, a pair of double doors stood open, but guarded by a half-dozen men.

Lucendes stopped tapping.

“The lookouts are dead,” he said. “Now it is our turn.” He strode toward the guards, leaving Saja behind. The other assassin joined him, pulling two long knives from his robe. The men at the door started and fell into a line behind a brawny thug. Some of those in back glanced warily up and down the street, but the leader glared at Lucendes.

“The Blessed One sends his greetings,” said the assassin.

The thug spat. He raised a hand, as if to make a threatening gesture. Instead, he gurgled and dropped to his knees, a dagger sprouting from his throat.

Lucendes and his companion rushed forward, blades flashing silver in the night. The minions of the Horned Man recovered from their shock and met the assassins with cudgels and staves.

Wood cracked against stone and metal whooshed through the air. Two of the guards fell before Lucendes, as he spun and stuck with his dancer’s grace. He was not a snake, Saja thought, watching him, he was some sly cat of the desert.

He flung a dagger at another of the guards, catching the man in the thigh, then turned toward Saja. “Come!” he barked.

Saja clamped her teeth together, to keep her gut from spewing out, and hurried forward. By the time she’d reached him, he’d swung shut one of the doors and was pushing hard against the other. His companion battled against the remaining guards, slashing and hacking like a madman, forcing them into the street.

“Get inside,” said Lucendes. Saja ducked into a massive foyer lit by a pair of braziers. Footsteps clapped across the tile floor from the far side, where a score of the Horned Man’s thugs raced toward them.

Lucendes slammed the door shut behind Saja. She opened her mouth to scream, but it’d long since gone dry. “Lucendes,” was all she was able to gasp.

…to be continued

Originally published in Pulp Empire Volume IV.

© Craig Comer

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The Augurwraith by Craig Comer – Part VI

Saja took a breath to quell her panic. The thief—no assassin—was trying to negotiate with her, she realized. “Why would the Blessed One want to help my father?” she asked. “Why would you want to help me speak with Tarim?”

“Ah, now it makes sense,” said Khouri, rubbing at his jaw. “I can see a vision without need of my scrying bowl. The Blessed One moves against the Horned Man, to take control of protection for the Tanner’s Guild. It is well known to certain ears.” He turned to Saja. “Your father will be found with one or the other.”

“He is with the minions of the Horned Man,” said Lucendes. “For the debts he owes them, they will make him suffer the wrath of their god.”

Anger flared within Saja, washing away her fear. Her father had brought her trouble. Again. She stared at Lucendes, seeing a coiled snake. He’d rescued her from the tanners because he needed her. He’d wanted to use her all along, just as they had.

“You would allow me to see Tarim,” she said, “but only if you can also use him as a weapon in your fight. That is why you concern yourself with the supposed rescue of my father.”

“He needs you,” Khouri agreed. “An augurwraith is a terrible creature—a warrior of the shadows forged from the same mystical powers that birth clairvoyance and precognition, but blended with the strongest of death magic. It is not surprising the Kitame use them as personal bodyguards. Not quite human anymore, they are not quite dead.

“An augur’s wraith, yes, an omen of death. Trying to summon one not bound to you is beyond dangerous. It is something only a master augur would dare attempt. You might as well challenge the will of the Sultan!”

“Strong emotions can sway them to their old life,” said Lucendes. “It has been done before.” Khouri sighed and nodded, conceding the point, though he continued to mutter under his breath.

“And if I refuse?” asked Saja.

Lucendes turned to her, an almost apologetic look upon his face. “Then you will not see your father, nor your Tarim, again.”

Damn them all, thought Saja. Her hands knotted into fists at her waist. Spite boiled within her, and she wished for nothing more than to storm away from Lucendes and deny him his nefarious designs. But where would she storm to? The question had plagued her for days, yet she had no better answer for it.

She couldn’t meet the assassin’s eyes, so stared for a time at the intricate rugs splayed across the floor. Her mind raced, searching for better options but finding none. Finally, she nodded.

“I suppose I will not be able to refuse, either?” asked Khouri.

Lucendes picked up his dagger. “No,” he said, without bothering to veil the threat.

…to be continued

Originally published in Pulp Empire Volume IV.

© Craig Comer

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The Augurwraith by Craig Comer – Part V

She stepped inside. Movement to her left caught her attention. The robed man edged toward her, hugging the wall. His gaze swung from the grappled pair to Saja. She swallowed, unsure what to do.

“Get the door,” Lucendes gasped, as if reading her mind.

blog_treeRight, she nodded. She spun out of the entrance and grabbed the door. But as she tried to swing it closed, the robed man darted forward and caught its edge.

“Child, I would advise you to move,” he said. His voice held a note of panic in it, despite the stern warning.

Saja pulled back, and the light from outside flooded the man’s face. He squinted and tried to step through, but as he did Saja slammed the door shut again, causing the man to yelp in surprise. She lowered her shoulder and pressed, to keep him pinned, then rolled her back flat and slid her rump to the floor, wedging them in place.

The wood pinched against her skin as the man tried to shove her out of the way, but his arm was trapped at his side, and he didn’t have enough strength or leverage. Saja gritted her teeth. Determination welled within, fueled by hope.

In the center of the room, Lucendes threw himself from side to side, forcing Raj to stagger. Like a ship lurching across rough seas, the pair threatened to tip. Lucendes brought both his knees up, and the sudden weight caused Raj to lose his balance. His arms slackened, and Lucendes slipped to the ground.

The thief tumbled away and came to his feet. He knocked into the table, spilling some of the scented oils that burned within clay pots. Snatching one of the chairs, he hurled it.

Raj batted the chair aside as he stalked forward. Lucendes waited until the last moment, then tossed one of the pots. The burning oil splattered across Raj’s bare chest, and he howled in pain.

Grabbing another chair, Lucendes smashed it into the larger man. He swung again, breaking the chair across Raj’s temple. The brute blinked, wavering, then slumped to the ground. Lucendes looked up at Saja and grinned.

“Hurry,” she barked at him. Her back felt like it was on fire, from the strain of keeping the door forced shut. He strode over and grasped the plump man, pulling him into the room as Saja shifted out of the way.

“I have need of your services, Khouri,” said Lucendes.

The plump man blustered. “The last time I helped you, I had to flee the city. And you never paid!” He shook his head. “I will do nothing for you.”

Lucendes righted one of the overturned chairs and sat the plump man down. Then he held up a finger and moved to where Raj lay sprawled across the floor. Yanking the man’s belt purse free, he shook it, the coins within clinking together. “Here,” he said, tossing the bag to Khouri. “My debt is settled.”

“I should’ve guessed you’d seek me out again,” said Khouri.

The thief shrugged. “You’re an augur. You should’ve seen me coming.”

“An augur, Lucendes, not a Seer. My visions are not that precise. Though in truth, I’ve had dark dreams of late. It seems they foretold a visit from the Blessed One’s best assassin.”

Lucendes’ eyes flickered to Saja. Her own widened in shock. “An assassin of the Blessed One?” she whispered. The hope she’d felt earlier evaporated. The prophet kept an iron thumb on perhaps half the thieves in Kuthahaar. His attention was one to avoid, not covet.

“Did he not tell you?” asked Khouri, with a chuckle.

“It changes nothing,” Lucendes snapped. “We’ve come for you to divine the location of her father.”

The augur’s gaze became intent upon the thief, and his laughter increased. “Why bother? You know it already. I can see it on your face!”

Saja started. She swung her gaze between the two men, taking a step toward the door. “Was it a lie?” She shuddered. “You promised. You fooled me into believing.”

Lucendes shook his head. “I kept things from you, but the words I spoke of the other matter were the truth. You will see your father’s apprentice again. Khouri holds the power to summon an augurwraith.”

Khouri jerked. “You told her of this? It is knowledge punishable by death.”

“I know where your father is kept,” Lucendes continued, ignoring the augur. “If he still lives, I will free him from his captors.”

…to be continued

Originally published in Pulp Empire Volume IV.

© Craig Comer