A matter of time
I. On the Z Axis;
12 September 1977;
At the Intersection
Total darkness. Silence broken only by restless audience movements.
Suddenly, all-surrounding sound. A crossbreed, falsetto yodel/scream backed by one reverberating chord on the bass guitar. A meter-wide pillar of red light waxes and wanes with the sound.
Erik Danzer is on.
Nude to the waist, in hip-deep vapor, he rakes his cheeks with his fingernails. He is supposed to look like an agonized demon rising from some smoldering lava pit of hell.
Light and sound depart for five seconds.
Owlhoot sound from the synthesizer.
Sudden light reveals Danzer glaring audience right. Light and sound fade. Repeat, Danzer glaring left.
Harsh electric guitar chords, with the bass overriding, throbbing up chills for the spine. Mirror tricks, flashing, put Danzer all over the stage, screaming, «You! You! You!» while pointing into the audience…
Whispering Nickel Idols
(Garrett Files — 11)
This one is for my mom, who was a rock in aturbulent stream.
With thanks to Jim K. and Ellen W.
There I was, galumphing downstairs, six feet three of the handsomest, ever-loving blue-eyed ex-Marine you’d ever want to meet. Whistling. But it takes me a big, big bucket to carry a tune. And my bucket had a hole in it.
Something was wrong. I needed my head examined. I’d gone to bed early, all by my own self. And hadn’t had a dram to drink before I did. Yet this morning I was ready to break into a song and dance routine.
I felt so good that I forgot to be suspicious.
I can’t forget, ever, that the gods have chosen me, sweet baby Garrett, to be their special holy fool and point man in their lunatic entertainments.
I froze on the brink of my traditional morning right turn to the kitchen.
There was a boy in the hallway that runs from my front door back to my kitc…
It’s cold. The wells of power are weakening and the forces of Night grow strong. The gods are real, and still have some power, mostly to do harm. The Instrumentalities of the Night are the worst of these.
Piper Hecht, born Else Tage, survived a battle with the Instrumentalities. Now he’s Captain-General of the armies fighting a crusade for Patriarch Sublime V. Intrigues swirl around the throne of the Grail Empire, as the imperial family’s enemy Anne of Menand raises money to help the perpetually indebted Patriarch finance his crusades. To reduce his own vulnerability, sickly young Emperor Lothar assigns his two half-sisters – his immediate heirs – to their own realms.
Now Piper Hecht learns that the legendary sorceror Cloven Februaren, referred to as the Ninth Unknown, is still alive, more than 100 years old, and on Piper’s side. As the dynastic politics of the Empire become even more convoluted, it’s clear that while the old gods may be fading, they’re determined to do everything they can to bend the doings of men to their own advantage.
Sieges, explosions, betrayals, Anti-Patriarchs, and suspicious deaths will ensue as the great chess game plays itself out, with Piper Hecht at the center of it all…
Garrett’s newest visitors are a pack of lovelies led by his main squeeze Tinnie Tate and her friend, Alyx Weider, the spoiled daughter of the largest brewer in town. Her father needs Garrett’shelp-his workers are being attacked by everything from giant insects to ghosts. Garrett takes the case. After all, working for the Weiders means free beer. But it also means serious danger.
Glen Cook Soldier Of An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat
The empire of the title is Shinsan-The Dread Empire. The soldier is Tain, disillusioned with his past life and seeking peace and a new identity. But the difficulties of leaving one’s past behind are insurmountable and Tain must finally accept what he is-a soldier of an empire unacquainted with defeat. For those of you who have read and enjoyed Cook’s wonderful Dread Empire books, and for those of you who haven’t yet, here is another piece of that world.
His name was Tain and he was a man to beware. The lacquered armor of the Dread Empire rode in the packs on his mule.
The pass was narrow, treacherous, and, therefore, little used. The crumbled slate lay loose and deep, clacking underfoot with the ivory-on-ivory sound of punji counters in the senyo game. More threatened momentary avalanche off the precarious slopes. A cautious man. Tain walked. He led the roan gelding. His mule’s tether he had knotted to…
Red Iron Nights
When I shoved through the doorway of Morley’s Joy House you’d have thought I was the old dude in black who lugs the sickle. The place went dead quiet. I stopped moving. I couldn’t push uphill against the weight of all those stares. «Somebody sneak lemons into your salads?»
Quick check of the talent. It looked like somebody with an ugly stick had gone berserk. That or those guys spent a lot of time diving into walls and shaving themselves with hatchets. I saw enough scars and bent noses to open me a sideshow.
The Joy House boasts that kind of clientele.
«Aw, damn! It’s Garrett.» That was my pal Puddle, safe behind the bar. «Here we go again, troops.» Puddle goes two-eighty, maybe more. His skin is the hue of somebody who’s been dead awhile. You ask me, rigor mortis set in above the neck twenty years back.
Several dwarves, an ogre, miscellaneous elves, and a couple of guys of indeterminate ancestry chugged their sau…
It was the worst winter in memory. Even the Wise conceded that early on. The snows came out of the Zhotak early, and by Manestar Morning they stood several paws deep. They came on bitter winds that found every crack and chink in the Degnan loghouses till in frustration the older females ordered the males out to cover the curved roofs with blocks of sod. The males strove valiantly, but the ice-teethed wind had devoured the warmth of the ground. The earth would not yield to their tools. They tried packing the roofs with snow, but the ceaseless wind carried that away. The ranks of firewood dwindled at an alarming rate.
It was customary for the young of the pack to roam the nearby hills in seach of deadwood when they had no other chores, but this bitter winter the Wise whispered into the ears of the huntresses, and the huntresses ordered the pups to remain within sight of the packstead palisade. The pups sensed the change…
Deadly Quicksilver Lies
There ain’t no justice, I guarantee absodamnlutely. There I was, comfy as could be, feet on my desk, a pint of Weider’s porter in my hand, Espinosa’s latest potboiler in my other hand, and Eleanor reading over my shoulder. She understood Espinosa better than I did. For once the Goddamn Parrot wasn’t squawking. I sucked up that sweet silence more enthusiastically than I did the beer.
Some fool went to hammering on my door.
His pounding had an arrogant, impatient edge. Meant it would be somebody I didn’t want to see. «Dean! See who that is! Tell him to go away. I’m out of town. On a secret mission for the king. Won’t be back for years. And I wouldn’t buy what he’s selling anyway, if I was home.»
Nobody moved. My cook-slash-housekeeper-slash-factotum was the one who was out of town. I was at the mercy of wannabe clients and the Goddamn Parrot.
Dean had gone to TemisVar. One of his herd of homely nieces…
Bitter Gold Hearts
OGRE TOWN WAS QUIET AS DEATH—
Until we sprang our attack on the citadel of the human plug-ugly nicknamed Gorgeous. This cold-blooded killer’s pack of ogres had been wiping out some people I’d had a personal interest in keeping alive.
Right from the start the battle seemed to be going just the way we’d planned. Then Gorgeous let loose with a roar that could wake the undead. I jumped him, but the damage was done. The stairs were already drumming to stamping feet. And then the ogre stampede arrived!
There must have been twenty in the first rush. They pushed across the room, into the far wall. Even my trolls, hammering ogre heads from above, scarcely slowed them. And more and more ogres kept coming.
It was looking really grim for my little army as Gorgeous shrieked hysterical, bloodthirsty orders. It was definitely time to try something desperate… .
____ I ____
There was nothing to do after I wrapped up the C…
Welcome to the world of the Instrumentalities of the Night, where imps, demons, and dark gods rule in the spaces surrounding upstart humanity. At the edges of the world stand walls of ice which push slowly forward to reclaim the land for the night. And at the world’s center, in the Holy Land where two great religions were born, are the Wells of Ihrain, the source of the greatest magics. Over the last century the Patriarchs of the West have demanded crusades to claim the Wells from the Pramans, the followers of the Written. Now an uneasy truce extends between the Pramans and the West, waiting for a spark to start the conflict anew.
Then, on a mission in the Holy Land, the young Praman warrior Else is attacked by a creature of the Dark-in effect, a minor god. Too ignorant to know that he can never prevail over such a thing, he fights it and wins, and in so doing, sets the terrors of the night against him.
As a reward for his success, Else is sent as a spy to the heart of the Patriarchy to direct their attention away from further ventures into the Holy Lands. Dogged by hidden enemies and faithless allies, Else witnesses senseless butchery and surprising acts of faith as he penetrates to the very heart of the Patriarchy and rides alongside their armies in a new crusade against his own people. But the Night rides with him, too, sending two of its once-human agents from the far north to assassinate him.
Submerged in his role, he begins to doubt his faith, his country, even his family. As his mission careens out of control, he faces unanswerable questions about his future. It is said that God will know his own, but can one who has slain gods ever know forgiveness?