Preview: the Spear

Here is the first preview for the stories that will be presented in Farewell, Something Lovely. The Kickstarter for the collection will not begin until the rewards for Centurion, Legionary of Rome have been sent out to the backers, so it will probably be late October or early November 2013.

If you have questions or concerns, I will try to answer them as best I can. You can leave a comment or email me.

This first story is titled “the Spear.”

Chang didn’t know the name of the place, and he didn’t particularly care. Below street level, it sat on a block about three streets up from the wharves. He found it outside the walls, in the Stonedocks—the berths used by smugglers and pirates, nominally controlled by Hadrapole, but really controlled by no one. Neither of the Night Guilds, not the Blackhands nor the Mashaam, dominated the Docks. Both tried, and this invariably led to some of the bodies found every morning in the streets, alleys and shore of the Docks.

He guessed the building was supposed to be a tavern—maybe a brothel or an inn, if anyone made a distinction between the two in that place. Chang knew the Stonedocks well; he had done plenty of business there. That day he had arranged to meet one of the Hands. A messenger had left a note with his landlord. Chang lived in Twelve Shadow Walk, abutting the Pale Gate, in the shadows of that gate’s twelve towers. The landlord had no clue about Chang’s business, but he probably thought him some sort of merchant. That belief had apparently changed after the visit from the Hands’ messenger.

In the tavern, the stink of sour beer and spoiled food assailed Chang’s nostrils, worse even than he had expected. He almost rapped his head on a beam. That surprised him. He rarely had to duck his head in the buildings of Hadrapole. That low ceiling caught the smoke that drifted lazily about, cast off by both torches and candles. The mid-day bells had not yet sounded in the city, and already the darkness of the blackest midnight had descended in the tavern.

Chang took a seat near a window, with his back to a wall. Many of the patrons, all of them dirty, slovenly, miserable racks, watched him. Chang didn’t care. People would always stare. Few other men with his features walked the streets of Hadrapole. The city was cosmopolitan, but among the impoverished and destitute—which would be the kindest name for the denizens of that hole— xenophobia remained common. They hated foreigners. To a one, they all forgot that their roots lay in foreign lands. The original tribes that had inhabited the lands around Hadrapole had been exterminated or assimilated by the Empire.

The rich and the merchants hated foreigners also—Chang knew that well—but they hid it better.

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