The Thirteenth Magician
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by Patrick Welch
Category: Dark Fantasy
Description: Daasek is a slave-assassin of the Magician Nyxx. For reasons known only to Nyxx and his patron, all of the other magicians in Daasek's world must be destroyed...
eBook Publisher: Twilight Times Books, 2002
eBookwise Release Date: February 2004
30 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [310 KB]
Reading time: 198-278 min.
"Writer Welch has crafted a fast paced, absorbing fantasy set in a harsh land filled with savageness, inexorable inhabitants and near hopeless situations ... Excellent read."--Molly Martin, Word Weaving.
"This novel attempts what few modern works do: it attempts to account for evil in a sane way and operates in a universe not yet bankrupt of rational, ethical discourse. If offered a choice between a Stephen King work and this one by Patrick Welch, unhesitantingly and with alacrity, I would choose Welch's The Thirteenth Magician."--Pat Fredeman, author of Paradise Regained.
"If all eBooks are of this high quality, then I foresee that area of publishing gaining more acceptance soon. I hope that one day The Thirteenth Magician will also be in print, but don't wait for that day to read it."--Jonathan Fesmire, SF Site.
"Welch's characterization and story are well crafted and a (comparatively) fast read. Very few of his characters are two dimensional throw-aways. There is enough background to provide a backdrop without being oppressive and there is very little (or none--take your pick) excess wordage."--Fred Nowek, Ibn Qirtaiba.
Daasek swirled the gritty wine in his goblet and stared darkly into it. If he divined his future in the dross his expression gave no telling. His had been a hard three days' journey, and he was grateful just to have a roof overhead and a wall behind. He fingered the solitary gold coin in his purse and sighed. It was all the satchel allowed this evening, sufficient for a room, a meal and little else. No wench to keep him company, and not enough to get him drunk. If such were possible.
He was in Ta'Bel, a small port that offered little more than several taverns and brothels. He was here for the same reason he had previously visited Oio, Byrnhea, Phrion and several he would not remember. He was here to kill someone. Who, or why, he did not know. He knew only that the urge had set upon him ten days previous, an urge he could not ignore or control. So he was drawn to Ta'Bel. The answers he needed, or at least was permitted, he prayed would come in time. That was a hope Daasek clung to desperately. Because it was the only hope he had.
It was the silence that attracted him. As in any tavern, there was a constant undertow of conversation, clinking goblets, the coarse laughter of the men and the feigned outrage of the women. Although Daasek took no part in the festivities, it was comforting to observe them. But suddenly nearly everyone stopped. He turned from his glass to discover why.
A tall, very thin man had entered. He was clad in a velvet jerkin and breeches, both the color of blood. The man's skin was gray, more from dust perhaps than a lack of sunlight. Gray and stretched taut across protruding cheekbones and forehead. The urge, sometimes irritating like a stone in a shoe, others a force that struck with fire, squirmed within Daasek as he gazed upon the newcomer's face. There was no doubt. This was the man he was being driven to kill.
The latter approached the bar, where a space was quickly made. He spoke briefly to the innkeeper, who returned immediately with a mug of wine. Daasek noted the man made no effort to pay. Instead he leaned against the bar with an unhappy smile and studied the room.
The stranger's attention was drawn to a game of dice at a far corner, where the participants, concentrating on the action, had ignored his entrance. Daasek had noted it earlier and regretted his forced austerity. Not that he would have won. He was a terrible gambler, but the camaraderie, even paid for, would have been enjoyable. What interested the stranger interested Daasek, so he decided to pay more attention to the game.
Until then, the game had been reasonably friendly, with curses and threats immediately followed by laughter and calls for more wine. Within moments of the stranger's attention the atmosphere changed. One player suddenly began enjoying a phenomenal run of luck. Four times in succession he threw triple fives with the three dice. The first time he was greeted with cheers and congratulations, the second mere wonderment. By the fourth time the competitors were no longer supportive.
Daasek glanced over at the velvet man. His eyes were closed and he was crooning softly to himself. All the while he caressed the solitary black stone within the single ring he wore.
Another winning roll and one loser had had enough. A short, burly man in leather jerkin seized the dice and hurled them against the wall. Three fives came up again. Before the winner could protest, his arms were pinned by two of the gamblers. The short man drew his knife and calmly, expertly slashed the winner's throat. His comrades held the victim until there was no more movement, then they dropped him face down into his growing pool of blood. They divided the victim's purse among themselves, then stalked out of the bar. On the way one glared at Daasek, but Daasek offered no protest.