WIP: The Mage’s Gift

Photo of a dangerous woman.

You can find “The Subtler Art,” featuring The Dark and Tericatus, in Blackguards: Tales of Assassins, Rogues, and Mercenaries.

I’ve got a new Patreon story brewing, that I hope to finish up today and let sit for a few days before posting. I recently finished up a bespoke story, title still TBD, and that’s sitting in the mental fridge drawer chillaxing before I go back to its rewrite and polish.

So for Patreon, another Serendib story, and a return to The Dark and Tericatus. Here’s some from yesterday:

After she’d hopped the wall, it had been easy enough to defeat the bloodsucking ivy and the centipede hounds contained in the first set of walls. After that, it got more interesting.

The Dark rarely stooped to thievery nowadays but, the truth be told, it was how she had started her professional life, long ago in a city whose name she had deliberately forgotten. She had been a child born to both privilege and indifference. At fifteen, she had left the school where her parents had stored her in order to make a living from burglarizing the friends of those parents, at least those whose estates and townhouses she’d had occasion to reconnoiter in her adolescent years.

She had done quite well by this, well enough that she spread the largesse to those less comfortable, and in doing so, became known as “The Dark Angel.” When, sixteen months later, the unnamed order of assassins that had noted her exploits came to recruit her, they demanded she remained herself, which she did by truncating the former name to the form she had gone by several decades now.

She had kept that knowledge to herself as, over the course of those decades, she’d met any number of unusual characters, including her spouse for two of those decades, Tericatus the alchemist-mage, Chig the Rat God, and quite a few fellow assassins who failed to live up to the high standards she held when it came to both of her professions.

She had retired from assassinations – aside from the occasional hobbyist or wager-related killing – some time ago, but now to thievery not so much for entertainment but also because she was impelled by the yearly conundrum of a suitable anniversary present for a man who could, literally, conjure almost anything his heart could imagine.

The next wall was made of fricklebrick, which sounds amusing but involves a number of razor-sharp edges shifting frequently and somewhat randomly in their orientation.

As she paused, letting the gloves covering her hands sense the vibrations of the bricks and adjust themselves to countershift accordingly in a gentle grinding born of magic and machinery, she thought about his imagination and – not the for the first time – contemalted her luck in a mate who had long ago grown blasé with such things and preferred inner qualities of fierceness and determined loyalty.
She wriggled upwards, her features smeared with coalblack to match the midnight shadows around her. This year, she planned to snare something lovely that could not be bought – her philosophy of presents was that such things were better assembled by than by coin.

This garden, located on one of the great terraces built along the mountain slope bordering the city to the north, belonged to a recent arrival to the city, a merchant/scientist whose name the Dark kept having tremendous difficulty remembering. This spoke of certain magics laid upon the name to avoid notice, and that was intriguing, and more intriguing yet were the rumors of the contents of the innermost garden, center of three sets of walls, which held a worthy gift.

This weekend I’m teaching Creating An Online Presence for Writers and the Flash Fiction Workshop – there’s still a few slots open if you’re interested!

Enjoy this sample of Cat’s writing and want more of it on a weekly basis, along with insights into process, recipes, photos of Taco Cat, chances to ask Cat (or Taco) questions, discounts on and news of new classes, and more? Support her on Patreon..

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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