by Pete Aldin
Light twinkled from the coin as it spun. Aris watched the woman watching it, his
hands splayed on the trestle table he had set up by the roadside in front of his
He could set a coin spinning far longer than it should, much to the awe of
customers, and without magick involved. Usually he enjoyed this part of the ritual
of trade. Today he glanced at the copper circle turning on its edge with a hollow
feeling, despite the obvious wonder on the face of the woman before him. The fact
that he could think of no other natural talent in his possession but this . . . this
parlor trick -- well, it took the shine off the moment.
Lately he had been increasingly troubled by bitter thoughts such as this. Perhaps it
had to do with all the gray he was finding in his hair since Summer. Perhaps it was
the approaching Winter. Perhaps it was the lack of recent business . . .
"How are you doing that?" the woman asked, her head pulled so far back that her
jowls formed a second chin beneath the first.
He slid the sleeve back from one wrist and waggled the fingers of that hand.
"Madam. You sought a mage and a mage you have found." He snatched the coin
from the table before it could begin wobbling. "You also seek a death, I take it."
She popped her chin forward out of the grip of her jowls, and said, "I'm told you
are a deathsmith." She said the word oddly, as if she were speaking it for the first
"You are well-informed but for one detail. I am not a, rather I am the Deathsmith,"
he added when she didn't follow his verbal subtlety.
"You have paid me my attention fee." He opened his fingers briefly to display the
copper coin one last time before pocketing it. "You have my attention. Whose
death do you desire?"
She smiled in a predatory way. "It's my husband, you see."