Volume 1, Issue 3, September 30, 2006|
|The One-Legged Assassin|
by TW Williams
My hand brushed the shoulder of his jerkin before he twisted away. Even with his limping gait, he was soon lost in the crush of the market crowd. I was that close.
By the Immaculate Calf's steaming feces! I was that close!
As I cursed and pushed and tried to peer through the sea of sweating faces and unwashed bodies, I felt something clench the sleeve of my robe. I looked down, expecting a beggar brat or inept pickpocket. Despite the sun baking the bazaar, I shivered -- so close that I had to die.
A neck-seeker, its gleaming red-brown body almost as long as my hand, was crawling up my right arm. If it reached the great vein in my neck....
Suppressing a shudder, I reached down with my left hand, grasped the thing and tugged. Unclean magic tingled against my palm. Although I had a firm grip, it would not come free, moving as if my hand wasn't on it.
Continuing to tug at it, I shoved through the crowd. Gooseflesh pimpled the spot on my neck where I expected to feel the piercing bite at any moment. I slammed into a bent, old woman, spilling the platter of flarefruit on her head and shoving her against a snake charmer, who, flailing wildly for balance, sat down abruptly in his basket of vipers.
I reached the well and, vaulting its low wall, jumped in feet first. I didn't know how deep it was, but if the fall killed me at least I wouldn't die from the neck-seeker's bite. Bouncing off the stone-lined walls more times than I cared to count, I finally plunged into water, its coolness a shock after the desert sun above.
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