The Alchemist of Souls: Night's Masque, Volume 1 by Anne Lyle

By Anne Lyle

While Tudor explorers again from the hot international, they introduced again a reputation out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships within the explorers’ wake, bringing local American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. yet what do those possible magical beings actually need in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador's bodyguard, yet assassination makes an attempt are the least of his difficulties. What he learns in regards to the skraylings and their unholy powers might expense England her new ally--and Mal his soul.

e-book ISBN: 978-0-85766-215-6

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As one they leapt from their seats and ran for the blessedly near back door. " Ned gasped as they raced across the back yard, slipping in puddles of piss left by customers who hadn't made it as far as the jakes. " Mal replied. " The back gate was padlocked. He rattled it in frustration. Any moment now the guards would come bursting through the back door. " Ned crouched with his hands laced together, ready to give Mal a boost. " "Yes, yes! " Mal scrambled over the rough wooden paling, wincing as a splinter dug into his thigh, and dropped down into the alley.

She thought guiltily of Pastor Jan's sermons on the subject of witchcraft. Surely there could be no harm in such a useful practice? Cutsnail raised his glass, and Coby followed his lead, sipping the cold liquid. She knew better than to drink it too quickly. It might not make a man drunk like beer, but it had a potency of its own which might equally lead to incautious behaviour. She did not want to shame her master in front of this powerful foreigner. Master Naismith's Tradetalk extended only to the common courtesies and he relied on Coby to translate for him in matters of business.

Mal drew his dagger and handed it to the porter. He was tempted to point out that anyone who thought taunting the insane was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon deserved everything he got. "I trust such visitors are not allowed into my brother's lodgings," he said. " The man grinned nervously. He was lying, of course. The occasional visitors paid for the little luxuries that made the keepers' lives bearable in this vile place. He hoped Sandy had afforded them little entertainment. The western gatehouse provided accommodation for patients whose families were willing to spend a little extra on their keep.

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