Saberhagen, Fred – Lost Swords 05 – Coinspinners Story

Tigris found herself bewildered by the simultaneous appearance of two Woods, who shouted contradictory commands. The enchantress had long known in a theoretical way what the Sword of Stealth might do to her, but the actual event was still difficult to deal with.

Before she could decide which of the images of Wood was genuine, she found Karel’s magic surrounding her, the old man’s craft blocking her own magic, at every turn.

Marland, stumbling amid the sudden melee around the table, tripped and fell softly to the carpet, just as the wild swing of someone’s fist passed through the space vacated by his head. He was just starting to crawl, trying to distance himself from the fighting, when a surge of struggling bodies against the far side of the table tipped it over in his direction.

Missed me, he thought, of course. And then he saw Amy.

The fallen table, now turned completely upside down, had not missed her, and in fact she was pinned under it. For just a moment, in the way that the mind will twist things sometimes, Buvrai thought he saw his brother Talgai once again, head gray with dust protruding from the rubble of a fallen building.

But it was Amy. She lay so pale and still, prone, with the edge of the table across her back. Buvrai scrambled closer.

While a horde of people stamped and struggled around him, the guards trying to overcome mass panic and quell fights among the customers, Buvrai pulled Coinspinner from its sheath and wrapped her inert fingers around the hilt. “Amy, don’t. Don’t be dead. Amy, I love you.” Then he let go of the Sword himself.

In the next moment he felt himself grabbed from behind, hauled to his feet in the grasp of a brawny security man.

“I recognize you! You’re the one who was sentenced-” The guard broke off, let go of Marland, rolled his eyes and fell.

Kebbi, fulfilling his duty as bodyguard until he could learn from Marland what had happened to the Sword, had smashed the fellow in the head from behind with the hilt of his own weapon.

Meanwhile Wood, struggling desperately to rid himself of Shieldbreaker, tried instinctively to hack at Adrian. It was a mistake. Of course the slashes of the Sword of Force had no effect upon the unarmed youth.

Then Wood by a supreme effort managed to discard the Sword of Force just before it immovably attached itself to his right hand.

After that Wood, relying on his own powers, managed to make his getaway. Adrian saw him vanish.

Murat had hurled himself into the melee with the idea of rescuing Adrian. Then to his utter astonishment the Crown Prince suddenly beheld Princess Kristin before him-and restrained himself only in the nick of time from grabbing General Rostov with some idea of carrying him to safety.

Murat plunged back into the fray, helped lift a heavy table off a young woman who was screaming too loudly to be seriously injured. A few moments after that, the Crown Prince pulled out Adrian, still intact, from amid the struggling bodies and upended furniture.

Minutes passed before the fighting ended. When peace had finally been enforced by the house guards, the last bets were still required to be honored, by house and customers alike. On the last play the house had in fact won back a substantial portion of its night’s losses. And if, according to the strict rules, any money was still due to the mysterious Sir Marland, payment would be suspended until he could be found. The High Priest breathed a sigh of relief when it became apparent that the suspension of payment might well be permanent. Rumors now rapidly spreading from several sources indicated that the man calling himself Sir Marland was really someone else.

As order was being finally restored in Sha’s, Adrian was just outside, getting into the saddle of a riding-beast.

Escorted by an accomplished wizard, a determined General still armed with Sightblinder, and four Tasavaltan troopers, the Prince was preparing himself for the long journey home to Sarykam.

For some minutes now there had been no sign of either Murat or Kebbi, and neither Adrian nor his escort expected either Culmian to make an appearance now.

Karel had been the last Tasavaltan out of the casino. Before very quietly taking himself away, the old man had searched as best he could, with eyes and magic, for both Shieldbreaker and Coinspinner. He had had no success. Wood or Tigris might have recovered Shieldbreaker, he supposed-but if so, why had they fled the scene?

And Coinspinner? Sighing, the old man reflected that the Sword of Chance had most likely simply taken itself away again, no one knew where. Or had someone else simply picked it up in the confusion? There was no way to be sure.

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