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Love, Trickery, Murder. All are abundant in the Jewel City. Ben is a schemer and a pickpocket. He knows the city well…and he is torn. Does he betray the woman he loves? Does he have a choice? Will he follow his heart, firmly in the grasp of the beautiful Athena, or give in to the unsavory life he knows?
by Patrick Bran
“Are you really a magician?” Ben asked in a croaking voice.
Ming turned with a glint in his eye. “Do you believe in magic?”
“Then how could I really be a magician?”
Ben shrugged. “I could be wrong.”
“Oh, that’s good.” The old man snickered through yellowing teeth. “I like to see that you’re a man of conviction, Ben.”
“Don’t be a fool,” said Ming’s companion, if he could be called such. Ben had hardly seen the two men look at one another. The dark figure had a voice of ice.
“There is only the blackest magic in this one.” Moolag pointed an accusing finger at Ming. “I have heard tell of him taking the form of a mad dog in order to spread his evil.”
Ben’s eyes went wide. He glanced at Ming Loo and saw a wicked smile form under the rim of his broad hat. Suddenly Ben’s arm began to throb where the teeth of the hellhound had dug at his flesh.
He took a step away but that only brought him closer to the assassin, Moolag. That was no better. The man’s eyes were cold, without emotion. He could easily have been made of granite. Even Ming could not dismiss his gloom.
“You don’t sound as though you’re enjoying your work, Moolag.”
The assassin threw a look of poison at the old man, yet still emotionless, full of danger rather than hate. His words hissed through clenched teeth.
“Just remember your promise.”
Ming only grinned.
“How could I forget?”
Patrick Bran spent much of his early life moving around. He traveled from the Middle East to Antarctica by way of the US Army. When he returned home to Washington State, Patrick quickly began what would become a lifelong involvement in theatre. His work in stagecraft eventually took him to Washington DC, where he built scenery for a nationally-renowned regional theatre. When progress demanded it, Patrick left the scene shop and took the reins of the theatre’s young web presence, a job he has been doing for more than a decade. Patrick still lives in Washington DC with his wife and two daughters. He writes fiction and gets his best ideas from ancient history, myth and the legends of the past.
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