The Five Faces
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When Death writes your name, there is no erasing it. The Markhat Files, Book 8 It starts as a typical day in the park, with Markhat tracking a bully the law won't touch, and promising a little girl he'll find her missing dog, name of Cornbread. But as the sun sets over Rannit, a new menace creeps out with the dark. There's a killer on the loose, and Markhat the finder suspects magic behind the murders. Each victim receives a grisly drawing depicting the place, time, and manner of death. Not a single victim has escaped the brutal fate drawn for them-and now Markhat's own death-drawing has arrived. The mighty Dark Houses are also falling, one by one, as terror grips Rannit's streets. Even sorcerers are dying, their magic failing, their blood spilled as easily as that of any other. With time and hope running out, Markhat races to outwit a creature that can see outside Time itself. Before the picture of his own death becomes stained with real blood. Warning: The dance moves described herein are not intended for novice trolley operators, and the Publisher assumes no responsibility for any loss of ornamental waterfowl, carrot-enhanced undergarments, or wheeled bathing contrivances. The preceding sentence should be read in the voice of Morgan Freeman and to the accompaniment of a competent string ensemble.
bearing a crystal pitcher filled with water and a single tall glass. I was working on my third glass when Jerle reappeared and led me down Avalante’s labyrinthine halls until we reached Evis’s office. Jerle nodded and left. I knocked at Evis’s door. “Come on in,” he said. I stepped inside. Evis’s office is always dark. His halfdead eyes don’t need more than the least flicker of candlelight to make his world bright as my noon. As I entered, he pushed a button on his desk, and soft lights flared
been an iron-banded door the size of a garrison gate. I wedged my butt into a corner and propped my chin on my knuckles and waited. Nothing moved beyond my sooty window. Not a single crow dropped down to peck at the bits of trash pushed along by a breeze. Not a single rat peeped out of the grates in the gutter drain. Hell, the pile of fresh horse-flop not ten feet away out in the street wasn’t troubled by a single fly. Ice-footed spiders played up and down my spine. Rannit, even after Curfew,
his wedding, and all the other days that never were.” “To those we lost,” she added. “May the death god choke on his own rotten tongue.” We drank. The wine was sour. I didn’t touch it again, after the toast. Stitches had done the best she could with what was left in Avalante’s deep larders. We had beef jerky, boiled potatoes, rock-hard biscuits, and the same dried beans the Army used to serve ten months out of every twelve. Cornbread had a bowl of his own and a corpse to tear his jerky into
man who introduced himself as Mr. Penny. Mr. Penny claimed he knew all there was to know about dogfighting on the docks. I tossed his ass out in the street when he hinted he’d let me in on all his secrets for a pair of Old Kingdom crowns. I’d barely gotten comfortable when he knocked at my door again. This time, he was willing to settle for a single crown, and out into the street he flew, by the scruff of his scrawny, dirty neck. Give Mr. Penny one thing—he was persistent. By the time we
blew. A moment after that, a pair of shiny, black Watch tallboys rounded the corner. Old Mr. Bull, still sweeping his stoop, saw them heading for me and laughed. “You’re in trouble now,” he said. His broom never missed a beat. “One of these days you’ll find some common sense and quit all this and stay home with the missus.” I didn’t close my door. Instead, I leaned on the wall beside it and greeted the Watch with a smile and a cheery wave. “One of these days I just might,” I said to Mr. Bull.