The Zolo Hound of the Newly Found World

A Historical Fantasy Short Story by Allison Thurman

The Zolo Hound of the Newly Found World

by Allison Thurman

Allison Thurman was raised on a diet of Monty Python, Star Wars, and In Search Of, and these have all influenced her fiction about unexplained historical events. She’s currently working on her first novel about the Elizabethan alchemist Edward Kelley. She lives in a galaxy far, far away (well, the DC metro area) with too many books and not enough swords. Website: allisonthurman.com
Twitter: @adotnon
“So, it’s a dog.” Janek wrapped his perfumed handkerchief tighter around his face to block the stench of the squalid Cadiz docks.
“’Tis not just any dog, Senor Hamserka!” Captain Vos gave him a toothless grin.
“But why should I waste my coin on this particular cur? Especially one as noisy as this?” For it had started barking as soon as he saw Janek and showed no signs of stopping.
“Why shouldn’t you?” Vos asked. “Unless, of course, you no longer carry Emperor Rudolf’s coin—”
“Of course I do!” Janek said. “You just usually have better wares. You range from Africa to the New World in a year. Surely you found a new parrot or monkey or something.”
“And did you enjoy the creatures I brought you last year?”
The bird had screeched every single step on the road to Prague, and the sloth…God, he’d had to burn his second-best doublet in Genoa after that foul thing had clung to him for a month! “No,” Janek said. “But the Emperor did.”
Emperor Rudolf, so obsessed with the wonders of the natural world that he spent half his riches on populating that damn menagerie of his, evidently didn’t enjoy the bird or sloth enough to praise Janek face to face. He’d received the news from his master Count Frankenberg, the Emperor’s representative in Spain. No, he needed something so novel, so outstanding that the Emperor would demand an audience. Maybe even promote Janek out of this messy business of birds and beasts and give him some of Frankenburg’s lucrative silk and spice trade. No mere dog would get him all of that.
“Just so! And your Emperor will adore this dog,” Vos prattled on. “For behold! He has no fur and never has!”
“Oh, pish! You obviously shaved it.” But had he? The little male dog —with no hair to cover its parts, this much was apparent—was indeed hairless save a strip of bristles sprouting between its triangular, foxlike ears. But Janek felt no stubble when he grabbed its scruff to pull it off his hosen. If anything, the dog’s hide was smooth as leather and of a dull gray color not unlike that of the Emperor’s elephant.
“Fall is upon us,” Janek said, grinding his teeth. “How do you expect me to keep it warm?”
“Oh, he fairly radiates heat, Senor!” Vos said. “The Indians use them to leach away fever, you see.”
Janek nodded. Well, maybe that would appeal to the Emperor’s obsession with his health. “Does he do anything useful besides the fever thing?”
“He’s a fair ratter,” Vos said. “By my troth, I saw not a single pest during the whole voyage from Mexico!”
That would take care of the feeding, at least. “What do you call this hideous creature?”
“Felipe.”
Janek cocked an eyebrow. “You call him after the Spanish king?”
Vos shrugged. “I’m Dutch.”
Janek smothered a snicker. “I mean, what sort of dog is it? Do the Indians have a name for this breed?”
Vos scratched his beard. “I struggle to say it. Their word begins with ‘zolo,’ Senor.”
The “zolo” kept up its manic jumping around Janek’s feet, wagging and yapping more than the most irritating court lapdog. Yet, he was still quieter than the parrot. No greasy hound smell either, though nothing in God’s creation could reek more than the sloth. And dogs, even naked ones, didn’t spit as the wretched llama had. If nothing else, Felipe’s exuberant friendliness might make him a good gift for one of the Emperor’s mistresses.
Janek pried his purse out of his codpiece. “Ten pesos, and not one maravedi more!”
***
As it turned out, traveling with Felipe was…a joy.
Mind, he couldn’t obey commands. While Janek retched over the side of the ship, Felipe had escaped his cage, and no number of kicks or swats could drive him back in. But just as Vos had promised, not a single rat plagued the voyage to Genoa. Between Felipe’s efficiency and merry antics, he had charmed crew and travelers alike by the time they docked a fortnight later.
Once on land, though, the dog was useless. Felipe couldn’t keep up on foot, let alone with a rider on horseback. After less than a day, Janek pulled Felipe up onto his pommel to ride with him. He even wrapped the little naked animal in a horse blanket, though he did appear to suffer the cold well, even well into the Alps.
But Felipe’s sheer novelty opened doors. Women and children unaccountably cooed over his wrinkly toes and rat-like tail. Felipe lapped up the attention like a kitten with milk. Word of the marvelous hairless dog must have passed from village to village, for by the time Janek reached the foot of the Alps, he found welcome in the finest inn in town—good food and warm, flea-less blankets—all because the innkeeper’s children had heard about the fantastic hairless dog.
Felipe chased the children past the blazing hearth, his barks mixing with their delighted squeals. Despite the innkeeper’s evident misgivings, the children’s affection for the dog had earned Janek a fine dinner.
“It looks like a lizard,” the innkeeper said, clearing away the remains of a roast chicken. “He won’t bite them, will he?”
“Not at all!” Janek stretched his legs before the fire. He pulled out a pouch of the only import from the New World worth anything: tabák.
“And he won’t attack my chickens?” the innkeeper asked.
“No, he only eats rats,” Janek said, lighting his pipe. “And cleans up after himself.” The few times Janek had witnessed a chase, the rat would disappear under or behind something, and Felipe would emerge moments later, smacking his lips without a drop of blood. Perhaps he buried them. Maybe he ate them whole, bones and all.
“Well, my inn has no rats, so he will starve!” the innkeeper said.
“Not at all. He eats so very seldom.” So seldom that Janek had saved enough money on scraps to afford a chicken dinner and more tabák. Count Frankenberg would be thrilled.
“But you say he is a dog, and dogs eat everything!” the innkeeper said.
“All dogs?” Janek took a long draw on his pipe. “God saw fit to start another Creation in the newly found world. The people there live not as we live, worship not as we worship, eat not what we eat. If this is true for the people, it must be so for their dogs as well.” Or some such explanation, best left to fusty clerics with their noses in books.
Who cared anyway? This “zolo-hound” would so impress Rudolf that every man at court would want one. To the devil with Frankenburg’s silks and spices! As the sole supplier of this efficient ratter, Janek could retire within a year. Yes, a manor in the Bohemian countryside, with tapestries on his walls and pewter on his table.
He’d already sent a message to Vos to fetch him a male and a female, so they would be in Cadiz by the time he returned in the spring. Well, that called for another bowl of tabák! “Fear not for your flock but keep them well. For that ‘lizard’ will keep me passing through your inn for years to come.”
“I hope you’re right,” the innkeeper said, giving frolicking Felipe another wary look. “My fowl are the best in this duchy.”
Janek waved him off and took a deep inhale. The tábak warmed his lungs and stimulated his heart, and good thing too. The next leg of his journey through the thickest forest this side of the mountains. Usually, he’d go around, but he wanted to get through the mountains before the snows came. If he departed the following day, he could use the light of the full moon to press through the night.
These plans danced in his mind as he went to bed that night. Little Felipe, worn out from his exertions, followed him to his chamber and curled up at the foot of Janek’s bed. He should have kicked him to the floor to sleep where a dog belonged, but he’d been such a good boy all day that he decided to indulge him. Just this once.
***
Janek was so deep into his dream—lighting a fresh pipe of tabák while zolo-puppies played at his feet—that he’d fallen out of bed before he realized what had jolted him awake. The pounding on his door was as loud as the hooves of a herd of Andalusian mares.
He opened the door to find the innkeeper, very awake and red-faced. “You! I mean, your dog!” He gripped his nightcap in his hand. “Your ill-bred lizard-dog!”
“What of him? He’s been with me all night.” Janek yawned. Felipe bounced around at his feet.
“For certain he has not!” The innkeeper grabbed Janek’s sleeve and dragged him down the passage. Felipe followed, his rat-like tail whipping back and forth at what must appear to his canine mind as some delightful new chase.
Janek had wrestled out of the innkeeper’s grip by the time they reached the back garden. “What is the meaning of this?” he said, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “You could have at least let me dress. By my troth, if this is how you treat all your guests—”
“My chickens!” the innkeeper cried. He shoved Janek towards a structure at the end of the garden.
Janek cursed the innkeeper with every bare-footed step. The henhouse slumped like a drunken sailor, but the gate about it appeared sound. Not a chicken in sight, though plenty of scattered chicken shit and feed. Perhaps it was time he got a pair of spectacles. But after a moment, he could make out something that looked like feathers.
Clumps of brown and white stuck to the ground under a layer of morning frost. Janek plucked a wing off the ground. It was limp as dead grass. Wasn’t death supposed to stiffen the limbs? “Where’s the rest of it?” he asked.
“That is a whole bird, sir! One of many, killed by your New World cur!”
Janek turned the clump over. Yes, there was the head, the feet. It would have made a fine feast that evening. Yet for the bigness of its feathers, the bird had no heft at all. Where had its insides gone? No organs, no blood, just skin shriveled around a handful of bones.
“How is this my ‘cur’s doing?” Janek snapped. “A dog tears chickens limb from limb. This bird is desiccated.” Indeed, it resembled one of the dried corpses the Emperor imported from Egypt.
“What else could have done it?”
Janek shoved the corpse at the innkeeper. The chicken’s head lolled to the side. The dead eyes sat in the sockets like raisins, as dried out as the rest of the bird.
The innkeeper’s eyes widened. He threw the bird to the ground. “God save us!” he cried, crossing himself. “Forgive me, you are right. Your dog can’t have done this. It is a pijavica’s doing!”
“A pija-what?” Janek asked.
“The man-leech! The sinner’s corpse that rises to drink the blood of the living!”
“Don’t be a fool!” Janek snapped. “Your village is so tiny I could toss this bird out of town from here! You can see as well as I that you have no fresh graves.”
“Well, something happened to my flock!” shouted the innkeeper. “If not a dog or a monster, then what?”
Janek huddled against the cold dawn. Yes, something was amiss here. Felipe snuffled about the garden, taking the odd pause to piss or lick his balls. In no way was he the cause of this. But something drained the chickens. What could obliterate its viscera so completely yet leave the skin and bones too dry to rot?
“Oh, God!” Janek scrambled away from the henhouse, smothering his face in his shirt. “This is no animal, but some miasma!”
“A plague?” the innkeeper asked. “Are you sure?”
“Good Lord, yes, and it doesn’t take a physick to see it! Felipe, get out of there!” Janek grabbed the dog. “God’s wounds, and to think you fed me that! Get yourself a good apothecary. And burn the bodies!”
To the devil with this cursed little burg! Best to wash his hands, light a pipe of tabák, and be on his way before he caught this wasting sickness. Janek raced back to the inn clutching Felipe, who wagged his tail giddily all the way.
***
A stiff breeze snatched away the last puff of Janek’s pipe. “I should have gone around,” he muttered to himself.
It took two days and stands of firs so dense he could scarcely see the sky to admit he couldn’t traverse the forest. Even his mount, a seasoned post horse called Capitano, struggled to find a place to put one hoof after the other. For these past hours, he’d led Capitano on foot, leaving Felipe in the saddlebag so he’d not lose him in the underbrush. All the while, Janek prayed his bread and tabák would last.
Neither had.
Shivering, he tied Capitano to a tree, wedged himself between a pair of twisted trunks, and tried to stay his growling stomach. Darkness—even more darkness—fell as the sun set. He lit his lantern and considered his options.
Turning around would land him in the snows he’d tried to avoid, but at least he’d encounter a mountain inn or two. But he’d have to explain both the expense and his delay to Count Frankenberg. But on foot he’d starve before he reached the other side.
Capitano paced in his harness, nostrils flaring. Felipe leaned out of his saddlebag with ears perked, sniffing the air.
“Smell something good?” Janek whispered. He grabbed Felipe and wrapped his cloak tight around both of them. God, let it be a deer! Not that he stood a chance of catching it with only a lapdog and a dagger. But if the trees slowed them down, perhaps prey struggled too.
Snowflakes flickered in the lantern light, blotting out the few snatches of sky visible through the canopy above. Damn it all, now he’d have to keep moving or freeze, for the snow would smother a campfire.
Capitano lurched against his harness, his panicked whinnying echoing off the tress. No common deer would make a horse react so, especially a beast as sensible as Capitano. Janek’s mind raced. What predators stalked this forest? What was big enough, strong enough, to frighten a full-grown horse? He struggled with his scabbard, freeing his dagger but dropping Felipe in the process. With a yelp, Felipe shot into the forest.
“Dammit, Felipe! Get back here!” As if Janek could protect him against whatever was out there! He held the lantern aloft, straining to see something, anything.
A rising howl drowned out his hammering heart.
Another howl, louder than the first, echoed off the trees. Capitano screamed and reared.
Shadows slunk in the dark. Eyes reflected…oh God, more than one pair, and from more than one direction.
Janek gripped the dagger with a shaking hand for all the good it would do. Even the best Spanish rapier was no match for an entire wolf pack. If only he had a torch! Or a mastiff. Where was Felipe?
Plastering himself against the nearest tree, Janek felt the rank breath of the wolves drawing nearer. He peered into the darkness but couldn’t see past Capitano’s stampeding.
“Felipe!” Janek called. What was he thinking? The little dog would freeze to death if the wolves hadn’t eaten him already. “Here, boy!” he called, his voice cracking. The poor mite! A tear froze on Janek’s cheek. Why, oh why had he not simply gone around?
Capitano’s screams bled into the wolves’ howls. Janek crossed himself. “Jesus, hear my prayer! Defend me from the enemy, at the hour of my death…” Every muscle ached to run, but he dared not, for the hungry wolves would be upon him in a trice. Janek scanned the ground wildly. A branch, a stone, anything—
Something shot by with such force it knocked Janek to the ground.
He flailed for the lantern, narrowly missing getting his hand torn off. Sweet Jesu, something had taken on the wolves, something big enough to crack bones, tear flesh, and move so fast Janek could scarce see anything save a whirlwind of fangs, fur, and glittering eyes. He hugged the frozen ground and covered his head.
And then everything stopped dead.
Janek froze, wedged between Capitano and a stand of bushes. He shivered at every sound that broke the sudden silence. The dull crack of bone. The rasp of the wolf’s final breaths. Then something wet, oh God, like the juicy bite into some unholy fruit.
A bear. What else could be large or strong enough to crush a wolf’s bones? Silently as he could, Janek loosed Capitano’s bonds. The poor beast deserved at least a chance to run. The underbrush snapped under Janek’s feet like arquebus shots.
Two red pinpoints glimmered out of the darkness.
Janek’s throat went dry. Those eyes didn’t belong to the wolf. No, the wolf’s eyes stared dull and dead in the dim light, its tongue lolling from its mouth. The legs twitched a horrible dance – still alive or in its final throes. No, the horrid red eyes belonged to something else. Something not a bear.
Bears weren’t armored. Plates layered this beast’s back, like those of the western scaly lizard Vos had procured for Janek the year before. But those lizards weren’t this huge. Nor did they have vicious spikes along their spines or jaws strong enough to crush a wolf’s throat like dried kindling. And sweet Jesu, that sickening sucking sound!
The wolf diminished, its pelt shrinking to cling to the bones. The wolf’s limbs, no longer twitching, withered to twigs. Even its muzzle receded, and the eyes dulled and shriveled to raisins in its skull, just like the innkeeper’s chickens.
“Jesus, oh, hear my prayer!” Janek crossed himself. God save him, the innkeeper had been right. A pijavika, a blood-drinker! But it couldn’t be. How did it get here? Had it followed him? Why had it waited to attack? And why did this armored leech not look more like a man?
No matter, no matter. Janek had to move now. He pried himself away from Capitano and gripped his dagger. Where to go, where to go? This animal shot out of nowhere to bowl over a wolf. It could surely outrun him. Janek chanced a step back. And another. And another.
And a yip came out of the darkness.
Janek froze. Damn that dog! Thank God Felipe was alive but he wouldn’t be for much longer if he kept up that racket. Felipe’s barking came from just behind the hulking monster, which turned its blistering gaze to Janek.
“Stop! Stay!” Fie, what was he doing?
The monster dropped the wolf. A tongue red with blood licked leathery lips. Its fearsome spiky tail waved back and forth, back and forth.
And then it yipped.
Janek gaped. It yipped again. “Felipe?”
The monster wriggled its body so hard ’twas a wonder the scales didn’t fall off its back. The plates softened, melting back into a familiar dull gray hide. The spikes along his spine sheathed themselves like a cat’s claws. The monstrous body shrunk as well, but not in the manner of the drained wolf. No, the limbs formed those of a lapdog, the ecstatic yipping and wagging as familiar to Janek as his own voice.
Felipe jumped up for a pat on the head. Janek cowered behind Capitano.
What manner of creature had Vos sold him? Did he know? He must…but then, shipboard vermin were so small that the remains were likely unnoticeable. Janek himself hadn’t bothered to seek Felipe’s prey under beds or in dark corners. He’d just assumed the dog had…
Felipe whimpered and looked up at Janek with big, sad eyes like the loneliest hound in the kingdom.
“No, I won’t pick you up!” Janek snapped. “Go on now. Shoo! You can take care of yourself, that’s for damn sure!”
Capitano whickered and stamped his feet at Felipe. His nostrils flared, but he didn’t run.
Felipe licked his lips, catching a last drop of blood clinging to his muzzle. Every inch the chastened dog, he tucked his head and wagged just the tip of his tail as though begging forgiveness.
Janek’s hand tightened on his dagger. He should go ahead and kill whatever Felipe was while he was in this helpless form. He’d save villagers from Genoa to Prague the loss of life and livelihood that would inevitably fall in Felipe’s rapacious wake.
Though…the dog had slept at his feet for weeks now, without even a stray nip.
Felipe shook the snow off himself and tiptoed over to the wolf. Grabbing the great paw in his mouth, he dragged it—or what was left of it—as though it were no heavier than a light blanket. He dropped it Janek’s feet and wagged his tail.
“So, you retrieve as well,” Janek said through dry lips. Poor Felipe couldn’t help what he was. Like wolves and vermin and other disagreeable beasts (most animals were dreadful in some way), Felipe too was what God made him, for good or ill. He wouldn’t have created such a creature did it not serve His greater purpose.
And Felipe’s wolf had one damned fine-looking pelt.
Janek sheathed his dagger and knelt. “Oh, come here!”
In a burst of canine (or whatever he was) enthusiasm, Felipe jumped into his arms. Janek wrapped him in the blanket to maintain lapdog-type appearances. “That’s a good boy, Felipe,” he said, stroking the scruff of fur between his ears. “The best boy.”
***Spring had bloomed by the time Janek reached Prague. After the events in the forest, he’d turned back and spent the season in Genoa—the Alps were impassable in winter, so why shouldn’t he enjoy the season in the Mediterranean? Besides, he’d been that much closer to Cadiz to pick up his latest shipment from Vos.
He strained not to slip on the damp cobblestones of the path up to Castle Hill. Dawn had barely blushed, but already activity teemed inside the Castle gates: courtiers in lush velvets darting from building to building, workmen hauling and unpacking all manner of goods through the courtyard. None turned to watch Janek peering at them through the gate, struggling with his basket and straining to keep Felipe from jumping through the bars. Well, let them enjoy the Emperor’s circle. He’d join them soon enough. He hoisted the basket in his arms and headed towards the Lion Court.
The rank odor of the big cats struck Janek before he even got near it. The Lion Court appeared at first glance to be just another of the Emperor’s many Castle Hill improvements until one noticed the high wall and the viewing gallery atop it. Felipe’s ears perked and he strained on his lead. Janek pulled him back. The Emperor would wring his neck if Felipe harmed so much as a hair on one of his favorite pets. Janek had grown rather attached to Felipe’s scrawny little neck, even when he erupted in fits of barking and jumping.
The source of Felipe’s excitement lumbered into view. Mohammed, the Emperor’s favorite lion, slunk towards them silently as a ghost on paws as big as dinner plates. His bushy mane framed muscular jaws and sharp amber eyes. Mohammed ignored Felipe, obeying the elegant figure seated upon his back. Bejeweled hands buried in his mane, she was as golden as the lion she sat upon, coils of braids wrapped about her head like a crown. Janek swept off his hat and dropped a bow. “Mistress Pylmannova,” he said.
“Master Hamserka, well met!” The Emperor’s lion-keeper slid off Mohammed’s back as quickly as another woman might dismount from a mare. “How is the Spanish court?”
“I should not know, for I wintered in Genoa,” Janek said. “I am sure ’tis not half so welcoming as you.” Janek cringed at his own feeble flirtation. Laurenciana Pylmannova was too dear for such foolish banter.
She was the latest in a succession of ladies Emperor Rudolf had charged with caring for his lions. The other courts had laughed at the idea that the weaker sex might even survive such an enterprise, until they saw the ladies riding one great cat or another down the Palace corridors. Mistress Pylmannova’s lions were, indeed, the tamest in Europe. Still, Janek flinched when Mohammad rolled over on his back with his great clawed paws in the air so that Mistress Pylmannova could scratch his furry belly. “Fear not, Master Hamserka,” she said. “You will speak before King Felipe’s throne yet, just as you will be in the Emperor’s presence.”
“I can only dare to dream.” Perhaps she was right. After all, she’d succeeded as a lion-tamer, so why should he not succeed as simple trader of animals? Her optimism was boundless. He could never hope to find a more steadfast champion and friend. Why, oh why did she have to be married?
Her eyes crinkled merrily in her tanned face. “I like your new cloak.”
“Oh. This.” Janek tossed the cloak over his shoulder, exposing the wolf’s-fur lining. He’d had it made as soon as he’d reached a tailor. “A lucky find in the western woods.”
“And I see you found something else in the west?”
Janek finally let the raucous Felipe off his lead. He leapt into Mistress Pylmannova’s arms, tracking mud on her skirts, but she didn’t mind—she’d forgive an animal anything. At least he’d kept his little fur mantle clean. The soft gray covered him neck to back, and Felipe pranced like a peacock while wearing it, and why shouldn’t he? Perhaps it was extravagant, but Felipe had earned it. “Behold, a hairless dog from the New World!” Janek said. “Feared ratter, leacher of fever, and…other abilities.”
“Oh, he is precious!” She turned Felipe to and fro in equal parts examination and excitement. “Is he healthy for a dog of his kind? He appears well fed.”
“Er, quite.” Janek had been careful to change horses frequently, especially after a pair of holes appeared on Capitano’s leg during the return journey to Genoa. Felipe had tittered his tail apologetically, but Janek had paid the stable to retire Capitano in style, in a comfortable paddock where he’d never again encounter tiny dogs with sharp teeth.
“The Emperor will adore him,” said Mistress Pylmannova.
“Well, in truth…” Janek rubbed the back of his neck. “The Emperor can’t have Felipe.”
“Master Hamserka!” Mistress Pylmannova grinned. “Don’t tell me that at long last, an animal has warmed your heart?”
“Well, what if he has?” Janek couldn’t imagine spending another evening without Felipe sleeping at his feet or another venture through the western woods without such a loyal guard at his side. “Fear, not, I did bring something for the Emperor. I had to go back to Cadiz for it. Why do you think it took me so long?”
He opened the basket. Nestled under a fur blanket lay two zolo puppies, curled around each other nose to tail, one gray, one brown and white spotted. The latter raised her head, perking her foxlike ears.
Mistress Pylmannova loosed the silent joyful squeal most women reserved for jewels or dresses. “A male and a female!” she breathed. “Oh, please, please let me hold them!”
She handled the pups—Adam and Eve, Janek had called them, though of course the Emperor would call them whatever he liked—with exquisite care. They woke to her cries of joy, their tiny tails whipping as they crawled all over her. Janek couldn’t help smiling. He’d single-handedly given the Emperor the means to breed a kennel of the most terrifying guard dogs in Europe! These pups would open the palace doors for him.
But only if he were careful.
Janek tapped Mistress Pylmannova’s shoulder. “Mistress, I should advise you to keep them from Mohammed and his fellows, though.”
“But of course!” She cradled the gray pup like a baby while he licked her fingers. “I’d never let anything happen to these precious little ones!”
“I’m more worried about the lions.”
“Master Hamserka, you jest with me!”
“Not at all.” Felipe sniffed at a passing horse. Janek gave his lead a quick tug. “Indeed, keep them from the deer park, the aviary—actually, I recommend isolating them from the rest of the menagerie entirely. Until they have some training, at least.”
Mistress Pylmannova cocked an eyebrow. “What are you not telling me, Master Hamserka?”
“The ‘zolo’ is unlike any dogs Old World dogs. They have special diets and feeding methods.” Janek took her gently by the elbow. “How many live goats can you get?”
Oh, he had much to explain. But for once it was a pleasure rather than a chore. As it turned out, not all of God’s creations were dreadful. He would never see the appeal of those filthy birds or stupid sloths, but if he could find more animals of wit and use like Felipe? Perhaps he could specialize. He’d make Count Frankenberg look like an amateur.
With that he walked with Mistress Pylmannova towards the Lion Court, and towards his next assignment. Which, for once, he might even enjoy.

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