The Nimble Man (A Novel of the Menagerie)

Free The Nimble Man (A Novel of the Menagerie) by Thomas E. Sniegoski Christopher Golden

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Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski Christopher Golden
the subway tunnel. But it was not this sight that
caused him to shiver. Rather, it was the absence of the tremor in the air he
had felt before, the electric presence of the barely contained power of Sweetblood
the Mage.
    Even before he turned, Doyle knew what he would find.
    The recess in the wall where the amber encasement had been
was now empty. In the handful of moments in which he and Eve had both been
overcome, the Night People had made off with the inert form of the most
powerful sorcerer in the history of the world.
    Outside the rain of toads had become a bloody drizzle.
     

CHAPTER FOUR
     
    Leonard Graves sat on the metal bench in the small, oval
park in the center of the affluent Louisburg Square section of Boston's Beacon
Hill. Its bow-front 1840's townhouses faced each other across a private oasis
of green amongst the brick and still functioning gaslights.
    He had been there since early morning, surrounded by the
first signs of spring in New England. The recently mowed grass was a healthy,
dark green from April's cool rains. Forsythia buds were just starting to bloom
and crocuses forced yellow heads up from the dark soil at the enclosure's far
end. Graves had always loved spring time. It brought a sense of renewal he had
always considered poetic; the cycle of life beginning again after a season of
death.
    If only that was the case with all things .
    Dr. Graves gazed through the wrought iron fence at his
current residence. The corner townhouse, which belonged to Mr. Doyle, had been
built in 1846, one of the last homes to be constructed in this privileged
neighborhood, or at least that was what he had been told by the original
architect. With its brick, brownstone lintels, and granite steps, it resembled
the other houses on either side of the square, but there was also something
that gave it an air of difference. At times the townhouse felt alive, as if
imbued with a spirit all its own by the powerful magicks wrought within its
walls. Graves often thought of it as a great, monolithic animal, its windows
open eyes gazing out upon a world in which it believed itself supreme.
    Doyle's was the first of a row of seven homes in front of
him, and another six stood opposite them, all of the residents holding partial
ownership to the beautiful park in which he sat. Graves doubted that Doyle had
ever noticed the beauty just outside the front of his home.
    The magician and Eve had gone away late the previous
evening, and he pondered the success of their mission. It had been this concern
that drove him outside to the peace of the park in bloom. There had been no
calls, no attempts at communication; even the spirit realm had been strangely
quiet, and it made him anxious. In the old days, this would have been a call to
action, a chance to strap on his guns and throw himself full bore into the
thick of things, but now . . . There was no use worrying about it, he would
know their accomplishments, or lack thereof, soon enough.
    He turned his face up toward the murky sunshine. The clouds
were thick today with the slightest hint of gray, as if soiled, but the sun's
beams did manage to break through in places. What he wouldn't give to be able
to feel the sun upon his flesh again. He recalled how dark his already
chocolate brown skin used to become when exposed to long doses of the sun's
rays. What was it that Gabriella used to say to him? From mocha to mahogany.
    He smiled with the memory of his fiancée; she had loved this
time of year as well. Graves looked down at the translucence of his hands, his
smile fading. There were always so many reminders of the things he missed,
simple things that he had once taken for granted. The touch of a cool breeze
that prickled the flesh, the smell of a garden in bloom, the love of a good
woman. The list was infinite.
    Irony there. He had eternity to miss infinity.
    Graves rose from his seat and strolled through the garden. Why
do I insist on torturing myself? But he knew full well the answer. He

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