the smuggler’s bible

Dorian

A stray shot shatters one of the tall windows and hits a shelf. Dust and torn paper flutter on the new breeze. Other things float on the breeze, too—hoarse shouts and the sharp rattle-bang of another enfilade.

“I didn’t show up to sit through amateur night,” Dorian says. “Every man has silver.”

“And every bee has a sting. Still, they die by the hundreds when a wasp is among them.”

There is a far off sound like a peal of thunder. The timbers of the house shake.

“What about hand grenades? Certainly your metaphor has room somewhere for those.”

Cormac

The worst of the confusion is hidden by the fog. Trees appear, looming, and recede again as Cormac runs in the direction of the house. Muzzle flashes glare white in the hazy distance to either side. Voices ahead—five or six men, maybe—then someone shouts and gunfire erupts, rattling through the branches.

Cormac hits the deck and covers his head. He can smell a thick animal pungency under the tang of rifle smoke, hear whimpering and a hideous crunching. Swift motion nearby leaves the fog swirling over the carnage, and the night is cut by a single, brutal howl.

Dorian

The second floor of the library juts out over the lower shelves, twenty feet in the air. The balustrade creaks under Dorian’s hand. Dust an inch thick coats the floor. The judge waits cross-legged in a low-backed chair. A glass and a crystal decanter rest on a table at his elbow, both stained deep, deep red.

“This is one of the oldest parts of the house,” the judge says, waving a hand. “I hoped to give you a sense of scale.”

“And I should be intimidated?”

“Be whatever you like, but consider that this might not be my first rodeo.”

Cormac

Cormac is walking toward the clearing at the back of the house when something stops him. He isn’t sure what—a prickling at the nape of his neck, maybe. A feeling.

Ahead of him, framed in the moonlight, he sees another of Dorian’s men. There’s a low snarl and movement to his left. A blur eclipses the man’s shadow. He hears the thud as the body hits the ground and a wet rasping rush of air.

“Wolf,” Cormac whispers, and fires a warning shot into the air. He knows better than to shout—he’ll need his breath for the sprint.