Today’s Deadly Destination is from D.B. Jackson‘s Ethan Kaille on Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, 1 October 1768 from THIEVES’ QUARRY (published on July 2, 2013 by Tor Books). Want to win a copy of both books in the Thieftaker Chronicles? Enter via the widget below.
D.B. Jackson’s Ethan Kaille on Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, 1 October 1768 from Thieves’ Quarry
You’re here at last. Good. We haven’t much time. Under most circumstances, I would not consent even to this brief encounter, but Janna Windcatcher indicated that you could be trusted, and Janna is not only a good friend, but also the most accomplished conjurer here in Boston. If she says that you are a person of honor, then I believe her. My name is Ethan Kaille. I am a thieftaker of some small renown. And since you are a friend of Janna’s I will confide that I am also, like Janna, a conjurer. But please, speak not a word of this to anyone we meet; in this time and this place, conjurers are still hanged as “witches.”
Janna mentioned that you might not be entirely aware of the date. I know not what manner of spell she used to bring you to this place, but it must have been powerful indeed.
Very well. Today is the first of October in the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and sixty-eight. You are in the city of Boston, in what is known as Cornhill, near the Old Meeting House and the Town Hall. Just to the north and east of us can be found Peter Faneuil’s grand new hall and market.
I do not know what cities look like in your place and time, but once, not so long ago, Boston was the finest city in all of British North America. She shone like the sun and bustled with commerce and culture and a virtuous and hearty citizenry. Sadly, in recent years, since the early days of the war with the French, which concluded more than five years ago, she has been in decline. Commerce has fled these shores for the wharves of New York and Philadelphia. The city has fallen upon hard times, and has become instead a haven for the most unsavory sort of men. It has also garnered a well-earned reputation as a center for unrest, for conflict between His Majesty, King George III and those who would question the Crown’s authority in this new land. And yet still I call this town my home, and hope that some day it will shine as once it did.
Close your eyes for a moment. Breathe deep of the air. This is as cool and clear a day as we have had this autumn, but still the scents of brine, of fish, and of tar from the shipyards lays heavy on our city. This is, and shall always be, a city tied to the harbor and the sea. Closer by you might catch as well the scent of cooking fires from nearby publick houses, of freshly cut timber and dried, fallen leaves, and perhaps as well the less pleasant odors of horses. You can hear the dry clop of unshod horse hooves on cobblestone and the rattle of carriages and chaises as they pass by. Men and women shout to each other in the lanes, hoping to strike deals in the streets before merchants add to the price of goods at market. And if you strain your ears, you might also hear the distant strains of fifes blowing in the late afternoon sun, of drums beating, and of regiments of soldiers marching in unison.
Walk with me. It’s not far. Just to the edge of King Street where it meets Long Wharf. There. Do you see those ships? More than a dozen of them lay anchored near the wharf, bobbing on the gentle swells, looking like shadows against the glittering waters. They are British war vessels: frigates, sloops, post ships. Though they are mostly empty now, only hours ago their decks were crowded with men in the bright red uniforms of His Majesty’s army. They appeared in the harbor not so many days ago, bearing from Halifax a force of British soldiers, more than a thousand strong. All through the summer, as rioters took to the streets and agents of the Crown attempted in vain to impose order on the city, Francis Bernard, Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, pleaded with his superiors in London to send troops to pacify the city. At last his pleas have been answered.
Today, just within the past few hours, the occupation of Boston has begun. For the first time, we are a garrisoned town. I am British, born and raised. I served in His Majesty’s fleet during the War of the Austrian Succession, and I have long considered myself a supporter of Parliament and its authority. I have stood opposed to the rabble-rousing of men like Samuel Adams and James Otis. But this . . . I never thought I’d see the day when my city was occupied, as if we were a foreign enemy at war with the King and his men. I fear this is a day that we may all long regret.
And yet, I cannot join with others in the taverns, as they speak of these matters over ales and plates piled high with oysters. I have an inquiry to conduct. Once again, I must ask that you keep this in strictest confidence. In the last day or two, events both terrible and mysterious have been brought to my attention. One ship among the British fleet, the HMS Graystone, has suffered a dark fate. All the men aboard the vessel — sailors, soldiers, officers; nearly a hundred in all — are dead, killed, it seems, by a single spell of unthinkable power.
Because I am a thieftaker, and because rumors of my spellmaking abilities have followed me for many years, I have been asked by officials in the employ of the Crown to investigate these murders. To be honest, I know not where to begin my inquiry. A spell as strong as this one had to have been cast by a conjurer far more powerful than I, or even than Janna. I know of no such conjurers in Boston. Which means that a force of magick hitherto unknown to my friends and me is now abroad in the streets of Boston.
For this reason, I must end our visit now. I am sorry for this. Had you come some other day, perhaps I could have introduced you to my friend Kannice Lester, proprietor of a tavern called the Dowsing Rod, who makes as fine a fish stew — a chowder, as such dishes have come to be called here in recent years — as any served in the city. I could have shown you the impressive estates of Beacon Hill, and the open leas of Boston’s fine Common. But alas, murder and foul conjurings have come once more to our fair city, and it falls to me to find the villains responsible.
Fare well, my friends. Keep safe, and please reveal to no one the confidences I have shared with you.
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Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, September 28, 1768: Autumn has come to New England, and with it a new threat to the city of Boston. British naval ships have sailed into Boston Harbor bearing over a thousand of King George III’s soldiers. After a summer of rioting and political unrest, the city is to be occupied.
Ethan Kaille, thieftaker and conjurer, is awakened early in the morning by a staggeringly powerful spell, a dark conjuring of unknown origin. Before long, he is approached by representatives of the Crown. It seems that every man aboard the HMS Graystone has died, though no one knows how or why. They know only that there is no sign of violence or illness. Ethan soon discovers that one soldier — a man who is known to have worked with Ethan’s beautiful and dangerous rival, Sephira Pryce — has escaped the fate of his comrades and is not among the Graystone’s dead. Is he the killer, or is there another conjurer loose in the city, possessed of power sufficient to kill so many with a single dark casting?
Ethan, the missing soldier, and Sephira Pryce and her henchmen all scour the city in search of a stolen treasure which seems to lie at the root of all that is happening. At the same time, though, Boston’s conjurers are under assault from the royal government as well as from the mysterious conjurer. Men are dying. Ethan is beaten, imprisoned, and attacked with dark spells.
And if he fails to unravel the mystery of what befell the Graystone, every conjurer in Boston — including Ethan himself — will be hanged as a witch.
Thieves’ Quarry is the second volume in the Thieftaker Chronicles, the new historical fantasy series from D.B. Jackson. Combining elements of traditional fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery and historical fiction, the Thieftaker books are sure to appeal to readers who enjoy intelligent fantasy and history with an attitude.
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