“My band specialize in assassinations of a very particular sort,” said Eyrain Gage. “The kind that requires the sort of magicks we possess.”

“And what is that?” Watch Captain Threby said. “Is it also why you don’t have Her Majesty’s writs to allow said magicks?”

“We assassinate memories,” Eyrain continued coolly, her voice still even. “When someone needs something to be forgotten forever. We find those with the memories we seek, and blot them out. If the person is weak-willed, a fool, then a powerful charm is all that is needed. All too often, though, the person will need to be snuffed out to ensure their memory dies with them. Now ask yourself: would such a band, even if they received their orders from Her Majesty herself, carry writs?”

“I ask myself if a liar lies as boldly as you, if only that those who hear will think no one could be so willfully false, and thus believe it,” replied Threby.

“What you should be asking yourself, Watch Captain,” Eyrain purred, “is why you have allowed yourself to be drawn into a situation where an assassin sits opposite you, and why your mind is currently racing to recall if there is anything you’ve ever seen that you…shouldn’t have.”

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The abbot sits there still, surrounded by the orb of sheer will that he projected. It was enough to slow the cataclysm to a millionth or more of its speed, and thus spare that tiny patch of the verdant world-that-was. She awaits the one who can not only stop the cataclysm, but cast it back. But she cannot wait forever.

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When the God-Pharaoh’s 94th year began, his nomarchs and courtiers really did begin to wonder if Neferkare had attained the immortality in life that his forefathers had in death. For though he was aged and wizened, with all his children and grandchildren long since dead, Neferkare had outlived nearly everyone in his kingdom. His four wives were deep in the ground, and he made a sport of sitting in his palaces and speaking to the most aged he could find among his subjects, laughing about the old days.

It was then that some of the nomarchs began talking about replacing the God-Pharaoh with one of their own.

Truly, the old man had never exercised much of his divine rule. He had endlessly delegated, even after the 12 years of regency under his mother after he had come to the throne a mere babe. With no closely related heirs, there was sure to be a succession struggle or even a civil war if he died. And if he did not, the wisest of the Nomarchs saw that the increases in their own power would lead to civil war anyway, to which the old Neferkare was sure to turn a blind eye.

But no God-Pharaoh had been killed in living memory, and those in the legends had visited terrible vengeance from beyond the grave. The nomarchs who wished to topple Neferkare in favor of one of their own were fearful that their actions would lead to the gods turning away from their fertile valley and laying waste to their civilization.

And they were right.

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Every pipe was lovingly carved and lacquered, treated for years to be just the right combination of light, strong, and resonant. The great organ contains over 20,000 pipes, and each was fashioned from the bone of a living, thinking being. The exact reason for its existence are obscure. Villagers of the Czech hamlet of Kostníměsto, where it is a tourist attraction filling up one end of a grand but now-dilapidated church, prefer not to discuss it. Many believe that the bones came from executed criminals, put to death by a long-forgotten noble of the Holy Roman Empire. It’s also said that the organ is a macabre jest, either the insane fulfillment of a prophecy or the tortured nature of a Catholic sadist coming to the fore.

Whatever the case may be, the organ is cleaned and maintained by the people of Kostníměsto to keep it ready for tourists. But they have one unbreakable rule: it must never be played.

When the Czechoslovakian government seized the property in 1919 from a exiled nobleman who hadn’t even been aware he owned the crumbling church, they had found a single piece of sheet music on the stands; it remains there still.

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SQUASH 343
Bred for 100% more sweetness, 100% more firmness, and a natural pretzel shape.

HALLAPEENO 122B
Bred to be more easily pronounceable for Anglos.

WHEAT OF THE FUTURE (WHEAT 1088X)
The ultimate evolution of gluten. CAUTION: gluten-sensitives must keep a 1000-meter distance at all times.

KALE 9999
Half the taste yields double the pretentiousness. WARNING: Do not combine with Quinoa 1776 or a Pretentious Vortex may ensue.

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“As a bodyguard, I was always close to the don. And I was good at what I did. Nobody laid a hand on him without his permission in all the years that I was with him. It meant breaking a few arms, and ending a few lives, but he saw me well-rewarded for what I did. The money was good, but more important was seeing how the don handled business. It was a masterclass in running an empire, served up on a platter. And there I was, a fly on the wall. The don didn’t care if I heard what was going on; he certainly didn’t have any idea that I was his most devoted student.”

“And then one day, the don made a mistake. He was getting on in years, and it was the first real slip that he’d had in years. I realized, that day, that no one in his inner circle had noticed, or cared. And I knew then that I had exceeded the teachings of my master. I stepped into the breach, plugging the holes as his mind started to go, and the claws of old age and dementia sank in. By the end, I was the only one who saw him.”

“I wanted to thank him for, however unwittingly, setting me on my path to greatness. So I gave him the best I could: a merciful, painless death in his bed. By then I was in control enough that the coroner never cared to tell anyone about the fatal morphine dose in the old man’s system. The don’s son–a born-in-the-purple halfwit who only knew about the family from what he’d seen in movies–he was the one chosen to lead. And so he did.”

“When I walked away, I took all their best people with me, all the old don’s connections which were now my connections. And I paid my dues by giving the cops who were on my payroll a bloody kill that they could take up to their masters, like a cat with a bird. That would-be don died serving a live sentence, shivved by one of mine who did it for a lifetime supply of cigarettes.”

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“The Rod of Infinite Oblivion,” Sara said, looking at it. “Speak the activating phrase and strike a being with it, and they will be obliterated. From all possible worlds, from all possible pasts, everything. It will be as if they never existed anywhere, ever.”

“Has it ever been used?” I said, peering at the obsidian mace through the tempered glass and antimagic rind.

“That’s just the thing, isn’t it?” laughed Sara. “We can never know.”

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