A legend tells of the Mirror of Falang-Et: a magical object in the city of the frog tribes, which can tell all manner of truths…
There is only one truth Gorel of Goliris – gunslinger, addict, touched by the Black Kiss – is interested in: finding a way back home, to the great empire from which he had been stolen as a child and from which he had been flung, by sorcery, far across the World
It started out simple: get to Falang-Et, find the mirror, find what truth it may hold. But nothing is simple for Gorel of Goliris… When Gorel forms an uneasy alliance – and ménage à trois – with an Avian spy and a half-Merlangai thief, things only start to get complicated. Add a murdered merchant, the deadly Mothers of the House of Jade, the rivalry of gods and the machinations of a rising Dark Lord bent on conquest, and things start to get out of hand. Only one thing's for sure: by the time this is over, there will be blood.
Not to mention sex and drugs… or guns and sorcery.
I couldn't resist sneaking in this "guns and sorcery" novella, part of my cycle of the tales of Gorel of Goliris. It did win the British Fantasy Award, though! – Lavie Tidhar
"Makes no apologies for its pulp sensibilities, while simultaneously exploring questions of human sexuality, chemical addiction and the loss of home and purpose; all subjects that are regularly grappled within modern, mainstream literature… a highly entertaining and exotic piece of genre fiction."– Mithila Review
"A delightfully Weird pulp tale that could easily sit on a shelf alongside Leiber, Vance and Moorcock… an excellent planned and exuberantly executed fantasy."– Pornokitch
"Like discovering Michael Moorcock for the first time… vibrant and visual… every bit as rich and riveting as a much longer fantasy."– Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing
When they came to the city of Ankhar a carnival was in progress, and fireworks lit up the night. But there are men whose business allows no respite for celebrations, and they found one such man, and unburdened themselves of the gemstones called Buried Eyes, and exchanged them for a less unpleasant currency. The trader with whom they had dealt was later seen fleeing the city, his graal moving slowly under heavy cargo.
'He was eager enough to buy them wholesale,' Jericho Moon said, and looked troubled. Gorel sat opposite with his beer untouched and a glazed look in his eyes. He had paid a visit to the temples and returned with his pocket lighter, and the fine powder they call gods' dust already absorbed into his blood-stream. There were always gods, and where they were so could the black kiss be eased. Into his silence, Jericho said, 'I heard a new dark mage is raising an army to the north and west of here, in the No Man's Lands. It is possible the stones were meant for his service.'
Gorel shrugged; the craving of the black kiss had been sated, and he was at peace. 'You think we should seek employment again so soon?'
His friend laughed. 'Which direction were you thinking of following?' he asked.
'North, and then east,' Gorel said. 'Do you know the people they call falangs?'
'The frog-tribes?' Jericho looked taken aback. 'They are distant cousins to us Merlangai. Distant, mind, and I prefer it that way.'
Jericho seemed to consider. 'Their girls hold some charm,' he allowed, and Gorel laughed.
Jericho took out his smoking implement, the translucent-blue pipe of the Merlangai: like a shell it looked, made for summons or the calling of war, but its carapace was stained on the inside from the passing of much smoke and resin. Jericho stuffed the pipe's mouth with the precious sea-weed they call Derin, or Gitan, and lit up. 'Then I shall go west,' he said, blowing out smoke, 'for as much as I like you, Gorel, you are undoubtedly bad for your friends' health –' and he touched his hand to his mouth, and grimaced.
'You'll grow new teeth for the broken ones,' Gorel said complacently. 'It is a benefit those of us without a fish for a mother must do without.'
Jericho's eyes flared. 'Not fish,' he said, and Gorel grinned. 'Not fish?'
'Mammal. Like human.'
'As you like.'
The light subsided the half-Merlangai's eyes. The two friends grinned at each other.