Edition 17: Riding the Tiger By Thomas Canfield
Sorcerer Jusan and servant Asrai travel to Irushtan, purporting to seek diamonds from the miners who toil in the deepest, darkest shafts. What they seek is much more important: the prevention of a war that would destroy them all. Thomas Canfield’s mythological quest is a great example of the great world building of sword and sorcery epics. SY
The mines of Irushtan were the richest ever discovered. They burrowed into the hard red clay of the Laramie outback, cut through layers of sediment and rock and opened virgin earth which no man had heretofore thought to plunder. They honeycombed the land with an elaborate array of shafts and tunnels. No one individual could attest to the full extent of the mines or profess to a complete knowledge of them. They yielded more precious stones and claimed more lives, bred more misery and incited greater greed, than any operation ever had. It was here that the sorcerer Jusan came, announcing that he wished to purchase diamonds.
For seven days the miners flocked to the cottage Jusan had rented. They waited in line, clutching knotted handkerchiefs in which they carried their hoards, eyeing one another warily. They were admitted one at a time, bid to enter by Jusan’s servant, Asrai. Asrai was a supple-limbed youth of nineteen who bore the dusky complexion and dark eyes of those who dwelt far to the East.
“Welcome,” Jusan greeted each miner in turn. “I see that you are a veteran of many years hard labor in the mines. It resides in your face and in your eyes. A difficult life by any measure, and one which none but the stout of heart dare to venture. Perhaps it is you for whom I have been searching. Come, let us see what you bring me.”