Sunday, July 31, 2016
Voices in the Cistern, by William Burton McCormick
This is McCormick's second story about Quintus the Clever, a thief in the early days of the Roman empire. And Quintus is having a bad day.
It isn't enough that he is in a city under seige by the Roman's deadly Scythian enemies. No, he also has to deal with Vibius, a large, nasty, unscrupulous rogue. The brute has decided Quintus is the perfect co-conspirator to help him with a dangerous scheme. The last person involved was actually killed by, uh, Vibius. So, what could go wrong?
At one point they pass through a house whose residents had been killed, supposedly in a Scythian attack.
"Since when do the Scythians use short swords, Vibius?"
"Since I sold them short swords," he grunts.
So things are pretty bad for Quintus. But don't worry; they will get worse. And then Quintus has to make a decision and either choice will break his tiny, larcenous heart...