Authors: Will Shetterly,Emma Bull
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1985 by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull
"Badu's Luck" copyright © 1985 by Emma Bull
"The Green Rabbit From S'Rian" copyright © 1985 by Gene Wolfe
"Birth Luck" copyright © 1985 by Nancy Kress
"An Act of Contrition" copyright © 1985 by Steven K. Z. Brust
"The Inn of the Demon Camel" copyright © 1985 by Jane Yolen
"A Tourist's Guide to Liavek in the Year 3317" copyright © 1985 by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly
"A Magician's Primer" copyright © 1985 by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly
"A Handbook for the Apprentice Magician" copyright © 1987 by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly
"Liavek: A Creation Myth" copyright © 1985 by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly
For Terri and Val. It's their fault.
The editors would like to thank Robert Asprin and Lynn Abbey for their advice and encouragement on this project, and for breaking ground for all shared-world anthologies.
Thanks are due also to Bill Colsher, who told us what they eat in Liavek. and Nate Bucklin. who discovered the practices of the Faith of the Twin Forces.
About Liavek Stories by Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean
The Liavek stories of Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean are collected in
Points of Departure: Liavek Stories
by Diversion Books. We highly recommend buying it. While reading their stories in their original context is not necessary, here’s a guide for those who wish to:
“Ancient Curses” by Patricia C. Wrede followed “The Green Rabbit from S’Rian”.
“The Green Cat” by Pamela Dean followed “The Hands of the Artist”.
Liavek: The Players of Luck
“Two Houses in Saltigos” by Pamela Dean followed “The Rat’s Alley Shuffle”.
“Rikiki and the Wizard” by Patricia C. Wrede followed “Two Houses in Saltigos”.
Liavek: Wizards Row
“Paint the Meadows with Delight” by Pamela Dean followed “Green is the Color”.
Liavek: Spells of Binding
“The Last Part of the Tragical History of Acrilat” by Pamela Dean followed “Strings Attached”.
“Mad God” by Patricia C. Wrede followed “The Last Part of the Tragical History of Acrilat”.
“Spells of Binding” by Pamela Dean followed “An Act of Love”.
Liavek: Festival Week
“A Necessary End” by Pamela Dean followed “Proecession Day/Remembrance Night: Processional/Recessional”
“The Levar’s Night Out” by Patricia C. Wrede followed “Six Days Outside the Year.”
"Badu's Luck" by Emma Bull
THE TIGER'S EYE was neither the richest nor the largest shop in Liavek, but its many customers agreed that it was one of the most interesting. It was two stories high, stucco-flanked in blinding white, with door and window frames painted bright rust and teal blue. Along the side of the building, on the Street of the Dreamers, firethorn grew to the roof, and at its feet peonies bowed like perfumed courtiers.
Awnings in the intricate patterns of Ombayan weavers shaded the front windows, and by extension, bits of Park Boulevard. But it was the contents of the windows that told the shop's character. There, depending on the whim of the proprietor or her assistant, one could admire a Saltigan crystal decanter threaded with gold, or a flintlock pistol and dagger with matching lapis inlay so handsome that their deadliness went unremarked.
If one were to push open the brass-studded door, making the porcelain bells above the lintel sing like spirits, one would find the promise of the windows richly fulfilled. The door opened on an airy, high-ceilinged room, enticingly scented. Vivid textiles, glassware and ceramics, metalwork, leatherwork, the arts of gunsmiths and blade-crafters, jewelers and cabinetmakers—all these were represented in the wares of the Tiger's Eye. There were children's toys and antique amulets, embroidered slippers and Zhir hammered-harps, and, shining on the back wall like a lamp, an oval mirror framed in silver and sapphires.
The proprietor, whose name was Snake, was hardly less exotic than her goods, though she was a native Liavekan. She was tall, which was power at the Freeladen ships' auctions and the meetings of the minor merchants. Her dress was often foreign, from the loose ankle-length abjahin of the desert nomads to the sleeveless linen tunic and tight trousers of the Ombayan lancers. Her mother had said, in a fury long past but never forgotten by either party, that she dressed like "a brawling caravaneer." It was not true; or at least, it was only true when she drove a caravan.
Not the least exotic of her attributes was her skill with the long whip of the caravan driver. Unlike the dress, the tool came with her when she left the trading routes. But away from its natural place, the whip became a tool of a different sort, and when asked about it, Snake would turn the subject.
Snake was slouched in one of the two wicker chairs near the little tile-fronted fireplace that warmed the Tiger's Eye in the cooler months. A low brass table next to her held a painted porcelain pot of kaf. Her hands held the matching cup. "
it beautiful?" she said, and not for the first time. The object of her gaze and her approbation was the silver-framed mirror.
"Yes, very," said Thyan, also not for the first time, and with even less inflection than the last. Thyan was Snake's assistant, fifteen years old and Tichenese. "And you're the only importer in Liavek fool enough to bring a mirror all the way from Ioros Jires by land."
"No, my little raisin. With vision enough."
"Vision. All I see in the thing is myself, and I look the same in any hand glass."
Snake smiled, leaned back and closed her eyes. "You have the soul of a Zhir marine."
"So who will pay you what it cost to transport?"
"Thyan, Thyan, there's more to our business than squeezing a half-copper 'til your fingers meet in the middle. There's beauty. There's art."
"There's camel dung by the shovelful," muttered Thyan. She applied herself to dusting the glassware, chanting the purchased spell that sent little dust devils flying across the shelf.
Snake only smiled, sipped her kaf, and looked at the mirror. The detailing wasn't clear from where she sat, but she remembered it. The oval frame told a story in pictures, cast and sculpted of silver: A merchant, leading an ass heavy-laden with fruit, stopped to rest beneath a coconut palm. Two monkeys in the tree began to pelt him with nuts. But as the nuts struck the ground they became sapphires, large as the merchant's head, and he left the ass behind and fell to his knees to gather the gems. The monkeys descended on his unattended fruit and carried it up the palm. The ass found itself untethered and ran off. When the merchant turned, his possessions were gone, and worse, the sapphires in his arms had turned to hairy coconuts once again. In the leaves above, the wizard-monkeys clutched their bellies and laughed.
It was, Snake reflected, an old lesson, but the elegance of the work, the sense of loving humor, and the sheer singularity of the thing elevated it beyond craft. She would find someone who saw that when he looked at the mirror, who could likewise afford to own it. Then Snake would have the satisfaction of her customer's pleasure. Until then, the pleasure was her own.
"Ah, I have caught them in sloth and self-indulgence," said the woman who stood in the doorway of the Tiger's Eye. She was tall as an afternoon shadow, hard edged as marble, and dark as a ripe black plum. Her hair was cut close to her head, which made her eyes seem even larger and brighter than they were. She was beautiful and terrible as any goddess, and her laughter made the hangings sway and the porcelain chime.
"Badu," Snake said smiling, and Thyan regained control of her slack jaw and whooped, "It's Badu!"
"Indeed," said the tall woman, as she stepped into the shop and swung her pack up onto the counter in front of Thyan. "And what's self-indulgent about dusting?" Thyan said.
"I have heard you say, oh, many times, that to pay for such a spell when the work can be done by hand for free is a costly indulgence. "
"Only when it's Snake's turn to dust," Thyan explained.
Badu laughed. "Perhaps, little woman, you should spend less time in the study of magic, and apprentice yourself to a Council member.
you continue to study?"
"Lessons three times a week."
"Ah, but do you learn from them? Recite to me, something recent."
"Now?" Thyan said piteously.
"What good is magic if it will not come when you call? Now."
Thyan sighed and squeezed her eyes shut, and after a moment, began.
"Sweet Illusion's balm for weary hearts
And potent season for the jaded eye. Transformation feeds the hungry mouth
With wood and stone made flesh and fragrant fruit.
But nowhere is there wizard with the will
Or wit to make, where nothing stood before,
A thing, a true Creation, that will last
When wizard and his power both have passed."
Thyan's shoulders dropped with relief, and she grinned. "Splendid!" cried Badu, and Snake applauded.
"But surely," Badu continued, "that's none of Silvertop's teaching. There's too much of humanity there, and too little of theory."
Snake stood and stretched. "I asked Marithana Govan, the healer, to teach her when Thyan and Silvertop, ah, had a difference of opinion."
Badu turned to Thyan with an expression that would have daunted a roomful of large adults. There was no sign that it worked on Thyan. "Indeed?" Badu was forced to say.
"He was making a spell-web that he said would keep itself working without any attention from him, but all I could tell that it ever did was stink 'til the neighbors complained. And I told him so."
"Which, of course, he appreciated," Snake muttered.
But Badu shook her head and looked solemn, and put her hands over Thyan's where they lay on the counter's polished wood. "Woman-child, there is no room for your wayward ways in this. What you study is magic, not sewing or gardening where all that is at risk is a seam or a melon vine. Will you have a lesson now from me?"
Thyan nodded, her eyes very round.
"Then my lesson is this. Until you have learned enough to invest your luck you will be a student and no magician, for your magic will come to you only on your birthday, in your birth hours. Yes, I know you know this already. It has made you impatient, and so has placed you in danger."
"Danger?" Thyan squeaked.
Badu nodded. "Know this of investiture, child. You have been told it is hard, and that those who fail that first attempt die, for those who free their luck cannot live without it. But on the birthday when you make your try, you will call up the luck out of you, to place it in the vessel of your choosing. And you will fInd that you have called an angry sea, a shark pack, a mountain to fall on you. Untrained luck is a wild force, stronger than you will ever believe until you summon it into your hands and find out for yourself. When you do, you will need all your training, not just what you find it convenient to remember. You will need discipline, to set your will as an inflexible barrier around the luck you've called. And you will need patience, for all that you do must be done again and again. Investiture is a battle of many hours, and a novice must use every moment of it if she is to cheat death and become a magician."
Thyan studied the floor for a moment, then raised her head and grinned and said, "All right."
"I'm scared enough to make my stomach bounce, and I promise to be as patient as...as you."
"Oh, flattering girl. Open my pack, then, and take your reward for learning your lessons."
Thyan untied the pack eagerly. Ten peaches, fuzzy and golden, rolled out and jostled themselves into an untidy line on the counter. They were as ripe and unbruised as the day they were picked, in spite of the long, hard journey they'd made, and more beautiful than any other peaches in Liavek; for they were from Ombaya, where farming was a high art. Their fragrance was intoxicating.
"Eat one," said Badu, and one of the peaches leaped into Thyan's palm.
"Eeek. I'm not sure I can, now." But of course she did, and was plainly delighted with it.
"That was also a bit of bribery," Badu continued sheepishly. "You see, I must ask Snake to send you away."
"What?" chorused Snake and Thyan, both quite shocked.
"Oh, not far, and not for long—only until tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" said Thyan, implying by her tone that she did not consider the word "only" to apply in this case.
Snake added, "Why?"
"I...can't say." Badu shot a look of great significance at Snake. Snake frowned, since, for all its weight, the look explained nothing.
It was Thyan who responded. She cocked her head, stared hard at Badu, and said at last, "Magic and politics." Badu looked surprised. "And since I don't know the one yet and don't care for the other, I'll go. Marithana will let me sleep on her roof."
"You are a woman of kindness," Badu said seriously.
Thyan turned by the hanging that curtained the back door of the shop, her arms full of peaches. "But if this has anything to do with adventure, I'll never forgive you." They heard her thump up the stairs.
Badu collapsed into one of the wicker chairs, poured fresh kaf into Snake's cup, and gulped it. "Ah, Name of Herself," she sighed, resting her head against the chair back, "would the child call this an adventure?"
"As long as she didn't have to get up early for it. What's got you in such a state?" Snake said, as she dipped water from a sweating jar into an earthenware cup. She offered this to Badu, who smiled sheepishly, poured a few ceremonial drops on the hearth, sipped, and handed it back to Snake. Snake did the same, and emptied the cup. "Did you walk all the way from Ombaya?"
"I came on a walleyed camel of abominable disposition. My first act in Liavek was to go to the market and sell the monster, and I can only hope that he was promptly boiled down into soup."
Thyan thundered down the stairs again, and poked her head through the curtain. "Is midday tomorrow late enough?" she asked.
"Excellent," said Badu.
"Okay. I'll go out the back door."
Snake called, "Take a peach!"
"I took two!" Thyan's voice drifted back. The back door thumped closed.
"Now," Snake said, turning back to Badu, "are you going to try to tell me that a camel is the source of all this fuss?"
"No, I think not." Badu sprang from the chair and began to stalk through the store like a restless panther. "My fancy runs to shopping. What have you that's new, and small?"
Snake stared at her. "Do you want me to humor you, or call a doctor?" she said at last.
"Humor, please." Badu fingered a silk sash, then shook her head. "Too fragile. Jewelry would be wiser." She crouched and peered through the glass that fronted a display case.
Snake sighed, went behind the case, and pulled from it a tray and several boxes. She snapped one open and pushed it forward. Inside was a brooch in the shape of a dragon, made of silver and peridots. Its finny tail seemed to wave with the winking of the yellow-green gems, and silver waves licked at its belly.
"Splendid," said Badu. "The sort of piece I would expect only at the Crystal Gull. But too rich for this application."
"If you would tell me—" Snake began, but Badu silenced her with a wave and a frown.
"What's in this one?" she said as if to herself, and opened the lid of a box of carved wood.
It contained a pair of earrings of gold-plated brass, set with teardrop-cut jade of respectable quality. Snake was consequently startled when Badu flinched away from them.
"No," said Badu. ''Too much nonsense in these already. I'd sell them soon, were I you."
"So buy 'em."
"Not I. Ah—" Badu's hand hovered over the tray, "May I?" Snake shrugged, and Badu lifted a hammered gold leaf, delicately veined, from off the velvet. "Perfect. It suits me, it goes with everything, and it does not catch the eye."
"Why, by Herself, do you want to wear jewelry that doesn't catch—" Snake suddenly thought of a purpose for unobtrusive jewelry and let her sentence fall.
"So, how much will you ask for the bauble?"
"Nothing," Snake said, watching her. "I think I'm making you a birthday gift of it."
Badu smiled hugely. "Your quick wits more than make up for your flaws."
To Badu's clear disappointment, Snake ignored that. "You're finding a vessel for your luck. That means your birth hours are near, when your luck has to be reinvested. But you're looking for a new vessel. Two possible reasons for that. Either your old one was destroyed, which would rob you of your magic until your next birthday—and those peaches wouldn't have wandered so freely around the counter—or someone knows what your old vessel is. Even that wouldn't matter, if the someone didn't wish you ill. Boil that, and what floats to the top is: you're in trouble."