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The Changing of the Times

by Jonathan Wood

It used to be all about magical swords. Blessed steel wreathed in flame, all that. Truth be told, I have, in the past, opined of the increasingly mundane nature of the magical armament. So there is at least a small part of me that stands up and cheers when the tattooed bastard reaches to his scabbard and pulls out a shimmering blue blade that crackles with fire.

On the other hand, the larger part of me is tied to a chair and couldn't stand up to cheer even if it wanted to. Which it doesn't.

I'd been tracking the trail of bodies for about two weeks. He'd been picking of virgins as he goes-which can't have been as easy as it was when he first walked the earth. I followed him from London to Paris, across Alps, then into Germany, which is where I'm pretty sure he became aware of me because right now I'm in the back room of a strip club in Berlin, with my hands bound by stockings, which is not half as pleasant as several magazines have led me to believe.

However, despite appearances I do have a few things going in my favor. For starters, apparently stockings were not a prevalent item in twelfth century Egypt, so my tattooed friend, Mahut As-Ghul, is not entirely familiar with their unsuitability as bindings.

I kick back in the chair at about the same time the nylon rips. Mahut lunges. I tuck my body in and roll, but not in time to stop the blade passing through my ankle. The flesh doesn't break but the pain is agonizing. Mahut's blade glows brighter. Bastard just chopped off part of my soul.

Which brings me to my other and much more significant advantage. You see the operative word in my opening salvo here was that it used to be all about magical swords.

Ignoring my ankle, I draw my Glock and fire. Nothing unusual about the Glock. Standard issue for my department. But the bullets, ah yes, there's the rub Mahut, old buddy.

A portal to several rather unpleasant dimensions is abruptly punched into Mahut's skull. He starts to fold in on it, which really doesn't look pleasant. Still, I can't quite resist picking up the sword and finishing off the job the old fashioned way.

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