Menace from the Past

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She was dancing the Dance of Endearment, and in Madam Zen’s that was a foolish thing to do. The dyed garments spun from the webs of giant spiders did little to conceal the lithe lines of her body. The crystal ornaments flashed and glittered in the light of the flaring lanterns and the incessant rattling of the gourd- drums was like needles scratching at nerves. Men began to shift restlessly on their chairs, gulping at their thil and drinking in the beauty of the dancer with eyes which matched the glitter of her ornaments. A burly tubeman cursed as a waiter moved before him, spoiling his view. The curse turned into action as he swept the scaled Hotlander aside with one thick arm. A tavern girl screamed as the waiter sprang forward his claws extended and reaching for the tubeman’s face.

Dolman saw none of the fight which followed. He sat as if entranced, his eyes filled with the shifting glitter of moving crystal, his head fog...