Author: Fred Saberhagen
Publish Date: 1982
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Genre: Science Fiction
Sub-Genre: Vampires, Sacrifices, Sorcerers, Mages, Demons, Romance, Horror, Armed Conflict, Torture, Time Travel, Magic, Spells, Castles, Artifacts, Werewolves
Simon Hill is a mentalist, fantastic with his illusions, and one of the best around. After one of his performances, he and his assistant, Margie, are asked by an aged man named Gregory, to go out to the far suburbs of Chicago to put on one of their spectacular shows for a limited audience.
To be paid a thousand dollars for a single show is too much for Simon and Margie to pass up. They are packed and on their way to the country within short order, heading for a medieval castle performance. The castle belonged to the Littlewoods. It is a place Simon knows from his childhood. He hoped that the old man that had hired him didn’t recognize him as that would bring up old memories that he’d rather keep hidden. Old Gregory didn’t seem to know him allowing him a sense of safety for at least a little while.
Back in the city, a homeless wino leans against the well of a building that lines the alley he has called home for a long time. He’s seen many such walls and the gutters along their sidewalks during his lifetime. His friends, if you can call fellow hobos ‘friends’, call him ‘Feathers’. After he contributes his beggar’s earnings to the community pot for a bottle of cheap wine, Feathers, finds himself on the receiving end of a drugged meal with a dark-skinned benefactor.
When he comes to, he finds himself in a dungeon, bound to a medieval rack with taut straps binding and stretching him forcefully. Standing over him is old Gregory, the keeper of the Littlewood Castle, and guardian of the dungeon. Feathers knows the fear and the pain of his situation and fears the worse as the gears on the racks are turned and the straps tightened.
He is many millennia old. Even so, he appears no older now than he did in Arthur’s time. When he fell for his lovely apprentice and consort, he was bewitched with a magical spell, binding him forever to her will.
Now, in modern Chicago, he spends his time trying to escape her grasp using the ways and wiles of mortal men, by not using his powers and staying out of public limelight. Though she searches for him through the ages, his tactic works well.