Wallie Smith is staring death in the face; only a miracle can save him. And then one does! The Goddess appears to preserve his soul, but she does much more than that. She promises to bestow upon him a new and powerful body, and, more important, to endow him with the fabled Sapphire Sword of Chioxin. But nothing in this world or any other comes without a price. The Goddess demands that for her services Wallie become her champion. It will be an honor to serve such a presence, to have the chance to be victorious over all challengers. But Wallie and his sword quickly find themselves outmatched in a world of high-stakes magic. Even the Goddess's priests cannot offer any resistance to the invading sorcerers and their quest to conquer souls for the Fire God. Wallie will need to find in himself and in the world the powers that will save all mortals. He will need to find The Coming of Wisdom.
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July 12, 1988
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Excerpt from The Coming of Wisdom by Dave Duncan
How the Swordsman Ran Away
"Quili! Wake up! Priestess!"
Whoever was shouting was also banging on the outer door. Quili rolled over and buried her head under the blanket. Surely she had just come to bed?
The outer door squeaked. The banging came again, now on the planks of the inner door, nearer and much louder.
"Apprentice Quili! You must come!" More banging.
The trouble with summer was that there was never enough night for sleeping, yet the little room was still quite black. The roosters had not started yet. . . No, there was one, far away. . . She would have to waken. Someone must be sick or dying.
Then the inner door squealed open, and a man was waving a rush light and shouting. "Priestess! You must come -- there are swordsmen, Quili!"
"Swordsmen?" Quili sat up.
Salimono was a roughhewn, lumbering man, a farmer of the Third. Normally imperturbably placid, he was capable on rare occasions of becoming as flustered as a child. Now one of his great hands was waving the sparking rush light all around, threatening to set fire to his own silver hair, or Quili's straw mattress, or the ancient shingles of the roof. It scrolled brilliance in the dark. It flickered on stone walls, and on his haggard face, and in Quili's eyes.
"Swordsmen. . . coming. . . Oh! Beg pardon, priestess!" He turned around quickly, just as Quili fell back and pulled the blanket up to her chin.
"Sal'o, you did say 'swordsmen'?"
"Yes, priestess. In a boat. By the jetty. Piliphanto saw them. You hurry, Quili. . ." He headed for the door.