“Herr Eisenbach has a problem,” Francesco said.
“Then fix it yourself. You got me fired, remember?”
“You got yourself fired, smoking that noxious paste… I’ll get straight to the matter at hand. Herr Eisenbach recently discovered Birgit is smoking nepenthe.”
“But she’s just a kid,” Lothar said. He remembered Eisenbach’s daughter, a bright-eyed child who was the joy of the household.
“She’s sixteen now, and arranged to be married to the Margrave of Nordhausen. When Herr Eisenbach found out she was smoking, he locked her in her room. Unfortunately she escaped and hasn’t been seen in a couple of weeks. We’ve been looking all over for her, but we were hoping someone with your… connections… might have better luck.”
“How much is in it for me?”
“A hundred franks, more if you can return her, ah, intact. She’s due to be married, after all.”
“If she’s living on the street, don’t count on it.”
Sean McLachlan is the author of the collection The Night the Nazis Came to Dinner, and Other Dark Tales; A Fine Likeness, a horror novel set in Civil War Missouri; and numerous history books on the Middle Ages, the Civil War, and the Wild West. Author photo courtesy of Leo Stolpe.
“The Quintessence of Absence” is a complete 25,000-word novella of dark fantasy offered at no cost.