by Avram Davidson
Release date: 1969
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy

Peregrine was the illigitimate son of the king of Sapodilla, which, as every schoolboy knows, was the last pagan kingdom in the world to resist Christianity. Cast out of Sapodilla as required by law when he reached his majority, Peregrine sallied forth into the Dark Ages with his page Dafty and the rather time-worn sorcerer Appledore to find his fortune. What he found instead was: dragons, whores, Huns, Roman legions, emperors, and a delightful collection of mysteries and adventures:

"Speaking of your immortal souls," the cappadocian said to young Peregrine and his comrades, "may I point out to you that in the adjacent street yonder there are to be found no less than six churches, all formerly Temples of various Abominations, as well as four chantries, a monastery, ten taverns, fifteen wine-cellars, and twenty-five brothels."

Even Appeldore seemed a trifle dazed. "Twenty-five?" he repeated.

"Twenty-five," the Cappadocian assured him. "Is it not abominable?"

"It is more than abominable. It is superfluous."

Here and there oil-lamps had begun to twinkle. The good smell of supper cooking came wafting through the evening air, along with the thick scent of incense. Hawkers called their wares, the musical bonk-bonk-bonk of wodden bell-boards announced vespers, and, over and above it all, a young woman, obviously dead to all shame, leaned out of a first story window. She had on a very lowcut dress, and she had a cithern in her hands, and she began to strum and sing a love-song.

"Well," said Peregrine, shifting his saddle-bags and hitching up his belt and starting off into the street adjacent, "I guess we'll just have to skip the churches, the chantry, and the monastery."

updated 2010-09-07

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