Pieces of Hate

Pieces of Hate

by Tim Lebbon

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Overview

Pieces of Hate by Tim Lebbon

During the Dark Ages, a thing named Temple slaughtered Gabriel's family. A man with snake eyes charged him to pursue the assassin wherever he may strike next, and destroy him. Gabriel never believed he’d still be following Temple almost a thousand years later.

Because Temple may be a demon, the man with snake eyes cursed Gabriel with a life long enough to hunt him down. Now he has picked up Temple's scent again. The Caribbean sea is awash with pirate blood, and in such turmoil the outcome of any fight is far from certain.

Free bonus novelette:

Dead Man’s Hand

In the wilderness of the American West, the assassin is set to strike again. Despite his centuries-long curse, Gabriel is still but a man, scarred and bitter. The town of Deadwood has seen many such men... though it’s never seen anything quite like the half-demon known as Temple.

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"The action is cutlass-sharp and the encounters between Gabriel and Temple are both brutal and chilling." -- Publishers Weekly

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765384492
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Series: Assassins Series , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 148
Sales rank: 481,539
File size: 523 KB

About the Author

Tim Lebbon is the New York Times bestselling author of the movie novelizations of 30 Days of Night and The Cabin in the Woods. He has also written many critically acclaimed dark fantasy and crime novels. Tim has won three British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, a Shocker, a Tombstone and been a finalist for the International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Awards.

Read an Excerpt

Pieces of Hate


By Tim Lebbon, Lee Harris

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2005 Tim Lebbon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-8844-5



CHAPTER 1

THE ASSASSIN BOOK ONE

Dead Man's Hand


DEATH RODE OUT OF THE DESERT on a pale horse. He came on the fifth day of the rains, and although his mount was caked in mud and his clothes were sodden, I could still smell the sweet stench of decay. It takes more than water to wash that away.

"Looking for someone," he said, pausing at the outskirts of Deadwood as if waiting for permission to enter. He did not look down as he spoke. Rain dripped heavily from his wide hat, making much of his face difficult to see. He stared on into the town, the quagmire streets and timber buildings a uniform shade of grey as if the rains had washed all colour into the ground.

"That someone got a name?" I asked. Still he did not look, but his hand moved up and rested gently on his thigh, a hand's width nearer to his revolver.

"Looking for Temple."

I pressed back against the wall of my store, wishing the timber would give way and let me retreat some more. I felt myself at the confluence of all this stranger's senses. If I breathed the wrong way, twitched at the wrong moment, he would put a bullet through my head.

"Temple," he said again. His voice was quieter now, barely audible above the downpour.

"I don't know any Temple," I said.

The man rose slightly in his saddle and looked up at the sky, sniffing, and that was when I saw his face. The shadows moved away from beneath his hat and rain struck his nose, his cheeks, his forehead, running in rivulets along the deep scars etching his visage with unknown histories. One eye socket filled quickly with water, a liquid memory of its absent occupant. He opened his mouth and flicked out his tongue, catching rain, gulping it down, sighing and slumping in his saddle. Then he turned and looked at me with his one good eye, and his threat faded away into sadness.

"He's here," the man said, and suddenly I wanted to leave, flee the town to let the future have its way.

He kicked his heels, and death rode into Deadwood on a pale horse.


I stood for a few minutes watching the horse, the man, and wondering how I knew that a change had come. I was not a man immune to change — in my short life I had already been a farmer, a gravedigger and now a shop owner — but its influence usually cast over my life without me inviting it in. One day I worked the fields and the next I dug graves, and the transition had never been something I dwelled upon. It was unimportant because it was merely a part of existence. But in this disfigured man's shadow there lingered the promise of chaos. I saw it pecking at his horse's hooves, heard it in the sound of his coat moving on the horse's hair, smelled it in his wake. Deadwood would not sleep easy tonight.

I waited outside my shop for a few minutes after the stranger had passed by. There was no one else out in the street. It was almost dusk, and the rains had been keeping people indoors most of the past few days. I felt suddenly alone, abandoned by my friends and neighbours, left in Deadwood to face whatever the next day would bring. But I saw lights on in the barbershop across the street, and vague sounds of drunken revelry came from the saloon a few buildings down from my own. Suddenly feeling the need for company I locked my store and made my way there. I kept to the timber walkways as much as possible, but at one point when I crossed a stretch of waterlogged muck I glanced down and saw strange footprints still filling with water. The rains would eventually wash them away, the light was fading, and perhaps I had only imagined it ... but for a second or two I could have sworn that those prints held echoes, like ghost shadows with a life of their own.


"Howdy, Doug!" a voice called as I entered the No. 10 saloon. I waved over to Jack. He had drifted into Deadwood a few weeks earlier, trailing a bad reputation behind him like a nasty smell. He was a buffalo hunter, so they said, and the skins and leathers he preferred to dress in seemed to testify to the truth in that. He was a couple of years older than me, and he had lived so much more. He'd started talking to me at the bar a couple of weeks before, relaying jumbled accounts of his exploits, the sense of excitement and adventure distracting me from the fact that he was obviously something of a scoundrel, though mostly harmless with it. He had bought me drinks and told me more, and most evenings in the saloon he would gravitate towards me, always ready with another story and another beer. I did not question where his money came from, though he appeared not to work. I tried not to think about it. I was naive and green, I knew that, but Jack's personality had already won me over.

I glanced around as I approached Jack's table, wondering whether the one-eyed man had slipped in without me noticing. The usual suspects were already here, drinking or playing cards, laughing, silently nursing their drinks. I saw no strange faces, but that was little comfort.

"Hi, Jack," I said. "Another shitty day."

"Yep, but it'll end soon," he slurred. "Get a glass and help me finish this damn bottle." The whiskey bottle was already half empty, and Jack's normal squint had turned into a cross-eyed grimace. "Did I ever tell you about the Comanche raid at Red River?"

I shook my head, stood and grabbed a glass from the bar. The barman threw me a cautionary glance, but I shrugged and turned away. Who I mixed with was nobody's business but my own.

When I sat back down Jack had already forgotten about Comanches and was carefully pouring more amber fluid into his glass.

"Saw a stranger ride in just now," I said.

"Another one?" His head swayed as he stared over both of my shoulders. How the hell he could ever shoot straight with eyes like that, I had no clue.

"How do you mean?"

"Another stranger. Old Man Newman's already got one ready to bury."

"How'd you know that?" I asked.

"I was over there yesterday, looking for work. Figure I should settle somewhere, sometime. Newman was out back, doing whatever ghoulish stuff he does to those bodies. This dead guy looked like a real hard case, covered in scars, all bloodied up. Face like leather."

"And who was he?"

Jack suddenly changed. From pleasantly drunk and loose-tongued, he flipped quickly to aggressive. He stood, sending his chair tumbling, and the atmosphere in the saloon thickened. Hands dropped beneath tables. I heard more than one metallic snick as guns were drawn and cocked.

"Mind your own!" Jack shouted, pointing at me with his forefinger, thumb raised like a pistol's hammer. "Just leave Temple to me, and mind your own!" He turned, staggered into a table, and two men pushed him away so that he stumbled out of the bar. The doors swung shut behind him and the silence went on for a few long seconds. Heads turned to look at me. I kept my eyes on the saloon doors, reached out slowly and poured more whiskey into my glass.

Slowly the atmosphere settled, but the place held an undertone of trouble now, and an hour later I tried to ignore the smirks as I stood and left.

A one-eyed man riding into town looking for an already-dead stranger. I wondered how this Temple had died, how the disfigured man had lost his eye, and just what the hell had driven Jack to rage like that.

It was dark outside, still raining. The street was empty again. And although lights shone behind a few curtained windows, as I walked away from the saloon it felt as though I were leaving civilisation behind.


I had no idea why he chose me. Perhaps it was because I was the first Deadwood citizen he saw. Maybe he thought I looked like someone who would help. Or perhaps that madness, that desperation in his one good eye, was genuine. With what came later I can truly believe that ... but who am I to judge?

It was warm and humid the next morning. The rains had stopped and the heat was already baking the waterlogged ground. As I made my way to the store I saw a dead horse lying in the street, still fixed up with saddle and gear, half sunk into the mud. It was a pale horse, and I knew who had ridden it in. I paused, not wanting to approach any closer, standing there on the boarded sidewalk as if waiting for the corpse to float across to me. Anyone watching must have been suspicious as to why I did not check out the dead animal. It wasn't something we saw every day in Deadwood, yet it was not a complete surprise either.

My decision was made for me when I saw the blinds moving inside my store window.

I moved quickly across the street, hand stealing inside my coat to wrap around the handle of the pistol I kept in there. It was a one-shot powder and cap gun, but I had always figured that if I ever got into any of that sort of trouble, one shot was all I would be allowed. On the opposite sidewalk I edged past the deserted building next to my store, standing by the window and breathing deeply as I prepared to go inside. The dead horse had attracted some attention. A well-dressed man, who Jack had told me was a riverboat captain on the Mississippi, had paused nearby and was glancing from the horse to his feet and back again, obviously not keen to muddy up his grand footwear. As he looked across and saw me pressed to the wall I turned to the store door.

The keys made a hell of a noise, but I unlocked the door as quickly as I could and threw it open. I think even then I knew who I would find inside. He was propped against the counter, head slumped to his chest, gun in one hand, another in its holster on his left hip. Blood leaked from his hollowed eye socket like fresh tears, and his breathing came in rasping sucks. I did not know whether he was asleep or dying.

Stepping inside the store, I nudged the door shut behind me. I should have gone for help. I should have shouted along the street, run across to the sheriff's office, fled the scene and left that stranger to his own business. But already the situation had grabbed me — this man's mysterious appearance yesterday, and Jack's strange reaction to the other stranger lying dead in Newman's mortuary. I was only a shopkeeper, but it was in my nature to want to know more.

I approached the man, hand still on the butt of my pistol. I kept my eyes on his own drawn weapon, one of two beautiful Colt Peacemakers that was already catching the sun's first rays through the front window. He would be able to lift it and shoot me before I saw it move, I knew that, it was obvious from everything I had imagined him to be. The stranger was a gunfighter, and he sought Temple to kill him. Whether I should be the one to inform him that his quarry was already dead ...

He stirred. Snorting, shivering, he lifted his head and fixed me with his eye. I could only stare at the wound where his other eye had been. My hand tightened around the stock of my pistol, so hard that my fingers ached.

"I could get you before you even know you've decided to draw," he rasped.

"I know," I said. "I'm not here for that." Carefully, slowly, I let go of my pistol and withdrew my hand. His shooting hand did not move at all, but he kept his gaze firmly on my face.

"I need food," he said, "and a drink."

"This is my store," I said. "I want you out."

He laughed. The sound surprised me so much that I laughed along with him, and when he stopped suddenly I found myself chuckling into silence. "You're brave and a fool," he said. "But don't worry, I'll leave you alone soon enough. I needed a place to stay without being seen or known. I'll pay you for the broken window out back."

I glanced through the door into the back room. The glass was intact. "There is no broken window."

"Well," he said, "whatever damage I did getting in, I'll pay you." He looked away from me, down at the Colt in his hand. In a flash he shifted the gun and holstered it, flexing his fingers as if they had been moulded around the handle for a long time. "You'd have run screaming if you had a mind to," he said. "You'll not give me up. I'm grateful for that, but that decision is in your best interests too."

"I'm intrigued, is all."

"Then intrigue me with some food. And water. I'm starving, and I'll need strength for what's to come."

I thought of Jack raging the previous evening, warning me to stay away from the dead man Temple, mind my own. I went to speak but thought better of it. I felt that if I had to bargain for anything — my money, my store, my life — then that information could be very valuable.

"There's some stew left over from yesterday," I said. "I can warm it for you. And bread. You've holstered your gun, so I assume you don't mean to shoot me."

The man's bloodied, scarred face turned my way, but he did not speak.

"Come through to the back," I said.

He moved slowly and painfully. I wondered who had dealt him such a beating.

"Nobody beat me," he said.

"What?"

"You're wondering how I got like this. Nobody beat me. I'm a wounded man, and I carry these wounds forever. Some days they're worse than others, usually when I'm near him. It's a useful gauge of how close I am, I guess, but it's a hindrance too. I'm bleeding a lot. My scars are on fire. I'm close."

"How did you know what I —?"

"That stew sounds good."

I lit and stoked the burner, stirred the stew and put it on to heat. The bread was stale by now but the man seemed not to mind. He bit in while the meal was still cooking, eating with an appetite I had hardly ever seen before. He did not look my way, did not keep a hand close to either gun. Either he perceived no threat in me whatsoever, or he had never intended me harm in the first place.

"Those wounds," I said.

He nodded and muttered, "Temple," showering me with crumbs of bread.

"So you want revenge? That's the main reason guys like you come to Deadwood, I guess. Revenge."

"Guys like me?" He had raised the eyebrow above his missing eye, and the look was almost comical.

"Well ..."

"Killers, you mean? Hired gunfighters? Murderers? Kid, just because I look like a corpse that's been ridden by a buffalo, doesn't mean my heart's the same way."

"I'm sorry." I scooped out more stew and handed him a plate, and he tucked in with gusto.

As he ate I went about my usual morning routine before opening the store. He helped himself to seconds and thirds from the pot, and after a few minutes I saw him sit and relax a little, head back, staring at the ceiling. I closed my left eye for a while to see what it would be like, and a second later I bumped into a cabinet and bruised my thigh.

"It's not easy having one eye," he said. "Hurt like hell when he cut it out. Still smarts now. He wears it on a string around his neck, and when I'm close he makes it bleed. I was offered a false eye in Kansas, but I turned it down. It was black as coal. Maybe I should have taken it?"

"It's not easy having one eye," he said. "Hurt like hell when he cut it out. Still smarts now. He wears it on a string around his neck, and when I'm close he makes it bleed. I was offered a false eye in Kansas, but I turned it down. It was black as coal. Maybe I should have taken it?"

"I don't know," I said, still disturbed at how he seemed to know exactly what I was thinking. Temple, then? Did he know I knew something about the man he sought?

"Temple is no man," the stranger said suddenly, standing from his chair and tipping it to the floor. "I need to tell you some of what this is, I guess, so you can decide whether or not to help me. What are you, just a storekeeper?"

"Yeah, just a storekeeper. That's all. I've dug graves and farmed, but this seems to suit me well."

"So then, you know this town. Know the people that live here. That's a good place to start." He strode to the window and parted the blinds slightly to look out. The sun was climbing and driving shadows down between buildings. "He's a monster," the man said. "He's killed so often before, but now he's changed his approach. Now he does it for pay. Death on commission."

"A hired killer?"

"Much more than that. That's his excuse, but he'd do it even if he wasn't paid. It's not the money, it's the enjoyment. He needs to kill. That's his twisted reason for being here." The man turned back to face me and his eye was bleeding again. "He's no man, lad. I don't use the word 'monster' lightly. He's a devil. A demon."

"Where does he come from?"

"I've never known. I only know that for all the time I can remember, it's been down to me to kill him." His voice lowered then, almost as if he was talking to himself. "Nearly had him in Scotland. Bastard cheated me at Waterloo."

I had no idea what he was talking about. "Who are you?" I asked. Temple must have damaged this man so much to have driven him onto such a quest for vengeance.

"I was damaged long before Temple ever caught me," the man said, "and my name is Gabriel." He came up close, smelling of filth, decay and something else I could not place. Perhaps it was the smell of madness. "Now, lad, tell me what you know."

"I don't —"

"His name's in your thoughts like a sickness. I can almost smell it! Every way you turn you think of Temple, and I need you to tell me why. Has he got to you? Are you in his sway now?" Gabriel looked over my shoulder at the door and his eye bled some more. He stepped back, panting in fear, and his hand moved to his gun.

"Temple is dead!" I said. "A friend of mine told me in No. 10's last night! I mentioned about strangers in town after seeing you and he told me there's another, a stranger's body at Newman's being readied for burial." And then Jack went a little bit crazy, I thought, but I did not elaborate.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Pieces of Hate by Tim Lebbon, Lee Harris. Copyright © 2005 Tim Lebbon. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
The Assassin Book One,
The Assassin Book Two,
About the Author,
Also by Tim Lebbon,
Newsletter Sign-up,
Copyright Page,

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Pieces of Hate 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The two stories really drew me in. The first one is told from a shop keepers point of view of his encounter w/ Gabrial and his battle with Temple. And the second is told by Gabrial, and it was there that the reader learns about the history between Gabrial and Temple. I liked how the stories were placed. Both stories are bit dark.
InvestedIvana More than 1 year ago
An eARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher. This in no way impacts the content of my review. The Tor book titled Pieces of Hate (the one with the awesome Gene Mollica pirate cover) contains the first two novellas in the Assassin series: Dead Man’s Hand and Pieces of Hate. Though the novellas can be read in any order, I suggest you consider reading Pieces of Hate first and then Dead Man’s Hand. It puts them in chronological order, for one, and it gives you some of the main character’s back story right up front. Pieces of Hate takes place during the Golden Age of Piracy. The title is a play on words; pieces of eight is a denomination of currency used during that time. From his dreams, we learn that the protagonist, Gabriel, has been cursed to hunt the demon-in-man-form, Temple, until Temple is dead. Gabriel won’t die until then, and he is very old. He’s tangled with Temple in the past, and has come away wounded. Though healed, these wounds act as a dowsing rod – hurting again the closer to Temple Gabriel gets. Temple has become a killer for hire, though he does his own recreational killing as well. The more horrific the kill, the more likely Temple is behind it. Gabriel hunts Temple to a pirate colony on Port Royal where he’s been sent to assassinate a famous pirate. Dead Man’s Hand takes place during the American Old West. Instead of being told in third-person limited from Gabriel’s point of view, Dead Man’s Hand is told from the first-person perspective of Doug, a shopkeeper in Deadwood who gets put in a position to observe the conflict between Gabriel and Temple first-hand. While reading both stories, I really had to keep in mind that they were each novellas. Lebbon sets his stories in some very famous and familiar places (Deadwood, Port Royal) because the reader already has an idea of what these places are like. Also, the characters, aside from a few exceptions, are fairly stereotypical — again, a shortcut that allows Lebbon to focus on the real point of the stories. There aren’t many women in the stories at all, let alone admirable ones, though Gabriel did seem to love his wife. It’s a bummer for women readers, but it’s not all that historically inaccurate for Lebbon’s purposes. The real point of these stories is the ongoing conflict between Gabriel and Temple. I’m not sure I really understand the nature or purpose of their relationship, even after reading the stories. Gabriel’s recollection in Hate makes it seem as if he’s been cursed by a medieval (or older) magic practitioner to hunt the demon who murdered his family and village. But we don’t learn WHY. Why did Temple attack the village in the first place? Who was the old magician? Why did the practitioner curse Gabriel? Why must this battle go on throughout time? Gabriel described the practitioner and Temple as having “snakes” in their eyes. Perhaps a reference to Satan in the Garden of Eden? And yet, several other people describe Gabriel the same way, as having “snakes” in his eyes. So I’m speculating that, should we ever get the full story, the “curse” is about the nature of evil, particularly the way good can too easily turn into evil with the application of a little hate. “Feed your hate,” the practitioner says. Maybe we’ll find that Gabriel turns into Temple over time, and then into the practitioner who starts the cycle again. Maybe they are the evil, male versions of the maiden, mother, and crone from Celtic myth — all the same person. In any case, I fe