Once pickleball players get beyond the beginner stage, they start the process of finding a playing style that suits them and allows them to win more points. One of the most popular game styles is “The Spinner.”
Spinners like to do exactly that: they like to spin the ball. Some come from a table tennis background where spinning is a central part of the game. Others come from a tennis background where top spin, slices and spin serves are easily adapted to a variety of pickleball shots.
Regardless of your reason for wanting to add some spin to your game, we’ve got your back. We always have spin-capable paddles in our in-store inventory and we have even more online. Below is a list of the best paddles that we offer for spin.
Best Pickleball Paddles for Spin
The Wilson racquets above are core products and they are usually in stock in our southwest Calgary store. The Onix paddles are generally special order items, which means that they are generally available online. If you want to pick them up in-store, you will need to order them online and choose SHIP TO STORE for local pickup.
If spin isn’t your game, no worries. We have lots of other options both online and in store. If you are shopping online, check out our online racquet selector. If you are in Calgary, stop by our store and talk to one of our experts. We can help you find a paddle for any game style.
It is apparent from talking to pickleball facility managers across Canada over the last few months that there is a lot of confusion about the new Fuse and the old Pure 2 balls made by Onix ™ Pickleball.
Everybody loves the old Pure 2 because it is durable. Everybody hates the new Fuse ball because it breaks too easily. What, people want to know, is going on with these balls?
Here are some answers …
Two years ago, the meddlesome USA Pickleball Association decided to start messing around with ball standards, just as they have been messing around with paddle standards for the past 20 years.
The end result of this process was the de-sanctioning of the highly popular and extremely durable Pure 2 pickleball ball. In other words, players could still play with it and clubs could still use it, but the Pure 2 could not be used in USAPA sanctioned events.
Of course, this put Onix in the uncomfortable position of having to create a new ball that met the USAPA’s new standards.
The end result of that process was two new balls. The Fuse Indoor ball and the Fuse Outdoor ball. Both launched in 2017 to much fanfare. The Fuse indoor ball was a hit, but the Fuse outdoor ball was a dud. It met the new standards, but it broke too soon and was quickly the least popular ball on the block.
No worries. Onix went back to the drawing board and quickly released a new version of the ball. This time it was called the Fuse G2 (meaning Generation Two) outdoor ball.
There is no question that the Fuse G2 was a better ball than the first Fuse. It broke less often and it still met the USAPA’s standards. So it checked two important boxes. Unfortunately, it was still not good enough for clubs that had come to love the durability of the Pure 2 ball.
So what was Onix to do? The answer was deceptively simple. Keep producing the Pure 2 and keep selling it to players and clubs who don’t care about USAPA standards.
The fact is, most clubs and most recreational pickleball players could care less about the USAPA or its meddling board members. They just want to play with a ball that lasts, and as long as the Pure 2 keeps doing exactly that, Onix will keep making it.
The rats all over Lankkmar, after suffering huge losses, dove back everywhere into their holes and pulled tight shut the doors of such as had them. This happened also in the rooms of pink pools in the third floor of Hisvin’s house, where the War Cats had driven back the last of the rats who had gained their human size by drinking the white vials there and at the expense of the flesh of Hisvin’s Mingols. Now they guzzled the black vials even more eagerly, to escape back into their tunnels.
The rats also suffered total defeat in the South Barracks, where the War Cats ravaged after clawing and crashing open the doors with preternatural strength.
Their work done, the War Cats regathered at the place where Fafhrd had summoned them and there faded away even as they had earlier materialized. They were still thirteen, although they had lost one of their company, for the black kitten faded away with them, comporting himself like an apprentice member of their company. It was ever afterwards believed by most Lankhmarts, that the War Cats and the white skeletons as well had been summoned by the Gods _of_ Lankhmar, whose reputation for horrid powers and dire activities was thereby bolstered, despite some guilty recollections of their temporary defeat by the rats.
By twos and threes and sixes, the people of Lankhmar emerged from their places of hiding, learned that the Rat Plague was over, and wept, prayed, and rejoiced. Gentle Radomix Kistomerces-Null was plucked from his retreat in the slums and with his seventeen cats carried in triumph to the Rainbow Palace.
Glipkerio, his leaden craft tightly collapsed around him by weight of water, until it had become a second leaden skin molded to his form — truly a handsome coffin — continued to sink in the Lankhmar Deep, but whether to reach a solid bottom, or only a balancing place between world bubbles in the waters of infinity, who may say?
The Gray Mouser recovered Cat’s Claw from Hreest’s belt, marveling somewhat that all the rat-corpses were yet human size. Likely enough depth froze all magics.
Fafhrd noted with distaste the three pools of pink slime in front of the gold audience couch and looked for something to throw over them. Elakeria coyly clutched her coverlet around her. He dragged from a corner a colorful rug that was a duke’s ransom and made that do.
There was the noise of hooves on tiles. In the high, wide archway from which the drapes had been torn there appeared Kreeshkra, still on horseback arid leading the other two Ghoulish mounts, empty saddled. Fafhrd swung the skeleton girl down and embraced her heartily, somewhat to the Mouser’s and Elakeria’s shock, but soon said, “Dearest love, I think it best you put on again your black cloak and hood. Your naked bones are to me the acme of beauty, but here come others they may disturb.”
“Already ashamed of me, aren’t you? Oh, you dirty-minded puritanical Mud Folk!” Kreeshkra commented with a sour laugh, yet complied, while the rainbows in her eye sockets twinkled.
The others Fafhrd had referred to consisted of the councillors, soldiers, and various relatives of the late overlord, including the gentle Radomix Kistomerces-Null and his seventeen cats, each now carried and cosseted by some noble hoping to gain favor from Lankhmar’s most likely next overlord.
Not all the new arrivals were so commonplace. One heralded by more hoof-cloppings on tile, was Fafhrd’s Mingol mare, her tether bitten through. She stopped by Fafhrd and glared her bloodshot eyes at him, as if to say, “I am not so easily got rid of. Why did you cheat me of a battle?”
Kreeshkra patted the beast’s nose and observed to grim Fafhrd, “You are clearly a man who attracts deep loyalty in others. I trust you have the same quailty yourself.”
“Never doubt me, dearest,” Fafhrd answered with fond sincerity.
Also among the newcomers and returners was Reetha, looking suavely happy as a cat who has licked cream, or a panther some even more vital fluid, and naked as ever except for three broad black leather loops around her waist. She threw her arms about the Mouser “You’re big again!” she rejoiced. “And you beat them all!”
The Mouser accepted her embrace, though he purposely put on a dissatisfied face and said sourly, “You were a big help! — you and your naked army, deserting me when I most needed help. I suppose you finished off Samanda!”
“Indeed we did!” Reetha smirked like a sated leopardess. “What a sizzling she made! Look, doll, her belt of office _does_ go three times round my waist. Oh yes! we cornered her in the kitchen and brought her down. Each of us took a pin from her hair. Then — ”
“Spare me the details, darling,” the Mouser cut her short. “This night for nine hours I’ve been a rat, with all of a rat’s nasty feelings, and that’s quite long enough. Come with me, pet; there’s something we must attend to ere the crowd gets too thick.”
When they returned after a short space, the Mouser was carrying a box wrapped in his cloak, while Reetha wore a violet robe, around which was still triply looped, however, Samanda’s belt. And the crowd had thickened indeed. Radomix Kistomerces-no-longer-Null had already been informally vested with Lankhmar’s overlordship and was sitting somewhat bemused on the golden seashell audience couch along with his seventeen cats and also a smiling Elakeria, who had wrapped her coverlet like a sari around her sylphlike figure.
The Mouser drew Fafhrd aside. “That’s quite a girl you’ve got,” he remarked, rather inadequately, of Kreeshkra.
“Yes, isn’t she,” Fafhrd agreed blandly.
“You should have seen mine,” the Mouser boasted. “I don’t mean Reetha there, I mean my _weird_ one. She had — ”
“Don’t let Kreeshkra hear you use that word,” Fafhrd warned sharply through _sub voce_.
“Well, anyhow, whenever I want to see her again,” the Mouser continued conspiratorially, “I have only to swallow the contents of this black vial and — ”
“I’ll take charge of that,” Reetha announced crisply, snatching it out of his hand from behind him. She glanced at it, then expertly pitched it through a window into the Inner Sea.
The Mouser started a glare at her which turned into an infuriating smile.
Flapping her black robe to cool her, Kreeshkra came up behind Fafhrd. “Introduce me to your friends, dear,” she directed.
Meanwhile around the golden couch was an ever-thickening press of courtiers, nobles, councillors, and officers. New titles were being awarded by the dozen to all first-comers. Sentences of perpetual banishment and confiscation of property were being laid on Hisvin and all others absent, guilty or guiltless. Reports were coming in of the successful fighting of all fires in the city and the complete vanishment of rats from its streets. Plans were being laid for the complete extirpation from under the city of the entire rat-metropolis of Lankhmar Below — subtle and complex plans which did not sound to the Mouser entirely practical. It was becoming clear that under the saintly Radomix Kistomerces, Lankhmar would more than ever be ruled by foolish fantasy and shameless greed. At moments like these it was easy to understand why the Gods _of_ Lankhmar were so furiously exasperated by their city.
Various lukewarm thanks were extended to the Mouser and Fafhrd, although most of the newcomers seemed not at all clear as to what part the two heroes had placed in conquering the rats, despite Elakeria’s repeated accounts of the final fighting and of Glipkerio’s sea-plunge. Soon, clearly, seeds would be planted against the Mouser and Fafhrd in Radomix’s saintly-vague mind, and their bright heroic roles imperceptibly darkened to blackest villainy.
At the same time it became evident that the new court was disturbed by the restless tramping of the four ominous war-horses, three Ghoulish and one Mingol, and that the presence of an animated skeleton was becoming more and more disquieting, for Kreeshkra continued to wear her black robe and hood like a loose garment. Fafhrd and the Mouser looked at one another, and then at Kreeshkra and Reetha, and they realized that there was ageement between them. The Northerner mounted the Mingol mare, and the Mouser and Reetha the two leftover Ghoulish horses, and they all four made their way out of the Rainbow Palace as quietly as is possible when hooves clop on tile.
Thereafter there swiftly grew in Lankhmar a new legend of the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd: how as rat-small midget and bell-tower-tall giant they had saved Lankhmar from the rats, but at the price of being personally summoned and escorted to the Afterworld by Death himself, for the black-robed ivory skeleton, was remembered as male, which would doubtless have irked Kreeshkra greatly.
However, as next morning the four rode under the fading stars toward the paling east along the twisty causeway across the Great Salt Marsh, they were all merry enough in their own fashions. They had commandeered three donkeys and laden them with the box of jewels the Mouser had abstracted from Glipkerio’s bed-chamber and with food and drink for a long journey, though exactly where that journey would lead they had not yet agreed. Fafhrd argued for a trip to his beloved Cold Waste, with a long stopover on the way at the City of Ghouls. The Mouser was equally enthusiastic for the Eastern Lands, slyly pointing out to Reetha what an ideal place it would be for sunbathing unclad.
Yanking up her violet robe to make herself more comfortable, Reetha nodded her agreement. “Clothes are so itchy,” she said. “I can hardly bear them. I like to ride bareback — my back, not the horse’s. While hair is even itchier — I can feel mine growing. You will have to shave me every day, dear,” she added to the Mouser.
He agreed to take on that chore, but added, “However, I can’t concur with you altogether, sweet. Besides protecting from brambles and dust, clothes give one a certain dignity.”
Reetha retorted tartly, “I think there’s far more dignity in the naked body.”
“Pish, girl,” Kreeshkra told her, “what can compare with the dignity of naked bones?” But glancing toward Fafhrd’s red beard and red, curled chest, she added, “However, there is something to be said for hair.”
Fafhrd, although he came down the temple’s wall fast, found the battle once more considerably changed when he reached the bottom.
The Gods _of_ Lankhmar, though not exactly in panicky rout, were withdrawing toward the open door of their temple, thrusting their staves from time to time at the horde of rats which still beset them. Wisps of smoke still trailed from a few of them — ghostly moonlit pennons. They were coughing, or more likely cursing and it sounded like coughs. Their brown skull-faces were dire — the expression of elders defeated and trying to cloak their impotent, gibbering rage with dignity.
Fafhrd moved rapidly out of their way.
Kreeshkra and her two male Ghouls were slashing and stabbing from their saddles at another flood of rats in front of Hisvin’s house, while their black horses crunched rats under their hooves.
Fafhrd made toward them, but at that moment there was a rush of rats at him and he had to unsheathe Graywand. Using the great sword as a scythe, he cleared a space around him with three strokes, then started again toward the Ghouls.
The doors of Hisvin’s house burst open and there fled out down the short stairs a crowd of Mingol slaves. Their faces grimaced with terror, but even more striking was the fact that they were thin almost beyond emaciation. Their once-tight black liveries hung loosely on them. Their hands were skeletal. Their faces were skulls covered with yellow skin.
Three groups of skeletons: brown, ivory, and yellow — _It is a prodigy of prodigies_, Fafhrd thought, _the beginning of a dark spectrum of bones_.
Behind the Mingols and driving them, not so much to kill them as to get them out of the way, came a company of crouchy but stalwart masked men, some wearing armor, all brandishing weapons — swords and crossbows. There was something horribly familiar about their scuttling, hobble-legged gait. Then came some with pikes and helmets, but without masks. The faces, or muzzles rather, were those of rats. All the newcomers, masked or nakedly fur-faced, made for the three Ghoulish riders.
Fafhrd sprang forward, Graywand singing about his head, unmindful of the new surge of ordinary rats coming against him — and came to a skidding halt.
The man-sized and man-armed rats were still pouring from Hisvin’s house. Hero or no, he couldn’t kill _that_ many of them.
At that instant he felt claws sink into his leg. He raised his crook-fingered big left hand to sweep away from him whatever now attacked him … and saw climbing his thigh the black kitten from _Squid_.
_That scatterbrain mustn’t be in this dread battle_, he thought … and opened his empty pouch to thrust in the kitten … and saw gleaming dully at its bottom the tin whistle … and realized that here was a metal straw to cling to.
He snatched it out and set it to his lips and blew it.
When one taps with idle finger a toy drum, one does not expect a peal of thunder. Fafhrd gasped and almost swallowed the whistle. Then he made to hurl it away from him. Instead he set it to his lips once more, put his hands to his ears, for some reason closed his eyes tight, and once more blew it.
Once again the horrendous noise went shuddering up toward the moon and down the shadowed streets of Lankhmar.
Imagine the scream of a leopard, the snarl of a tiger, and the roaring of a lion commingled, and one will have some faint suggestion of the sound the tin whistle produced.
Everywhere the little rats held still in their hordes. The skeletal Mingols paused in their shaking, staggering flight. The big armed rats, masked or helmeted, halted in their attack upon the Ghouls. Even the Ghouls and their horses held still. The fur on the black kitten fluffed out as it still clung to Fafhrd’s crouching thigh, and its green eyes became enormous.
Then the awesome sound had died away, a distant bell was tolling midnight, and all the battlers fell to action again.
But black shapes were forming in the moonlight around Fafhrd. Shapes that were at first no more than shadows with a sheen to them. Then darker, like translucent polished black horn. Then solid and velvet black, their pads resting on the moonlit flagstones. They had the slender, long-legged forms of cheetahs, but the mass of tigers or lions. They stood almost as high at the shoulder as horses. Their somewhat small and prick-eared heads swayed slowly, as did their long tails. Their fangs were like needles of faintly green ice. Their eyes, which were like frozen emeralds, stared all twenty-six at Fafhrd — for there were thirteen of the beasts.
Then Fafhrd realized that they were staring not at his head but at his waist.
The black kitten there gave a shrill, wailing cry that was at once a young cat’s first battle call and also a greeting.
With a screaming, snarling roar, like thirteen of the tin whistles blown at once, the War Cats bounded outward. With preternatural agility, the black kitten leaped after a group of four of them.
The small rats fled toward walls and shutters and doors — wherever holes might be. The Mingols threw themselves down. The half-splintered doors of the temple of the Gods _of_ Lankhmar could be heard to screech shut rather rapidly.
The four War Cats to whom the kitten had attached himself raced toward the man-size rats coming from Hisvin’s house. Two of the Ghouls had been struck from their saddles by pikes or swords. The third — it was Kreeshkra — parried a blow from a rapier, then kicked her horse into a gallop past Hisvin’s house toward the Rainbow Palace. The two riderless black horses followed her.
Fafhrd prepared to follow her, but at that instant a black parrot swooped down in front of him, beating its wings, and a small skinny boy with a puckered scar under his left eye was tugging at his wrist.
Mouser-Mouser!” the parrot squawked. “Danger-danger! Blue-Blue Blue-Blue Audience Chamber!”
“Same message, big man,” the urchin rasped with a grin.
So Fafhrd, running around the battle of armed rats and War Cats — a whirling melee of silvery swords and flashing, claws, of cold green and hot red eyes — set out after Kreeshkra anyhow, since she had been going in the same direction.
Long pikes struck down a War Cat, but the kitten sprang like a shining black comet at the face of the foremost of the giant rodent pike-wielders as the other three War Cats closed in beside him.
The Gray Mouser lightly dropped off the back of the golden couch the instant Hisvin and Hisvet got within stabbing distance. Then, since they were both coming around the couch, he ran under it and from thence under the low table. During his short passage through the open, Glipkerio’s ax crashed on the tiles to one side of him, while Elakeria’s bundle of wands smashed clatteringly down on the other. He paused under the center of the table, plotting his next action.
Glipkerio darted prudently away, leaving his ax where he had let go of it from the sting of the blow. Plump Elakeria, however, slipped and fell with the force of her clumsy thwack and for the moment both her sprawled form and the ax were quite close to the Mouser.
Then — well, one moment the table was a roof a comfortable rat’s-span or so above the Mouser’s head. The next moment he had, without moving, bumped his head on it and very shortly afterward somehow overturned it to one side without touching it with his hands and despite the fact that he had sat down rather hard on the floor.
While Elakeria was no longer an obese wanton bulging out a gray dress, but a slender nymph totally unclad. And the head of Glipkerio’s ax, which Scalpel’s slim blade now touched, had shrunk to a ragged sliver of metal, as if eaten away by invisible acid.
The Mouser realized that he had regained his original size, even as Sheelba had foretold. The thought flashed through his mind that, since nothing can come of nothing, the atomies shed from Scalpel in the cellar had now been made up from those in the ax-head, while to replace his flesh and clothing he had stolen somewhat of that of Elakeria. She certainly had benefited from the transaction, he decided.
But this was not the time for metaphysics or for moralizing, he told himself. He scrambled to his feet and advanced on his shrunken-seeming tormentors, menacing with Scalpel.
“Drop your weapons!” he commanded.
Neither Glipkerio, Elakeria, or Frix held any. Hisvet let go of her long dagger at once, probably recalling that the Mouser knew she had some skill in hurling it. But Hisvin, foaming now with rage and frustration, held onto his. The Mouser advanced Scalpel flickering toward his scrawny throat.
“Call off your rats, Lord Null,” he ordered, “or you die!”
“Shan’t!” Hisvin spat at him, stabbing futilely at Scalpel. Then, reason returning to him a little, he added, “And even if I wished to, I couldn’t!”
The Mouser, knowing from his session at the Council of Thirteen that this was the truth, hesitated.
Elakeria, seeing her nakedness, snatched a light coverlet from the golden couch and huddled it around her, then immediately drew it aside again to admire her slender new body.
Frix continued to smile excitedly but somehow composedly, as if all this were a play and she its audience.
Glipkerio, although seeking to firm himself by tightly embracing a spirally fluted pillar between candlelit chamber and moonlit porch, clearly had the grand, rather than merely the petty twitches again. His narrow face, between its periodic convulsions, was a study in consternation and nervous exhaustion.
Hisvet called out, “Gray lover, kill the old fool my father! Slay Glip and the rest too, unless you desire Frix as a concubine. Then rule all Lankhmar Above and Below with my willingest aid. You’ve won the game, dear one. I confess myself beaten. I’ll be your humblest slave-girl, my only hope that some day I’ll be your most favorite too.”
And so ringingly sincere was her voice and so dulcet-sweet in making its promises, that despite his experiences of her treacheries and cruelties and despite the cold murderousness of some of her words, the Mouser was truly tempted. He looked toward her — her expression was that of a gambler playing for the highest stakes — and in that instant Hisvin lunged.
The Mouser beat the dagger aside and retreated a double-step, cursing only himself for the wavering of his attention. Hisvin continued to lunge desperately, only desisting when Scalpel pricked his throat swollen with curses.
“Keep your promise and show your courage,” Hisvet cried to the Mouser. “Kill him!”
Hisvin began to gabble his curses at her too.
The Mouser was never afterwards quite certain as to what he would have done next, for the nearest blue curtains were jerked away to either side and there stood Skwee and Hreest, both man-size, both unmasked and with rapiers drawn, both of lordly, cool, assured, and dire mien — the white and the black of rat aristocracy.
Without a word Skwee advanced a pace and pointed his sword at the Mouser. Hreest copied him so swiftly it was impossible to be sure it was a copy. The two green-uniformed sword-rats moved out from behind them and went on guard to either side. From behind _them_, the three pike-rats, man-size like the rest, moved out still farther on the flank, two toward the far end of the room, one toward the golden couch, beside which Hisvet now stood near Frix.
His hand clutching his scrawny throat, Hisvin mastered his astonishment and pointing at his daughter, croaked commandingly, “Kill her too!”
The lone pike-rat obediently leveled his weapon and ran with it. As the great wavy blade passed close by her, Frix cast herself at the weapon, hugging its pole. The blade missed Hisvet by a finger’s breadth and Frix fell. The pike-rat jerked back his weapon and raised it to skewer Frix to the floor, but, “Stop!” Skwee cried. “Kill none — as yet — except the one in gray. All now, advance.”
The pike-rat obediently swiveled round, releveling his weapon at the Mouser.
Frix picked herself up and casually murmuring in Hisvet’s ear, “That’s three times, dear mistress,” turned to watch the rest of the drama.
The Mouser thought of diving off the porch, but instead broke for the far end of the room. It was perhaps a mistake. The two pike-rats were at the far door ahead of him, while the sword-rats at his heels gave him no time to feint around the pike-blades, kill the pike-rats and get around them. He dodged behind a heavy table and turning abruptly, managed to wound lightly in the thigh a green-uniformed rat who had run a bit ahead of the rest. But that rat dodged back and the Mousler found himself faced by four rapiers and two pikes — and just conceivably by death too, he had to admit to himself as he noted the sureness with which Skwee was directing and controlling the attack. So — slash, jump, slash, thrust, parry, kick the table — he must attack Skwee — thrust, parry, riposte, counter-riposte, retreat — but Skwee had anticipated that, so — slash, jump, thrust, jump, jump again, bump the wall, thrust — whatever he was going to do, he’d have to do it very soon.
A rat’s head, detached from its rat, spun across the edge of his field of vision and he heard a happy, familiar shout.
Fafhrd had just entered the room, beheaded from behind the third pike-rat, who had been acting as a sort of reserve, and was rushing the others from behind.
At Skwee’s swift signal the lesser sword-rats and the two remaining pike-rats turned. The latter were slow in shifting their long weapons. Fafhrd beheaded the blade of one pike and then its owner, parried the second pike and thrust home through the throat of the rat wielding it, then met the attack of the two lesser sword-rats, while Skwee and Hreest redoubled their assault on the Mouser. Their snarl-twisted bristles, snarl-bared incisors, long flat furry faces and huge eyes blue and black were almost as daunting as their swift swords, while Fafhrd found equal menace in his pair.
At Fafhrd’s entry, Glipkerio had said very softly to himself, “No, I cannot bear it longer,” run out onto the porch and up the silver ladder, and sprung down through the manhole of the spindle-shaped gray vehicle. His weight over-balanced it, so that it slowly nosed down in the copper chute. He called out, somewhat more loudly, “World, adieu! Nehwon, good-bye! I go to seek a happier universe. Oh, you’ll regret me, Lankhmar! Weep, oh City!” Then the gray vehicle was sliding down the chute, faster and faster. He dropped inside and jerked shut the hatch after him. With a small, sullen splash the vehicle vanished beneath the dark, moon-fretted waters.
Only Elakeria and Frix whose eyes and ears missed nothing, saw Glipkerio or heard his valedictory.
With a sudden concerted effort Skwee and Hreest rammed the table, across which they’d been fencing, against the Mouser, to pin him to the wall. Barely in time, he sprang atop it, dodged Skwee’s thrust, parried Hreest’s, and on a lucky riposte sent Scalpel’s tip into Hreest’s right eye and brain, slipping his sword out just soon enough to parry Skwee’s next thrust.
Skwee retreated a double step. By virtue of the almost panoramic vision of his wide-spaced blue eyes, he noted that Fafhrd was finishing off the second of his two sword-rats, beating through by brute force the parries of their lighter swords, and himself suffering only a few scratches and minor pricks in the process.
Skwee turned and ran. The Mouser leaped from the table after him. Way down the room something was falling in blue folds from the ceiling. Hisvet, midway along the wall, had slashed with her dagger the cords supporting the curtains that could divide the room in two. Skwee ran a-crouch under them, but the Mouser almost ran into them, dodging swiftly back as Skwee’s rapier thrust through the heavy fabric inches from his throat.
Moments later the Mouser and Fafhrd located the central split in the drapes and suddenly parted them with the tips of their swords, closely a-watch for another rapier-thrust or even a thrown dagger.
Instead they saw Hisvin, Hisvet, and Skwee standing in front, of the audience couch in attitudes of defiance, but grown small as children — if that can be said of a rat. The Mouser started toward them, but before he was halfway there, they became small as rats and swiftly tumbled down a tile-size trapdoor. Skwee, who went last, turned for one more angry chitter at the Mouser, one more shake of toy-size rapier, before he pulled the tile shut over his head.
The Mouser cursed, then burst into laughter. Fafhrd joined him, but his eyes were warily on Frix, still standing human-size behind the couch. Nor did he miss Elakeria on the couch, peering with one affrighted eye from under the coverlet while also thrusting out, inadvertently or no, one slender leg.
Still laughing wildly, the Mouser reeled over to Fafhrd, threw an arm up around his shoulders, and pummeled him playfully in the chest, demanding, “Why did you have to turn up, you great lout? I was about to die heroically, or else slay in mass combat the seven greatest sword-rats in Lankhmar Below! You’re a scene-stealer!”
Eyes still on Frix, Fafhrd roughed the Mouser’s chin affectionately with his fist, then gave him an elbow dig sharp enough to take half his breath away and stop his laughter. “Three of them were only pikemen, or pikerats, as I suppose you call them,” he corrected, then complained gruffly, “I gallop two nights and a day — halfway around the Inner Sea to save your undersized hide. And do so! Only to be told I’m an actor.”
The Mouser gasped out, still with a snickering whoop, “You don’t know how undersized! Halfway around the Inner Sea you say … and nevertheless time your entrance perfectly! Why you’re the greatest actor of them all!” He dropped to his knees in front of the tile that had served as trapdoor and said in tones composed equally of philosophy, humor, and hysteria, “While I must lose — forever, I suppose — the greatest love of my life.” He rapped the tile — it sounded very solid — and thrusting down his face called out softly, “Yoo-hoo! Hisvet!” Fafhrd jerked him to his feet.
Frix raised a hand. The Mouser looked at her, while Fafhrd had never taken his eyes off her.
“Here, little man, catch!” Smiling, she called to the Mouser and tossed him a small black vial, which he caught and goggled at foolishly. “Use it if you are ever again so silly as to wish to seek out my late mistress. I have no need of it. I have worked out my bondage in this world. I have done the diabolic Demoiselle her three services. I am free!”
As she said that last word, her eyes lit up like lamps. She threw back her black hood and took a breath so deep it seemed almost to lift her from the floor. Her eyes fixed on infinity. Her dark hair lifted on her head. Lightning crackled in her hair, formed itself in a blue nimbus, and streamed like a blue cloak down her body, over and through her black silk dress.
She turned and ran swiftly out onto the porch, Fafhrd and the Mouser after her. Glowing still more bluely and crying, “Free! Free! _Free_! Back to Arilia! Back to the World of Air!” she dove off the edge.
She did not seem to enter the waves, but skimmed just along their crests like a small, faint blue comet and then mounting toward the sky, higher and higher, became a faint blue star and vanished.
“Where is Arilia?” the Mouser asked.
“I thought this was the world of Air,” Fafhrd mused.