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The Winter Players by Tanith Lee

The Winter Players (1976)

by Tanith Lee

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She distrusted him at once, not least because she knew his words were lies. 'Call me Grey,' he said, but that was not his name. Fear gripped her like a hand.
No one but the priestess could look upon the relics: the Ring, the jewel and the Bone. It was for the Bone that this grey stranger had come. He was a thief, but she realized with a sinking heart that he was armed with as much magic as herself, and maybe more.
The relics were secret, sacred. The people would never know that the Bone was gone. But Oaive knew that she must follow Grey, find and destroy him, even though it meant leaving her people with no one to say the Ritual, no one to read the Book of Lore. Beyond the mist, they called the shrine the House of the Bone; if the Bone was not there, the Ritual was meaningless. She could not know that there were three players in the game, and that the most dangerous was the last.
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