Boston, December 1762: Winter has arrived early in the city of Boston, bringing frigid winds and dread of the cold months to come. While warming himself with a hot rum in the Dowsing Rod, a tavern on Sudbury Street, Ethan Kaille, conjurer and thieftaker, is approached by none other than Stephen Greenleaf, the Sheriff of Suffolk County. With the sheriff are two merchants who tell a most remarkable tale.
Nate Ramsey, the son of ship captain Nathaniel Ramsey, with whom the merchants had a lucrative business arrangement, has threatened the lives of the two men, claiming that they are responsible for his father's death. Ethan tries to impress upon them that he is a thieftaker -- a man who recovers stolen goods for a fee. He has no interest in business matters gone awry. But when the men explain that they have cause to believe Ramsey to be a conjurer, Ethan understands at last why the sheriff has brought them to him.
Ethan agrees to speak with Ramsey on their behalf, but soon realizes that the merchants have not told him all, and that Ramsey's wrath may well be justified. However, he has pledged himself to protect the men. And now he finds himself caught between two of Boston's wealthiest and most influential men on the one hand, and a conjurer of uncommon power and skill on the other. What began as a plea for help founded upon a lie, may now cost Ethan his life.
"A Spell of Vengeance" is the feature story at Tor.com for the week of June 13, 2012. Below find the illustration for the story by the amazing Chris McGrath, who also did the jacket art for Thieftaker.