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I'm looking for a sword and sorcery short story I read a long time ago: it's from the pulp era, possibly the 30s.
I used to think it had been written by Clark Ashton Smith as both the style and the atmosphere fit his works but after reading all of his stories I had to give up: now I'm clueless.
I don't remember much about the plot: only the antagonist, who's the plot's main feature too.

This man is a wizard, of the sword and sorcery kind: that is, a wizard who isn't shown casting fireballs or other spells over and over but is known to be dabbling with magic, hence very powerful, hence feared and respected.
He's quite old and probably evil too but always carries a backpack with a (sleeping) infant inside it.

Only in the finale it is revealed that the infant in the backpack is actually a parasite or symbiont that is controlling the wizard and devised this disguise to avoid being discovered.

Can you help me find the story and/or the author?

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    Not the answer, but this could have inspired Dougal Dixon's water-finding symbiont, which also resembles a carried baby, in Man after Man, a biology of the future. See the fourth image in this review. – Invisible Trihedron Jan 9 at 23:56
25

Sounds like a chapter from the 6 book series with Covenant: The One Tree by Stephen R. Donaldson. From its Wikipedia page:

Covenant and the Haruchai fight their way to Kasreyn's laboratory but discover that Kasreyn has a parasitic being living on his back that provides him with extended longevity and immunity to physical attack. Findail kills both the parasite and Kasreyn, setting off a palace coup that leaves the port in a state of chaos.

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  • Have you got a link for that quote? Best to include it so the OP can follow it and see for themselves. – Moriarty Jan 10 at 2:58
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    Will do. Newish to this site and learning (all!) the rules. – SeaOttre Jan 10 at 3:09
  • Thanks! I've taken the liberty of tidying it up a little and putting the quote from the page in blockquotes. – Moriarty Jan 10 at 3:26
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    I've checked right now: this is the (piece of a) story I remembered. Thank you for the precise help! – Zab Zonk Jan 10 at 17:41
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    "a parasitic being living on his back that provides him with extended longevity and immunity to physical attack" I'm not sure the author understands what a parasite is :) – alexgbelov Jan 10 at 18:19

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