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The Lord of Castle Black: Book Two of the Viscount of Adrilankha

Steven Brust

  The Lord of

  Castle Black



  The Paths of the Dead

  The Lord of Castle Black


  The Phoenix Guards

  Five Hundred Years After

  To Reign in Hell

  Brokedown Palace

  The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

  Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille

  The Gypsy (with Megan Lindholm)


  Freedom and Necessity (with Emma Bull)











  The Lord of

  Castle Black





  This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.


  Copyright © 2003 by Steven Brust

  Afterword copyright © 2003 by Neil Gaiman

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

  This book is printed on acid-free paper.

  Edited by Teresa Nielsen Hayden

  A Tor Book

  Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

  175 Fifth Avenue

  New York, NY 10010

  Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

  ISBN: 0-312-85582-6

  First Edition: August 2003

  Printed in the United States of America

  0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  The Viscount of



  The Lord of Castle Black

  Describing Certain Events Which Occurred

  Between the 247th Year of the Interregnum

  And the 1st Year of the Reign

  of Empress Zerika the First

  Submitted to the Imperial Library

  By Springsign Manor

  House of the Hawk

  On this 3 day the Month of the Athyra

  Of the Year of the Vallista

  Of the Turn of the Jhereg

  Of the Phase of the Phoenix

  Of the Reign of the Dragon

  In the Cycle of the Phoenix

  In the Great Cycle of the Dragon

  Or, in the 179 Year

  Of the Glorious Reign

  Of the Empress Norathar the Second

  By Sir Paarfi of Roundwood

  House of the Hawk

  (His Arms, Seal, Lineage Block)

  Presented, as Always,

  To Marchioness Poorborn

  With Gratitude and Affection

  Cast of Characters

  Blackchapel and Castle Black

  Morrolan—An Apprentice witch

  Erik—A fool

  Miska—A coachman

  Arra—A Priestess

  Teldra—An Issola

  Fentor e’Mondaar—A Dragonlord

  Fineol—A Vallista from Nacine

  Oidwa—A Tsalmoth

  Esteban—An Eastern witch

  The Kanefthali Mountains

  Skinter—A Count, afterward Duke

  Marchioness of Habil—His cousin and strategist

  Betraan e’Lanya—His tactician

  Tsanaali—A lieutenant in Skinter’s army

  Izak—A general in Skinter’s army

  Brawre—A general in Skinter’s army

  Saakrew—An officer in Skinter’s army

  Udaar—An adviser and diplomatist

  Hirtrinkneff—His assistant

  The Society of the Porker Poker

  Piro—The Viscount of Adrilankha

  Lewchin—An Issola

  Shant—A Dzurlord

  Zivra—House unknown

  Whitecrest and Environs

  Daro—The Countess of Whitecrest

  Khaavren—Her husband

  Lar—A lackey

  Cook—A cook

  Maid—A maid

  Dzur Mountain and Environs

  Kytraan—The son of an old friend

  Sethra Lavode—The Enchantress of Dzur Mountain

  Tukko—Sethra’s servant

  Sethra the Younger—Sethra’s apprentice

  The Necromancer—A demon

  Tazendra—A Dzurlord wizard

  Mica—Her lackey

  The Sorceress in Green—A sorceress

  Berigner—A general serving Sethra Lavode

  Taasra—A brigadier serving under Berigner

  Karla e’Baritt—A military engineer

  Arylle and Environs

  Aerich Temma—Duke of Arylle

  Fawnd—His servant

  Steward—His other servant

  On the Road

  Orlaan/Grita—A sorceress in training

  Wadre—A brigand leader

  Mora—His lieutenant

  Grassfog—A bandit

  Iatha—A bandit

  Thong—A bandit

  Ritt—A bandit

  Belly—A bandit

  Ryunac e’Terics—A lieutenant in Skinter’s army

  Magra e’Lanya—Ryunac’s sergeant

  Brimford—An Easterner and Warlock

  Tsani—Grassfog’s sister

  Tevna—A pyrologist

  Elde Island

  Corthina Fi Dalcalda—King of Elde

  Tresh—An exile

  Nywak—Her servant

  Gardimma—Imperial Ambassador to Elde

  The Halls of Judgment










  Miscellaneous Others

  Sennya—Dzur Heir

  Ibronka—Her daughter

  Clari—Ibronka’s maid

  Röaanac—A Tiassa

  Malypon—His wife

  Röaana—Their daughter

  Haro—Their servant

  Prince Tiawall—Hawk Heir

  Ritsak—Lyorn Heir

  Jami—A Teckla in Mistyvale County

  Marel—Proprietor of a general store




  Chapter the Thirty-Fifth

  Chapter the Thirty-Sixth

  Chapter the Thirty-Seventh

  Chapter the Thirty-Eighth

  Chapter the Thirty-Ninth

  Chapter the Fortieth

  Chapter the Forty-First

  Chapter the Forty-Second

  Chapter the Forty-Third

  Chapter the Forty-Fourth

  Chapter the Forty-Fifth

  Chapter the Forty-Sixth

  Chapter the Forty-Seventh

  Chapter the Forty-Eighth

  Chapter the Forty-Ninth

  Chapter the Fiftieth

  Chapter the Fifty-First


  Chapter the Fifty-Second

  Chapter the Fifty-Third

  Chapter the Fifty-Fourth

  Chapter the Fifty-Fifth

  Chapter the Fifty-Sixth

  Chapter the Fifty-Seventh

Chapter the Fifty-Eighth

  Chapter the Fifty-Ninth

  Chapter the Sixtieth

  Chapter the Sixty-First

  Chapter the Sixty-Second

  Chapter the Sixty-Third

  Chapter the Sixty-Fourth

  Chapter the Sixty-Fifth

  Chapter the Sixty-Sixth

  Chapter the Sixty-Seventh

  Chapter the Sixty-Eighth



  Concerning the Events of the Story

  Prior to Those Contained Within This Volume

  We have been informed by those to whom we have entrusted our manuscript for publication that it would be appropriate to explain to the reader some of the events of the story we have the honor to relate—in other words, to give a summary of what is contained in the previous volume of this history. In the opinion of this author, such an action is by its nature both futile and self-defeating.

  As for the entire question of splitting the book into several volumes, the author will not pretend to more knowledge than he has; if it is the custom of those who publish such works to make such mutilations, for whatever reason, then so be it. Nevertheless, it is a single work, and the suggestion that there may be some who possess only a part of it strikes the author as creating an intolerable situation for the reader.

  To be more precise, and state the matter in its simplest form, we believe that were any of the events in the previous volume of such a nature that they could be omitted without severe damage to the narrative, we should have omitted them to begin with. Anyone familiar with the process of writing history is very much aware that the bulk of one’s work consists of attempting to determine what can be left out. After this work has been completed to the best of the historian’s ability, to create a situation in which the author must omit even more is to deny the validity of the work—and this is even more true in the case of this author, who prides himself above all on brevity, precision, and narrowness of focus, so that nothing unnecessary is included, and no information, however vital, is repeated, and not even so much as an extraneous word is permitted to creep into the body of the text.

  Moreover, even the attempt to create such a summary would seem to encourage certain readers to skip that volume entirely, which is clearly not in our interest, and, moreover, we believe is not in the interest of the serious student of history.

  However, our attempts at explaining this to the Lord of Publications at Glorious Mountain Press at Adrilankha having met with complete failure, we find ourselves with no alternative but to do our humble best.

  With this in mind, herewith is such a summary as we are able to contrive:

  Our old friend Khaavren, being emotionally distraught over his inability to save the life of the last Phoenix Emperor, had to some degree dropped out of public life, living quietly with his wife, Daro, the Countess of Whitecrest; and his son, Piro, the Viscount of Adrilankha. We hope the reader will remember Daro, the Tiassa who dressed as a Lyorn, and she with whom Khaavren fell madly in love, without further hints on our part.

  Piro, for his part, was offered a mission by Sethra Lavode, the Enchantress of Dzur Mountain, which offer was sent through a message to his father, whom the reader will realize at once is the very Khaavren whom we have just discussed. Though unaware of the nature of the mission, Piro set out at once, accompanied by a lackey and by a Dragonlord called Kytraan, who had delivered the message. Kytraan, we should add, was the son of a certain Uttrik, whom the reader may recall from our history of The Phoenix Guards.

  Piro at once set off on this mission, and as he traveled, we also learned of a certain Kâna, far to the west, who was attempting to create, by force, a restoration of the Empire with himself as Emperor. Our old friend Pel was involved in this attempt, and was aware of the danger to his Lord posed by Sethra Lavode. The reader may perceive in this a certain drama forming by the opposition of Khaavren’s only son to one of Khaavren’s close friends. We presume to hope that this drama served to increase the reader’s enjoyment of the unfolding history, as it is well known that the art of literature, as, indeed, any art worth pursuing, derives its strength from the creation and release of tension, and to heighten the drama at certain points promises a release at a later time; insofar as this drama does not conflict with history, and, indeed, comes from nowhere but the actual events themselves, the author fails to see any reason why he should not avail himself of this means of increasing the reader’s pleasure.

  Arriving at Dzur Mountain, Piro discovered that he was to aid the only surviving Phoenix Heir, one Zerika, and, moreover, that this personage was his old childhood friend, whom he had known in company with several other persons of whom the reader who has failed to read the first volume of our work will bitterly miss the acquaintance. Also at Dzur Mountain was our old friend Tazendra, and these persons at once set forth, with their lackeys, to bring Zerika to Deathgate Falls. In this they were pursued by an old nemesis, that being Grita, the daughter of Greycat, who had survived the fall of the Empire. Grita and her hired brigands caught them at Deathgate, and, fearing that a battle would keep her from her mission, Zerika leapt from the lip down into the Paths of the Dead.

  This was followed by something like a battle at the top of the Falls, which was occurring even as Zerika was negotiating the Paths of the Dead, and Pel was pursuing those who were fighting, and Kâna was marshaling his forces, and as a certain Morrolan, a Dragonlord raised in the East and trained in the Eastern magical arts, was moving west toward his ancestral homes. We assure the reader that the apparent confusion of simultaneity is merely a reflection of the history as it occurred, and, moreover, that in the actual unfolding of the events shown in Volume One, matters are far easier to understand in their interconnectedness.

  In the event, as is well known, Zerika successfully negotiated the Paths of the Dead (although, in the summary, it is impossible to recreate the elegant metaphorical journey, in which each of the Seventeen Houses was neatly encapsulated and symbolically transcended in a literary exploit of which only modesty prevents the full explication) and convinced the Gods to give her the Orb, which she at once brought forth from the Paths.

  At this same time, we have been introduced to two young ladies, one a Dzur named Ibronka and the other a Tiassa named Röaana. The presence of a Tiassa was a hint to the reader of romantic entanglements to come, although the author elegantly avoided any overt indications of such matters, preferring to leave them as a surprise for the reader.

  This brings us to the point at which the present volume opens, and we can only tender our most sincere apologies to those who find this summary an irritation. Should the reader agree with the author that, in general, such a summary as this does more harm than good, the author can only suggest that a respectful and polite note sent to the Lord of Publications, Glorious Mountain Press, Adrilankha, Whitecrest, may have some beneficial effect for the future—and, were the reader uninterested in the future, why would he take the trouble to concern himself with the past?


  The Lord of

  Castle Black


  In Which the Forces Are Brought Together

  That Lead Up to the Ninth (or Tenth)

  Battle of Dzur Mountain

  Chapter the Thirty-Fifth

  How Pel Met Wadre and

  Engaged Him in Conversation

  Two hundred and forty-six years after Adron’s Disaster, Zerika succeeded in retrieving the Orb. Zerika, for her part, was never able to tell how long she had spent in the Paths of the Dead and the Halls of Judgment, but, certainly, it was a length of time measured in hours, or, at the most, in days, which calculation is proven by the fact that Zerika is human, and the human being, with his animal shell enclosing a spiritual essence, cannot remain awake, moving, and active for more than a count measured in hours, or, at the most, days.

  With this in mind, it may be difficult to comprehend that, in fact, the time between when Zerika leapt from Deathgate Fa
lls and when Sethra Lavode became aware of her (for it is our understanding that the Enchantress of Dzur Mountain was, indeed, the first to become aware of Zerika) must be measured in months. Yet this is inarguably the case.

  The explanations for this phenomenon are many and varied, having come from such diverse sources as the Athyra Hangston, who postulates that between the leap from the top of the Falls to landing in the Paths one, in fact, enters a different world than our own, to the Lyorn Pushtagrae, who suggests that the Lords of Judgment assert conscious and deliberate control of every aspect of their realm. For our part, we will make no effort to solve this mystery, but instead will observe that time was never considered an absolute before the invention of the Orb permitted agreement on the intervals of its passing, and so there is no reason to consider time an absolute in a realm where the powers of the Orb have no effect.

  Whatever may be the explanation, it is the case: A considerable amount of time passed before Zerika emerged with the Orb. For the historian, this strange, diverging time can present a problem, as history is meaningless without cause and effect, and cause and effect are, in turn, meaningless without sequence. For our purposes, then, we have placed Zerika’s re-appearance where it belonged with as much accuracy as possible from her perspective. It remains, then, to explore what had occurred in that time from the perspective of others. And we are obliged to insist that, not only had there been a considerable amount of time passed, but that this time had been filled with activity.

  Realizing this, it becomes our duty to lay before the reader an account of this activity, so that when we next see Zerika—that is, when the two “diverging streams of time once more form a river,” as the above-mentioned Pushtagrae expressed it so eloquently, the reader is in a position to clearly understand the events as they unfold from that moment on.

  We begin, then, with Pel. Whereas we left him in a small village on the southern slopes of Dzur Mountain, we now find him just outside a small village, this one called Trader’s Rock, on the western slopes of Hanging Mountain.

  We will dispense with a description of Trader’s Rock itself for the simple reason that the events upon which we turn our eye are not in the village, but, as we have said, a place near it, within the shadow of the mountain, with its steep slopes, from which so many streams run leading down from its peculiar curved peak. At this time, the day is drawing to a close, and, beneath the slopes of this venerable mountain, there is a small campfire glowing. Pel approached this campfire and said, “Good evening, stranger. May I share your fire? I have some dried fruit, as well as cheese, and, if it should please you, why, I am more than happy to share them.”