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Sethra Lavode (Viscount of Adrilankha)

Steven Brust





  Brokedown Palace


  The Phoenix Guards

  Five Hundred Years After

  The Viscount of Adrilankha,

  which comprises The Paths of the Dead,

  The Lord of Castle Black, and Sethra Lavode












  To Reign in Hell

  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)







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


  Copyright © 2004 by Steven Brust

  Afterword copyright © 2004 by John M. Ford

  Edited by Teresa Nielsen Hayden

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

  This book is printed on acid-free paper.

  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.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Brust, Steven, 1955—

  Sethra Lavode / Steven Brust.—1st ed.

  p. cm.—(The Viscount of Adrilankha ; bk. 3)

  “A Tom Doherty Associates book.”

  ISBN 0-312-85581-8 (acid-free paper)

  EAN 978-0312-85581-9

  I. Title

  PS3552.R84S47 2004


  First Edition: April 2004

  Printed in the United States of America

  0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  The Viscount of



  Sethra Lavode

  Describing Certain Events that Occurred

  Between the 1st and 3rd Years

  Of the Reign of Empress Zerika the Fourth

  Submitted to the Imperial Library

  By Springsign Manor

  House of the Hawk

  On this 3rd day of 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 179th 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

  Malyapon—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 Sixty-Ninth

  Chapter the Seventieth

  Chapter the Seventy-First

  Chapter the Seventy-Second

  Chapter the Seventy-Third

  Chapter the Seventy-Fourth

  Chapter the Seventy-Fifth

  Chapter the Seventy-Sixth

  Chapter the Seventy-Seventh

  Chapter the Seventy-Eighth

  Chapter the Seventy-Ninth

  Chapter the Eightieth

  Chapter the Eighty-First

  Chapter the Eighty-Second

  Chapter the Eighty-Third

  Chapter the Eighty-Fourth

  Chapter the Eighty-Fifth


  Chapter the Eighty-Sixth

  Chapter the Eighty-Seventh

  Chapter the Eighty-Eighth

  Chapter the Eighty-Ninth

  Chapter the Ninetieth

  Chapter the Ninety-First

  Chapter the Ninety-Second

  Chapter the Ninety-Third

  Chapter the Ninety-Fourth

  Chapter the Ninety-Fifth

  Chapter the Ninety-Sixth

  Chapter the Ninety-Seventh

  Chapter the Ninety-Eighth

  Chapter the Ninety-Ninth

  Chapter the One Hundredth

  Chapter the One Hundred First

  Chapter the One Hundred Second





  Which Consists of a Succinct Summary

  Of All That Has Gone Before

  As Well as a Daring Literary Adventure

  Embarked Upon for the Benefit

  Of the Loyal Reader

  Having, on the occasion of introducing the previous volume of this history, said all that needs to be said concerning the wisdom, or, rather, the lack of wisdom, of dividing a story into sections, we do not feel the need to repeat ourselves. That is, all of those who have read the previous volume understand our objections to making such necessarily arbitrary breaks in what was meant to be a single, unified text; and those who have not read the previous volumes will, without our having to say anything, quickly come to understand. However, in the course of preparing this summary, we came to the decision to do something that, so far as we know, has never been done in the history of letters—a daring step that we have chosen to take out of a sense of duty to the reader.

  Instead of confining these few pages to an explication of the events which are already known to those of our readers who have done us the courtesy of remaining with us throughout the several volumes of this history, we have chosen to break with an iron-bound tradition for such summaries, and include, toward the end of this section, new information—that is to say, information which will be of value to all readers.

  It is possible that we will come under attack for such a departure from tradition from our brothers in letters, as well as those who feed upon literature in the same way as certain insects feed upon deceased animals; but in our desire to be of service to the reader, we are willing and even happy to brave these attacks.

  That noted, we will at once pass on to explain, as laconically as possible, the circumstances at the beginning of this volume of our history, and how those circumstances developed.

  We have been following, first of all, two Dragonlords: Morrolan and Kâna. The latter of these has been attempting to expand his own holdings until they become, in effect, the Empire re-created. He achieved significant success, having started his projects around the fiftieth year after Adron’s Disaster, so that, by the time two hundreds of years had passed, nearly half of the area that was once the Empire was either under his control or threatened by his forces.

  The other, Morrolan, the Count of Southmoor, had been raised in the East in ignorance, not only of his heritage, but, indeed, even of his race. Early in our history, we saw how he migrated from the East along with several hundreds of practitioners of the Eastern heathen magical arts. He journied to Dzur Mountain under the impression that he was owed tribute, Dzur Mountain being part of his ancestral holdings. He received an immensely powerful artifact from the Enchantress, though we are inclined to believe this was less in the nature of tribute than it was a gift of friendship, or perhaps the product of inspired foresight on the part of the enigmatic Sethra.

  Another figure whom we have been following with great attention is, in fact, Sethra Lavode herself, the Enchantress of Dzur Mountain. Seeing that the true Phoenix Heir, Zerika, had reached a sufficient age, Sethra revealed to this worthy Zerika’s true name and destiny, and sent her, with the Viscount of Adrilankha, our old friend Tazendra, and a few others to the Paths of the Dead, where she managed to convince the Lords of Judgment to give her the Orb. She emerged from the Halls of Judgment, and so the Interregnum came to an end. This, the reader should understand, led directly to the Battle of Dzur Mountain, as this battle was, above all else, Kâna’s attempt to take the Orb by force. He concentrated his two armies, together numbering over seventy thousand strong, on Dzur Mountain, which he knew was Zerika’s destination. The attempt was defeated, largely thanks to Morrolan, as well as to assistance sent by Sethra Lavode, and a necromantic demon sent by the Lords of Judgment.

  We should add that, after the battle, Morrolan caused to be built a floating castle, as was a tradition among his family, which had often lived in such structures before the Interregnum, either because of the ease of defending such a place, or else simply because they were able to.

  With Kâna’s army defeated and in retreat, Zerika marched from Dzur Mountain to Adrilankha and began construction of the Imperial Palace, unaware that the Pretender had other schemes working in case the military attack had failed. In particular, Grita, the daughter of our friends’ old enemy, has offered her services to Kâna in exchange for help in achieving vengeance against Khaavren, Aerich, Pel, and Tazendra. She has been of no small help to the Pretender, in particular succeeding in finding Illista, an exiled Phoenix who has long nursed a hatred of our friends, and who, like Grita, is happy to assist Kâna in exchange for securing her revenge.

  We have mentioned Piro, the Viscount of Adrilankha. It is also important for the reader to understand that he has fallen in love with the Dzurlord Ibronka, only daughter of Her Highness Sennya, the Dzur Heir. Khaavren, for his part, was outraged at Piro’s wishes to marry outside of his House, and, after harsh words between them, Piro, Ibronka, and their friends, including the remnants of a certain band of brigands who had first been enemies and after soldiers of Her Majesty, have set up as highwaymen in a region some hundred miles northwest of Dzur Mountain.

  With the reader’s permission, we feel that, as we promised above, this is a good time to present new information: to wit, a general picture of what was occurring in the Empire during this crucial period, that is to say, what is usually considered the initial year of Zerika’s Reign.

  The reader should, first of all, understand that a confederation as strong and as large as that created by Kâna and Habil would not simply dissolve as the result of a military defeat or two. Though severely damaged, like a wounded toe-lizard, it thrashed around a bit, pulled its head in, retreated, hissed, and survived. By the time several months had passed, Kâna had pulled back so that he could reasonably claim to exercise his influence over the western third of the Empire, with the exception of the Fingers, which, except for its few ports, was of little importance anyway. Additionally, certain pockets above the Great Sea of Amorphia claimed allegiance to the Pretender, but this is generally considered to be a fluke, caused by age-old resentment against a previous Phoenix Emperor who took mining rights from various of the counts of the district.

  While the geographical regions of support for the two supposed Emperors are clearly identifiable, the breakdown among the various strata of society is less clear. Zerika’s support was strongest among the Lyorn, Tiassa, and Hawk nobles, a statistic that would seem irrational, as these Houses stood to gain the Orb sooner with a Dragon on the throne. Yet Lyorns have always held that the Orb was sacred, and, in such questions, the Tiassas have more often than not followed the Lyorns’ lead. As for the Hawklords, many of them had interest in some of the iron-rich regions of the Southeast, and, as most of the smelters were near the Shallow Sea—that is to say, a region firmly under Zerika’s control—they hesitated to offend her.

  The House of the Dragon was, as the reader might expect, split, primarily according to family ties of those serving in the various armies, and secondarily according to other interests; but for the most part, they tended to support Kâna, because he was, after all, a
Dragon himself. Most of the Dzurlords also sided with the Pretender, because so many of their holdings were near the Grand Canal and dependent upon it, and nearly the entire length of the Canal ran through the region firmly under his control.

  We should note here that, as the reader may observe, it is, in fact, the influence of commerce, trade, and the practical considerations of day-to-day life that tended to exert the most influence on the loyalties and allegiances of the Houses, not high-sounding considerations of ideals, such as is believed by historians of the romantic school. Yet, to give credit to those historians, it is often those individuals who form exceptions to these tendencies who exert the most influence on the course of history, and are, in any case, the most pleasurable to study.

  But to continue: Additional support for Zerika came from the Iorich, because most of them tend to live in cities, and, as a general rule, her support was stronger among those whose income depended upon the sort of manufacturing that was transported by sea, whereas Kâna had considerable sympathy among those who depended upon overland transportation, such as the Athyra (many of whom had logging interests in the region to the west of the Pushta) as well as the Chreotha and Vallista. Of the Orca, those involved directly in shipping firmly backed Zerika, who controlled the most important seaports (not the least of which was proud Adrilankha herself), but the rest—which is to say, the majority—favored Kâna for the same reason as the Chreotha and Vallista: because he controlled so much of the interior transportation.

  In many ways, transportation, as the reader may see, was a key issue; at least, it seemed so to Her Majesty. She was never ashamed to say, later, that she had studied many of the improvements instituted by the Pretender and had learned from them. She immediately implemented and extended his system of posts, which included the delivery of mails and use of post horses by any peer, as well as those on Imperial business. While this was not tremendously successful as a means of garnering support among the more recalcitrant nobles, it quickly turned into a more general system for the delivery of mail, until we have the liberal, inexpensive, and efficient system that we enjoy to-day.

  One of the more daring (and controversial) decisions of Zerika’s early reign was that, while she maintained the army, she did not increase it, instead devoting what funds she was able to garner from those nobles who pledged loyalty to her as individuals (decisions on approval by the Houses and the Council of Princes still being some years in the future) to the improvement of roadways, hoping to lure in this fashion more of the merchants.