The Lord of Castle BlackSteven Brust
of Castle Black
The Viscount of Adrilankha
Steven Brust, P.J.F
How Tazendra Put the Empress's
Suggestion into Action
Khaavren was awakened early the following morning by a remarkably loud sound, in the form of a "boom" similar to what a heavy log might make when dropped from a great height into a rocky valley of the sort that generates considerable echoes. He came at once to his feet, to find that everyone else was also rising, the entire camp having been startled by this sound. He wondered at once who was on watch, and, without thinking about it, consulted the Orb to learn the time—which action proved how quickly he had, in some ways at least, habituated himself to its return.
Having learned the time, he was able to quickly determine that it was the last watch, and that, therefore, it was being shared, by Tazendra, wherefore he at once called for the Dzurlord by name.
"I am here," she said coolly, emerging from behind a large stone, from which, Khaavren realized, a certain amount of heavy gray smoke was also emerging, as if a fire had been quickly smothered in that spot.
"The Horse!" cried Khaavren. "Are you injured?"
"Bah. It is nothing."
"How, nothing?" said Khaavren, as the others in their party, now fully awake, also stared at her. "You perceive, your face is blackened, much of your clothing burned and torn to the point where your modesty is compromised, and, if I am not deceived, there is smoke still curling from your left hand."
"Well," shrugged Tazendra, endeavoring to adjust her clothing. "It is not so bad as it looks."
The Dragaeran Novels
The Khaavren Romances
The Phoenix Guards
Five Hundred Years After
The Viscount of Adrilankha
The Paths of the Dead
The Lord of Castle Black
The Vlad Taltos Novels
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)
The Viscount of Adrilankha
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 5 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
Fentor e'Mondaar—A Dragonlord
Fineol—A Vallista from Nacine
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
The Society of the Porker Poker
Piro—The Viscount of Adrilankha
Whitecrest and Environs
Daro—The Countess of Whitecrest
Dzur Mountain and Environs
Kytraan—The son of an old friend
Sethra Lavode—The Enchantress of Dzur Mountain
Sethra the Younger—Sethra's apprentice
The Necromancer—A demon
Tazendra—A Dzurlord wizard
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
Steward—His other servant
On the Road
Orlaan—A sorceress in training
Wadre—A brigand leader
Ryunac e'Terics—A lieutenant in Skinter's army
Magra e'Lanya—Ryunac's sergeant
Brimford—An Easterner and Warlock
Corthina Fi Dalcalda—King of Elde
Gardimma—Imperial Ambassador to Elde
The Halls of Judgment
Prince Tiawall—Hawk Heir
Jami—A Teckla in Mistyvale County
Marel—Proprietor of a general store
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 1, 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 re-create 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?
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
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 enclosin
g 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 Falls 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.