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Protector of the Small Quartet

Tamora Pierce








  Trickster's Choice

  Trickster’s Queen


  First Test



  Lady Knight


  Wild Magic


  Emperor Mage

  The Realms of the Gods


  Alanna: The First Adventure

  In the Hand of the Goddess

  The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

  Lioness Rampant

  Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales

  Young Warriors: Stories of Strength

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  First Test text copyright © 1999 by Tamora Pierce

  Page text copyright © 2000 by Tamora Pierce

  Squire text copyright © 2001 by Tamora Pierce

  Lady Knight text copyright © 2002 by Tamora Pierce

  “Bone’s Day Out” text copyright © 2014 by Tamora Pierce

  Cover photograph copyright © 2000 by Joyce Tenneson

  All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

  This collection contains four works, previously published separately in hardcover in the United States in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

  Random House and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

  Visit us on the Web!

  Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at

  Ebook ISBN 978-0-385-38879-5

  First E-Omnibus Edition 2014

  Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.




  Title Page

  Tortall Books by Tamora Pierce







  BONUS: “Bone’s Day Out”

  About the Author


  Master - Table of Contents


  Title Page


  1. Decisions

  2. Not So Welcome

  3. The Practice Courts

  4. Classrooms

  5. Kel Backs Away

  6. The Lance

  7. Kel Takes a Stand

  8. Winter

  9. Tests

  10. The Royal Forest

  11. Spidren Hunt

  Cast of Characters



  To Mallory,

  who totally made it happen



  Alanna the Lioness, the King’s Champion, could hardly contain her glee. Baron Piers of Mindelan had written to King Jonathan to say that his daughter wished to be a page. Alanna fought to sit still as she watched Wyldon of Cavall, the royal training master, read the baron’s letter. Seated across his desk from them, the king watched the training master as sharply as his Champion did. Lord Wyldon was known for his dislike of female warriors.

  It had been ten long years since the proclamation that girls might attempt a page’s training. Alanna had nearly given up hope that such a girl—or the kind of family that would allow her to do so—existed in Tortall, but at last she had come forward. Keladry of Mindelan would not have to hide her sex for eight years as Alanna had done. Keladry would prove to the world that girls could be knights. And she would not be friendless. Alanna had plans to help Keladry through the first few years. It never occurred to the Champion that anyone might object.

  Alanna half turned to see Wyldon better. Surely he’d read the letter at least twice! From this side the puffy scars from his battle to save the younger princes and princess were starkly visible; Wyldon’s right arm was in a sling yet from that fight. Alanna rubbed fingers that itched with the urge to apply healing magic. Wyldon had the idea that suffering pain made a warrior stronger. He would not thank her if she tried to heal him now.

  Goddess bless, she thought tiredly. How will I ever get on with him if I’m to help this girl Keladry?

  Wyldon was not flexible: he’d proved that to the entire court over and over. If he were any stiffer, Alanna thought wryly, I’d paint a design on him and use him for a shield. He’s got no sense of humor and he rejects change just because it’s change.

  Still, she had to admit that his teaching worked. During the Immortals War of the spring and early summer, when legendary creatures had joined with the realm’s human enemies to take the kingdom, the squires and pages had been forced into battle. They had done well, thanks to their training by Wyldon and the teachers he had picked.

  At last Lord Wyldon returned the letter to King Jonathan, who placed it on his desk. “The baron and the baroness of Mindelan are faithful servants of the crown,” the king remarked. “We would not have this treaty with the Yamani Islands were it not for them. You will have read that their daughter received some warrior training at the Yamani court, so it would appear that Keladry has an aptitude.”

  Lord Wyldon resettled his arm in its sling. “I did not agree to this, Your Majesty.”

  Alanna was about to say that he didn’t have to agree when she saw the king give the tiniest shake of the head. Clenching her jaws, she kept her remark to herself as King Jonathan raised his eyebrows.

  “Your predecessor agreed,” he reminded Wyldon. “And you, my lord, implied agreement when you accepted the post of training master.”

  “That is a lawyer’s reply, sire,” Wyldon replied stiffly, a slight flush rising in his clean-shaven cheeks.

  “Then here is a king’s: we desire this girl to train as a page.

  And that is that, Alanna thought, satisfied. She might be the kind of knight who would argue with her king, at least in private, but Wyldon would never let himself do so.

  The training master absently rubbed the arm in its linen sling. At last he bowed in his chair. “May we compromise, sire?”

  Alanna stiffened. She hated that word! “Com—” she began to say.

  The king silenced her with a look. “What do you want, my lord?”

  “In all honesty,” said the training master, thinking aloud, “I had thought that our noble parents loved their daughters too much to place them in so hard a life.”

  “Not everyone is afraid to do anything new,” Alanna replied sharply.

  “Lioness,” said the king, his voice dangerously quiet. Alanna clenched her fists. What was going on? Was Jonathan inclined to give way to the man who’d saved his children?

  Wyldon’s eyes met hers squarely. “Your bias is known, Lady Alanna.” To the king he said, “Surely the girl’s parents cannot be aware of the difficulties she will encounter.”

  “Baron Piers and Lady Ilane are not fools,” replied King Jonathan. “They have given us three good, worthy knights already.”

  Lord Wyldon gave a reluctant nod. Anders, Inness, and Conal of Mindelan were credits to their training. The
realm would feel the loss of Anders—whose war wounds could never heal entirely—from the active duty rolls. It would take years to replace those who were killed or maimed in the Immortals War.

  “Sire, please, think this through,” Wyldon said. “We need the realm’s sons. Girls are fragile, more emotional, easier to frighten. They are not as strong in their arms and shoulders as men. They tire easily. This girl would get any warriors who serve with her killed on some dark night.”

  Alanna started to get up. This time King Jonathan walked out from behind his desk. Standing beside his Champion, he gripped one of her shoulders, keeping her in her chair.

  “But I will be fair,” Wyldon continued. His brown eyes were hard. “Let her be on probation for a year. By the end of the summer field camp, if she has not convinced me of her ability to keep up, she must go home.”

  “Who judges her fitness?” inquired the king.

  Wyldon’s lips tightened. “Who but the training master, sire? I have the most experience in evaluating the young for their roles as future knights.”

  Alanna turned to stare at the king. “No boy has ever undergone a probationary period!” she cried.

  Wyldon raised his good shoulder in a shrug. “Perhaps they should. For now, I will not tender my resignation over this, provided I judge whether this girl stays or goes in one year’s time.”

  The king weighed the request. Alanna fidgeted. She knew Lord Wyldon meant his threat, and the crown needed him. Too many great nobles, dismayed by the changes in Tortall since Jonathan’s coronation, felt that Wyldon was their voice at court. If he resigned, the king and queen would find it hard to get support for their future changes.

  At last King Jonathan said, “Though we do not always agree, my lord, you know I respect you because you are fair and honorable. I would hate to see that fairness, that honor, tainted in any way. Keladry of Mindelan shall have a year’s probation.”

  Lord Wyldon nodded, then inspected the nails on his good hand. “There is one other matter, “ he remarked slowly. He looked at Alanna. “Do you plan to involve yourself in the girl’s training? It will not do.”

  Alanna bristled. “What is that supposed to mean?”

  “You wish to help the girl, understandably.” Wyldon spoke as though the mild words made his teeth hurt. “But you rarely deal with the lads, my lady. If you help the girl, it will be said that you eased her path in some special way. There are rumors that your successes are due to your magical Gift.”

  “By the Goddess,” snapped Alanna, crimson with fury. If the king had not forbidden her to challenge men on personal grounds years before, she would have taken Wyldon out to the dueling court and made him regret his words.

  “Alanna, for heaven’s sake, you know the gossip,” King Jonathan said. “Stop acting as if you’d never heard it before.” He looked at Wyldon. “And you suggest...”

  “Lady Alanna must keep from all contact with the girl,” Wyldon replied firmly. “Even a moment’s conversation will give rise to suspicion.”

  “All contact?” cried Alanna. “But she’ll be the only girl among over twenty boys! She’ll have questions—I could help—” She realized what she had said and fell silent.

  King Jonathan gently patted her shoulder. “Is there no other way?” he asked.

  Wyldon shook his head. “I fear not, sire. The Mindelan girl will be the cause of trouble as it is, without the Lioness hovering over her.”

  The king thought it over. At last he sighed. “Lord Wyldon has the right of it. You must stay away from Keladry of Mindelan, Alanna.”

  “But Jonathan—sire—” she pleaded, not believing he would do this.

  “That is an order, lady knight. If you cannot accept that, say as much now, and I will find you work elsewhere.”

  She stared at him for a long moment, lips tight. At last she got to her feet. “Don’t tax yourself. I’ll find knight’s work myself,” she told him. “As far from Corus as possible.” She stalked out of the room, slamming the door in her wake.

  The men stared at the door. Each of them was trying to remember if Alanna the Lioness had ever spoken to Jonathan in that tone before.

  Baron Piers and Lady Ilane of Mindelan watched Keladry read the reply from the training master. A Tortallan who did not know them well might have thought the man and woman felt nothing, and that their ten-year-old daughter was only concerned, not upset. That was far from true. The family had spent the last six years living in the Yamani Islands, where displays of deep emotion were regarded as shameful. To get the Yamanis to respect them, they had all learned to hide their feelings. Home in Mindelan again, they still acted as Yamanis, hiding uneasiness and even distress behind still faces.

  Kel struggled to reread the letter, afraid to say a word. If she did, her shaking voice would give her away. Instead she waited as she tried to control the anger and sense of betrayal that filled her.

  “It is not the reply we expected,” Baron Piers said at last. He was a short, stocky man. Keladry had his build, delicate nose, and dreamy, long-lashed hazel eyes. Her brown hair was several shades lighter than his. When Kel did not reply he continued, “His declaration of ten years ago was that girls could become pages. Nothing was said of probation then.”

  “Keladry?” asked her mother. “You can say what you feel. We are no longer among the Yamanis.” She was a thin, elegant woman, taller than her husband by nearly a head, with hair that had gone white very early in life and a deep, musical voice. All Keladry had from her was height. At the age of ten the girl was already five feet tall and still growing.

  It took Kel a moment to register what her mother had said. She tried a smile. “But, Mama, I don’t want to get into bad habits, in case I go back with you.” She looked at Lord Wyldon’s letter again. She had expected to be a page when her parents returned to the Yamani Islands in eighteen months. From the tone of this letter, perhaps she ought not to count on that.

  “It isn’t right,” she said quietly, even fiercely. “No boys have probation. I’m supposed to be treated the same.”

  “Don’t give your answer yet,” Baron Piers said quickly. “Take the letter with you. Think about what it says. You’re not hasty, Kel—this is a bad time to start.”

  “Reflect as if you have all of time, even when time is short,” added her mother in Yamani. “Be as stone.”

  Kel bowed Yamani-style, palms flat on her thighs. Then she went to find someplace quiet to think.

  First she went to her room beside the nursery. That wasn’t a good choice. Two of her brothers’ young families lived at Mindelan. With the children and their nursemaids next door, there was enough noise to drown out trumpets. No one had seen her creep into the room, but her oldest nephew saw her leaving it. Nothing would do for him but that she give him a piggyback ride around the large room. After that, all of the older children wanted rides of their own. Once that was done, the nursemaids helped Kel to escape.

  She tried to hole up by the fountain in the castle garden, but her sisters-in-law were there, sewing and gossiping with their maids. The kitchen garden was her next choice, but two servants were there gathering vegetables. She stared longingly at her favorite childhood spot, the highest tower in the castle, and felt a surge of anger. Before they had gone to the islands her brother Conal had teasingly held her over the edge of the tower balcony. Until that time she had visited the top of that tower at least once a day. Now the thought of it made her shudder.

  There were hundreds of places she might use around the castle, but they were all indoors. She needed to be outside. She was trying to think of a place when she remembered the broad, shallow Domin River, which ran through the woods. No one would be there. She could sit by the water and think in peace.

  “Miss?” called a voice as she strode through the inner gate in the castle wall. “Where might you be going?”

  Kel turned to face the man-at-arms who had called to her. “I don’t know.”

  The man held out a small horn. “If you’re no
t going to the village, you need one of these.” He spoke carefully. The baron and his family had been home only for three months, and the people were still not sure what to make of these strange, Yamani-like nobles. “They told you the rule, surely. Any time you go outside the castle or village, you take a horn. You never know when one of them monsters, centaurs or giants or whatever, will show its face.”

  Kel frowned. The legendary creatures that had returned to their world five years before had an unnerving way of showing up when they were least expected. For every one that was harmless or willing to get on with humans, there were fistfuls that weren’t. Bands of men-at-arms now roamed throughout the fiefdom, searching for hostile visitors and listening for the horn call, which meant someone was in trouble.

  I’m not going very far, she wanted to argue, but the Yamanis had taught her to obey a soldier’s commands. She accepted the horn with a quiet thank-you and slung it over one shoulder. Checking that Lord Wyldon’s letter was tucked securely in the front of her shirt, she left the road that led from the castle gate and headed through their orchards. Once past the cultivated trees she entered the woods, following a trail down to the water.

  By the time she could see a glint of silver through the trees she had worked up a mild sweat. The day was warm and the walk was longer than she had thought it would be. When a rock worked its way into her shoe, she sat on a log to get it out.

  “It’s not right,” she muttered to herself, undoing the laces that held the leather around her ankle. “You’re a page for four years. That’s how it’s been done for centuries. Now they’re going to change it?” When she up-ended the shoe and shook it, nothing fell out. She stuffed a hand inside, feeling around for the stone. “And just because I’m a girl? They ought to treat me the same. All I want is the same chance as the boys. No more, no less. That’s right, isn’t it?” She winced as a sharp edge nipped one of her fingers. Working more carefully, she wiggled the bit of rock out of a fold in the leather. “Probation is not fair, and knighthood training has to be fair.”