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Authors: Gail Z. Martin

Dark Haven

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DARK HAVEN

Book Three of the CHRONICLES OF THE NECROMANCER

GAIL Z. MARTIN

Chronicles of the Necromancer

THE SUMMONER

THE BLOOD KING

First published 2009 Ly Solaris

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an imprint of BL Publishing

Games Workshop Ltd

Willow Road

Nottingham

NG7 2WS

UK

www.solarisbooks.com

ISBN‐13: 978 1 84416 708 1 ISBN‐10: 1 84416 708 9

Copyright © Gail Z. Martin 2009

Map by Kirk Caldwell.

The right of the individual authors to be identified as the

authors of this work have been asserted in accordance with the 4

Copyright, Designs and

Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be

reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,

recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the

copyright owners.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Designed & typeset by BL Publishing Printed and bound in the UK.

For Tracy, who believed in Tris first.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

IT takes A village—or at least a tribe—to get a book into print. I am grateful to everyone who helped and encouraged this book along its way. So my gratitude goes out to my husband, Larry, who tirelessly edits and comments on the book as it comes to life, and to my children, Kyrie, Chandler and Cody, who share my time with the writing process. I am also grateful to Christian Dunn, Mark Newton and Alethea Kontis, whose belief in the book brings it into your local bookstore, and of course, to my agent, Ethan Ellenberg. I deeply appreciate my extended family and friends who encourage me along the process, and to all of the wonderful readers and author friends who help the whole crazy business to make sense. One of those friends, Tracy Fletcher Albritton, was the first to read my handwritten stories 31 years ago and she believed in me all along the way. She has now gone to rest, and I wish so much that there was a Sumnioner to let me say good‐bye. This book is for her.

CHRONICLES OF THE NECROMANCER

An excerpt from the writings of Royster of Westmarch, keeper of the Library of the Sisterhood.

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The dark times began in the thirty‐third year of King Bricen I of Margolan. Jared Drayke, King Bricen’s eldest son, seized the throne, killing everyone in the royal family except for his younger half‐brother, Martris.

Tris, as the younger prince was known to his friends, barely escaped his brother’s treachery, and fled with the help of a few courageous friends. Outlawed and hunted, Tris and his friends ran for their lives. On their journey to reach sanctuary outside of Margolan, Tris crossed paths with Jonmarc Vahanian, a notorious smuggler and former mercenary. The small group of friends endured much hardship and danger to stay one step ahead of Jared’s troops. Along the way, Tris came to realize that he had inherited the rare spirit magic of his sorcerer grandmother, Bava K’aa. That magic made him a Summoner, able to intercede among the living, dead and undead.

He realized that his magic might help him win back the throne—if he could gain enough control to keep it from killing him first.

Tris found support in neighboring Principality, and together with his loyal friends, made plans to free Margolan from fared the Usurper’s heavy hand. King Staden rewarded Jonmarc Vahanian with a ptle and the holding of Dark Haven for his valor.

But the road back to claim the throne was a dangerous one. Tris, a half‐trained mage, had no choice but to confront both his elder brother and Foor Arontala, a dark sorcerer. On the night of the Hawthorn Moon, fared and Arontala planned to free the bound spirit of the Obsidian King, whose, atrocities led to the great Mage Wars fifty years before.

Risking everything to win back the crown, Tris nearly died in his fight to defeat fared and Arontala and to destroy the reborn spirit of the Obsidian King. In a struggle that pushed his magic to the limits, Tris prevailed, at great cost. The kingdom rejoiced to be free of fared the Tyrant. Tris was crowned King Martris of Margolan and proposed marriage to Princess Kiara of Isencroft, a move that would seal a long‐ago covenant and would join the two kingdoms, jonmarc Vahanian became the Lord of Dark Haven, a mortal in the age‐old place of 7

refuge for the vayash moru.

They did not know then that the dark times were far from over. For in the short span of Jared’s reign, events had been set into motion that could not be turned back. The Truce between mortals and the vayash moru that had kept the peace for hundreds of years was beginning to fail. The Sisterhood could no longer control the magic of the Flow. Old rivals and new enemies awaited a chance to strike.

What lay ahead of them was far more dangerous than anything they had faced so far. Tris, Jonmarc and the others were about to step into a future in which all of their certainties would be overturned and their closest bonds would be torn asunder. In the bleak days to come, Tris and Jonmarc would realize that dreams very quickly become nightmares, and nightmares, reality.

CHAPTER ONE

Jonmarc Vahanian reined in his horse. The autumn day was chill and his breath misted in the air as brilliantly colored leaves swirled around the courtyard. His gaze scanned the hulking, dark stone building. The manor house of Dark Haven was finally habitable.

Jonmarc’s horse snuffled restlessly. Teams of workers bustled around the courtyard, trying to get the manor house fully livable by winter and, more to Jonmarc’s concern, suitable for visitors.

He slipped down from his horse and absently handed the reins to a squire as Neirin, his grounds 8

manager, bustled up. Neirin was born to Dark Haven’s lands, kin to many of the ghosts and vayash moru who served the manor. A cloud of wild red hair framed his freckled face, and when he spoke it was with the heavy accent of the Principality

highlands.

“You’re out early, m’lord,” Neirin greeted him cheerfully. “They’ll be thinking you’re vayash moru with the hours you’ve been keep‐ing.”

Jonmarc smiled. “I’ve always been a night person, but Dark Haven gives that a whole new meaning.” He stretched, and grimaced as his right arm twinged. A little more than three months had elapsed since the battle with Arontala. The badly” broken arm, leg, and wrist had required most of the summer to mend, even with Carina’s help. ‘ “Taking a chill in the bones?”

“Not quite good as new, but getting there.” Neirin gave him a knowing look. “I doubt your lady healer had the schedule you keep in mind when you came north. Reaping grain with the farmers in the morning, down in the forge for the afternoon, swords practice with your guard at night.”

Jonmarc chuckled. “She expects me to ignore orders. That means I’m doing just what she thought I would.”

“That’s the most twisted logic I’ve heard in a long time.”

Jonmarc looked up at the dark stone of the manor house. “Yeah, well even by my standards, this is the strangest place I’ve been in a long time, so we’re even.” He stared down the road toward the village and the fields beyond.

Last year’s heavy rains made for a poor harvest. Dark Haven could not afford another poor yield, and here in the northlands, winter would be coming on soon. “You’re worried about the harvest.” Jonmarc shrugged. “Shouldn’t I be? The manor house wasn’t the only thing left to rot for ten years. No one looked after the fields much, that’s certain. And with the mess Jared 9

made of Margolan, there won’t be grain to spare this year. We’ve got to take in everything we grow and make sure it winters. I’ve no desire to win a title and still go hungry!”

“You’ve already done more than the last two lords.”

“As I’ve been told repeatedly, they died young. Maybe I’m not counting on a long tenure.”

“I wish you wouldn’t joke like that.”

“Who’s joking?”

Neirin looked out over the fields. “I’m not a mage, but even I know that things were better here before Arontala disturbed the currents of magic beneath the manor house. I’ve heard my father and my grandfather talk about how it was before. Ever since Arontala ripped out that damned orb, things have gotten worse.”

“Last year, when I heard Tris and the Sisterhood talk about the Flow, I didn’t actually believe them,” Jonmarc mused. “Now, I’m living on top of the damn thing. I’ve got no magic, but even to me, something feels

wrong whenever I’m in the vaults below the manor.”

A powerful current of magic flowed beneath the manor house and through its foundation. It was in this Flow that the great mage Bava K’aa imprisoned the’ orb containing the soul of the Obsidian King more than fifty years ago. The manor’s foundation had shattered and one wing of the building had collapsed when Foor Aronta‐la wrested the orb of the Obsidian King free eleven years ago. Mages swore that it created a disruption in the Flow, a dislocation that could be felt the breadth of the Winter Kingdoms.

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A chill wind blasted past him, and leaves swirled around his feet. Once more, the manor house bustled with life and the activity of those who, if not alive, were not entirely dead. Dark Haven was the ancestral home of the vayash moru, and Jonmarc, who earned its lordship as a gift from the king of Principality, was its newest lord. “Are you ready for tonight?” Jonmarc gave Neirin a hard stare. “Sure. I’m as ready as I’m going to be. I’m being introduced to the Blood Council. Only mortal in the place. The last time Gabriel arranged a Council meeting I almost died—and I wasn’t even officially invited. I’m not at’ all sure they’re happy about a new lord, and a mortal one at that.”

Neirin walked alongside Jonmarc as they surveyed the progress of the building crews.

“You’ll be on Lord Gabriel’s lands. That gives you sanctuary. He’ll have his brood there to watch over you. No one will dare move against you. Even if they wanted to.”

“Thanks. That makes me feel much better.”

Jonmarc pulled his cloak around him, watching the workers. By daylight, the laborers were mortal. By night, vayash moru craftsmen worked to restore the manor to its previous glory.

Gabriel had begun the process of rebuilding before Jonmarc was able to travel from Margolan.

Within a few weeks of Jon‐marc’s arrival, the pantries were provisioned, the sheds filled with firewood and necessities, and the stables full with horses and their tack. Dark Haven was livable for mortals once more.

Dark Haven’s manor was four centuries old, a three‐storey rectangle with a large wing on either side. The main entrance had a sweeping set of steps cascading from a columned entranceway and above it a large balcony. Made of dark granite, Dark Haven seemed brooding.

Even the building’s construction revealed its role as home to both mortals and vayash moru. Its rooms were built concentrically. An outer ring of rooms with large windows was designed for its mortal inhabitants. A second ring of rooms at the core of the building was windowless, so vayash 11

moru could move in safety regardless of the sun outside. At the far left end of the western wing was a small temple to the Goddess. But where Margolan worshipped Her as Mother and Childe and Isencroft venerated the avenger Chenne, only Dark Haven worshipped Her as Istra, the Dark Lady. The tefnple had been faithfully kept throughout the years of disuse. Even Jonmarc, whose views were at best agnostic except under fire, could feel a ghostly sense of presence there.

“How can it be this bloody cold so early in the season?” Jonmarc grumbled.

“This is Principality! It’s only by the Lady’s luck it hasn’t snowed.” The green‐gray tinge of the clouds looked as if that luck might be ready to run out.

“If the snows are bad, Linton won’t be able to get his caravan provisioned by Winterstide. That trade agreement we worked out with him and Jolie is only good for bringing in money if they can move goods. We’re going to need gold to get the manor fully repaired and more to get the seed for next year’s crops. That reward from Staden is only going to go so far.”

Neirin smiled. “I’ve seen you drive a bargain. If anyone can stretch a coin, it’s you. It’s been a long time since Dark Haven was self‐sustaining. Trade like that could get the village back on its feet.”

“Trade routes aside, the trip back for Tris’s wedding will be the demon’s own if we’ve got snow to deal with. It should take about three

weeks with good weather, although I’ve never done it without guards chasing me, so we’ll see.”

“An early snow’ll play havoc with the remaining harvest, and the manor repairs. But you’ve got a fortnight before you and Lord Gabriel head for Margolan. Weather up here can change 12

completely by then.” Neirin pulled his own cloak tighter around him. “Word’s out that you’ll be bringing a healer back with you, and a fine one at that. There hasn’t been a decent healer in Dark Haven for years. If your Lady is willing to be bothered, I dare say she’ll have patients aplenty.”

Jonmarc smiled. “Try to stop her. I suspect she’ll come quite well prepared. Just don’t bring her any bar fight injuries. She’s touchy about those.”

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