Table of Contents
The suit of armor standing guard beside Karigan’s door was enameled with a shiny black veneer, with minimal gold trim ornamenting it. A halberd etched with armorial devices had been posed in its gauntlets.
As she lingered there outside her door, she heard metal grind against metal. She glanced up and down the corridor. Nothing moved, nothing was out of place. Silence reigned.
She was hearing things, she decided, but as she prepared to step away, she heard it again. She darted her gaze to the black armor beside her. Was its helm tilted at a slightly different angle?
She shook her head to dismiss it, but on the trailing edge of her vision, she saw a gauntlet rotate in its armored cuff.
Karigan wheeled to gaze full upon the suit of armor. To her astonishment, it straightened with a clatter from its somewhat slumped posture.
If Tegan was having one on her—
Before she could lift the visor to find out, the suit jerked its arms above its helm, raising its halberd high, and then cleaved downward.
ALSO BY KRISTEN BRITAIN:
Copyright © 2003 by Kristen Britain.
All Rights Reserved.
eISBN : 978-1-101-09849-3
DAW Book Collectors No. 1264.
DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA).
All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
First paperback printing, August
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
HECHO EN U.S.A.
What a long journey this has been. Many thanks to you readers out there for making my first book,
, such a success, and for your enduring patience, encouragement, and support since its publication. I hope you find this tome worthy.
I would not have survived the long haul without the support of my friends, notably Jill Shultz, John Marco, and Cheryl Dyer. I can’t express my appreciation enough to you guys, the way you helped me through some terrifically difficult times. You have no idea, and I am indebted.
Thank you to Betty Lyle for the use of her firepit; Julie E. Czerneda (AWA) for averting wardrobe panic attacks and advising me on writing and publishing stuff; Ruth Stuart, Jana Paniccia, Jihane Billacois, and all the othersff.net
newsgroupers for making me laugh pink; Tess Gerritsen who kindly listened and advised; Brooke Childrey for being Brooke; and belatedly Richard Grant and Joyce Varney, whose early encouragement years ago at the MWPA Tanglewood retreat made all this seem possible.
For the contributions of their expertise in various fields (from geology to the eating of . . .
) that helped me create a sense of verisimilitude when necessary, I would like to thank Peggy Doak (and her herd), Cheryl Dyer, Tim Bowie, and Kate Petrie.
Thank you to Saabrina Mosher for arranging a special meeting with Pat Smith, a reader whom I never got a chance to know, but felt privileged to meet. I’d like to remember her here. She loved the color green.
In the publishing department, Betsy Wollheim stuck with me during the creation of this book despite the seemingly endless and sometimes bumpy road this journey took. Thank you, Betsy, for your give-and-take and your eye for story (and your New York City tour guide expertise!). DAW Books is a rare and special publishing house in an era of large corporate multinational media giants, which possesses an author-friendly atmosphere that does not treat creative works as widgets. So I’d like to recognize the rest of the crew behind the DAW logo, too, who truly make the organization special: Debra Euler, Sheila Gilbert, Sean Fodera, Amy Fodera, and Peter Stampfel.
In addition, thank you to Anna Ghosh for thinking of the future, and for not holding against me that really hard-shelled lobster I tortured her with a few years ago, and to Danny Baror, international rights agent extraordinaire.
Keith Parkinson creates some of the most spectacular cover art I’ve ever seen, and I’m honored to have his art grace this book. Not just honored, but thrilled! It’s beautiful, Keith!
During the creation of both
and its sequel, I worked a day career as a national park ranger. The National Park Service is a special organization of dedicated people working to preserve America’s natural and cultural heritage, and I had the privilege of working with many fine and talented people. Like becoming a Green Rider, for many in the Park Service, the work is a calling. The uniform, the nature of the work, the shared experiences, the legends, and the traditions conspire to create an
espirit de corps
that is relatively unknown in other organizations. Rangers certainly aren’t in it for the money. (And the uniforms aren’t all that comfortable.) I would like to thank all my colleagues for carrying on the work and for being a part of my Park Service experience, and especially Deb Wade for her patience and understanding while I was slaving away on the writing by night, and coming into work the next day a bit tired and off-kilter. Deb, you understood the importance of my dream, and you supported my efforts. For that, I cannot thank you enough.
For their career counseling and listening, and just for being there, I’d like to thank Laurie Hobbs-Olson, Meg Scheid, Wanda (Wand) Moran, and Pat Murrell.
No acknowledgment section would be complete without mentioning my furries, Batwing and Percy. When all else seemed to fall to pieces in my life, they helped me keep steady on a very curvy road. Gryphon? Maybe next book you’ll get an acknowledgment of your very own. But in the meantime you’d better stop chewing on the manuscript.
Finally, rest in peace, T.O.S. You live on in the pages of this book.
In honor of my grandparents:
Leona Springer and Alan Britain, Sr.
Emma Momberger and George C. Momberger
Journal of Hadriax el Fex
We sail into the night. The winds finally favor us with a strength to move us more swiftly than oars. In this way we may conserve precious etherea, and allow the artisans time to effect repairs on the mechanicals.
At first it was disturbing not to hear the throb and thrum of the mechanicals, which have been so constant since our departure, but now I feel utterly at peace here in my cabin, with only the creak of timbers and the gentle sway of the ocean as backdrop. The darkness has settled in, and it is just me, my journal, and a prism to illuminate my writing.