Authors: Mark Anthony
Night after night Travis stood above Beltan, trying to imagine how someone could actually love him, and trying to imagine if he could love another, trying to feel if it was even possible. Then, finally, in what might have been an act of desperation, Travis had bent down and had pressed his lips against Beltan’s.
There was no lightning flash, no grand revelation. It was just flesh to flesh. Why had he expected anything else? In all his late-night reveries, he had been so busy wondering if he
love Beltan that he had forgotten to ask himself the simple question if he
. And as for the answer, well—
Like a dark bird, something fluttered on the edge of Travis’s vision. He looked up.
The woman stood no more than thirty feet away. She was tall and lithe, her body in tight-fitting black leather, her legs apart and high-heeled boots planted firmly. Short, dark hair was smoothed sleekly against her head, and she wore a solemn expression on the bronze oval of her face. She stood without the slightest motion, gazing at him with gold eyes.
Travis started to draw in a breath.
he wanted to say. However, before the sound left his lips, the air around the woman rippled and folded, and she was gone.
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Beyond the Pale
The Keep of Fire
This edition contains the complete text of the original hardcover edition.
NOT ONE WORD HAS BEEN OMITTED.
THE DARK REMAINS
A Bantam Spectra Book
Bantam Spectra trade paper edition / March 2001
Bantam Spectra paperback edition / October 2001
SPECTRA and the portrayal of a boxed “s” are trademarks of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Anthony.
Maps by Karen Wallace.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 00-060834.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.
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For Trey R. Barker and LuAnn Salz—
Thanks for Providence and Dark Redemption
And for the Millennium Gang—
Kathy Kirby and Stan Kirby
Christie Golden and Michael Georges
and Raven Moore—
. will never look quite the same
With Fellring sword of Elfin art
Ulther smote the Pale King’s heart
And farewell words too often part
All their small and paling hearts
It was in the final, burnished days of summer—when cool mornings gave way to languid afternoons under hazy skies, when the wheat bowed in the fields, shafts heavy with fruit, and all the land was still as if drinking in one last, long draught of gold—that the Mournish came to Artolor.
Through the window of her chamber, Aryn watched the line of wagons creep along the road that led to the castle. At this distance the wagons were smaller than toys, but the young woman’s blue eyes were sharp, and she could make out many of the fantastical shapes into which they had been wrought.
There were swans with high, curving prows and snowy wings folded against their sides, and snails painted pink with small round windows set into their spiraled shells. A lion crouched low to the road, as if ready to pounce on a hart crowned by tree-branch antlers, while an emerald frog bounced behind. More wagons rolled into view: tortoises, fish cresting carved blue waves, lizards, tawny hares, and a dozen other creatures that Aryn had never seen before, except perhaps coiled along the edges of pages in old books.
One by one the wagons vanished beneath the green curve of the hill, and the road was empty again. But even at that moment, Aryn knew the wagons were coming to a halt in the field outside the village, opening painted doors to release the spicy scent of incense, the cool
of silver, and the undulating rhythms of music.
The young woman turned from the window, her sapphire eyes bright. “Let’s go see the Mournish!”
Lirith, who sat in a chair on the other side of the small sitting room, did not look up from her embroidery. “And then let’s get tossed in the dungeon and make the acquaintance of a few dozen rats. For you know as I do, sister, that Queen Ivalaine has made it plain she wishes no one in her court to associate with the wandering folk. Their entertainments are for villagers and farmers.”
Annoyed, but not surprised, Aryn indulged herself in a particularly noxious frown.
“And what a fine baroness you’ll make after your face freezes that way, sister,” Lirith mused, her dark eyes still focused on the embroidery hoop in her lap. “Even bold dukes and proud knights will quail before you.”
“As well they should,” Aryn said. Although she smoothed her features and made a quick glance at a silver mirror on the wall nearby to be sure she hadn’t done permanent damage.
“I saw that,” Lirith said.
Rather than reply, Aryn gazed back out the window. The most interesting sight she saw now was a flock of sheep dotting the side of a distant hill like flowers. She amused herself for a few moments, imagining plucking tiny sheep from the grass, weaving them into a squirming, bleating chain, and placing them around her neck. Then she considered the smell, and that fancy passed.