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Authors: Lawrence Watt-Evans

The Ninth Talisman

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THE
NINTH
TALISMAN

Volume Two of
THE ANNALS OF THE CHOSEN

 

“Waft-Evans always delivers a good story.”
SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE

 

A
LL THE WORLD
is kept in a delicate balance under the supervision of the Wizard Lord. It is his duty to govern lightly and protect his domain . . . but if he should stray from the way of the just, then it is up to the Chosen to intercede.

The Chosen are the Leader, the Seer, the Swordsman, the Beauty, the Thief, the Scholar, the Archer, and the Speaker. They are magically infused mortal individuals who for the term of their service have only one function—to remove an errant Wizard Lord.

The Chosen fulfilled this role when they removed the insane and tyrannical former Wizard Lord and exposed treachery within their own ranks.

Since their last adventure, the world has returned to apparent peace and prosperity. The newly chosen Wizard Lord appears to be loved by all. He rules benevolently . . . but with an eye toward modernization through technology instead of magic.

Do such plans jeopardize the delicate balance of power?

Is a Wizard Lord who is able to rule without magic a threat to the Chosen?

Breaker, the Swordsman, hopes for the best but fears that the Chosen must intervene . . . before it is too late.

THE
NINTH
TALISMAN

 

 

 

TOR BOOKS BY LAWRENCE WATT-EVANS

 

 

THE OBSIDIAN CHRONICLES

Dragon Weather

The Dragon Society

Dragon Venom

 

 

LEGENDS OF ETHSHAR

Night of Madness

Ithanalin's Restoration

 

Touched by the Gods

Split Heirs
(with Esther Friesner)

 

THE ANNALS OF THE CHOSEN

The Wizard Lord

The Ninth Talisman

THE

NINTH
TALISMAN

VOLUME TWO OF THE
ANNALS OF THE CHOSEN

LAWRENCE WATT-EVANS

A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
New York

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.

THE NINTH TALISMAN: VOLUME TWO OF THE ANNALS OF THE CHOSEN

Copyright © 2007 by Lawrence Watt-Evans

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

www.tor.com

Tor
®
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1027-9
ISBN-10: 0-7653-1027-9

First Edition: May 2007

Printed in the United States of America

0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

 

 

Dedicated to Susan Carscadden,
for all the help she's given my family through the years

Contents

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Epilogue

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thanks to Brian Thomsen, Russell Galen, Kristin Sevick, Deborah Wood, and Terry McGarry for making this series better than it might otherwise have been, and again, my thanks to Timothy S. O'Brien for essential aid in world-building.

THE BALLAD OF THE CHOSEN
(as sung by the soldiers of Winterhome)

When day turned dark and shadows fell

Across the broken lands

And madness turned to taloned claws Our ancient ruler's hands

Then eight were called by whims of fate

To save us from our doom;

The Chosen came to guard us all

And lay evil in its tomb

 

[chorus]
If a Wizard Lord should turn
Against the common man
These Chosen eight would bring him down,
Bring peace to Barokan!

 

The Leader shows his bold resolve

Confronting every foe

His words would guide the Chosen as

He told them how to go

 

The Seer sought the comrades out

And gathered them to fight

Nor could their foeman hide from her;

She has the second sight

 

[chorus]

 

The Swordsman's blade is swift and sure

His skill is unsurpassed

If any stood against him, then

That stand would be his last

 

A lovely face the Beauty has,

And shapely legs and arms

She distracted evil men

And lured them with her charms

 

[chorus]

 

There is no lock nor guarded door

That can stop the Thief

He penetrates the fortress dark

To bring the land relief

 

Every song and story told,

The Scholar knows them all

He knew the wizard's weaknesses

To hasten evil's fall

 

[chorus]

 

The Archer's missiles never miss;

His arrows find their mark

He struck at evil from afar

To drive away the dark

 

The Speaker harks to every tongue,

Of stone and beast and man

She found the Dark Lord's secrets out

So no defense could stand

 

[chorus]

 

When in the Galbek Hills there was

A monster come in human shape

The Swordsman struck the evil down

To save the land from magic rape

 

And thus the last of evil's spawn

Was driven out of Barokan

Never more will madness come

To trouble Barokan

 

No new Wizard Lord will turn

Against the common man

These Chosen eight shall keep him wise,

Bring peace to Barokan—

Yes, the Chosen guard us all,

Bring peace to Barokan!

THE
NINTH
TALISMAN

[ PROLOGUE ]

His true name began Erren Zal Tuyo kam Darig seveth Tirinsir abek Du, but the people of Mad Oak, in Longvale, did not use true names, for fear of the power they granted. He had grown up with the nickname Breaker, but after he took on the role of the Chosen Swordsman even his family and closest friends came, in time, to call him Sword. He was a big man—”Breaker” had reflected not his temperament, but his awkwardness before his coordination caught up with his growth—but now that he had reached his full height and become comfortable with his size, he moved with speed, grace, and assurance.

Some of that grace doubtlessly came from his magic, of course. The
ler
of muscle and steel had made him the world's greatest swordsman as part of the complicated pact that gave the Wizard Lord authority over all Barokan, and that gave the eight Chosen the right to remove the Wizard Lord, by any means necessary, should he violate the limits set upon his power.

He had played his role as Swordsman, and had slain the Dark Lord of the Galbek Hills, a Wizard Lord gone mad. He had played his part, and then he had returned home to Mad Oak.

BOOK: The Ninth Talisman
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