Table of Contents
High praise for Mercedes Lackey's
“Leaves us simultaneously satisfiedâand longing for more. Not an easy feat. . . . Once you jump into this world, you'll find yourself immediately involved, surrounded by new friends, and glad you made the trip.”
Realms of Fantasy
“Fast-moving action and intriguing characters. I can't wait to see what the final volume in this trilogy will bring forth.”
The Book Net
“Lackey's back doing what she does best, and the result is affecting and compulsive reading.”
“Lackey is a spellbinding storyteller who keeps your heart in your mouth as she spins her intricate webs of magical adventure.”
“A strong, suspenseful plot and well developed characters . . . will satisfy the most avid fantasy fan.”
“Ms Lackey's Valdemar series is already a fantasy classic, and these newest adventures will generate even more acclaim for this fantasy superstar.”
NOVELS BY MERCEDES LACKEY available from DAW Books
THE HERALDS OF VALDEMAR
ARROWS OF THE QUEEN
THE LAST HERALD-MAGE
THE MAGE WINDS
WINDS OF FATE
WINDS OF CHANGE
WINDS OF FURY
THE MAGE STORMS
BY THE SWORD
VOWS AND HONOR
TAKE A THIEF
SWORD OF ICE
SUN IN GLORY
THE MAGE WARS
THE BLACK GRYPHON
THE WHITE GRYPHON
THE SILVER GRYPHON
THE BLACK SWAN
THE ELEMENTAL MASTERS
THE SERPENT'S SHADOW
THE GATES OF SLEEP
PHOENIX AND ASHES*
Written with Marion Zimmer Bradley
And don't miss:
THE VALDEMAR COMPANION
Edited by John Helfers and Denise Little
*Forthcoming in hardcover from DAW Books
Copyright Â© 2003 by Mercedes R. Lackey and Tekno Books
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Book Collectors No. 1277.
DAW Books are distributed by the Penguin Group (USA).
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
All resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
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First Printing, December 2003
eISBN : 978-1-101-52436-7
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HECHO EN U.S.A.
“Introduction” Â© 2002
by Mercedes Lackey.
by Catherine S. McMullen.
Â© 2003 by Catherine S. McMullen.
“The Cat Who Came to Dinner”
by Nancy Asire.
Â© 2003 by Nancy Asire.
by Michelle West.
Â© 2003 by Michelle West.
“A Herald's Rescue”
by Miriam S. Zucker.
Â© 2003 by Mickey Zucker Reichert.
“In the Eye of the Beholder”
by Josepha Sherman.
Â© 2003 by Josepha Sherman.
“Trance Tower Garrison”
by Fiona Patton.
Â© 2003 by Fiona Patton.
by Stephanie Shaver.
Â© 2003 by Stephanie Shaver.
by Judith Tarr.
Â© 2003 by Judith Tarr.
by Tanya Huff.
Â© 2003 by Tanya Huff.
by Michael Longcor.
Â© 2003 by Michael Longcor.
“Touches the Earth”
by Brenda Cooper.
Â© 2003 by Brenda Cooper.
by Rosemary Edghill.
Â© 2003 by eluki bes shahar.
“Sun in Glory”
by Mercedes Lackey.
Â© 2003 by Mercedes Lackey.
by Catherine S. McMullen
Catherine S. McMullen was just twelve years old at the time of the writing of this story. She wrote her first story when she was seven, but that one is still buried in a drawer somewhere. She has had six stories published professionally or sold, starting with “Teddy Cat” in the August 1999
She has been involved in the writing community since she was two, and is constantly reminded that many people used to know her when she was “just a kid.” She loves to write, and is fascinated by the peculiarities of the English language. She is also an avid reader and has read as many as one thousand books in one year. Her work has appeared in such venues as
Interzone, A Drop of Imagination, Spinouts,
Ma'ar was closing in, and while everyone was to be evacuated from the Tower area eventually, the noncombatants were leaving first. Urthro didn't want anyone nearby who would panic and cause disruption. Some large groups had already been sent to places far enough away to be safe from Ma'ar. Everyone was being spread out so thinly that Ma'ar would never have a large group close to him. It was true that the precautions might not be necessary. Ma'ar might eventually be defeated, but unfortunately it was unlikely to happen now, if ever.
I looked at the organized chaos and turned to Master Thomas. I had not counted on being part of the evacuation. I was apprenticed to a great war mage! Surely we would be needed?
“If we're packing our tent, we are going to be evacuated, Master Thomas. I am right in assuming this?”
“You are correct, Errold. You and I are going to go with a large group, about three hundred people, who are to be Gated to safety. The requirements of precisely where are not very rigid, the place just has to be fairly safe: that is, not a swamp or a lava pit, and very, very far away. It will be a one-way Gate; once we are gone, we will be cut off from Urtho's camp permanently. Ahhh, and I can see another question in your eyes. Why are we going with this particular group? They need us as mages: to heal, to defend, and to lead. The group was most reassured when they were told that we were to come with them. They asked for a mage because where they are to be Gated is the farthest away of all. We don't even know what animals live there, what the land is like, or even if there are any other humans there. This group is a special case, and you and I fit the requirements. More people have been watching your development as a healer than you realize. My leadership experience, and probably my reputation, help keep the group together.”
“But what about the war here? Don't they need you to help defeat Ma'ar?”
“I am known as a very powerful war mage, I'll grant you that. But what about the people who are being scattered? Who will teach them our skills? Besides, I want to have a place to settle down, where I can live . . . with challenges to cope with, but none of them named Ma'ar. I am heartily sick of that name, and all the troubles that go with it.”
“Well . . . I can understand why the group would need a leader, but why not have a professional healer with the group? I mean, I am not really qualified as a mage or even a herbalist, let alone a healer yet. And a group of this size will need a proper healer, won't they?”
“Have you listened to anything I've been saying? You are known to be a dedicated student, and are well versed in herbal techniques. You would be able to cope with any injuries that occur on the journey, without a doubt. It would be perfect for both of us to go with them. Are you prepared to go? You do have a choice, you know. If you don't want to go, you don't have to. I would understand.”
“When are we leaving, Master Thomas?”
Master Thomas smiled.
“That's the spirit. We are leaving soon. Very soon. Our group is ready, and we are only waiting until our Gate gets set up.”
“About how long will that be? I haven't finished packing.”
“About a half a day, but you'd better hurry. I've already almost finished getting my own things together.”
“You just wanted to get a head start on me so the master wouldn't be shamed by his student's fast progress. Hah! I'll show you.”
And with Master Thomas' laughter ringing in my ears, I left to pack for the journey of my life.
I had a list of what I needed to pack and how I needed to pack it. I had decided, after many shorter trips where I had been badly equipped, that I would not make a single mistake. It would be faster to pack everything slowly but correctly the first time, instead of throwing everything together and having to repack a hundred times. First in were some of my softer clothes, with no metal buckles or straps in them, placed against the back of the pack so that I had padding against my skin. I had made the mistake of putting a belt buckle at my back once before, on one of my short journeys into the forest. Needless to say, after a day of it rubbing against me, that was a mistake I intended never to repeat.