Mercedes Lackey has, in a few short years, soared to the peak of the fantasy field, and her thousands of enthusiastic leaders clamor for more and more. Now comes a volume demonstrating the wide range of her talent, running the gamut from her beloved Bardic fantasies to urban fantasy set in the modern world; from science fiction adventure to chilling horror. And throughout Fiddler Fair, Lackey's sheer storytelling skill will hold the reader spellbound. Learn what happens when animal rights fanatics try to "liberate" genetically reconstructed dinosaurs. Follow Lawrence of Arabia into the desert to meet a power beyond human comprehension; and be with King Arthur, reborn into the present day, when he again gains possession of Excalibur. And, in a very weird encounter of the most bizarre kind, learn why an alien from a UFO took an unusual interest in a battered Chevy pickup."Fiddler Fair" is a feast for the multitudes of Lackey fans everywhere -- and for new readers, a powerful introduction to the most significant new fantasy writer of the decade.
Mercedes Lackey is the author of the Bardic Voices series and the SERRAted Edge series (both Baen), the Heralds of Valdemar series (DAW), and many more. Of her writing, Stephen King has stated, ¿She¿ll keep you up long past your bedtime,¿ and Locus raved, ¿Lackey is one of the best storytellers in the field.¿ Among her popular Baen titles are The Fire Rose, The Lark and the Wren, The Shadow of the Lion (with Eric Flint and Dave Freer) and This Scepter¿d Isle, the prequel to Ill Met by Moonlight, written in collaboration with Roberta Gellis. She lives in Oklahoma.
Roberta Gellis is author of over 25 novels in different fields. New York Times best-selling author John Jakes has called her ¿a superb storyteller of extraordinary talent,¿ Publishers Weekly has termed her ¿a master of the medieval historical,¿ and Romantic Times has praised her as ¿a master spinner of tales.¿Her many awards include: The Silver and Gold Medal Porgy for historical novels from West Coast Review of Books and the Golden Certificate and Golden Pen from Affaire de Coeur. From Romantic Times she has received both the Award for Best Novel in the Medieval Period and also the Lifetime Achievement Award for Historical Fantasy. And the Romance Writers of America have presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award..
“ Lackey and Edghill know how to spin a yarn, immediately pulling the reader into Spirit’s mourning psyche as well as the fast-paced action of the mystery, mixing marvelous elements of fairy tales and mythology into both the plot and references in the students’Magical History class.…There’s also a touch of romance, and readers who appreciate everything from X -Men to Harry Potter will be begging for the sequel.” —Booklist
“The authors expertly balance a heady mixture of mystery and teenage romance in this well-paced first of the Shadow Grail series.”_—RT Book Reviews_
The second book in the Shadow Grail series by the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling authors Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
Spirit and her friends Burke, Loch, Muirin, and Addie have managed to defeat the evil force that has been killing students at Oakhurst Academy for the past forty years—or so they think. When a series of magical attacks disrupts the school, Doctor Ambrosius calls upon alumnus Mark Rider to secure the campus—and start training the students for war. The only student without magic, Spirit doesn’t trust Mark or his methods. She knows that Oakhurst isn’t safe. And if Spirit and her friends want to live long enough to graduate, they have to find out what is really going on—before it’s too late.
Short Story Collections #01 - Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar
Filled with magic, intrigue, romance and adventure, Mercedes Lackey's world of Valdemar is one of the most popular domains in fantasy literature. Home to the Heralds and thier mysterious horselike Companions, the magical Tayledras Hawk-people, and of course, the powerful gryphons, Valdemar has garnered a devoted global following. Now these 17 new tales by fantasy's greatest authors are sure to add their own chapter to the history of this enchanting land.
Setting a story in prehistory suggests a enormous potential, a feeling that all is new and possible. Lackey's latest created world (illustrated by husband Dixon) predates the setting of her Valdemar series by a millennium but never quite lives up to its expanded possibilities. The gryphon of the title is the charismatic Skandranon, leader of the gryphons, a race of birds just evolving into awareness. After establishing this intriguing premise, however, the tale soon bogs down in fantasy cliches as the main characters fight a standard war against the forces of evil. Although some of the novel's elements, like Skandranon's human friend Amberdrake, suggest a possible complexity, the plot is predictable and the overwritten battle scenes are difficult to follow. In the end, the evil Mage of Black Fire is destroyed, nearly everyone else lives and the chaotic magic of prehistory is tamed. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
As the tyrant-sorcerer Kiyamvir Ma'ar's forces sweep across the land in a relentless war of conquest, one man--Urtho, the Mage of Silence--arises as the leader of the opposition. Set a thousand years before the founding of Valdemar and the rise of the Herald Mages, the latest novel by Lackey and Dixon relates the story of the legendary black gryphon Skandranon Rashkae, his healer-companion Amberdrake, and the war that changed the face of a world forever. Featuring some of the authors' most endearing protagonists yet, this first in a projected dualogy is recommended for most fantasy collections. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There is pleasure to be taken from novels of intrigue in which readers don't have to think at all, where their hands are held throughout the action and nothing is anything but what it seems. In Lackey and Dixon's second novel of the Gryphon trilogy (after The Black Gryphon), holdover heroes Skandranon, Amberdrake and Winterhart attempt to establish a political liaison with the Haighlei and their king, Shalaman, in order to to preserve the autonomy of the city of White Gryphon. But a series of grisly murders is perpetrated in ways such that Skan, a gryphon, becomes the chief suspect, thus jeopardizing their negotiations. Several twists and turns follow, but the characters are so pure of heart that they overlook the obvious, and too many improbabilities pile up. The authors maintain a frenetic narrative pace, despite the frequent bromidic asides ("often, one can be in love with who they think someone is"). But even as a page-turner, this novel is likely to leave readers suspecting that Lackey and Dixon are just biding their time, that maybe the third book of the trilogy will be something special. What they present here is a harmless confection, less fattening than an eclair and about as nutritious. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Ten years have passed since the death of Urtho, the Mage of Silence. The survivors of the catastrophic battle have built the city of White Gryphon, hoping to found a permanent settlement in a new land. When a delegation from the Court of the Black Kings disputes their existence on the fringes of its territory, the mage-gryphon Skandranon and his friend Amberdrake find their diplomatic skills tested to the fullest as they become embroiled in a conspiracy of assassination that threatens a possible alliance. Set in the world of the popular Valdemar series, this latest novel by coauthors Lackey and Dixon (Chrome Circle, LJ 8/94) tells a tale of intrigue and mystery enhanced by vivid descriptions of an exotic, ritualistic culture. A good purchase for the legions fo Valdemar aficionados. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
YA?In Book Three of "The Mage Wars" series, readers find the city of White Gryphon at peace. The warriors of the Cataclysm have settled into a comfortable and secure life within the city gates. But, there are other worlds to explore outside the haven of White Gryphon. Silverblade, a human, and Tadrith, a gryphon, complete rigorous training and are sent on their first solo mission to guard a remote outpost, where they encounter dangers and unknown evil. Using the skills learned in training and the tools at hand, Blade and Tad defeat their enemies and win the admiration of their parents. More importantly they learn to trust in themselves and one another when threatened. Even without having read The Black Gryphon (1994) and The White Gryphon (1995, both DAW), YAs will enjoy this story. There is enough explanation and background given to understand the history behind the setting and characters.?Beth Devers, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Vanyel's disdain for swordsmanship earns him an unexpected exile--at the High Court of Valdemar under the guardianship of his stern and implacable Aunt Savil, one of the legendary Herald-Mages. A young man's painful discovery of his own immense talents and his true nature form the core of this richly detailed fantasy, the first in a new series set in the same world as "The Heroes of Valdemar." Lackey's talent for characterization lends depth to this coming-of-age adventure that will appeal to most fantasy readers. Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The final chapter in Mercedes Lackey's spellbinding fantasy trilogy! The Herald-Mage, Vanyel, and his Companion, Yfandes, are alone responsible for saving the once-peaceful kingdom of Valdemar from the forces of a master who wields a dark, forbidding magic. And if either Vanyel or Yfandes falters, both Valdemar and its Herald-Mage must pay the ultimate price.
The new Valdemar novel takes place earlier in the kingdom’s history than has any other, set when the Heralds’ collegium was established. At that time, the system of heraldic training was changing from one-on-one apprenticeship to the collegial system used by Healers and Bards, because there were too many trainees for the old system. Some older Heralds weren’t happy with that change, and as all three collegia rapidly grew, there was much rivalry for builders and teachers. Young Mags, an orphan who drudges for a greedy, cruel mine owner, is Chosen and eventually brought to Haven for training, where his goodheartedness and near-total ignorance make him very dependent on his companion. Thanks to court intrigues and an attempt by foreign infiltrators to trick Valdemar to its disadvantage, Lackey makes a real page-turner out of Mags’ and the collegia’s development. Though similar in some ways to both Brightly Burning (2000) and Take a Thief (2001), this book’s outstanding characters, especially Mags, will greatly please Valdemar fans. --Frieda Murray
In this chronicle of the early history of Valdemar, a thirteen-yearold orphan named Magpie escapes a life of slavery in the gem mines when he is chosen by one of the magical companion horses of Valdemar to be trained as a herald. Thrust into the center of a legend in the making, Magpie discovers talents he never knew he had-and witnesses the founding of the great Heralds' Collegium.
**"Spellbinding storyteller" (*Rave Reviews*) Mercedes Lackey continues her epic *Valdemar* series. **
Magpie is a thirteen-year-old orphan chosen by one of the magical Companion horses of Valdemar and taken to the capital city, Haven, to be trained as a Herald. Like all Heralds, Magpie learns that he has a hidden Gift-the Gift of telepathy.
But life at the court is not without obstacles. When Mags is "recognized" by foreign secret operatives whose purpose is unknown, Mags himself comes under suspicion. Who are Magpie's parents-who is he, really? Can Mags solve the riddle of his parentage and his connection with the mysterious spies-and prove his loyalty-before the king and court banish him as a traitor?
Enter the thrilling third volume in the epic Collegium Chronicles.
In Mercedes Lackey's classic coming-of-age story, the orphan Magpie pursues his quest for his parent's identity with burning urgency-while also discovering another hidden talent and being trained by the King's Own Herald as an undercover agent for Valdemar. Shy Bardic Trainee Lena has to face her famous but uncaring father, one of Valdemar's most renowned Bards. And Healing Trainee Bear must struggle against his disapproving parents, who are pressuring Bear to quit the Healers' Collegium because he lacks the magical Healing Gift.
Each of the three friends must face his or her demons and find their true strength as they seek to become the full Heralds, Bards, and Healers of Valdemar.
Brightly Burning marks Mercedes Lackey's return to the kingdom of Valdemar, and introduces us to a portion of the otherwise unchronicled reign of King Theran. The book's principle figure is Valdemar's most powerful herald, Laven Firestorm, who comes of age during Valdemar's war with its long-time enemy, the kingdom of Karse.
Sixteen-year-old Laven Chitward's world is turned upside down when his mother is selected as a textile guild representative in the small rural community where he was raised. Moving to the capital city of Haven rips him away from his friends and boyhood pleasures, and nothing in Haven seems to fill that void. Unable to fit into the nouveau riche society, and unwilling to follow his parents into the textile guild, he finds himself adrift and depressed. His father enrolls him in a special school that will allow him to choose a trade that interests him, rather than be apprenticed against his will. There he finds himself terrorized and tortured by the boys in the sixth form until, with an awful roar, the gift of fire awakens deep within him and extracts revenge for his sadistic treatment.
With the help of a unique herald, an empathetic healer and a special companion, Laven soon learns to keep his gift under control and eventually, to direct his awful firestorm as far as he can see. When the kingdom of Karse attacks, Laven is hurried to the border to assist his king and country by repelling the invasion. During the final battle Laven earns the name Firestorm and becomes one of the most famous heralds in the history of Valdemar.
Brightly Burning is a distinct and unforgettable coming-of-age story. With a compelling cast of characters and lively dialog, Mercedes Lackey once again demonstrates her adroit mastery of fantasy fiction. --Robert Gately
From Publishers Weekly
In the latest addition to the Valdemar fantasy series (Arrow's Fall; Winds of Fate), Lackey returns to the capitol city of Haven, where young Lavan Chitward has just arrived with his family. Although the move signals a higher Guild standing for his ambitious parents, Lan is very unhappy to leave his home. His misery increases when he is sent to merchants' school, where the oldest students use their job of keeping order as an excuse to bully and steal from the younger children. As Lan's fear and frustration grow, he begins suffering terrible headaches--and around him, things mysteriously start to catch fire. When at last the older boys push him too far, a huge conflagration erupts, killing four of the bullies. Lan is terrified by his newly discovered power, until he is chosen by the Companion Kalira, one of the magical horselike creatures who work with the Heralds of Valdemar. Kalira can control Lan's dangerous power, and this is vital, as Lan's power will be needed, for another war is brewing with the nearby Karsites. Lan must learn to channel his power and anger against the coming enemy without destroying his friends--or himself. This tale of adolescent anger and revenge is not only deeply disturbing but flawed by Lackey's unclear message about the destructive nature of rage and her careless attempt to work out what it means for Lan's closest friend to be of a different age, gender and species than Lan. (May) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Bound by oath to each other and to the Goddess, the swordswoman Tarma and the wizard Kethry begin a joint career as mercenaries in the constant struggle for justice in a land where demons come in human and not-so-human forms. The author of the "Heroes of Valdemar" trilogy begins a new series involving a pair of likeable, savvy heroines. Sword and sorcery with warmth and humor make this a story that will appeal to most fantasy fans. JC Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This exciting new anthology includes a new novella featuring Mercedes Lackey's most popular heroines, Tarma (one of the sword-sworn and most feared of all warriors) and Kethry (who wields magic and weapons for the greater good), whose fates are suddenly bound together in blood by the powers that control their destinies. Also included in the unique volume is the complete collection of Lackey's short stories about these two brave sisters as they answer the call of their destinies with sword and sorcery!
Trained from childhood in the arts of war, Alberich strives to walk a careful path between obedience to the priests of Vkandis Sunlord and fairness to the soldiers under his command and the people of his native land of Karse. His attempts to hide his heretical gift of precognition, however, earn him a sentence of death by fire, thwarted by a bold rescue seemingly engineered by his faithful white battle steed-in actuality one of the Companions of the Heralds of Valdemar. Lackey continues her popular Valdemar series with the story of Alberich, Weaponsmaster and Queen's Champion of a land he was taught to fear and hate, as he struggles to redefine the meaning of the honor he holds so dear while learning to accept the magic he once tried to conceal. Libraries should anticipate demand for this highly recommended fantasy. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
SILVER stamped restively as another horse on the picket line shifted and blundered into his hindquarters. Alberich clucked to quiet him and patted the stallion's neck; the beast swung his head about to blow softly into the young Captain's hair. Alberich smiled a little, thinking wistfully that the stallion was perhaps the only creature in the entire camp that felt anything like friendship for him.
And possibly the only creature that isn't waiting for me to fail, hoping that I will, and ready to pounce on me and cut me to pieces when I do. Life for an officer of Karsite troops was spent half in defeating the enemies of Karse and half in watching his own back.
Amazingly gentle, for a stallion, Silver had caused no problems either in combat or here, on the picket line. Which was just as well, for if he had, Alberich would have had him gelded or traded off for a more tractable mount, gift of the Voice of Vkandis Sunlord or no. Alberich had enough troubles without worrying about the behavior of his beast.
He wasn't sure where the handsome and muscular creature had come from; Shin'a'in-bred, they'd told him. The Voice had chosen the beast especially for him out of a string of animals "liberated from the enemy." Which meant war booty, of course, from one of the constant conflicts along the borders. Silver hadn't come from one of the bandit nests, that was sure. The only beasts the bandits owned were as disreputable as their owners. Horses "liberated" from the bandits usually weren't worth keeping, they were so run-down and ill-treated.
Silver probably came from Menmellith via Rethwellan; the King was rumored to have some kind of connection with the horse-breeding, bloodthirsty Shin'a'in nomads.
Whatever; when Alberich lost his faithful old Smoke a few weeks ago he hadn't expected to get anything better than the obstinate, intractable gelding he'd taken from its bandit owner. But fate ruled otherwise; the Voice chose to "honor" him with a superior replacement along with his commission, the letter that accompanied the paper pointing out that Silver was the perfect mount for a Captain of light cavalry. It was also another evidence of favoritism from above, with the implication that he had earned that favoritism outside of performance in the field.
Talk about a double-edged blade. . . . Both the commission and the horse came with burdens of their own. Not a gift that was likely to increase his popularity with some of the men under his command, and a beast that was going to make him pretty damned conspicuous in any encounter with the enemy. A white horse? Might as well paint a target on his back and have done with it.
Plus that's an unlucky color. Those witchy-Heralds of Valdemar ride white horses, and the blue-eyed beasts may be demons or witches, too, for all I know. The priests say they are. The priests call their owners the "Demon-Riders."
The horse nuzzled him again, showing as sweet a temper as any lady's mare. He scratched its nose, and it sighed with content; he wished he could be as contented. Things had been bad enough before getting this commission. Now There was an uneasy, prickly sensation between his shoulder blades as he went back to brushing down his new mount. He glanced over his shoulder, to intercept the glare of Leftenant Herdahl; the man dropped his gaze and brushed his horse's flank vigorously, but not quickly enough to prevent Alberich from seeing the hate and anger in the hot blue eyes.
No, indeed, the Voice had done Alberich no favors in rewarding him with the Captaincy and this prize mount, passing over Herdahl and Klaus, both his seniors in years of service, if not in experience. Neither of them had expected that he would be promoted over their heads; during the week's wait for word to come from Headquarters, they had saved their rivalry for each other.
Too bad they didn't murder each other, he thought resentfully, then suppressed the rest of the thought. It was said that some of the priests of Vkandis could pluck the thoughts from a man's head. It could have been thoughts like that one that had led to Herdahl's being passed over for promotion. But it could also be that this was a test, a way of flinging the ambitious young Leftenant Alberich into deep water, to see if he would survive the experience. If he did, well and good; he was of suitable material to continue to advance, perhaps even to the rank of Commander. If he did not well, that was too bad. If his ambition undid him, or if he wasn't clever enough to see and avoid the machinations of those below him, then he wasn't fit enough for the post.
That was the way of things, in the armies of Karse. You rose by watching your back, and (if the occasion arose) sticking careful knives into the backs of your less-cautious fellows, and ensuring other enemies took the punishment. All the while, the priests of the Sunlord, the ones who were truly in charge, watched and smiled and dispensed favors and punishments with the same dispassionate aloofness displayed by the One God. Karse was a hard land, and the Sunlord a hard God; the Sunpriests were as hard as both.
But Alberich had given a good account of himself along the border, at the corner where Karse met Menmellith and the witch-nation Valdemar, in the campaign against the bandits there. Frankly, Herdahl and Klaus put together hadn't been half as effective or as energetic as he'd been. He'd earned his rank, he told himself once again, as Silver stamped and shifted his weight beneath the strokes of Alberich's brush.
The spring sun burned down on his head, hotter than he expected without the breeze to cool him, hot as Herdahl's angry glare.
Demons take Herdahl. There was no reason to feel as if he'd cheated to get where he was. He'd led more successful sorties against the bandits in his first year in the field than the other two had achieved in their entire careers. He'd cleared more territory than anyone of leftenant rank ever had in that space of time and when Captain Anberg had met with one too many arrows, the men had seemed perfectly willing to follow him when the Voice chose him over the other two candidates.
It had been the policy of late to permit the brigands to flourish, provided they confined their attentions to Valdemar and the Menmellith peasantry and left the inhabitants of Karse unmolested. A stupid policy, in Alberich's opinion; you couldn't trust bandits, that was the whole reason why they became bandits in the first place. If they could be trusted, they'd be in the army themselves, or in the Temple Guard, or even have turned mercenary. He'd seen the danger back when he was a youngster in the Academy, in his first tactics classes. He'd even said as much to one of his teachers phrased as a question, of course, since cadets were not permitted to have opinions. The question had been totally ignored.
Perhaps because it wasn't wise to so much as hint that the decisions of the Sunpriests were anything other than divinely inspired.
But, as Alberich had predicted, there had been trouble from the brigands once they began to multiply; problems that escalated far, far past the point where their use as an irritant to Valdemar was outweighed by their effect as a scourge on Karse. With complete disregard for the unwritten agreements between them and Karse, they struck everyone, and when they finally began attacking villages instead of just robbing solitary travelers or going after single farms, the authorities deemed it time they were disposed of.
Alberich had spent a good part of his young life in the Karsite military schools and had just finished cavalry training as an officer when the troubles broke out. The ultimate authority was in the hands of the Voices, of course. The highest anyone not of the priesthood could expect to rise was to Commander. But officers were never taken from the ranks; many of the rank-and-file were conscripts, and although it was never openly stated, the Voices did not trust their continued loyalty if they were given power.
Alberich, and many others like him, had been selected at the age of thirteen by a Voice sent every year to search out young male children, strong of body and quick of mind, to school into officers. And there was one other qualification that at least half of them be lowborn, so that they were appropriately grateful to the Voices for their opportunity to rise in rank and station.
Alberich had all those qualities, developing expertise in many weapons with an ease that was the envy of his classmates, picking up his lessons in academic subjects with what seemed to be equal ease.
It wasn't ease; it was the fact that Alberich studied long and hard, knowing that there was no way for the bastard son of a tavern wench to advance in Karse except in the army. There was no place for him to go, no way to get into a trade, no hope for any but the most menial of jobs. The Voices didn't care about a man's parentage once he was chosen as an officer, they cared only about his abilities and whether or not he would use them in service to his God and country. It was a lonely life, though. His mother had loved and cared for him to the best of her abilities, and he'd had friends among the other children of similar circumstances. When he came to the Academy, he had no friends, and his mother was not permitted to contact him, lest she "distract him," or "contaminate his purity of purpose." Alberich had never seen her again, but both of them had known this was the only way for him to live a better life than she had. And there had been a half-promise which he had no way of knowing was kept that if he did well at the Academy, his mother would be rewarded, perhaps with a little house of her own, if she could manage to keep herself from further sin. He had trusted in that particular Voice, though. The priest had no reason to lie to him and every reason to give his mother that reward. After all, Karse needed officers. . . . willing officers, and young boys eager to throw themselves into their studies with all the enthusiasm of youth in order to become those willing officers. Knowing that their parents would b...
Making love and not war is the theme of Lackey's entertaining high fantasy, the second in a trilogy (after 2002's Exile's Honor) within her long-running Valdemar series-not that love is any less of a battlefield. Alberich of Karse, the outsider Herald, must watch over the newly enthroned queen, Selenay, as he trains young Heralds by day and chases down treasonous plots in the alleys and shady locales of Haven by night. Along the way, his recruit in the arts of undercover work, Herald-Chronicler-Second Myste, provides him with her own ideas of work under covers. And his Companion, the intelligent, mind-linked equine Kantor, keeps Alberich honest with a sardonic sense of humor. The recently bereaved Selenay, too, faces her own challenge in the court of love, first from anxious councilors trying to arrange a royal marriage, then from the too-good-to-be-true Prince Karathanelan of Rethwellan. Will good triumph in the end? That answer will have to wait for the next book, as the master villain remains unknown. But it would take a poor gambler to bet against a set of characters so obviously beloved by their author, despite her inflicting a Germanic speech pattern on poor Alberich, who often sounds like Yoda. Long-time readers will appreciate learning more of favorite characters. Newcomers will definitely feel as though they have walked in on the middle of a gossipy conversation. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
No matter how comfortable he was, Skif slept like a cat, with one eye open and one ear cocked, in case trouble stole upon him, thinking to catch him unaware. So even though he didn't know what woke him, when he woke, he came alert all at once, and instead of jumping to his feet, he stayed frozen in place, listening.
Wood creaked slightly, somewhere in the loft. Was it a footstep? The sound came again, a trifle nearer, then fabric brushed against something harder. There was someone up here with him.
Now, it wouldn't be one of the laundry servants on proper business; they came up the stair, clumping and talking loudly. It might be a servant or a page come up here to nap or escape work-if it was, although Skif would have a slight advantage in that the other wouldn't want to be caught, he had a profound dis-advantage in that he didn't belong here himself, and the other could legitimately claim to have heard something overhead and gone to investigate. If that was the case, he'd be stuck under this tub until the other person left.
It might also be something and someone entirely different-a thief, who wouldn't want to be found any more than Skif did, who might flee, or might fight, depending on the circumstances, if Skif came out of hiding.
He didn't know enough yet; better to wait. It was highly unlikely that the other would choose Skif's particular tub to hide himself or anything else underneath. It was out of the way and smallish, and Skif had chosen it for precisely those reasons. Instead, he peered under the edge of it, as the surreptitious sounds moved closer, thanking his luck that it wasn't dusty up here. Now would be a bad time to sneeze.
It sounded, given the direction the sounds were coming from, as if the unknown had gotten into the loft the same way that Skif had, through the gable window at the end. Skif narrowed his eyes, waiting for something to come into his area of vision among the slats of the wooden tubs. The light was surprisingly good up here, but the sun was all wrong for Skif to see a shadow that might give him some notion of who the other intruder was. The creaking gave Skif a good idea that the fellow moved toward the stairs, which meant he was at least thinking of using them to descend into the laundry itself. That wasn't an option Skif would have chosen-unless, of course, the fellow was a thief, and was planning on purloining something from the laundry itself. There was plenty of stuff to steal in there; silk handkerchiefs and scarves, the embroidered ribbons that the young ladies of the household liked to use for their necks and hair and the young men liked to give them, the gossamer veils they wore in public-all light, easy to carry, presumably easy to sell. The only reason Skif hadn't helped himself before this was that he didn't know where to dispose of such things and was not about to share his loot with Kalchan.
A foot slid slowly into view; not a big foot, and most importantly of all, not a foot clad in the soled sock of a page or liveried indoor servant. This was a foot in a half-boot of very flexible black leather, laced tight to the ankle and calf, much worn and patched, not much larger than his own, attached to a leg in rusty black trews with worn places along the hem. This foot, and the person who wore those trews, did not belong here. No one in Lord Orthallen's service wore anything of the sort.
Skif made a quick decision, and struck. Before the other knew he was there, Skif's hand darted from under the tub, and Skif had the fellow's ankle held fast in a hand that was a lot stronger than it looked.
Skif had half expected a struggle, or at least an attempt to get free, but the owner of the ankle had more sense than that-or was more afraid of the attention that the sounds of a struggle would bring than anything Skif could do to him. So now, it was the other's turn to freeze.
Skif mentally applauded his decision. He thought he had a good idea of what was going through the other fellow's mind. Now, the arm that Skif had snaked out from beneath the tub was clad in a sleeve that was more patch than whole cloth. So Skif obviously didn't belong here either, and the two of them were at an equal advantage and disadvantage. For either to make noise or fuss would mean that both would be caught-and no point in trying to claim that one had seen the other sneak over the wall and followed to catch him either. An honest boy would have pounded on the back entrance to report the intruder, not climbed up after him. No, no-if one betrayed the other, both of them would be thrown to the City Guard.
So the other fellow did the prudent thing; he stayed in place once Skif let go of him so that Skif could slip out from under the tub. Like it or not, for the moment they were partners in crime. Skif, however, had a plan.
There was a moment when the other could have tried to knock Skif out and make a run for it, but he didn't. Such an action would have been noisy, of course, and he still might have been caught, but with one unconscious or semiconscious boy on the floor to distract those who would come clambering up here, he might have been able to get away. Skif breathed a sigh of relief when he was all the way out from under the tub and was able to kneel next to it, looking up at the interloper.
What he saw was a boy of about fifteen, but small for his age, so that he wasn't a great deal taller than Skif. His thin face, as closed and impassive as any statue's, gave away no hint of what he was thinking. His eyes narrowed when he got a good look at his captor, but there was no telling what emotion lay behind the eyes.
His clothing was better than Skif's-but then again, whose wasn't? Skif wore every shirt he owned-three, all ragged, all inexpertly patched by his own hands, all faded into an indeterminate brown-with a knitted tunic that was more hole than knit over the top of it all. His linen trews, patched as well, were under his woolen trews, which for a change, had been darned except for the seat which sported a huge patch made from an old canvas tent. This boy's clothing was at least all the same color and the patches were of the same sort of material as the original. In fact, unless you were as close as Skif was, you wouldn't notice the patches much.
He had long hair of a middling brown color, and a headband of dark braided string to keep it out of his eyes. His eyes matched his hair, and if he'd been fed as well as one of the page boys his face would have been round; as it was, the bones showed clearly, though not nearly as sharply defined as Skif's.
There were other signs of relative prosperity; the other boy's wrists weren't as thin as Skif's, and he showed no signs of the many illnesses that the poor were prone to in the winter. If he was a thief-and there was little doubt in Skif's mind that he was-this boy was a good enough thief to be doing well.
The two of them stared at each other for several moments. It was the older boy who finally broke the silence.
"Wot ye want?" he asked, in a harsh whisper.
Until that moment when he'd seized the other's ankle, Skif hadn't known what he wanted, but the moment his hand had touched leather, his plan had sprung up in his mind.
"Teach me," he whispered, and saw with satisfaction the boy's eyes widen with surprise, then his slow nod.
He squatted down beside Skif, who beckoned to him to follow. On hands and knees, Skif led him into the maze of tubs and empty packing crates until they were hidden from view against the wall, next to the chimney.
There they settled, screened by stacks of buckets needing repair. From below came the steady sounds of the laundry, which should cover any conversation of theirs.
"Ye ain't no page, an' ye ain't got no reason t'be in the wash house. Wot ye doin' here?" the boy asked, more curious than annoyed.
Skif shrugged. "Same as you, only not so good," he replied. He explained his ruse to get fed to the boy, whose lips twitched into a thin smile.
"Not bad done, fer a little," he acknowledged. "Noboddie never pays mind t'littles. Ye cud do better, though. Real work, not this pilferin' bits uv grub. I kin get through places a mun can't, an ye kin get where I can't. We might cud work t'gether."
"That's why I want ye t'teach me," Skif whispered back. "Can't keep runnin' this ferever. Won' look like no page much longer."
The boy snorted. "Won't need to. Here, shake on't." He held out his hand, a thin, hard, and strong hand, and Skif took it, cementing their bargain with a shake. "M'name's Deek," the boy said, releasing his hand.
Skif was happy to note that Deek hadn't tried to crush his hand in his grip or otherwise show signs of being a bully. "Call me Skif," he offered.
Deek grinned. "Good. Now, you stay here-I come back in a tick, an' we'll scoot out by th' back t'gether." He cocked his head down at the floor, and it was pretty clear that there wasn't anyone working down in the laundry anymore. It was probably time for supper; the laundresses and some of the other servants ate long before their betters, and went to bed soon after sundown, for their work started before sunrise.
Skif nodded; he saw no reason to doubt that Deek would play him false, since he was sitting on the only good route of escape. He and Deek made their way back to Skif's tub; Skif ducked back inside, and Deek crept down the stairs into the laundry.
Deek came back up quickly, and the quick peek of silk from the now slightly-bulging breast of his tunic told Skif all he needed to know. As he had expected, Deek had managed to slip downstairs, purloin small items of valuable silk, and get back up without anyone catching sight of him. As long as he took small things, items unlikely to be missed for a while, that weren't such rare dainties as to be too recognizable, it was quite likely that the owners themselves would assume they'd been mislaid. No specially embroidered handkerchiefs, for example, or unusual colors of veils. He beckoned to Skif, who followed him out over the roof, both of them lying as flat as stalking cats as they wiggled their way along th...
Granddaughter of the sorceress Kethry, daughter of a noble house, Kerowyn had been forced to run the family keep since her mother's untimely death. Yet now at last her brother was preparing to wed, and when his bride became the lady of the keep, Kerowyn could return to her true enjoyments - training horses and hunting.
But all Kerowyn's hopes and plans were shattered when her anscestral home was attacked, her father slain, her brother wounded, and his fiancee kidnapped. Drive by desperation and the knowledge that a scorcerer had led the journey which would prove but he first step on the road to the fulfillment of her destiny.
Valdemar 18: Heralds of Valdemar #01 - Arrows of the Queen
Talia, a young runaway, is made a herald at the royal court after she rescues one of the legendary Companions. When she uncovers a plot to seize the throne, Talia must use her empathic powers to save the queen.
Valdemar 19: Heralds of Valdemar #02 - Arrow's Flight
Set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Valdemar, this unique and exciting novel continues the story of Talia. Having mastered the powers necessary to a guardian of the kingdom, she faces the final preparation for her initiation as adviser and protector of the Queen.
First of a new trilogy, Lackey's fantasy novel, again set in the imperiled magical realm of Valdemar, features strong and believable men, women and creatures. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-- Elspeth, future queen of Valdemar, and her long-term friend, teacher, and fellow Herald, Skif, set out to locate a mage who will either train her or return with them to protect their home. Strong female characterization, vivid description, and fast-paced adventure entertain readers as good battles against evil in this first book in a fantasy trilogy. - Barbara Hawkins, West Potomac High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In this sequel to Winds of Fate, Elspeth, heir to the throne of Valdemar, develops into a strong practitioner of magic under the tutelage of Darkwind k'Sheyna. Accepted as a member of the k'Sheyna clan of the Tayledras, magicians who cleanse lands damaged in the long-ago Magic Wars, Elspeth takes her turn in patrols searching for the vanished Falconsbane, an evil Adept who almost destroyed the clan, its Heartstone, and Darkwind's father Starblade. While Elspeth and Darkwind slowly and contentiously come to love each other, her companion Skif seeks the Changechild Nyara, daughter of Falconsbane, who turned against him to save the Vale of the k'Sheyna and then fled into the wilderness with the enchanted sword Need. Aided by the powerful but mysterious mage Firesong k'Treva, the Vale fights off another attempt at destruction by Falconsbane, while still greater powers put in an appearance and set the stage for the Mage Wind trilogy's projected third title. This is a charming, colorful and romantic coming-of-age tale, deeply imbued with the concept of responsibility as well as the imagined pleasures of power. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Elsepth, herald and heir to the throne of Valdemar, seeks to learn the long-forgotten skills of magic by studying with the reclusive Hawkbrothers of the embattled Pelagir Hills. When a powerful mage known as Falconsbane attempts to destroy her adopted clan, Elspeth must use her new talents in a deadly battle to save the people she has come to love. Lackey's talent for world building comes to the fore in her vivid description of the Hawkbrothers' culture, while her strength of characterization remains constant. Fans of the popular Valdemar series will create a demand for this solid fantasy. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Book Three of The Mage Winds trilogy. No longer the willful novice of Winds of Fate, Princess Herald Elspeth has completed her magical training. She returns to her homeland with her beloved partner Darkwind. Will they be strong enough to confront the magical evil which is threatening their land?