Read Daggerspell Online

Authors: Katharine Kerr

Daggerspell

BOOK: Daggerspell
2.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“I’ve never had any trouble with bandits out here,” Dregydd was saying, “and now you tell me there’s a whole pack of them waiting in ambush. It doesn’t make any sense. How the hells can you know?”

“I can know and I do know,” Aderyn said. “We’ve got to do something, or we’ll be slaughtered on the road.”

“How many of them are there?”

“At least thirty, and they seemed to be as well armed as a lord’s warband.”

“We might be able to hold them off long enough for Jill to get back from Cannobaen with some of the tieryn’s men,” Cullyn suggested.

“What?” Jill snapped. “You can’t send me away!”

Cullyn slapped her across the face so hard she staggered.

“You’ll follow orders. You’re riding to the tieryn and begging for aid. Do you hear me?”

“I do.” Jill rubbed her aching cheek. “But you’d best be alive when I ride back.”

The way Cullyn smiled, a cold twitch of his mouth, told Jill that he doubted he would be. For a moment she thought that her body had turned to water, that she was going to flow away and dissolve like one of the Wildfolk. Cullyn grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her.

“You’re riding for the life of every man in this caravan. Do you understand me?”

“I do,” Jill said. “Truly, I do.”

DAGGERSPELL

B
Y
K
ATHARINE
K
ERR

Her novels of Deverry and the Westlands

DAGGERSPELL
DARKSPELL
THE BRISTLING WOOD
THE DRAGON REVENANT
A TIME OF EXILE
A TIME OF OMENS
DAYS OF BLOOD AND FIRE
DAYS OF AIR AND DARKNESS
THE RED WYVERN
THE BLACK RAVEN

Available wherever
Bantam Spectra Books
are sold

For my husband, Howard,
who helped me more than even he can know.
Without his support and loving encouragement,
I never would have finished this book.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of friends:

Barbara Jenkins, who gave me a whole career in a box when she gave me my first fantasy role-playing game many Christmases past,

Elizabeth Pomada, who took on an admittedly eccentric project and then actually sold it,

Conrad Bulos, the fastest typewriter repairman in the West.

And especially, Jon Jacobsen, the best gaming buddy a girl ever had.

PRONUNCIATION NOTES

The Deverrian language, which we might well call neo-Gaulish, looks and sounds much like Welsh, but anyone who knows this modern language will see immediately that it differs in a great many respects, as it does from Cornish and Breton. All these languages are members of that subfamily of Indo-European known as P-Celtic.

V
OWELS
are divided by Deverry scribes into two classes: noble and common. Nobles have two pronunciations; commons, one.

A
as in
father
when long; a shorter version of the same sound, as in
far
, when short.

O
as in
bone
when long; as in
pot
when short.

W
as the
oo
in
spook
when long; as in
roof
when short.

Y
as the
i
in
machine
when long; as the
e
in
butter
when short.

E
as in
pen.

I
as in
pin.

U
as in
pun.

Vowels are generally long in stressed syllables; short in unstressed.
Y
is the primary exception to this rule. When
it appears as the last letter of a word, it is always long whether that syllable is stressed or not.

D
IPHTHONGS
generally have one consistent pronunciation.

AE
as the
a
in
mane.

AI
as in
aisle.

AU
as the
ow
in
how.

EO
as a combination of
eh
and
oh.

EW
as in Welsh, a combination of
eh
and
oo.

IE
as in
pier.

OE
as the
oy
in
boy.

UI
as the North Welsh
wy
, a combination of
oo
and
ee.
Note that
OI
is never a diphthong, but is two distinct sounds, as in
Carnoic
, (KAR-noh-ik).

C
ONSONANTS
are mostly the same as in English, with these exceptions:

C
is always hard as in
cat.

G
is always hard as in
get.

DD
is the voiced
th
as in
thin
or
breathe
, but the voicing is more pronounced than in English. It is opposed to
TH
, the unvoiced sound in
breath.
(This is the sound that the Greeks called the Celtic
tau.
)

R
is heavily rolled.

RH
is a voiceless
R
, approximately pronounced as if it were spelled
hr
in Deverry proper. In Eldidd, the sound is fast becoming indistinguishable from
R.

DW, GW
, and
TW
are single sounds, as in
Gwendolen
or
twit.

Y
is never a consonant.

I
before a vowel at the beginning of a word is consonantal, as it is in the plural ending -
ion
, pronounced
yawn.

D
OUBLED
CONSONANTS
are both sounded clearly, unlike in English. Note, however, that DD is a
single letter
, not a doubled consonant.

A
CCENT
is generally on the penultimate syllable, but compound words and place names are often an exception to this rule.

I have used this system of transcription for the Bardekian and Elvish alphabets as well as the Deverrian, which is, of course, based on the Greek rather than the Roman model. On the whole, it works quite well for the Bardekian, at least. As for Elvish, in a work of this sort it would be ridiculous to resort to the elaborate apparatus by which scholars attempt to transcribe that most subtle and nuanced of tongues.

PROLOGUE
IN THE YEAR 1045

Men see life going from a dark to
a darkness. The gods see life as a
death. …


The Secret Book of
Cadwallon the Druid

In the hall of light, they reminded her of her destiny. There, all was light, a pulsing gold like the heart of a candle flame, filling eternity. The speakers were pillars of fire within the fiery light, and their words were sparks. They, the great Lords of Wyrd, had neither faces nor voices, because anything so human had long since been burned away by dwelling in the hall of light. She had no face or voice either, because she was weak, a little flicker of pale flame. But she heard them speak to her of destiny, her grave task to be done, her long road to ride, her burden that she must lift and willingly.

“Many deaths have led you to this turning,” they said to her. “It is time to take your Wyrd in your hands. You belong to the dweomer in your very soul. Will you remember?”

In the hall of light, there are no lies.

“I’ll try to remember,” she said. “I’ll do my best to remember the light.”

She felt them grow amused.

“You will be helped to remember. Go now. It is time for you to die and enter the darkness.”

When she began to kneel before them, to throw herself down before them, they rushed forward and forbade her. They knew that they were only servants of the one true light, paltry servants compared to the glory they served, the Light that shines beyond all gods.

When she entered the gray misty land, she wept, longing for the light. There, all was shifting fog, a thousand spirits and visions, and the speakers were like winds, tossing her with words. They wept with her at the fall that she must make into darkness. These spirits of wind had faces, and she realized that she, too, now had a face, because they were all human and far from the light. When they spoke to her of fleshly things, she remembered lust, the ecstasy of flesh pressed against flesh.

“But remember the light,” they whispered to her. “Cling to the light and follow the dweomer.”

The wind blew her down through the gray mist. All round her she felt lust, snapping like lightning in a summer storm. All at once, she remembered summer storms, rain on a fleshly face, cool dampness in the air, warm fires, and the taste of food in her mouth. The memories netted her like a little bird and pulled her down and down. She felt him, then, and his lust, a maleness that once she had loved, felt him close to her, very close, like a fire. His lust swept her down and down, round and round, like a dead leaf caught in a tiny whirlpool at a river’s edge. Then she remembered rivers, water sparkling under the sun. The light, she told herself, remember the light you swore to serve. Suddenly she was terrified: the task was very grave, she was very weak and human. She wanted to break free and return to the Light, but it was too late. The eddy of lust swept her round and round till she felt herself grow heavy, thick, and palpable.

BOOK: Daggerspell
2.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Corpsing by Toby Litt
To Seduce A Siren by Cousins, Jane
Definitivamente Muerta by Charlaine Harris
A Betting Man / a Marrying Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion
Babylon by Victor Pelevin