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Authors: Jr. L. E. Modesitt

Shadowsinger

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For Elizabeth and Drew

Characters

Secca
Sorceress Protector of the East; Lady of Loiseau (Mencha); Lady of Flossbend (Synope)

Robero
Lord of Defalk, and Lord of Elheld, Falcor, and Synfal (Cheor)

Alyssa
Consort of Robero

Dythya
Counselor of Finance

Jirsit
Arms Commander of Defalk

Lords of Defalk: The Thirty-Three

Alseta
Lady of Mossbach; consort is Barat; son is Lyendar

Birke
Lord of Abenfel; consort is Reylana; mother is Fylena

Cataryzna
Lady of Sudwei; consort is Skent; heir is Skansor

Chelshay
Lady of Wendel; consort is Nerylt, son of Clethner

Clethner
Lord of Nordland; heir is Lythner

Dinfin
Lady of Suhl; consort is Wasle, brother of Birke

Dostal
Lord of Aroch; consort is Ruetha

Ebraak
Lord of Nordfels; heir is Cassily

Falar
Warder of Uslyn, heir to Fussen; also consort to Herene, Lady of Pamr
.

Fustar
Lord of Issl; sole heir is Kylar

Gylaron
Lord of Lerona; consort is Reylan; heir is Gylan; father of Reylana

Herene
Lady of Pamr; consort is Falar; heir is Kysar

Kinor
Lord of Westfort (Denguic) and Lord of the Western Marches; consort is Asaro

Mietchel
Lord of Morra, brother of Lady Wendella of Stromwer

Selber
Lord of Silberfels; heir is Helbar; sister is Belvera

Tiersen
Lord of Dubaria; consort is Lysara; eldest son and heir is Lystar

Uslyn
Lord heir of Fussen; father was Ustal, mother Yelean

Vyasal
Rider of Heinene

Ytrude
Lady of Mossbach, sister of Tiersen; consort is Cens

Wendella
Lady of Stromwer; heir is Condell

Zybar
Lord of Arien

Sorcerers and Sorceresses

Anandra
Sorceress assistant to Clayre

Clayre
Sorceress of Defalk

Jolyn
Assistant Sorceress of Defalk

Fosterlings, Apprentices, and Pages

Jeagyn
Fosterling/sorceress apprentice at Loiseau

Kerisel
Fosterling/sorceress apprentice at Loiseau

Richina
Apprentice sorceress to Secca; daughter of Dinfan

Defalkan Armsmen

Elfens
Chief Archer, Loiseau

Drysel
Captain, Loiseau

Quebar
Captain, Loiseau

Rickel
Lord's Guard-Captain, Falcor

Wilten
Overcaptain, Loiseau

Defalkan Players

Bretnay
Violino, Loiseau

Delvor
Chief of Second Players, Loiseau

Duralt
Falk-horn, Loiseau

Diltyr
Chief Player for Clayre, Falcor

Dossin
Lutar, Loiseau

Elset
Woodwind, Loiseau

Kylar
Violino, Loiseau

Nuel
Violino, Loiseau

Palian
Chief Player, Loiseau

Rowal
Woodwind, Loiseau

Yuarl
Chief Player for Jolyn, Falcor

Others Outside Defalk

Alya
Matriarch of Ranuak; consort is Aetlen

Alcaren
Sorceror; cousin to the Matriarch

Ashtarr
Leader, Council of Wei, Nordwei

Ayselin
Holder of Netzla, Neserea

Belmar
Holder of Worlan, Neserea

Fehern
Acting Lord High Counselor of Dumar; without consort

Hadrenn
Lord High Counselor of Ebra; Lord of Synek, Ebra; consort is Belvera; heir is Haddev; younger son is Verad
.

Hanford
Lord High Counselor of Neserea; consort is Aerlya; eldest daughter and heiress is Annayal

Kestrin
Liedfuhr of Mansuur; brother of Aerlya

Maitre of Sturinn
Leader of Sturinn; master of the Sea-Priests

Motolla
Holder of Itzel, Neserea; heir is Chyalar

Svenmar
Holder of Nesalia, Neserea

Veria
Counselor, Freewomen of Elahwa

Contents
1

Mansuus, Mansuur

Heavy wet flakes drift past the windows of the Liedfuhr's study, each window hung with maroon velvet drawn back to reveal an early-spring snow that has already dropped more than half a yard of whiteness on the city, and on the ice that still covers the River Toksul.

The man who stands before the windows, looking out, wears a sky-blue tunic with a silver chain bearing the amulet-seal of the Liedfuhr of Mansuur around his neck and a mourning band of black and maroon upon his left arm. For a moment, his hard green eyes flick to the ice-and-snow-covered river that cuts through the city, if well below and beyond the hill on which the palace rests. Then, he turns, standing beside the polished wooden desk that has graced the study for three generations, and asks, “You think Neserea will fall before harvest?”

“As matters now proceed, it is most likely,” replies the trim overcaptain in the maroon uniform of the Mansuuran Lancers. There are but a few streaks of raven black amid the silver-gray of the lancer's short hair. His thin eyebrows are silvered as well, but the dark eyes are deep and intent. “Despite the efforts of the Sorceress of Defalk, Aerlya and Annayal hold but an area little more than a hundred deks around Esaria.”

“If we dispatch the fifty companies of lancers from Unduval? Then what, Bassil?” Kestrin runs his right hand through short-cropped brown hair that is already half-gray, although he will not reach his full second score of years until the turn of the following spring.

“Are you willing to risk all fifty companies? And to slaughter all those who do not support your sister and her daughter?”

Kestrin tilts his head slightly as he studies Bassil. “If I must.”

“You must. You must also avoid facing the sorcerer Lord Belmar. He is strong enough to dispatch all your lancers with his spells.”

“Unless we can catch him in a snowstorm or the rain.” Kestrin laughs.

“You risk much if you send your lancers into Neserea,” cautions the older man.

“I risk more if I do not.”

“Your seers report that the Sea-Priests are readying a fleet to sail from the Ostisles,” reports Bassil.

“They are doubtless sailing eastward, but not to Mansuur.”

Bassil raises his eyebrows, but does not speak.

Outside the private study of the Liedfuhr, the wind moans. The snowflakes are smaller, and falling faster, and the light dims as the clouds overhead darken, as if winter is returning to Mansuus.

“This Secca—Lord Robero's new Sorceress Protector of the East—she has destroyed all the Sturinnese vessels that had threatened Liedwahr. Do you think that the Maitre of Sturinn will decide to invade us while he has forces in Dumar that are threatened by the sorceress?”

“She remains in Encora for the moment.” Bassil pauses. “Yet it is most likely that she will travel to Dumar and use her sorcery against the Sea-Priests there before the Maitre can reinforce them. That will not be easy for her. The Maitre can use the sea to land more sorcerers and lancers, but it will be weeks, if not longer, before the snows melt enough for Lord Robero to send reinforcements to Lady Secca.”

“He will not send them even then,” predicts Kestrin. “He fears Belmar as much as the Sturinnese. Lady Secca has been successful without further aid. Lady Clayre is slowly losing in Neserea, as you have pointed out, and Aerlya and Annayal may have to flee before long.”

“Where?”

Kestrin sighs. “Perhaps to Nordwei.”

“It is yet winter there.”

“And you question that I should send lancers into Neserea?”

“I cannot see how you could do otherwise—when you can. They cannot cross the snows of the Mittpass yet.” Bassil shakes his head. “If you do not dispatch them, once the snows melt, Belmar will take all of Neserea by midsummer. But…if he is as bright as he seems, he will turn to face your lancers, in order to destroy them.”

“They must not face him. Their task is to destroy those who rebelled against Aerlya.” Kestrin's voice is hard. “If he turns, then the Sorceress of Defalk may be able to strengthen Aerlya's hold on the north and east.”

“That is possible,” Bassil concedes, his voice neutral.

“Not likely, but possible,” Kestrin replies with a grim laugh. “Better that than we do nothing. The lady Secca may yet retake Dumar from the Sturinnese, but this Belmar is their tool, and even she will be hard-pressed if Neserea falls and the Sturinnese reinforcements land in Narial.”

“Because she will be caught between him and the Sturinnese?”

The Liedfuhr nods slowly. “Because we will then face the Sea-Priests alone.”

Outside the study, in the growing darkness, the moaning of the returning winter wind rises with the night.

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