Authors: Tamora Pierce
Tags: #fantasy magic lady knight tortall
The glass thing Tris couldnt tell what it was landed on the mans skull. Smoke and the stench of burning hair rolled away from its feet. The man swore and slapped at it. Terrified, his creation fled. As it flew, its features became sharper, more identifiable. The big lumps became very large, bat-like wings. Smaller lumps stretched out to become powerful hind legs and short forelegs. Lesser points shaped themselves as ears; an upright ribbed fin rose on its neck; another point fixed the end of the glass as a tail. When the thing lit on a worktable, Tris saw the form it had fought to gain. It was a glass dragon, silver-veined with magic, clear through and through.
Have you read the other books in this series?
Have you read how the Circle was created?
The Circle of Magic
The Magic in the Weaving
The Power in the Storm
The Fire in the Forging
The Healing in the Vine
And dont miss Tamora Pierces other series:
The Protector of the Small
The Song of the Lioness
THE CIRCLE OPENS 4
Scholastic Childrens Books,
Commonwealth House, 1-19 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1NU, UK a division of Scholastic Ltd
Auckland Mexico City
First published in the UK by Scholastic Ltd, 2003
Copyright Š Tamora Pierce, 2003 Cover image copyright Š Les Edwards, 2003
ISBN 0 439 97864 5
Typeset by M Rules Printed and bound by Norhaven Paperback A/S, Denmark 13579 108642 All rights reserved
The right of Tamora Pierce to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publishers prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed upon the subsequent purchaser.
To my father, Wayne Franklin Pierce
You taught me to soar with my stories.
Now, at last, the Old Eagle flies free. May you find good winds, clean air, and the universe under your wings.
Tharios, capital of the city-state ofTharios On the Ithocot Sea The short, plump redhead walked out of the house that belonged to her hostess and looked around, her air that of someone about to embark on a grand adventure. She shook out her pale blue cotton dress and petticoats, then wrapped a collection of breezes around her chubby person as someone else might drape the folds of a shawl before she went to market. The breezes came obediently to her call, having become so much a part of her in the girls travels that they no longer rebelled. They spun around her black cotton stockings and sensible leather shoes, raced along the folds of skirt and petticoats, slid along the girls arms and over her sunburned, long-nosed face.
They swept over the spectacles that shielded intense grey eyes framed by long, gold lashes, and twined themselves over and along her head. They followed the paths of her double handful of copper braids, all pinned neatly to her scalp in a series of rings that left no end visible. Only two long, thin braids were allowed to hang free. They framed either side of her stubborn face.
With her breezes placed to her satisfaction, guardians against the intense southern heat, the girl whistled. The big, shaggy white dog that was busily marking the corners of the house whuffed at her.
Come on, Little Bear, ordered Trisana Chandler, known to her friends as Tris. Its not really your house anyway.
The dog fell in step beside the girl, tongue lolling in cheerful good humour. His white curls, recently washed, bounced with his trot; his long, plumed tail was a proud banner. He was a big animal, his head on a level with Triss breastbone. Despite his size, he wore the air of an easy-to-please puppy as effortlessly as the girl wore her breezes.
Tris strode down the flagstone path and out through the university gates without so much as a backward glance at the glory of white stucco and marble that crowned the hill above the house. She thought that the university, called Heskalifos, was fine, in its own right, and its high point the soaring tower known as Phakomathen was pretty, but there were perfectly good universities in the north. She was on her way to see the true glory of Tharios, its glassmakers. Let her teacher Niko join their hostess Jumshida and many other learned mages and apprentices in their long-winded, long-lasting presentations on the nature of any and all vision magics. Tris, on the other hand, was interested in the kind of visual magic wrought by someone who held a blowpipe that bore molten glass on its end.
At one of the many side entrances to the grounds of Heskalifos, Tris halted and scowled. Had Jumshida said to turn left or go straight once she was outside the university enclosure?
A girl her own age stood nearby at a loading dock, emptying the contents of a rubbish barrel into the back of a cart. The muscles of her arms stood out like steel cables.
Though she was clearly female, she wore her hair cut off at one length at ear level, and the knee-length tunic worn by Tharian men. She was also extremely dirty.
Excuse me, Tris called to her. Do you know the way to Achaya Square?
The girl picked up the second barrel in a row of them and dumped its contents into her cart.
Tris cleared her throat and raised her voice. I said, can you tell me the way to Achaya Square?
The girl nicked her eyes toward Tris, then away. She dumped her empty barrel next to the others, and picked up a full one.
Well, thought Tris. She can hear me; shes just being rude. She stalked over to the cart. Dont you people believe in courtesy to visitors? she demanded crossly. Or are all you Tharians so convinced that the world began here that you cant be bothered to be polite?
Though the barrel she had taken to the cart was still half full, the girl set it down and fixed her gaze on Triss toes. You shenosi, she said quietly, using the Tharian word for foreigners. Dont they have guidebooks where you come from?
Triss scowl deepened. She was not particularly a patient girl. I asked a simple question. And you can look at me if youre going to be snippy.
Oh, its a simple enough question, replied the girl, still soft-voiced, her eyes still fixed on Triss no-nonsense shoes. As simple as the way is if you just follow that long beak of yours. And Ill give you some information for nothing, since youre obviously too ignorant to live. You dont talk to prathmun, and prathmun dont talk to you. Prathmun dont exist.
What are prathmun? demanded Tris. She chose not to take offence at the remark about her nose. It was not her best feature and never had been.
I am a prathmun retorted the girl. My mother, my sisters and my brothers are prathmun. Were untouchable, degraded, invisible. Am I getting through that thick northern skull yet?
Why? asked Tris, curious now. This was far more interesting than a simple answer to her question. Why should prathmun be those things?
The girl sighed, and rubbed her face with her hands, smearing more dirt into it. We handle the bodies of the dead, she told Tris wearily. We skin and tan animal hides.
We make shoes. We take out the night soil. But mostly, we handle the dead, which means we defile whatever we touch. If you dont move along and a giladha
What? asked Tris.
One of the visible people, replied the girl. If they see you talking to me, theyll demand you get yourself ritually cleansed before you go anywhere or do anything.
Now will you go away? demanded the prathmun, impatient. Youll get cleansed, shenos, but Ill be whipped.
She said it so flatly that Tris believed her. She walked two steps away, then asked without turning around, Whats shenos? And how do you tell whos a prathmuri?
A foreigner is shenos retorted the prathmun, dumping the rest of her rubbish barrel in the cart. And we all have the same haircut and the same kind of clothes, and straw sandals. Now^o.
Tris followed the road that lay straight before her, the direction the prathmun had indicated with such flattery. Niko said Id find some of the customs here barbaric,
she informed Little Bear when she was out of earshot of the prathmun. Ill bet you a chop for supper this is one of the ones he meant. Whoever heard of people not being just because they deal with the dead?
Once she reached Achaya Square, Tris found the Street of Glass easily enough.
Reading about Tharios on the way here, she had formulated a plan of exploration with her usual care to detail. She would start at the foot of the street where most of the citys glassmakers kept their shops, beginning with the smaller, humbler establishments near the Piraki Gate, and work her way back to Achaya Square until her feet hurt. She meant to spend a number of days at the shops that caught her interest, but first she wanted an overview. Tris was the kind of girl who appreciated a solid plan of action, perhaps because often her life, and her magic, was in too much of an uproar to be organized.
As she walked, she looked on the sights and people of Tharios with interest. Buildings here were of two kinds, stucco roofed with tiles like those in her home on the Pebbled Sea - or public buildings built of white marble, fronted with graceful colours and flat-roofed, with corners and column heads cut into graceful lines. The Street of Glass and Achaya Square fountains were marble or a pretty pink granite. Statues carved from marble and painted to look life-like stood on either side of the paved stones of the road. It was all very lavish and expensive. Tris might not have approved, but her view of people who spent so much on decoration was leavened when closer inspection showed her soft edges on statues and public buildings, and fountain carvings worn almost unrecognizable by long years of weather. Tharios was an old city, and its treasures were built to last.
The Tharians themselves were a feast for her eyes. The natives ranged in skin colour from pale brown to black, and while their hair was usually black or brown, many women used henna to redden it. Men cropped their hair very short or even shaved their heads altogether. Ladies bundled their hair into masses of curls that tilted their heads to the appropriate, sophisticated, Tharian angle. The prathmun, male and female, sported the same rough, one-length cut Tris had seen on the girl she spoke to.
All prathmun wore a ragged, dirty version of the knee-length tunic worn by Tharite men. Tharian women dressed in an ankle-length, drape-sleeved version called a kyten.
In summer these garments were cotton, linen, or silk, with sashes or ribbon belts twined around waists and hips. On top of the tunic or kyten upper-class Tharians also wore stoles of many colours, each of which indicated the wearers profession. She knew that mages here wore blue stoles, shopkeepers green, and priests of the All-Seeing God red. Beyond that she was lost. No matter what colour the stole, it was usually made of the lightest cotton, or even silk, money could buy. The Tharians looked cool and comfortable to Tris.
Since the prathmun girl had called her attention to shoes, Tris noted that better-dressed Tharian men and women generally wore leather sandals that laced up to the knee. Many of the poorer residents went barefoot. This wasnt as risky as it might be anywhere else: Tris saw prathmun collecting trash and cleaning the street on nearly every block.
Though Little Bear was content to stay with his mistress, Triss breezes were not.
They roamed freely around her, tugging at curls, tunics, kytens and stoles, exploring peoples faces, then returning to Tris like excited children gone for a walk with a favourite aunt. They brought her scraps of conversations about trade rates, fashions, family quarrels and political discussions from all around her, pouring those scraps into her ears. She half-listened, always interested in . local gossip.
Some conversations mentioned her. A few of the Tharians she passed had discovered her way to stay cool. Perhaps her breezes wouldnt have been noticed if the air were not perfectly still. The only winds outside Triss circle of influence were those made by hand-held fans and those roused by pigeons in flight from uncaring feet.
Tris sighed, and drew the breezes closer to her. People continued to stare as her dress and petticoats stirred in different directions. She ignored them. It was too hot to give up her fresh air so a number of stuck-up southerners werent made nervous. If they were as clever as they claimed, theyd find ways to hold breezes of their own, Tris told herself.
She had a number of breezes tied up in knots of thread back at the house. Perhaps she could peddle some at the market, and make a bit of extra money. There were two more moons of summer to go, and the problem with city walls was that they tended to keep out the wind. She ought to be able to sell a knot, or two, or three, for pocket money. She would ask Jumshida how to go about it.