Authors: Dave Duncan
BOOKS BY DAVE DUNCAN
Speak to the Devil
Children of Chaos
Mother of Lies
The Alchemist’s Apprentice
The Alchemist’s Code
The Alchemist’s Pursuit
HRONICLES OF THE
The Jaguar Knights
ALES OF THE
The Gilded Chain
Lord of Fire Lands
Sky of Swords
The Crooked House
Faery Land Forlorn
Emperor and Clown
The Cutting Edge
The Stricken Field
The Living God
The Reaver Road
The Hunters’ Haunt
The Reluctant Swordsman
The Coming of Wisdom
The Destiny of the Sword
West of January
A Rose-Red City
Ill Met in the Arena
Daughter of Troy
for more information.
A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
SPEAK TO THE DEVIL
Copyright © 2010 by Dave Duncan
All rights reserved.
Edited by Liz Gorinsky
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
First Edition: May 2010
Printed in the United States of America
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Once upon a time, as the Age of Chivalry was
ending, there lived in a little- known kingdom
in Central Eu rope five brothers…
Ottokar: thirteenth Baron Magnus of Dobkov, head of the family
Vladislav: knight, a warrior currently held hostage in Bavaria
Marek: a monk in the Benedictine monastery at Koupel
Anton: recently enlisted in the Light Hussars
Wulfgang: Anton’s varlet
Konrad V: aging king of Jorgary
Konrad: crown prince, his grandson
Zdenek: cardinal, the king’s first minister, known as the Scarlet Spider
Svaty: archbishop of Jorgary
Stepan: Count Bukovany of Cardice, lord of the march, keeper of Castle Gallant
Edita: his countess
Petr: knight, his son and heir
Madlenka: the count’s daughter
Ugne: bishop of Cardice
Giedre Jurbarkas: Madlenka’s lady-in-waiting and best friend
Ramunas Jurbarkas: seneschal of Castle Gallant, Giedre’s father
Karolis Kavarskas: knight, constable of Castle Gallant
Dalibor Notivova: deputy constable
Havel: Count Vranov of Pelrelm, lord of the march
Marijus: knight, his tenth son
Leonas: an imbecile, his fifteenth or sixteenth son
Vilhelmas: a priest of the Greek Orthodox faith
Wartislaw: Duke of Pomerania, Lord of the Wends
In the darkest hour of the night, a troop of the Palace Guard came marching along the serpentine alleys of Mauvnik, capital city of Jorgary. Arriving at the home of Baron Radovan, they pounded the door knocker. When that produced no swift response, they thundered on the panels with the butts of their pikes and shouted abuse, making enough racket to silence the cats and start dogs barking. Nosy neighbors opened shutters. When at last a terrified servant peered out through the grille, their leader bellowed for all to hear that Lancer Anton Magnus was wanted at the palace at once. The guards continued to stamp and jingle and chatter in the roadway until the lanky youngster they sought came stumbling out, his hussar uniform awry and his eyes still blurred by sleep. They formed up around him and marched him away.
Anton was not told that he was under arrest. He was not required to surrender his saber. He was not even sure that the Palace Guard had authority to arrest a lancer of the Light Hussars, although these men seemed to think they did. They refused to say who had sent for him at this ungodly hour on a Sunday morning, or what his offense might be. He had been sinning, yes, but adultery was not a criminal matter. The slut’s
husband might call him out on a point of honor for it, but Anton was not worried about dueling a man who was currently far away in Bavaria, being held for ransom, and thirty years his senior anyway. If not lechery, then what? His conscience was unspotted otherwise.
A worse worry was that Anton Magnus had no idea how the palace guard had known where to find him. If the sergeants-at-arms had begun by seeking him in the verminous billet down in Lower Mauvnik that he shared with Wulfgang, his brother and varlet, then Wulf could have told them only that Anton was visiting a lady; he did not know which lady, and would not have told that even if he did. How had they known that he was sleeping the sleep of the exhausted in the bed of the luscious Baroness Nadezda Radovan?
At that point the lovely baroness—who was not as lovely as she must have been the year Anton was born, but still tried to behave as if she were—had become very unlovely indeed. She, who around midnight had been kind and fond to her “
Anton,” praising both his privates and his prowess, had become shrill and abusive. To go from wearing nothing at all to the dress uniform of a hussar without a varlet’s help was a long process—breechcloth, trunk hose, puffed shirt laced to the trunk hose, fancy slashed breeches, slashed and padded doublet, garters, socks over the hose, boots—with spurs, even at a ball—sword belt, sword, dagger, short cape, tall hat with narrow brim and tall plume; and all the time the harpy in the bed had been screaming that she was ruined, that the news would be all over Mauvnik and probably the entire kingdom by morning, that Anton Magnus was an evil young deviant preying on respectable women, and if he thought she was ever going to put in that good word to the minister of the army that she had promised last night, then he had the brains of a tadpole. And so on.
He had said nothing until he had his boots on and was heading for the door. Then he had dropped a copper
on her dressing table and told her exactly what he thought of her worn-out body and alley-cat morals, thus demonstrating that their relationship had been terminated by mutual consent.
Now the roofs and turrets of the palace stood inky black against the autumn stars. Only two windows showed light, both in the central tower where old King Konrad lay interminably dying. Anton’s escorts were
taking him to the south gate, to a part of the palace he did not know. And they still refused to say why.