THE THREE LANDS OMNIBUS
Love in Dark Settings Press
Published by Love in Dark Settings Press in Greenbelt, Maryland, in the United States of America.
This text, or a variation on it, was originally published at duskpeterson.com as part of the series The Three Lands. Copyright (c) 2002-2011 Dusk Peterson. April 2011 edition. Some rights reserved. The text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0). You may freely print, post, e-mail, share, or otherwise distribute the text for noncommercial purposes, provided that you include this paragraph. The author's policies on derivative works and fan works are available online (duskpeterson.com/copyright.htm).
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.The Three Lands Omnibus
contains all the current stories in the ongoing Three Lands series. Readers' feedback is welcome and will be taken into account in the preparation of future editions of this e-book. DEDICATION
To my friend and first beta reader,
Katharine Bond.Koina ta ton philon
In gratitude to our alma mater,
St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland.Facio liberos ex liberis libris libraque
Few events are more thrilling in a Koretian boy's life than a blood feud between two villages. Or so Adrian thought.
Torn between affection toward his traditional-minded father and worship of his peace-loving, heretical priest, Adrian finds himself caught between two incompatible visions of his duty to the gods. Then the Jackal God sends Adrian a message that will disrupt his life and send him fleeing from a danger he knows too well.
¶ Novel: 160,000 words.Law Links
1: God of Vengeance
. "Sometimes I feel that he is as mysterious as the gods, and that he is hiding something of vital importance from me. Something that would transform my life."Law Links
2: The Sword
. "But what if I were to reverse the picture? What ifI
were to become the jackal and pursue them?"Law Links
3: God of Mercy
. "I felt a deep stillness enter into me then, one I hadn't felt for many weeks – one I hadn't felt since the last time Fenton and I spoke. I understood."Law Links
4: The Bird
. "The slaves are a second mystery."Law Links
5: God of Judgment
. "'Spies don't fight – remember that.'"Law Links
6: The Balance
. "'You asked whether you could do anything for me; now comes the moment when I must take up your offer.'"
He has taken a blood vow to the Jackal God to bring freedom to his land by killing Koretia's greatest enemy. But what will he do when the enemy becomes his friend?
Thrust into exile and pain, young Andrew has no choice but to accept the friendship of the very person he had vowed to kill. When he returns with his friend to his homeland fifteen years later, though, he finds himself in a land of conflicting loyalties . . . where a vengeful god awaits him.
¶ Novel: 120,000 words.Blood Vow
1: The Gods' Land
. "I had come to tell him, in the cheerful manner boys have, that our world was about to be destroyed."Blood Vow
2: Land of the Chara
. "'If I were to take him, in three months you would find him thinking and acting like a civilized Emorian. If you know how to discipline a slave, as I do, such transformations are accomplished with ease.'"Blood Vow
3: The Look of the Chara
. "'You have not been raped or killed or enslaved, or watched as your city was destroyed on the orders of the Chara.'"Blood Vow
4: Land of the Jackal
. "'I hope that you do not allow this visit to confuse your carefully acquired Emorian sensibilities as to the proper definition of loyalty.'"Blood Vow
5: The Eyes of the Jackal
. "'The only way in which to bring peace is to find this Koretian rebel-leader and kill him.'"Blood Vow
6: The God's Land
. "'If you cannot serve me, then you must be my captive.'"
What can you give a slave who, by law, can own nothing?
A holiday gift story for Dusk Peterson's readers.
¶ Novelette: 17,000 words.Re-creation
. "He could not leave this room without his father's permission. And he could not imagine going to his father and saying, 'Please let me go gather moss so that my slave can have a proper New Year for once.'"
===Bard of Pain
In the battle-weary lands of the Great Peninsula, only one fate is worse than being taken prisoner by the Lieutenant: being taken prisoner if youare
As the world's most skilled torturer struggles with his change of fortune, he finds that his fate is intertwined with the destinies of an idealistic army commander, an affectionate prisoner, and a protégé who reveres the Lieutenant's art . . . but is on the wrong side of the conflict.
¶ Novella: 38,000 words.Bard of Pain
1: The Darkness
. "The beginning of the end for him (or so it seemed at the time) came in the moment that he stepped into the shadow of Capital Mountain and was assaulted by a stranger."Bard of Pain
2: The Fire
. "He was on fire."
Three days ago he faced death by fire. Now he faces a bigger challenge.
¶ Novella: 27,000 words.Mystery
. "Prosper, watching the hand fondle the sword-flat, with the blade's killing edge turned toward him, found himself doing battle with no less than three demon-fears."
===Law of Vengeance:
. A preview of the nextThree Lands
.More writings by Dusk Peterson
. Includes a link to the author's contact information.
=== Law Links
GOD OF VENGEANCE
Begun on the first day of September in the 940th year after the giving of the law, by Adrian son of Berenger, from the Village of Mountside in the Land of Koretia.
Hamar and I played Jackal and Prey this afternoon, with Hamar as the Jackal, and with me as the Jackal's prey. I spent three hours hiding amidst the mountain rocks, creeping away whenever Hamar came near, and he never caught me. Eventually Hamar called to me that I was cheating, and I came out and we argued about it and would probably have ended up duelling each other except that I was reluctant to get blood on the new dagger that our father gave me this morning.
Finally I told Hamar that it wasn't fair that he always played that he was the hunting god, while I was always delegated to being the hunted. He responded that I play the prey better than anyone else in the village – which is true – but I pointed out to him that I am just as good at being the hunter as I am at being the hunted. "Besides," I said, "I came of age this morning, and if you want to be at my birthday feast this evening, you ought to acknowledge that I am a man."
He sulkily allowed me to take the Jackal's role, and I caught him within a quarter of an hour. My father said this morning that Hamar and I ought not to be playing such games any more, since we are both men, even if I am only sixteen and Hamar is just two years older. But Fenton said that even boys' games have value to a man and that some day I may be able to make as much use of my hours spent at Jackal and Prey as I will of what I learned in the rite he performed over me late last night.
Fenton and I were silent for a long while after the rite was done. We were in the sanctuary, of course, but the small chamber seemed strange, for I had never been there at night, and Fenton hadn't lit so much as a candle. He had even shuttered the windows so that the uninitiated would not chance to hear the words he spoke. The only light came from the full moon, which shone down through the smoke-hole onto the altar. I could barely see Fenton.
He had tried to put his arm round me after it was through, but I pushed him away – it was the first time I had ever done that, but I wanted him to know that, being a man, I was now old enough to be strong on my own. So I had dressed, still shivering, and he had gone over to the table against the wall and poured wine for us. He paused after pouring the first cup, and for a moment I thought he would share a cup of wine with me, as he sometimes does with my father. But then he poured a second cup of wine and came over to where I was standing, staring through the cracks of the shuttered window.
He handed me my cup before he unlatched the window and swung it open. Light from my family's home, several spear-lengths up the mountain, spilled into the room. I could see, through the open window of our hall, that my parents were sitting on their chairs next to the central hearth. My father had Mira upon his knee and was bouncing her up and down as though she were riding a horse. She was squealing with delight as though she were a small girl instead of being thirteen and close to her coming of age.
I longed to join them, to return to the familiar safety of my house, but I was worried that would make me appear a coward. So I sipped from the wine, though my stomach remained so tense that I feared I would be sick.
Finally I said, "Perhaps I should have picked another god to serve. One whose rite isn't so frightening."
I meant this as a joke, and I tried to smile, but Fenton said seriously, "In many ways, the Jackal is the most merciful god. Some of the other god-rites are far worse."
I looked over at him then. He was leaning back against the altar, sipping his wine, and his face was shadowed by the hood of the frayed priest-robe he has worn for eleven years. He looked as calm as ever, just as he had looked calm when he spoke in the name of the god and raised the knife over me as I lay upon the altar. . . .
On impulse, I put my cup aside and came over to take Fenton's hand. For a moment I felt foolish; his hand was as steady as ever. Then I felt, very faintly, the tremor within him, like a thunder-roll deep within the earth.
It was then, I think, that I truly understood what it means to be a man: to put thoughts of others before thoughts of myself. I said softly, "I'm sorry," and for a moment I could think of nothing but Fenton's pain.
Then he turned his head to look at me. As the firelight fell upon his face, I saw his smile, and I felt foolish and boyish again.
"It's of no matter," he replied. "I have performed this rite many times before, and on other occasions it was far worse. At least this time I knew that the god would not require the worst of me."
I wanted to ask how he was sure that the Jackal would not accept my proffered sacrifice, but I thought the better of it. I let go of his hand and rubbed the back of my neck. It seemed odd to feel the soft night-breeze blowing where, only a short time before, my boy's-hair had been. I said, before I could question the wisdom of my asking, "Has
a god ever required the full sacrifice when you performed the coming-of-age rite?"
To my relief, he shook his head. "Only once did he come close to doing so when I took part in a rite. And on that occasion, I was nearly the victim."
He lifted his hand as he spoke, in order to bring the cup to his lips. As he did so, his sleeve slipped back far enough for me to see the faint lines of his blood vows. He has three of them. One is the vow he took when he became a priest, and the second is the vow of friendship he took with my father. I have never asked him about the third blood vow. Now I found myself wondering: Had Fenton become blood brother to one of the other priests in the priests' house when he was in training? And was a vow between priests so great a matter that he had feared he would need to offer up a full sacrifice to his god or goddess?
Or perhaps he was simply referring to what had happened when the priest from Cold Run made Fenton a priest. I knew, of course, that the coming-of-age rite for a priest is different from that of an ordinary man, since the priest makes a greater commitment to his god or goddess. I supposed the rite must be far more frightening.
I felt again that odd tenderness I had felt before, and I wanted to find a way to remove Fenton's mind from what had just happened. Desperately, I looked about the grey-shadowed sanctuary. Thus I caught sight of my back-sling, lying near the door.
I raced over to it and pulled the bound volume from it, then ran back to Fenton. "Look!" I said, thrusting the volume into his hands. "I've never shown this to anyone. See what I've been keeping."
He opened it slowly, read aloud the first few words, and smiled. "Now I know why your Emorian has been improving so rapidly during recent months. I thought it must be due to more than my lessons."
Feeling shyly pleased, I pointed to the first entry of my journal. "You see?" I said. "I even date the entries the Emorian way: 'The fifth day of February in the 940th year after the giving of the law.' What does 'after the giving of the law' mean?"
"That's a lesson in itself," Fenton murmured. He was flipping through the journal rapidly, far too quickly to be reading the entries, so I knew that he wished to preserve my privacy. "Some time soon, when we have time, I'll explain Emorian law to you. I ought to have done so before now, I suppose, but it has been hard enough a task to teach you the Emorian language."
I grinned, not offended. We both knew that I had no special talent for learning foreign languages. It was a tribute to Fenton's talent for teaching that I now spoke his native language as well as I did.