No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar

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9780756407698: No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar

In March 1987, Mercedes Lackey, a young author from Oklahoma, published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. No one could have envisioned that this modest book about a magical land called Valdemar would be the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles.

Now the voices of other authors add their own special touches to the ancient land where Heralds “Chosen” from all walks of life by magical horse-like Companions patrol their ancient kingdom, dispensing justice, facing adversaries, and protecting their monarch and country from whatever threatens. Trained rigorously by the Herald’s Collegium, these special protectors each have extraordinary Gifts: Mindspeaking, FarSeeing, FarSpeaking, Empathy, Firestarting and ForeSeeing, and are bonded for life with their mysterious Companions. Travel with these astounding adventurers in sixteen original stories.

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About the Author:

Mercedes Lackey is a full-time writer and has published numerous novels and works of short fiction, including the best-selling Heralds Of Valdemar series. She is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots. She can be found at mercedeslackey.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Raves for the Previous Valdemar Anthologies:

“Fans of Lackey’s epic Valdemar series will devour this superb anthology. Of the thirteen stories included, there is no weak link—an attribute exceedingly rare in collections of this sort. Highly recommended.”

—The Barnes and Noble Review

“This high-quality anthology mixes pieces by experienced authors and enthusiastic fans of editor Lackey’s Valdemar. Valdemar fandom, especially, will revel in this sterling example of what such a mixture of fans’ and pros’ work can be. Engrossing even for newcomers to Valdemar.”

Booklist

“Josepha Sherman, Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, and Michelle West have quite good stories, and there’s another by Lackey herself. Familiarity with the series helps but is not a prerequisite to enjoying this book.”

Science Fiction Chronicle

“Each tale adheres to the Lackey laws of the realm yet provides each author’s personal stamp on the story. Well written and fun, Valdemarites will especially appreciate the magic of this book.”

The Midwest Book Review

“The sixth collection set in Lackey’s world of Valdemar presents stories of Heralds and their telepathic horselike Companions and of Bards and Healers, and provides glimpses of the many other aspects of a setting that has a large and avid readership. The fifteen original tales in this volume will appeal to series fans.”

Library Journal

TITLES BY MERCEDES LACKEY
available from DAW Books:

*Coming soon from DAW Books

And don’t miss: THE VALDEMAR COMPANION, edited by John Helfers and Denise Little

The Whitest Lie

—A flash of snow, biting cold, the vertigo of falling. The face of a young boy.—

Herald Wil snapped up his shields and stumbled to his feet. He stood alone in a room lit only by cold moonlight, but a moment before he’d been sitting with his hands resting lightly on the top of a carved rosewood desk covered in ledgers and dust. The ledgers had belonged to the room’s former resident, the Bard Lelia. The dust had started accumulating the day he’d forbidden the Palace servants from entering and cluttering it with their lives.

He’d come here to tap his Gift and unwind a nagging mystery.

In the distance, he heard the first cries of the Death Bell.

Now it seemed he had a fresh mystery on his hands.

Unusual for him, he had no name for the face he’d seen in the moment before the Bell began ringing. His Gift usually told him exactly who had died and where, but not this time. One fact stood out—whoever it was had been young. Too young. Trainee-young.

:Vehs?: he thought to his Companion.

The normally jovial mind-voice of Vehs came back subdued and sorrowful. :Jalay. Chosen last week.:

:Last week?: That would explain why his Gift had failed to tell him who and where.

:He’s on the Collegium grounds, we just don’t know where. We’re trying to find him, but his Companion was asleep when whatever happened to him happened and doesn’t know where he was.:

:Not in his quarters?:

:No. And his yearmates haven’t seen him either.:

Wil’s mind flashed to all the awfulness of the last few years—a dead Herald and a tortured Queen’s Own, a high-born traitor in the Queen’s inner circle, the war with Hardorn, the inevitable war to come. Had young Jalay uncovered something he shouldn’t have?

Wil picked up his coat and went for the door. :I’ll see what I can do.:

His Gift had a few good uses. He had Foresight, yes, but it seemed to span all points in time, not just the future. He’d taken to calling this deviation “Hindsight” and had considered scouring the Archives to see if anyone else had ever exhibited similar Gifts, but he’d never been sufficiently motivated to take the time.

“You aren’t even curious?” Lelia had once said to him.

“What does it matter? It works, more or less,” he’d responded with a shrug, and his dear Bard had thrown her hands up in the air in exaggerated exasperation. Thinking about it brought a twitch of a smile to his lips, but it also reminded him that he wasn’t focusing on what he needed to, so he let the memory go and returned to the present.

Nudges. He needed nudges. He focused on his breathing, reorienting on that every time his mind wanted to wander, and drifted where he “felt” like he should go. Presently he found himself outside the Palace, wandering through snow until he came to the old Queen’s Garden, though he doubted Selenay spent much time there. No one did, this time of year.

Except there were fresh tracks in the snow, and as he followed them around a corner, Wil’s Gift no longer became necessary.

:Send any searchers to the Queen’s Garden,: he said, closing the gap between himself and the body in Grays. The boy—the child—lay sprawled face-up on the path. The icy, untended, unsalted, highly treacherous path.

Somebody’s son, he thought.

People started to arrive. Priests for the body, a Healer to verify how the boy had died. A few other Heralds—Kyril, Queen’s Own Talia and her husband, Dirk—appeared and, feeling outranked, Wil prepared to retreat.

“Herald,” Kyril said, addressing him. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”

“Sir?”

“Not here,” the Seneschal’s Herald said. “Tomorrow night. Please come see me after dinner.”

Wil nodded, his gaze sliding over to Talia and Dirk. Dirk’s arm circled his tiny wife’s shoulders, the two of them fitting together like puzzle pieces.

:You’re staring,: Vehs said softly, and Wil looked away, adopting a quick pace back toward the Heralds’ wing.

Lelia. Her smiling face surfaced briefly, but this time the memory didn’t elicit a smile of his own. He thought of Jalay’s empty eyes, his youth—a child, somebody’s son—and Wil suddenly needed to get back to his quarters. Someone was waiting for him there.

And though she probably wasn’t awake, he desperately needed to see her.

*   *   *

The door opened with only the slightest hiss of metal—the servants had finally oiled the hinges, per his persistent request. He crept in on soft leather soles, the shadowy soul of stealth—

And his foot landed on something simultaneously yielding and hard, sending him staggering across the room.

He windmilled helplessly for a moment and caught himself. Panting from the effort to not break his ankle or—worse—make noise, he bent down and picked up the offending cloth-and-wood dolly.

:How’s that Foresight working?: his Companion asked dryly.

Wil poked his head into his bedroom to find his daughter curled into the crook of her uncle Lyle’s arm. The Death Bell had gone silent not long after he’d found the trainee’s body, so all was quiet once more this side of Haven.

“Thank you again,” he whispered as Lyle disentangled himself. Wil covered Ivy with a blanket and briefly rubbed her back, coaxing her once more into the deeper depths of sleep.

“We had fun,” Lyle said with a grin. “After three years of war and Circuit duty, she’s a breeze.”

The two Heralds went out into the main room, where Lyle stoked the fire. Wil collected toys off the floor and stuffed them into a box next to a shelf piled with a mish-mash of things. Old reports, bits of gear in need of polish or repair, and Lelia’s gittern, Bloom, now safely encased and at the very top, where tiny hands couldn’t pull it down. Yet.

Long before she’d lost her voice, Lelia’s fingers had stopped being able to pick out the complicated arpeggios and natural harmonics she’d loved to coax from her gittern. She’d made Wil promise to keep the instrument safe and close, in case Ivy turned out to be a Bard.

Not that Wil read much into it, but it did seem as though every time the gittern was within reach, his daughter gravitated toward it like a moth to flame. Then again, it was an unusual object that Daddy clearly didn’t want her to have. Such things seemed guaranteed to earn her attention.

“Did you get anything useful?” Lyle asked.

Wil shook his head. “No, the Death Bell put an end to tonight’s attempt.”

“I keep trying to remember if she told me anything . . . I just don’t know why my sister would have kept secrets from us.”

Wil was grateful Lyle had busied himself with pouring them drinks and couldn’t see his grimace. “Kyril wants to see me tomorrow night,” he said. “I’d bet my Companion’s teeth I’m being sent back on Circuit.”

:Hey!: Vehs grumbled, sounding sleepy. :Bet your own teeth!:

:Go to sleep, you.:

Lyle handed him a glass of Evendim smokewine, then turned his own so that the topaz-colored liquid caught the firelight. He gripped the cut glass tightly with his three remaining fingers. The other two had been taken by a Hardorn soldier’s axe.

“If Kyril does,” he said, “what will you do with her?”

“There’s no ‘if.’ I’ve been off Circuit duty . . . what, two years?”

Unspoken between them was the truth they both knew: the Companions were still Choosing at a frightening clip, but the trained and seasoned were in short supply. Ancar had seen to that.

“My little sister has five of her own,” Lyle said. “I’m sure there’s room for Ivy.”

“Your family is . . . near Winefold, right?”

“For now. They roam. We used to go as far west as Zoe, but we haven’t in years.” He took a sip and coughed. Lyle was still acquiring a taste for smokewine. “It’s like drinking a campfire!”

Wil chuckled, and sipped his own draught. “With a soupçon of manure thrown in for good measure.” He contemplated the fire a while, then said, “Maresa also offered. And she lives in Haven.”

“Mm. Would certainly make it easier to visit when you get back from Circuit.”

The firewood crackled as they both toyed with their drinks.

“How many of your yearmates remain?” Lyle asked suddenly.

Wil started a mental calculation, then shook his head. “The hour’s too late for that math, Lyle.”

“That few, eh?”

“Really, truly—there isn’t enough in that bottle for me to go down this road tonight.”

Lyle’s face stretched in a sad smile. “I always thought it would be Lelia grieving for me. Isn’t it the Heralds who die too soon? Aren’t we supposed to leave mourners, not the other way around?”

“Seems your sister cheated.”

Lyle shook his head. “Don’t know why I’m surprised.”

Wil waited for more, but Lyle had drunk his fill of melancholy. Not that Wil faulted Lyle for wanting to talk about it, even if he didn’t. She’d been Wil’s love, but she was Lyle’s twin and had been with him since birth.

“Holding hands during the thunderstorms.” The words were hers, and damned if they didn’t seem to be whispered right in his ear, in her voice. He started and realized he’d begun to nod off. It could be his memory, playing tricks on the borders of sleep. It could also be his Gift, dipping into the past for a shared moment.

“Bedtime,” Wil announced, dragging himself out of the chair.

“Will you need me to come by again tomorrow night?”

“If you don’t mind. I just can’t concentrate with Ivy—”

Lyle held up a hand. “Say no more. I’ve one more night in Haven. I’ll be here.”

Wil pushed Ivy over a little as he crawled into bed beside her. They’d tried giving her her own, but as soon as she was able, she’d escape it and sneak back in. Lelia had not-so-secretly loved it, hugging their daughter to her side and murmuring things in her ear. By then soft whispers were all she could do: lullabies, I-love-yous . . . and promises that more often than not were just gentle white lies.

“Any minute, I’ll be dancing out of this bed,” she’d whispered to them both more than once. “Just watch.”

And for all that he’d known the truth from talking to her Healers, Wil couldn’t refute her or her desire to live. To stay with them just a little longer.

Ivy sighed and rolled up against him, and his first thoughts, as usual, wandered toward pessimism. He wouldn’t sleep. He couldn’t sleep. Too many puzzles and uncertainties, and his mind too prone to chewing on them like a dog worrying a bone.

Maybe the smokewine worked its magic. Maybe Ivy worked hers. One moment he was seeing runes against his eyelids, and the next—

“Awake, Daddy?” a voice asked in a stage whisper. Something poked his cheek. “Awaaake?”

Mornings were not his strong suit. Even Lelia—frightfully chipper in the morning—hadn’t been able to make him warm to the first candlemark or two of waking. She’d learned to stay away from him until he’d had a wash and something to eat. Or at least to ignore anything he said during that time.

But for Ivy, he somehow found the will to be fun. To be human. To be . . . well, a father.

“Grrrr.” The sound rumbled out of him like a bear rousing from slumber.

Ivy giggled. “Dad-dee-ee-ee?”

He rolled over. “Mrrrgrrrarrr.”

She flopped over him, and through slitted eyes he could see her face hanging in front of his. “Daaaa—”

His tickle assault was sudden and ruthless. She squealed and laughed. Then it was her turn, and though she didn’t yet have the art of tickling down, he made high-pitched giggling sounds anyway, mimicking her.

:Oh, if your yearmates could see you now,: Vehs chortled.

From there Wil got her dressed, and he washed her face as she squirmed and grimaced. She hated wash-ups, though she loved hot baths. They went together down to the dining hall, he in Whites and she in a brown dress with blue cornflowers embroidered around the hem. A gift from “Aunt” Maresa.

The hall buzzed with somber conversations about Jalay’s death. The teachers sprinkled amid the Trainees very firmly squashed any wild gossip, emphasizing that the Trainee had slipped and fallen—nothing more.

Ivy herself seemed more subdued than usual, and it dawned on Wil that she was listening. Together, they fed on cheese and bacon tarts, stewed fruits, and steaming mugs of spiced cider. He ate lightly, knowing their next destination. Bringing a full belly to Alberich’s training salle would invite disaster. But it was one of the few places one could take a three-year-old in the winter, and Wil needed practice if he was going back in the field.

“Littles, so full of energy,” the Weaponmaster commented as they entered and Ivy began to run back and forth along the salle’s length. The scarred Karsite turned a critical eye on her father. “Soft.” He poked Wil’s belly with a staff. “Time for resting is over, I think.”

Wil schooled his face. The Weaponsmaster probably knew, even if Kyril hadn’t made it official. “You think?”

Alberich pointed to a rack full of staves. “I think . . . get a weapon.”

*   *   *

The meeting with Kyril confirmed his fear.

He had two weeks.

“Understand that if we could, we would give you a position here in Haven,” Kyril had said.

Wil knew him to be sincere, even as he knew that two weeks was more time than they could afford. He didn’t envy Kyril’s job—part balancing act, part puzzle solving, and possibly some knife juggling thrown in for fun. As a Herald, he understood the dilemma perfectly.

As a father, he seethed.

“It may be an option in the future,” Kyril had gone on. “If . . . if there isn’t another war. And if—”

If.

Every year Wil was in the field w...

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Descripción DAW BOOKS, United States, 2014. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In March 1987, Mercedes Lackey, a young author from Oklahoma, published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. No one could have envisioned that this modest book about a magical land called Valdemar would be the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now the voices of other authors add their own special touches to the ancient land where Heralds Chosen from all walks of life by magical horse-like Companions patrol their ancient kingdom, dispensing justice, facing adversaries, and protecting their monarch and country from whatever threatens. Trained rigorously by the Herald s Collegium, these special protectors each have extraordinary Gifts: Mindspeaking, FarSeeing, FarSpeaking, Empathy, Firestarting and ForeSeeing, and are bonded for life with their mysterious Companions. Travel with these astounding adventurers in sixteen original stories. Nº de ref. de la librería ABZ9780756407698

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Descripción DAW BOOKS, United States, 2014. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In March 1987, Mercedes Lackey, a young author from Oklahoma, published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. No one could have envisioned that this modest book about a magical land called Valdemar would be the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now the voices of other authors add their own special touches to the ancient land where Heralds Chosen from all walks of life by magical horse-like Companions patrol their ancient kingdom, dispensing justice, facing adversaries, and protecting their monarch and country from whatever threatens. Trained rigorously by the Herald s Collegium, these special protectors each have extraordinary Gifts: Mindspeaking, FarSeeing, FarSpeaking, Empathy, Firestarting and ForeSeeing, and are bonded for life with their mysterious Companions. Travel with these astounding adventurers in sixteen original stories. Nº de ref. de la librería ABZ9780756407698

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Descripción Softcover. Estado de conservación: New. In March 1987, Mercedes Lackey, a young author from Oklahoma, published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. No one could have envisioned that this modest book about a magical land called Valdemar would be the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles.Now the voices of other authors add their own special touches to the ancient land where Heralds "Chosen" from all walks of life by magical horse-like Companions patrol their ancient kingdom, dispensing justice, facing adversaries, and protecting their monarch and country from whatever threatens. Trained rigorously by the Herald’s Collegium, these special protectors each have extraordinary Gifts: Mindspeaking, FarSeeing, FarSpeaking, Empathy, Firestarting and ForeSeeing, and are bonded for life with their mysterious Companions. Travel with these astounding adventurers in sixteen original stories. Nº de ref. de la librería BAA-B-3289039

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