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After a long winter spent in the Kellarin colony, the crafty and beautiful Livak is anxious to move on. Now an opportunity is on the horizon. The reclamation of a lost southern settlement is in the offing, but those involved, Livak included, must await the spring arrival of the first ship from the mainland -- an event that will never take place. Unbeknownst to all, the vital trading route to Tormalin is no longer secure. A dire new threat to the colony's ...
After a long winter spent in the Kellarin colony, the crafty and beautiful Livak is anxious to move on. Now an opportunity is on the horizon. The reclamation of a lost southern settlement is in the offing, but those involved, Livak included, must await the spring arrival of the first ship from the mainland -- an event that will never take place. Unbeknownst to all, the vital trading route to Tormalin is no longer secure. A dire new threat to the colony's survival has arisen. A final battle of strength, cunning and courage challenges Livak and her devoted swordsman-lover Ryshad, one that will force them to take up arms to confront a merciless, many-faceted evil.
Notice from the Prefecture of the University of Col
To all Resident Mentors and Scholars
By long tradition festivals at the turn of every season are a time for this university to welcome visitors from other seats of learning. We are accustomed to do so with every courtesy and luxury afforded by this city's extensive trade, our contribution to the commerce that is Col's lifeblood. Students and scholars alike mingle with visitors and townsfolk, broadening their experience of life. Accordingly, the Prefects of this university will not tolerate any repetition of the incidents disgracing this most recent spring Equinox.
In choosing a life of study, we all suffer accusations of idleness, and rebuke for perceived failure to produce anything of tangible worth to the unscholarly mind. We rise above such taunts, secure in the knowledge that learning outlasts any achievements of merchants and architects, artisans and their guilds. All of which tolerance is rendered worthless when students, scholars and even several mentors are clapped in irons by the Watch for brawling with visitors from Vanam's university in taverns frequented by common dockers.
Worse, word now circulates that these arguments were not over money, some business disagreement or a lady's favors, but over points of scholarship. This university has become an object of ridicule among the populace. The Prefecture considers this an offense graver than all of the damage done around the city. Broken windows, doors and wine bottles may be redeemed with gold. A reputation once tarnished may never recover its luster.
To obviate any recurrence of such offenses, the Prefecture offers the following for the immediate consideration of mentors and scholars and the judicious guidance of students.
Denying Temar D'Alsennin is who he claims to be is as irrational as refusing to accept the accounts of that restoration of him and his people through the offices of Archmage Planir of Hadrumal. It is equally nonsensical to claim this is all falsehood in service of some all encompassing yet curiously ill-defined conspiracy involving the Archmage, the Mentors of Vanam and even Emperor Tadriol himself Such foolishness does this university's standing immeasurable harm.
However, and notwithstanding the overweening arrogance of certain scholars of Vanam, the return of Temar D'Alsennin to Tormalin will not answer one hundredth of the questions as to why the Old Empire collapsed. He cannot tell us why the dethronement of Nemith the Reckless and Last precipitated the Chaos rather than orderly transition to a new Emperor and dynasty. D'Alsennin's attempt to found his colony has no bearing on any of these events. It was a minor undertaking compared to other ventures the Old Empire was then engaged upon, most notably the ultimately fruitless conquest of Gidesta. That this colony was of little or no consequence to the Convocation of Princes is plain. Rather than divert resources to helping D'Alsennin, the Annals record every House turning its efforts to quelling secessionist revolts in Caladhria and opportunist uprisings in Ensaimin.
D'Alsennin can offer only a limited account from a very partial perspective as a young and untried esquire of a minor House long distanced from the councils of the powerful. He had already crossed the ocean to Kel Ar'Ayen before the final, crucial years of Nemith's reign and had long been rendered insensible by enchantment before the most violent period of warfare between the Houses of Aleonne and Modrical. While his reminiscences may offer some interesting sidelights on those momentous events, they are insignificant in the wider context of the established historical record.
Granted, it seems likely that the as yet only partially explained deterioration in the usages of aetheric magic contributed to the collapse of the Empire. Judging the impact of such a blow, set alongside the attested assaults of famine, civil strife and the recurrent devastation of the Crusted Pox will certainly be a fruitful area for study. Similarly, a full assessment of the role of this aetheric magic in the governance of the Old Empire must now be made. We of Col should not be laggard in undertaking such inquiries. We need not concern ourselves with boasts from Vanam that their mentors' links with Planir's expeditions to Kel Ar'Ayen give their scholars unassailable superiority in such studies.
Col is the main port through which travelers to and from Hadrumal pass. We should set aside our habitual reserve in dealing with wizardry and invite mages to refresh themselves in our halls and join in our debates. We may usefully encourage our alchemists to correspond with those wizards studying the properties of the natural elements. This university was founded by those scholars who salvaged all they could from the burning of this city's ancient temple library during the Chaos. It is now evident that such temples were centers of aetheric learning in the Old Empire. Resident scholars and mentors must seek out such valuable lore hidden in our own archives. We can claim more peripatetic scholars than Vanam and many now tutor the sons and daughters of Tormalin Houses as well as the scions of Lescari dukes and Caladhria's barons. All such archives may yield invaluable material for further study and this prefecture is writing to enlist the aid of all entitled to wear this university's silver ring.
Rather than wasting time and effort in vain attempts to prove this university's supremacy over Vanam through fisticuffs, it is the duty of every mentor, scholar and student to establish our preeminence through the ineluctable authority of our scholarship.Assassin's Edge. Copyright © by Juliet McKenna. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted January 16, 2009
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