Read an Excerpt
The Summer Tree
It all begins with a lecture that introduces five university students to a man who will change their lives—a wizard who will take them from Earth to the heart of the first of all worlds: Fionavar. And take them Loren Silvercloak does, for his need—the need of Fionavar and all the worlds—is great indeed.
And in a marvelous land of men and Dwarves, of wizards and gods, five young people discover who they are truly meant to be. For they are a long-awaited part of the pattern known as the Fionavar Tapestry, and only if they accept their destiny will the armies of the Light stand any chance of surviving the wrath the Unraveller and his minions of darkness intend to unleash upon the world . . . .
Praise for The Fionavar Tapestry
“Kay’s intricate Celtic background will please fantasy buffs . . . in the manner of The Silmarillion, the posthumous Tolkien work that Kay helped edit.”—Publishers Weekly
“A grand galloping narrative . . . reverberates with centuries of mythic and incantatory implications—with a little Prince Hal and Falstaff on the side.”—Christian Science Monitor
“As fine a piece of fantasy as has been published for some time.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“Kay has an acrobatic imagination . . . one ingenious plot after another . . . well-staged and presented.”—Montreal Gazette
“Excellent fantasy reading . . . The Fionavar Tapestry will deserve a place among the best of fantasy.”—Regina Leader Post
The Fionavar Tapestry: Book One
Guy Gavriel Kay
In a labor of daunting scope an equally daunting accumulation of debts seems to have evolved. Not all can be recorded here, but there are some people who must be given their rightful place at the beginning of the Tapestry.
I would like to thank Sue Reynolds for the rendered image of Fionavar, and my agent John Duff, who was with me from the very beginning. Alberto Manguel and Barbara Czarnecki lent their editorial faculties, and Daniel Shapiro found me a Brahms sonata and helped shape a song.
Also, and most profoundly, I must name here my parents, my brothers, and Laura. With love.
AILELL, High King of Brennin
THE EXILED PRINCE, his older son
DIARMUID, younger son and heir to Ailell; also Warden of the South Marches
GORLAES, the Chancellor
METRAN, First Mage of Brennin
DENBARRA, his source
LOREN SILVERCLOAK, a mage
MATT SÖREN, his source, once King of the Dwarves
TEYRNON, a mage
BARAK, his source
JAELLE, High Priestess of the Goddess
YSANNE, Seer of Brennin (“the Dreamer”)
TYRTH, her servant
COLL, Lieutenant to Diarmuid
MABON, Duke of Rhoden
NIAVIN, Duke of Seresh
CEREDUR, Warden of the North Marches
NA-BRENDEL, a lord of the lios alfar, from Daniloth
SHALHASSAN, Supreme Lord of Cathal
SHARRA, his daughter and heir (“the Dark Rose”)
On the Plain:
IVOR, Chieftain of the third tribe of the Dalrei
LEITH, his wife
GEREINT, Shaman of the third tribe
TORC, a Rider of the third tribe (“the Outcast”)
THE WEAVER at the Loom
MÖRNIR of the Thunder
DANA, the Mother
CERNAN of the Beasts
CEINWEN of the Bow, the HUNTRESS
RAKOTH MAUGRIM the UNRAVELLER, also named SATHAIN, the HOODED ONE
GALADAN, Wolflord of the andain, his lieutenant
EILATHEN, a water spirit
FLIDAIS, a wood spirit
From the Past:
IORWETH FOUNDER, first High King of Brennin
CONARY, High King during the Bael Rangat
COLAN, his son, High King after him (“the Beloved”)
AMAIRGEN WHITEBRANCH, first of the mages
LISEN of the Wood, a deiena, source and wife to Amairgen
REVOR, ancestral hero of the Dalrei, first Lord of the Plain
VAILERTH, High King of Brennin in a time of civil war
NILSOM, First Mage to Vailerth
AIDEEN, source to Nilsom
GARMISCH, High King before Ailell
RAEDERTH, First Mage to Garmisch, beloved of Ysanne the Seer
After the war was over, they bound him under the Mountain. And so that there might be warning if he moved to escape, they crafted then, with magic and with art, the five wardstones, last creation and the finest of Ginserat. One went south across Saeren to Cathal, one over the mountains to Eridu, another remained with Revor and the Dalrei on the Plain. The fourth wardstone Colon carried home, Conary’s son, now High King in Paras Derval.
The last stone was accepted, though in bitterness of heart, by the broken remnant of the lios alfar. Scarcely a quarter of those who had come to war with Ra-Termaine went back to the Shadowland from the parley at the foot of the Mountain. They carried the stone, and the body of their King—most hated by the Dark, for their name was Light.
From that day on, few men could ever claim to have seen the lios, except perhaps as moving shadows at the edge of a wood, when twilight found a farmer or a carter walking home. For a time it was rumoured among the common folk that every sevenyear a messenger would come by unseen ways to hold converse with the High King in Paras Derval, but as the years swept past, such tales dwindled, as they tend to, into the mist of half-remembered history.
Ages went by in a storm of years. Except in houses of learning, even Conary was just a name, and Ra-Termaine, and forgotten, too, was Revor’s Ride through Daniloth on the night of the red sunset. It had become a song for drunken tavern nights, no more true or less than any other such songs, no more bright.
For there were newer deeds to extol, younger heroes to parade through city streets and palace corridors, to be toasted in their turn by village tavern fires. Alliances shifted, fresh wars were fought to salve old wounds, glittering triumphs assuaged past defeats, High King succeeded High King, some by descent and others by brandished sword. And through it all, through the petty wars and the great ones, the strong leaders and weak, the long green years of peace when the roads were safe and the harvest rich, through it all the Mountain slumbered—for the rituals of the wardstones, though all else changed, were preserved. The stones were watched, the naal fires tended, and there never came the terrible warning of Ginserat’s stones turning from blue to red.
And under the great mountain, Rangat Cloud-Shouldered, in the wind-blasted north, a figure writhed in chains, eaten by hate to the edge of madness, but knowing full well that the wardstones would give warning if he stretched his powers to break free.
Still, he could wait, being outside of time, outside of death. He could brood on his revenge and his memories—for he remembered everything. He could turn the names of his enemies over and over in his mind, as once he had played with the blood-clotted necklace of Ra-Termaine in a taloned hand. But above all he could wait: wait as the cycles of men turned like the wheel of stars, as the very stars shifted pattern under the press of years. There would come a time when the watch slackened, when one of the five guardians would falter. Then could he, in darkest secrecy, exert his strength to summon aid, and there would come a day when Rakoth Maugrim would be free in Fionavar.
And a thousand years passed under the sun and stars of the first of all the worlds . . . .
In the spaces of calm almost lost in what followed, the question of why tended to surface. Why them? There was an easy answer that had to do with Ysanne beside her lake, but that didn’t really address the deepest question. Kimberly, white-haired, would say when asked that she could sense a glimmered pattern when she looked back, but one need not be a Seer to use hindsight on the warp and weft of the Tapestry, and Kim, in any event, was a special case.
With only the professional faculties still in session, the quadrangles and shaded paths of the University of Toronto campus would normally have been deserted by the beginning of May, particularly on a Friday evening. That the largest of the open spaces was not, served to vindicate the judgement of the organizers of the Second International Celtic Conference. In adapting their timing to suit certain prominent speakers, the conference administrators had run the risk that a good portion of their potential audience would have left for the summer by the time they got under way.
At the brightly lit entrance to Convocation Hall, the besieged security guards might have wished this to be the case. An astonishing crowd of students and academics, bustling like a rock audience with pre-concert excitement, had gathered to hear the man for whom, principally, the late starting date had been arranged. Lorenzo Marcus was speaking and chairing a panel that night in the first public appearance ever for the reclusive genius, and it was going to be standing room only in the august precincts of the domed auditorium.
The guards searched out forbidden tape recorders and waved ticket-holders through with expressions benevolent or inimical, as their natures dictated. Bathed in the bright spill of light and pressed by the milling crowd, they did not see the dark figure that crouched in the shadows of the porch, just beyond the farthest circle of the lights.
For a moment the hidden creature observed the crowd, then it turned, swiftly and quite silently, and slipped around the side of the building. There, where the darkness was almost complete, it looked once over its shoulder and then, with unnatural agility, began to climb hand over hand up the outer wall of Convocation Hall. In a very little while the creature, which had neither ticket nor tape recorder, had come to rest beside a window set high in the dome above the hall. Looking down past the glittering chandeliers, it could see the audience and the stage, brightly lit and far below. Even at this height, and through the heavy glass, the electric murmur of sound in the hall could be heard. The creature, clinging to the arched window, allowed a smile of lean pleasure to flit across its features. Had any of the people in the highest gallery turned just then to admire the windows of the dome, they might have seen it, a dark shape against the night. But no one had any reason to look up, and no one did. On the outside of the dome the creature moved closer against the window pane and composed itself to wait. There was a good chance it would kill later that night. The prospect greatly facilitated patience and brought a certain anticipatory satisfaction, for it had been bred for such a purpose, and most creatures are pleased to do what their nature dictates.
Dave Martyniuk stood like a tall tree in the midst of the crowd that was swirling like leaves through the lobby. He was looking for his brother, and he was increasingly uncomfortable. It didn’t make him feel any better when he saw the stylish figure of Kevin Laine coming through the door with Paul Schafer and two women. Dave was in the process of turning away—he didn’t feel like being patronized just then—when he realized that Laine had seen him.
“Martyniuk! What are you doing here?”
“Hello, Laine. My brother’s on the panel.”
“Vince Martyniuk. Of course,” Kevin said. “He’s a bright man.”
“One in every family,” Dave cracked, somewhat sourly. He saw Paul Schafer give a crooked grin.
Kevin Laine laughed. “At least. But I’m being rude. You know Paul. This is Jennifer Lowell, and Kim Ford, my favorite doctor.”
“Hi,” Dave said, forced to shift his program to shake hands.
“This is Dave Martyniuk, people. He’s the center on our basketball team. Dave’s in third-year law here.”
“In that order?” Kim Ford teased, brushing a lock of brown hair back from her eyes. Dave was trying to think of a response when there was a movement in the crowd around them.
“Dave! Sorry I’m late.” It was, finally, Vincent. “I have to get backstage fast. I may not be able to talk to you till tomorrow. Pleased to meet you”—to Kim, though he hadn’t been introduced. Vince bustled off, briefcase in front of him like the prow of a ship cleaving through the crowd.
“Your brother?” Kim Ford asked, somewhat unnecessarily.
“Yeah.” Dave was feeling sour again. Kevin Laine, he saw, had been accosted by some other friends and was evidently being witty.
If he headed back to the law school, Dave thought, he could still do a good three hours on Evidence before the library closed.
“Are you alone here?” Kim Ford asked.
“Yeah, but I—”
“Why don’t you sit with us, then?”
Dave, a little surprised at himself, followed Kim into the hall.
“Her,” the Dwarf said. And pointed directly across the auditorium to where Kimberly Ford was entering with a tall, broad-shouldered man. “She’s the one.”
The grey-bearded man beside him nodded slowly. They were standing, half hidden, in the wings of the stage, watching the audience pour in. “I think so,” he said worriedly. “I need five, though, Matt.”
“But only one for the circle. She came with three, and there is a fourth with them now. You have your five.”
“I have five,” the other man said. “Mine, I don’t know. If this were just for Metran’s jubilee stupidity it wouldn’t matter, but—”
“Loren, I know.” The Dwarf’s voice was surprisingly gentle. “But she is the one we were told of. My friend, if I could help you with your dreams . . . .”
“You think me foolish?”
“I know better than that.”
The tall man turned away. His sharp gaze went across the room to where the five people his companion had indicated were sitting. One by one he focused on them, then his eyes locked on Paul Schafer’s face.
Sitting between Jennifer and Dave, Paul was glancing around the hall, only half listening to the chairman’s fulsome introduction of the evening’s keynote speaker, when he was hit by the probe.
The light and sound in the room faded completely. He felt a great darkness. There was a forest, a corridor of whispering trees, shrouded in mist. Starlight in the space above the trees. Somehow he knew that the moon was about to rise, and when it rose . . . .
He was in it. The hall was gone. There was no wind in the darkness, but still the trees were whispering, and it was more than just a sound. The immersion was complete, and within some hidden recess Paul confronted the terrible, haunted eyes of a dog or a wolf. Then the vision fragmented, images whipping past, chaotic, myriad, too fast to hold, except for one: a tall man standing in darkness, and upon his head the great, curved antlers of a stag.
Then it broke: sharp, wildly disorienting. His eyes, scarcely able to focus, swept across the room until they found a tall, grey-bearded man on the side of the stage. A man who spoke briefly to someone next to him, and then walked smiling to the lectern amid thunderous applause.
“Set it up, Matt,” the grey-bearded man had said. “We will take them if we can.”
“He was good, Kim. You were right,” Jennifer Lowell said. They were standing by their seats, waiting for the exiting crowd to thin. Kim Ford was flushed with excitement.
“Wasn’t he?” she asked them all, rhetorically. “What a terrific speaker!”
“Your brother was quite good, I thought,” Paul Schafer said to Dave quietly.
Surprised, Dave grunted noncommittally, then remembered something. “You feeling okay?”
Paul looked blank a moment, then grimaced. “You, too? I’m fine. I just needed a day’s rest. I’m more or less over the mono.” Dave, looking at him, wasn’t so sure. None of his business, though if Schafer wanted to kill himself playing basketball. He’d played a football game with broken ribs once. You survived.
Kim was talking again. “I’d love to meet him, you know.” She looked wistfully at the knot of autograph-seekers surrounding Marcus.
“So would I, actually,” said Paul softly. Kevin shot him a questioning look.
“Dave,” Kim went on, “your brother couldn’t get us into that reception, could he?”
Dave was beginning the obvious reply when a deep voice rode in over him.
“Excuse me, please, for intruding.” A figure little more than four feet tall, with a patch over one eye, had come up beside them. “My name,” he said, in an accent Dave couldn’t place, “is Matt Sören. I am Dr. Marcus’s secretary. I could not help but overhear the young lady’s remark. May I tell you a secret?” He paused. “Dr. Marcus has no desire at all to attend the planned reception. With all respect,” he said, turning to Dave, “to your very learned brother.”
Jennifer saw Kevin Laine begin to turn himself on. Performance time, she thought, and smiled to herself.
Laughing, Kevin took charge. “You want us to spirit him away?”
The Dwarf blinked, then a basso chuckle reverberated in his chest. “You are quick, my friend. Yes, indeed, I think he would enjoy that very much.”
Kevin looked at Paul Schafer.
“A plot,” Jennifer whispered. “Hatch us a plot, gentlemen!”
“Easy enough,” Kevin said, after some quick reflection. “As of this moment, Kim’s his niece. He wants to see her. Family before functions.” He waited for Paul’s approval.
“Good,” Matt Sören said. “And very simple. Will you come with me then to fetch your . . . ah . . . uncle?”
“Of course I will!” Kim laughed. “Haven’t seen him in ages.” She walked off with the Dwarf towards the tangle of people around Lorenzo Marcus at the front of the hall.
“Well,” Dave said, “I think I’ll be moving along.”
“Oh, Martyniuk,” Kevin exploded, “don’t be such a legal drip! This guy’s world-famous. He’s a legend. You can study for Evidence tomorrow. Look, come to my office in the afternoon and I’ll dig up my old exam notes for you.”
Dave froze. Kevin Laine, he knew all too well, had won the award in Evidence two years before, along with an armful of other prizes.
Jennifer, watching him hesitate, felt an impulse of sympathy. There was a lot eating this guy, she thought, and Kevin’s manner didn’t help. It was so hard for some people to get past the flashiness to see what was underneath. And against her will, for Jennifer had her own defences, she found herself remembering what love-making used to do to him.
“Hey, people! I want you to meet someone.” Kim’s voice knifed into her thoughts. She had her arm looped possessively through that of the tall lecturer, who beamed benignly down upon her. “This is my Uncle Lorenzo. Uncle, my roommate Jennifer, Kevin and Paul, and this is Dave.”
Marcus’s dark eyes flashed. “I am,” he said, “more pleased to meet you than you could know. You have rescued me from an exceptionally dreary evening. Will you join us for a drink at our hotel? We’re at the Park Plaza, Matt and I.”
“With pleasure, sir,” Kevin said. He waited for a beat. “And we’ll try hard not to be dreary.” Marcus lifted an eyebrow.
A cluster of academics watched with intense frustration in their eyes as the seven of them swept out of the hall together and into the cool, cloudless night.
And another pair of eyes watched as well, from the deep shadows under the porch pillars of Convocation Hall. Eyes that reflected the light, and did not blink.
It was a short walk, and a pleasant one. Across the wide central green of the campus, then along the dark winding path known as Philosopher’s Walk that twisted, with gentle slopes on either side, behind the law school, the Faculty of Music, and the massive edifice of the Royal Ontario Museum, where the dinosaur bones preserved their long silence. It was a route that Paul Schafer had been carefully avoiding for the better part of the past year.
He slowed a little, to detach himself from the others. Up ahead, in the shadows, Kevin, Kim, and Lorenzo Marcus were weaving a baroque fantasy of improbable entanglements between the clans Ford and Marcus, with a few of Kevin’s remoter Russian ancestors thrown into the mix by marriage. Jennifer, on Marcus’s left arm, was urging them on with her laughter, while Dave Martyniuk loped silently along on the grass beside the walkway, looking a little out of place. Matt Sören, quietly companionable, had slowed his pace to fall into stride with Paul. Schafer, however, withdrawing, could feel the conversation and laughter sliding into background. The sensation was a familiar one of late, and after a while it was as if he were walking alone.
Which may have been why, partway along the path, he became aware of something to which the others were oblivious. It pulled him sharply out of reverie, and he walked a short distance in a different sort of silence before turning to the Dwarf beside him.
“Is there any reason,” he asked, very softly, “why the two of you would be followed?”
Matt Sören broke stride only momentarily. He took a deep breath. “Where?” he asked, in a voice equally low.
“Behind us, to the left. Slope of the hill. Is there a reason?”
“There may be. Would you keep walking, please? And say nothing for now—it may be nothing.” When Paul hesitated, the Dwarf gripped his arm. “Please?” he repeated. Schafer, after a moment, nodded and quickened his pace to catch up to the group now several yards ahead. The mood by then was hilarious and very loud. Only Paul, listening for it, heard the sharp, abruptly truncated cry from the darkness behind them. He blinked, but no expression crossed his face.
Matt Sören rejoined them just as they reached the end of the shadowed walkway and came out to the noise and bright lights of Bloor Street. Ahead lay the huge stone pile of the old Park Plaza hotel. Before they crossed the road he placed a hand again on Schafer’s arm.
“Thank you,” said the Dwarf.
“Well,” said Lorenzo Marcus, as they settled into chairs in his sixteenth-floor suite, “why don’t you all tell me about yourselves? Yourselves,” he repeated, raising an admonitory finger at grinning Kevin.
“Why don’t you start?” Marcus went on, turning to Kim. “What are you studying?”
Kim acquiesced with some grace. “Well, I’m just finishing my interning year at—”
“Hold it, Kim.”
It was Paul. Ignoring a fierce look from the Dwarf, he levelled his eyes on their host. “Sorry, Dr. Marcus. I’ve got some questions of my own and I need answers now, or we’re all going home.”
“Paul, what the—”
“No, Kev. Listen a minute.” They were all staring at Schafer’s pale, intense features. “Something very strange is happening here. I want to know,” he said to Marcus, “why you were so anxious to cut us out of that crowd. Why you sent your friend to set it up. I want to know what you did to me in the auditorium. And I really want to know why we were followed on the way over here.”
“Followed?” The shock registering on Lorenzo Marcus’s face was manifestly unfeigned.
“That’s right,” Paul said, “and I want to know what it was, too.”
“Matt?” Marcus asked, in a whisper.
The Dwarf fixed Paul Schafer with a long stare.
Paul met the glance. “Our priorities,” he said, “can’t be the same in this.” After a moment, Matt Sören nodded and turned to Marcus.
“Friends from home,” he said. “It seems there are those who want to know exactly what you are doing when you . . . travel.”
“Friends?” Lorenzo Marcus asked.
“I speak loosely. Very loosely.”
There was a silence. Marcus leaned back in his armchair, stroking the grey beard. He closed his eyes.
“This isn’t how I would have chosen to begin,” he said at length, “but it may be for the best after all.” He turned to Paul. “I owe you an apology. Earlier this evening I subjected you to something we call a searching. It doesn’t always work. Some have defences against it and with others, such as yourself, it seems, strange things can happen. What took place between us unsettled me as well.”
Paul’s eyes, more blue than grey in the lamplight, were astonishingly unsurprised. “I’ll need to talk about what we saw,” he said to Lorenzo Marcus, “but the thing is, why did you do it in the first place?”
And so they were there. Kevin, leaning forward, every sense sharpened, saw Lorenzo Marcus draw a deep breath, and he had a flash image in that instant of his own life poised on the edge of an abyss.
“Because,” Lorenzo Marcus said, “you were quite right, Paul Schafer—I didn’t just want to escape a boring reception tonight. I need you. The five of you.”
“We’re not five.” Dave’s heavy voice crashed in. “I’ve got nothing to do with these people.”
“You are too quick to renounce friendship, Dave Martyniuk,” Marcus snapped back. “But,” he went on, more gently, after a frozen instant, “it doesn’t matter here—and to make you see why, I must try to explain. Which is harder than it would have been once.” He hesitated, hand at his beard again.
“You aren’t Lorenzo Marcus, are you?” Paul said, very quietly.
In the stillness, the tall man turned to him again. “Why do you say that?”
Paul shrugged. “Am I right?”
“That searching truly was a mistake. Yes,” said their host, “you are right.” Dave was looking from Paul to the speaker with hostile incredulity. “Although I am Marcus, in a way—as much as anyone is. There is no one else. But Marcus is not who I am.”
“And who are you?” It was Kim who asked. And was answered in a voice suddenly deep as a spell.
“My name is Loren. Men call me Silvercloak. I am a mage. My friend is Matt Sören, who was once King of the Dwarves. We come from Paras Derval, where Ailell reigns, in a world that is not your own.”
In the stone silence that followed this, Kevin Laine, who had chased an elusive image down all the nights of his life, felt an astonishing turbulence rising in his heart. There was a power woven into the old man’s voice, and that, as much as the words, reached through to him.
“Almighty God,” he whispered. “Paul, how did you know?”
“Wait a second! You believe this?” It was Dave Martyniuk, all bristling belligerence. “I’ve never heard anything so crack-brained in my life!” He put his drink down and was halfway to the door in two long strides.
It stopped him. Dave turned slowly in the middle of the room to face Jennifer Lowell. “Don’t go,” she pleaded. “He said he needed us.”
Her eyes, he noticed for the first time, were green. He shook his head. “Why do you care?”
“Didn’t you hear it?” she replied. “Didn’t you feel anything?”
He wasn’t about to tell these people what he had or hadn’t heard in the old man’s voice, but before he could make that clear, Kevin Laine spoke.
“Dave, we can afford to hear him out. If there’s danger or it’s really wild, we can run away after.”
He heard the goad in the words, and the implication. He didn’t rise to it, though. Never turning from Jennifer, he walked over and sat beside her on the couch. Didn’t even look at Kevin Laine.
There was a silence, and she was the one who broke it. “Now, Dr. Marcus, or whatever you prefer to be called, we’ll listen. But please explain. Because I’m frightened now.”
It is not known whether Loren Silvercloak had a vision then of what the future held for Jennifer, but he bestowed upon her a look as tender as he could give, from a nature storm-tossed, but still more giving, perhaps, than anything else. And then he began the tale.
“There are many worlds,” he said, “caught in the loops and whorls of time. Seldom do they intersect, and so for the most part they are unknown to each other. Only in Fionavar, the prime creation, which all the others imperfectly reflect, is the lore gathered and preserved that tells of how to bridge the worlds—and even there the years have not dealt kindly with ancient wisdom. We have made the crossing before, Matt and I, but always with difficulty, for much is lost, even in Fionavar.”
“How? How do you cross?” It was Kevin.
“It is easiest to call it magic, though there is more involved than spells.”
“Your magic?” Kevin continued.
“I am a mage, yes,” Loren said. “The crossing was mine. And so, too, if you come, will be the return.”
“This is ridiculous!” Martyniuk exploded again. This time he would not look at Jennifer. “Magic. Crossings. Show me something! Talk is cheap, and I don’t believe a word of this.”
Loren stared coldly at Dave. Kim, seeing it, caught her breath. But then the severe face creased in a sudden smile. The eyes, improbably, danced. “You’re right,” he said. “It is much the simplest way. Look, then.”
There was silence in the room for almost ten seconds. Kevin saw, out of the corner of his eye, that the Dwarf, too, had gone very still. What’ll it be, he thought.
They saw a castle.
Where Dave Martyniuk had stood moments before, there appeared battlements and towers, a garden, a central courtyard, an open square before the walls, and on the very highest rampart a banner somehow blowing in a non-existent breeze: and on the banner Kevin saw a crescent moon above a spreading tree.
“Paras Derval,” Loren said softly, gazing at his own artifice with an expression almost wistful, “in Brennin, High Kingdom of Fionavar. Mark the flags in the great square before the palace. They are there for the coming celebration, because the eighth day past the full of the moon this month will end the fifth decade of Ailell’s reign.”
“And us?” Kimberly’s voice was parchment-thin. “Where do we fit in?”
A wry smile softened the lines of Loren’s face. “Not heroically, I’m afraid, though there is pleasure in this for you, I hope. A great deal is being done to celebrate the anniversary. There has been a long spring drought in Brennin, and it has been deemed politic to give the people something to cheer about. And I daresay there is reason for it. At any rate, Metran, First Mage to Ailell, has decided that the gift to him and to the people from the Council of the Mages will be to bring five people from another world—one for each decade of the reign—to join us for the festival fortnight.”
Kevin Laine laughed aloud. “Red Indians to the Court of King James?”
With a gesture almost casual, Loren dissolved the apparition in the middle of the room. “I’m afraid there’s some truth to that. Metran’s ideas . . . he is First of my Council, but I daresay I need not always agree with him.”
“You’re here,” Paul said.
“I wanted to try another crossing in any case,” Loren replied quickly. “It has been a long time since last I was in your world as Lorenzo Marcus.”
“Have I got this straight?” Kim asked. “You want us to cross with you somehow to your world, and then you’ll bring us back?”
“Basically, yes. You will be with us for two weeks, perhaps, but when we return I will have you back in this room within a few hours of when we departed.”
“Well,” said Kevin, with a sly grin, “that should get you, Martyniuk, for sure. Just think, Dave, two extra weeks to study for Evidence!”
Dave flushed bright red, as the room broke up in a release of tension.
“I’m in, Loren Silvercloak,” said Kevin Laine, as they quieted. And so became the first. He managed a grin. “I’ve always wanted to wear war-paint to court. When’s take-off?”
Loren looked at him steadily. “Tomorrow. Early evening, if we are to time it properly. I will not ask you to decide now. Think for the rest of tonight, and tomorrow. If you will come with me, be here by late afternoon.”
“What about you? What if we don’t come?” Kim’s forehead was creased with the vertical line that always showed when she was under stress.
Loren seemed disconcerted by the question. “If that happens, I fail. It has happened before. Don’t worry about me . . . niece.” It was remarkable what a smile did to his face. “Shall we leave it at that?” he went on, as Kim’s eyes still registered an unresolved concern. “If you decide to come, be here tomorrow. I will be waiting.”
“One thing.” It was Paul again. “I’m sorry to keep asking the unpleasant questions, but we still don’t know what that thing was on Philosophers’ Walk.”
Dave had forgotten. Jennifer hadn’t. They both looked at Loren. At length he answered, speaking directly to Paul. “There is magic in Fionavar. I have shown you something of it, even here. There are also creatures, of good and evil, who co-exist with humankind. Your own world, too, was once like this, though it has been drifting from the pattern for a long time now. The legends of which I spoke in the auditorium tonight are echoes, scarcely understood, of mornings when man did not walk alone, and other beings, both friend and foe, moved in the forests and the hills.” He paused. “What followed us was one of the svart alfar, I think. Am I right, Matt?”
The Dwarf nodded, without speaking.
“The svarts,” Loren went on, “are a malicious race, and have done great evil in their time. There are few of them left. This one, braver than most, it would seem, somehow followed Matt and me through on our crossing. They are ugly creatures, and sometimes dangerous, though usually only in numbers. This one, I suspect, is dead.” He looked to Matt again.
Once more the Dwarf nodded from where he stood by the door.
“I wish you hadn’t told me that,” Jennifer said.
The mage’s eyes, deep-set, were again curiously tender as he looked at her. “I’m sorry you have been frightened this evening. Will you accept my assurance that, unsettling as they may sound, the svarts need not be of concern to you?” He paused, his gaze holding hers. “I would not have you do anything that goes against your nature. I have extended to you an invitation, no more. You may find it easier to decide after leaving us.” He rose to his feet.
Another kind of power. A man accustomed to command, Kevin thought a few moments later, as the five of them found themselves outside the door of the room. They made their way down the hall to the elevator.
Matt Sören closed the door behind them.
“How bad is it?” Loren asked sharply.
The Dwarf grimaced. “Not very. I was careless.”
“A knife?” The mage was quickly helping his friend to remove the scaled-down jacket he wore.
“I wish. Teeth, actually.” Loren cursed in sudden anger when the jacket finally slipped off to reveal the dark, heavily clotted blood staining the shirt on the Dwarf’s left shoulder. He began gently tearing the cloth away from around the wound, swearing under his breath the whole time.
“It isn’t so bad, Loren. Be easy. And you must admit I was clever to take the jacket off before going after him.”
“Very clever, yes. Which is just as well, because my own stupidity of late is terrifying me! How in the name of Conall Cernach could I let a svart alfar come through with us?” He left the room with swift strides and returned a moment later with towels soaked in hot water.
The Dwarf endured the cleansing of his wound in silence. When the dried blood was washed away, the teeth marks could be seen, purple and very deep.
Loren examined it closely. “This is bad, my friend. Are you strong enough to help me heal it? We could have Metran or Teyrnon do it tomorrow, but I’d rather not wait.”
“Go ahead.” Matt closed his eyes.
The mage paused a moment, then carefully placed a hand above the wound. He spoke a word softly, then another. And beneath his long fingers the swelling on the Dwarf’s shoulder began slowly to recede. When he finished, though, the face of Matt Sören was bathed in a sheen of perspiration. With his good arm Matt reached for a towel and wiped his forehead.
“All right?” Loren asked.
“Just fine!” the mage mimicked angrily. “It would help, you know, if you didn’t always play the silent hero! How am I supposed to know when you’re really hurting if you always give me the same answer?”
The Dwarf fixed Loren with his one dark eye, and there was a trace of amusement in his face. “You aren’t,” he said. “You aren’t supposed to know.”
Loren made a gesture of ultimate exasperation, and left the room again, returning with a shirt of his own, which he began cutting into strips.
“Loren, don’t blame yourself for letting the svart come through. You couldn’t have done anything.”
“Don’t be a fool! I should have been aware of its presence as soon as it tried to come within the circle.”
“I’m very seldom foolish, my friend.” The Dwarf’s tone was mild. “You couldn’t have known, because it was wearing this when I killed it.” Sören reached into his right trouser pocket and pulled out an object that he held up in his palm. It was a bracelet, of delicate silver workmanship, and set within it was a gem, green like an emerald.
“A vellin stone!” Loren Silvercloak whispered in dismay. “So it would have been shielded from me. Matt, someone gave a vellin to a svart alfar.”
“So it would seem,” the Dwarf agreed.
The mage was silent; he attended to the bandaging of Matt’s shoulder with quick, skilled hands. When that was finished he walked, still wordless, to the window. He opened it, and a late-night breeze fluttered the white curtains. Loren gazed down at the few cars moving along the street far below.
“These five people,” he said at last, still looking down. “What am I taking them back to? Do I have any right?”
The Dwarf didn’t answer.
After a moment, Loren spoke again, almost to himself. “I left so much out.”
“Did I do wrong?”
“Perhaps. But you are seldom wrong in these things. Nor is Ysanne. If you feel they are needed—”
“But I don’t know what for! I don’t know how. It is only her dreams, my premonitions . . . .”
“Then trust yourself. Trust your premonitions. The girl is a hook, and the other one, Paul—”
“He is another thing. I don’t know what.”
“But something. You’ve been troubled for a long time, my friend. And I don’t think needlessly.”
The mage turned from the window to look at the other man. “I’m afraid you may be right. Matt, who would have us followed here?”
“Someone who wants you to fail in this. Which should tell us something.”
Loren nodded abstractedly. “But who,” he went on, looking at the green-stoned bracelet that the Dwarf still held, “who would ever give such a treasure into the hands of a svart alfar?”
The Dwarf looked down at the stone for a very long time as well before answering.
“Someone who wants you dead,” Matt Sören said.
The girls shared a silent taxi west to the duplex they rented beside High Park. Jennifer, partly because she knew her roommate very well, decided that she wouldn’t be the first to bring up what had happened that night, what they both seemed to have heard under the surface of the old man’s words.
But she was dealing with complex emotions of her own, as they turned down Parkside Drive and she watched the dark shadows of the park slide past on their right. When they got out of the cab the late-night breeze seemed unseasonably chill. She looked across the road for a moment, at the softly rustling trees.
Inside they had a conversation about choices, about doing or not doing things, that either one of them could have predicted.
Dave Martyniuk refused Kim’s offer to share a cab and walked the mile west to his flat on Palmerston. He walked quickly, the athlete’s stride overlaid by anger and tension. You are too quick to renounce friendship, the old man had said. Dave scowled, moving faster. What did he know about it?
The telephone began ringing as he unlocked the door of his basement apartment.
“Yeah?” He caught it on the sixth ring.
“You are pleased with yourself, I am sure?”
“Jesus, Dad. What is it this time?”
“Don’t swear at me. It would kill you, wouldn’t it, to do something that would bring us pleasure.”
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Such language. Such respect.”
“Dad, I don’t have time for this any more.”
“Yes, hide from me. You went tonight as Vincent’s guest to this lecture. And then you went off after with the man he most wanted to speak with. And you couldn’t even think of asking your brother?”
Dave took a careful breath. His reflexive anger giving way to the old sorrow. “Dad, please believe me—it didn’t happen that way. Marcus went with these people I know because he didn’t feel like talking to the academics like Vince. I just tagged along.”
“You just tagged along,” his father mimicked in his heavy Ukrainian accent. “You are a liar. Your jealousy is so much that you—”
Dave hung up. And unplugged the telephone. With a fierce and bitter pain he stared at it, watching how, over and over again, it didn’t ring.
They said good-night to the girls and watched Martyniuk stalk off into the darkness.
“Coffee time, amigo,” Kevin Laine said brightly. “Much to talk about we have, yes?”
Paul hesitated, and in the moment of that hesitation Kevin’s mood shattered like glass.
“Not tonight, I think. I’ve got some things to do, Kev.”
The hurt in Kevin Laine moved to the surface, threatened to break through. “Okay,” was all he said, though. “Good night. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” And he turned abruptly and jogged across Bloor against the light to where he’d parked his car. He drove home, a little too fast, through the quiet streets.
It was after one o’clock when he pulled into the driveway, so he entered the house as silently as he could, sliding the bolt gently home.
“I am awake, Kevin. It is all right.”
“What are you doing up? It’s very late, Abba.” He used the Hebrew word for father, as he always did.
Sol Laine, in pajamas and robe at the kitchen table, raised a quizzical eyebrow as Kevin walked in. “I need permission from my son to stay up late?”
“Who else’s?” Kevin dropped into one of the other chairs.
“A good answer,” his father approved. “Would you like some tea?”
“How was this talk?” Sol asked as he attended to the boiling kettle.
“Fine. Very good, actually. We had a drink with the speaker afterwards.” Kevin briefly considered telling his father about what had happened, but only briefly. Father and son had a long habit of protecting each other, and Kevin knew that this was something Sol would be unable to handle. He wished it were otherwise; it would have been good, he thought, a little bitterly, to have someone to talk to.
“Jennifer is well? And her friend?”
Kevin’s bitterness broke in a wave of love for the old man who’d raised him alone. Sol had never been able to reconcile his orthodoxy with his son’s relationship with Catholic Jennifer—and had resented himself for not being able to. So through their short time together, and after, Kevin’s father had treated Jen like a jewel of great worth.
“She’s fine. Says hello. Kim’s fine, too.”
“But Paul isn’t?”
Kevin blinked. “Oh, Abba, you’re too sharp for me. Why do you say that?”
“Because if he was, you would have gone out with him afterwards. The way you always used to. You would still be out. I would be drinking my tea alone, all alone.” The twinkle in his eyes belied the lugubrious sentiments.
Kevin laughed aloud, then stopped when he heard the bitter note creeping in.
“No, he’s not all right. But I seem to be the only one who questions it. I think I’m becoming a pain in the ass to him. I hate it.”
“Sometimes,” his father said, filling the glass cups in their Russian-style metal holders, “a friend has to be that.”
“No one else seems to think there’s anything wrong, though. They just talk about how it takes time.”
“It does take time, Kevin.”
Kevin made an impatient gesture. “I know it does. I’m not that stupid. But I know him, too, I know him very well, and he’s . . . . There’s something else here, and I don’t know what it is.”
His father didn’t speak for a moment. “How long is it now?” he asked, finally.
“Ten months,” Kevin replied flatly. “Last summer.”
“Ach!” Sol shook his heavy, still-handsome head. “Such a terrible thing.”
Kevin leaned forward. “Abba, he’s been closing himself off. To everyone. I don’t . . . I’m afraid for what might happen. And I can’t seem to get through.”
“Are you trying too hard?” Sol Laine asked gently.
His son slumped back in his chair. “Maybe,” he said, and the old man could see the effort the answer took. “But it hurts, Abba, he’s all twisted up.”
Sol Laine, who had married late, had lost his wife to cancer when Kevin, their only child, was five years old. He looked now at his handsome, fair son with a twisting in his own heart. “Kevin,” he said, “you will have to learn—and for you it will be hard—that sometimes you can’t do anything. Sometimes you simply can’t.”
Kevin finished his tea. He kissed his father on the forehead and went up to bed in the grip of a sadness that was new to him, and a sense of yearning that was not.
He woke once in the night, a few hours before Kimberly would. Reaching for a note pad he kept by the bed, he scribbled a line and fell back into sleep. We are the total of our longings, he had written. But Kevin was a songwriter, not a poet, and he never did use it.
Paul Schafer walked home as well that night, north up Avenue Road and two blocks over at Bernard. His pace was slower than Dave’s, though, and you could not have told his thoughts or mood from his movements. His hands were in his pockets, and two or three times, where the streetlights thinned, he looked up at the ragged pattern of cloud that now hid and now revealed the moon.
Only at his doorway did his face show an expression—and this was only a transitory irresolution, as of someone weighing sleep against a walk around the block, perhaps.
Schafer went in, though, and unlocked his ground-floor apartment. Turning on a lamp in the living room, he poured himself a drink and carried the glass to a deep armchair. Again the pale face under the dark shock of hair was expressionless. And again, when his mouth and eyes did move, a long time later, it was to register only a kind of indecision, wiped away quickly this time by the tightening jaw.
He leaned sideways then to the stereo and tape deck, turned them on, and inserted a cassette. In part because it was very late, but only in part, he adjusted the machine and put on the headphones. Then he turned out the only light in the room.
It was a private tape, one he had made himself a year ago. On it, as he sat there motionless in the dark, sounds from the summer before took shape: a graduation recital in the Faculty of Music’s Edward Johnson Building, by a girl named Rachel Kincaid. A girl with dark hair like his own and dark eyes like no one else in this world.
And Paul Schafer, who believed one should be able to endure anything, and who believed this of himself most of all, listened as long as he could, and failed again. When the second movement began, he shuddered through an indrawn breath and stabbed the machine to silence.
It seemed that there were still things one could not do. So one did everything else as well as one possibly could and found new things to try, to will oneself to master, and always one realized, at the kernel and heart of things, that the ends of the earth would not be far enough away.
Which was why, despite knowing very well that there were things they had not been told, Paul Schafer was glad, bleakly glad, to be going farther than the ends of the earth on the morrow. And the moon, moving then to shine unobstructed through the window, lit the room enough to reveal the serenity of his face.
And in the place beyond the ends of earth, in Fionavar, which lay waiting for them like a lover, like a dream, another moon, larger than our own, rose to light the changing of the wardstone guard in the palace of Paras Derval.
The priestess appointed came with the new guards, tended and banked the naal flame set before the stone, and withdrew, yawning, to her narrow bed.
And the stone, Ginserat’s stone, set in its high obsidian pillar carved with a relief of Conary before the Mountain, shone still, as it had a thousand years, radiantly blue.
Towards dawn a bank of clouds settled low over the city. Kimberly Ford stirred, surfaced almost to wakefulness, then slipped back down into a light sleep, and a dream unlike any she’d known before.
There was a place of massive jumbled stones. A wind was blowing over wide grasslands. It was dusk. She almost knew the place, was so close to naming it that her inability tasted bitter in her mouth. The wind made a chill, keening sound as it blew between the stones. She had come to find one who was needed, but she knew he was not there. A ring was on her finger, with a stone that gleamed a dull red in the twilight, and this was her power and her burden both. The gathered stones demanded an invocation from her; the wind threatened to tear it from her mouth. She knew what she was there to say, and was brokenhearted, beyond all grief she’d ever known, at the price her speaking would exact from the man she’d come to summon. In the dream, she opened her mouth to say the words.
She woke then, and was very still a long time. When she rose, it was to move to the window, where she drew the curtain back.
The clouds were breaking up. Venus, rising in the east before the sun, shone silver-white and dazzling, like hope. The ring on her finger in the dream had shone as well: deep red and masterful, like Mars.
The Dwarf dropped into a crouch, hands loosely clasped in front of him. They were all there; Kevin with his guitar, Dave Martyniuk defiantly clutching the promised Evidence notes. Loren remained out of sight in the bedroom. “Preparing,” the Dwarf had said. And now, without preamble, Matt Sören said more.
“Ailell reins in Brennin, the High Kingdom. Fifty years now, as you have heard. He is very old, much reduced. Metran heads the Council of the Mages, and Gorlaes, the Chancellor, is first of all advisers. You will meet them both. Ailell had two sons only, very late in life. The name of the elder—,” Matt hesitated, “—is not to be spoken. The younger is Diarmuid, now heir to the throne.”
Too many mysteries, Kevin Laine thought. He was nervous, and angry with himself for that. Beside him, Kim was concentrating fiercely, a single vertical line furrowing her forehead.
“South of us,” the Dwarf continued, “the Saeren flows through its ravine, and beyond the river is Cathal, the Garden Country. There has been war with Shalhassan’s people in my lifetime. The river is patrolled on both sides. North of Brennin is the Plain where the Dalrei dwell, the Riders. The tribes follow the eltor herds as the seasons change. You are unlikely to see any of the Dalrei. They dislike walls and cities.”
Kim’s frown, Kevin saw, had deepened.
“Over the mountains, eastward, the land grows wilder and very beautiful. That country is called Eridu now, though it had another name long ago. It breeds a people once brutal, though quiet of late. Little is known of doings in Eridu, for the mountains are a stern barrier.” Matt Sören’s voice roughened. “Among the Eriduns dwell the Dwarves, unseen for the most part, in their chambers and halls under the mountains of Banir Lök and Banir Tal, beside Calor Diman, the Crystal Lake. A place more fair than any in all the worlds.”
Kevin had questions again, but withheld them. He could see there was an old pain at work here.
“North and west of Brennin is Pendaran Wood. It runs for miles to the north, between the Plain and the Sea. Beyond the forest is Daniloth, the Shadowland.” The Dwarf stopped, as abruptly as he’d begun, and turned to adjust his pack and gear. There was a silence.
“Matt?” It was Kimberly. The Dwarf turned. “What about the mountain north of the Plain?”
Matt made a swift, convulsive gesture with one hand, and stared at the slight, brown-haired girl.
“So you were right, my friend, from the very first.”
Kevin wheeled. In the doorway leading from the bedroom stood the tall figure of Loren, in a long robe of shifting silver hues.
“What have you seen?” the mage asked Kim, very gently.
She, too, had twisted to face him. The grey eyes were strange—inward and troubled. She shook her head, as if to clear it. “Nothing, really. Just . . . that I do see a mountain.”
“And?” Loren pressed.
“And . . .” she closed her eyes. “A hunger. Inside, somehow . . . . I can’t explain it.”
“It is written,” said Loren after a moment, “in our books of wisdom, that in each of the worlds there are those who have dreams or visions—one sage called them memories—of Fionavar, which is the First. Matt, who has gifts of his own, named you as one such yesterday.” He paused, Kim didn’t move. “It is known,” Loren went on, “that to bring people back in a crossing, such a person must be found to stand at the heart of the circle.”
“So that’s why you wanted us? Because of Kim?” It was Paul Schafer; the first words he’d spoken since arriving.
“Yes,” said the mage, simply.
“Damn!” tried Kevin softly. “And I thought it was my charm.”
No one laughed. Kim stared at Loren, as if seeking answers in the lines of his face, or the shifting patterns of his robe.
Finally she asked, “And the mountain?”
Loren’s voice was almost matter-of-fact. “One thousand years ago someone was imprisoned there. At the deepest root of Rangat, which is the mountain you have seen.”
Kim nodded, hesitated. “Someone . . . evil?” The word came awkwardly to her tongue.
They might have been alone in the room. “Yes,” said the mage.
“One thousand years ago?”
He nodded again. In this moment of misdirection, of deceit, when everything stood in danger of falling apart, his eyes were more calm and compassionate than they had ever been.
With one hand Kim tugged at a strand of brown hair. She drew a breath. “All right,” she said. “All right, then. How do I help you cross?”
Dave was struggling to absorb all this when things began to move too quickly. He found himself part of a circle around Kim and the mage. He linked hands with Jennifer and Matt on either side. The Dwarf seemed to be concentrating very hard; his legs were wide apart, braced. Then Loren began to speak words in a tongue Dave didn’t know, his voice growing in power and resonance.
And was interrupted by Paul Schafer.
“Loren—is the person under that mountain dead?”
The mage gazed at the slim figure who’d asked the question he feared. “You, too?” he whispered. Then, “No,” he answered, telling the truth. “No, he isn’t.” And resumed speaking in his strange language.
Dave wrestled with the refusal to seem afraid that had, in large part, brought him here, and with the genuine panic that was building within him. Paul had nodded once at Loren’s answer, but that was all. The mage’s words had become a complex rising chant. The aura of power began to shimmer visibly in the room. A low-pitched humming sound began.
“Hey!” Dave burst out. “I need a promise I’ll be back!” There was no reply. Matt Sören’s eyes were closed now. His grip on Dave’s wrist was firm.
The shimmer in the air increased, and then the humming began to rise in volume.
“No!” Dave shouted again. “No! I need a promise!” And on the words he violently pulled his hands free from those of Jennifer and the Dwarf.
Kimberly Ford screamed.
And in that moment the room began to dissolve on them. Kevin, frozen, disbelieving, saw Kim reach out then, wildly, to clutch Dave’s arm and take Jen’s free hand even as he heard the cry torn from her throat.
Then the cold of the crossing and the darkness of the space between worlds came down and Kevin saw nothing more. In his mind, though, whether for an instant or an age, he thought he heard the sound of mocking laughter. There was a taste in his mouth, like ashes of grief. Dave, he thought, oh, Martyniuk, what have you done?
It was night when they came through, in a small, dimly lit room somewhere high up. There were two chairs, benches and an unlit fire. An intricately patterned carpet on the stone floor. Along one wall stretched a tapestry, but the room was too darkly shadowed, despite flickering wall torches, for them to make it out. The windows were open.
“So, Silvercloak, you’ve come back,” a reedy voice from the doorway said, without warmth. Kevin looked over quickly to see a bearded man leaning casually on a spear.
Loren ignored him. “Matt?” he said sharply. “Are you all right?” The Dwarf, visibly shaken by the crossing, managed a terse nod. He had slumped into one of the heavy chairs and there were beads of perspiration on his forehead. Kevin turned to check the others. All seemed to be fine, a little dazed, but fine, except—
Except that Dave Martyniuk wasn’t there.
“Oh, God!” he began, “Loren—”
And was stopped in mid-sentence by a beseeching look from the mage. Paul Schafer, standing beside Kevin, caught it as well, and Kevin saw him walk quietly over to the two women. Schafer spoke softly to them, and then nodded once, to Loren.
At which point the mage finally turned to the guard, who was still leaning indolently on his weapon. “Is it the evening before?” Loren asked.
“Why, yes,” the man replied. “But shouldn’t a great mage know that without the asking?”
Kevin saw Loren’s eyes flicker in the torchlight. “Go,” he said. “Go tell the King I have returned.”
“It’s late. He’ll be sleeping.”
“He will want to know this. Go now.”
The guard moved with deliberate, insolent slowness. As he turned, though, there was a sudden thunk, and a thrown knife quivered in the panelling of the doorway, inches from his head.
“I know you, Vart,” a deep voice said, as the man whipped around, pale even by torchlight. “I have marked you. You will do what you have been told, and quickly, and you will speak to rank with deference—or my next dagger will not rest in wood.” Matt Sören was on his feet again, and danger bristled through him like a presence.
There was a tense silence. Then:
“I am sorry, my lord mage. The lateness of the hour . . . my fatigue. Welcome home, my lord, I go to do your will.” The guard raised his spear in a formal salute, then spun again, sharply this time, and left the room. Matt walked forward to retrieve his dagger. He remained in the doorway, watching.
“Now,” said Kevin Laine. “Where is he?”
Loren had dropped into the chair the Dwarf had vacated. “I am not sure,” he said. “Forgive me, but I truly don’t know.”
“But you have to know!” Jennifer exclaimed.
“He pulled away just as I was closing the circle. I was too far under the power—I couldn’t come out to see his path. I do not even know if he came with us.”
“I do,” said Kim Ford simply. “He came. I had him all the way. I was holding him.”
Loren rose abruptly. “You did? Brightly woven! This means he has crossed—he is in Fionavar, somewhere. And if that is so, he will be found. Our friends will begin to search immediately.”
“Your friends?” Kevin asked. “Not that creep in the doorway, I hope?”
Loren shook his head. “Not him, no. He is Gorlaes’s tool—and here I must ask of you another thing.” He hesitated. “There are factions in this court, and a struggle taking place, for Ailell is old now. Gorlaes would like me gone, for many reasons, and failing that, would take joy in discrediting me before the King.”