Of the three royal siblings who made up the Petals of the Living Trillium, only Lady Haramis survives nine hundred years after the events that nearly devastated their realm. But the Archimage is old and ill, and a successor must be found if Ruwenda is to remain safe and protected. In Princess Mikayla, Haramis recognizes the ideal candidate. However, the impulsive teenager must be carefully schooled in the magic arts—and the headstrong youth isn’t certain she even wants the responsibility, especially if it means abandoning her one true love. But time is running out—for Haramis and for the kingdom. And with disaster looming, the fate of Mikayla’s endangered homeland may soon fall heavily on the shoulders of a young, only half-trained rebel, ready or not.
Revisiting the magnificent world she created with fellow fantasy luminaries Julian May and Andre Norton in Black Trillium, the remarkable Marion Zimmer Bradley joins coauthor Elisabeth Waters to gaze into the far future of the World of the Three Moons. Lady of the Trillium is an enthralling, unforgettable tale of destiny, duty, magic, love, and the seemingly unbridgeable chasm between old and young.
About the Author
Elisabeth Waters sold her first short story in 1980 to Marion Zimmer Bradley for The Keeper’s Price, the first of the Darkover story collections. Waters went on to sell dozens of stories to a variety of anthologies. Her first novel, a fantasy called Changing Fate, was awarded the 1989 Gryphon Award. She is now working on a sequel to it in addition to writing short stories and editing anthologies. Waters has also worked as a supernumerary with the San Francisco Opera, appearing in La Gioconda, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, Khovanshchina, Das Rheingold, Werther, and Idomeneo.
Date of Birth:June 30, 1930
Date of Death:September 25, 1999
Place of Birth:Albany, New York
Place of Death:Berkeley, California
Education:B.A., Hardin-Simmons College, 1964; additional study at University of California, Berkeley, 1965-1967
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Lady of the Trillium
The Saga of the Trillium
By Marion Zimmer Bradley, Elisabeth Waters
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1995 Marion Zimmer Bradley and Elisabeth Waters
All rights reserved.
The stone Tower of Noth stood desolate, surrounded by dying weeds. The little bit of water remaining in the moat was covered with scum, and the smell of death filled the air. The girl ran across the drawbridge, through the courtyard and the garden, into the chamber of the Archimage, only to see the old woman die and her body crumble to dust. As the girl stood there, stunned by the suddenness of it all, the entire Tower turned to dust around her and blew away, and the only thing left was the white cloak of the Archimage. ...
Haramis, the White Lady, Archimage of Ruwenda, woke suddenly, feeling very old, especially in contrast to the young girl she had been in her dream. This was not particularly surprising; she was old, several ordinary lifetimes old by now, she thought ruefully. As Archimage, soul-bound to the land, her life span had been lengthened long past those of her two sisters. Though born at one birth, their destinies had separated long ago, and now she, the eldest of the triplet princesses, was the only one left.
Kadiya, the second of the sisters, had been the first to leave. After the great battle with the invaders from Labornok and the evil sorcerer Orogastus, she had disappeared into her beloved swamps with her Oddling companion and her talisman, the Three-Lobed Burning Eye, which formed part of the great magical scepter the triplets had used to defeat Orogastus. For a time she and Haramis had communicated occasionally by scrying, but Kadiya had vanished many decades ago. By now, Haramis thought, she must be long dead.
Anigel, the youngest, had married Prince Antar of Labornok, uniting their two kingdoms, and died peacefully of old age, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. The combined throne passed on through her descendants. Was it her grandchild or great-grandchild who held it now? Haramis couldn't remember; the years slipped by too fast. Maybe it was even a great-great-grandchild.
Haramis, the eldest, had been chosen to replace the Archimage Binah as guardian of the land. Ruwenda had prospered over the years, and Haramis loved the land as if it were her own child. In a way, it was.
But now she was having strange dreams. This was the third night in a row she had relived Binah's death in her dreams and awakened in the morning too tired to get out of bed. Was this a warning that she was to die soon?
Perhaps the time was nearing for a new guardian to take over. If her successor were chosen soon, Haramis might even have time to train her. Haramis would have appreciated some training when she had been chosen, but had been given none. She wanted to do better by her own successor. But who would her successor be?
Binah had simply handed Haramis her cloak and died, and the Tower where she had lived and worked had crumbled to dust along with her body. Haramis, who had been until that moment heiress to the throne, had been trained since childhood to be Queen, not Archimage. She had found the sudden shift in her duties disconcerting, to say the least. This was not the legacy she wished to leave for her successor.
Haramis dragged herself out of bed, ignoring aching joints and a general feeling of malaise. If she were still living in the Citadel of Ruwenda, where she had grown up, she would doubtless have felt much worse — the Citadel was a typical stone castle, impossible to heat. But the Tower where Haramis had lived since becoming Archimage was warm inside, even though the Tower was located near the Labornok/Ruwenda border at the top of Mount Brom and the season was winter. Orogastus had held the Tower before her, and he had furnished it with every luxury he could track down and steal or purchase. He had specialized in devices of the Vanished Ones. While a good many of these were dangerous weapons, some of the devices were quite practical and made daily life much more comfortable.
Orogastus, unfortunately for him, had never quite grasped the distinction between the leftover technology of the Vanished Ones and true magic. He had depended so heavily on the former that Haramis and her sisters had been able to destroy him with the latter.
To Haramis the difference between magic and ancient technology was so obvious, though difficult to articulate, that she still could not understand how Orogastus could have been so stupid, especially since he had possessed some magical abilities of his own.
Haramis still winced when she recalled the glamour he had briefly cast over her — for a few weeks she had even fancied herself in love with him.But that seems to have worked against him, she remembered. He missed several opportunities to harm me, even after I made it clear I did not love him. It was as if he were convinced that he loved me and could not harm me, and I would necessarily love him in return and help him in his plans.
She crossed to an ornately carved wooden armoire and took a silver bowl out of one of its drawers. Placing it on a table in the center of the room, she filled it half-full with clear water from a pitcher at her bedside, and bent over it.
Water-scrying was practiced by several of the Oddling races who lived in the swamps surrounding the Citadel. The Oddlings were not humans; they were aboriginal descendants of the original inhabitants of the land. Some of the Oddling races were fairly human in appearance, while others looked like the stuff of nightmares, but generally they lived at peace with the humans.
The Nyssomu were among the more human-looking Oddlings, and several of them had served at the Ruwendan court when Haramis was a child. Her best friend, Uzun, a Nyssomu and the Court Musician, had possessed quite a bit of magical ability in addition to his musical talents, and it was he who had taught Haramis to water-scry. It was a notoriously unreliable method of divination, and only slightly better as a method of communication, but Haramis discovered that when combined with her powers as Archimage, it was quite accurate. It was easier and more reliable, however, if done on an empty stomach.
Now she cleared her mind as much as she could, although she found it impossible completely to banish her recent dream, and looked into and through the water.
Almost at once she seemed to be flying through the air, as if on the back of one of the great lammergeiers that carried her at need, approaching a tower. She recognized it as the main tower of the Citadel, a comparatively recent addition built by humans (within the last five hundreds), as opposed to the main building, which was another survival from the time of the Vanished Ones.
She landed lightly on the roof of the Tower and allowed her spirit body to sink through the trapdoor into the uppermost chamber. Now, in her vision, the room was empty. The last time Haramis had been there in reality this room had been filled with Labornoki soldiers trying to capture her and Uzun, and only the timely arrival of two lammergeiers to carry them away from the top of the Tower had enabled them to depart alive. Memories of that long-ago day returned as Haramis continued to backtrack her former escape route.
The next floor down had been a dormitory for some of Citadel's soldiers. To the best of Haramis's recollection, the crazy idea of making the soldiers sleep seventeen flights of stairs up from anything else had been her grandfather's. Her father had been much more a scholar than a warrior and hadn't bothered to change the arrangement.
But obviously someone had been sensible enough to scrap this custom before it became hallowed by tradition. Although the room still contained half a dozen cots and their associated clothing boxes, there were only two people in the former barracks, and they were children, a boy and girl who both seemed to be about twelve years old. They sat facing each other on the floor, in the center of a pool of sunlight coming through an open window.
"I think it works by light," the boy was saying. He was slender, with dark thick hair in need of cutting. It fell across his face as he bent over the object they were studying, and he shoved it back absently. It fell back as soon as he removed his hand, but he ignored it.
"It can't be just that," the girl objected. She had bright red hair, done in sloppy braids that fell to her waist. Haramis hadn't seen hair like that on anyone since her sister Kadiya, and from the look of her, this girl took just about as much care of her appearance as Kadiya had. Both children were dressed in clothing that was obviously handed down from older siblings, and neither seemed to feel any need to take any thought to keeping it clean. The wooden floor appeared not to have been swept in months, if not years, but the dust was disarranged in patterns that suggested that these children, or someone else, were in the habit of sprawling on the floor, heedless of dust and splinters. And the girl was even thinner than the boy. Doesn't anyone feed these children? Haramis wondered.
"It doesn't work in the dark." The boy was still arguing his point.
"Oh, I agree that it needs light in order to work, but if it were just light that activated it, all of the tunes except the bottom one would play at once."
Haramis's vision-self crossed the room to see what the girl was holding. She recognized it at once; it had been one of her favorite toys when she was a child. It was a music box, surviving from the time of the Vanished Ones, a cube that played a different tune depending on which side one set it upon.
"Look, Fiolon," the girl pointed out, holding the cube so that one edge touched the floor between them. "If it were just light, it should be playing at least one tune now — it's getting direct sunlight." She shifted it to lie flat, and a tune started. "See? It has to have one face flat on the floor or" — she lifted it straight up and the music continued unchanging — "parallel to the floor."
"Horizontal, you mean," the boy said.
"It's the same thing, if the floor is flat. Now look." She turned the box to one side, moving it slowly and carefully. "The tune stops when you tilt it more than two finger widths, and when the new side is horizontal there's a pause before the music starts again. And during that pause," she finished triumphantly, "I can feel something shifting in the cube. The music doesn't start again until whatever it is reaches the bottom." She shook the cube next to her ear. "There's some kind of liquid in here. I'd love to open this up and see what's inside and how it works."
Fiolon reached out and grabbed the toy from her hand. "Don't you dare, Mikayla! This is the only one we've got, and I like it. If you break it, I won't marry you when we grow up."
"I'd put it back together," Mikayla protested.
"You don't know that you could put it back together," Fiolon pointed out with quiet practicality. "You don't know what the liquid is — it's too heavy to be water — and you'd certainly spill at least some if you opened this. And we don't have anything else that lets us know what the music of the Vanished Ones was like."
Mikayla laughed. "You just don't want to risk destroying any source of music. I think your father must have been a musician."
Fiolon shrugged. "We'll never know."
Mikayla took the cube back and hefted it in one hand. "I think you're right about the liquid. This does feel too heavy to be water, and the whatever-it-is inside moves too slowly for it to be floating in water." She sighed. "I wish we could find more of these."
"Me, too," Fiolon agreed. "Maybe then we'd get some more tunes."
"And if we found a duplicate, I could take it apart and find out what's inside."
"Why do you always want to know how things work?"
Mikayla shrugged. "I just do. Why do you always want to write a song about everything?"
Fiolon matched her shrug. "I just do."
They looked at each other and burst out laughing.
Haramis started to chuckle, and found herself back in her Tower looking at the bowl of water. Her breath had disturbed the surface, breaking the vision.
Well, she thought, they certainly seem intelligent enough, but I have difficulty seeing her as Archimage. I'll have to find out more about her — and about him. From his remark about marriage, it sounds as though they might be betrothed, but it's certainly odd that he doesn't seem to know who his father is. And while their clothes are clearly handed down, they were good clothes originally, and the children don't speak like servants.
Haramis dressed quickly and went to eat breakfast. She had letters to write and messages to send. Information about the land was as accessible to Haramis as her heartbeat. Information about people was much more difficult to obtain. It took several weeks for Ayah, a Nyssomu servant at the palace, to receive the Archimage's message, get leave to visit her sister, and get far enough away from the Citadel so that a lammergeier could fetch her without being seen. Nobody in the royal family knew that Ayah's sister worked for the Archimage, and Haramis wanted to keep things that way.
But finally a lammergeier arrived at the Tower with a well-wrapped-up Nyssomu on its back. Haramis went out to meet the bird and carried the little woman indoors herself. The main drawback to living where she did was that her Nyssomu servants could not safely go outside. Even after almost two hundreds, Haramis still recalled vividly the day her friend and companion Uzun had nearly frozen to death while they were searching for her Talisman. She had lost an entire day's travel backtracking to a lower altitude and thawing Uzun out, before sending him back to the lowlands and continuing alone. The Vispi were the only Oddlings that could survive in the mountains, and even they preferred to live in isolated small valleys warmed by hot springs.
So Haramis carried a well-wrapped bundle into the Tower and turned her guest over to Enya, her visitor's sister, to be taken to her room and given some refreshment after her journey. What Haramis wanted to know had waited this long; it could wait a few more hours.
When the three of them were gathered in Haramis's study, sipping from mugs of hot ladu-juice, Haramis asked Ayah about the children she had seen in her vision.
"Princess Mikayla and Lord Fiolon?" the Oddling asked in surprise. She obviously wondered what interest Haramis had in the two children, but Haramis chose not to explain — at least not at the moment. She merely waited until the woman continued.
"Mika — Princess Mikayla — is the sixth of the King's seven children. The King concentrates on the education of his heir; the Queen fusses over her 'baby'— who is now ten years old, and the other four are close together in age and tend to band together." The Oddling woman shook her head. "So nobody cares much what Mika does, and Fiolon's parents are dead — or at least his mother is. If they didn't have each other, she would be a very lonely child, and so, I suspect, would he."
Haramis considered that. "I always had Uzun for my best friend," she said, smiling fondly at a polished wood harp with a bone inlay at the top of its post that stood next to her chair. She ran a hand along its back as if stroking a household pet. "But still, I can't imagine what childhood would have been like without my sisters. They were always there — whether I wanted them to be or not." She pulled her thoughts back to the present. "So how does Fiolon fit in? Exactly who is he?"
Ayah continued her report. "Lord Fiolon of Var. His mother was the youngest sister of the King of Var — our Queen is the middle child. Fiolon's mother died when he was born, but it was over six years before our Queen persuaded the King to allow her to foster her late sister's child."
"And Fiolon's father?" Haramis had been wondering about that point ever since she had heard the children's conversation.
Ayah shrugged. "Nobody knows. His mother wasn't married."
Haramis raised her eyebrows. "The sister of the King of Var had a baby and nobody has any idea who fathered it? Given the lack of privacy in any palace I've ever seen, that seems incredible. Surely somebody must at least suspect who her lover was."
Excerpted from Lady of the Trillium by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Elisabeth Waters. Copyright © 1995 Marion Zimmer Bradley and Elisabeth Waters. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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