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Authors: David Zindell

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Lord of Lies

BOOK: Lord of Lies
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Lord of Lies

 
Book Two of the Ea Cycle

 

 

DAVID ZINDELL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the people closest to this book, who made it possible: My daughters, who journeyed with me on many long and magical walks through Ea and helped generate this story with their pointed-questions blazing imagination, dreams and delight. My agent, Donald Maass, for his great enthusiasm, brilliant suggestions and help in fine-tuning the story. And Jane Johnson and Joy Chamberlain, whose inspired editing, unstinting support and sheer hard work in the face of great pressure brought this book to life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

Cover

Title

Acknowledgements

Maps

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Appendices

 

Maps
EA
MESH
Chapter 1

A
man's fate, the scryers say, is written in the stars. Beneath these fiery points of light, we come forth from our mother earth to live and gaze up at the sky in wonder, to dance and dream and die. Some are born to be tillers of the soil or huntsmen; others to be weavers or minstrels or kings. Murderers might find the bright Dragon constellation pulling at their souls while saints seek in the Seven Sisters for the source of their goodness. A few turn away from the heavens altogether and look to the fire of their own hearts to forge their fate. But I believe that there is one - and one only - who is chosen to bear the golden cup that the angels sent to earth long ago. Even as a sword is made for the hard grip of a warrior, only the Shining One was meant to take the Lightstone in his hands and bring forth its secret light for all to behold.

Others, however, believe other things. In the year 2813 of the Age of the Dragon, the Lightstone having been wrested from the hall of Morjin the Liar, the Great Red Dragon himself, word that the quest to find the Cup of Heaven had been fulfilled spread like a wildfire to each of Ea's lands. In far-off Hesperu, the slaves in the fields gripped their hoes in bitterness and prayed that some hero might wield the Lightstone to free them from their bondage; in conquered Surrapam, starving youths took up their bows and dreamed of hunting the true gold instead of meat. The priests of Morjin's Kallimun wove their plots to regain the Lightstone while minstrels from fallen Galda and Yarkona made their way across burning plains to sing its wonders and hear new songs. Even the kings of realms still free - great men such as King Kiritan Narmada and King Waray of Taron - sent out emissaries to demand that the Lightstone be brought to them. From north and south, east and west, they joined a whole army of lordless knights, exiles, scryers, seekers and rogues who journeyed to Mesh. To the castle of my father, Shavashar Elahad, they came to view the wonder of the Lightstone. For there, behind the castle's white granite wall ray friends and I had brought it to be guarded against the world's evil and greed.

On a warm Sunday afternoon in late spring, with the cherry trees in the foothills in full bloom, I joined Master Juwain Zadoran and Sar Maram Marshayk allhe top of the castle's great Adarni tower. It was our first gathering in nearly half a year - and our first in Master Juwain's guest chamber since we had set out on the great Quest half a year before that. Master Juwain had recently returned from Taron in great haste, and had called this meeting to discuss matters pertaining to the Lightstone - and other things.

The room in which he resided when visiting my father's castle was large and well-lit. Four arched windows looked out upon the white-capped peaks of Arakel and Telshar and the other mountains to the west. Four more windows gave a good view of the rest of the castle below us: the round and graceful Swan Tower and the Tower of the Stars; the courtyards full of wagons and knights on panting horses arriving for the evening's feast; the great shield wall cut with crenels along its top like a giant's teeth. Largest of all the castle's structures was the massive keep, a huge cube of granite, and the adjoining great hall where the Lightstone was displayed for all to see. I might rather that it had been brought into the fastness of Master Juwain's chamber, with its comforts of thick Galdan carpets, bright tapestries and many cases full of books, but I reminded myself that the golden cup was not meant to be kept in private by Master Juwain or Maram - or even me.

As I dosed the door behind me and crossed the chamber's tiled floor, Master Juwain of the Great White Brotherhood called out to me with a disquieting formality: 'Greetings, Lord Valashu Elahad, Knight of the Swan, Guardian of the Lightstone, Prince of Mesh.'

He stood with my best friend, Maram, by the chamber's west windows, looking at me strangely as if trying to peer beneath the mantle of these newly-won titles to apprehend a deeper thing inside me. His silver-gray eyes, large and luminous as moons, were full of wisdom and his great regard for me. Although some called him an ugly man, with his brown, squashlike nose and head as bald and lumpy as walnut, the light of kindness seemed to burn through these surface features and show only a being of great beauty.

'Sir,' I called back to him. I had addressed him thus for ten years, since the day that I had begun my studies at the age of eleven at the Brotherhood's sanctuary in the mountains nearby. Although that happier time had long passed and we had been companions on the great Quest, he was still a Master Healer and Ea's greatest scholar, and he deserved no less. 'It's good to see you!'

I rushed forward to embrace him. Despite being well into his middle years, his short, stocky body was still hard from the various disciplines to which he subjected it. A long, brown tunic of homespun wool covered him from neck to knee. From a chain, over his heart, dangled a gold medallion showing a sunburst and plain cup in relief. Seven rays streaked out of this cup to fall upon the medallion's rim. King Kiritan had bestowed such gifts upon all who had vowed to make the quest to find the Lightstone. Maram and I wore our medallions as did Master Juwain: in bittersweet memory and pride.

'It's good to see you, Val,' Master Juwain said, smiling at me. 'Thank you for coming.' Maram, dressed in a bright scarlet tunic emblazoned with two gold lions facing each other, did not like being left out of the greetings. He stepped up to me and threw his arms around me, a feat made diffi cult by his big, hard belly, which pushed out ahead of him like a boulder. He was a big man with a great, blazing heart of fire, and he drummed his hamlike hands against my back with such force that they threatened to stave-in my ribs.

'Val, my brother,' he said in his booming voice. When he had finished pummeling me, we stood apart regarding each other. We
were
true brothers, I thought, and yet our lineages were as different as the river country of gentler climes and the highlands of Mesh. We were different, too. Although he was tall, for an outlander, I looked down upon him. He had his people's curly chestnut hair, while mine was that of my father and mother: long, straight and black, more like a horse's mane than the hair that covered the heads of most human beings. His face was of mounds of earth and rounded knolls, soft, pliable as red river clay; mine was all clefts and crags, cut as with walls of rock: too stark, too hard. He had a big, bear's nose while mine was that of an eagle. And where his eyes were brown and sweet like alfalfa honey, my eyes, it was said, were black and bright as the nighttime sky above the winter mountains.

'Ah, Val,' he said, 'it's good to see
you
again, too.' I smiled because we had taken breakfast together that very morning. Although Maram had been born a prince of Delu, he had resided in my father's kingdom for half a dozen years. Once a novice of the Brotherhood under Master Juwain, he had renounced his vows and was now a sort of permanent guest in the castle. I looked at the jeweled rings on the fingers of his left hand and the single silver ring encir cling the second finger of his right hand. It was set with two large diamonds: the ring of a Valari knight. Thus my father had honoured him upon the fulfillment of the quest, declaring that Maram, in spirit at least, now belonged to my people.

BOOK: Lord of Lies
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