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Authors: Sharon Shinn

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Troubled Waters

BOOK: Troubled Waters
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

 

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

NINETEEN

TWENTY

TWENTY-ONE

TWENTY-TWO

TWENTY-THREE

TWENTY-FOUR

TWENTY-FIVE

TWENTY-SIX

TWENTY-SEVEN

TWENTY-EIGHT

TWENTY-NINE

THIRTY

THIRTY-ONE

THIRTY-TWO

THIRTY-THREE

 

QUINTILES & CHANGEDAYS

Ace Books by Sharon Shinn

MYSTIC AND RIDER
THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE
DARK MOON DEFENDER
READER AND RAELYNX
FORTUNE AND FATE

 

ARCHANGEL
JOVAH’S ANGEL
THE ALLELUIA FILES
ANGELICA
ANGEL-SEEKER

 

WRAPT IN CRYSTAL
THE SHAPE-CHANGER’S WIFE
HEART OF GOLD
SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN
JENNA STARBORN
QUATRAIN
TROUBLED WATERS

 

Viking / Firebird Books by Sharon Shinn

 

THE SAFE-KEEPER’S SECRET
THE TRUTH-TELLER’S TALE
THE DREAM-MAKER’S MAGIC
GENERAL WINSTON’S DAUGHTER
GATEWAY

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700,Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand

(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

This is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

Copyright © 2010 by Sharon Shinn.

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions. ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

Shinn, Sharon.

p. cm.

eISBN : 978-1-101-44416-0

1. Magic—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3569.H499T76 2010

813’.54—dc22

2010023028

 

 

http://us.penguingroup.com

For Robin,
with her
elay
soul
and her
sweela
crown

RANDOM BLESSINGS

ONE

N
avarr Ardelay’s body was laid to rest in a blazing pyre, as befit a
sweela
man who owed his allegiance to flame. Zoe stood numbly within the circle of mourners, unable to speak, as she watched her father burn away to ashes. Even as he had wasted away for this past quintile, growing thinner, more frail, uncharacteristically querulous with pain, she hadn’t really believed he would die. How could there be a world in which Navarr Ardelay did not exist?

She was so cold that not even the leaping flames could chase away her chill; the weak winter sunlight offered no warmth at all. Doman hovered close, his hand always half-outstretched. Zoe wondered if he thought to catch her when she fainted or to yank her back if she attempted to throw herself into the fire. Doman was the unofficial leader of this little village; he made himself responsible for the well-being of every soul in the small cluster of houses, and he had been tireless in his efforts to ease Navarr’s passage out of this life. He had even sent to Chialto for surprisingly effective medicines that would soothe pain and keep the mind clear. Navarr had been awake and lucid as recently as two days ago, continuing to dictate to Zoe how he wanted her to distribute his few items of any worth.

“Doman must have anything he wants from the house, of course,” her father had said late that night. “He will probably choose my desk or fountain.”

That had caused Zoe to look up in surprise. “But—I want to keep both of those.”

Navarr had lain back against the pillows, his face thin and drawn, his body weak, but his mind, as always, working working working. “It will be too much trouble to transport them.”

She was even more surprised. “I’m not going anywhere.”

His eyes were closed. “Of course you are. It is time you remembered that you are part of your mother’s family as well.”

She had not bothered to answer that because, as soon as he spoke the words, he was asleep again.

And because she was too astonished.

He spoke of her mother rarely, and her mother’s family not at all. He blamed the powerful Lalindar clan for his fall from grace ten years ago, for the long years of exile and poverty. Zoe didn’t even know if her grandmother was still alive, and which of her aunts or uncles or cousins would have inherited Christara Lalindar’s title and property if the old woman was dead. Not that she cared. She would not be seeking any of them out, even if the unthinkable happened. Even if her father died. She doubted if any of them remembered her more clearly than she remembered them—or thought of her more often.

This village was her home now, this house the place where she belonged. She already knew, as her father lay there so quietly, that the tiny house would seem enormous once his spirit had flown it. She did not know how she could possibly fill its entire vast emptiness with her own limp and tired soul.

 

 

Z
oe would have thought her father’s body would sustain any flame for a quintile at least—his swift, questing, inexhaustible mind should have been fuel for a nineday all by itself—but in fact the fire began to die down sooner than she would have thought possible. Most of the villagers had lingered for about fifteen minutes and then drifted away, although three women who had been in love with Navarr at various times still stood weeping around the pyre. Zoe herself was prepared to stand here watching until her legs buckled under her, and then she planned to kneel before the fading embers until the world itself ended.

But Doman would have none of that. He put his hand on her shoulder, avuncular, insistent. “Come inside now,” he said, nudging her away from the circle of stones, back toward the stand of houses. “The fire is almost out. It is time to go in.”

“Not yet,” she said, planting her feet.

He turned his free hand palm up. “It has started to rain,” he said. So far the drops were thin and misty, hardly an inconvenience, but the pale sunlight had been blocked out by a slowly building mass of heavy gray clouds, and the air felt like it was gathering itself for a tantrum. “Your father would not want you to be drenched in the tears of the world for his sake.”

Since this was true, she allowed him to turn her away from the pyre and lead her to her small, sad, utterly abandoned house.

Together they stepped into the
kierten
, the tiny room set just inside the door. In great houses, Zoe knew, a
kierten
might be enormous—a huge, echoing chamber big enough to accommodate fifty people. A
kierten
was always completely empty; it was a homeowner’s way of saying he was so wealthy he could afford to waste space. Poor villagers could not make such a boast, of course, but none of them were so destitute that they did not have a
kierten
at their front door.

Doman stepped into the main room right behind Zoe, and she glanced swiftly around to see the place through his eyes. She hadn’t had much time to clean up the detritus of death, so the room was predictably messy. Bed linens were balled up on the floor, clothes and dishes were scattered across various surfaces, and books and papers were stacked in haphazard piles wherever she had tried to get them out of the way. A faint odor of rotting food drifted in from the only other room in the house—the small narrow kitchen that doubled as Zoe’s bedroom. She hadn’t had time to take her trash to the composting field for at least four days, perhaps longer.

BOOK: Troubled Waters
6.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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