Mercedes Lackey: When Darkness Falls

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Mercedes Lackey When Darkness Falls

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   When Darkness Falls

   Mercedes Lackey



   Chapter One

   Chapter Two

   Chapter Three

   Chapter Four

   Chapter Five

   Chapter Six

   Chapter Seven

   Chapter Eight

   Chapter Nine

   Chapter Ten

   Chapter Eleven

   Chapter Twelve

   Chapter Thirteen

   Chapter Fourteen

   Chapter Fifteen

   Chapter Sixteen

   Chapter Seventeen

   Chapter Eighteen

   Chapter Nineteen

   Chapter Twenty

   This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.


   Copyright © 2006 by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

   All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

   This book is printed on acid-free paper.

   A Tor Book Published by Tom Doherty Associates,

   LLC 175 Fifth Avenue New York,

   NY 10010

   Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

   Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

   Lackey, Mercedes.

   When darkness falls / Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory.—1st ed.

   p. cm.—(The Obsidian trilogy ; bk. 3)

   A Tom Doherty Associates book.

   ISBN 0-765-30221-7 (acid-free paper)

   EAN 978-0-765-30221-2

   I. Mallory, James. II. Title.

   PS3562.A246W46 2006

   813'.54—dc22 2005034506

   First Edition: July 2006 Printed in the United States of America

   0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


   The Surface of the Mirror

   Contents - Next

   THE DAY OF the Working at the Allied camp outside Ysterialpoerin dawned pale and overcast — and far too cold to snow. None of the Wildmages was certain of what would happen when the spell to see past the wards of Armethalieh was cast. The spell itself could be as safe as a scrying spell, or as dangerous as the assault upon the Black Cairn; there was no way to know except by doing. But though the spell itself might be safe, its aftermath was certain to be dangerous, since a spell of such power would inevitably draw the attention of the Endarkened, and even after centuries of fighting Them, all the Allies really knew about Demons was that They were evil, terribly powerful, immortal, could assume any shape, and fueled Their magic through the blood and pain of others. It was not impossible — in fact, it was highly likely — that They could sense things non-Demons couldn't.

   Oh, Kellen could guess at Their tactics. Imagine Their strategy — some of the time. But truly think like one? No Creature of the Light could manage that.

   What if this is a trap? Cilarnen is innocent — I truly believe that — but what if this is still a trap? The Demons have given us information before, knowing we would have no choice but to act upon it. If They arranged for Cilarnen to find out what he did, Theywould also know we would do everything in our power to investigate further. Making ourselves vulnerable

   And just as with the discovery of the Shadowed Elves, there was no way to turn away from such a task. If what Cilarnen said was true — if there was any possibility that there was a Dark-tainted traitor within Armethalieh — the Allies had to know.

   They had to do exactly what they were doing now.

   Someday, Kellen vowed grimly, we will no longer dance to your piping, Shadow Mountain. Someday we will choose the battlefield — and the battle. And we will win.

   * * * * *

   IT would have been impossible to gather the Wildmages together properly for this work in any of the structures within the camp, so Jermayan and the black dragon Ancaladar had created an ice-pavilion for the work. Its polished surface — a faithful, though enormous, replica of a traditional Elven campaigning tent — was already crusted white with new-fallen snow.

   Kellen and Cilarnen walked toward the pavilion, each occupied by his own sober thoughts.

   The other Wildmages were already gathered here, though not all were yet inside. The Mountainfolk undoubtedly thought this was a fine calm day — even warm — and the Lostlanders were used to even harsher conditions. Some were gathered around a brazier, brewing their thick black tea and talking quietly. Others paced back and forth, their heavy furs dark against the snow.

   It was the calm before battle.

   Ancaladar was coiled around the pavilion, as immobile as if he'd decided to become a part of it. The dragon raised his head as they approached, his large golden eyes fixed on Cilarnen.

   "This should be interesting," Ancaladar commented, lowering his head again.

   They went inside. Idalia was standing near the mirror, talking intently to Jermayan. She looked up as Kellen and Cilarnen entered, and her violet eyes flashed dangerously. Cilarnen was a High Mage born and bred. He had been unjustly Banished from Armethalieh, yet somehow managed to retain his Magegift — and with it, a peculiar — and painful — sensitivity to the Wild Magic. This was the last place Cilarnen should be.

   "He believes he has a good reason to stand in the Circle with us. I've heard his reasons, and I agree," Kellen said evenly. "I've told him it may kill him. He has still chosen to come."

   "Cilarnen — " Idalia began.

   "Idalia," Kellen said gently. "No one is asking your permission."

   Idalia stared at Kellen as if seeing him for the very first time.

   Jermayan appeared at Idalia's side. Even in plain sight, even in a crowd of people, the Elven Mage could appear and disappear with a silent grace that owed nothing to magic and everything to his Elven heritage.

   "To know these reasons would make good hearing," Jermayan said quietly, putting a hand on Idalia's arm.

   "I think…" Cilarnen faltered to a stop and started again. "I… need to be here. To help, if I can."

   There was another silence. Idalia looked from Cilarnen to Kellen and back again. At last she nodded — not permitting but accepting. "As Kellen says, it's your choice."

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