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Convergence

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Convergence
Sharon Green

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

EOS

An Imprint
ofH
arperCollins
Publishers

10 East 53rd Street

New York, New York 10022-5299

Copyright © 1996 by Sharon Green Cover art by Tom Canty

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 96-96418

ISBN: 0-380-78414-9

www.eosbooks.com

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Eos, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

First Eos printing: February 2000

First AvoNova printing: November 1996

Eos Trademark Reg. U.S. Pat.
Off.
and
in Other Countries, Marca Registrada, Hecho en U.S.A.

HarperCollins® is a trademark of HarperCollins Publishers Inc. Printed in the U.S.A. 10 9 8 7 6

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."

 

For Ruth Dawn Lewallen— who made it possible for me to write this book . . . and to live . . . and to eat . .
.

"Friend" is too weak a word; only a real, live saint could have put up with me for so long, and I'll never forget you despite your terrible taste in printers.

 

 

HISTORY AND PROPHECY

. . .
and
so the major error of the past was discovered. In order to have full control of the world around us, there must be a Blending not only of Air, Water, Fire, and Earth, but of Spirit as well. That fifth aspect, so important and yet overlooked for so long, completed the magic necessary for dominance, which in human terms meant rule.

When the first Fivefold Blending, comprised of Elmin Ofgin, Azelin Rays, Widia Almoy, Summia Kamb, and Failin Jarl, came together to defeat the tyrannical Four, our Empire was saved from the dark time of oppression that seemed destined to continue on forever. The Four were each High-level practitioners, and had they Blended with one of Spirit—but they did not, and so met their downfall.

When the Five took their place as the rulers of our Empire, they were first to speak of the Prophecy and then they announced the laws made necessary thereby. Where the Prophecy came from is unclear, but none doubted when it was first spoken of three hundred years ago, and none doubt it today. The Four will attempt to return to reestablish their tyranny, and should we stray from the laws laid down for our protection, they may very well succeed.

For this reason the competitions are held every twenty-five years, and the strongest of the new Blendings takes over our rule and protection for the next quarter century. No Blending is permitted to compete a second time after having won the first, and no Blending may simply be appointed without having competed and won. During each rule comes a crisis, which cannot be bested without the laws having been followed to the letter. What causes these crises to arise is another question which seems without answer, and yet most believe them linked directly to the Prophecy. The crisis faced by the Second Five . . .

. . .
mentioned
in the Prophecies. There will be Signs to show that the Chosen Blending has arrived in our midst, but nowhere are the signs detailed. It has been promised that they will spring from all corners of the land, that their might will be seen clearly by all those about them, that they will blend as well in their ordinary lives as they do in the the Blending of their aspects. There will also be "subtle happenings" surrounding them as well as "obvious signs," but many of the more obvious signs are to appear "out of the sight of the Five's enemies." Who those can be is not clear, as the only enemy of the
promised,
Chosen Five is the Dreaded Four.
Therefore . . .

 

It was the time the Prophecy spoke of, but naturally none of us was aware of it. No one in the whole Empire knew, and if they had, what could they have done about it? But such questions are futile, I'm told, and now isn't the time to dispute that. My purpose is to speak of what happened, as though I had been everywhere at once. I find the idea extremely foolish, but the others insist that only I can do the narrative justice. A more likel
y
guess is that they don't want to be bothered themselves, and so put it onto
me.

Well, the choice is made, so I suppose I'd better get on with this great "honor." You must know the people who comprised the two Blendings which came into ultimate conflict not once but twice, but you have no need to meet them all at once. I'll first introduce the members of the Blending I, Tamrissa Domon, became a part of, and the way in which we "happened" to come together. The others will need to wait their turn, until the narrative advances a bit farther.
Too bad for them.

We've discovered that the first
of
our Blending to begin the journey was Lorand Coll, who was born in the aspect of Earth magic. His birthplace was the bucolic environs
of
Widdertown, located almost atop the western border of the Empire. Widdertown is surrounded by farms and ranches, which supply many of the western duchies with delicacies their own
farms
are unable to produce. Some of those delicacies have even found their way, suitably protected by preservation methods, to the capitol, but there I get ahead of myself! This is meant to be Lorand's story.

 

One

lorand coll—earth magic

Lorand stood in the farmyard just at dawn, watching the sun rise like the great ball of Fire magic that it was. The roosters had already crowed and the birds were still calling out their morning welcome, the air was clean and fresh, and life was beginning anew. Lorand, tall and husky with blond hair and mild brown eyes, could remember a time when the renewal of the day had renewed him as well, but that time
now
 
seemed
long past.

"Up already, Lorand?" his mother called from the house, glancing out at him from behind the mild spell of screening that kept insects from entering. "Your Pa'll be pleased t'see ya so eager t'start the day's work."

Lorand made no effort to answer her, but that was perfectly all right. Every time she found him standing outside in the morning she said the very same thing, then continued on her way to begin breakfast. Not once had she even commented on how often he'd been out there of late, doing nothing but staring at the sunrise.
Or apparently staring at the sunrise."

Out there agin, Lor?" his father's voice came next after a moment or two, not as wearily uncaring as his mother's had been.
"Somethin' botherin' you, boy?"

Lorand watched one of the barn
cats
jump up to a fence post before beginning its bath, the cat being too fastidious to sit in the dirt of the yard like lesser animals. In a strange way Lorand knew exactly how it felt, and the time had come to speak to his father about it.

"Pa, have you ever wondered which practitioner of Fire magic was strong enough to create the sun?" he asked without turning. "Or what the world would be like if most people
couldn
't
do magic? How would we live and get things accomplished?"

Lorand heard his father's heavy footsteps leave the house

and
approach the place where he stood, so he finally turned to look at the older man. Camil Coll wasn't quite as tall as his son, but was just as husky and had the same light hair and dark eyes. He, too, had been born under the aspect of Earth magic, as had the woman he had married. Neither of them were
High
or even Middle practitioners, which made them suited only for farmwork. Camil's weathered face usually wore an expression of satisfaction that said the condition suited him, a state his second-born son found it impossible to agree with.

"Boy, who created
th
' sun is somethin' we ain't meant t'know," he told Lorand shortly, making no more effort to speak properly than he ever did. "What
th
' world would be like if'n most folk couldn't do magic's a foolishness question, an' I ain't got no time f'r fantasy.
You
ain't got th' time neither, since tomorra's when you'll be helpin' y'r brothers an' me Encourage thet field a corn our workers planted last week. Th' day after we'll be Encouragin' the rice bog, but t'day we gotta try our hands at that new crop a fancy furrin beans. Let's us have breakfast, an' then we c'n get started."

His father began to turn back to the house, but Lorand couldn't afford to let the moment pass. He
had
to say what was needed, and he had to say it now.

"Pa, I won't be helping with the beans, because I'm leaving today." His words stopped his father short, so Lorand hurried to get it
all
said. "Last week when I went into Widdertown, the guild man told me that I qualified as a Middle practitioner."

His father hesitated for a long moment, then turned back to him with what the older man obviously thought was a smile.

"You know I don't b'lieve in all thet nonsense, but I ain't too
mean
t'give ya congratulations," he said, offering a large, blunt-fingered hand. "If'n y'mean t' go back t'town t'cele-brate alone, there's no need. Soon's we see t'th' beans, y'r brothers 'n me'll go with ya."

"Pa, I'm not going for a celebration," Lorand said slowly after deliberately taking his father's hand. "I'm going to Gan Garee to test for High practitioner."

"T' th'
capitol?'
his father demanded, his thick fingers closing uncomfortably tight around Lorand's own
. "
Whut they been tellin' ya, boy? Thet y'all pass
th
' test real easy?

Thet
th
' Empire's short a High practitioners, so they'll give ya welcome an' make ya one of 'em? Din't I alius tell ya it don't work thet way? Once they get ya t' th' capitol ya'll be all alone, easy pickin's fer—"

"For those who take advantage of honest countryfolk," Lorand interrupted wearily, freeing his hand with one sharp pull. "Yes, Pa, you
have
always said that, but what you never said was how you knew it was true. Give me the names of people around here who had that happen to
them,
and I'll ignore the law and go right now and talk to them."

"You sayin' my word alone ain't good enough, boy?" his father returned in a growl, broad face darkening with anger. "Don't give a damn 'bout thet there law. Whut I wanna know is, you really think y'r big 'nough t'say
thet t'me?"

"In other words, there
isn't
anyone around who had that done to them," Lorand answered evenly, refusing to be drawn off into a different argument. "What you've said has been nothing but opinion. I know you love this farm, Pa, but I don't and that's why I'm leaving. Will you wish me good luck?"

The older man stood stiffly, glaring at Lorand as if trying to change his son's mind through sheer willpower. Lorand could feel the vibration of anger-magic rumbling through the ground under his feet, but that wasn't unexpected. Almost automatically, he calmed the rumbling with his own talent. He'd hoped the effort would also calm his father, but that would probably have been beyond even an Adept's ability.

"Never shoulda let ya go t'thet there school," his father growled, and the ground vibrated again with this new subject causing anger-magic "Shoulda spit on
th
' law an' kept ya here, an' none a this woulda happened. Filled y'r head with mindless dreams an' barefaced lies, they did, an' you swallered it all right down. Well, if'n y'r thet much of a damn fool, go on, then. Who needs ya here? Get out an' stay out, an'
don't never
come back."

"Pa, I haven't said goodbye to Ma or my brothers," Lorand called after the broad back stomping away from him toward the house. "It will only take a minute or two—"

BOOK: Convergence
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