Authors: Elizabeth Moon
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Epic, #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction, #Military
Echoes of Betrayal
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 by Elizabeth Moon
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Del Rey, an imprint of
The Random House Publishing Group, a division of
Random House, Inc., New York.
is a registered trademark and the Del Rey colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Echoes of betrayal : Paladin’s legacy / Elizabeth Moon.
(formerly Kieri Phelan’s mercenary company)
, commander, Lord of the North Marches
, junior captain of first cohort
, captain of second cohort
, captain of third (mixed/archery) cohort
, veteran sergeant of the Company, now blind
Mikeli Vostan Kieriel Mahieran
, king of Tsaia
, his younger brother
Sonder Amrothlin Mahieran
, Duke Mahieran, king’s uncle
, his younger son and Duke Verrakai’s squire
, his wife
Selis Jostin Marrakai
, Duke Marrakai
, his daughter and Duke Verrakai’s squire
Galyan Selis Serrostin
, Duke Serrostin
, youngest son and Duke Verrakai’s squire
, Duke Verrakai, formerly a senior captain in Phelan’s Company, now Constable for the kingdom
, new Marshal-Judicar of Tsaia
Sir Flanits Clannaeth
, commander of Royal Guard unit, Harway
, veteran sergeant of Duke’s Company, now with Duke Verrakai training her militia
, king of Lyonya, former mercenary commander and duke in Tsaia
, member Lyonyan Council
, commands Halveric Company, Kieri Phelan’s mentor and friend
, his wife
, Aliam Halveric’s older brother
, senior King’s Squire
, half-elf, Kieri’s betrothed
, Kieri Phelan’s tutor in elven magic
, the Lady of the Ladysforest, elven ruler of this elvenhome kingdom, Kieri’s grandmother
, Arian’s father
, the Lady’s son and Kieri’s uncle
, king of Pargun
, his daughter
, itinerant Kuakgan, Tsaia
, grovemaster Kuakgan, Tsaia
, itinerant Kuakgan, Lyonya
, itinerant Kuakgan, Lyonya
, Vérella Thieves’ Guild
, kteknik gnome and Arvid’s companion
rvid Semminson, lying naked, bound, and bruised on the cold ground somewhere in northwestern Aarenis, reflected that honor among thieves was a myth. Valdaire’s Guildmaster had taken everything he had: clothes, weapons, gold, his Guildmaster symbol, and that very damning—in the Guildmaster’s eyes—letter of safe passage from the Marshal-General. In return, the Guildmaster had indeed found a room for Arvid, as he’d offered: Arvid had spent several very unpleasant days in the Guildhouse cellar before his kteknik gnome companion Dattur, worried by his absence, had tried to rescue him, only to be captured himself.
After some additional time in the Guild’s cellar, they’d both been dumped into the lower compartment of a trade-wagon and driven out of the city—several days out, in what direction Arvid had no notion—in the untender care of journeymen enforcers who intended to pry every detail of information from them both before killing them.
Now the journeymen tossed dice for first choice of his weapons, all the while loudly discussing what they intended to do with him. Certain tools were, they’d said, heating in the coals. He would be warm then, one jeered, throwing a hot coal that bounced off his back before he felt more than the sting.
He heard the fire crackling somewhere behind him. Smoke fragrant with the scent of roasting meat curled past his nose, but where
he lay only cold wind caressed him, and his belly cramped with hunger.
He should have stayed north of the mountains once he was sure the necklace had already gone south. He should have realized that his long absence from Vérella had given his second in command—Harsin, with his false smiles—a chance to seize power and proclaim him a traitor to the Guild because he had gone to do the Marshal-General’s bidding.
He would have Harsin’s liver roasted on skewers if he got out of this alive, which—at the moment—seemed unlikely. What he needed was a rescue, but who in all Aarenis knew or cared about him? His gnome servant, maybe, but Dattur was trussed up as tightly as Arvid himself, and gagged as well.
You could ask for help
Arvid had heard that voice before, and it was not a voice he wanted to hear. Nor the chuckle that followed. He was not a Girdish yeoman; he had respect for the hero-saint, but … it was not for him. Besides, it was Gird’s Marshal-General’s letter in his pocket that had put him in this mess. If not for her—
You’d have been hanged long since for the thief you are
been a thief, but that was years ago, and anyway—all right, yes, the Marshal-General had saved him from those Girdish who were sure he’d stolen the necklace, but he hadn’t. And it was being seen as too friendly with the Fellowship that had turned the others against him.
Would you have let her die?
He knew which “her” that was, of course. Paksenarrion. Of course he would not have let that vicious jealous bitch Barra kill her after all she’d suffered—
And the gods healed
Well, yes, that was true, too. But now, here …
You are almost as stubborn as I was, lad
Arvid felt a gentle hand on his bruised head and then the sting of something cold on his bare shoulder—one and then another. And another.
The fire hissed. The men swore and stood, their weapons—some of them his—clanking. “What about them?” one said. “Let ’em drown or freeze,” said another. “Take the meat inside.” Arvid heard the
door of the hut—hardly more than a shed—creak open and then slam shut. Cold rain, the winter rain of Aarenis, pelted down on him, harder every moment. He shivered; his teeth chattered. Cold water ran into his face, melting away the blood that had glued his eyelids shut in the last beating. Under his nose he saw a stretch of dark earth speckled with pebbles glistening in the rain.
Wet leather stretched. Arvid remembered that even as his hands twisted … but it had to be really wet, and he was chilling faster than the leather softened. He struggled on. Hair by hair, the leather thongs stretched. Enough? It had to be enough.
You could have sent a paladin
, he thought into the dark sky.
She has her task. You have yours
It did not seem the right moment to tell that sort of voice that he was not in service to that sort of voice. It was the right moment to escape, if he could. He worked one stiff hand loose, then the other. He could scarcely move his fingers and fumbled at the thongs tying his knees, his ankles. All the time the rain pelted down, hard cold drops—some of them ice pellets now, it felt like. He needed a knife, a sharp— His hand knocked against something, a loose rock—and he saw the glassy scalloped edge of broken flint as if outlined by the sun.