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Authors: Jr. L. E. Modesitt

Madness in Solidar

 

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Copyright Page

 

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For my mother,
who introduced me to science fiction and the fantastic and who made all the books possible

 

CHARACTERS

REX

RYEN D'REX
    Rex of Solidar

ASARYA D'RYEN
    Wife of Ryen

LORIEN D'RYEN
    Eldest son of Ryen

CHELIA D'LORIEN
    Wife of Lorien

RYENTAR D'RYEN
    Younger son of Ryen

CHARYN D'LORIEN
    Eldest son of Lorien

 

HIGH HOLDERS

CALKORAN D'ALTE
    Vaestora

CAEMRYN D'ALTE
    Yapres

DELCOEUR D'ALTE
    L'Excelsis [deceased], father of Asarya

GUERDYN D'ALTE
    Head, High Holder's Council, Nacliano

HAEBYN D'ALTE
    High Councilor, Piedryn

MOERYN D'ALTE
    High Councilor, Khelgror

NACRYON D'ALTE
    High Councilor, Mantes

RUELYR D'ALTE
    Ruile

RYEL D'ALTE
    Rivages

SOUVEN D'ALTE
    Dueraan

VAUN D'ALTE
    High Councilor, Tilbora

ZAERLYN D'ALTE
    Rivages

 

IMAGERS

ALASTAR
    Maitre D'Image

FHAEN
    Maitre D'Esprit [deceased Maitre of Collegium]

CYRAN
    Maitre D'Esprit

AKORYT
    Maitre D'Structure

DESYRK
    Maitre D'Structure

OBSOLYM
    Maitre D'Structure

TARYN
    Maitre D'Structure

ALYNA
    Maitre D'Aspect

CLAEYND
    Maitre D'Aspect

GAELLEN
    Maitre D'Aspect, healer

KHAELIS
    Maitre D'Aspect

LHENDYR
    Maitre D'Aspect

MHORYS
    Maitre D'Aspect

NARRYN
    Maitre D'Aspect

PETROS
    Maitre D'Aspect

SHAELYT
    Maitre D'Aspect

TIRANYA
    Maitre D'Aspect

WARRYK
    Maitre D'Aspect

 

ARHGEN
    Tertius, Collegium bookkeeper

DAREYN
    Secondus, aide to maitre

ISKHAR
    Chorister of the Collegium

ZHELAN
    Maitre of Westisle Collegium

 

FACTORS

BROUSSARD D'FACTORIUS
    Brick and stone

ELTHYRD D'FACTORIUS
    Timber, lumber; chief, Factors' Council

KATHILA D'FACTORIA
    Factors' Council member; spices, scents, and oils

VHADYM D'FACTORIUS
    Leather and rendering

WYLUM D'FACTORIUS
    Woolens and cloth

 

GUILDERS

GAIROCK
    Master Stonemason

 

OTHERS

DEMYKALON D'CORPS
    Marshal of the Armies

WILKORN D'NAVIA
    Sea Marshal

PETAYN D'CORPS
    Vice-Marshal

CHESYRK D'CORPS
    Subcommander

 

P
ROLOGUE
(1)

“Five silvers? That's all?” asked the woman in a low voice. “After all the years you devoted to his father?”

“Young master Cerrsyn said that was all that he could spare. The factorage went to his older brother. He got nothing.” The stocky man, sitting on the low stool in front of the hearth, stared at the few reddish coals that remained.

The boy listened and watched from where he lay on the rush pallet with its pad of quilted rags neatly stitched together, barely covered by a small and patched woolen gray blanket, his eyes slit so that they would think he was sleeping.

“Like as anyone'd believe that.”

“I believe it. He walked from the factorage to the north wharf. I went with him. That's when he gave me the silvers. He got on a schooner bound for Hassyl. He'll be working for his wife's father there.”

“Least he'll have a place. Not like us.”

“We've the cot, love.”

“That and five whole silvers … and three young mouths to feed. Some reward for years of service.”

“Faerth might take me as a loader.”

“At your age … how long can you lift bales and barrels?”

“Long as I have to, long as there's no other work to be had. There are … other things I can do…”

The woman offered a sound that might have been anything.

The boy continued to listen, but neither of his parents spoke, not before he finally slept, restlessly, until much later when a chill breeze blew through the open door, so strongly that the boy had to grab his tattered blanket to keep it from blowing away, not that it was quite long enough to cover both his shoulders and feet, no matter how much he hunched up. He could taste ashes from the small fire that had burned out glasses earlier, even before he had drifted into sleep. He moistened his lips in the darkness. That only made the taste of ashes worse. The door closed, but he could still feel the wind coming through the cracks in the wall and in the doorframe.

“Mother…” He tried not to let his voice crack.

“I'm here.” She knelt beside him and touched his cheek.

Her hand was even colder than the packed clay of the floor or the stones of the hearth.

“Father?”

“He had to go. He'll be back in the morning. A man had a task.”

The boy could hear the way her voice hardened when she tried not to talk about things that worried her. “At night?”

“We do what we have to. Your father will be back. He always does what he says. He always has. He always will. Would that others did.”

The boy reached from under the blankets and took her hand in his. “Your hands are cold.”

“That's just from seeing your father off.” After a time, she withdrew her hands. “Go back to sleep.”

This time, he did not find sleep again until it was almost dawn.

 

1

The two gray-clad imagers sat in the two chairs before the oblong desk. The prematurely gray-haired one glanced at the timepiece on the corner of the desk, and its sands flowing from the top of the glass to the bottom.

“Do you have to go?” asked Cyran, the younger of the two men, if only by a few years, although some silver hairs streaked his blond thatch.

“Not quite yet. I'm supposed to meet the rex at half past eighth glass. He'd be happier if it were sixth glass.”

“Is he that early a riser?”

“Supposedly. He always looks tired, even when he's angry, and that's more often the case than not.”

“Alastar … don't you think you're acceding to his wishes too much? Even Maitre Fhaen…”

“He is the source of almost all our funding. That's barely enough right now, as I pointed out at the last meeting of the senior maitres. The drought in the southeast, around Piedryn, and the last rains here and in the west, have halved crop yields, and prices are going up … and will increase more. Then there's the small matter that the Collegium's charter is to support the rex, and that means against the High Holders and everything else. In the past, that's meant support against the army High Command as well, but with Demykalon only recently becoming marshal, it's hard to say.”

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