L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Mage-Guard of Hamor continues his bestselling fantasy series the Saga of Recluce, which is one the most popular in contemporary epic fantasy.
As young apprentice on the island of Recluce, Rahl was sent to the mages training school for testing before he was banished to Hamor. Now, Rahl is a powerful mage and still just as dangerous to himself and to others. His education continues, but Rahl soon finds that as his powers have increased, so has the amount of trouble he attracts.
“An intriguing fantasy in a fascinating world.”—Robert Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of The Wheel of Time® series
Saga of Recluce
#1 The Magic of Recluce / #2 The Towers of Sunset / #3 The Magic Engineer / #4 The Order War / #5 The Death of Chaos / #6 Fall of Angels / #7 The Chaos Balance / #8 The White Order / #9 Colors of Chaos / #10 Magi’i of Cyador / #11 Scion of Cyador / #12 Wellspring of Chaos / #13 Ordermaster / #14 Natural Order Mage / #15 Mage-Guard of Hamor / #16 Arms-Commander / #17 Cyador’s Heirs / #18 Heritage of Cyador /#19 The Mongrel Mage / #20 Outcasts of Order / #21 The Mage-Fire War (forthcoming)
Story Collection: Recluce Tales
Other Series by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Imager Portfolio
The Corean Chronicles
The Spellsong Cycle
The Ghost Books
The Ecolitan Matter
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
About the Author
L. E. Modesitt, Jr., is the bestselling author of the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce, Corean Chronicles, and the Imager Portfolio. His science fiction includes Adiamante, the Ecolitan novels, the Forever Hero Trilogy, and Archform: Beauty. Besides a writer, Modesitt has been a U.S. Navy pilot, a director of research for a political campaign, legislative assistant and staff director for a U.S. Congressman, Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues, and a college lecturer. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.
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Mage-Guard of Hamor
By L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2008 L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
All rights reserved.
Rahl stood on the port wing of the fast frigate's bridge, looking out at the seemingly endless gray-blue waters of the Eastern Ocean. Even in mid-ocean, the early-fall air seemed hazy and cool, and the cloudless green-blue sky held a hint of silver. Below the iron decks, he could sense the controlled chaos of the boilers and engines of the E.S. Ascadya as she steamed northeast — toward Recluce. He could also feel the latent chaos of the powder in the locked iron magazines below the forward gun turret with its twin guns.
He glanced toward the covered center of the bridge where Captain Jaracyn stood beside the officer of the day, both slightly back of the helmsman. Although the captain had been polite and courteous to both Rahl and Taryl — particularly toward the older mage-guard — Rahl could sense Jaracyn's distaste for his mission. As a fighting commander of the Hamorian Navy, the captain would have preferred a more active role in dealing with the rebellion in Merowey than to transport two mage-guard envoys to Nylan, even though the mission was designed to keep the black ships of Nylan from becoming involved in hostilities against the Emperor.
Rahl glanced back as the frigate pitched forward, slicing through a heavy swell that sent spray flying back from the bow. Two ratings in khaki trousers and collarless khaki shirts didn't even duck as the cool spray showered them.
Rahl couldn't help but shake his head at how his life had twisted since he'd left Land's End more than a year before. He'd been exiled from the north of Recluce to the Black City of Nylan, and from there to Hamor because he could not control his abilities with order. He'd been drugged with nemysa to destroy his memory after he'd discovered the thefts by the director of the Nylan Merchant Association, and ended up as laborer in the ironworks of Luba, where he'd been rescued and trained by a self-exiled mage-guard — Taryl — who had once been the Emperor's Mage-Guard Triad. Then Rahl had been posted to Swartheld as a junior mage-guard, where he'd uncovered the Jeranyi pirate plot to destroy the merchant sector of the harbor — and killed his superior and destroyed the entire Nylan Merchant Association in the process of saving the rest of the merchant houses. As a result, he and Taryl were now being dispatched to Nylan to explain all that had happened.
Yet, because Rahl had not learned enough about handling order, he knew he could not return permanently to Nylan. After his exile from Nylan and the conditions set forth for his return, if it were not for Deybri, the healer whose image and warmth he could not forget, he would not have been looking forward to returning at all — because he had little more control over his abilities to handle order than when he had been dispatched and because every time he thought about the events leading to his exile, he had to fight the anger and rage those memories sparked.
"You're looking somber," observed Taryl. The thin-faced and angular mage-guard stepped to the bridge railing inboard of where Rahl stood. "You're concerned about the reception you might get?"
Rahl nodded. He was concerned about two reactions — that of the board of magisters in Nylan and that of Deybri.
"You're an official envoy of the Emperor," Taryl said. "The most they can do is tell you to depart once we've delivered our messages."
"You're really the envoy, ser. You're a former Triad, and I still don't see why anyone really needed me."
"I suppose Jyrolt told you about the Triad?"
"Yes, ser. He didn't tell me much, except that all the rumors were wrong, and that I was to tell anyone who suggested such that they were."
Taryl shook his head. "They won't believe you. Rumors are far more attractive, as you will discover."
"Ah ... ser ... you didn't say why anyone needs me."
"Because, as I've told you several times," Taryl replied patiently, "they know who you are, and what you are, and they'll be able to tell that you're telling them the truth. Also, you're the only one alive who has firsthand knowledge about the way the managing director of the Nylan Merchant Association in Swartheld was linked to the Jeranyi."
Rahl supposed that was true, but what difference would it make? The magisters hadn't ever really listened to him before. Why would they now, especially since he was a mage-guard of Hamor?
"The engineers aren't the Council of Recluce," Rahl pointed out.
"Exactly." Taryl smiled. "But they are the real power on the isle. Most of the trade comes through Nylan. They have the only warships that can challenge Hamor. By dealing with the magisters of Nylan, we will foment a certain amount of internal unrest in Recluce. That may focus their interest internally, rather than on Hamor, because the Emperor is suggesting that the true power lies in Nylan and not at Land's End."
"You said that Fairhaven might be aiding the rebels in Merowey. If that is so, why would Recluce want to get involved? They wouldn't want to do anything to help Fairhaven."
"No, they wouldn't. You're right about that. But ..." Taryl paused. "If they thought that they could weaken us by restricting trade or some other means, they might. That's why we need to point out that the Jeranyi were behind the attack on Swartheld and that the Jeranyi were willing to sacrifice the Nylan Merchant Association and all its goods and revenues in order to strike at Hamor. That confirms the Jeranyi as an enemy of both Recluce and Hamor. That's also why the captain is making speed. We need to be the ones to explain what happened first, to show good faith and concern."
"The Council in Land's End has already declared the Jeranyi as an enemy and restricted trade," Rahl said. "They did that more than a year ago."
"But Nylan still trades with them, according to our people there. That embargo only applies north of the black wall."
Rahl hadn't known that.
"Most trade comes through Nylan now, remember," added Taryl. "You'll need to make the Jeranyi role clear. I will tell them the truth. They will be skeptical, and they will ask you. You are to convey what you know completely truthfully. You will tell them exactly what happened, and you will also tell them that the Emperor will announce that the Jeranyi were acting to cripple trade in Swartheld, but that they were stopped before they could complete their efforts."
"What if they ask about what I did?"
"You tell them. If you'd done nothing, the merchant association still would have lost everything."
Rahl nodded. That was certainly true enough, but he wondered if the magisters would see it that way, and, even if they did, whether the traders would.
He put his hand on the bridge railing to steady himself as the frigate pitched forward slightly, then rolled a bit to starboard on the recovery before righting herself. His eyes took in the port lookout, standing at the outboard end of the bridge, five cubits beyond the two mages. The rating had not even budged while Rahl was grasping to keep his balance.
"You had said that Swartheld would not be suitable for my further training, but you did not say what that training would be," Rahl finally ventured.
"I did not," replied Taryl.
"Most of the mage-guards one sees are white and handle chaos. I assume you have noticed this."
"The reason for that is obvious. They can deal with malefactors quickly, and the way in which they do also inspires fear and respect. One does not build a land on fear alone. Order is also required, but mastering order and understanding its uses takes far longer and much more work. In your case, because you are a natural ordermage, it will take even longer.
"On our return, you and I, as well as a number of other ordermages, will be sent to Merowey and placed at the disposal of Marshal Charynat to assist him in dealing with the rebellion there." Taryl's lips curled into a wry smile. "I am certain we will both learn a great deal."
"The rebellion is still continuing? Against the Emperor?"
"It is likely to continue for a considerable time," Taryl replied. "It appears that the Emperor's elder brother is behind it."
"All the Emperor's offspring are trained as leaders and administrators. Those who are unqualified are exiled. The one who succeeds is not necessarily the oldest, but the one in the bloodline who the Triad and the High Command feel is best qualified." The older mage laughed.
"There have been mistakes, but not so many as when the Emperor's successor was always the eldest son."
"The older son was the administrator in Merowey?" asked Rahl.
"He still is, and he has trained and raised his own army."
The more Rahl learned about Hamor, the less he knew ... or so it seemed.
He glanced out to the horizon. Even though there were no clouds in sight, he had the feeling that there would be storms ahead.CHAPTER 2
The voyage back to Nylan aboard the Ascadya was far swifter than had been Rahl's trip to Swartheld aboard the Diev more than a year earlier. Upon occasion the glasses passed more quickly, particularly when Taryl was working with Rahl on sharpening his order-senses and-abilities. Rahl also wrote a letter to his parents, explaining what had happened in general terms, and that while he would be in Nylan, it would only be for a few days before he had to return to Hamor, since he had certainly not gained the control of his order-abilities required by the magisters. He thought he had enough coins to have the letter sent from Nylan.
Writing the letter, careful as he was, did not take all that much time, and all too often, Rahl found himself somewhere at the railing, staring out at the seemingly endless Eastern Ocean and wondering if he would ever gain full mastery of order-abilities. Or would he always be limited to little more than what he could now accomplish?
Then there was Deybri. What could he really do except talk to her? He had no future in Recluce, at least not anytime soon, and she was years older. Yet ... he shook his head. He could only see her ... if she'd even agree to that.
Early on fiveday morning, a long, dark shape appeared on the horizon, and shortly thereafter Captain Jaracyn ordered the envoy ensign to the top of the mast — an oblong white flag bordered in green.
By midday, the southern end of Recluce was clearly visible dead ahead, but Rahl was more concerned about what he sensed approaching. Aft on the starboard side of the Ascadya and a good kay to the east, Rahl could sense a concentration of order, a blackness that he could not see with his eyes.
At that moment, Taryl climbed the ladder to the starboard wing of the bridge, joining Rahl and nodding to the junior mage-guard. "You can sense we have company?"
"Yes, ser. It must be one of the black ships."
Taryl nodded. "I'd judge so."
For a time, they both were silent, but Rahl could not help but keep trying to see the Recluce vessel, even as it quickly drew nearer, despite the speed of the Hamorian frigate.
"It's faster than I'd realized," admitted Taryl. "It's a good thing we're here, although they wouldn't have as much of an advantage as they'd think."
The older mage gestured in the direction of the unseen vessel. "The closer they get, the easier it is to calculate where they are. Look aft. You can see the wake. They've probably got their screws set deeply to minimize it, but if they get close enough, a good gunner could calculate where they are. They're most dangerous at dusk and at night, when you can't see the wake clearly."
That might be, reflected Rahl, but as he watched the wake of the unseen vessel, roughly abeam the Ascadya, he could sense it abruptly increasing its speed and pulling away from the Hamorian frigate. Before its wake vanished, Rahl could see that it was headed toward the southernmost tip of Recluce and the black city and port of Nylan.
"It's fast, though, much faster than anything we have," Taryl added.
"Are we running at top speed?" Rahl refrained from mentioning Khalyt, the young engineer he had met briefly in Nylan, and his ideas for developing an even faster warship.
"No. That wastes too much coal, but even at flank speed, we couldn't match them. Still, they don't have anywhere near the numbers of vessels we do, I don't believe." With a laugh, Taryl added, "They don't need as many, either."
By the time the Ascadya neared the entrance to Nylan, a pilot boat was waiting, accompanied by one of the black ships — without a sight shield. It might have been the same one that had earlier scouted the Hamorian frigate, but Rahl had no way of telling. It also had turrets fore and aft, but they were lower, and the twin guns shorter, with an iron tube mounted in the center of the turret above the guns.
Captain Jaracyn slowed the frigate to mere headway as the pilot boat came alongside.
With Taryl beside him, Rahl listened as the pilot used a conical tube to amplify his voice. For a moment, Rahl didn't understand a word, before he realized that the pilot and the captain were speaking Low Temple and not Hamorian.
"... diplomatic mission to the magisters and engineers of Nylan ..." replied the captain.
"... welcome ... you'll be berthed at the first set of piers on the north side of the harbor ... the pier will have a berthing flag on the end — green square on white ... deeper water there ... would you like a pilot?"
"No ... that's a negative."
"We'll lead you in ..."
"Thank you ... we'll need as much headway as we're now making."
"You'll have it, Captain."
Within moments, the pilot boat pulled away, and the frigate followed, picking up slightly more speed as they followed the boat toward the main channel into the harbor.
"The piers where they're berthing us are the ones where the black ships are docked." Rahl pointed to the northwest end of the harbor.
"That makes sense. They want to keep an eye on us, and have the ability to make sure we behave ourselves." Taryl offered a half smile. "They shouldn't know what happened in Swartheld yet, anyway. That was one reason why the captain pushed it. The Emperor wanted us to deliver the news before anyone else, but that also means that the magisters will be skeptical of our appearance under a parley banner."
Rahl glanced northward, at the black-stone buildings and dwellings rising from the harbor onto the long, sloping hill. He thought he could see the training center and the small park below it. In the distance, he could make out a faint dark line. "You can see the black wall. It runs across the entire isle."
"Is it as great as they claim?" asked Taryl.
"All the stones are the same size, at least in the parts of the wall I've seen, and it's order-protected for its entire length." Rahl did not wish to mention his own difficulties with the wall, those that had been the final element in assuring his exile. "It is impressive."
As the Ascadya neared the piers, Rahl noted that there was no sight shield in place and that the four long piers were totally empty. "They've moved out all the black ships."
"Or the one that scouted us was the only one here," replied Taryl. "That's more likely. They don't have that many of them."
Rahl had to wonder how Taryl knew that when he didn't, and when he hadn't even been able to see how many of the black ships had been berthed in Nylan in the whole time he'd been in the city.
"There are ways," Taryl answered the unspoken question. "The sea marshals analyze all reports of the sightings of the black ships. Even if they can't identify them, or know for certain, it's a pretty fair wager that a wake from an unseen high-speed vessel is from a Recluce black ship, and most of the time when they're at sea, they don't hold the sight shields except when they're close to Hamorian warships or pirate vessels. It's too hard on the mages, and they can't have that many."
"Doesn't Recluce have more black mages than many lands?"
"That's true. There were far more mages among those who founded the isle, but even so, Hamor is more than a thousand times the size of Recluce and doubtless has hundreds of times the number of people, even with the great eastern desert and the high grasslands." Taryl smiled faintly. "And Hamor does not exile any of its mages. We find uses for almost all of them, including those from Recluce and elsewhere, as you know."
Rahl had to admire the way in which Captain Jaracyn eased the frigate into the pier — a black-stone structure far narrower than those in Swartheld — perhaps a mere fifty cubits in width.
The line handlers on the pier wore dark gray uniforms, Rahl noted, and all were dressed the same. Unlike the Hamorian crews and dockworkers, though, several were women.
Only after the frigate was secured to the heavy bollards, and the fenders were all in place, did the captain order the gangway lowered. By then, it was late afternoon, and the sun was not that high over the Gulf of Candar to the west of Nylan.
Almost immediately, a thin man in the same dark gray as the line handlers appeared on the pier, walking down it toward the Ascadya.
Rahl followed the captain and Taryl down from the bridge to the quarterdeck, standing behind them as they waited.
Excerpted from Mage-Guard of Hamor by L. E. Modesitt Jr.. Copyright © 2008 L. E. Modesitt, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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