Read By the Sword Online

Authors: Mercedes Lackey

By the Sword

Table of Contents
 
 
 
 
“Woman's Need calls me, as Woman's Need made me. Her Need will I answer as my maker bade me. ”
 
The mage chanted furiously, in some language Kero didn't recognize. She somehow knew that the
sword
did, though; for the first time she felt something from it—a strange, slow anger, hot as a forge, and heavy as iron.
 
Kero
wanted
to run, but the sword wouldn't let her. She could only stand there, an easy target. The mage sneered, and raised his hands. They glowed for a moment, a sickly red, then the glow brightened and a spark arced between them.
 
The blade's anger rose to consume her, and she shifted her grip from the hilt to the sword-blade itself. She balanced her sword for a moment that way, as if it was, impossibly, nothing more than a giant throwing knife. It didn't seem to weigh any more than her dagger had at that moment.
 
Her arm came back, and she threw it, like a spear.
 
It flashed across the space between herself and the mage, arrow-straight and point-first....
NOVELS BY
MERCEDES LACKEY
available from DAW Books:
THE HERALDS OF VALDEMAR
ARROWS OF THE QUEEN
ARROW'S FLIGHT
ARROW'S FALL
 
 
THE LAST HERALD-MAGE
MAGIC'S PAWN
MAGIC'S PROMISE
MAGIC'S PRICE
 
 
THE MAGE WINDS
WINDS OF FATE
WINDS OF CHANGE
WINDS OF FURY
 
 
THE MAGE STORMS
STORM WARNING
STORM RISING
STORM BREAKING
 
 
VOWS AND HONOR
THE OATHBOUND
OATHBREAKERS
OATHBLOOD
 
 
THE COLLEGIUM CHRONICLES
FOUNDATION*
 
 
BY THE SWORD
BRIGHTLY BURNING
TAKE A THIEF
EXILE'S HONOR
EXILE'S VALOR
 
 
VALDEMAR ANTHOLOGIES:
SWORD OF ICE
SUN IN GLORY
CROSSROADS
MOVING TARGETS
*
 
Written with
LARRY DIXON:
 
THE MAGE WARS
THE BLACK GRYPHON
THE WHITE GRYPHON
THE SILVER GRYPHON
 
 
DARIAN'S TALE
OWLFLIGHT
OWLSIGHT
OWLKNIGHT
 
 
OTHER NOVELS
 
THE BLACK SWAN
 
 
THE
DRAGON JOUSTERS
JOUST
ALTA
SANCTUARY
AERIE
 
 
THE ELEMENTAL MASTERS
THE SERPENT'S SHADOW
THE GATES OF SLEEP
PHOENIX AND ASHES
THE WIZARD OF LONDON
RESERVED FOR THE CAT
 
 
 
And don't miss:
THE VALDEMAR COMPANION
Edited by John Helfers and Denise Little
 
*
Coming soon from DAW Books
Copyright © 1991 by Mercedes R. Lackey.
 
For color prints of Jody Lee's paintings, please contact:
The Cerridwen Enterprise
P.O. Box 10161
Kansas City, MO 64111
Phone: 1-800-825-1281
 
 
All songs @ 1991 by Firebird Arts & Music, Inc.,
Available from:
P.O. Box 14785
Portland, OR 97214-9998
Phone: 1-800-752-0494
 
 
 
DAW Book Collectors No. 840.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
First Printing, February 1991
26
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
—MARCA REOISTRADA
HECHO EN U.SA.
 
 
S.A.
eISBN : 978-1-101-12726-1

http://us.penguingroup.com

Dedicated to the memory of
Stan Rogers
Singer, Songwriter, Inspiration
Whose words and music
gave me heart and courage
when I needed them most.
OFFICIAL TIMELINE FOR THE
HERALDS OF VALDEMAR SERIES
by Mercedes Lackey
Sequence of events
by Valdemar rockoning
THE HERALDS OF
VALDEMAR TRILOGY
Arrows of the Queen
Arrow's Flight
Arrow‘
s
Fall
 
BY THE SWORD
 
 
THE MAGE WINDS
TRILOGY
Winds
of
Fate
Winds
of
Chang
e
Winds of Fury
BOOK ONE
Kerowyn's Ride
One
“Blessed—look
out!”
Everyone turned and stared; at Kero, and at the boy about to lose the towering platter of bread. The racket of pots and voices stopped, and Kerowyn's voice rang out in the silence like a trumpet call, but no one answered this call to arms. They all seemed confused or frozen with indecision. The scullion staggered two more steps forward; the edible sculpture, two clumsy, obese bread-deer (a stag and a reclining doe), began sliding from the oversized serving dish he was attempting to carry alone.
Idiots! Kerowyn swore again, this time with an oath her mother would have blanched to hear, but it seemed as if she was the only one with the will or brains to act. She sprinted across the slickly damp floor of the kitchen, and caught the edge of the platter just as the enormous subtlety of sweet, egg-glazed dough started to head for the flagstones.
The lumpy mountain stopped just short of the carved display plate's edge. She held it steady while young Derk, sweating profusely, regained his breath and his balance, and took the burden of twenty pounds of sweet, raisin studded bread back from her.
He got the thing properly settled on his shoulder and headed for the Great Hall to place it before the wedding party. Kero listened for a moment, then heard the shouts and applause from beyond the kitchen door as the bread sculpture appeared. The clamor in the kitchen resumed.
Kero licked sweat from her upper lip, and sighed. She would have
liked
to have staggered backward and leaned against the wall to catch her breath, but she didn't dare take the time, not at this point in the serving. The moment she paused there would undoubtedly be three more near disasters; if she took her attention away from the preparations, the tightly-planned schedule would fall apart.
She knew very well she really shouldn't be here. She probably
should
have been out there with the rest of the guests, playing Keep Lady; that was what would have been “proper.”
To the six hells with “proper.

If Father wants this feast to be a success, I have to be in here, not playing the lady.
The kitchen was as hot as any one of the six hells, and crowded with twice the number of people it was intended to hold. The cook, an immense man with the build of a wrestler, and his young helpers were all squeezed in behind one side of a huge table running the entire length of the kitchen. Normally they worked on both sides, but tonight the servers were running relay with platters and bowls on the other side, and may the gods help anyone in the way.
Kero chivvied her recruited corps of horse-grooms out the door. They were a lot more used to being served from the beer pitchers they were carrying than doing the serving themselves. Then she spotted something out of the comer of her eye and paused long enough to snatch up a wooden spoon. She used it to reach across the expanse of scarred wooden tabletop and whack one of the pages on the knuckles. She got him to rights, too, trying to steal a fingerful of icing from the wedding cake standing in magnificent isolation on the end of the table butted up against the wall. The boy yelped and jumped back, colliding with one of the cook's helpers and earning himself a black look and another whack with a spoon.
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