Book One - Fauns and Filinians
Corry showed up at the orphanage two years ago, unable to remember how he’d gotten there. He spoke a language no one recognized, and he was afraid of cars and planes and computers. Corry can remember snippets of another life, but no matter how hard he tries to remember, it just keeps slipping away. Then one day, he meets a fauness in an orange grove. She’s from a world called Panamindorah, and he can understand her language. In addition, Corry can read a language that no one in Panamindorah has been able to read for three hundred years; has he really been gone that long? Now he must recover his lost memories and rebuild his life, because the person who tried to kill him once is about to try again.
Prelude: Sing Muse
Hope died with the day in the city of Selbis. In the west the sinking sun bled color like a severed artery, etching the shadows of parapet teeth on the red stone walls. In a tower room of the great keep, the light fell across a man, a wolf, and a tree. The man sprawled on a branch- strewn couch. He held an enormous dagger, its cross-guard set with jagged fragments of pearl, a strange pale jewel in the pommel. His other hand clutched something on the end of a necklace. Sap oozed from the torn branches beneath him, staining his white silk shirt and black trousers. He lay as still as a waxwork, humming softly under his breath, his clothes ruffling in the breeze that blew through the open window.
A great black wolf lay on the floor, watching him through dull eyes. He wore an iron muzzle so heavy that he could barely lift his head. Blood glistened in the fur above his shoulder blades. Sometimes he offered a growl in response to the man's humming, but the sound came weak and muted through the muzzle.
The tree lay everywhere. It seemed to have passed violently through the window, leaving scratches across the walls and a dusting of loose mortar and fallen stone around the sill. The sticky brown sap had a sweet, sharp odor. It had pooled on the tiles and matted in the upholstery of the couch. The man's coal black hair had grown sticky with the tree's blood, yet he lay perfectly still and hummed.
At last, an eagle dropped through the window. Its wings shot out to stop its dive an instant before it the floor. The man sat up and sheathed the dagger at his belt. He had pale skin and eyes as green as the leaves of the tree. He smiled. “Morchella.”
The eagle shook its feathers. Its form rippled and leapt up like an uncoiling spring. A woman stood in the bird's place, wearing a blue hooded robe. She tossed her head, throwing back the hood. The wolf managed a growl somewhat louder than before. The woman ignored him. She bowed at the waist. “They are coming, my lord. The battle went poorly today.”
The man nodded. He did not seem surprised. “How near the city?” “They will be here before dawn.”
He stretched, graceful as a cat, and let go of the necklace. The chain hung down in a sharp V, but nothing appeared on the end.
“Gabalon,” said the woman, her voice losing its formality, “the city is in a panic. I spoke with Denathar at the gate. He is trying to keep the curfew, but soon he will need to make good his threats. The citizens think the war is lost. They are desperate to flee.”
The man twirled his dagger thoughtfully. “They must not do that. Tell him to start executing the worst offenders. They must fear me more than they fear wolflings.”
Morchella inclined her head. “He also said that while the city panics, you have been wandering around the forest tearing up trees.”
Gabalon laughed. “Yes, I have.” He looked around in satisfaction at the half destroyed room. “Can you hear the music bleeding from it?”
The wolf was growling again. He managed to get to his feet, but he could not lift his head. “Poor Telsar,” murmured Gabalon, “he was never good at bowing, but he is learning.”
Morchella glanced at the wolf. “What else do you plan for him?”
Gabalon walked to his prisoner. The animal was large as a pony. It swung its iron muzzle, but Gabalon reached down and caught it easily. “Even now, he does not know how to run away.”
“You have what you need?” asked Morchella. “I have.”
He waved a hand. “I will know when I am finished and not before.” He kicked one of the wolf's feet from under it, and the animal went down heavily on its belly. The muzzle made a sharp clink against the tiles. “Take him back to the dungeons. I'll be down shortly.”
Morchella looked amused. “Will you not leave him sane long enough to see the destruction of his army? That is unlike you, Gabalon.”
“Oh, I think I'll let him keep his sanity. His music is so strong. Perhaps I will need it again. His tongue, on the other hand, I can do without.”
The wolf jerked his muzzle, and this time he caught Gabalon on a shin. The man's hand descended with reptilian swiftness to seize the wolf's bloody ruff. Telsar clamped his teeth on a whine. “They are already lost,” said Gabalon, “all your wolves and wolflings. They think they have their teeth at my throat, but victory will turn to dust in their mouths.” He bent close to the wolf's ear and purred, “I could not have done it without you.”