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SofTs Official Snippet #7

Fans of Bahzell and Tomenack come on in! Let's talk about David's fantasy series and our favorite hradani!
SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by runsforcelery   » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:10 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

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Sorry this one is coming in late. Sharon and I were at Marscon in Ohio over the weekend. Things got sort of . . . busy (partly because Katherine Kurtz, who is one of my favorite people in the entire world, was also there). And I picked up a slight case of the con crud which has put a few hitches in my schedule since getting home. Because of that, I'm going to give you a slightly longer snippet this time.

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“Yes,” the younger man said softly. “I don’t —” then he broke off.

“How did you know?” he whispered, his right hand searching his belt for something that wasn’t there.

“It’s my job to know things,” the old man said lightly. “I’m a wizard.”

Wizard?!” The word was a hiss, and those searching fingers closed convulsively on a missing hilt. The old man only laughed and pushed the second bowl towards him.

“Indeed. Come now, man! Not all wizards have been evil, though I grant the breed has an evil name these days. But Bahzell Bloody Hand would have no dark wizard in his house!”

“Possibly not.” The redhaired man’s voice was harsh as he reached blindly for a spoon, eyes on the wizard’s face. “Only I’ve never even heard of any ‘Bloody Hand,’ and even if I had, it wouldn’t follow that any wizard was worthy of my trust.”

“But you’ve met Bahzell,” the old man said. “Come. Eat! His lady’s made you free of her kitchen, and that’s not a privilege that’s easily come by.”

“No, I imagine it isn’t.” The redhaired man smiled unwillingly. It was a thin smile, edged with bitter uncertainty, yet a smile for all of that, and he dipped his spoon into his own bowl. “A daunting lady indeed.”

“The Sothōii war maids have their little ways,” the old man said dryly.

“Sothōii war maids?” The redhaired man looked back up sharply. “They’re pledged never to wed!”

“So they are. Or were, at any rate.” The old man shrugged. “Their charter was . . . revised slightly in that respect some years ago. In fact, Leeana had a bit to do with that. Or her example did, anyway.” He smiled. “She does rather tend to set the entire world on its ear just when the people around her think it’s safe to take their eye off her. Of course, she comes by it naturally, I suppose.” He shook his head. “Surely you’ve realized our Leeana is special in every way? This whole household’s special, my friend, and Leeana carries the rank of a commander of one thousand.”

The redhaired man’s eyes went back to the tall, slender woman with something like awe. War maids were seldom seen beyond the borders of the Wind Plain, but their reputation as fighters was second to none. The Sothōii’s splendid cavalry was the terror of their enemies, yet the war maids — for all that they’d never been considered truly “respectable” by most Sothōii — were equally skilled in their chosen role as light infantry, scouts, and mistresses of irregular warfare. If Leeana had led a thousand of them in battle, she was a force to be reckoned with. No wonder men stepped aside when she crossed a room! But what was she doing wed to a hradani, one of the Sothōii’s hereditary enemies? And why did the two of them manage a tavern in the Empire of the Axe, of all places?

He turned eyes filled with questions to the wizard across the table, but the other man shook his head ever so slightly.

“Your curiosity’s apparent,” he said softly, “but it isn’t my right to enlighten you. Not that it isn’t a tale well worth the telling — or that half the bards in Norfressa haven’t already tried their hand at telling it, for that matter — but none of the ballads get it quite right. Except for Brandark’s, perhaps.” The old man’s lips twitched on the edge of what looked like a smile. “Just understand that all the questions you’ve already imagined about them fall well short of the reality. If there’s time later, I’m sure they’ll be willing to tell you more, although it’s unlikely there will be time for it tonight. The evening’s schedule is likely to be a bit too much on the . . . full side for long stories, however good they may be. One word of caution I will give, however: offer no harm to anyone under this roof. Especially not to Gwynna Bahzelldaughter! If you do, no power on earth will save you.”

The redhaired man shivered as the wizard’s expression offered the second part of his warning — that Bahzell and his redoubtable wife might be the least of his dangers if he posed a threat to the child. He couldn’t understand why that might be, but the cold certainty of it burned his nerves. Then the wizard’s expression relented and he smiled crookedly.

“But we should speak of you, shouldn’t we?” he said more lightly.

“What about me?” the redhaired man asked warily.

“Don’t be foolish. A blind man could see you’re troubled, and I’m far from blind. Besides, I’m a wizard. I may know more about you than you do.”

“You know who I am?”

The younger man’s spoon dropped and his hand locked on the wizard’s wrist with bruising strength. The rumble of Blanchrach’s displeasure rose, and the direcat’s head lifted from his paws.

“Softly, my friend. Softly!”

Wencit’s eyes compelled the redhaired man back onto his bench.

“You know who I am!” he insisted desperately.

“Who you are?” The old man toyed with the words, not tauntingly, but is if tasting their meaning. “Who can say who a man is? Not I! I can’t even tell you who I am myself — not accurately. Tomorrow I’ll no longer be the man I am today, and the me of yesterday has already died. No, I can’t tell you who you are, but perhaps I can tell you what you are, and that’s almost as good.” He paused and eyed the other levelly. “Almost.”

“I see.” The redhaired man smiled, and it was not a pleasant expression. “Isn’t there a proverb about asking wizards questions?”

“A great many of them, actually. But I think the one you want says ‘Ask a wizard a question only if you know the answer — and even then, his answer will confuse you.’”

“You’re right. That’s the one I was trying to recall.”

“I thought it might be. Do you want an answer?”

“Will it confuse me?”

“Undoubtedly,” the wizard said calmly, spooning up more stew.

The redhaired man regarded him across the table, filled with a queer calm, like ice over a fire. He hadn’t known he was a stranger to himself before Gwyna reacted to his scars, and the aftershock of finding that he had no past still echoed in his soul. He had no idea of who or what he was, no idea of what he might have done. Was he a criminal? An outlawed man with a price on his head? He remembered no crimes — and wouldn’t that be a poor defense? Did he have a wife of his own? A family who’d become less than ghosts as they vanished from his memory? Was someone desperately searching for him, or did no one in all the world care what might have become of him? All those questions, and a thousand more besides, poured through him, yet the old man seemed unconcerned by his anguished confusion. He sat playing word games and swallowing stew as if things like this happened every day! Perhaps they did happen to wizards, but the redhaired man was ill prepared to cope with disaster on such a scale. If the wizard had the smallest clue to this . . . this absence, this negation of his past, of course he wanted to hear it. However confusing or frightening it might be.

“Tell me, then, Wizard.” He made his voice mocking, though it took more courage than he’d thought he had. “What am I?”

“An important piece of a very large puzzle,” the old man replied.

“You’re right,” the redhaired man snorted, green eyes dark with disappointment. “I’m confused.”

“It’s generally confusing to be a puzzle piece,” the other man agreed. “Especially when the puzzle is vaster than you can possibly imagine.”

“Really? Just how does this piece fit in? What makes me so important that a wizard chooses to play riddle games with me? Or is that question permitted? the redhaired man asked bitterly.

“The question’ permitted,” the old man said, suddenly serious, “but I can’t answer it now. Not in full, though I can tell you some things.”

“Such as?” The redhaired man bent across the table, unable to hide the eagerness in his eyes.

“I will tell you this much. You’re a fighting man, as your scars proclaim, but you’re also much more than that, my friend. You’re a man people will find it easy to like – perhaps even to follow — and such men are always dangerous, not least to themselves. You have strengths of which you’re not aware, strengths which are hidden deep within you, and they make you a sharp edged tool for a knowing hand.”

“Wonderful,” the redhaired man said bitterly. “Are you trying to confuse me? Isn’t simple ignorance enough for you? Why can’t you give me something useful?

“I have.” The old man swallowed and waved his spoon. “Put it together. I’m a wizard, and wizards’ answers are limited because we know too much. An

injudicious word, a hint too much, and the damage is done. An entire series of plans, of strategies — years of effort — can slide down into ruin because we said one word to many.”

His spoon cut the air to strike the table with a crack, and the redhaired man snorted angrily.

“I don’t recall asking to be included in any strategies!”

“But then, you don’t remember everything, do you?” The question was asked gently, and the younger man stiffened. “Perhaps you did ask . . . once. And consider this — your memory loss is selective, my friend. You know what hradani are, and direcats. You’ve heard of war maids. Selective amnesia’s probably no accident.”


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by Invictus   » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:02 pm

Invictus
Commander

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Ooooh. Curiouser and curiouser. Thanks for the snippet RFC! Hope you had fun at Marscon!

"When you talk about damage radius, even atomic weapons pale before that of an unfettered idiot in a position of power." Sam Starfall
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by tootall   » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:10 pm

tootall
Captain (Junior Grade)

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Do you want an answer?”
“Will it confuse me?”
“Undoubtedly,” the wizard said


Gotta love that bit!!
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:24 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

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Thank You for this very interesting Snippet. :) :) :) :)
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by BarryKirk   » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:38 pm

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Captain of the List

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Location: York, PA

Two snippets in one night!!! Safehold and Wargod. Sweet!!!

Thank you RFC!!
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by biochem   » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:38 pm

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Rear Admiral

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:D
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by NervousEnergy   » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:14 pm

NervousEnergy
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 282
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:50 pm

Katherine Kurtz... I'm jealous. It's been ages since I've re-read the Deryni novels.

Thanks for the snippet!
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by BobG   » Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:09 am

BobG
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 288
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 4:23 pm
Location: Westford, MA

Thank you, David.

It sounds like the original timeline, anyway. Bahzel Bloody Hand indeed. :D

-- Bob G
SF & Fantasy: The only things better than Chocolate.
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by Sharidann   » Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:16 am

Sharidann
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:29 am

Thanks David!

Really makes one hungry and thirsty for more. :)
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Re: SofTs Official Snippet #7
Post by lyonheart   » Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:20 am

lyonheart
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 4838
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:27 pm

Hello RunsForCelery!

Thank you so very much for another snippet!

This becomes more intriguing by the snippet!

L
Any snippet or post from RFC is good if not great!
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