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Authors: Dave Duncan

Speak to the Devil

BOOKS BY DAVE DUNCAN

 

T
HE
B
ROTHERS
M
AGNUS
Speak to the Devil

 

“T
HE
D
ODEC
B
OOKS

Children of Chaos
Mother of Lies

 

T
HE
A
LCHEMIST
The Alchemist’s Apprentice
The Alchemist’s Code
The Alchemist’s Pursuit

 

C
HRONICLES OF THE
K
ING’S
B
LADES
Paragon Lost
Impossible Odds
The Jaguar Knights

 

T
ALES OF THE
K
ING’S
B
LADES
The Gilded Chain
Lord of Fire Lands
Sky of Swords

 

T
HE
K
ING’S
D
AGGERS
Sir Stalwart
The Crooked House
Silvercloak

 

A
M
AN OF
H
IS
W
ORD
Magic Casement
Faery Land Forlorn
Perilous Seas
Emperor and Clown

 

A
H
ANDFUL OF
M
EN
The Cutting Edge
Upland Outlaws
The Stricken Field
The Living God

 

T
HE
G
REAT
G
AME
Past Imperative
Present Tense
Future Indefinite

 

“T
HE
O
MAR
B
OOKS”
The Reaver Road
The Hunters’ Haunt

 

T
HE
S
EVENTH
S
WORD
The Reluctant Swordsman
The Coming of Wisdom
The Destiny of the Sword

 

S
TAND
-A
LONE
N
OVELS
West of January
The Cursed
A Rose-Red City
Shadow
Strings
Hero!
Ill Met in the Arena

 

W
RITING AS

SARAH
B. F
RANKLIN

Daughter of Troy

 

W
RITING AS
“K
EN
H
OOD

Demon Sword
Demon Rider
Demon Knight

 

Please see
www.daveduncan.com
for more information.

 

SPEAK

 

TO THE

 

DEVIL

 

DAVE DUNCAN

 

A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
NEW YORK

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

SPEAK TO THE DEVIL

 

Copyright © 2010 by Dave Duncan

 

All rights reserved.

 

Edited by Liz Gorinsky

 

A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

 

www.tor-forge.com

 

Tor
®
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

 

ISBN 978-0-7653-2347-7

 

First Edition: May 2010

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

0    9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1

 

Once upon a time, as the Age of Chivalry was
ending, there lived in a little- known kingdom
in Central Eu rope five brothers…

THE PLAYERS
 

THE BROTHERS

  • Ottokar: thirteenth Baron Magnus of Dobkov, head of the family

  • Vladislav: knight, a warrior currently held hostage in Bavaria

  • Marek: a monk in the Benedictine monastery at Koupel

  • Anton: recently enlisted in the Light Hussars

  • Wulfgang: Anton’s varlet

THE GOVERNMENT

  • Konrad V: aging king of Jorgary

  • Konrad: crown prince, his grandson

  • Zdenek: cardinal, the king’s first minister, known as the Scarlet Spider

  • Svaty: archbishop of Jorgary

AT CARDICE

  • Stepan: Count Bukovany of Cardice, lord of the march, keeper of Castle Gallant

  • Edita: his countess

  • Petr: knight, his son and heir

  • Madlenka: the count’s daughter

  • Ugne: bishop of Cardice

  • Giedre Jurbarkas: Madlenka’s lady-in-waiting and best friend

  • Ramunas Jurbarkas: seneschal of Castle Gallant, Giedre’s father

  • Karolis Kavarskas: knight, constable of Castle Gallant

  • Dalibor Notivova: deputy constable

AT PELRELM

  • Havel: Count Vranov of Pelrelm, lord of the march

  • Marijus: knight, his tenth son

  • Leonas: an imbecile, his fifteenth or sixteenth son

  • Vilhelmas: a priest of the Greek Orthodox faith

IN POMERANIA

  • Wartislaw: Duke of Pomerania, Lord of the Wends

CHAPTER
1
 

In the darkest hour of the night, a troop of the Palace Guard came marching along the serpentine alleys of Mauvnik, capital city of Jorgary. Arriving at the home of Baron Radovan, they pounded the door knocker. When that produced no swift response, they thundered on the panels with the butts of their pikes and shouted abuse, making enough racket to silence the cats and start dogs barking. Nosy neighbors opened shutters. When at last a terrified servant peered out through the grille, their leader bellowed for all to hear that Lancer Anton Magnus was wanted at the palace at once. The guards continued to stamp and jingle and chatter in the roadway until the lanky youngster they sought came stumbling out, his hussar uniform awry and his eyes still blurred by sleep. They formed up around him and marched him away.

Anton was not told that he was under arrest. He was not required to surrender his saber. He was not even sure that the Palace Guard had authority to arrest a lancer of the Light Hussars, although these men seemed to think they did. They refused to say who had sent for him at this ungodly hour on a Sunday morning, or what his offense might be. He had been sinning, yes, but adultery was not a criminal matter. The slut’s
husband might call him out on a point of honor for it, but Anton was not worried about dueling a man who was currently far away in Bavaria, being held for ransom, and thirty years his senior anyway. If not lechery, then what? His conscience was unspotted otherwise.

A worse worry was that Anton Magnus had no idea how the palace guard had known where to find him. If the sergeants-at-arms had begun by seeking him in the verminous billet down in Lower Mauvnik that he shared with Wulfgang, his brother and varlet, then Wulf could have told them only that Anton was visiting a lady; he did not know which lady, and would not have told that even if he did. How had they known that he was sleeping the sleep of the exhausted in the bed of the luscious Baroness Nadezda Radovan?

At that point the lovely baroness—who was not as lovely as she must have been the year Anton was born, but still tried to behave as if she were—had become very unlovely indeed. She, who around midnight had been kind and fond to her “
Darling
Anton,” praising both his privates and his prowess, had become shrill and abusive. To go from wearing nothing at all to the dress uniform of a hussar without a varlet’s help was a long process—breechcloth, trunk hose, puffed shirt laced to the trunk hose, fancy slashed breeches, slashed and padded doublet, garters, socks over the hose, boots—with spurs, even at a ball—sword belt, sword, dagger, short cape, tall hat with narrow brim and tall plume; and all the time the harpy in the bed had been screaming that she was ruined, that the news would be all over Mauvnik and probably the entire kingdom by morning, that Anton Magnus was an evil young deviant preying on respectable women, and if he thought she was ever going to put in that good word to the minister of the army that she had promised last night, then he had the brains of a tadpole. And so on.

He had said nothing until he had his boots on and was heading for the door. Then he had dropped a copper
parvus
on her dressing table and told her exactly what he thought of her worn-out body and alley-cat morals, thus demonstrating that their relationship had been terminated by mutual consent.

Now the roofs and turrets of the palace stood inky black against the autumn stars. Only two windows showed light, both in the central tower where old King Konrad lay interminably dying. Anton’s escorts were
taking him to the south gate, to a part of the palace he did not know. And they still refused to say why.

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