A Magic of Nightfall: A Novel of the Nessantico Cycle

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9780756405991: A Magic of Nightfall: A Novel of the Nessantico Cycle
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Second in a brilliant new fantasy series.

A masterwork of fantasy, The Nessantico Cycle is the epic tale of an empire at its height, yet poised on the brink of what could be a devastating descent into ruin. Told from the viewpoints of numerous characters, it is a sweeping saga of murder and magic (portrayed both as a powerful religion and a forbidden art), deception and betrayal, Machiavellian politics, star-crossed lovers, and a realm facing war on every front.

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About the Author:

S. L. Farrell boasts (but generally resists sending out) a resume that includes the obligatory long list of occupations, including a stint as half of a juggling act where a few scars and a grudging appreciation for gravity were acquired. Other interests include music, fine art, history, and the fascinating details of cultures both present and past. S. L. is the author of The Cloudmages trilogy: Holder of Lightning, Mage of Clouds, and Heir of Stone; and The Nessantico Cycle: A Magic of Twilight, A Magic of Nightfall,and A Magic of Dawn. S. L. Farrell currently lives in Ohio and teaches Creative Writing at a local university. He can be found at farrellworlds.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

 

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

 

ANSWERS

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Jan ca’Vörl

Varina ci’Pallo

Audric ca’Dakwi

Sergei ca’Rudka

Nico Morel

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Karl ca’Vliomani

Allesandra ca’Vörl

The White Stone

 

PERMUTATIONS

Audric ca’Dakwi

Varina ci’Pallo

Jan ca’Vörl

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Karl ca’Vliomani

Sergei ca’Rudka

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Nico Morel

The White Stone

 

OMENS

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Audric ca’Dakwi

Sergei ca’Rudka

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Karl ca’Vliomani

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Jan ca’Vörl

Sergei ca’Rudka

Nico Morel

Varina ci’Pallo

Allesandra ca’Vörl

The White Stone

 

INCLINATIONS

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Audric ca’Dakwi

Sergei ca’Rudka

Jan ca’Vörl

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Karl ci’Vliomani

Nico Morel

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Allesandra ca’Vörl

The White Stone

 

THRONES

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Audric ca’Dakwi

Sergei ca’Rudka

Varina ci’Pallo

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Jan ca’Vörl

Nico Morel

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Karl ca’Vliomani

Nico Morel

Allesandra ca’Vörl

The White Stone

 

MOTIONS

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Nico Morel

Jan ca’Vörl

Sergei ca’Rudka

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Audric ca’Dakwi

Karl ca’Vliomani

Varina ci’Pallo

The White Stone

 

EVASIONS

Karl ca’Vliomani

Niente

Nico Morel

Varina ci’Pallo

Audric ca’Dakwi

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Enéas cu’Kinnear

Niente

Sergei ca’Rudka

Karl Vliomani

Jan ca’Vörl

Audric ca’Dakwi

The White Stone

 

CONNECTIONS

Niente

Karl Vliomani

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Niente

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Jan ca’Vörl

Nico Morel

Audric ca’Dakwi

Varina ci’Pallo

Enéas cu’Kinnear

The White Stone

 

ENGAGEMENT

Audric ca’Dakwi

Niente

Kenne ca’Fionta

Karl Vliomani

Jan ca’Vörl

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Nico Morel

Niente

Karl Vliomani

Allesandra ca’Vörl

The White Stone

 

BLOODSHED

Kenne ca’Fionta

Aubri cu’Ulcai

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Niente

Varina ci’Pallo

Kenne ca’Fionta

Sergei ca’Rudka

Nico Morel

Karl Vliomani

The Battle Begun: Kenne ca’Fionta

The Battle Begun: Niente

The Battle Begun: Sergei ca’Rudka

The Battle Begun: Karl Vliomani

The Battle Begun: Sigourney ca’Ludovici

The Battle Begun: The White Stone

The Battle Begun: Niente

The Battle Begun: Sigourney ca’Ludovici

 

RESOLUTIONS

Allesandra ca’Vörl

Niente

Varina ci’Pallo

Sigourney ca’Ludovici

Karl Vliomani

Nico Morel

Niente

Sergei ca’Rudka

Jan ca’Vörl

Niente

The White Stone

Allesandra ca’Vörl

 

Appendices

S. L. FARRELL’S
MAGNIFICENT FANTASY SERIES
FROM DAW:

 

THE NESSANTICO CYCLE:
A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT
A MAGIC OF NIGHTFALL

 

THE CLOUDMAGES:
HOLDER OF LIGHTNING
MAGE OF CLOUDS
HEIR OF STONE

Copyright © 2009 by Stephen Leigh.

 

 

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

 

 

First Printing, March 2009

DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
—MARCA REGISTRADA
HECHO EN U.S.A.

 

.S.A.

eISBN : 978-1-101-01951-1

For my parents, Wally & Betty
Who always encouraged the strange, “artistic” child they created.
It’s ultimately their fault!

 

And, as always, to Denise

Acknowledgments

I’ve read several books for inspiration and reference in writing this series. The books I read prior to starting the Nessantico Cycle as well as those read during the writing of A Magic Of Twilight are listed in that book; obviously, they too have also influenced the book you’re holding. I’ve continued to read historical texts for inspiration and research—it’s something I enjoy, in any case. Here are the books read during the writing of this book, all of which to some degree influenced the text.

· The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Houghton Mifflin, 2006

· Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas. Oxford University Press, 1971

· The Jesuit & The Skull by Amir Aczel. Penguin, 2007

· Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross Kind. Penguin, 2001

 

A trip to France in 2005 also served as inspiration for much of the Nessantico Cycle. In particular, the Loire Valley region, with its chateaux and lovely countryside, sparked several ideas, as did our days in Paris. I would recommend that anyone going to France see the Loire Valley and spend time exploring not only the chateaux, but the small villages in the surrounding countryside such as Azay le Rideau or Villaines les-Rochers. Nessantico is not specifically Paris—it’s an amalgam of that city along with Florence and Venice—but many details are drawn from our experiences there. Hopefully they have enriched the book.

It may sound strange to acknowledge a piece of software, but I’m going to. In the midst of writing this book, I stumbled across the most useful novel-writing software to have ever graced my computer: Scrivener. For those of you on the Macintosh platform who are writing novels, you must take a look at this. Scrivener thinks the way I think and allowed me to manage the monumental task of writing a novel far, far better than any word processor ever could. Thanks, Keith Blount, for creating this program! For the curious, Scrivener can be found at http://www.literatureandlatte.com/—I highly, highly recommend it!

 

Many thanks, as always, to my agent Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House, who has been my partner-in-writing for many years now—without her, none of this would have been possible.

 

My gratitude to my first readers; Denise Parsley Leigh (who was forced to read all the drafts), and Justin Scott and Don Wenzel, who labored through the submission draft—thanks to all of you for the input and the corrections! Your help was much appreciated!

 

And lastly (but certainly not last in importance—she goes last because you always want to end with something strong! I need to express my gratitude to Sheila Gilbert, a most excellent editor and someone I also consider a friend. We’ve now worked together on several books, and her input and criticism made each a richer book than it would have been otherwise. Thank you, Sheila!

Prelude: Nessantico

IF A CITY CAN HAVE a gender, Nessantico was female. . . .

Once, she had been young and vital: the city, the woman. During her ascension, she had transformed herself into the most famous, the most beautiful, the most powerful of her kind.

She looked at herself now and wondered—as someone might who glimpses herself all unexpected in a mirror and is startled and disturbed by the image staring back—if those attributes still held true.

Oh, she knew that youth was fleeting and ephemeral. After all, the people dwelling within her walls led lives that were short and harsh. For them, the mirrored face changed relentlessly with each passing day until that morning when they realized that the reflection in the silvered glass was lined and tired, that the gray at the temples had spread and whitened. They might feel their joints protesting at a movement that had once required no effort or thought at all, or discover that injuries now required weeks rather than days to heal, or that illnesses lingered like unwelcome guests—or worse, transitioned from “lingering” to “chronic.”

The chill of mortality seeped into their mortal bones like slow ice.

Mortality: Nessantico felt it, too. Those within her disguised her lines and folds with the cosmetics of architecture. Look, she could say: there is cu’Brunelli’s grand dome for the Old Temple—fifteen years under construction now—which when finished will be the largest free-standing dome in the known world. There: that’s ca’Casseli’s ornate and beautiful Theatre a’Kralji on the Isle, capable of holding an audience of two thousand, with acoustics so fine that everyone can hear the slightest whisper on the stage; there, the Grande Libreria on the South Bank, begun under Kraljiki Justi’s reign and containing all the greatest intellectual works of humankind. Listen: that is the sweet music of ce’Miella, whose compositions rival the lush melodies of the master Darkmavis. Gaze on the symbol-laden paintings and murals of ce’Vaggio, whose ability to paint figures is often compared to that of the tragic master ci’Recroix. There is so much vibrant life here within Nessantico: all the plays and the dances, the celebrations and gaiety.

All is the same here as it has always been; no, all is better.

Yet she had changed, and she knew it. There were signs and portents. In Oldtown, not long ago, there was a woman born with the legs of a tarantula who (it was whispered) could kill with a single glance from her faceted eyes. There had been the affliction of thousands of green toads from the Fens two springs ago, so thick that they had covered the nearby lanes in a writhing mass a hand’s span deep. In the sewers of the North Bank, a creature with the head of a dragon, the body of a bull, and the hands and feet of a human was said to prowl, eating rats that had grown to the size of wolves.

There were the real, inarguable signs, too. The Holdings had been broken, that strong alliance of countries forged slowly over centuries. After an ill-fated attack on Nessantico in the wake of Kraljica Marguerite’s assassination, the city Brezno had become her rival as Firenzcia gathered around itself several of its neighboring lands: a Coalition under the direction of Hïrzg Jan ca’Vörl.

The Concénzia Faith, too, had been sundered, and it was not what it had been. Archigos Ana sat in the temple on the South Bank, yes, but another called himself Archigos in Brezno. Within Nessantico, the heretical Numetodo took on new adherents, and it was not uncommon to see someone casting a spell who was not wearing green robes or calling first on Cénzi.

Signs and portents. Change. The older Nessantico grew, the more change became difficult for her.

Caught in her own unwelcome autumn, Nessantico—the city, the woman—stared at her reflection in the dark waters of the River A’Sele and wondered. . . .

And, like many in her position, she denied what she saw.

ANSWERS

Allesandra ca’Vörl
Jan ca’Vörl
Varina ci’Pallo
Audric ca’Dakwi
Sergei ca’Rudka
Nico Morel
Allesandra ca’Vörl
Enéas cu’Kinnear
Karl ca’Vliomani
Allesandra ca’Vörl
The White Stone

Allesandra ca’Vörl

HER VATARH HAD BEEN the sun around which she had orbited for as long as she could remember. Now that sun, at long last, was setting.

The message had arrived from Brezno by fast-rider, and she stared at the words scrawled by a hasty, fair hand. “Your vatarh is dying. If you want to see him, hurry.” That was the entire message. It was signed by Archigos Semini of Brezno and sealed with his signet.

Vatarh is dying. . . . The great Hïrzg Jan of Firenzcia, after whom she had named her only child, was passing. The words set alight a sour fire in her belly; the words swam on the page with the salt tears that welled unbidden in her eyes. She sat there—at her fine desk, in her opulent offices near the Gyula’s palais in Malacki—and she saw a droplet hit the paper to smudge the inked words.

She hated that Vatarh could still affect her so strongly; she hated that she cared. She should have hated him, but she couldn’t. No matter how hard she’d tried over the years, she couldn’t.

One might curse the sun for its scorching heat or its absence, but without the sun there was no life.

 

“I hate him,” she declared to Archigos Ana. It had been two years since Ana had snatched her away from her vatarh to hold her as hostage. Two years, and he still hadn’t paid the ransom to bring her back. She was thirteen, on the cusp of her menarche, and he had abandoned her. What had originally been anxiety and disappointment had slowly transformed inside her into anger. At least that’s what she believed.

“No, you don’t,” Ana said quietly, stroking her hair. They were standing on the balcony of her apartments in the Temple complex in Nessantico, staring down to where knots of green-clad téni hurried to their duties. “Not really. If he paid the ransom tomorrow, you would be glowing and ready to run back to him. Look inside yourself, Allesandra. Look honestly. Isn’t that true?”

“Well, he must hate me,” she retorted, “or he’d have paid.”

Ana had hugged her tightly then. “He will,” she told Allesandra. “He will. It’s just . . . Allesandra, your vatarh wished to sit on the Sun Throne. He has always been a proud man, and because I took you away, he was never able to realize his dream. You remind him of all he lost. And that’s my fault. Not yours. It’s not yours at all.”

 

Vatarh hadn’t paid. Not for ten long years. It had been Fynn, the new son her matarh Greta had given the Hïrzg, who basked in Vatarh’s affections, who was taught the ways of war, who was named as the new A’Hïrzg—the title that should have been hers.

Instead of her vatarh and her matarh, it was Archigos Ana who became her surrogate parent, shepherding her through puberty and adolescence, comforting Allesandra through her first crushes and infatuations, teaching her the ways of ca’-and-cu’ society, escorting her to dances and parties, treating her not as a captive but as a niece it had become her responsibility to raise.

 

“I love you, Tantzia,” Allesandra said to Ana. She’d taken to calling the Archigos “aunt.” The news had come to Kraljiki Justi that a treaty between the Holdings and the Firenzcian “Coalition” was to be signed in Passe a’Fiume, and as part of the negotiations, Hïrzg Jan...

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