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Harvest Moon: A Tangled Web / Cast in Moonlight / Retribution

Автор:
Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Harvest Moon: A Tangled Web / Cast in Moonlight / Retribution
Michelle Sagara

Mercedes Lackey

Cameron Haley

Литагент HarperCollins

Selected praise for A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by New York Times bestselling author

MERCEDES LACKEY

“Wry and scintillating take on the Cinderella story…Lackey’s tale resonates with charm as magical as the fairy-tale realm she portrays.”

—BookPage on The Fairy Godmother

“This Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms novel is a delightful fairy-tale revamp. Lackey ensures that familiar stories are turned on their ear with amusing results.”

—RT Book Reviews on The Snow Queen

Selected praise for The Chronicles of Elantra series by New York Times bestselling author

MICHELLE SAGARA

“Intense, fast-paced, intriguing, compelling and hard to put down, Cast in Shadow is unforgettable.”

—In the Library Reviews

“Sagara swirls mystery and magical adventure together with unforgettable characters in the fifth Chronicles of Elantra installment.”

—Publishers Weekly on Cast in Silence

Selected praise for the Underworld Cycle series by

CAMERON HALEY

“Mob Rules is exciting and fresh, with a complex and conflicted heroine who grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. This book will make you fall in love with urban fantasy all over again!”

—Diana Rowland, author of Mark of the Demon

MERCEDES LACKEY

is the acclaimed author of more than fifty novels and many works of short fiction. In her “spare” time she is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. Mercedes lives in Oklahoma with her husband and frequent collaborator, the artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots.

MICHELLE SAGARA

has written more than twenty novels since 1991. She’s written a quarterly book review column for the venerable Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for a number of years, as well as dozens of short stories. In 1986 she started working in an SF specialty bookstore, where she continues to work to this day. She loves reading, is allergic to cats (very, which means they crawl all over her), is happily married, has two lovely children and has spent all her life in her native Toronto—none of it on Bay Street.

CAMERON HALEY

Since graduating from Tulane University, Cameron Haley has been a law school dropout, a stock broker, an award-winning game designer and a product manager for a large commercial bank, but through it all has never stopped writing. An active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Cameron is hard at work on the second book in the Underworld Cycle. Cameron lives in Minneapolis. For the latest dirt, visit www.cameronhaley.com.

Harvest Moon

Mercedes Lackey

Michelle Sagara

Cameron Haley

CONTENTS

A TANGLED WEB

MERCEDES LACKEY

A TANGLED WEB

EPILOGUE

CAST IN MOONLIGHT

MICHELLE SAGARA

CAST IN MOONLIGHT

RETRIBUTION

CAMERON HALEY

RETRIBUTION

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A TANGLED WEB

MERCEDES LACKEY

A TANGLED WEB

It was the usual perfect day in Demeter’s gardens in the Kingdom of Olympia. Birds, multicolored and with exquisite voices, sang in every tree. Flowers of every sort bloomed and breathed delicate perfumes into a balmy breeze that wandered through the glossy green foliage. It would rain a little after sundown, a gentle, warm rain that would be just enough to nourish, but not enough to interfere with anyone’s plans. The only insects were the beneficial sort. Troublesome creatures were not permitted here. When a goddess makes that sort of decision, you can be sure She Will Be Obeyed.

Now and again a dramatic thunderstorm would roar through the mountains, reminding everyone—everyone not a god, that is—that Nature was not to be trifled with. But it stormed only when Demeter and Hera scheduled it. Everyone had plenty of warning—in fact, some of the nymphs and fauns scheduled dances just for the erotic thrill of it. Zeus enjoyed those days as well, it gave him a chance to lob thunderbolts about; and the other gods on Olympus would be drinking vats of ambrosia and wine and encouraging him.

Meanwhile, on this perfect afternoon of this perfect day, in this most perfect of homes in the center of the most perfect of gardens, Demeter’s only daughter, Persephone, stood barefoot on the cool marble floor of the weaving room and stared at the loom in front of her, fuming with rebellion.

There was nothing in the little weaving room except the warp-weighted loom, and since you had to get the light on it properly to see what you were doing, you had to have your back to the open door and window, thus being deprived of even a glimpse of the outdoors. It was maddening. Persephone could hear the birdsong, smell the flowers, and had to stand there weaving plain dyed linen in the dullest of patterns.

Small as the room was, however, Persephone was not alone in it. There was a tumble of baby hedgehogs asleep in a rush-woven basket, and a young faun sitting on the doorstep, watching her from time to time with his strange goat-eyes. There were doves cooing in a cornice, a tumble of fuzzy red fox-kits playing with a battered pinecone behind her. Anything Persephone muttered to herself would be heard, and in the case of the faun, very probably prattled back to her mother. Demeter would sigh and give her The Look of Maternal Reproach. After all, it was a very small thing she had been tasked with. It wasn’t as if she was being asked to sow a field or harvest grapes. It wasn’t even as if she was weaving every day. Just now and again. Yes, this was all very reasonable. There was no cause for Persephone to be irritated.

Of course there was, but it was a cause she really did not want her mother to know about.

Persephone wanted to scream.

She had the shuttle loaded with thread in one hand, the beater-stick in the other, and stared daggers at the half-finished swath of ochre linen before her. Oh, how she loathed each. Not for itself, but for what it represented.

I love my mother. I really do. I just wish right now she was at the bottom of a well.

Persephone took the beater-stick and whacked upward at the weft she had created. Of all the times for her mother to decide that the weaving of her new cloak had to be done…this was the worst. In fact, the timing could not possibly have been worse. She had spent weeks on this plan, days setting it up, gotten everything carefully in place, managed to find a way to get rid of the nymphs constantly trailing her, and now it was ruined. Stupid Thanatos would probably drive the chariot around and around a few dozen times, forget what he was supposed to do and head back to the Underworld; he was a nice fellow, but not the sharpest knife in the kitchen. Well, really, how smart did you have to be to do the job of the god of death? Just turn up at the right time, escort the soul down to the Underworld, and leave him at the riverbank for Charon. Not something that took a lot of deep thinking.

And poor Hades—oh, wait, Eubeleus, she wasn’t supposed to know it was Hades—would spend half the day questioning him until he finally figured out what had happened. It had to be Thanatos, though, that was the only way this would work. Otherwise, things got horribly complicated.

She wasn’t supposed to know she was going to be carried off to the Underworld, just as she wasn’t supposed to know her darling wasn’t a simple shepherd. She was supposed to be “abducted” by “a friend with a chariot.” But she had known Hades for who he was almost from the beginning, and given that her darling was Hades, who else would drive his chariot? Not Hypnos, that would be incredibly foolhardy. Certainly not Charon. Minos, Rhadamanthus or Aeacus? Not likely. First of all, Persephone had the feeling that the former kings and current judges intimidated Hades quite a bit, and he wasn’t likely to ask them to do him that sort of favor, never mind that he was technically their overlord. And second, she had the feeling that he was afraid if one of them did agree, he might be tempted to keep her for himself. Poor Hades had none of the bluster and bravado of his other “brothers,” Poseidon and Zeus. He second-guessed himself more than anyone she knew. That was probably another reason why she loved him.

Of course, Hades didn’t realize she knew the other reason why the abductor had to be Thanatos, because he didn’t know she knew—well, everything.

We can set it up again, she promised herself. It wasn’t the end of the world. She was clever, and “Eubeleus” was smitten. Even if she hadn’t met all that many men—thanks to Mother—she could see that. His feelings went a lot deeper than the lust the nymphs and fauns and satyrs had for each other too; the way he had been so patient, so careful in his courtship, spoke volumes. He was willing to be patient because he loved her.

And she was smitten in return. She didn’t know why no one seemed to like the Lord of the Underworld. It wasn’t as if he was the one who decided how long your life would be—that could be blamed on the Fates—and he wasn’t the one who carried you off; that was Thanatos. He was kind—it was hard being Lord of the Dead, and if he covered his kindness with a cold face, well, she certainly understood why. No one wanted to die. No one wanted to have everything they’d said and done and ever thought judged. No one wanted to leave the earth where things were lively and interesting when you might end up punished, or wandering the Fields of Asphodel because you were ordinary. And everyone, everyone, blamed Hades for the fact that they would all one day end up down there.
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