Lior and the Sea (Tales of the Middle Kingdoms)
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This rare and sought-after Middle Kingdoms novelette was published for the first time in the Tor Fantasy tribute anthology Moonsinger's Friends: In Honor of André Norton, and has been out of print for twenty-five years. It now appears here in ebook format for the first time.
Lior is the Rodmistress of a small north-coast fishing village in Darthen. Her work brings her up against the Sea on a daily basis. But one day a desperate challenge that Lior issues to the Sea itself in the face of a deadly ocean storm produces a change in the relationship that not even a Rodmistress can easily cope with.
Soon Lior must choose between the safety and security of the life she's always known and the terrifying power and possibility offered her by what was once just a force of nature, but has now become something much more personal...
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and spent their nights with their arms about each other, no longer the shadow and the shadowed, but shining in each other’s light like Sea and sky. Aren learned about sunburn, and why it’s wise to use a blanket when making love on the beach, and about the grateful, not-quite-believing way Lior’s lips would curve when he told her she was beautiful. Lior learned another reason to love the Goddess as Queen of Night, discovering that night is mother not only of dreams but of desire. She learned that
buried her face against his middle. “No, Aren, I love you, but—” He waited. “Aren—will I be me?” He stroked her dark hair. “Do you mean, will you lose your knowledge of yourself, swallowed up in me? Of course not. Why ask you to share with me if I would be as alone in the sharing as before it?” He smiled down at her. But Lior did not move and was not reassured. “What more, then?” Aren said. “It’s—it’s only—Aren, I was myself enough before, but only because there was nothing much better to do,
in the crash of its own uncontrollable anger, tremendously it fell… and Lior beneath it. * All that night the townspeople of Daike peered out their doors in unease at the wild weather. Though the boats in the deepwater cove rocked and groaned in churning water, the disturbance seemed only backwash spreading from a spot some miles upcoast. There lightnings struck and thunder tore across a tattering sky, and the maddened Sea beat itself against the cliffs until their cracked faces wept brine
painful word in a voice that went into Lior like a knife, for she knew it from somewhere. The agony in its eyes blurred her own with tears as the seahorse leaned its head against her arm. I must go, it said through its touch, its voice unmoved; but oh, its eyes— I cannot come again. And it turned and fled into the water. Lior’s own anguish and confusion left her no strength to do more than watch the seahorse melt into the breakers and vanish. She stood on the beach for a long time, listening to
loved...” There it was, what Lior had been dreading, and nonetheless it took her completely by surprise. Eventually the tumult died down in her head, and she found enough breath and composure to speak. “If—if two people live together as lovers,” she said, retreating desperately into theory, “they usually give one another something, and take something from each other. What would I have to give you?” “An equal,” Aren said, his voice full of longing. “One who dares.” “And what would you give me?”