Volume Three of the Collegium Chronicles (A Valdemar Novel)
Enter the thrilling third volume in the epic Collegium Chronicles.
In Mercedes Lackey's classic coming-of-age story, the orphan Magpie pursues his quest for his parent's identity with burning urgency-while also discovering another hidden talent and being trained by the King's Own Herald as an undercover agent for Valdemar. Shy Bardic Trainee Lena has to face her famous but uncaring father, one of Valdemar's most renowned Bards. And Healing Trainee Bear must struggle against his disapproving parents, who are pressuring Bear to quit the Healers' Collegium because he lacks the magical Healing Gift.
Each of the three friends must face his or her demons and find their true strength as they seek to become the full Heralds, Bards, and Healers of Valdemar.
Mags approached Bear’s booth quietly; it was, on this last day of the “festival” even more popular if that were possible. Like the other booths, it was a half-tent, providing welcome shade for those who came to be instructed and issued a voucher for the kits that would be going out soon with the Guard supplies. Today people were not only listening attentively, they were asking questions. From where he stood, Mags couldn’t hear most of them, but the Healer kept nodding slightly with approval and had a slight smile of satisfaction on his face.
No, it was far more than just satisfaction. This was the look of someone who was not just satisfied, but proud of his pupil.
Mags stiffened, suddenly, as he sensed someone who was not. Who was, in fact, in a towering rage. He turned slightly, to see a man in Healer’s Greens to his right and behind him, whose face was utterly rigid, and every muscle tight. He did not have to lower shields to know why; although he had never actually met one of Bear’s family, there was no mistaking the features. The shape of the bones beneath the skin was the same, especially about the cheekbones and chin. The hair was the same chestnut brown, and the man had the same sturdy build, with added muscles that Bear would no doubt acquire with age and work.
Mags did not hesitate. This man was so angry with his young relative that he wasn’t even thinking of the damage giving free rein to his temper could cause. The confrontation he was about to start was going to turn into an Incident, one that would cause a great deal of harm, not only to Bear, not only to the Healers, but to all three Collegia.
He half-closed his eyes and concentrated on the Healer overseeing Bear. He didn’t know the man, but after all, his Gift was to Mindspeak into anyone’s head, whether or not they had the Gift themselves. Meanwhile, Dallen would be doing something on his own—possibly alerting the King’s Own’s Companion, Rolan. He didn’t even have to tell Dallen what was going on; they lived in each other’s heads so much that unless either of them blocked out the other, what one knew, the other did. Maybe not everyone would care for that sort of closeness and lack of privacy, but Mags liked it, and it certain made things easier at times like this.
::Sir!:: he said urgently, and saw the Healer start. ::’Tis Trainee Mags. One’f Bear’s family’s here, an’ he’s about t’make a mighty to-do!::
The Healer looked about and quickly spotted both Mags and Bear’s relative. Mags kept his mind open, and “heard” the man’s halting reply.
::Can . . . you . . . summon . . . discreet . . . help?::
::Yessir,:: he replied immediately. ::Already on th’ way.::
::Done, Chosen,:: he heard Dallen say as soon as he had replied. ::But it will take them a few moments. If Bear’s brother makes a move toward the tent before the ‘reception party’ gets there—::
So—it was Bear’s older brother. Not good. ::Got it,:: Mags said, just as he saw the man’s face harden with decision, and the little movement that suggested he was about to stride toward the booth.
He ran up to the man before he had a chance to take that first step and stood directly in his path. “ ’Scuze me, Healer!” he said, with a combination of deference and authority. “I don’ b’lieve ye’ve got yer badge on.”
The man stared at him, taken completely by surprise. “Badge? What—who are you?”
“Ye gotta hev a badge, sir,” Mags said insistently, without identifying himself, just in case Bear had ever talked about him at home as being a friend. Besides, he was in Grays. That should be identification enough to give him the authority to accost anyone he needed to. “Ye gotta hev a badge. Badge sez who ye are, an’ if’n yer fambly, if’n yer teacher. They be clearin’ townies out soon. On’y famblies an’ teachers kin be ’ere then. Ye gotta hev a badge, sir!”
The man’s face darkened. “I don’t need some stinking—” he began, and at that point, the “help” arrived.
He found himself engulfed by a crowd of Healers and Guards, four of each. The Healers greeted him heartily, the Guards interposed themselves in such a way that there was no way he could get past them to Bear without forcing his way through, something they were not prepared to allow. His face reddened, but the Healers were all talking loudly, one of them, the largest, flinging an arm around his shoulders. Before he quite realized what they were doing, they had hustled him off toward Healers’ Collegium, quite the opposite direction from Bear’s booth.
Mags sensed that the confrontation had not been prevented, however. Merely postponed.
He winced inwardly. This was going to be a bad day for poor Bear. No matter what the outcome, Bear always emerged from a clash with his family feeling miserable.
Most likely ’cause he kin never win.
Well, at least he would have had his week of approval before getting hit with the hammer of Family Scorn.
Mags could never figure this sort of thing out. Why couldn’t they see? It made no sense to him. And even if they couldn’t see, why didn’t they just leave him alone? Bear had the approval of the Collegium. Why wasn’t that enough for them?
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