The Alton Gift (Darkover)
Marion Zimmer Bradley, Deborah J. Ross
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After generations of struggle to protect the unique native culture of Darkover from the ambitions of the ruthless Terran Federation, the Terrans have finally been forced to abandon Darkover due to interstellar civil war. As Lew Alton wrestles with the dark shadows from his past, his daughter Marguerida's psychic Gifts warn of her of impending danger. But danger to whom? Her husband Mikhail as powerful head of the Hastur Domain is her most obvious worry, for many would stand to gain from his demise. Her son Domenic searches for his place in a world of shifting loyalties, torn by his love for two very different women and troubled by his destiny as the heir to Hastur.
But while Darkover's powerful rulers face their personal demons, desperate refugees flood the streets of Thendara, Darkover's capital city, for in the mountains and ancient menace is once again on the rise—a power against which neither sword nor the psychic sorcery of Darkover can prevail.
thought of Marilla, pale and utterly still when they laid her out. The two women had not been close, but she had known Marilla since her first year on Darkover. When Marguerida had fallen ill from threshold sickness on the trail, Marilla had offered her hospitality. There, in Marilla’s house, Marguerida had first set eyes upon Mikhail. With Marilla’s passing, she lost not only a fellow Comynara but yet another tie to the man she loved. “I do not see what you can do,” she said. “Katherine and I
circle of Keepers had worked with a soupy mixture, the ingredients dissolved in a sterile solution. Jeram loaded the storage vat on a cart, wheeled it into the laboratory, and assembled the rest of the supplies Marguerida asked for, including a small sample of Ulm’s immune serum. At her direction, he placed a chair between the vat and the work table. After making sure everything was within easy reach, Marguerida nodded in satisfaction. “You’d better go, too.” Suspicion curdled inside Jeram. She
besetting beasts and crops might indeed represent some new threat or might be only a recurrence of older ailments. A trained matrix technician and one of the Renunciate healers who had been working alongside the Terrans as part of the Bridge Society exchange would accompany them to determine what kind of assistance would be most efficacious. Humbled but clearly moved by Mikhail’s thoughtful response, the Kazarin Forst brothers withdrew. The Council concluded the rest of its business for the day
place in the back of the chapel of St.-Valentine-of-the-Snows. The monks had departed after the morning hymns, but Lew remained, savoring the silence. It had become his habit to spend time in quiet contemplation following the chanting of the morning office. Around him, the ancient stone walls still held the final sustained chords. The voices of the monks, from the reedy tenor of the youngest novice to the rusty quavering of the oldest, never failed to evoke Lew’s wonder, that so many disparate
Donn,” Lew said, “not to mention everything that happened during my exile on Vainwal and Thetis. Are you saying I ought not to accept responsibility for those things?” “Are guilt and responsibility the same thing?” Add to the list, infuriating rhetorical questions. “No,” Lew said, trying not to feel irritated, “they are not the same. Responsibility is a fact—I made choices, I did things for reasons that seemed good at the time, yet the results will haunt me all my life. Guilt is what I feel