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From a High Tower
Cover of From a High Tower
From a High Tower
Elemental Masters Series, Book 11
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The tenth novel in Mercedes Lackey's magical Elemental Masters series reimagines the fairy tale Rapunzel in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian world
Giselle had lived fourteen years of her life in an abandoned tower. Her mother kept Giselle, a young Air Master still growing into her abilities, isolated for the sake of herself and others.

This life left her unprepared when a handsome young man appeared at the base of her tower. But when the young stranger entered her window, he tried to force himself on her. She was saved by Mother, an Earth Master, who hurled the man out the window he had climbed in.

The Foresters of the Black Forest were Earth Masters whose job it was to cleanse the ancient forest of evil elementals, and over the next four years, they shared their fighting expertise to teach Giselle self-defense. By the age of twenty, Giselle was an expert markswoman, and it was this skill that she used to survive when Mother died. Cutting her long hair, she masqueraded as a boy to enter shooting competitions, and used the prize money to support herself.

But she could not forget the first man who assaulted her, for when that stranger had fallen from her tower long ago, his body had never been found. In Giselle's heart, she was certain his magic had helped him to survive the fall. Surely, it was only a matter of time before he found her and sought revenge. Was she prepared to stand against him?
The tenth novel in Mercedes Lackey's magical Elemental Masters series reimagines the fairy tale Rapunzel in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian world
Giselle had lived fourteen years of her life in an abandoned tower. Her mother kept Giselle, a young Air Master still growing into her abilities, isolated for the sake of herself and others.

This life left her unprepared when a handsome young man appeared at the base of her tower. But when the young stranger entered her window, he tried to force himself on her. She was saved by Mother, an Earth Master, who hurled the man out the window he had climbed in.

The Foresters of the Black Forest were Earth Masters whose job it was to cleanse the ancient forest of evil elementals, and over the next four years, they shared their fighting expertise to teach Giselle self-defense. By the age of twenty, Giselle was an expert markswoman, and it was this skill that she used to survive when Mother died. Cutting her long hair, she masqueraded as a boy to enter shooting competitions, and used the prize money to support herself.

But she could not forget the first man who assaulted her, for when that stranger had fallen from her tower long ago, his body had never been found. In Giselle's heart, she was certain his magic had helped him to survive the fall. Surely, it was only a matter of time before he found her and sought revenge. Was she prepared to stand against him?
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    Prologue

    "I should be very interested to hear whatever excuse you have for robbing my garden," said a cold female voice behind him. "I might even let you stammer it out before I give my dogs the order to deal with you. Turn around. Let me look you in the eyes."

    Still on his knees in the cold earth, he slowly turned.

    Behind him, her face clear in the moonlight, was a tall, hawk-faced woman in a long black cloak, her dark hair severely braided and pinned tightly around her face. She had her arms crossed over her chest and stared down at him icily. "Well?" she prompted. "What sort of fairy tale have you to tell me?"

    He opened and shut his mouth several times without any words coming out. But then . . . his panic got the better of him, and he fell apart.

    He groveled. He babbled. He wept without hope that he would get even a crumb of pity from her. He really didn't know what he was saying, although he certainly went on at length about Maria and the children. He begged and pleaded, he cried shamelessly until he was hoarse. She said nothing. And finally, when he had repeated himself far too many times and ran out of words, she stared down at him in the silence while he waited helplessly for her to set the dogs on him, call for the police, or both.

    I am going to be savaged. Then I am going to prison. Maria will die, and the children will starve.

    "Well," she said at last. "I am actually inclined to believe you." She looked down at him for another long, cold moment. "And I am not an unreasonable woman, nor am I inclined to make your children suffer for your sins. It is clear that they will probably all starve without you to provide for them. I would not care to have the deaths of children on my conscience. Perhaps I can think of some way you can repay what you stole."

    He began to have faint hope. Perhaps . . . perhaps she would let him go? He looked up at her and clasped his hands under his chin, trying to look as prayerful and repentant as possible. "Anything!" he blurted.

    But she was not finished. "A bargain, then. You owe me, Friedrich Schnittel. You owe me a very great deal. But I won't have you thrown in prison. In fact, you can come here and gather what you need for your family every day, on condition that you repay me."

    "H—" he did not even manage to get all of the word how out before she interrupted him.

    "You have—or will have—something I want, just as I have something you want. So, this is the bargain: you may continue to help yourself to this garden. I would prefer that you come at night, so that I don't have other thieves coming to steal from me, and you might as well keep coming over the wall as well, since you are so good at it. Then, when your wife gives birth to this new child, you will give her to me." He opened his mouth to object. She stared at him with her lips compressed into a thin line. "Don't try to barter with me. It is this, or I set the dogs on you and have the police take what is left of you to prison. What will it be? Will you feed your eight children and your wife for the trivial price of a baby that is likely to die anyway?"

    Well, what could he say? If he refused, what would Maria and the children do but starve? What good would it do him or them if he suddenly decided that selling the baby was wrong? "Very well . . ." he said, slowly.

    She smiled, as if she had already known he would say as much. "Take what you have. Come back tomorrow night. I'll even leave sacks for you."

    And with that, she turned on her heel and stalked back into the house, her dogs preceding her. They all went in via the kitchen door—which...

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From a High Tower
Elemental Masters Series, Book 11
Mercedes Lackey
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