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This book is dedicated to the following people:

To my wife and best friend, Lisa, who continues to be first in my heart;

To my daughter, Aline, who knows the names of all of Dad's books already;

To my older brother, Raymond, whose interest in my writing career has brought us closer together; and

To my friend and fellow writer Rob Sawyer—thanks for all your help and support.


Thanks to my editor, Brian Thomsen. His efforts have made my work better in every instance.

Thanks to Fred Iannelli, whose original vision helped me imagine what it looks like within the gyaryu.

And, in particular, thanks to Christine Aebi, who has been copy editor on The Dark Wing, The Dark Path, and now The Dark Ascent. The length of the manuscript has been the least of her problems: She's had to deal with alien languages and speech patterns, military terminology, and more details than I can keep track of. After her stellar work, you can rest assured that any omissions, inaccuracies, or errors in the final manuscript are due to my own oversight.

Author's Note

The Highspeech contains words that are used as modes of address between individuals. These words consist of two or three letters when translated into Standard. These words are called "prenomen" and indicate not only the status of the person being addressed (or referred to), but also the relationship of the speaker to that person.

Prenomen have two forms. One is used when the addressee or subject is alive, and the other when the person is dead. The prenomen used in the series are described below.

se, si. This is the standard mode of address between individuals when they are of equal status or unknown to each other, si is used when referring to or addressing a deceased person, se and si are also used to address a person of lesser status.

ge, gi. This mode is used to describe a lover, usually in a nonaffectionate or pejorative manner. It is also used colloquially to address a person of significantly lower status, such as a servant (or non-zor), though this form is archaic. This usage can often lead to duels and challenges.

ha, ha'i. This mode is used when addressing a person of superior status (other than the High Lord or a person of equivalent status, such as the Solar Emperor). The person thus addressed will usually respond using the se form.

le, li. le is used between intimates as a term of genuine affection. It is permitted only when a relationship is acknowledged by both parties; otherwise it can be cause for challenge, li is only used when referring to or addressing a dead mate.

hi, hi'i. This mode is used when addressing the High Lord of the People. It has also been adopted for use when addressing the Solar Emperor, though the standard usage is with the prenomen and title, e.g., "hi Emperor," rather than the given name, hi'i is used when referring to a deceased High Lord, and is generally accompanied by a wing-position of honor to esLi.

na, ni. This mode refers to a Servant of esGa'u. It is used only rarely, often in literature, ni indicates that the person is deceased.

ra, ri. This mode, similar to the na form, is used to address important servants of esGa'u, usually Shrnu'u HeGa'u. It is similar to the ha form. The ri construction is almost never used, as the notion of such a Servant being considered dead is difficult to encompass.

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