Excerpt 3Servyll began to talk fast. "With all due respect, stelaŋ, I beg you to reconsider. If Leёmo hasn't returned, he has met with some disaster on the way; worse yet, the Ynnebar would expect us to come looking for him. What is to be gained from recovering his corpse? Perhaps it will tell us about the Ynnebar strategies? It would only give away our position."
The colonel's eyes were unyielding and a little wild. "I have no time for your insolence, lieutenant. If you were attempting to rope me into leaving a comrade in the hands of the enemy, simply because you are a coward and would rather hide in safety among worthier men, I will gladly comply and you can return to handing out bread and stew to the real fighters in this camp."
Servyll said nothing more and looked away, but could not keep a momentary grimace of loathing from contorting his face. This the colonel noticed.
"Well, lieutenant? Shall you venture out and learn the fate of a fellow soldier, or shall I demote you and se
Excerpt 2A swath of fog, milky-white, wound around the streets of Vettebern. It settled comfortably along the muddy roads --- evidence of a recent rain --- and pressed against the bolted shutters of houses, as if waiting for an opportunity to get in. No such opportunity was granted. All the doors were shut, as they have been for months; not a soul was out in the chilly early-spring air, and the fog was quite alone.
Wrapped up in this alabaster sheet, the timbers of houses appeared grey, which created the unsettling impression that the roads were lined with little sepulchres. The illusion, in effect, was not very far from the truth. The squat, round-timbered structures were sprinkled across a dull and sombre landscape: it was the end of a particularly long, cruel winter.
The house at the westernmost edge of the village --- closest to the forest --- belonged to the Yssen family. Large in comparison to the others, it stood aloof, separated from the community by a wide and empty paddock. Brown, pri
ExcerptThe colonel stood up, and moved to exit the tent. "I'm going to talk to the men," he said. Servyll followed him.
The bivouac was already up in arms. A last-minute scramble for weapons and equipment died down as the colonel appeared. The soldiers' faces glowed pallid under the moon, lit from below by orange embers from the fading fires. It was an unworldly scene.
"E naarodi ammanoё," the captain shouted out, and it was silent. "There will be no immediate attack. The Ynnebar are waiting to catch us unprepared."
A murmur broke out among the men, and they clung tightly to their weapons.
"They know where we break camp, that is true. Thus be ever vigilant. Do not put away your arms. Sleep lightly. Do not remove your hauberk." He paused, and then continued: "Perhaps they were planning to follow us to Colonel Steŋel's Fifth battalion. We interfered with their plans by finding them, and now we will not move. Some good came of it after all."
The "good" seemed dubious to the soldiers,
Through the eyes of game"He needs to be found," [Colonel Olsaӓnd] said, his voice as grave as ever. "At the very least, I must know if he is dead or alive."
"We'll find him, colonel."
"Be quiet and careful."
Neёlo bowed his head, Servyll after him. At the exit from the tent they bade each other a momentary farewell, and Servyll went to his quarters. He wore no plate, as it was heavy and inflexible; instead, he donned a mail hauberk with a leather coat over it to muffle the sound. He [fastened] his helmet, and and took a short-sword along, though he knew well it would be close to useless.
He met Neёlo at the edge of the camp soon afterward. In silence they departed into the forest. The woods were still, still as death; their footsteps disturbed it, unnatural among the soft whistles of birds. Clouds formed from their breath.
Neёlo whispered a question. "Did you bring any weapons?"
"Yes," replied Servyll, showing him the short-sword by sliding it partway out of the scabbard. "Did you?"
The Sailor's DreamThere are crimson billows, red above the sea;
Mars had spilt his fiery blood above the sea,
Golden-orange near the edge above the sea,
And the flare of distant stars beyond the sea
Augurs the swift hand of night unto the sea.
And where the ploughing ship aglide sails silently,
There open breaks a heaving chasm where I can see
A vast expanse of stars within the wounded sea,
A faithful mirror of the depth above the sea...
A long and icy voice called faintly from this depth within the sea:
A lambent stretch of frozen song with not a pitch nor melody.
It wandered momently among the host of eyes above the sea,
And --- be it siren, be it Devil --- so I heard it call to me!
With lead it pulls, it pulls my frigid bosom down toward the sea.
So heavy is the heart of one called home at last into the sea,
Like an anchor winding down through churning gyres of iron in the sea,
Into the lightless steely fissure in the ocean's heart, where it at last is free.
Divine Brothers etc, part IV"Tell us the point behind this tale,
Since regrettably I fail
To see what this could have to do
With the Dead Gods wanting to
Punish mortals for their sins,"
The azure-eyed Boёl put in.
"The great Evoker is now dead;
And our fallen brothers said
That in the Keep of their dark realm
Is held the essence of all men..."
"My brother, am I to suppose
That you so candidly propose
For us to do this horrid thing?
Take essence from the Middle Ring?
To bring a dead man to the earth?
To give a man a second birth?"
"Why do you cavil so at this?
You speak as if I've judged amiss.
Is it much fouler if we give
A dead man one more chance to live
Than if we give our fallen kin
The right to kill a thousand men?"
"The thousand men that they will kill
Are those who do their brethren ill.
And yet, this man that you suggest
To be brought forth from mortal rest
Will never live as has before.
He'll be a slave to us; no more."
"Whence comes this fatherly concern?
His life already had its turn,
And he retu
Divine Brothers etc, part III"Well, then, speak, my brother, tell!"
"I am sure you know full well
What passed two centuries before.
The state Amanna was at war
With the nation Ynnebar,
Who outnumbered them by far.
They lost their cities, one by one,
And the war seemed nearly won
By the Ynnebar, except
Arvoreё still stood erect:
The capitol of their fair land,
A city plentiful and grand.
The Ynnebar were keen to fight:
They sieged the city in the night,
Slaying woman, child and man,
Burning every house that stands.
Of the priests in that fair stead,
Saärleŋ Seёlas was the head.
There he was the foremost sage,
Though he was ill, and bent with age.
And while the Ynnebar laid waste,
Magicians in the church made haste
To flee the fire and safety find;
But Saärleŋ Seёlas stayed behind.
Near the altar-plate he stood,
And pulled the threads as best he could,
Evoking me with all his might,
So that I may help them fight...
How could I disregard his pleas?
How could I let his land be sei
Divine Brothers etc., part IIThree stood at the entrance. They
Had with them dryness and decay;
They festered slowly, dry with dust;
And yet, their heads where proudly thrust
Up to the gleaming rays of sun.
The Grey Threads had so frailly spun
A fragile beauty, pale and thin,
A covert majesty within.
Such were the Dead Gods, so they stood.
As calmly, kindly as he could,
Said the storm-god, "Brothers mine,
We welcome you to sit and dine;
We bid you come and join us here.
Be free and merry; have no fear."
The Grey Gods altogether sighed,
And Alernain so replied:
"Your hospitality is kind,
My brother, but we cannot find
The time for merry-making now.
The grey threads' laws do not allow.
We bid you listen well to us,
For we have business to discuss."
The Black God paused, and looked around;
The gods sat still without a sound.
"Now, my brothers, as you've said,
Men are neither gods nor dead.
They do best when left alone,
We know; yet we cannot condone
The things the Oculus reveals.
It is the worst in many years.
Divine Brothers etc, part I.In the centre of the gyre,
Whence the magic threads aspire,
Lies bathed in Mother Sun's bright blaze
A dale aglow in golden rays.
There in the heart of blessèd lands
A mighty silver palace stands;
Its mirrored walls reflect the light,
And like the stars it shines at night.
In its halls dwell sixteen kings,
Sixteen gods to rule the rings.
The Outer Ring they gave to Man,
So he can live as best he can,
And when his years of long life wane
The Middle Ring his essence claims.
The Dead Gods are in power there:
The time-worn, sacred dungeon where
Their shadows long have held their reign.
And there exists no fire nor pain
In retribution for the crimes
A man commits throughout his time.
The soul of knave and soul of king
Are equal in the Middle Ring.
The Dead Gods feel this is unjust.
"For every human wrong, there must
Be vindication of some kind.
If only we could ever find
A way we can avenge the dead..."
Their leader, Alernain, said.
They thought for long with no avail;
Alas, no power c