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AMRT Chapter 46: A Place of Death (Parts 1 & 2)

 
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 6:13 pm    Post subject: AMRT Chapter 46: A Place of Death (Parts 1 & 2) Reply with quote

I began rereading A Place of Death right after I finished The Runes of the Earth and I was extremely impressed. The last two chapters of Runes have got to be some of the most exquisite writing I've ever seen from Stephen R Donaldson, let alone any writer I've ever encountered. So if this chapter compares that favorably it's got to be good. It's almost a self contained short story and so much happens in so few pages that it's a major lesson to aspiring writers in lanquage and gramatical economy. I know I'm not about to do this chapter the justice it deserves, so for that I'll need your help.

This is such an eerie, "transparent" and motivational chapter that it almost feels like Stephen King or H. P. Lovecraft or some other master of psychological horror penned it. By transparent I mean that much begins to become obvious, or, at least, much more obvious than it already was--and the most obvious factor is Master Eremis.

*The second Orison's army sets off for the Care of Tor a chill wind arises from direct south and despite good spirits they march straight into it. Word quickly passes that Prince Kragen is leading a large force of Alends behind them. As the Orison corps crosses Broadwine Ford, to make their first encampment, they are cheered by the news and relieved by the fact that castle has been spared. But morale rapidly drops as the force of the chill wind increases and the Tor is concerned about Kragen's lack of speed.

By Castellan Norge's reckoning, however, they had pulled four miles ahead of the Alends.

As they ready camp and the Imagers begin unpacking their mirrors the Tor begins to think up a practical solution to this dilemma,

Quote:
Norge shrugged as if the movement were a twitch in his sleep.
"They're carrying all their food and equiptment and bedding and tents--everything they need. And they're lucky they can come this close to our pace. If Prince Kragen tries to drive them this fast tomorrow, some of them will start to break."

"And that will benefit no one," fretted the Tor. Abruptly, he called, "Master Barsonage!"

"My lord Tor?" the mediator answered.

"Do I understand correctly? This evening you will translate our necessities from Orison--and tomorrow before we march you will return everything to the castle for the day?"

Master Barsonage nodded. He was impatient to get to work. One of the Congery's three supply mirrors was his.

The Tor kept him standing for a moment, then said. "I will wager the Alends carry enough food and water to sustian them for eight or ten days. If their supplies are added to ours, could you manage such a translation?"

That got the mediator's attention. "My Lord, you propose a vast amount of material to be translated. All Imagery is taxing. And we only have three mirrors."

"I understand," the Tor replied rather sharply. "Can you do it?"

Master Barsonage glared at the ground. "We can make the attempt."


Norge sends a messenger to Kragen to propose a parley.
T & G talk--Geraden suggests they help with the translations to ease the workload and hone their skills. Terisa is, understandably, hesitant to ever come near a mirror again after so many, on either side, were munched by Eremis' gnarly black Pac-Men at the crossroads. Geraden tells her that that blood is on Eremis' hands, that Terisa didn't kill anyone, and most importantly, that she struck the first direct blow at Eremis in a series of blows that must be struck in this war. He says he'll try to find a mirror and that they should see if there's any possibilty a flat glass might be found.

"I hope Master Barsonage is in a tolerant mood," she muttered. "I might make some drastic mistakes."

Suprisingly enough Master Vixix does have a flat glass that the Congery proposed to use to dump the camp's waste into the Fen of Cadwal. And now as the five Imagers prepare to translate Terisa admits she has no idea how to do it. Geraden shows her the hand movement and pestidigitation required and then goes on to joke with her that this is mumbo-jumbo even if Apts spend an entire year learning it. That the talent comes from Imagers themselves. As the others begin pulling in supplies Terisa succeeds in poring a bunch of swampwater into the camp-making all those around her laugh. After Geraden gets her to relax she gains an image of Orison's ballroom and when she finally succeeds in bringing bed rolls though the laughter stops.

Soon Prince Kragen arrives and, while reminding the Tor that no alliance has yet been declared, listens to the Tor's proposal. He is in intial dread, noting war and age old suspicions between the two countries, but sees the benefits of speed. He thinks nothing of letting Orison face High King Festten's army first but finally acceeds to the Tor's logic of not being two groups of 6000 spilt in half versus a force of 20,000. He then agrees, has dinner with the Tor and delights in the chase.

As Terisa and Geraden bed down for the night she recounts her embarassment during the translations. Men jeering at her like her father and Master Eremis. Geraden counters her by pointing out that when she did succeed the laughter stopped. No one had ever seen a woman do that before and that everyone cannot, now, deny the fact that she is a Master and doing something vital. He tells her that the reason they acknowledge her now is because they had no visible proof at the intersection: now they have extra hope of beating that bastard Eremis.

Terisa isn't that sure and the next morning, after they translate all the gear back to Orison, the Congery has to drive their wagons hard to catch up with the armies. Soon the three to four day trek becomes even less easier. They leave the smooth road to Marshalt and begin heading west-southwest over hilly terrian towards Esmerel. Most of the Care of Tor is mountianous and the Congery has to take extra care to prevent the mirrors from breaking. In addition it is getting even colder and windier. As they trudge on Geraden informs Terisa that his instincts are bothering him. He seems to feel that they're heading in the wrong direction. No it may not necessarily be a trap and doesn't involve the armies as a whole, but that it may be important that he and Terisa need to do something else somewhere else. He can't exactly put his finger on it.

As they work their way through a ravine shouts arise from ahead and armed guards work their way back towards the wagons. In a flash of recognition Tereisa spurs her horse but Geraden stops her. Wolves are flying off the ravine wall and besieging the group. The same spiny, double jawed wolves that attacked Houseldon. Ripping apart men and seeking out Geraden. A wolf throws itself at Geraden and just as he backs himself and Terisa towards the edge, a guard spits it but another wolf sails over a wagon and takes the pikeman out. Reacting to shattered glass Master Barsonage jumps from his wagon to that wagon fighting off two wolves with his bare fists. Terisa urges the troops to protect Geraden but before they can two more wolves attack him. She rides over to help him get his sword out it's scabbard just in time to cut the first one from ear to ear. As Ribuld pikes another wolf nearby Geraden sticks the other one in the maw but it keeps coming at him. Ribuld turns around with his sword and hacks it's head off.

When the attack is over Terisa chides herself for not feeling the translation, but Geraden says that Eremis may have released the wolves miles away to follow his scent. Noting that wolves travel in packs he doubts Eremis can send more right away. Fortunately, only the flat mirror is broken. Norge promises to send out more side riders and the Tor insists that five hundred armed men guard the Congery from another foray. They may also face the added danger of meeting Cadwal's scouts and outriders on the morrow. Terisa is sure Eremis won't send more Imagery at them right now, instead,

Quote:
With his enemies so close to him now, he would wait until they came all the way into his trap, put themselves completely into his power. He wasn't interested in anything as relatively straightfoward as victory. He wanted to crush and humiliate, to annihilate everyone who opposed him. Whatever he did when his enemies reached Esmerel would be intended to hurt them spiritually as much as physically.

When she thought about Nyle, her insides contracted until she could scarcely breathe.


All afternoon both armies fight the difficult terrian and increasing cold as they strive to reach their goal as quickly as humanly possible. That evening they make camp on a cluster of hill tops vunerable to the winds and visible for miles and their best defensive option. As troops are being deployed Master Basonage begins unpacking his mirror. It's image shows Artagel sitting atop supplies in the ballroom,

"What is that idiot doing?" demanded the Prince. "Is he not in danger of translation?"

Then: "What has he done with our supplies?"


Indeed, there are no Alend supplies ready to send back. Artagel is holding up a sign that asks what the Tor wants done with Kragen's gear, and hands it to Barsonage. The Tor writes back: Prince Kragen treats us honorably, return his supplies. and the Master translates it back to Artagel who has his people get the Alend stuff ready. The Tor has tryed to reassure Kragen but he's mortified about the fact that he could be so easily betrayed and would be forced to turn around and fight Orison's army. Artagel leaves but he's not entirely happy. The Imagers are well into the task of translating all the goods when Terisa, doing nothing since her mirror is now gone, offers to take frail Master Harpool's place. She finds she can to nothing with his mirror until she conjours the Fen of Cadwal, instead, then more water comes out (no frogs this time). She figures the only way her talent works is to first shift the image, but no that wasn't the case with Vixix's mirror. She then lets the mirror resume to the image of the ballroom and can translate.

After the ardous work is done Terisa asks Geraden why he thinks her first attempt didn't work. He says that only the man who shapes the mirror can use it, or so the Congery has thought. Then he wonders if the time of usage has any effect noting that Vixix hadn't used his flat mirror in days and that Harpool's power or talent was fresh. The next morning as they send the supplies back a front of clouds arises from the south. As the march continues wind warms arise and the clouds cover the sky turning it an almost a dead gray. After noon the armies begin to spot blood on the ground. Old blood scattered everywhere in nooks and cranies. Prince Kragen surmises it must belong to the Perdon,

Quote:
"His men fought alone here against High King Festten. They were trapped here, hunted down in this"--he swallowed and obsenity--"this maze, and massacred.

"They could have saved themselves. They could have fled to Orison. If we understand the King rightly, he never intended to bring his force anywhere but here. But the Perdon did not know that. He knew only that he must fight for Mordant--and that he could not trust his King. So he led Cadwal here, where King Festten most wished to go.

"He was a valiant man, " the Prince rasped, "badly betrayed. I hope that he did not learn the truth before he died. It would have been unbearably bitter."

But there were no bodies.

No remnants of weapons or gear.

No bones.

The entire region had been picked clean.


Last edited by danlo on Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:31 am; edited 14 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 2

Scouts brought back no word of Cadwal.

Everywhere they search they find old blood and hoofprints but no sign of Festten's army. The Tor finds this impossible and even though Norge and Kragen triple the number of scouts throughout the rugged wasteland they still find no sign. Very late in the afternoon the armies arrive at a vantage where they can see Esmerel.

Esmerel, home of Eremis' forebarers, sits deep in a wide wedge shaped valley that seems peaceful and lush with a beautiful stream running before it. However, the valley is it's own ravine bordered by high rugged walls that finally intersect at a rank defile behind the low, rambling, manor. All traces of the Perdon's blood disappears within a mile to the lip of the valley. The entire valley appears deserted. Geraden had told Terisa that much of Esmerel lay belowground and as she scans the lifeless scene with Prince Kargen, the Tor, Castellan Norge, Master Barsonage and he she remembers the cell where Eremis had chained her, Nyle, and the light from the window above.

Quote:
After a while, Prince Kragen asked, "What to you think my lord Tor?"

"I think," The Tor muttered as if his confidence were ebbing, "we must look inside."

"It's a trap, my lord." commented Norge.

"Of course," the Tor sighed. "Is that not why we have come, Geraden, my lady Terisa?" he glanced at them morosely. "To place our heads in the trap?"

For some reason Geraden's mount distrusted the valley and tried to shy away. Reining his horse uncomfortably, he said, "The only way we can find out what we're up against is to go look at it, my lord."

Terisa couldn't keep her eyes off Esmerel. It held her as Master Eremis did, full of promises and destruction. She had been a prisoner there. had met Vagel; seen Nyle. Eeremis had almost had his way with her--

"Let's go," she said without meaning to speak aloud. "Let's go look at it."


Without command the host enters valley and Orison and Alend garrison on either side of the stream, making ready for camp or battle. The fivehundred horse vanguard silently approachs the single level redwood manse. There is not soul to be found and all the horses become highly disturbed. Kragen has his standard bearer sound a note announcing them and still nothing moves. The heavy door and windows remain shut and the company sickens in recoqnition of horrible smells; blood and old rotting flesh.

"What's in there?" one of the captians asked as if he forgotten that everyone could hear him.

"Lucky you," Ribuld muttered in response. "Lucky us. We're going to find out."


Terisa has expected something this preverse from Eremis to attack them spiritually and mentally. As she readies herself to fight him in his domain Geraden tries to take off to the house but the Tor stops him. Resigned to what he will find the Tor sends Norge and three hundred guard to open and inspect Esmerel. Terisa, seeing how easily Festten could attack them here, can't help but feel that something very wrong is happening. How could this be the same place she was four days ago? How could Eremis just leave his labs and seat of power unguarded?

Where was he?

Where had she gone wrong?


Norge and his men sweep through the unbolted door and, after sometime, the Castellan reappears as white as a ghost and informs the entourauge that they are all here. Brushing off Kragen's offer of aid, and despite his serious injury, the Tor dismounts and leads the company in. Geraden is frantic to find his brother and Terisa garbs his hand to restrain him and fears that Emeris has already killed Norge's guard. They find no one on ground level, but there are obvious signs of a faily recent struggle. Geraden reminds Master Barsonage that this greatroom is exactly the Image he created and Barsonage concurs. The stench increases and the Castellan points down a filght of stairs. His men had lit lamps everywhere and the party begins to see pile upon pile of corpses, stacked like cordwood thoughout the basement and Geraden bolts ahead of them to try to find Nyle. The cellars are full of The Perdon's men and even the bodies of Esmerel's servants; men women and children.

Terisa, Geraden, Ribuld and Prince Kragen search further on noting that the kitchen, library, in fact, every room is empty and has been picked clean. They arrive at a final door embedded in the rockface and a guard informs Geraden that it leads to a wine cellar, and that they had left it alone thinking it was empty. As the door opens and light is brought more piles of the Perdon's army and it higher commanders are found. On the corkage table lies the Perdon himself, tortured to death, pinned through the mouth to the table by the corkscrew. Geraden asks the guard where Nyle is and is told that he is nowhere to be found and that none of the rooms in the house have been used for cells. The Tor slams past Terisa to gather up his old friend.

Geraden collapses, failure deflating him, as the Tor wails and rips the corkscrew out with his bare hand. Then Geraden realizes that Terisa was never in Esmerel. She was held elsewhere. Eremis hadn't used the place for years and Festten had to kill the servants to gain the manor.

Quote:
As if he had no idea of what was going on around him, Geraden muttered, "We've come to the wrong place. This is just a trap. It doesn't even give us a chance to strike back."

With a tearing groan, the Tor lifted the Perdon's rigid corpse. When he turned, Terisa saw that his face was streaked with tears. In the lamplight, he looked as pallid as the dead.

"And you wanted to make an alliance with that monster," he cried to his friend's body. But he didn't expect an answer. Jerking his head at the ceiling, he shouted suddenly, "Are you laughing at him now, Eremis?" Does it amuse you to do this to a man who believed you?"

Oh, Eremis was laughing, all right. Terisa was sure of it.


Guards take the body from the Tor and Terisa and Geraden emerge out on the portico to a dark sky and thick snowfall. So thick that it had already smothered the valley with two to three inches. So thick that they can't even see the encampments.

She had dreamed of snow.

Kragen, Norge and Master Barsonage join them and the Prince orders the horses strung together so they won't get lost on the way back to the armies. Norge orders his men out and goes back in to retrieve the Tor and Ribuld. The Tor's injury has forced him to walk back in the storm and though his condition remains grievous he has enough determination to avenge his friend to sustain him. Somehow they find the camp and Geraden and Basonage go off to help the other Imagers tranlate. As Terisa waits by the Tor's tent, for his return, she observes that the snowfall is becoming increasingly lighter. Leaving the Tor in his countryman's, Ribuld's, good care she seeks to aid the Imagers. As she begins working Master Harpool's glass she feels a deep intuition and change come upon her.

...the easing of the snow caught her attention like a call of horns.

The wind parts the snow revealing a twilit wonderland in the valley. She knows whoever sounds the horns approaches and Terisa feels the distant vibration of a translation. As Geraden and the others begin to notice her she calls for the Tor and Prince Kragen. Three riders come charging around the manor-the riders of her dream. The guards and Imagers assume defensive positions and Norge is ready to have his bowmen cut them down. The Tor appears and has Norge wait and the swords Terisa sees in their hands are pointed out as being tied to flags of truce by Kragen. They all know these men and the very gall they have to show up here and now amazes everyone. Two riders abruptly stop and the middle one prances forward. It is indeed the insipid Master Eremis with the putrid Gilbur and Vagel hiding behind him lest they be killed. Killing them Kragen informs him,

"...would be an action worthy of you, Eremis. We are not such men."

Eremis has a list of requirements for all parties except the Congery, which can go (bleep) itself-and tells them if they meet them he will let both parties live,

Quote:
"By now," the tall Imager explained. "even the thickestheadead among you must realize that we have an alliance with High King Festten. By force of Imagery and arms, we are prepared to crush you completely. We will wash the ground with your blood until you beg to share the Perdon's fate."

"Try it," grated Ribuld. Again no one else spoke.

"As it happens, however," Master Eremis countinued humorously, "the High King is not a comfortable ally. He wants to rule the world--and I intend that mastery for myself. Our ambitions are not well mated."

"Doubtless," the Tor sighed "what are your requirements?"

Master Eremis straightened his legs, raised himself high in his saddle. "My lord Tor, my lord Prince, I require you to surrender."

This time, it was Prince Kragen who laughed--a bloody and mirthless guffaw.

"If you do so," Eremis went on smoothly, "if you will pledge your precious honor and your lives to me, we will turn against Festten. Our Imagery and your arms will break him here, far from his sources of supply, his reinforcements. Then it will be Mordant which rules the world not Cadwal.

"From the first," he commented while everyone stared at him, "my plans have cut in two directions. We are prepared to annihilate you, my lords. You are too paltry--you have no hope against us. At the same time, however, I have maneuvered Festten and his strenght into a position of vulnerability--here, my lords, here--so that he, too, can be annihilated.

"Your choice is simple. Serve me and live. Refuse me and die."


All eyes turn to the Tor and he, eventually, asks Eremis what he requires of Terisa and Geraden. He replies that he wants them for himself as a condition of surrender. The Tor doesn't trust this proven traitor and Kragen points out that it's really Terisa and Geraden's power he's after,

..."he wants the lady Terisa and Geraden because he fears them. Their power is our assurance that he cannot destroy us."

The Tor will have none of this and tells Master Eremis where he can take his insults and threats. He lets him know that his true intent is obvious and that Vagel, let alone Gart, would not permit any betrayal. Eremis calls for Terisa's flesh and Geraden's head. The Tor is not moved and tells the Master pointblank that if he truly wanted their service from the start that he...would have treated the Perdon with more respect. He turns his back on Eremis and heads off to his tent and Geraden is in awe of the King's oldest friend.

Prince Kragen also turned his back. Glowering bloodshed, he barked at Castellan Norge, "Give these traitors a count of five. then instruct your bowmen to kill them."

The three scatter like mice at Norge's call. Snow begins to fall again and Terisa holds Geraden as they walk to the Tor's tent. It all made sense to her now, her place in the overall scheme of things, the augury, her dream...

Quote:
Before the snowfall became thick enough to blind the sky completely, two or three of the guards on sentry duty down at the foot of the valley thought they saw an impercise puff of smoke overhead, riding against the wind. The sight was gone, and snow came down so thickly that it made everything dark.


Faint


Last edited by danlo on Thu Nov 17, 2005 6:25 am; edited 19 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job so far, danlo!

The section in this chapter about Terisa's use of mirrors always sort of threw me. I understand the logic of the situation--Terisa has to make the mirror her own before using it--but it doesn't really fit. If her power over the glass is even slightly stymied by the fact that the mirror has recently been in use by its owner, then how come she can do what she does to Eremis' mirror at the cross-roads?

The mirror-related by-play in this chapter doesn't quite fit for me. It seems unnecessary to the plot, and unnecessarily convoluted. Can anyone make it clearer for me?
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because all Eremis' usage/power is on the "other" side of the mirror? Confused
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a good point--since she's using her power during someone else's translation from the "wrong side" of the mirror, I suppose it might work differently. Confused

Fantastic job on this very difficult dissection, danlo! There's so much action in this chapter it makes for a huge difference from the couple preceding it, which were full of talk more than anything else.

The word annihilate, which has been echoing through the book almost since the first chapter of AMRT, gets its full impact here. Both books in MN are full of amazing imagery (and Imagery, of course), but the moment when the Tor and T&G discover the Perdon and his army is one of the most searing. All you have to do is hear the description of the Perdon in the wine cellar--how the cool air and the sealed door kept things "fresh"--the corkscrew through the back of his mouth--the bindings that kept him spreadeagled on the corkage table--and every word creates not only a picture of what our heroes are seeing, but pictures of what it must have been like when it was actually happening.

It's utterly gruesome, but it's also an utterly imaginative form of torture, and completely in keeping with Eremis's evil genius. Annihilate doesn't simply mean "kill" or "destroy"--it means "to destroy completely; to reduce to nonexistence" (American Heritage Dict.). Destroying a person completely means destroying their soul as well. Imagine what the Perdon must have gone through--the absolute hard-a** warrior driven mad by pain with each turn of the screw...

The wonderful thing is that we don't get left with this. We get left with the Tor's defiance in the face of nearly certain defeat, with his bravery, with his love for his friend and his sheer cold (and exhausted) rage at the dishonor of his enemies. It's utterly magnificent stuff.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree completely. The description is very in-depth and is certainly not for the squeemish. I feel that death could not scare the Perdon, but the pain may have broken him at the end.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, and for some reason King Joyse is not one of my favorite people at this point. He has pushed his hopboard pieces beyond acceptable boundries-that much is painfully transparent.

On a silly sidenote, for some reason, whenever I read Eremis saying, "Your choice is simple. Serve me and live. Refuse me and die." I hear Goldfinger saying, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." (I know morbid humor, but it kept me going during this frickin massive dissection. Wink )

Spoiler:
I feel like starting an Esmerel topic in the Mordant Need forum as the valley itself plays an extremely important role for the rest of the story.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go for it danlo. But curse you for bringing up the Goldfinger reference! Now I'm going to hear it too! Cussing Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woah. Do I have to read all of that? Can't I just say "Great job, danlo" and be done with it?





Great job, danlo Mr. Green
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

uhhh... Great job Danlo!!!!!
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danlo worked incredibly hard on this one; that's quite obvious.

Norge, the unbelievably phlegmatic soldier, appears quite human and believable when he comes out of Esmerel sickened by what he has seen.

Quote:
The riders continued to advance. Now Terisa could tell that the pillars of the portico were redwood; that the sides of the manor were built of waxed boards supported by stone ribs and columns. A beautiful design--but the place was still vacant. Esmerel's air of abandonment grew deeper as the riders moved farther into the gloom of the valley walls.

All the horses became restive: prancing; stamping; sawing against their reins.

Prince Kragen's standard-bearer winded a call on his battle-horn, a fierce run of notes which nevertheless sounded forlorn and maybe doomed as it echoed back from the ramparts. Nothing shifted in Esmerel. None of the windows winked or opened. Under its portico, the door looked heavy enough to withstand anybody.

Abruptly, Geraden winced; Prince Kragen spat a curse; and all at once Terisa could smell what was disturbing the horses.

The sweet, rank, nauseating reek of blood and old rot, neglected death, flesh gone to carrion.

"What's in there?" one of the captains asked as if he had forgotten that everyone could hear him.

"Lucky you," Ribuld muttered in response. "Lucky us. We're going to find out."

As soon as she recognized the stench, however, Terisa lost her fear. She had been expecting something like this. A spiritual attack as much as physical. Adrenaline pumped through her; energy filled her muscles. This was Master Eremis' domain: he was in his element here. Everything that happened now would happen because he intended it.

First she said, "It wasn't like this four days ago. I couldn't smell any of this." Then she said, "This is where I saw Nyle. Inside."

His face twisting, Geraden surged toward the door.

"Geraden!"

The Tor's shout snapped like a whip, jerked Geraden back. Fierce and pale, he wheeled to face the old lord.

"Come on, he whispered. "We've got to find him."
The Tor didn't drop Geraden's gaze. "Castellan Norge," he coughed, "open that door. Secure the rooms inside. We will enter when you signal for us."

Norge saluted. At least three hundred guards rode away to form a protective perimeter around the manor and the vanguard. Some men dismounted to tend the horses. The rest followed Castellan Norge on foot.

In combat formation, swords ready, they approached the door

It wasn't bolted. When Norge lifted the latch, the door swung inward, opening on darkness.

He and his men entered the house.

Terisa scanned the harsh rims of the valley. For no clear reason, she expected to see men there: Cadwals clutching their weapons; an army moving to surround the forces of Orison and Alend.

Esmerel was a trap. But that didn't make any sense. She had been a prisoner here just a few days ago. Master Eremis had his own laborium here, his furnaces and glassworks. He had spoken to High King Festten here. It was inconceivable that he would surrender the seat of his power to his enemies. Sure. Of course. So where was he?

Where had she gone wrong?

Abruptly, the Castellan reappeared.

The gloom--and the fact that he was a few dozen yards away--confused Terisa's sight. She had the distinct impression that he had gone white. He held his arms stiffly at his sides; he moved as if he carried something breakable in his chest.

"My lord Tor--" His voice caught.

Peering at the portico and the door and Norge, the Tor asked, "Is it safe?"

Norge shook his head, nodded. His throat worked. "You need to see this. They're all here."

No, Terisa thought blindly, don't go in there, don't go, it's too dangerous. But Geraden was already running--

The Castellan stopped him, made him wait.

The Tor glanced wearily up at the sky. "The truth is, he rumbled, "that three days in the saddle have done little to heal my belly." The stubborn resolution which had brought him here appeared to be eroding. "I fear that once I dismount I will never get up onto my horse again."

Prince Kragen's gaze shone darkly. "I will go, my lord Tor."

The Tor passed a hand over his face. The skin of his cheeks seemed to pull away from the bones, giving him a skeletal aspet for a moment despite his fat.

"We will all go, my lord Prince," he sighed.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The outrage of norge and Kragen against the renegade Imagers is very understandable after what they've seen within Esmerel!

Quote:
"We are not patient with traitors," snapped Prince Kragen: he was the Alend Contender, accustomed to authority. "Tell us what you want and be done with it."

Master Eremis paid no attention to that demand. "My companions fear you," he said. "They believe you will kill them if they come near, despite our flags of truce."

Prince Kragen snorted. "That would be an action worthy of you, Eremis. We are not such men."

In response, Master Eremis laughed along the wind, sent mirth and scorn across the snow. "Do you hear?" he called over his shoulder. "The Alend Contender thinks he is not such a man as we are."

"You're lucky Lebbick isn't here," muttered Norge. "He'd castrate you first and worry about honor later." But no one listened to him.



As readers, didn't we feel the same way?
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