Exclusive excerpt from Peter F. Hamilton's THE EVOLUTIONARY VOID

Thanks to both the folks at Pan Macmillan and Peter F. Hamilton, I was granted permission to post this exclusive extract from The Evolutionary Void. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.


It was the fifth time Edeard had watched the militia forces close in on the hidden valley. There had been a lot of mistakes previously; ge-eagles had been spotted, fastfoxes mauled the first militiamen over the lip, the bandit forces had fought back with a secret cache of weapons, hothead officers didn’t quite follow orders, allowing the Gilmorn to rally his people. Each time there had been too many deaths. Each time Edeard reset the universe to the night before, and attempted to mitigate the problem.

Last time he was sure he’d got it right, then the bandit gang had produced rapid-fire guns from a cache that he hadn’t found the first three times. Even with third hands joined together to add extra strength to their shielding, the troopers had been cut to shreds before Edeard himself could reach them.

So . . .

This time he had slipped unseen and unsensed through the valley for two hours just after midnight. He’d destroyed the second lot of rapid-fire guns the bandits had hidden, and snatched away the ones belonging to guards after rendering them unconscious. It was politically important that the militias thought they alone had overcome the bandits; while Edeard and Finitan wanted the rapid-fire guns to vanish into legend. Now he stood on a small rise half a mile from the valley as the pre-dawn light slowly overwhelmed the nebulas. Bulku was the first to vanish, its undulating stream of pale indigo fading away just above the eastern horizon, as if the land had somehow opened to swallow it. Edeard could well believe that. The valley which the bandits had chosen as their last redoubt was a narrow crack in the undulating grasslands that made up the southernmost part of Rulan province, lapping against the low mountains of Gratham province which rose in the distance. Not hard to imagine it as a fissure slicing through the whole world.

As the scarlet-spiked glory of Odin’s Sea began to diminish far above, he farsighted the troopers of the Pholas and Zelda regiment break cover from the spinneys beyond the valley where they’d gathered during the night. They were supported by provincial militiamen from Plax and Tives. The men moved silently, like a black stream winding round the soft knolls and hummocks of the grasslands, out of farsight from the sentries within the valley. Edeard concentrated on subverting the ge-eagles gliding high above, insinuating his own orders into their sharp, suspicious little minds. That just left the fastfoxes. He was too far away to help with them. Brawny ge-wolves and fast ge-hounds slunk forwards, accompanying the marauder groups of sheriffs and Wellsop rangers whose control over their genistars was second to none.

‘Go,’ Edeard’s directed longtalk urged Dinlay.

The Lillylight and Cobara regiment, along with militias from Fandine, Nargol and Obershire, emerged from their forward positions to the west of the valley. It was the Nargol troopers and their unfettered eagerness that had been the problem the second time around. Since then Edeard had emphasized how important it was to keep them moving along the planned route. Colonel Larose had done a good job keeping the provincials in line ever since; ignoring their muttered resentments about city folk lording it over the countryside.

With the assault under way, Edeard mounted a ge-horse which the Eggshaper Guild had sculpted purely for speed. His ebony cloak swirled around him, flowing across the saddle before rippling above the beast’s hide. Felax and Marcol scrambled on to similar mounts on either side of him. He didn’t have to say anything to them. His mind urged the ge-horse forward at a gallop and the young constables followed.

The three beasts thundering over the grassland in the cold silence of the ebbing night sounded incredibly loud to Edeard, yet he knew they were too far from the valley to be heard. Up in front of him the troopers were an unstoppable swarm as they converged on the valley.

Finally, the alarm was raised by the bandits. Those sentries still awake shouted to their armed comrades for help, only to find them lying in a deep unnatural slumber, their weapons gone. More shouts and frantic longtalk roused the rest of the sleeping group.

So far, so exactly as before; and this time going to plan.

Fastfoxes flittered silently along the valley with the speed of hurricane clouds. The invading militias urged their ge-wolves on ahead. Along the top of the valley, troopers fell to the ground, their pistols held over the edge. Shots were fired. Ge-wolves and fastfoxes clashed head-on, powerful animal screams reverberating across the grasslands as grey light crept over the dew-soaked ground.

The Pholas and Zelda regiment reached the far end of the valley, and began to follow their ge-wolves down into the deep narrow cleft. Dinlay and Argain were close to the front, using their farsight to expose anyone with the concealment ability. Most of the bandits could perform the trick. Edeard held his breath, the memory of another deep gulley on another night stirring in his mind – the fateful ambush. This time would be different, he promised himself, this time he could guarantee there would be no surprises.

Troopers along the top of the valley provided a thick covering fire for their comrades sweeping forward below. As always, the Gilmorn gathered his stalwarts together in a tall fortress-like outcrop of rock. They still had their ordinary pistols, and fired ruthlessly at the advancing troopers. Concealment made it hard for anyone to return fire with any accuracy. Argain hurried forward to assist the troopers closing in on the outcrop.

Edeard arrived at the head of the valley, and dismounted. He refused to rush forward, even though it was what everyone was expecting. His farsight observed troopers rounding up the bandits who had surrendered and isolating the few who resisted. Then it was just the Gilmorn and his cadre left offering resistance. Dinlay and Larose moved the militiamen forwards cautiously; men wriggled on their bellies along small clefts in the land, and dashed between convenient boulders. Within ten minutes, the Gilmorn was completely surrounded.

As Edeard made his way along the stony floor of the valley he passed groups of smiling troopers hauling their captives along. Several were men from the tribes who lived in the wildlands beyond Rulan’s boundaries. They were just as he’d encountered them all those years ago on the caravan back from Witham. Ringlet hair and bare chests caked in dark mud that was flaking off. They glanced at the Waterwalker with sullen expressions, their minds tightly shielded. In all the clashes over the last few years, Edeard had never seen one of them wielding a rapid-fire gun; those weapons were possessed by the Gilmorn’s people alone. He halted one of the tribesmen escorted by five wary troopers, a man he guessed to be in his late fifties though with none of a city dweller’s laxness about him; he had pale grey eyes which glared out of a face that showed all the anger and defiance his mind refused to show.

‘Why?’ Edeard asked simply. ‘Why did you join them?’

‘They are strong. We benefit.’

‘How? How do you benefit?’

The older tribesman gave Edeard a superior snort. He gestured round the grasslands. ‘You are gone. Even now you will never return. This land will be ours.’

‘All right, I can see that. I can even understand how the killing and destruction becomes a perverted addiction for some of you. But why these lands? There are lands unclaimed to the west. Land with forests and herds to hunt. No one even knows how much land. Why ours? You don’t farm. You don’t live in stone houses.’

‘Because you have it,’ the tribesman said simply.

Edeard stared at him, knowing he’d never get a better answer. Nor a more honest one, he thought. He was looking for complexity and purpose where there was none. It was the Gilmorn and his kind, the remnants of Owain’s ruthless One Nation followers, who had intent. The tribesmen were simply useful innocents who’d been duped into an allegiance they had never fully comprehended.

He dismissed the escort with a curt wave of his hand, and the tribesman was dragged off to the jail pens that were being established up on the grasslands.

‘We should get down there,’ Marcol said eagerly. The young man’s farsight was sweeping over the fortress outcrop, exposing the concealed bandits with ease.

Edeard did his best not to grin. Marcol’s psychic abilities had developed considerably since the day of banishment, almost as much as his sense of duty. He was a devoted constable and utterly loyal to the Grand Council; yet there was still some of the old Sampalok street boy in there. He was spoiling to join the fight.

‘Let the militias have their moment of glory,’ Edeard said quietly. ‘This has been a hard campaign. They deserve to be the ones ending it all.’ Which was true enough. For eight months the forces of city and countryside had been allied, chasing the Gilmorn and his remaining supporters across the provinces further and further to the west until finally there was nowhere left to run.

‘Politics,’ Felax said with a disgusted grunt.

‘You’re learning,’ Edeard said. ‘Besides, you two have nothing to prove, not after Overton Falls. I heard the daughters of those caravan families made their appreciation clear enough.’

The two young constables looked at each other, and shared a knowing smirk.

Down by the outcrop, Larose’s longtalk was delivering a sharp ultimatum to the Gilmorn. They were outnumbered fifty to one, and completely surrounded. They had no food. Their ammunition was almost gone. There was no help coming.

Edeard wasn’t convinced that was quite the right thing to point out to a merciless fanatic like the Gilmorn. Though in truth, they’d never reached this point of the assault before, so he didn’t know what would work.

They carried on down the valley, passing several dead fastfoxes and ge-wolves. Edeard tried not to grimace at the brutally torn flesh on the animals. Argain was sitting on a moss-covered boulder where the valley opened out, quietly munching on a red apple. Several squads of militia were milling around, also wanting in on the finale. Their corporals and sergeants were having a hard time keeping them in line. Everyone quietened down as Edeard appeared.

‘Will he surrender?’ Edeard asked.

Argain shrugged, and bit down hard. ‘He has nothing to lose. Who knows what he’s thinking.’

‘I see. Well, fortunately we can wait. For as long as it takes.’

‘Ah,’ Marcol exclaimed. ‘They’re arguing.’

Argain gave the young constable a searching stare, then turned his attention to the outcrop. There was indeed an argument spilling out from the jagged rocks. A loud one, full of anger. Two men were confronting the Gilmorn, telling him they were walking out to surrender to the militia. Edeard’s farsight showed him the men turning away. The Gilmorn lifted his pistol and brought it up to point at the back of one man’s head. Edeard’s third hand slipped out and twisted the firing pin, bending it slightly out of alignment. The Gilmorn pulled the trigger. There was a metallic click. The bullet didn’t fire.

Marcol cleared his throat in a very pointed fashion.

Another argument broke out, even more heated than the first. Fists were swung. Third hands attempted to heartsqueeze. Men started wrestling.

Larose gave the order to combine shields and move in.

Two minutes later it was all over.

* * *

There were militiamen perched on top of the rocky pinnacles, cheering wildly and waving beer bottles above their heads. Whole regiments were spilling over the site of the last fight, singing and embracing their comrades. Edeard couldn’t help but smile as he walked among them, taking the occasional swig from a proffered bottle, shaking hands, hugging older friends exuberantly. They were glad to see the Waterwalker who had led the campaign, but they were prouder that they’d won the final battle themselves. Colonel Larose had established his camp on the far side of the fortress outcrop. Carts were drawn up in a large circle, long rows of tents were laid out, ready to be put up. A big open-sided canvas marquee had already been raised, with the cooks preparing a meal inside. Smoke from the cooking fires was starting to saturate the still air. At the centre of the camp, the field headquarters tent was a drab khaki, guarded by alert senior troopers and a pack of ge-hounds. Orderlies and runners were skipping in and out. Eleven regimental flags fluttered weakly on top of their poles outside, representing the finest of city and country.

The guards saluted Edeard as he went inside. Larose was sitting behind the wooden trestle table which served as his desk, while a flock of adjutants hovered around with requests and queries. His drab-green field uniform jacket was open to the waist, revealing a stained grey shirt. Senior officers were clustered together at a long bench with all the administrative paraphernalia necessary to move and orchestrate such a large body of men. Even though it had only been a couple of hours since victory, orders and reports had already begun to pile up. Larose stood and embraced Edeard warmly.

‘We did it,’ Larose exclaimed. ‘By the Lady, we did it.’

The officers started to applaud. Edeard gave them a grateful nod.

‘You should be very satisfied with your men,’ Edeard told him, loud enough for the other commanders to hear, especially those of the country regiments. ‘They behaved impeccably.’

‘That they did.’ Larose grinned round generously. ‘All of them.’

‘And you,’ Edeard told the colonel, ‘you should stand for election when we return. The residents of Lillylight would appreciate a man representing them who’s actually accomplished something outside the city.’

Larose gave a shrug that was close to bashful. ‘That would cause my family’s senior members some surprise and satisfaction, I imagine.’

Edeard gave him a warm smile. ‘You were never a black sheep.’

‘No. Not like you, at any rate. But I like to think I had my moments.’

‘Indeed you did. But I hope you’ll give the idea some thought.’

‘It’s never as far away as we believe, is it, Makkathran?’

‘No.’ Edeard let out a sigh. ‘Is he behaving himself?’

‘So far.’ Larose gestured to a flap at the back of the tent, and they went through. An encircling wall of tents and fences had produced a small secure area at the rear. Right at the centre, a tall narrow tent was standing all alone. Two guards stood to attention outside, older seasoned militiamen who Larose trusted implicitly; their ge-wolves pulling on the leash. Both animals gave Edeard a suspicious sniff as he approached.

‘You know something odd?’ Larose said. ‘For years the bandits have terrorized communities with impunity. Every survivor told stories of fearsome weapons. Yet throughout this whole campaign, we haven’t found one of the bastards armed with anything other than a standard pistol.’

‘That’s good,’ Edeard said, staring straight ahead. ‘Would you want a new weapon to exist? One powerful enough to kill entire platoons in less than a minute?’

‘No. No, I don’t suppose I would.’

‘Me neither.’

‘I don’t suppose anybody could build anything like that, not really. Not even the Weapons Guild.’
‘No,’ Edeard agreed. ‘They can’t. Those weapons are just a fable that people used to tell each other about in times gone by.’

‘Like the exiles. You know, nowadays I find it hard to picture what Owain looked like. He and his fellows must have travelled a long way from Makkathran. Nobody ever found them.’

‘Losing an election can demoralize you like that. Nobody wants to dwell on what has been, not now we all have a future.’

‘We do?’

‘It’s unknown, as always, but it’s there all right.’

Colonel Larose pursed his lips, and walked on.

The Gilmorn was standing in the middle of the tent, with Dinlay and Marcol in attendance. Of all the aspects which resulted from Edeard’s ability to reset time, he always found this the strangest. Seeing someone alive who he’d previously watched die. And this Gilmorn was one he’d killed himself in a fashion which didn’t withstand too much sober examination.

Inevitably the man was unchanged. Not that Edeard had ever seen him at his best before. Last time, his round face with the idiosyncratic nose had been suffused with pain and anguish as his legs were ruined by the boulder. Now he simply looked tired and sullenly resentful. Not defeated, though. There was still defiance burning behind his mental shield, mostly fuelled by good old Grand Family arrogance, Edeard suspected.

The blacksmith was just leaving. He’d taken an hour to shackle the Gilmorn securely, with big iron rings around his wrists and ankles, linked together with tough chains. This way there were no fancy locks for his telekinesis to pick away at. The metal had to be broken apart by another blacksmith or simple brute strength; Edeard could do it, and probably Marcol, but few others on Querencia would be capable.

‘Finitan’s pet,’ the Gilmorn said contemptuously. ‘I might have guessed.’

‘Sorry I missed our earlier appointment at the valley beyond Mount Alvice,’ Edeard replied casually.

The Gilmorn gave him a startled glance.

‘So who are you?’ Edeard asked. ‘Not that it really matters, but you never did tell me your name back at Ashwell.’

‘Got your forms to fill out, have you?’

‘You do understand this is over now, don’t you? You are the last of them. Even if One Nation had any supporters left back in Makkathran, they’ll deny everything, especially you. The Family Gilmorn has lost considerable status among the city’s Grand Families since Tannarl’s exile; they’re desperate to regain it. You won’t be accepted back, not by them. Of course you could try to throw in with Buate’s surviving lieutenants, the ones I banished. Though they too seem incapable of adapting. Over a dozen have been sentenced to the Trampello mines in the last two years. At least they’ll have company; my old friend Arminel is still incarcerated there. Mayor Finitan changed the mine governor from Owain’s crony to someone who’s a little stricter.’

The Gilmorn held his hands up, the chain clanking as he did so. ‘Is this what you’re reduced to, Waterwalker, gloating over your victims?’

‘And you? Goading someone whose village you destroyed?’


‘You set me on the path that led to this day. I enjoy that.’

‘As Ranalee and others enjoy Salrana. I’ve heard she’s very popular. Fetches quite a high price in the right circles so I understand.’

Dinlay’s hand fell on Edeard’s shoulder. ‘Let me deal with him.’

‘You?’ the Gilmorn sneered. ‘A eunuch does the Waterwalker’s dirty work? How amusing.’

Dinlay’s face reddened behind his glasses. ‘I am not—’

‘Enough of this,’ Larose said. ‘Waterwalker, do you have any serious questions for this bastard? Some of my men can get answers out of him. It might take a while, but they’ll persist.’

‘No,’ Edeard said. ‘He has nothing vital for me. I just wondered why he kept on fighting, but now I know.’

‘Really?’ the Gilmorn said. ‘And that is?’

‘Because I have taken everything else away from you. There is nothing else for you to do. Without your masters you are nothing. You are so pitiful you cannot even think of anything else to devote yourself to. When the time comes for your life to end you will have achieved nothing, you will leave no legacy, your soul will never find the Heart. Soon, this universe will forget you ever even existed.'

‘So that is what you have come here for, to kill me. The Waterwalker’s revenge. You’re no better than me. Owain never went into exile. I know you murdered him and the others. Don’t set yourself up as some aloof judge of morals. You’re wrong to say I leave nothing behind. I leave you. I created you. Without me, you would be a countryside peasant with a fat wife and a dozen screaming children, scrabbling in the mud for food. But not now. Not any more. I forged a true ruler, one who is every bit as ruthless as Owain. You say I can do nothing else? Take a look at yourself. Do you tolerate anyone who doesn’t comply? Is that not me, the very ethos you claim to despise?’

‘I enforce the law; equally and impartially for all. I abide by the results of elections.’

‘Words words words. A true Makkathran politician. May the Lady help your enemies when you become Mayor.’

‘That’s a long time in the future, if I ever do stand.’

‘You will. Because I would.’

Edeard’s cloak flowed aside with the smoothness of jamolar oil. He reached into a pocket and took out the warrant. ‘This is the proclamation signed by the Mayor of Makkathran, and notarized by the provincial governors of the militias alliance. Given the scale of the atrocities you have perpetrated for years, you will not be returned to civilization for trial.’

‘Ha, a death warrant. You are nothing more than the tribal savages we enlisted.’

‘You will be taken to the port of Solbeach, where a ship will sail eastwards. When the captain has voyaged as far as the seas will allow him, he will search for an island with fresh water and vegetation. There you will be abandoned with seed stock and tools sufficient for your survival. You will live out your life there alone to contemplate the enormity of your crimes. You will not attempt to return to civilization. If you are found within the boundary of civilization you will immediately be put to death. May the Lady bless your soul.’ Edeard rolled up the scroll.

‘Constables Felax and Malcol will accompany you on the journey to ensure the sentence is carried out. I’d advise you not to annoy them.’

‘Fuck you. I won and you know it. This alliance is the start of One Nation.’

Edeard turned and started to leave the tent.

‘Owain won,’ the Gilmorn shouted after him. ‘You’re nothing more than his puppet. That’s all. Do you hear me Waterwalker? Puppet to the dead; puppet to the man you murdered. You are my soul twin. I salute you. I salute my final victory. Family blood will govern this world. They say you can see souls. Can you see the soul of Mistress Florrel laughing? Can you?’

Edeard hardened the shield his third hand created, blotting out the vicious shouting as he walked away.

* * *

Edeard wanted to travel on alone, but Dinlay wouldn’t hear of it. He wouldn’t argue, he just said nothing while Edeard shouted hotly at him, maintaining his quiet stubborn self. So in the end Edeard gave in as they both knew he would, and ordered the regiment’s cavalry master to saddle two horses. The pair of them rode off together towards Ashwell.

The landscape itself hadn’t altered, only the use it had once been put to. Half a day’s ride from his destination, Edeard began to recognize the features that had dominated his childhood. Shapes on the horizon started to register. They were cloaked in different colours now as the vegetation had changed; crops giving way to a surge of wilder plants. The road was completely overgrown, hard to distinguish, though the buried stony surface was still perceptible to farsight. The fields around the village, once rich and fertile, had long reverted to grassland and bushes, with their old hedges sprouting up into small trees. Drainage ditches were clotted with leaves and silt, swelling out into curiously long pools.

It was a warm day, with few clouds in the bright azure sky. Sitting in his saddle, Edeard could see for miles in every direction. The cliff was the first thing he identified. That hadn’t changed at all. It set off a peculiar feeling of trepidation in his heart. He had truly never expected to come back here. On the day after the attack, he’d left with the posse from Thorpe-by- Water, and had only glanced back once, seeing blackened ruins chuffing a thin smoke into the open sky, and even that image was blurred by tears and anguish. It had been too painful to attempt another look; he and Salrana had ridden away together, holding hands and bravely staring on ahead.

Now, nature had completed what Owain and the Gilmorn had started. Years of rain and wind and insects and tenacious creepers had accelerated the decay begun by the fires. All the village council’s half-hearted repairs along the rampart walls had finally started to give way, leaving the broad defences sagging and uneven. The outer gates had gone, their charcoal remnants rotting to a thin mulch where tough weeds infiltrated their roots. Their absence exposed the short tunnel under the ramparts, a dank uninviting passage of gloomy fungus-coated brick. Above them, the stone watchtowers sagged; their thick walls held fast, though the slate and timber roofs under which so many sentries had sheltered across the decades were gone.

Edeard dismounted, and tethered his skittish horse to the iron rings just outside the arching portal. The sturdy metal at least remained untouched.

‘You okay?’ Dinlay queried cautiously.

‘Yes,’ Edeard assured him, and walked through the dripping tunnel, sweeping aside the curtain of trailing vines. As soon as he emerged into the village, birds took flight, great swirls of them shrieking as they flapped their way into the sky. Small creatures scampered away over the rough mounds of debris.

Edeard was prepared for ruins, but the size of the village caught him by surprise. Ashwell was so small. He’d never considered it in such terms before. But, really, the whole area between the cliff and the rampart walls could fit easily into Myco or Neph, the smallest city districts.

The basic layout of the village remained. Most of the stone walls survived in some form or another, though collapsing roofs had demolished a lot of them. Streets were easy to make out, and his memory filled in the lines wherever slides of rubble obscured the obvious routes. The big guild halls had withstood the fires well enough to retain their shapes; though they were nothing more than empty shells, without roofs or internal walls. Edeard sent his farsight sweeping out to examine them, then immediately halted. Lying just below the thin coating of dirt and ash and weeds that had engulfed the village were the bones of the inhabitants. They were everywhere. ‘Lady!’

‘What?’ Dinlay asked.

‘There was no burial,’ Edeard explained. ‘We just left. It was too . . . enormous to deal with.’

‘The Lady will understand. And the souls of your friends certainly will.’

‘Maybe.’ He looked round the desolation, and shuddered again.

‘Edeard? Do any linger?’

Edeard let out a long reluctant sigh. ‘I don’t know.’ Once again he reached out, pushing his farsight to the limit of resolution, striving to catch any sign of spectral figures. ‘No,’ he said eventually. ‘There’s nobody here.’

‘That’s good, then.’

‘Yes.’ Edeard led the way towards the carcass of the Eggshaper Guild Hall.

‘This is where you grew up?’ Dinlay asked with interest as he scanned round the nine sides of the broken courtyard.

‘Yes.’ Somehow Edeard had expected to find some trace of Akeem. But now, actually standing beside the listing stables and unsafe hall, he knew he never would. There were bones aplenty, even whole skeletons, but it would take days of careful examination to try and identify any of them. And ultimately, for what purpose? Who am I trying to appease and satisfy here? Would the souls of the dead villagers care that he was here? Would Akeem want him grubbing through the dirt to find some pieces of his long-dead body? I bury all of them, or I bury none. Of course, there was one other thing Edeard could do. His recollection of that night was perfect: himself and the other apprentices meeting up in the cave for an evening of fun and kestric. Even as he thought it, he looked up at the cliff, seeing the small dark cleft that they wriggled through to find the cavern that offered privacy from their masters.

That simple recollection triggered a whole wave of memory. He could see the village as it had been that last fine summer. People striding along the streets, talking and laughing. Market stalls being set up; farmers bringing their produce in on big wagons. Apprentices hurrying about their duties. Village elders in their finer clothes. Children scampering about, chasing each other with shrieks of laughter.

I can do it. I can go back to that moment. I can defeat the bandits that night, I can give them all a life again.

He shook his head as if to clear it. Tears began to roll down his cheeks. This was far worse than any temptation Ranalee had ever offered.

I would have to go to Makkathran, this time with Akeem’s letter of sponsorship. I would be an apprentice at the Blue Tower. But Owain would still be there, and Buate, and Tannarl and Mistress Florrel and Bise. I would have to dispose of them once more.

‘I can’t,’ he whispered. ‘I can’t do that again.’

‘Edeard?’ Dinlay asked gently. His hand squeezed Edeard’s shoulder.

Edeard wiped the tears away, banishing forever the sight of the village as it had been. Standing in the cracked doorway arch to the Eggshaper Guild Hall, Akeem regarded Edeard with sad eyes.

Edeard knew that look so well. A rebuke which had been directed at him a thousand times as an apprentice. Don’t let me down.

‘I won’t,’ he promised.

Dinlay frowned. ‘Won’t what?’

Edeard breathed in deeply, calming his rampaging emotions. He stared at the broken doorway. Akeem wasn’t there. A smile touched his lips. ‘Fail them,’ he told Dinlay. ‘I won’t fail the people who died so I might ultimately wind up where I am today, where we all are. It doesn’t always apply, you know.’

‘What doesn’t?’

‘Sometimes to do what’s right you have to do what’s wrong.’

‘I always thought that was stupid. I bet Rah never actually said it.’

Edeard laughed out loud, and took a last look around the old nine-sided courtyard. He put his arm round his friend’s shoulders. ‘You’re probably right. Come on, let’s go home. Home to Makkathran.’

‘About time. I know you had to come here, but I’m not sure it’s healthy. We all regard the past too highly. We should cut ourselves free of it. You can only ever look forward to the future.’

Edeard pulled him closer. ‘You’re really quite a philosopher, aren’t you?’

‘Why do you say that with so much surprise?’

‘That was not surprise, that was respect.’


‘Anyhow,’ Edeard teased, ‘Saria will be waiting for you. Waiting eagerly.’

‘Oh dear Lady. I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but what in Honious did Boyd ever see in her?’

‘What? No! She’s a lovely girl.’

‘She is a nightmare.’

‘Kristabel thinks highly of her.’

‘Yes. But Kristabel thinks highly of you, too.’

‘Ouch! That hurt. Okay then, perhaps Kanseen could steer someone more to your liking.’

‘No! And certainly not Kanseen. Do you know what her definition of “nice girls” is, let alone “suitable” ones? This is what you’ve all been doing since the four of you got married. It’s embarrassing. Besides, I like being single.’

‘Married life is wonderful.’

‘Lady! Just stop it will you.’

Edeard walked out of his former guild courtyard grinning contentedly.

4 commentaires:

Dandelion said...

Thanks for posting!!

Peter said...

Oh my God, more Edeard crap. Just stick to Sci-Fi please, Mr Hamilton. You're actually good at that.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. The SF parts of the first two books were fast-paced, zany, trashy fun.

The fantasy episodes were incredibly tedious, boring tosh. Like a fantasy storyline in the background of some Japanese role-playing game. It was impossible to believe people were so captivated by this 3rd rate Wheel of Time knock-off narrative to build a religion around it. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

For the lubba Cheesus, Pat, post the title, a paragraph and a link so that people can CLICK THRU from the front page of the blog to read the rest of the LAWNG-AZZ excerpt.