WebNovel Tigana Part 39

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Tigana is a web novel produced by Guy Gavriel Kay. This webnovel is right now completed.

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‘Ah!’ said Rinaldo, letting his breath out slowly. ‘I see. A bound wizard and a Senzian. That explains his anger.’ He moved another few steps forward, sweeping his stick over the ground in front of him.

It was in that moment that Devin realized that Rinaldo was blind. Ducas registered it in the same moment: ‘You have no eyes,’ he said.

‘No,’ Rinaldo said equably. ‘I used to, of course, but they were judged inappropriate for me by my nephew, at the suggestion of both Tyrants seventeen years ago this spring. I had the temerity to oppose Casalia’s decision to lay down his Ducal status and become a Governor instead.’

Alessan was staring fixedly at Erlein as Rinaldo spoke. Devin followed his glance. The wizard looked more confused than Devin had ever seen him.

‘I do know who you are, then,’ he said, almost stammering.

‘Of course you do. Just as I know you, and knew your father, Erlein bar Alein. I was brother to the last real Duke of Senzio and am uncle to the craven disgrace who styles himself Casalia, Governor of Senzio, now. And I was as proud to be the one as I am shamed to call myself the other.’

Visibly fighting for control, Erlein said, ‘But then you knew what Alessan was planning. You knew about those letters. He told you. You know what he intends to do with them! You know what it will mean for our province! And you are still with him? You are helping helping him?’ His voice rose erratically at the end. him?’ His voice rose erratically at the end.

‘You stupid, petty little man,’ Rinaldo said slowly, s.p.a.cing the words for weight, his own voice hard as stone. ‘Of course I am helping him. How else are we to deal with the Tyrants? What other battleground is possible possible in the Palm today but our poor Senzio where Barbadior and Ygrath circle each other like wolves and my c.r.a.pulous nephew drowns himself in drink and spills his seed in the backsides of wh.o.r.es! Do you want freedom to be in the Palm today but our poor Senzio where Barbadior and Ygrath circle each other like wolves and my c.r.a.pulous nephew drowns himself in drink and spills his seed in the backsides of wh.o.r.es! Do you want freedom to be easy, easy, Erlein bar Alein? Do you think it drops like acorns from trees in the fall?’ Erlein bar Alein? Do you think it drops like acorns from trees in the fall?’

‘He thinks he is is free,’ Alessan said bluntly. ‘Or would be, if it wasn’t for me. He thinks he was free until he met me by a river in Ferraut last week.’ free,’ Alessan said bluntly. ‘Or would be, if it wasn’t for me. He thinks he was free until he met me by a river in Ferraut last week.’

‘Then I have nothing more to say to him,’ said Rinaldo di Senzio, with contempt.

‘How did you … how did you find this man?’ It was Sertino, speaking to Alessan. The Certandan wizard still kept to the far side of the room from the Prince, Devin noted.

‘Finding such men has been my labour for twelve years and more now,’ Alessan said. ‘Men and women from my home or yours, from Astibar, Tregea … all over the peninsula. People I thought could be trusted and who might have reason to hate the Tyrants as much as I. And a desire to be free that matched my own. Truly free,’ he said, looking at Erlein again. ‘Masters of our own peninsula.’

With a faint smile he turned to Ducas. ‘As it happened, you hid yourself well, friend. I thought you might be alive, but had no idea where. We lived in Tregea on and off for more than a year but no one we spoke to knew, or would say anything about your fate. I had to be terribly clever tonight to lure you into finding me instead.’

Ducas laughed at that, a deep sound in his chest. Then, sobering, he said, ‘I wish it had happened earlier.’

‘So do I. You have no idea how much. I have a friend I think will take to you as much as you will to him.’

‘Shall I meet him?’

‘In Senzio, later this spring, if events fall right. If we can make them fall right.’

‘If that is so, you had best start by telling us how you need them to fall,’ Rinaldo said prosaically. ‘Let me tend to your two wounded while you tell what we should know.’

He moved forward, tapping the ground ahead of him as he came up to Devin. ‘I am a Healer,’ he explained gravely, the sharpness gone from his voice. ‘Your leg is bad and needs dealing with. Will you let me try?’

‘So that that is how you knew us,’ Ducas said, wonder in his voice again. ‘I have never known a true Healer before.’ is how you knew us,’ Ducas said, wonder in his voice again. ‘I have never known a true Healer before.’

‘There are not many of us and we tend not to announce ourselves,’ Rinaldo said, the empty sockets of his eyes fixed on nothingness. ‘That was so even before the Tyrants came: it is a gift with limits and a price. Now we keep ourselves hidden for the same reason the wizards do, or almost the same: the Tyrants are happy to seize us, and force us serve them until they wear us out.’

‘Can they do that?’ Devin asked. His voice was hoa.r.s.e. He realized that he hadn’t spoken for a long time. He cringed at the thought of what he would sound like if he tried to sing tonight. He couldn’t remember the last time he had been so exhausted.

‘Of course they can,’ said Rinaldo simply. ‘Unless we choose to die on their death-wheels instead. Which has been known to happen.’

‘I will be happy to learn of any difference between that coercion and what this man has done to me,’ Erlein said coldly.

‘And I will be happy to tell you,’ Rinaldo shot back, ‘as soon as I finish my work.’ To Devin he said, ‘There should be straw behind you. Will you lie down and let me see what I can do?’

In a few moments Devin found himself p.r.o.ne on a bed of straw. With an old man’s gingerly caution Rinaldo knelt beside him. The Healer began rubbing his palms slowly against each other.

Over his shoulder Rinaldo said, ‘Alessan, I’m serious. Talk while I work. Begin with Baerd. I would like to know why he isn’t with you.’

‘Baerd!’ a voice interrupted. ‘Is a voice interrupted. ‘Is that that your friend? Baerd bar Saevar?’ It was Naddo, the wounded man. He stumbled forward to the edge of the straw. your friend? Baerd bar Saevar?’ It was Naddo, the wounded man. He stumbled forward to the edge of the straw.

‘Saevar was his father, yes,’ Alessan said. ‘You knew him?’

Naddo was so distraught he could scarcely speak. ‘Knew him? Of course Of course I knew him. I was … I …’ He swallowed hard. ‘I was his father’s last apprentice. I loved Baerd as … as an older brother. I … we … parted badly. I went away in the year after the fall.’ I knew him. I was … I …’ He swallowed hard. ‘I was his father’s last apprentice. I loved Baerd as … as an older brother. I … we … parted badly. I went away in the year after the fall.’

‘So did he,’ Alessan said gently, laying a hand on Naddo’s trembling shoulder. ‘Not long after you did. I know who you are now, Naddo. He has often spoken to me of that parting. I can tell you that he grieved for the manner of it. That he still does. I expect he will tell you himself when you meet.’

‘This is the friend you mentioned?’ Ducas asked softly.

‘It is.’

‘He has spoken to you of me? me?’ Naddo’s voice skirled high with wonder.

‘He has.’

Alessan was smiling again. Devin, weary as he was, found himself doing the same. The man before them sounded remarkably like a young boy just then.

‘Do you … does he know what happened to his sister? To Dianora?’ Naddo asked.

Alessan’s smile faded. ‘We do not. We have searched for a dozen years, and asked in a great many places, wherever we find survivors of the fall. There are so many women of that name. She went away herself, some time after he left in search of me. No one knows why, or where she went, and the mother died not long after. They are … their loss is the deepest hurt I know in Baerd.’

Naddo was silent; a moment later they realized that he was fighting back tears. ‘I can understand that,’ he said finally, his voice husky. ‘She was the bravest girl I ever knew. The bravest woman. And if she wasn’t really beautiful she was still so very …’ He stopped for a moment, struggling for composure, and then said quietly: ‘I think I loved her. I know I did. I was thirteen years old that year.’

‘If the G.o.ddesses love us, and the G.o.d,’ Alessan said softly, ‘we will find her yet.’

Devin hadn’t known any of this. There seemed to be so many things he hadn’t known. He had questions to ask, maybe even more than Ducas had. But just then Rinaldo, on his knees beside him, stopped rubbing his palms together and leaned forward.

‘You need rest quite badly,’ he murmured, so softly none of the others could hear. ‘You need sleep as much as your leg needs care.’ As he spoke he laid one hand gently on Devin’s forehead and Devin, for all his questions and all his perturbation, felt himself suddenly beginning to drift, as on a wide calm sea towards the sh.o.r.es of sleep, far from where men were speaking, from their voices and their grief and their need. And he heard nothing more at all of what was said in the barn that night.

CHAPTER1 5.

Three days later at sunrise they crossed the border south of the two forts and Devin entered Tigana for the first time since his father had carried him away as a child.

Only the most struggling musicians came into Lower Corte, the companies down on their luck and desperate for engagements of any kind, however slight the pay, however grim the ambience. Even so long after the Tyrants had conquered, the itinerant performers of the Palm knew that Lower Corte meant bad luck and worse wages, and a serious risk of falling afoul of the Ygrathens, either inside the province or at the borders going in or out.

It wasn’t as if the story wasn’t known: the Lower Corteans had killed Brandin’s son, and they were paying a price in blood and money and brutally heavy oppression for that. It did not make for a congenial setting, the artists of the roads agreed, talking it over in taverns or hospices in Ferraut or Corte. Only the hungry or the newly begun ventured to take the ill-paying, risk-laden jobs in that sad province in the southwest. By the time Devin had joined him Menico di Ferraut had been travelling for a very long time and had more than enough of a reputation to be able to eschew that particular one of the nine provinces. There was sorcery involved there too; no one really understood it, but the travellers of the road were a superst.i.tious lot and, given an alternative, few would willingly venture into a place where magic was known to be at work. Everyone knew the problems you could find in Lower Corte. Everyone knew the stories.

So this was the first time for Devin. Through the last hours of riding in darkness he had been waiting for the moment of pa.s.sage, knowing that since they had glimpsed Fort Sinave north of them some time ago, the border had to be near, knowing what lay on the other side.

And now, with the first pale light of dawn rising behind them, they had come to the line of boundary cairns that stretched north and south between the two forts, and he had looked up at the neatest of the old, worn, smooth monoliths, and had ridden past it, had crossed the border into Tigana.

And he found to his dismay that he had no idea what to think, how to respond. He felt scattered and confused. He had shivered uncontrollably a few hours ago when they saw the distant lights of Sinave in darkness, his imagination restlessly at work. I’ll be home soon, I’ll be home soon, he had told himself. he had told himself. In the land where I was born In the land where I was born.

Now, riding west past the cairn, Devin looked around compulsively, searching, as the slow spread of light claimed the sky and then the tops of hills and trees and finally bathed the springtime world as far as he could see.

It was a landscape much like what they had been riding through for the past two days. Hilly, with dense forests ranging in the south on the rising slopes, and the mountains visible beyond. He saw a deer lift its head from drinking at a stream. It froze for a minute, watching them, and then remembered to flee.

They had seen deer in Certando, too.

This is home! Devin told himself again, reaching for the response that should be flowing. In this land his father had met and wooed his mother, he and his brothers had been born, and from here Garin di Tigana had fled northward, a widower with infant sons, escaping the killing anger of Ygrath. Devin tried to picture it: his father on a cart, one of the twins on the seat beside him, the other-they must have taken turns-in the back with what goods they had, cradling Devin in his arms as they rode through a red sunset darkened by smoke and fires on the horizon. Devin told himself again, reaching for the response that should be flowing. In this land his father had met and wooed his mother, he and his brothers had been born, and from here Garin di Tigana had fled northward, a widower with infant sons, escaping the killing anger of Ygrath. Devin tried to picture it: his father on a cart, one of the twins on the seat beside him, the other-they must have taken turns-in the back with what goods they had, cradling Devin in his arms as they rode through a red sunset darkened by smoke and fires on the horizon.

It seemed a false picture in some way Devin could not have explained. Or, if not exactly false, it was unreal somehow. Too easy an image. The thing was, it might even be true, it might be exactly exactly true, but Devin didn’t know. He couldn’t know. He had no memories: of that ride, of this place. No roots, no history. This was home, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t really even Tigana through which they rode. He had never even true, but Devin didn’t know. He couldn’t know. He had no memories: of that ride, of this place. No roots, no history. This was home, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t really even Tigana through which they rode. He had never even heard heard that name until half a year ago, let alone any stories, legends, chronicles of its past. that name until half a year ago, let alone any stories, legends, chronicles of its past.

This was the province of Lower Corte; so he had known it all his life.

He shook his head, edgy, profoundly unsettled. Beside him Erlein glanced over, an ironic smile playing about his lips. Which made Devin even more irritable. Ahead of them Alessan was riding alone. He hadn’t said a word since the border.

He had memories, Devin knew, and in a way that he was aware was odd or even twisted he envied the Prince those images, however painful they might be. They would be rooted and absolute and shaped of this place which was truly his home. had memories, Devin knew, and in a way that he was aware was odd or even twisted he envied the Prince those images, however painful they might be. They would be rooted and absolute and shaped of this place which was truly his home.

Whatever Alessan was feeling or remembering now would have nothing of the unreal about it. It would all be raw, brutally actual, the trampled fabric of his own life. Devin tried, riding through the cheerful birdsong of a glorious spring morning, to imagine how the Prince might be feeling. He thought that he could, but only just: a guess more than anything else. Among other things, perhaps first of all things, Alessan was going to a place where his mother was dying. No wonder he had urged his horse ahead; no wonder he wasn’t speaking now.

He is ent.i.tled, Devin thought, watching the Prince ride, straight-backed and self-contained in front of them. He’s ent.i.tled to whatever solitude, whatever release he needs. What he carries is the dream of a people, and most of them don’t even know it. Devin thought, watching the Prince ride, straight-backed and self-contained in front of them. He’s ent.i.tled to whatever solitude, whatever release he needs. What he carries is the dream of a people, and most of them don’t even know it.

And thinking so, he found himself drawn out of his own confusion, his struggling adjustment to where they were. Focusing on Alessan he found his avenue to pa.s.sion again, to the burning inward response to what had happened here-and was still happening. Every hour of every day in the ransacked, broken-down province named Lower Corte.

And somewhere in his mind and heart-fruits of a long winter of thought, and of listening in silence as older and wiser men spoke-Devin knew that he was not the first and would not be the last person to find in a single man the defining shape and lineaments for the so much harder love of an abstraction or a dream.

It was then, looking all around at the sweep of land under the wide arch of a high blue sky, that Devin felt something pluck at the strings of his heart as if it were a harp. As if he he were. He felt the drumming of his horse’s hooves on the hard earth, following fast behind the Prince, and it seemed to Devin that that drumming was with the harp-strings as they galloped. were. He felt the drumming of his horse’s hooves on the hard earth, following fast behind the Prince, and it seemed to Devin that that drumming was with the harp-strings as they galloped.

Their destiny was waiting for them, brilliant in his mind like the coloured pavilions on the plain of the Triad Games that took place every three years. What they were doing now mattered, mattered, it could make a difference. They were riding at the very centre of events in their time. Devin felt something pull him forward, lifting and bearing him into the riptide, the maelstrom of the future. Into what his life would have been about when it was over. it could make a difference. They were riding at the very centre of events in their time. Devin felt something pull him forward, lifting and bearing him into the riptide, the maelstrom of the future. Into what his life would have been about when it was over.

He saw Erlein glance over again, and this time Devin smiled back at him. A grim, fierce smile. He saw the habitual, reflexive irony leave the wizard’s lean face, replaced by a flicker of doubt. Devin almost felt sorry for the man again.

Impulsively he guided his horse nearer to Erlein’s brown and leaned over to squeeze the other man’s shoulder.

‘We’re going to do it!’ he said brightly, almost gaily.

Erlein’s face seemed to pinch itself together. ‘You are a fool,’ he said tersely. ‘A young, ignorant fool.’ He said it without conviction though, an instinctive response.

Devin laughed aloud.

Later he would remember this moment too. His words, Erlein’s, his laughter under the bright, blue cloudless sky. Forests and the mountains on their left and in the distance before them now the first glimpse of the Sperion, a glinting ribbon flowing swiftly north before beginning its curve west to find the sea.

The Sanctuary of Eanna lay in a high valley set within a sheltering and isolating circle of hills south and west of the River Sperion and of what had been Avalle. It was not far from the road that had once borne such a volume of trade back and forth from Tigana and Quileia through the high saddleback of the Sfaroni Pa.s.s.

In all nine provinces Eanna’s priests and Morian’s, and the priestesses of Adaon had such retreats. Founded in out-of-the way parts of the peninsula-sometimes dramatically so-they served as centres of learning and teaching for the newly initiated clergy, repositories of wisdom and of the canons of the Triad, and as places of withdrawal, where priests and priestesses who chose might lay down the pace and burdens of the world outside for a time or for a lifetime.

And not just the clergy. Members of the laity would sometimes do the same, if they could afford ‘contributions’ that were judged as appropriate offerings for the privilege of sheltering for a s.p.a.ce of days or years within the ambit of these retreats.

Many were the reasons that led people to the Sanctuaries. It had long been a jest that the priestesses of Adaon were the best birth doctors in the Palm, so numerous were the daughters of distinguished or merely wealthy houses that elected to sojourn at one of the G.o.d’s retreats at times that might otherwise have been inconvenient for their families. And, of course, it was well known that an indeterminately high percentage of the clergy were culled from the living offerings these same daughters left behind when they returned to their homes. Girl children stayed with Adaon, the boys went to Morian. The white-robed priests of Eanna had always claimed that they would have nothing to do with such goings-on, but there were stories belying that, as well.

Little of this had changed when the Tyrants came. Neither Brandin nor Alberico was so reckless or ill-advised as to stir up the clergy of the Triad against their rule. The priests and the priestesses were allowed to do as they had always done. The people of the Palm were granted their worship, odd and even primitive as it might seem to the new rulers from overseas.

What both Tyrants did do, with greater or lesser success, was play the rival temples against each other, seeing-for it was impossible not to see-the tensions and hostilities that rippled and flared among the three orders of the Triad. There was nothing new in this: every Duke, Grand Duke, or Prince in the peninsula had sought, in each generation, to turn this shifting three-way friction to his own account. Many patterns might have changed with the circling of years, some things might change past all recognition, and some might be lost or forgotten entirely, but not this one. Not this delicate, reciprocal dance of state and clergy.

And so the temples still stood, and the most important ones still flourished their gold and machial, their statuary, and their cloth-of-gold vestments for services. Save in one place only: in Lower Corte, where the statues and the gold were gone and the libraries looted and burned. That was part of something else though, and few spoke of it after the earliest years of the Tyrants. Even in this benighted province, the clergy were otherwise allowed to continue the precisely measured round of their days in city and town, and in their Sanctuaries.

And to these retreats came a great variety of men and women from time to time. It was not only the awkwardly fecund who found reason to ride or be carried away from the turbulence of their lives. In times of strife, whether of the soul or the wider world, the denizens of the Palm always knew that the Sanctuaries were there, perched in snow-bound precipitous eyries or half-lost in their misty valleys.

And the people knew as well that-for a price-such a withdrawal into the regimen, the carefully modulated hours of retreats such as this one of Eanna in its valley, could be theirs. For a time. For a lifetime. Whoever they might have been in the cities beyond the hills.

Whoever they might have been.

For a time, for a lifetime, the old woman thought, looking out the window of her room at the valley in sunlight at spring’s return. She had never been able to keep her thoughts from going back. There was so much waiting for her in the past and so little here, now, living through the agonizingly slow descent of the years. Season after season falling to the earth like shot birds, arrows in their b.r.e.a.s.t.s, through this lifetime that was her own, and her only one. the old woman thought, looking out the window of her room at the valley in sunlight at spring’s return. She had never been able to keep her thoughts from going back. There was so much waiting for her in the past and so little here, now, living through the agonizingly slow descent of the years. Season after season falling to the earth like shot birds, arrows in their b.r.e.a.s.t.s, through this lifetime that was her own, and her only one.

A lifetime of remembering, by curlew’s cry at dawn or call to prayer, by candlelight at dusk, by sight of chimney smoke rising straight and dark into winter’s wan grey light, by the driving sound of rain on roof and window at winter’s end, by the creak of her bed at night, by call to prayer again, by drone of priests at prayer, by a star falling west in the summer sky, by the stern cold dark of the Ember Days … a memory within each and every motion of the self or of the world, every sound, each shade of colour, each scent borne by the valley wind. A remembrance of what had been lost to bring one to this place among the white-robed priests with their unending rites and their unending pettiness, and their acceptance of what had happened to them all.

Which last is what had nearly killed her in the early years. Which, indeed, she would say-had said last week to Danoleon-was killing her now, whatever the priest-physician might say about growths in her breast.

They had found a Healer in the fall. He had come, anxious, febrile, a lank, sloppy man with nervous motions and a flushed brow. But he had sat down beside her bed and looked at her, and she had realized that he did have the gift, for his agitation had settled and his brow had cleared. And when he touched her-here, and here-his hand had been steady and there had been no pain, only a not unpleasant weariness.

He had shaken his head though in the end, and she had read an unexpected grief in his pale eyes, though he could not have known who she was. His sorrow would be for simple loss, for defeat, not caring who it was who might be dying.

‘It would kill me,’ he said quietly. ‘It has come too far. I would die and I would not save you. There is nothing I can do.’

‘How long?’ she had asked. Her only words.

He told her half a year, perhaps less, depending on how strong she was.

How strong? She was very strong. More so than any of them guessed save perhaps Danoleon, who had known her longest by far. She sent the Healer from the room, and asked Danoleon to leave, and then the one slow servant the priests had allowed to the woman they knew only as a widow from an estate north of Stevanien.

As it happened she had actually known the woman whose ident.i.ty she had a.s.sumed; had had her as one of the ladies of her court for a time. A fair-haired girl, green eyes and an easy manner, quick to laugh. Melina bren Tonaro. A widow for a week; less than that. She had killed herself in the Palace by the Sea when word came of Second Deisa.

The deception was a necessary shielding of ident.i.ty: Danoleon’s suggestion. Almost nineteen years ago. They would be looking for her and for the boy, the High Priest had said. The boy he was taking away, he would soon be safely gone, their dreams carried in his person, a hope living so long as he lived. She had been fair-haired herself, in those days. It had all happened such a long time ago. She had become Melina bren Tonaro and had come to the Sanctuary of Eanna in its high valley above Avalle.

Above Stevanien.

Had come, and had waited. Through the changing seasons and the unchanging years. Waited for that boy to grow into a man such as his father had been, or his brothers, and then do what a descendant in direct line of Micaela and the G.o.d should know he had to do.

———-

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