It was hard for him to refuse in front of his guests, as I'd known. He decided to indulge me, but said gravely: ' "In Berlin there are different stakes for different forms of duelling. We fight for a first body-cut, for a first cut on the left cheek, for a first cut on the right cheek and so on - up to duelling to the death.
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I would not like to spoil your beauty, little Katinka. But I saw many an eager eye looking from me to the prince. None doubted that the prince would win any duel, of course, but they would be gratified at seeing my blood spilled. But he did not wish to lose face in front of his guests. But then the crowd was roaring at him to take more sporting an attitude.
After all, they all knew he would play with me for a while before delivering a token cut or disarming me. Awkwardly I thrust and insouciantly he parried. The crowd of guests cheered me on and some even began to make wagers on how long the duel would last - though none wagered that I would win, of course. Slowly I began to reveal my talent and slowly it dawned on Prince Lobkowitz that he was having to use more and more of his skill to defend himself.
I could see that he was beginning to realise that he fought an opponent who might well be his match. The idea of being beaten by a slave -and a slave-girl, at that - was not a pleasant. He began to fight seriously. He wounded me twice. Once in the left shoulder and once in the thigh. But I fought on. And now, I recall, there was absolute silence in the hall, save for the sound of our steel and of Prinz Lobkowitz's heavy breathing. We fought for an hour. He would have killed me if he could.
So you are the woman who I killed him in his own hall, before his own guests, in the presence of his own body-guards. I took him in his heart with a single clean thrust. He was the first I killed. And before they could believe what they had seen I had raised my sword and reminded them all of the prince's bargain - that if I won the duel I should have my free-dom.
I doubt if any of the prince's close retainers would have kept that bargain. They would have slain me there and then if it had not been for Lobkowitz's friends and those who had had ambitions upon his territories. Several of them gathered round me to offer me positions in their households - as a novelty, you understand, rather than for my battle-skill. On the spot. The archduke's guard was the largest there, you under-stand, since he was the most powerful of the nobles assembled. After that, the dead prince's men decided to honour their mas-ter's bargain. Eventually I became Guy O'Pointte's chief general.
When the archduke was murdered by his uncle's family, I left the service of Bavaria and went to find a new position. And that, of course, is when I met Count Brass. We've served as mercen-aries together in half the armies of Europe - and often on the same side! At about the time your count settled here in the Kamarg, I went east and joined the permanent service of the Prince of Ukrainia, where I advised him on the reconstruction of his army. We put up a good defence against the legions of the Dark Empire.
It fell upon me to help restore Ukrainia, the prince's youngest niece being the only surviving member of the family. I became Regent of Ukrainia, through no particular wish of my own. Or are you merely visiting us incognito? By whom? I thought the world at relative peace! Or was until a short time ago when we who dwell to the east of the Bulgar Mountains began to hear of an army which had gathered in those mountains. But I do not think it was the remains of the Dark Empire army. Though it was vast and had powerful weapons at its disposal, no individual comprising it resembled another.
They wore different styles of clothing, carried different kinds of weapons, be-longed to different races - some of which were by no means human. Do you follow me -. I do not know where these came from. All I do know is that every time they ventured from their mountains -which they had made their own and turned them into an im-pregnable fortress - almost no expedition ever sent against this army was ever successful.
Each force was wiped out. They kill whole populations - to the last new-born baby - and strip villages, cities, whole nations of everything of value. In that respect they are like bandits, rather than an organised army with some ultimate purpose. These seem to attack countries for loot alone. And as a result they extend their activities further and further, returning always with their booty, their stolen food and - very occasionally - women, to their mountain strong-hold. Either several lead them or none does.
There is noone to reason with, to parley with. They seem moved only by greed and a lust to kill. They are like locusts. There is no other description which fits them better. Even the Dark Empire allowed survivors, for it planned to rule the world and needed people to serve it. But these - these are worse. I thank the life I've led. It has given me the experience to know when a situation is lost and how to escape the consequences of such a loss. No other creature remains alive in Ukrainia or many other lands beyond the Bulgar Mountains.
To raise an army, perhaps, against this powerful rabble? That is all. I have told my story to anyone who will listen, but I do not expect much will be done as a result. Most will not care what has happened to folk dwelling in such dis-tant parts, even if they believed me in the first place. Therefore, to try to raise an army would be fruitless. And, I'll add, any hu-man army which went against those who now occupy the Bulgar Mountains would be utterly destroyed. Count Brass will be there by now.
If at all. I am weary. I have been riding almost without pause since leaving Ukrainia. If you do not object, I'll remain at Castle Brass until my old friend returns. Unless I have a whim to continue on to Londra. At the moment, however, I have no inclination to move beyond these walls. You must tell me more of your tales of the old days. And you must give me your theories about this rabble army - where it might have come from, and so on.
They appeared overnight and have been there ever since. Discourse with them is impossible. It is like attempting to talk reasonably to a hurricane. There is a sense of desperation about them, a wild contempt for their own lives. And the clothing and forms of the sol-diers, as I have said, is so disparate.
Not one alike. And yet, you know, I thought I recognised one or two familiar faces in the throng which swept over us. Soldiers I'd known who had been dead these many years since. Yet I heard Bowgentle was killed at Londra He was. I saw his remains. He felt he was on the verge of solving the problem he had been working on all this time. Perhaps he had not been so insane, after all. And others who were familiar - yet dead? She frowned, trying to recall, then she shook her head so that her grey braids swung.
Yisselda of Brass? Besides I should not have recognised her. She was a small child when last I saw her.
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I forgot. I did not see half the army which conquered me. But why should Bowgentle or anyone else who was a friend of yours ride in such an army? His eyes had lost their dullness. His movements had become some-what more energetic. In trances. Forced to do the will of an enemy. The Dark Empire had powers which could make such a thing pos-sible. It is also possible that none of our other friends. Could not the Dark Empire have substituted bodies for Yisselda and the rest, then borne the real people away to the Bulgar Mountains - captured others, too? Could you not have fought an army of Dark Empire slaves, controlled by those who escaped our vengeance?
And none of the Lords lived after the Battle of Londra. So who could be making such plans, even if they were likely. Which they most decidedly are not, Duke Dor-ian. A practical soldier, like myself. Well, madam, I do believe I am mad. Perhaps I have indulged in mad follies, of late, but only because the idea - the central idea - has truth in it. I do not have an instinct that the dead live I think it is something he refuses to con-sider for he fears that he would go as mad as he thought me to be.
I should have to meet him again and talk with him in order to test your words. He thought for a moment and then said: 'But suppose I have a means of defeating this army? What would you say? If my theories led me to the truth concerning the army and its origins and that they, in turn, led me to an un-derstanding of its weaknesses. When I fought the Dark Empire I soon realised there was no way to overcome it by dir-ect confrontation, but if one sought weaknesses in the leaders, and made use of those weaknesses, then they could be defeated.
That is what I learned in the service of the Runestaff. But I could discover it probably better than anyone else in the world! But I think it is too late to look for weak-nesses. If I could find a hiding place, per-haps in the mountains themselves, and watch them, then per-haps I could think of a way of defeating them. You hid in those same mountains for a long while,. Katinka van Bak. You, better than anyone save Oladahn himself, could find me a lair from which I might spy on the locusts! I have no wish to lose my life, young man, as I told you.
Why should I take you into the Bulgar Mountains, the very stronghold of my ene-mies? Did you not think to yourself, even secretly, that you might enlist the help of Count Brass and his Kamargians against your foes? All you need do is lead me into the mountains, find me a place that is relatively safe, and then you could even depart if you wished. Then he admitted: 'Perhaps not wholly selfless.
I wish to test my theory that Yisselda still lives and that I can save her. But I think I can trust you. You are in ex-tremely poor condition, you know. Let a week pass first. Get some food into your belly. We'll have a mock duel or two together He made a sorry sight as he stumbled out into the courtyard where Katinka van Bak already waited, mounted on a frisky stallion whose hot breath clouded the early morning air. Hawkmoon's mount was a less nervous beast, but known for his reliability and stamina, yet Hawkmoon did not relish the prospect of climbing into the animal's saddle.
His stomach was griping him, his head swam, his legs shook, for all that he had spent more than a week exercising and eating a good diet. His appearance had improved a little, and he was cleaner, but he was not the Runestaff Hero who had ridden out against Londra only seven years earlier. He shivered, for winter was beginning to touch the Kamarg. He wrapped his heavy leather cloak about him. The cloak was lined with wool and was almost too warm when closed.
So heavy was the cloak that it almost bore him to the ground as he. He carried no weapons. His sword and flame-lance were in saddle scabbards. He wore, as well as the cloak, a thick quilted jerkin of dark red, doeskin leggings stitched with complicated designs by Yisselda, when she lived, and plain knee-boots of good, gleaming lea-ther.
Upon his head was a simple helmet. Aside from this, he wore no armour. He was not strong enough to wear armour. Hawkmoon was still not healthy, either in mind or body. What had driven him to improve his physical condition to this degree had not been disgust with what he had become but his insane belief that he might find Yisselda alive in the Bulgar Mountains.
With some difficulty, he mounted his horse. Then he was bidding farewell to his stewards, completely forgetful that Count Brass had left the responsibility of running the province in his hands, and following Katinka van Bak through the gates and down through the empty streets of Aigues-Mortes. No citi-zens lined these streets. None, save the servants at the castle, knew that he was leaving Castle Brass, heading east where Count Brass had headed west. By noon the two figures had passed through the reed-fields, passed the marshes and the lagoons, and were following a hard white road past one of the great stone towers which marked the borders of the land of which Count Brass was Lord Protector.
Weary of riding even this comparatively short distance, Hawkmoon was beginning to regret his decision. His arms ached from clinging to his saddle pommel, his thighs gave him agonising pain and his legs had gone completely numb. Ka-tinka van Bak, on the other hand, seemed tireless. She kept stop-ping her own horse to allow Hawkmoon to catch up, yet was deaf to his suggestions that they stop and rest for a while.
Hawkmoon wondered if he would last the journey, if he would not die on the way to the Bulgar Mountains. He wondered, from time to time, how he could ever have conceived a liking for this fierce, heartless woman. They were hailed by a Guardian who saw them from his post at the top of the tower. His riding flamingo stood beside him and his scarlet cloak waved in the breeze so that for a moment Hawkmoon saw man and bird as one creature.
The Guardian raised his long flame-lance in salute as he recognised Hawkmoon. Hawkmoon managed to wave a feeble hand in return, but was unable to call back in reply to the Guardian's greeting. Then the tower had dwindled behind them as they took the road to Lyonesse, with a view to skirting the Switzer Moun-tains which were said to be tainted still with the poisons of the Tragic Millenium and which were, besides, all but impassable.
Also, in Lyonesse Katinka van Bak had acquaintances who would give them provisions for the remainder of their journey. They camped on the road that night and in the morning Hawkmoon had become fully convinced of his own imminent death. The pain of the previous day was as nothing with the agony he felt now.
Katinka van Bak, however, continued to show no mercy, heaving him peremptorily upon his patient horse before climbing into her own saddle. Then she grasped his bridle and led horse and swaying rider after her. Thus they progressed for three more days, hardly resting at all, until Hawkmoon collapsed altogether, falling from his sad-dle in a faint.
He no longer cared whether he found Yisselda or not. He neither blamed nor condoned Katinka van Bak for her ruthless treatment of his person. His pain had faded to a perpetual ache. He moved when the horse moved. He stopped when the horse stopped. He ate the food which Katinka van Bak would occasionally put in front of him. He slept for the few hours she allowed him. And then he fainted. He woke once and opened his eyes to receive a view of his own swaying feet on the other side of his. It was in this manner, some time later, that Dorian Hawkmoon, Duke von Koln, Champion of the Runestaff, Hero of Londra, entered the old city of Lyon, capital of Lyonesse, his horse led by an old woman in dusty armour.
And the next time Dorian Hawkmoon woke he lay in a soft bed and there were young maidens bending over him, smiling at him, offering him food. He refused to accept their existence for some moments. But they were real and the food was good and the rest revived him. Two days later the reluctant Hawkmoon, in considerably bet-ter condition now, left with Katinka van Bak to continue their quest for the rabble army of the Bulgar Mountains.
She rode beside him now, no longer finding it neces-sary to lead his horse. She slapped him on the shoulder. There was nothing wrong with you that couldn't be put right, as you see. Hawkmoon was forced to admit to himself that the worst of his aches had disappeared and he was much more capable of sustaining long horseback journeys now. He was still subject to occasional stomach gripes and he was by no means as strong as he had once been, yet he was almost at the stage where he could enjoy the sights and smells and sounds around him for their own sake.
He was amazed at how little sleep Katinka van Bak seemed to need. Half the time they rode on through the best part of the night before she was ready to make camp. As a result they made excellent time, but Hawkmoon felt permanently weary. They reached the second main stage of their journey when they entered the territories of Duke Mikael of Bazhel, a distant kinsman of Hawkmoon's and for whom Katinka van Bak had once fought during the duke's squabble with another of his rela-tives, the now long-dead Pretender of Strasbourg.
During the occupation of his lands by the Dark Empire, Duke Mikael had been subject to the grossest humiliation and he had never quite recovered from it. He had become distinctly misanthropic and his wife performed most of his functions for him. She was called Julia of Padova, daughter of the Traitor of Italia, Enric, who had formed a pact with the Dark Empire against his fel-lows and had been slain by the Beast Lords for his pains. Per-haps because of the knowledge she had of her father's baseness, Julia of Padova ruled the province well and with considerable fairness.
Hawkmoon remarked on 'the wealth which was evident everywhere about the countryside. Fat cattle grazed on good grass.
The farmhouses were well kept and shone with fresh paint and polished stone, their gables carved in the intricate style favoured by the peasants of these parts. But when they came to Bazhel, the capital city, they were re-ceived by Julia of Padova with only moderate politeness and her hospitality was not lavish. It seemed that she did not like to be reminded of the old, dark days when the Dark Empire had ruled the whole of Europe.
Therefore she was not pleased to see Hawkmoon, for he had played such an important part against the Empire and thus she could not help but be reminded of it -of her husband's humiliation and of her father's treachery. So it was that the pair did not remain long in Bazhel, but struck on for Munchenia, where the old Prince tried to smother them with gifts and begged them to stay longer and tell him of their adventures. Aside from warning him of what had hap-pened in Ukrainia he was sceptical they told him nothing of their quest and reluctantly bade him farewell, armed with bet-ter weapons than those they had carried, and dressed in better clothes, though Hawkmoon had retained his big leather cloak, for the winter was making itself evident across the whole land now.
By the time Dorian Hawkmoon and Katinka van Bak reached Linz, now a Republic, the first snows had begun to fall in the streets of the little wooden city, rebuilt from that which had been completely razed by the armies of Granbretan. He had now changed beyond recognition from the creature he had become at Castle Brass, though all who had known him before that time would have recognised him im-mediately.
His face had become strong again and muscles rip-pled beneath his silk shirt. His eyes were bright and healthy and his skin glowed. His long fair hair shone. And I wonder if the army is as strong as you thought. Perhaps they were lucky in the manner in which they overwhelmed your forces. No a single hint that anyone in these parts has received even an inkling of this force which occupies the Bulgar Mountains.
Believe me in that. It is powerful. It could take over the whole world. Believe me in that also. But I still find it strange that no rumours have come to our ears. When we have spoken of this army there is never an-other who confirms what we say. It is no wonder that little at-tention is paid to us! Hawkmoon studied the hot wine in his cup.
But now I feel guilty, leaving my duties in the Kamarg to go upon this quest. I have benefited a great deal from this journey. Yet that does not change the fact that my responsibilities lie firstly in the Kamarg. Is that unusual? Let's go to the Bulgar Mountains, then, as quickly as our horses will take us. And let us make haste back to the Kamarg when our errand is done.
With information and the strength of the Kamarg we shall find a way of defeating those who destroyed your land. We'll confer with Count Brass who, almost certainly, will have returned by then. He laughed. But by the early afternoon the clouds had cleared and the sky was blue and empty over their heads while the snow had begun to melt. It was not a serious fall, but it was an omen of what they might expect to find when they approached the Bulgar Mountains.
They rode through a hilly land which had once been part of the Kingdom of Wien, but so crushed had been that kingdom that its population had all but disappeared. Now grass had grown back on the burned ground and the many ruins were vine-covered and picturesque. Later travellers might come to marvel at such pretty relics, thought Hawkmoon, but he could never forget that they were the result of Granbretan's savage lust to rule the world.
They were passing the remains of a castle which looked down on them from a rise above the path they followed when Hawkmoon thought he heard a sound from the place. He whispered to Katinka van Bak who was riding just ahead. From the castle? I did. Could you hear the words? He shook his head. Should we investigate? But by now they had both pulled in their horses and were still, looking up at the castle.
And from the ruins now stepped a slim young man wearing a hat with a huge brim, turned up at one side. There was a fea-ther stuck in the band. He wore a velvet jerkin, rather dusty, and blue velvet pantaloons. On his feet were soft doeskin boots. He carried a small sack over his back. At his hip was a plain, slen-der sword. And it was with horror that Dorian Hawkmoon recognised him. Hawkmoon found himself drawing his sword, though the stranger had offered him no harm.
You think me an enemy? Dark Empire work perhaps. He resembles - he looks like an old friend of mine - yet there is nothing evi-dently the same about them What do they call you in this world? I am Jhary-a-Conel and I should not be here at all. But such strange disruptions have been taking place in the multiverse of late! I was wrenched from four separate incarnations in as many minutes! And what do they call you, then? I am the Duke von Koln.
I am Dorian Hawkmoon. I am your companion. Though for how long I shall remain with you I know not. As I say, strange disruptions are The same Hawkmoon had seen. Hawkmoon shuddered. While he could find nothing to dislike about the young man himself, he had a terrible premonition that a-Conel's appearance heralded some unpleasant doom for him.
Just as he could not see why he thought a-Conel resembled Oladahn, neither could he work out why other things were familiar, too. Echoes like those which had convinced him that Yisselda still lived.. But then I know so many people and forget most of them, just as I might well forget you some day. That is my fate. As, of course, it is yours. Why should you know more of it than do I?
Another time neither shall recognise the other. Champion, what calls you now? The rest of the sentence was a mystery to him. I am upon a quest with this lady here. An urgent quest. A moment. A moment later he emerged leading an old yellow horse. It was the unloveliest nag Hawkmoon had ever seen. And we have not agreed. The horse seemed to sag under his weight. It seemed to him that it was perfectly natural that Jhary should ride with them.
At the same time he resented both Jhary's assumption and his own. Hawkmoon looked to Katinka van Bak to see what she thought. She merely shrugged. She cast a disdainful look at Jhary's horse. Suddenly it occured to him that this man might be a spy for those who now occupied the Bulgar Mountains. I had heard of some trouble in the mountains to the east of here. A wild band who swoop down to destroy everything before returning to their retreat. He was relieved to find that she had not been lying to him. Perhaps we shall see for ourselves.
And now there were three riding for the Bulgar Mountains. A strange threesome, in truth. They rode for some days and Jhary's nag appeared to have no great trouble in keeping pace with the other horses. One day Hawkmoon turned to their new companion and asked him: 'Did you ever have occasion to meet a man called Oladahn? He was quite short and covered all over in red hair. He claimed to be kin to the Bulgar Mountain Giants whom none, to my knowledge, has ever seen.
An expert archer. Was he a good friend of yours? It seems vaguely familiar. Just as the name Corum or Urlik would seem familiar to you. Or one of them, at least. As is Corum. Though Corum was not a human manifestation and would therefore be a little harder for you to recall. Do you really mean to claim you can recall past lives as easily as I can recall past ad-ventures? By no means all. And that is just as well.
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In an-other incarnation I might not remember this one, for instance. Yet my name has not changed, in this case, I note. Just as yours do. It is what saves us. I am in the peculiar situa-tion, at present, of being shifted willy-nilly through the dimen-sions at present. Disruptions on a large scale - brought about by the experiments of some foolish sorcerer, no doubt. And then, of course, there is always the interest that the Lords of Chaos show when such opportunities are offered. I would imagine they are playing some part in this.
Who are they? Some say that they dwell at the end of time and their attempts to manipulate the universe according to their own desires are a result of their own. But that is a rather nar-row theory. Others suggest that they do not exist at all, but are conjured up, periodically, by men's imaginations. Could the Runestaff be involved in what is happening in the Bulgar Mountains? Built of white, carved stone, the city had survived the Dark Empire sieges and now looked much as it had done before Granbretan had ridden out on her conquerings.
Snow sparkled on every sur-face and its glare, as they approached at night under a full moon, made it seem that Pesht burned with white fire. They arrived at the gates after midnight and had some dif-ficulty rousing the guard who let them in with a considerable amount of grumbling and querying their business in the city. Down broad, deserted avenues they rode, seeking the palace of Prince Karl of Pesht. Prince Karl had once courted Katinka van Blak and asked her to be his wife. They had been lovers for three years, the warrior woman had told Hawkmoon, but she would never marry him.
Now he had married a princess from Zagredia and was happy. They were friends. She had stayed with him during her flight from Ukrainia. He would be sur-prised to see her. Prince Karl of Pesht was surprised. He arrived in his own ornate hall in a brocade dressing gown, his eyes still thick with sleep, but he was pleased to see Katinka van Bak.
I thought you planned to winter in the Kamarg! The Duke of Koln. I have heard much of you, young man. It is an honour to have you under my roof. Prince Karl laughed. This is wonderful. You will stay for some time? Even the legendary mountain giants are all dead now, I gather.
I thought What is this? An enemy from beyond the moun-tains? A land so well defended as yours is under no threat. Plainly Katinka van Bak had a reason for not telling the Prince of Pesht all she knew. But what could that reason possibly be? Did she suspect Prince Karl of being in league with her enemies? If so, she should have warned him earlier. Besides, it was inconceivable that this fine old man would ally him with such a rabble. He had fought well and nobly against the Dark Empire and had been impris-oned for his pains, though he had not been subjected to the in-dignities normally visited upon captured enemy aristocrats by the Dark Empire.
He had already ordered his servants to prepare rooms for his guests. I have been sel-fish in thinking only of my own pleasure at seeing you again, Katinka, and meeting this hero here. Before you leave? And when Hawkmoon lay in a great bed in a well-appointed room in which a comfortable fire blazed, he watched the sha-dows playing on the rich tapestries which decorated the walls and he brooded for a few minutes on the reasons for Katinka van Bak's reticence before falling into a deep and dreamless sleep.
The big sleigh could have taken a dozen armoured men and could have been sold for a fortune, for it was inlaid with gold, platinum, ivory and ebony, as well as precious jewels. The carv-ings cut into the wood of its frame were the work of a master. Hawkmoon and Katinka van Bak had been reluctant to ac-cept the gift from Prince Karl, but he was insistent. Your riding beasts can follow and thus be fresh when you need them.
Silver bells had been fixed to the harness, but these had been muffled for obvious reasons. The snow was falling thickly and the roads which led to Pesht were all slippery with ice. It was logical to use a sleigh under such circumstances. The sleigh was piled with provisions, with furs, with a pavilion which could be quickly erected in even the worst weather. There were ancient devices, relatives to the flame-lances, on which food could be prepared.
And there seemed enough food of all kinds to feed a small army. Prince Karl had not been expressing mere politeness when he had said he was delighted to receive them. Jhary-a-Conel felt no reluctance in accepting the sleigh. He laughed with pleasure as he climbed in and. Bears drew your carriage then! The great sleigh moved swiftly and Hawkmoon wondered why the speed of its travelling filled him with a mixture of exhil-aration and misgivings. Again Jhary had mentioned something which roused an echo of memory. And yet it was obvious to him that he could never have been this 'Urlik' - for all he seemed to remember dreaming once of such a name.
And now the going was speedy, for the weather had been turned to their advantage. The eight black geldings seemed tire-less as they strained in their harness, dragging the sleigh closer and closer to the Bulgar Mountains. But still Hawkmoon had a terrifying sense of familiarity. The image of a silver chariot, its four wheels fixed to skis, moving implacably over a great ice plain. Another image of a ship - but a ship which travelled upon another ice plain.
And they were not the same worlds - of that he was sure. Neither was either one this world, his world. He drove the thoughts away as best he could, but they were persistent. Perhaps he should put all his questions to Katinka van Bak and to Jhary-a-Conel, but he could not bring himself to ask them. He felt that the answers might not be to his taste. So they drove on through the swirling snow and the ground rose steeply and the speed of their travelling decreased a little, but not very much. From what he could see of the surrounding landscape, there was no evidence at all of recent raids.
Sitting with his hands on the reins of the eight black geldings, Hawkmoon put this to Katinka van Bak. Her answer was brief: 'Why should there be such signs? I told you that they raided only on the other side of the mountains. The snow had abated and it was late in the afternoon. Hawkmoon pointed to a mountain meadow below them. The grazing is reasonable and - look - a cave where they might stable themselves.
It is the most we can do for them, I fear. With great difficulty they managed to turn the horses and lead them back down the path until they reached the snow-covered meadow. Hawkmoon cleared snow with his boot to indicate the grass below, but the geldings needed no help from him. They were used to such con-ditions and were soon using their hooves to clear the snow so that they might graze. And since it was almost sunset, the three decided to spend the night in the cave with the horses before continuing into the.
For we shall not see them until they are upon us. Do you know this area, Katinka van Bak? She was lighting a fire inside the cave for their cooking stoves, provided by the prince, did not give out enough heat to warm the cave. Then we could travel on when spring comes. He grinned and kept silence for a while. They led their horses now, beneath a cold, hard sky. Save for a little withered moss and some stunted grey and brown birches, nothing grew in these mountains. A sharp wind blew. A few car-rion birds wheeled away amongst the jagged peaks.
The sounds of their breathing, of their horses' hooves clicking on the rocks, of their own slippery progress, were the only sounds. The scen-ery viewed from these high mountain paths was beautiful in the extreme, yet it was also deadly. It was dead. It was cold. It was cruel. Many travellers must have died in these parts dur-ing the season of winter. Hawkmoon wore a thick fur robe over his leather coat. Though he sweated, he did not dare take any of his clothing off for fear he would freeze to the spot when he stopped.
The others, too, wore heavy furs hoods, gloves and boots as well as coats. And the climbing was almost always upward. Only occasionally might a path take a downward turn, only to soar again around the next bend. Yet the mountains, for all their deadly beauty, seemed peace-ful. An immense sense of peace filled the valleys, and Hawkmoon could barely believe that a great force of bandits hid here.
There was no atmosphere to indicate that the mountains had been invaded. He felt as if he were one of the first human beings ever to come this way. Although the going was difficult and very wearying, he felt more relaxed here than he had felt since he had been a child in Koln, when the old Duke, his father, had ruled. His responsibilities had become simple. To stay alive. And at last they reached a slightly wider path where there was room enough for Hawkmoon to stretch to his full length had he so desired.
And this path ended suddenly at a big, black cave entrance. Is it a tunnel? And she would not say more. Hawkmoon was too weary to ask her what she meant. Jerk-ing his body forward, he plunged into the tunnel, leading his horse behind him, glad that snow no longer dragged at his boots once he had gone a. Inside it was quite warm and there was a smell. It was almost like the smell of spring. Hawkmoon remarked on it, but neither of the others could smell the odour so that he wondered if perhaps some per-fume clung to his big fur cloak.
The floor of the cavern level-led out now and it became much easier to walk. It is a won-der of the world. He ran his gloved hands along the walls, but there were no signs of tools having been used to create them. He turned back to the others and thought, in the gloom, that he noticed peculiar expressions on both their faces.
You know this place, Katinka van Bak. Are there any mentions of it in the histories? In legends? We shall soon be at the other side. The fireglobe in his hand burned dully and turned his face to a demonic red. Do you two work for my old enemies? Is this a ruse? You have neither of you told me enough! Or shall I lead? Hawkmoon involuntarily put a hand to the hilt of his sword, pushing back his great fur cloak to do so.
I trust you, Katinka van Bak, yet everything in me warns me of a trap. How can this be? Champion of what? And that was when his two friends rushed at him.
He was still not as strong as he had been before his madness. He was weary from the climb. He struggled against them until he felt Katinka van Bak's dagger pricking his eye and he heard her urgent voice in his ear: 'Killing you is the easiest way to achieve our purpose, Hawkmoon,' she said. Besides, I am reluctant to cut you off from this body, should you desire to return to it. Thus I shall only kill you if you make it impossible for me to do ought else.
Do you understand? I smelled traitors, instead. Traitors who posed as friends. The three stood in blackness and Hawkmoon heard the echoes. And her voice was almost sad. Then she evidently struck him on the back of the head with her armoured gauntlet. He felt the blow and guessed what caused it. For a moment he thought that it had not succeeded in its intention of driving consciousness from him. Then he rea-lised that he had sunk to his knees. Then he realised that his body seemed to be falling away from him in the blackness of the cave.
And then he knew that her blow had done what it had inten-ded, after all. Each ghost spoke to him in his own voice. In Hawkmoon's voice Who bore the Black Sword. Now I hang in limbo and await my next task. Perhaps through this I shall find a means of returning to my lost love Ermizhad. Perhaps I shall find Tanelorn. I have been Elric Fate's soldier Time's tool Champion Eternal.. I have been Corum. In more than one life I have been Corum I know not how it began. Perhaps it will end in Tanelorn. Rhalina, Yisselda, Cymoril, Zarozinia So many women. I have been Arflane.
I have been Hawkmoon I am Hawkmoon! Hawkmoon is all of us" All live, save me. John Daker? Was he the first? Or the last? I have betrayed so many and been betrayed so much. Faces floated before him. Each face was different. Each face was his own face. He shouted and tried to push them away. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Add to Basket. Book Description Paperback. Condition: Fair. A readable copy of the book which may include some defects such as highlighting and notes. Cover and pages may be creased and show discolouration.
Seller Inventory GOR Book Description Grafton, Condition: Used; Acceptable. We are committed to providing each customer with the highest standard of customer service. All books are picked, packed and dispatched from the United Kingdom. Seller Inventory PH About very good, several folded page corners, overall a nice, clean set.
Save on shipping, buy the full set at once! Domestic orders ship with USPS tracking at no extra charge. Soft Covers. Condition: Very Good. Robert Gould illustrator. All three 3 books are clean tight and square, flat spines, Soft cover. Condition: As New. Very Fine. This copy has been stored in a poly sleeve and boxed since it was published, and is in As New unread condition. Cover art by Mark Salwowski. Original Wraps. First Edition. Three volume complete set in original publisher's slipcase. Published by Mayflower Books Granada Publishing.
Published Reprint of PBO. Very good in colour-illustrated wrappers. Tiny nick to fore-edge of one page. No inscriptions. Spine tight. No reading creases to spine. No fading. Wrappers clean and bright. First impression of the true first edition. A paperback original.
Very good in colour-illustrated wrappers slightly rubbed at extremities. Bottom of spine slightly creased. Price neatly blacked out to bottom of rear wrapper. Pages clean. No tears. Very good in colour-illustrated wrappers slightly rubbed at edges and corners.
Tail of spine slightly scuffed and creased. Very small crease to bottom corner of rear wrapper. In this fantastic fable, Moorcock launches a romance as awesome and remarkable as the bold cosmology of The History of the Runestaff. Set in the marshes of the Kamarg, dominated by the ancient Castle Brass, this story of Hawkmoon far extends conventional boundaries of fantasy and imagination. Quote and review quote from the rear of wrapper blurb to Vol.