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The Rivan Codex: Ancient Texts of The Belgariad and The Malloreon

The Rivan Codex: Ancient Texts of The Belgariad and The Malloreon
The Rivan Codex: Ancient Texts of The Belgariad and The Malloreon David Eddings Leigh Eddings Comprising the ancient texts of The Belgariad and The Malloreon, The Rivan Codex is a book which stands in the same relationship to the Belgariad and Malloreon as The Silmarillion does to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.Before David Eddings started to write his first fantasy series, the BELGARIAD, in the late 1970s, he spent a year working on the design and mythology of the fantasy world in which it is set.The Rivan Codex comprises the immensely readable background material to Eddings’ best-loved series, repeated information a lot of it, but it’s the books that repeat the information, and these seminal documents have about them an air of original inspiration, world-building in action. The rest of it is background which is taken for granted but not spelled out.History, geography, myths and folktales, peoples, gods, customs, social organization, political hierarchy, laws, dress, modes of address, produce, culture, flora, fauna, all presented with so light a touch one can only yearn for Eddings to be taken up by academics so that his style might catch on in the real real world.The 12-book long series grew out of these delightful preliminary sketches like a river growing from a spring of striking purity and constancy. Magically, the information reads fresh each time, minimal Eddings prose, beguilingly arcane, in which massive events attain an all-time perspective. The Rivan Codex Ancient Texts Of The Belgariad And The Malloreon David & Leigh Eddings For Malcolm, Jane, Joy, Geoff and all the staff at HarperCollins. It’s always a genuine pleasure to work with you. With all our thanks DAVID & LEIGH Table of Contents Cover Page (#u4bd17f32-2326-50df-af73-07e9ecb6eef3) Title Page (#u3563fc2e-47c2-5b47-8a42-5ea8300a60ae) INTRODUCTION (#u67ebd9c8-24c7-5713-b482-cf35d9a6f5de) PREFACE: THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF BELGARATH THE SORCERER (#u49f48f86-6fd6-5f65-8bc8-1f2d8374c618) I THE HOLY BOOKS (#ude4863df-b3f3-5f72-afcb-61d118058ba2) THE BOOK OF ALORN (#u080a9de8-a312-515a-85a0-4362342a1841) THE BOOK OF TORAK (#u17d1b50a-803b-53af-a1bd-78c1404bbc4a) TESTAMENT OF THE SNAKE PEOPLE (#u83d9d04b-af4a-502f-8c17-650e76e45bfa) HYMN TO CHALDAN (#u4be6be33-f1e3-5c75-8df4-0a3947b7ce90) THE LAMENT OF MARA (#uee65a247-83e3-5262-9b31-f026765a70c9) THE PROVERBS OF NEDRA (#uf56da61f-c23f-556f-b8b2-d9999e1f8b79) THE SERMON OF ALDUR (#ue6fc98ee-254c-5d80-823c-951994252bdc) THE BOOK OF ULGO (#u18932250-9691-5670-a365-41a4c3780272) II THE BISTORIES (#litres_trial_promo) AT TOL HOPELB 5368 (#litres_trial_promo) THE EMPIRE OF TOLNEDRA (#litres_trial_promo) UNIVERSAL WEIGHTS AND MEASURES (#litres_trial_promo) THE ALORN KINGDOMS (#litres_trial_promo) SENDARIA (#litres_trial_promo) ARENDIA (#litres_trial_promo) ULGOLAND (#litres_trial_promo) NYISSA (#litres_trial_promo) THE ANGARAK KINGDOMS (#litres_trial_promo) III THE BATTLE OF VO MIMBRE (#litres_trial_promo) BOOK SEVEN THE BATTLE BEFORE VO MIMBRE (#litres_trial_promo) AFTERWORD (#litres_trial_promo) INTERMISSION (#litres_trial_promo) IV PRELIMINARY STUDIES FOR THE MALLOREON (#litres_trial_promo) A CURSORY HISTORY OF THE ANGARAK KINGDOMS (#litres_trial_promo) V THE MALLOREAN GOSPELS (#litres_trial_promo) BOOK 1 THE BOOK OF AGES (#litres_trial_promo) BOOK 2 THE BOOK OF FATES (#litres_trial_promo) BOOK 3 THE BOOK OF TASKS (#litres_trial_promo) BOOK 4 THE BOOK OF GENERATIONS (#litres_trial_promo) BOOK 5 THE BOOK OF VISIONS (#litres_trial_promo) VI A SUMMARY OF CURRENT EVENTS 5376-5387 (#litres_trial_promo) From the Personal Journal of King Anheg of Cherek (#litres_trial_promo) AFTERWORD (#litres_trial_promo) By David Eddings (#litres_trial_promo) Copyright (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) INTRODUCTION (#ulink_ca589060-5d44-54c9-93f5-6f4a217be50f) My decision to publish this volume was made in part because of a goodly number of flattering letters I’ve received over the past several years. Some of these letters have come from students at various levels, and to make matters worse, I’ve also received letters from teachers who inform me that they’re actually encouraging this sort of thing. Aren’t they aware that they’re supposed to wait until I’m safely in the ground before they do this? The students, naturally, ask questions. The teachers hint around the edges of an invitation to stop by and address the class. I’m very flattered, as I mentioned, but I don’t write – or grade – term papers any more, and I don’t travel. To put it idiomatically, ‘I ain’t going no place; I been where I’m going.’ Then there are those other letters, the ones which rather bashfully confide an intention to ‘try writing fantasy myself’. I don’t worry too much about those correspondents. They’ll get over that notion rather quickly once they discover what’s involved. I’m sure that most of them will eventually decide to take up something simpler – brain surgery or rocket science, perhaps. I’d more or less decided to just file those letters and keep my mouth shut. A prolonged silence might be the best way to encourage a passing fancy to do just that – pass. Then I recalled a conversation I had with Lester del Rey on one occasion. When I’d first submitted my proposal for the Belgariad, I’d expected the usual leisurely reaction-time, but Lester responded with what I felt to be unseemly haste. He wanted to see this thing – now, but I wasn’t ready to let him see it – now. I was in revision of what I thought would be Book I, and since I was still doing honest work in those days, my time was somewhat curtailed. I wanted to keep him interested, however, so I sent him my ‘Preliminary Studies’ instead – ‘So that you’ll have the necessary background material.’ Lester later told me that while he was reading those studies, he kept telling himself, ‘There’s no way we can publish this stuff,’ but then he admitted, ‘but I kept reading.’ We were fairly far along in the Belgariad when he made this confession, and he went on to say, ‘Maybe when we’ve got the whole story finished, we might want to think about releasing those studies.’ Eventually, the two ideas clicked together. I had people out there asking questions, and I had the answers readily at hand since nobody in his right mind takes on a multi-book project without some fairly extensive preparation. My Preliminary Studies were right there taking up space, I’d just finished a five-book contract, and I had nothing else currently on the fire. All this thing needed was a brief introduction and some footnotes, and we were off to press. (Just in passing I should advise you that my definition of ‘brief’ and yours might differ just a bit. It takes me a hundred pages just to clear my throat. Had you noticed that? I thought you might have.) Please bear in mind the fact that these studies are almost twenty years old, and there are going to be gaps. There are places where some great leaps occurred, frequently flowing out of the point of my pen during that actual writing, and I wasn’t keeping a diary to report these bursts of inspired creativity. I’ll candidly admit that probably no more than half of these ‘strokes of genius’ actually worked. Some of them would have been disastrous. Fortunately, my collaborator was there to catch those blunders. Trial and error enters into any form of invention, I suppose. This book may help others to avoid some of the missteps we made along the way, and it may give the student of our genre some insights into the creative process – something on the order of ‘connect wire A to wire B. Warning! Do not connect wire A to wire C, because that will cause the whole thing to blow up in your face.’ Now that I’ve explained what I’m up to here, let’s get the lecture out of the way. (Did you really think I’d let you get away without one?) After I graduated from the US Army in 1956, one of my veteran’s benefits was the now famous GI Bill. My government had decided to pay me to go to graduate school. I worked for a year to save up enough for some incidentals (food, clothing, and shelter) and then enrolled in the graduate school of the University of Washington in Seattle. (A good day in Seattle is a day when it isn’t raining up.) My area of concentration was supposed to be modern American fiction (Hemingway, Faulkner, and Steinbeck), but I had those Ph.D exams lurking out in the future, so I knew that I’d better spend some time with Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton as well. Once I’d mastered Middle English, I fell in love with Chaucer and somewhat by extension with Sir Thomas Malory. Since what is called ‘Epic Fantasy’ in the contemporary world descends in an almost direct line from medieval romance, my studies of Chaucer and Malory gave me a running head start in the field. ‘Medieval Romance’ had a long and honorable history, stretching from about the eleventh century to the sixteenth, when Don Quixote finally put it to sleep. It was a genre that spoke of the dark ages in glowing terms, elevating a number of truly barbaric people to near sainthood. The group that is of most interest to the English-speaking world, of course, is King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. There may or may not have been a real King Arthur, but that’s beside the point. We should never permit historical reality to get in the way of a good story, should we? Since the issue’s come up, though, let’s take a look at someone who was historically verifiable and who had a great deal of impact on the fledgling genre in its earliest of days. The lady in question was the infamous Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was related to five (count ‘em) different kings (or pseudo-kings) during the twelfth century. Her father was the Duke of Aquitaine (now known as Gascony) and, since he controlled more land than the King of France, he routinely signed official documents as ‘the King of Aquitaine’. In 1137, Louis of France arranged a marriage between his son, Prince Louis and ‘princess’ Eleanor. Eleanor wasn’t a good wife, since she had what’s politely known as a ‘roving eye’. Evidently, it was more than her eye that roved. Her husband, who soon became Louis VII of France, was a pious man, and his wandering wife not only failed to produce an heir to his throne, but also became notorious as an adulteress. He finally managed to have their marriage annulled in 1152, and two months later Eleanor married Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy, who incidentally also happened to be King Henry II of England. Eleanor, as it turned out, was not barren, and she bore Henry several sons. Aside from that, Henry and Eleanor didn’t really get along together, so he took the easy way out and locked her up to keep her out of his hair. After he died, Eleanor stirred up trouble between her sons, Richard the Lionhearted and John the Incompetent, both of whom became kings of England. They also locked Mother away to keep her out of mischief. Thus, Eleanor spent a lot of her time locked up. Embroidery didn’t thrill her too much, so she read books. Books were very expensive in the twelfth century because they had to be copied by hand, but Eleanor didn’t care. She had money, if not freedom, so she could afford to pay assorted indigents with literary pretensions to write the kind of books she liked. Given Eleanor’s background it’s understandable that she liked books about kings, knights in shining armor, pretty young fellows who played the lute and sang of love with throbbing emotion, and fair damsels cruelly imprisoned in towers. Her literary tastes gave rise to troubadour poetry, the courtly love tradition, and whole libraries of interminable French romances that concentrated heavily on ‘The Matter of Britain’ (King Arthur et al) and ‘The Matter of France’ (Charlemagne and Co.). Now we jump forward three hundred years to the Wars of the Roses. There was a certain knight named Sir Thomas Malory (probably from Warwickshire) who sided with the Lancastrians. When the Yorkist faction gained the ascendancy, Sir Thomas was clapped into prison. He was not, strictly speaking, a political prisoner, however. He was in prison because he belonged there, since it appears that he was a career criminal more than a political partisan. There may have been some politics involved in the various charges leveled against him, of course, but the preponderance of evidence suggests that he was a sort of medieval Jesse James, leading a gang of outlaws on a rampage through southern England. He was imprisoned for sedition, murder, the attempted murder of the Duke of Buckingham, cattle-rustling, horse theft, the looting of monasteries, jail-breaking and not infrequently of rape. Sir Thomas seems to have been a very bad boy. He was still a nobleman, however, and a sometime member of parliament, so he was able to persuade his jailors to let him visit a nearby library (under guard, of course). Sir Thomas was quite proud of his facility in the French language, and he whiled away the hours of his incarceration translating the endless French romances dealing with (what else?) King Arthur. The end result was the work we now know as Le Morte d’ Arthur. A technological breakthrough along about then ensured a wide distribution of Malory’s work. William Caxton had a printing press, and he evidently grew tired of grinding out religious pamphlets, so, sensing a potential market, he took Malory’s manuscript and edited it in preparation for a printing run. I think we underestimate Caxton’s contribution to Le Morte d’ Arthur. If we can believe most scholars, Malory’s original manuscript was pretty much a hodgepodge of disconnected tales, and Caxton organized them into a coherent whole, giving us a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Now we jump forward another four hundred years. Queen Victoria ascended the British throne at the age of seventeen. Queen Victoria had opinions. Queen Victoria didn’t approve of ‘naughty stuff’. Queen Victoria had a resident poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and he cleaned up Malory for his queen to produce a work he called Idylls of the King. Idylls of the King is a fairly typical Victorian bowdlerization that accepted the prevailing attitude of the time that Le Morte d’ Arthur was little more than ‘bold bawdry and open manslaughter’. It glossed over such picky little details as the fact that Guinevere was an adulteress, that King Arthur did have an incestuous affair with his half-sister, Morgan le Fay, and other improprieties. Another hundred years slip by and we come to Papa Tolkien, who was probably even prissier than Queen Victoria. Have you ever noticed that there aren’t any girl Hobbits? There are matronly lady Hobbits and female Hobbit puppies, but no girls. The Victorians maintained the public fiction that females don’t exist below the neck. Contemporary fantasists all bow politely to Lord Tennyson and Papa Tolkien, then step around them to go back to the original texts for inspiration – and there are a lot of those texts. We have King Arthur and his gang in English; we’ve got Siegfried and Brunhild in German; Charlemagne and Roland in French; El Cid in Spanish; Sigurd the Volsung in Icelandic; and assorted ‘myghtiest Knights on lyfe’ in a half-dozen other cultures. Without shame, we pillage medieval romance for all we’re worth. Operating by trial and error mostly, we’ve evolved a tacitly agreed upon list of the elements that make for a good fantasy. The first decision the aspiring fantasist must make is theological. King Arthur and Charlemagne were Christians. Siegfried and Sigurd the Volsung were pagans. My personal view is that pagans write better stories. When a writer is having fun, it shows, and pagans have more fun than Christians. Let’s scrape Horace’s Dulche et utile off the plate before we even start the banquet. We’re writing for fun, not to provide moral instruction. I had much more fun with the Belgariad/Malloreon than you did, because I know where all the jokes are. All right, then, for item number one, I chose paganism. (Note that Papa Tolkien, a devout Anglo-Catholic, took the same route.) Item number two on our interim list is ‘The Quest’. If you don’t have a quest, you don’t have a story. The quest gives you an excuse to dash around and meet new people. Otherwise, you stay home and grow turnips or something. Item number three is ‘The Magic Thingamajig’ – The Holy Grail, the Ring of Power, the Magic Sword, the Sacred Book, or (surprise, surprise) THE JEWEL. Everybody knows where I came down on that one. The Magic Thingamajig is usually, though not always, the object of the quest. Item four is ‘Our Hero’ – Sir Galahad, Sir Gawaine, Sir Launcelot, or Sir Perceval. Galahad is saintly; Gawaine is loyal; Launcelot is the heavyweight champion of the world; and Perceval is dumb – at least right at first. I went with Perceval, because he’s more fun. A dumb hero is the perfect hero, because he hasn’t the faintest idea of what’s going on, and in explaining things to him, the writer explains them to his reader. Don’t get excited. I’m not putting Garion down. He’s innocent more than stupid, in the same way Perceval was. Actually, he’s fairly clever, but he’s a country boy, so he hasn’t been exposed to very much of the world. His Aunt Pol wanted him to be that way, and Polgara has ways to get what she wants. Item number five is the resident ‘Wizard’ – Merlin, usually, or Gandalf – mighty, powerful, and mysterious. I scratched that one right away and went with Belgarath instead, and I think it was the right choice. I’ve got a seedy old tramp with bad habits – who just incidentally can rip the tops off mountains if he wants to. I chose to counter him with his daughter, Polgara, who doesn’t really approve of him. That sorcerer/sorceress (and father/daughter) pairing broke some new ground, I think. Item six is our heroine – usually a wispy blonde girl who spends most of her time mooning around in a tower. I chose not to go that route, obviously. Ce’Nedra is a spoiled brat, there’s no question about that, but she is a little tiger when the chips are down. She turned out even better than I expected. Item seven is a villain with diabolical connections. I invented Torak, and he served our purpose rather well. I even managed to give him a fairly believable motivation. Milton helped on that one. Torak isn’t exactly Lucifer, but he comes close. As usual, he has a number of evil underlings to do his dirty-work for him. (Stay with me. We’re almost done.) Item eight is the obligatory group of ‘companions’, that supporting cast of assorted muscular types from various cultures who handle most of the killing and mayhem until the hero grows up to the point where he can do his own violence on the bad guys. Item nine is the group of ladies who are attached to the bully-boys in item eight. Each of these ladies also needs to be well-defined, with idiosyncrasies and passions of her own. And finally we come to item ten. Those are the kings, queens, emperors, courtiers, bureaucrats, et al who are the governments of the kingdoms of the world. OK. End of list. If you’ve got those ten items, you’re on your way toward a contemporary fantasy. (You’re also on your way to a cast of thousands.) All right then, now for a test: ‘Write an epic fantasy in no less than three and no more than twelve volumes. Then sell it to a publisher. You have twenty years.’ (Don’t send it to me. I don’t have a printing press, and I do not read in the field. It’s a way to avoid contamination.) STOP!! Do not uncover your typewriter, uncap your pen, or plug in your computer just yet. A certain amount of preparation might help. It’s a good idea to learn how to drive an automobile before you hop into the family car and take off for Los Angeles, and it’s probably an equally good idea to browse through a couple of medical texts before you saw off the top of Uncle Charlie’s head in preparation for brain surgery. Let me stress one thing at the outset. This is the way we did it. This is not the only way to do it. Our way worked out fairly well, but others, done differently, have worked just as well. If you don’t like our way, we won’t be offended. Now, of necessity, we get into a bit of biography. This introduction is designed to provide enough biographical detail to answer students’ questions and to provide a description of our preparations. I hope it satisfies you, because it’s all you’re going to get. My private life is just that – private – and it’s going to stay that way. You don’t really need to know what I had for breakfast. I was born in Washington (the state, not the city) in 1931. (Go ahead. Start counting. Depressing, huh?) I graduated from high school in 1949, worked for a year, and then enrolled in a junior college, majoring in speech, drama, and English. I tore that junior college up. I won a state-wide oratorical contest and played the male lead in most of the drama presentations. Then I applied for and received a scholarship at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and Reed turned out to be quite a bit more difficult. The college required a thesis for graduation, so I wrote a novel (what else?). Then I was drafted. The army sent me to Germany instead of Korea – where people were still shooting at each other. I’d studied German, so I got along fairly well, and when I wasn’t playing soldier with my jeep and my submachine gun, I made the obligatory pilgrimages to Paris, London, Vienna, Naples, Rome, Florence, and Berlin (before the wall). It was all very educational, and I even got paid for being in Europe. Then I came back to the States and was discharged. I had that GI Bill, so I went to the University of Washington for four years of graduate study. I’ve already told you about that, so I won’t dwell on it. During my college years I worked part-time in grocery stores, a perfect job for a student, since the hours can be adjusted to fit in with the class schedule. Then I went to work for Boeing, building rocket ships. (I was a buyer, not an engineer.) I helped, in a small way, to put a man on the moon. I married a young lady whose history was even more interesting than mine. I was a little miffed when I discovered that her security clearance was higher than mine. I thought ‘Top Secret’ was the top of the line, but I was wrong. She’d also been to places I hadn’t even heard of, since she’d been in the Air Force, while I’d been a ground-pounder. I soon discovered that she was a world-class cook, a highly skilled fisherwoman, and – after an argument about whether or not that was really a deer lying behind that log a hundred yards away late one snowy afternoon – she demonstrated that she was a dead shot with a deer rifle by shooting poor old Bambi right between the eyes. I taught college for several years, and then one year the administrators all got a pay raise and the teaching faculty didn’t. I told them what they could do with their job, and my wife and I moved to Denver, where I (we) wrote High Hunt in our spare time while I worked in a grocery store and my wife worked as a motel maid. We sold High Hunt to Putnam, and I was now a published author. We moved to Spokane, and I turned to grocery stores again to keep us eating regularly. I was convinced that I was a ‘serious novelist’, and I labored long and hard over several unpublished (and unpublishable) novels that moped around the edges of mawkish contemporary tragedy. In the mid 1970s I was grinding out ‘Hunsecker’s Ascent’, a story about mountain-climbing which was a piece of tripe so bad that it even bored me. (No, you can’t see it. I burned it.) Then one morning before I went off to my day-job, I was so bored that I started doodling. My doodles produced a map (see over page) of a place that never was (and is probably a geological impossibility). Then, feeling the call of duty, I put it away and went back to the tripe table. Some years later I was in a bookstore going in the general direction of the ‘serious fiction’. I passed the science-fiction rack and spotted one of the volumes of The Lord of the Rings. I muttered, ‘Is this old turkey still floating around?’ Then I picked it up and noticed that it was in its seventy-eighth printing!!! That got my immediate attention, and I went back home and dug out the aforementioned doodle. It seemed to have some possibilities. Then, methodical as always, I ticked off the above-listed necessities for a good medieval romance. I’d taken those courses in Middle English authors in graduate school, so I had a fair grip on the genre. I realized that since I’d created this world, I was going to have to populate it, and that meant that I’d have to create the assorted ‘ologies’ as well before I could even begin to put together an outline. The Rivan Codex was the result. I reasoned that each culture had to have a different class-structure, a different mythology, a different theology, different costumes, different forms of address, different national character, and even different coinage and slightly different weights and measures. I might never come right out and use them in the books, but they had to be there. ‘The Belgariad Preliminaries’ took me most of 1978 and part of 1979. (I was still doing honest work in those days, so my time was limited.) One of the major problems when you’re dealing with wizards is the ‘Superman Syndrome’. You’ve got this fellow who’s faster than a speeding bullet and all that stuff. He can uproot mountains and stop the sun. Bullets bounce off him, and he can read your mind. Who’s going to climb into the ring with this terror? I suppose I could have gone with incantations and spells, but to make that sort of thing believable you’ve got to invent at least part of the incantation, and sooner or later some nut is going to take you seriously, and, absolutely convinced that he can fly if he says the magic words, he’ll jump off a building somewhere. Or, if he believes that the sacrifice of a virgin will make him Lord of the Universe, and some Girl-Scout knocks on his door – ??? I think it was a sense of social responsibility that steered me away from the ‘hocus-pocus’ routine. Anyway, this was about the time when the ESP fakers were announcing that they could bend keys (or crowbars, for all I know) with the power of their minds. Bingo! The Will and the Word was born. And it also eliminated the Superman problem. The notion that doing things with your mind exhausts you as much as doing them with your back was my easiest way out. You might be able to pick up a mountain with your mind, but you won’t be able to walk after you do it, I can guarantee that. It worked out quite well, and it made some interesting contributions to the story. We added the prohibition against ‘unmaking things’ later, and we had a workable form of magic with some nasty consequences attached if you broke the rules. Now we had a story. Next came the question of how to tell it. My selection of Sir Perceval (Sir Dumb, if you prefer) sort of ruled out ‘High Style’. I can write in ‘High Style’ if necessary (see Mandorallen with his ‘thee’s, ‘thou’s and ‘foreasmuche’s), but Garion would have probably swallowed his tongue if he’d tried it. Moreover, magic, while not a commonplace, is present in our imaginary world, so I wanted to avoid all that ‘Gee whiz! Would you look at that!’ sort of reaction. I wanted language that was fairly colloquial (with a few cultural variations) to make the whole thing accessible to contemporary readers, but with just enough antique usages to give it a medieval flavor. Among the literary theories I’d encountered in graduate school was Jung’s notion of archetypal myth. The application of this theory usually involves a scholar laboring mightily to find correspondences between current (and not so current) fiction and drama to link them to Greek mythology. (Did Hamlet really lust after his mother the way Oedipus did?) It occurred to me that archetypal myth might not be very useful in the evaluation of a story, but might it not work in its creation? I tried it, and it works. I planted more mythic fishhooks in the first couple of books of the Belgariad than you’ll find in any sporting goods store. I’ve said (too many times, probably) that if you read the first hundred pages of the Belgariad, I gotcha!! You won’t be able to put it down. The use of archetypal myth in the creation of fiction is the literary equivalent of peddling dope. The preliminaries to the Belgariad are actually out of sequence here. The Personal History of Belgarath the Sorcerer was written after the rest of the studies while I was trying to get a better grip on the old boy. You might want to compare that very early character sketch with the opening chapters of the more recent Belgarath the Sorcerer. Did you notice the similarities? I thought I noticed you noticing. When I first tackled these studies, I began with The Holy Books, and the most important of these is The Book of Alorn. When you get right down to it, that one contains the germ of the whole story. After that, I added The Book of Torak. Fair is fair, after all, and ‘equal time’ sounds sort of fair, I guess. The Testament of the Snake People was an exercise in showing off. (A poem in the shape of a snake? Gee!) The Hymn to Chaldan was supposed to help explain the Arends. A war god isn’t all that unusual. The Marags are extinct, but that ‘equal time’ regulation was still in place, so I took a swing at the grief-stricken God Mara. I had fun with The Proverbs of Nedra – a sort of theological justification for pure greed. Maybe I’ll make a deal with the New York Stock Exchange, and they can engrave those proverbs on the wall. The Sermon of Aldur was a false start, since it speaks glowingly of ‘Unmaking Things’, which UL prohibited in the next section. That section, The Book of Ulgo, was rather obviously based on The Book of Job. Note that I’ll even steal from the Bible. Gorim came off rather well, I thought. Incidentally, ‘UL’ was a typographical error the first time it appeared. I liked the way it looked on paper, so I kept it. (Would you prefer to have me claim ‘Divine Inspiration?’) I’m going to disillusion some enthusiasts here, I’m afraid. Notice that the Mrin Codex and the Darine Codex aren’t included here. They don’t appear because they don’t exist. They’re a literary device and nothing more. (I once jokingly told Lester that I’d be willing to write the Mrin Codex if he’d agree to publish it on a scroll, but he declined.) I used the ‘Mrin’ as a form of exposition. Those periodic breakthroughs when Belkira and Beltira – or whoever else is handy – finally crack the code are the things that set off a new course of action. I catch hints of a religious yearning when people start pleading for copies of the ‘Mrin’. Sorry gang, I’m not in the business of creating new religions. This is ‘story’, not ‘revelation’. I’m a storyteller, not a Prophet of God. OK? Once The Holy Books were out of the way, I was ready to tackle The Histories, and that’s where all the ‘ologies’ started showing up – along with a chronology. When you’ve got a story that lasts for seven thousand years, you’d better have a chronology and pay close attention to it, or you’re going to get lost somewhere in the 39th century. The histories of the Alorn Kingdoms are fairly central to the story, but it was the history of the Tolnedran Empire that filled in all the cracks. You’ll probably notice how tedious the Tolnedran History is. If you think reading it was tedious, try writing it. It was absolutely essential, however, since much of the background material grew out of it. Most of the similarities between the people of this world and our imaginary one should be fairly obvious. The Sendars correspond to rural Englishmen, the Arends to Norman French, the Tolnedrans to Romans, the Chereks to Vikings, the Algars to Cossacks, the Ulgos to Jews, and the Angaraks to Hunnish-Mongolian-Muslim-Visigoths out to convert the world by the sword. I didn’t really have correspondences in mind for the Drasnians, Rivans, Marags, or Nyissans. They’re story elements and don’t need to derive from this world. By the time we got to the histories of the Angarak Kingdoms, we were ready to dig into the story itself, so the Angaraks got fairly short shrift. I wanted to get on with it. There were footnotes in the original of these studies, but they were included (with identifying single-spacing) in the body of the text. These are the mistaken perceptions of the scholars at the University of Tol Honeth. The footnotes I’m adding now are in their proper location (at the foot of the page, naturally). These later notes usually point out inconsistencies. Some of this material just didn’t work when we got into the actual narrative, and I’m not one to mess up a good story just for the sake of sticking to an out-dated game plan. The addition of The Battle of Vo Mimbre was a sort of afterthought. I knew that epic fantasy derived from medieval romance, so just to re-enforce that point of origin, I wrote one. It has most of the elements of a good, rousing medieval romance – and all of its flaws. I’m still fairly sure that it would have made Eleanor of Aquitaine light up like a Christmas tree. I wanted to use it in its original form as the Prologue for Queen of Sorcery, but Lester del Rey said, ‘NO!’ A twenty-seven page prologue didn’t thrill him. That’s when I learned one of the rules. A prologue does not exceed eight pages. Lester finally settled the argument by announcing that if I wrote an overly long prologue, he’d cut it down with a dull axe. Oh, there was another argument a bit earlier. Lester didn’t like ‘Aloria’. He wanted to call it ‘Alornia’!!! I almost exploded, but my wife calmly took the telephone away from me and sweetly said, ‘Lester, dear, “Alornia” sounds sort of like a cookie to me.’ (Alornia Doone?) Lester thought about that for a moment. ‘It does, sort of, doesn’t it? OK, Aloria it is then.’ Our side won that one big-time. I’m not passing along these gossipy little tales for the fun of it, people. There’s a point buried in most of them. The point to this one is the importance of the sound of names in High Fantasy. Would Launcelot impress you very much if his name were ‘Charlie’ or ‘Wilbur’? The bride of my youth spends hours concocting names. It was – and still is – her specialty. (She’s also very good at deleting junk and coming up with great endings.) I can manufacture names if I have to, but hers are better. Incidentally, that ‘Gar’ at the center of ‘Belgarath’, ‘Polgara’, and ‘Garion’ derives from proto-Indo European. Linguists have been amusing themselves for years backtracking their way to the original language spoken by the barbarians who came wandering off the steppes of Central Asia twelve thousand or so years ago. ‘Gar’ meant ‘Spear’ back in those days. Isn’t that interesting? When the preliminary studies were finished, my collaborator and I hammered together an outline, reviewed our character sketches, and we got started. When we had a first draft of what we thought was going to be Book I completed, I sent a proposal, complete with the overall outline, to Ballantine Books, and, naturally, the Post Office Department lost it. After six months, I sent a snippy note to Ballantine. ‘At least you could have had the decency to say no.’ They replied, ‘Gee, we never got your proposal.’ I had almost dumped the whole idea of the series because of the gross negligence of my government. I sent the proposal off again. Lester liked it, and we signed a contract. Now we were getting paid for this, so we started to concentrate. Incidentally, my original proposal envisioned a trilogy – three books tentatively titled Garion, Ce’Nedra, and Kal Torak. That notion tumbled down around my ears when Lester explained the realities of the American publishing business to me. B. Dalton and Walden-books had limits on genre fiction, and those two chains ruled the world. At that time, they wanted genre fiction to be paperbacks priced at under three dollars, and thus no more than 300 pages. ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ Lester told me. (Notice that ‘we’. He didn’t really mean ‘we’; he meant me.) ‘We’re going to break it up into five books instead of three.’ My original game plan went out the window. I choked and went on. The chess-piece titles, incidentally, were Lester’s idea. I didn’t like that one very much either. I wanted to call Book V In the Tomb of the One-Eyed God. I thought that had a nice ring to it but Lester patiently explained that a title that long wouldn’t leave any room for a cover illustration. I was losing a lot of arguments here. Lester favored the bulldozer approach to his writers, though, so he ran over me fairly often. I did win one, though – I think. Lester had told me that ‘Fantasy fiction is the prissiest of all art-forms.’ I knew that he was wrong on that one. I’ve read the works from which contemporary fantasy has descended, and ‘prissy’ is a wildly inappropriate description (derived, no doubt, from Tennyson and Tolkien). I set out to delicately suggest that girls did, in fact, exist below the neck. I’ll admit that I lost a few rounds, but I think I managed to present a story that suggested that there are some differences between boys and girls, and that most people find that sort of interesting. All right, ‘Time Out’. For those of you who intend to follow my path, here’s what you should do. Get an education first. You’re not qualified to write epic fantasy until you’ve been exposed to medieval romance. As I said earlier, there are all kinds of medieval literature. Look at the Norse stuff. Try the German stories. (If you don’t want to read them, go see them on stage in Wagnerian operas.) Look at Finland, Russia, Ireland, Iceland, Arabia – even China or India. The urge to write and read High Fantasy seems to be fairly universal. Next comes the practice writing. I started on contemporary novels – High Hunt and The Losers. (The publication date of The Losers is June 1992, but I wrote it back in the 1970s. It’s not strictly speaking a novel, but rather is an allegory, the one-eyed Indian is God, and Jake Flood is the Devil. Notice that I wrote it before we started the Belgariad.) If you’re serious about this, you have to write every day, even if it’s only for an hour. Scratch the words ‘week-end’ and ‘holiday’ out of your vocabulary. (If you’ve been very good, I might let you take a half-day off at Christmas.) Write a million or so words. Then burn them. Now you’re almost ready to start. This is what I was talking about earlier when I suggested that most aspiring fantasists will lose heart fairly early on. I was in my mid-teens when I discovered that I was a writer. Notice that I didn’t say ‘wanted to be a writer’. ‘Want’ has almost nothing to do with it. It’s either there or it isn’t. If you happen to be one, you’re stuck with it. You’ll write whether you get paid for it or not. You won’t be able to help yourself. When it’s going well, it’s like reaching up into heaven and pulling down fire. It’s better than any dope you can buy. When it’s not going well, it’s much like giving birth to a baby elephant. You’ll probably notice the time lapse. I was forty before I wrote a pub-lishable book. A twenty-five year long apprenticeship doesn’t appeal to very many people. The first thing a fantasist needs to do is to invent a world and draw a map. Do the map first. If you don’t, you’ll get lost, and picky readers with nothing better to do will gleefully point out your blunders. Then do your preliminary studies and character sketches in great detail. Give yourself at least a year for this. Two would be better. Your ‘Quest’, your ‘Hero’, your form of magic, and your ‘races’ will probably grow out of these studies at some point. If you’re worried about how much this will interfere with a normal life, take up something else. If you decide to be a writer, your life involves sitting at your desk. This is what you do to the exclusion of all else, and there aren’t any guarantees. You can work on this religiously for fifty years and never get into print, so don’t quit your day-job. It was about the time that we finished Book III of the Belgariad that we met Lester and Judy-Lynn del Rey in person. We all had dinner together, and I told Lester that I thought there was more story than we could cram into five books, so we might want to think about a second set. Lester expressed some interest. Judy-Lynn wanted to write a contract on a napkin. How’s that for acceptance? We finished up the Belgariad, and then went back into ‘preliminaries’ mode. Our major problem with the Malloreon lay in the fact that we’d killed off the Devil at the end of the Belgariad. No villain; no story. The bad guys do have their uses, I suppose. Zandramas, in a rather obscure way, was a counter to Polgara. Pol, though central to the story as our mother figure, had been fairly subordinate in the Belgariad, and we wanted to move her to center stage. There are quite a few more significant female characters in the Malloreon than in the Belgariad. Zandramas (my wife’s brilliant name) is Torak’s heir as ‘Child of Dark’. She yearns for elevation, but I don’t think becoming a galaxy to replace the one that blew up was quite what she had in mind. The abduction of Prince Geran set off the obligatory quest, and abductions were commonplace in medieval romance (and in the real world of the Dark Ages as well), so we were still locked in our genre. We had most of our main characters – good guys and bad guys – already in place, and I knew that Mallorea was somewhere off to the east, so I went back to the map-table and manufactured another continent and the bottom half of the one we already had. We got a lot of mileage out of Kal Zakath. That boy carried most of the Malloreon on his back. Then by way of thanks, we fed him to Cyradis, and she had him for lunch. I’ll confess that I got carried away with The Mallorean Gospels. I wanted the Dals to be mystical, so I pulled out all the stops and wrote something verging on Biblical, but without the inconveniences of Judaism, Christianity, or Mohammedanism. What it all boiled down to was that the Dals could see the future, but so could Belgarath, if he paid attention to the Mrin Codex. The whole story reeks of prophecy – but nobody can be really sure what it means. My now publicly exposed co-conspiratress and I have recently finished the second prequel to this story, and now if you want to push it, we’ve got a classic twelve-book epic. If twelve books were good enough for Homer, Virgil, and Milton, twelve is surely good enough for us. We are not going to tack on our version of The Odyssey to our already completed Iliad. The story’s complete as it stands. There aren’t going to be any more Garion stories. Period. End of discussion. All right, that should be enough for students, and it’s probably enough to send those who’d like to try it for themselves screaming off into the woods in stark terror. I doubt that it’ll satisfy those who are interested in an in-depth biography of their favorite author, but you can’t win them all, I guess. Are you up for some honesty here? Genre fiction is writing that’s done for money. Great art doesn’t do all that well in a commercial society. Nothing that Franz Kafka wrote ever appeared in print while he was alive. Miss Lonelyhearts sank without a ripple. Great literary art is difficult to read because you have to think when you read it, and most people would rather not. Epic fantasy can be set in this world. You don’t have to create a new universe just to write one. My original ‘doodle’, however, put us off-world immediately. It’s probably that ‘off-world’ business in Tolkien that causes us to be lumped together with science fiction, and we have no business on the same rack with SF. SF writers are technology freaks who blithely ignore that footnote in Einstein’s theory of relativity which clearly states that when an object approaches the speed of light, its mass becomes infinite. (So much for warp-drive.) If old Buck Rogers hits the gas-pedal a little too hard, he’ll suddenly become the universe. Fantasists are magic and shining armor freaks who posit equally absurd notions with incantations, ‘the Will and the Word’, or other mumbo-jumbo. They want to build a better screwdriver, and we want to come up with a better incantation. They want to go into the future, and we want to go into the past. We write better stories than they do, though. They get all bogged down in telling you how the watch works; we just tell you what time it is and go on with the story. SF and fantasy shouldn’t even speak to each other, but try explaining that to a book-store manager. Try explaining it to a publisher. Forget it. One last gloomy note. If something doesn’t work, dump it – even if it means that you have to rip up several hundred pages and a half-year’s work. More stories are ruined by the writer’s stubborn attachment to his own overwrought prose than by almost anything else. Let your stuff cool off for a month and then read it critically. Forget that you wrote it, and read it as if you didn’t really like the guy who put it down in the first place. Then take a meat-axe to it. Let it cool down some more, and then read it again. If it still doesn’t work, get rid of it. Revision is the soul of good writing. It’s the story that counts, not your fondness for your own gushy prose. Accept your losses and move on. All right, I’ll let you go for right now. We’ll talk some more later, but why don’t we let Belgarath take over for a while? PREFACE: THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF BELGARATH THE SORCERER (#ulink_44bcb2c7-297b-597b-8738-4b61ea62388d) (#litres_trial_promo) In the light of all that has happened, this is most certainly a mistake. It would be far better to leave things as they are, with event and cause alike half-buried in the dust of forgotten years. If it were up to me, I would so leave them. I have, however, been so importuned by an undutiful daughter, so implored by a great (and many times over) grandson, and so cajoled by that tiny and willful creature who is his wife – a burden he will have to endure for all his days – that I must, if only to have some peace, set down the origins of the titanic events which have so rocked the world. Few will understand this, and fewer still will acknowledge its truth. I am accustomed to that. But, since I alone know the beginning, the middle, and the end of these events, it is upon me to commit to perishable parchment and to ink that begins to fade before it even dries some ephemeral account of what happened and why. Thus, let me begin this story as all stories are begun, at the beginning. I was born in a village so small that it had no name. (#litres_trial_promo) It lay, if I remember it correctly, on a pleasant green bank beside a small river that sparkled in the summer sun as if its surface were covered with jewels – and I would trade all the jewels I have ever owned or seen to sit beside that river again. Our village was not rich, but in those days none were. The world was at peace, and our Gods walked among us and smiled upon us. We had enough to eat and huts to shelter us from the weather. I do not recall who our God was, nor his attributes, nor his totem. It was, after all, a very, very long time ago. Like the other children, I played in the warm, dusty streets and ran through the long grass in the meadows and paddled in that sparkling river which was drowned by the eastern sea so many years ago that they are beyond counting. My mother died when I was quite young. I remember that I cried about it for a very long time, though I must honestly admit that I can no longer even remember her face. I remember the gentleness of her hands and the warm smell of fresh-baked bread that came from her garments, but I can not remember her face – but then, there have been so many faces. The people of my village cared for me and saw to it that I was fed and clothed and sheltered in one house or another, but I grew up wild. I never knew my father, and my mother was dead, and I was not content with the simple, drowsy life of a small, unnamed village beside a sparkling river in a time when the world was very young. I began to wander out into the hills above my village, at first with only a stick and a sling, but later with more manly weapons – though I was still but a child. And then came a day in early spring when the air was cool and the clouds raced overhead in the fresh, young wind, and I had climbed to the top of the highest hill to the west of our river. And I looked down at the tiny patch of dun-colored huts beside a small river that did not sparkle beneath the scudding clouds of spring. And then I turned and looked to the west at a vast grassland and white-topped mountains beyond and clouds roiling titanic in the grey sky. And I looked one last time at the village where I was born and where, had I not climbed that hill on just such a morning, I might well have died; and I turned my face to the west and I went from that place forever. The summer was easy. The plain yielded food in plenty to a young adventurer with the legs to chase it and the appetite to eat it – no matter how tough or poorly cooked. And in the fall I came upon a vast encampment of people whitened as if by the touch of frost. They took me in and wept over me, and many came to touch me and to look at me, and they wept also. But one thing I found most strange. In the entire encampment there were no children, and to my young eyes the people seemed most terribly old. They spoke a language I did not understand, but they fed me and seemed to argue endlessly among themselves over who might have the privilege of keeping me in his tent or pavilion. I passed the winter among these strange people, and, as is so frequently the case with the young, I learned nothing in that season. I can not remember even one word of the language they spoke. (#litres_trial_promo) When the snow melted and the frost seeped up out of the ground and the wind of spring began to blow again, I knew it was time to leave. I took no joy in the pampering of a multitude of grandparents and had no desire to become the pet of a host of crotchety old people who could not even speak a civilized language. And so, early one spring morning, before the darkness had even slid off the sky, I sneaked from the camp and went south into a low range of hills where their creaky old limbs could not follow me. I moved very fast, for I was young and well-fed and quite strong, but it was not fast enough. As the sun rose I could hear the wails of unspeakable grief coming from the encampment behind me. I remember that sound very well. I loitered that summer in the hills and in the upper reaches of the Vale to the south beyond them. It was in my mind that I might – if pursued by necessity – winter again in the camp of the old people. But, as it happened, an early storm caught me unprepared to the south of the hills, and the snow piled so deep that I could not make my way back across to my refuge. And my food was gone, and my shoes, mere bags of untanned hide, wore out, and I lost my knife, and it grew very cold. In the end I huddled behind a pile of rock that seemed to reach up into the very heart of the snowstorm that swirled around me and tried to prepare myself for death. I thought of my village and of the grassy fields around it and of our small, sparkling river, and of my mother, and, because I was still really very young, I cried. ‘Why weepest thou, boy?’ The voice was very gentle. The snow was so thick that I could not see who spoke, but the tone made me angry. ‘Because I’m cold and I’m hungry,’ I said, ‘and because I’m dying and I don’t want to.’ ‘Why art thou dying? Art thou injured?’ ‘I’m lost,’ I said, ‘and it’s snowing, and I have no place to go.’ ‘Is this reason enough to die amongst thy kind?’ ‘Isn’t it enough?’ I said, still angry. ‘And how long dost thou expect this dying of thine will persist?’ The voice seemed mildly curious. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘I’ve never done it before.’ The wind howled and the snow swirled more thickly around me. ‘Boy,’ the voice said finally, ‘come here to me.’ ‘Where are you?’ I said. ‘I can’t see you.’ ‘Walk around the tower to thy left. Knowest thou thy left hand from thy right?’ I stumbled to my half-frozen feet angrier than I ever remember having been. ‘Well, boy?’ I moved around what I had thought was a pile of rock, my hands on the stones. ‘Thou shalt come to a smooth grey rock,’ the voice said, ‘somewhat taller than thy head and broad as thine arms may reach.’ ‘All right,’ I said, my lips thick with the cold. ‘Now what?’ ‘Tell it to open.’ ‘What?’ ‘Speak unto the rock,’ the voice said patiently, ignoring the fact that I was congealing in the gale. ‘Command it to open.’ ‘Command? Me?’ ‘Thou art a man. It is but a rock.’ ‘What do I say?’ ‘Tell it to open.’ ‘Open,’ I commanded half-heartedly. ‘Surely thou canst do better than that.’ ‘Open!’ I thundered. And the rock slid aside. ‘Come in, boy,’ the voice said. ‘Stand not in the weather like some befuddled calf.’ The inside of the tower – for such indeed it was – was dimly lighted by stones that glowed with a pale, cold fire. I thought that was a fine thing, though I would have preferred it had they been warmer. Stone steps worn with countless centuries of footfalls ascended in a spiral into the gloom above my head. Other than that the chamber was empty. ‘Close the door, boy,’ the voice said, not unkindly. ‘How?’ I said. ‘How didst thou open it?’ I turned to the gaping rock and quite proud of myself, I commanded, ‘Close!’ And, at my voice, the rock slid shut with a grinding sound that chilled my blood even more than the fierce storm outside. ‘Come up, boy,’ the voice commanded. And so I mounted the stairs, only a little bit afraid. The tower was very high, and the climbing took me a long time. At the top was a chamber filled with wonders. I looked at things such as I had never seen even before I looked at him who had commanded me and had saved my life. I was very young, and I was not at the time above thoughts of theft. Larceny even before gratitude seethed in my grubby little soul. Near a fire which burned, as I observed, without fuel sat a man (I thought) who seemed most incredibly ancient. His beard was long and full and white as the snow which had so nearly killed me – but his eyes – his eyes were eternally young. ‘Well, boy,’ he said, ‘hast thou decided not to die?’ ‘Not if it isn’t necessary,’ I said bravely, still cataloguing the wonders of the chamber. ‘Dost thou require anything?’ he asked. ‘I am unfamiliar with thy kind.’ ‘A little food,’ I told him. ‘I have not eaten in three days. And a warm place to sleep. I shall not be much trouble, Master, and I can make myself useful in payment.’ I had learned a long time ago how to make myself agreeable to those who were in a position to do me favors. ‘Master?’ he said and laughed, a sound so cheerful that it made me almost want to dance. ‘I am not thy master, boy.’ He laughed again, and my heart sang with the splendor of his mirth. ‘Let us see to this thing of food. What dost thou require?’ ‘A little bread perhaps,’ I said, ’– not too stale.’ ‘Bread?’ he said. ‘Only bread? Surely, boy, thy stomach is fit for more than bread. If thou wouldst make thyself useful – as thou hast promised – we must nourish thee properly. Consider, boy. Think of all the things thou hast eaten in thy life. What in all this world would most surely satisfy that vast hunger of thine?’ I could not even say it. Before my eyes swam the visions of plump, smoking roasts, of fat geese swimming in their own gravy, of heaps of fresh-baked bread and rich, golden butter, of pastries in thick cream, of cheese, and dark brown ale, of fruits and nuts and salt to savor it all. And he who sat by the glowing fire that burned, it seemed, air alone laughed again, and again my heart sang. ‘Turn, boy,’ he said, ‘and eat thy fill.’ And I turned, and there on a table which I had not even seen before lay everything which I had imagined. A hungry young boy does not ask where food comes from – he eats. And so I ate. I ate until my stomach groaned. And through the sound of my eating I could hear the laughter of the aged one beside his fire, and my heart leapt within me at each laugh. And when I had finished and drowsed over my plate, he spoke again. ‘Wilt thou sleep now, boy?’ ‘A corner, Master,’ I said. ‘A little out-of-the-way place by the fire, if it be not too much trouble.’ He pointed. ‘Sleep there, boy,’ he said, and at once I saw a bed which I had seen no more than the table – a great bed with huge pillows and comforters of softest down. And I smiled my thanks and crept into the bed and, because I was young and very tired, I fell asleep almost at once. But in my sleep I knew that he who had brought me in from the storm and fed me and cared for me was watching through the long snowy night, and I felt even more secure in his care. And that began my servitude. My Master never commanded in the way other masters commanded their servants, but rather suggested or asked. Amazingly, almost in spite of myself, I found myself leaping to do his bidding. The tasks, simple at first, grew harder and harder. I began to wish I had never come to this place. Sometimes my Master would stop what he was doing to watch my labors, a bemused expression on his face. Then he would sigh and return to the things which he did and which I did not understand. The seasons turned, marching in their stately, ordered progression as I labored endlessly at impossible tasks. Then, perhaps three – or maybe it was five – years after I had come to the tower and begun my servitude, I was struggling one day to move a huge rock which my Master felt was in his way. It would not move though I heaved and pushed and strained until I thought my limbs would crack. Finally, in a fury, I concentrated all my strength and all my will upon the boulder and grunted one single word. ‘Move,’ I said. And it moved – not grudgingly with its huge, inert weight sullenly resisting my strength – but quite easily, as if the touch of one finger would be sufficient to send it bounding across the plain. ‘Well, boy,’ my Master said, startling me by his nearness, ‘I had wondered how long it might be before this day arrived.’ ‘Master,’ I said, confused, ‘what happened? How did the great rock move so easily?’ ‘It moved at thy command, boy. Thou art a man, and it is only a rock.’ ‘May other things be done so, Master?’ ‘All things may be done so, boy. Put but thy will to that which thou wouldst have come to pass and speak the word. It shall come to pass even as thou wouldst have it. I have marveled, boy, at thine insistence upon doing all things with thy back instead of thy will. I had begun to fear for thee, thinking that perhaps thou mightest be defective.’ I walked over to the rock and laid my hands on it again. ‘Move,’ I commanded, bringing my will to bear on it, and the rock moved as easily as before. ‘Does it make thee more comfortable touching the rock when thou wouldst move it, boy?’ my Master asked, a note of curiosity in his voice. The question stunned me. I looked at the rock. ‘Move,’ I said tentatively. The rock did not move. ‘Thou must command, boy, not entreat.’ ‘Move!’ I roared, and the rock heaved and rolled off with nothing but my will and the word to make it do so. ‘Much better, boy,’ my Master said. ‘Perhaps there is hope for thee yet. What is thy name, boy?’ ‘Garath,’ I told him, and suddenly realized that he had never asked me before. ‘An unseemly name, boy. I shall call thee Belgarath.’ ‘As it please thee, Master,’ I said. I had never ‘thee’d’ him before, and I held my breath for fear that he might be displeased, but he showed no sign that he had noticed. Then, made bold by my success, I went further. ‘And how may I call thee, Master?’ I said. ‘I am called Aldur,’ he said, smiling. I had heard the name before, and I immediately fell upon my face before him. ‘Art thou ill, Belgarath?’ he asked. ‘Oh, great and powerful God,’ I said, trembling, ‘forgive mine ignorance. I should have known thee at once.’ ‘Don’t do that,’ he said irritably. ‘I require no obeisance. Rise to thy feet, Belgarath. Stand up, boy. Thine action is unseemly.’ I scrambled up fearfully and clenched myself for the sudden shock of lightning. Gods, as all knew, could destroy at their whim those who displeased them. ‘And what dost thou propose to do with thy life now, Belgarath?’ he asked. ‘I would stay and serve thee, Master,’ I said, as humbly as I could. ‘I require no service,’ he said. ‘What canst thou do for me?’ ‘May I worship thee, Master?’ I pleaded. I had never met a God before, and was uncertain about the proprieties. ‘I do not require thy worship either,’ he said. ‘May I not stay, Master?’ I pleaded. ‘I would be thy Disciple and learn from thee.’ ‘The desire to learn does thee credit, but it will not be easy,’ he warned. ‘I am quick to learn, Master,’ I boasted. ‘I shall make thee proud of me.’ And then he laughed, and my heart soared. ‘Very well then, Belgarath, I shall make thee my pupil.’ ‘And thy Disciple also, Master?’ ‘That we will see in time, Belgarath.’ And then, because I was very young and very proud of myself and my new-found powers, I turned to a dried and brittle bush – it was mid-winter at the time – and I spoke to it fervently. ‘Bloom,’ I said, and the bush quite suddenly produced a single flower. I plucked it and offered it to him. ‘For thee, Master,’ I said. ‘Because I love thee.’ And he took the flower and smiled and held it between his hands. ‘I thank thee, my son,’ he said. It was the first time he had ever called me that. ‘And this flower shall be thy first lesson. I would have thee examine it most carefully and tell me all that thou canst perceive of it.’ And that task took me twenty years, as I recall. Each time I came to him with the flower that never wilted or faded – how I grew to hate that flower – and told him what else I had learned, he said, ‘is that all, my son?’ and, crushed, I went back to my studies. And there were many other things as well that took at least as long. I examined trees and birds, fish and beasts, insects and vermin. I devoted forty-five years to the study of grass alone. In time it occurred to me that I was not aging as other men aged. ‘Master,’ I said one night in our chamber high in the tower as we both labored with our studies, ‘why is it that I do not grow old?’ ‘Wouldst thou grow old, my son?’ he asked. ‘I have never seen much advantage in it myself.’ ‘I don’t really miss it all that much, Master,’ I admitted, ‘but isn’t it customary?’ ‘Perhaps,’ he said ‘but not mandatory. Thou hast much yet to learn, and one or ten or even a hundred lifetimes are not enough. How old art thou, my son?’ ‘I think I am somewhat beyond three hundred years, Master.’ ‘A suitable age, my son, and thou hast persevered in thy studies. Should I forget myself and call thee “Boy” again, pray correct me. It is not seemly that the Disciple of a God should be called “Boy”.’ ‘I shall remember that, Master,’ I said, almost overcome with joy that he had finally called me his Disciple. ‘I was certain that thou wouldst,’ he said. ‘And what is the object of thy present study, my son?’ ‘I would seek to learn why the stars fall, Master.’ ‘A proper study, my son,’ he said, smiling. ‘And thou, Master,’ I asked. ‘What is thy study – if I be not overbold to ask.’ ‘I am concerned with this jewel,’ he said, pointing at a moderate-sized grey stone on the table before him. ‘It may be of some curiosity in the fullness of time.’ (#litres_trial_promo) ‘I am certain it shall, Master,’ I assured him. ‘If be worthy of thine attention, it shall surely be a curiosity at least.’ And I turned back to my study of the inconstant stars. In time, others came to us, some by accident, as I had come, and some by intent, seeking out my Master that they might learn from him. Such a one was Zedar. I came upon him one golden day in autumn near our tower. He had built a rude altar and was burning the carcass of a goat upon it. The greasy smoke from his offering was fouling the air, and he was prostrated before the altar, chanting some outlandish prayer. ‘What are you doing?’ I demanded, quite angry since his noise and the stink of his sacrifice distracted my mind from a problem I had been considering for fifteen years. ‘Oh, puissant and all-knowing God,’ he said, groveling in the dirt. ‘I have come a thousand leagues to behold thy glory and to worship thee.’ ‘Puissant?’ I said. ‘Get up, man, and stop this caterwauling. I am not a God, but a man, just as you are.’ ‘Art thou not the great God, Aldur?’ he asked. ‘I am Belgarath,’ I said, ‘his Disciple. What is this foolishness?’ I pointed at his altar and his smoking offering. ‘It is to please the God,’ he said, rising and dusting off his clothes. ‘Dost thou think he will find it acceptable?’ I laughed, for I did not like this stranger much. ‘I cannot think of a single thing you might have done which would offend him more,’ I said. The stranger looked stricken. He turned quickly and reached out as if he would seize the burning animal with his bare hands to hide it. ‘Don’t be an idiot,’ I snapped. ‘You’ll burn yourself.’ ‘It must be hidden,’ he said desperately. ‘I would die rather than offend Mighty Aldur.’ ‘Stand out of the way,’ I told him. ‘What?’ ‘Get clear,’ I said, irritably waving him off. Then I looked at his grotesque little altar, willed it away and said, ‘Go away,’ and it vanished, leaving only a few tatters of confused smoke hanging in the air. He collapsed on his face again. ‘You’re going to wear out your clothes if you keep doing that,’ I told him, ‘and my Master will not be amused by it.’ ‘I pray thee,’ he said, rising and dusting himself off again, ‘mighty Disciple of the most high Aldur, instruct me so that I offend not the God.’ ‘Be truthful,’ I told him, ‘and do not seek to impress him with false show.’ ‘And how may I become his Disciple as thou art?’ ‘First you become his pupil,’ I said, ‘and that is not easy.’ ‘What must I do to become his pupil?’ the stranger asked. ‘You must become his servant,’ I said, a bit smugly I must admit. ‘And then his pupil?’ ‘In time,’ I said, smiling, ‘if he so wills.’ ‘And when may I meet the God?’ And so I took him to the tower. ‘Will the God Aldur not wish to know my name?’ the stranger asked. ‘Not particularly.’ I said. ‘If you prove worthy, he will give you a name of his own choosing.’ Then I turned to the grey stone in the wall and commanded it to open, and then we went inside. My Master looked the stranger over and then turned to me. ‘Why hast thou brought this man to me, my son?’ he asked. ‘He besought me, Master,’ I said. ‘I felt it was not my place to say him yea or nay. Thy will must decide such things. If it be that he please thee not, I shall take him outside and bid him be no more and so put an end to him and his interruption.’ ‘That is unkindly said, my son,’ Aldur said sternly. ‘The Will and the Word may not be used so.’ (#litres_trial_promo) ‘Forgive me, Master,’ I said humbly. ‘Thou shalt instruct him, Belgarath,’ my Master said. ‘If it should be that thou findest him apt, inform me.’ ‘I will, Master,’ I promised. ‘What is thy study currently?’ ‘I examine the reason for mountains, Master,’ I said. ‘Lay aside thy mountains, Belgarath, and study man instead. It may be that thou shalt find the study useful.’ ‘As my Master commands,’ I said regretfully. I had almost found the secret of mountains, and I was not much enthused about allowing it to escape me. But that was the end of my leisure. I instructed the stranger as my Master had bade me. I set him impossible tasks and waited. To my mortification, within six months he learned the secret of the Will and the Word. My Master named him Belzedar and accepted him as a pupil. And then came the others. Kira and Tira were twin shepherd boys who had become lost and wandered to us one day – and stayed. Makor came from so far away that I could not conceive how he had even heard of my Master, and Din from so near that I wondered that his whole tribe did not come with him. Sambar simply appeared one day and sat down upon the earth in front of the tower and waited until we accepted him. And to me it fell to instruct each of them until he found the secret of the Will and the Word – which is not a secret, after all, but lies within every man. And in time each of them became my Master’s pupil, and he named them even as he had named me. Zedar became Belzedar, Kira and Tira became Beltira and Belkira. Makor and Din and Sambar became Belmakor and Beldin and Belsambar. To each of our names our Master joined the symbol of the Will and the Word, and we became his Disciples. (#litres_trial_promo) And we built other towers so that our labors and our studies should not interfere with our Master’s work or each other’s. At first I was jealous that my Master spent time with these others, but, since time was meaningless to us anyway and I knew that my Master’s love was infinite, so that his love for the others in no way diminished his love for me, I soon outgrew that particular childishness. And also, I grew to love the others as the bonds of our brotherhood grew. I could sense their minds as they worked, and I shared their joy at each new discovery they made. Because I was the first Disciple, they often came to me as to an older brother with those things they were embarrassed to lay before our Master, and I guided them as best I could. Thus passed a period of perhaps a thousand years, and we were content. The world beyond our Vale changed and the people also, and no more pupils came to us. It was a question I always intended to pursue but never found the time to examine. Perhaps the other Gods grew jealous and forbade their people to seek us out, or perhaps it was that in their long passage through the endless generations, men somehow lost that tiny spark that is the source of the power of Will and Word and is the lodestone that draws their spirits inevitably to the spirit of Aldur. So it was that we were seven only and were unlike any other men on earth. And through all this time of study and learning, our Master, Aldur, labored in infinite patience with that grey stone he had shown me on the night he had accepted me as his Disciple. Once I marveled to him that he should devote so much time to it, and he laughed. ‘Truly, my son,’ he said, ‘I labored once at least so long to create a flower which is now so common that none take note of it. It blooms beside every dusty path, and men pass it by without even looking at it. But I know it is there, and I joy in its perfection.’ As I look back, I think I would give my life, which has stretched over so many years, if my Master had never conceived the idea of that grey stone which has brought so much woe into this world. The stone, which he called a jewel, was grey (as I have said) and quite round and perhaps the size of a man’s heart. My Master found it, I believe, in the bed of a stream. To me it appeared to be a very ordinary stone, but things are concealed from me that Aldur in his wisdom perceived quite easily. It may be that there was something in the stone which he alone could see, or it may be that this ordinary grey stone became what it became because of his efforts and his will and his spirit with which he infused it. Whatever it may have been, I wish with all my heart that he had never seen it, never stooped and touched it, never picked it up. At any rate, one day, a very long time ago, it was finished, and our Master called us together so that he might show it to us. ‘Behold this Orb,’ he told us. ‘In it lies the fate of the world.’ And the grey stone, so ordinary a thing, but which had been polished by the touch of our Master’s hand for a thousand years and more, began to glow as if a tiny blue fire flickered deep within it. And Belzedar, always quick, asked, ‘How, Great Master, can so small a thing be so important?’ And our Master smiled, and the Orb grew brighter. Flickering dimly within it I seemed to see images. ‘The past lies herein,’ our Master said, ‘and the present and the future also. This is but a small part of the virtue of this thing which I have made. With it may man – or the earth itself – be healed – or destroyed. Whatsoever one would do, even if it be beyond the power of the Will and the Word, with this may it come to pass.’ ‘Truly a wondrous thing, Master,’ Belzedar said, and it seemed to me that his eyes glittered as he spoke, and his fingers seemed to twitch. ‘But, Master,’ I said, ‘thou hast said that the fate of the world lies within this Orb of thine. How may that be?’ ‘It hath revealed the future unto me, my son,’ my Master said sadly. ‘The stone shall be the cause of much contention and great suffering and great destruction. Its power reaches from where it now sits to blow out the lives of men yet unborn as easily as thou wouldst snuff a candle.’ ‘It is an evil thing then, Master,’ I said, and Belsambar and Belmakor agreed. ‘Destroy it, Master,’ Belsambar pleaded, ‘before it can bring this evil to the world.’ ‘That may not be,’ our Master said. ‘Blessed is the wisdom of Aldur,’ Belzedar said. ‘With us to aid him, our Master may wield this wondrous jewel for good and not ill. Monstrous would it be to destroy so precious a thing.’ (#litres_trial_promo) ‘Destroy it, Master,’ Belkira and Beltira said as in one voice, their minds as always linked into the same thought. ‘We beseech thee, unmake this evil thing which thou hast made.’ ‘That may not be,’ our Master said again. ‘The unmaking of things is forbidden. Even I may not unmake that which I have made.’ ‘Who shall forbid anything to the God Aldur?’ Belmakor asked. ‘It is beyond thine understanding, my son,’ our Master said. ‘To thee and to other men it may seem that my brothers and I are limitless, but it is not so. And, I tell thee, my sons, I would not unmake the jewel even if it were permitted. Look about thee at the world in its childhood and at man in his infancy. All living things must grow or they will die. Through this Orb shall the world be changed and shall man achieve that state for which he was made. This jewel which I have made is not of itself evil. Evil is a thing which lies only in the minds and hearts of men – and of Gods also.’ And then my Master fell silent, and he sighed, and we went from him and left him in his sadness. In the years which followed, we saw little of our Master. Alone in his tower he communed with the spirit of the jewel which he had made. We were saddened by his absence, and our work had little joy in it. And then one day a stranger came into the Vale. He was beautiful as no being I have ever seen was or could be, and he walked as if his foot spurned the earth. As was customary, we went to greet him. ‘I would speak with my brother, thy Master,’ he told us, and we knew we were in the presence of a God. As the eldest, I stepped forward. ‘I shall tell my Master you have come,’ I said. I was not all that familiar with Gods, since Aldur was the only one I had ever met, but something about this over-pretty stranger did not sit quite well with me. ‘That is not needful, Belgarath,’ he told me in a tone that sat even less well than his manner. ‘My brother knows I am here. Convey me to his tower.’ I turned and led the way without trusting myself to answer. At the foot of the tower the stranger looked me full in the face. ‘A bit of advice for thee, Belgarath, by way of thanks for thy service to me. Seek not to rise above thyself. It is not thy place to approve or disapprove of me. For thy sake when next we meet I hope thou wilt remember this and behave in a manner more seemly.’ His eyes seemed to bore directly into me, and his voice chilled me. But, because I was still who I was and even the two thousand years I had lived in the Vale had not entirely put the wild, rebellious boy in me to sleep, I answered him somewhat tartly. ‘Thank you for the advice,’ I said. ‘Will you require anything else?’ He was a God, after all, and didn’t need me to tell him how to open the tower door. I waited watching closely for some hint of confusion. ‘Thou art pert, Belgarath,’ he told me. ‘Perhaps one day I shall give myself leisure to instruct thee in proper behavior.’ ‘I’m always eager to learn,’ I told him. He turned and gestured negligently. The great stone in the wall of the tower opened, and he went inside. We never knew exactly what passed between our Master and the strange, beautiful God who met with him. They spoke together for long hours, and then a summer storm broke above our heads, and we were forced to take shelter. We missed, therefore, the departure of the strange God. When the storm had cleared, our Master called us to him, and we went up into his tower. He sat at the table where he had labored so long over the Orb. There was a great sadness in his face, and my heart wept to see it. There was also a reddened mark upon his cheek which I did not understand. But Belzedar, ever quick, saw at once what I did not see. ‘Master,’ he said, and his voice had the sound of panic in it, ‘where is the jewel? Where is the Orb of power which thou hast made?’ ‘Torak, my brother, hath taken it away with him,’ my Master said, and his voice had almost the sound of weeping in it. ‘Quickly,’ Belzedar said, ‘we must pursue him and reclaim it before he escapes us. We are many, and he is but one.’ ‘He is a God, my son,’ Aldur said. ‘Thy numbers would mean nothing to him.’ ‘But, Master,’ Belzedar said most desperately, ‘we must reclaim the Orb. It must be returned to us.’ ‘How did he obtain it from thee, Master?’ the gentle Beltira asked. ‘Torak conceived a desire for the thing,’ Aldur said, ‘and he besought me that I should give it to him. When I would not, he smote me and took the Orb and ran.’ A rage seized me at that. Though the jewel was wondrous, it was still only a stone. The fact that someone had struck my Master brought flames into my brain. I cast off my robe, bent my will into the air before me and forged a sword with a single word. I seized the sword and leapt to the window. ‘No!’ my Master said, and the word stopped me as though a wall had been placed before me. ‘Open!’ I commanded, slashing at the wall with the sword I had just made. ‘No!’ my Master said, and it would not let me through. ‘He hath struck thee, Master,’ I raged. ‘For that I will slay him though he be ten times a God.’ ‘No,’ my Master said again. ‘Torak would crush thee as easily as thou would (#litres_trial_promo) crush a fly which annoyed thee. I love thee much, my eldest son, and I would not lose thee so.’ ‘There must be war, Master,’ Belmakor said. ‘The blow and the theft must not go unpunished. We will forge weapons, and Belgarath shall lead us, and we shall make war upon this thief who calls himself a God.’ ‘My son,’ our Master said to him, ‘there will be war enough to glut thee of it before thy life ends. The Orb is as nothing. Gladly would I have given it unto my brother, Torak, were it not that the Orb itself had told me that one day it would destroy him. I would have spared him had I been able, but his lust for the thing was too great, and he would not listen.’ He sighed and then straightened. ‘There will be war,’ he said. ‘My brother, Torak, hath the Orb in his possession. It is of great power, and in his hands can do great mischief. We must reclaim it or alter it before Torak learns its full power.’ ‘Alter?’ Belzedar said, aghast. ‘Surely, Master, surely thou wouldst not destroy this precious thing?’ ‘No,’ Aldur said. ‘It may not be destroyed but will abide even unto the end of days; but if Torak can be pressed into haste, he will attempt to use it in a way that it will not be used. Such is its power.’ Belzedar stared at him. ‘The world is inconstant, my son,’ our Master explained, ‘but good and evil are immutable and unchanging. The Orb is an object of good, and is not merely a bauble or a toy. It hath understanding – not such as thine – but understanding nonetheless – and it hath a will. Beware of it, for the will of the Orb is the will of a stone. It is, as I say, a thing of good. If it be raised to do evil, it will strike down whomever would so use it – be he man or be he God. Thus we must make haste. Go thou, my Disciples, unto my other brothers and tell them that I bid them come to me. I am the eldest, and they will come out of respect, if not love.’ And so we went down from our Master’s tower and divided ourselves and went out of the Vale to seek out his brothers, the other Gods. Because the twins Beltira and Belkira could not be separated without perishing, they remained behind with our Master, but each of the rest of us went forth in search of one of the Gods. Since haste was important, and I had perhaps the farthest to go in my search for the God, Belar, I travelled for a time in the form of an eagle. But my arms soon grew weary with flying, and heights have ever made me giddy. I also found my eyes frequently distracted by tiny movements on the ground, and I had fierce urges to swoop down and kill things. I came to earth, resumed my own form and sat for a time to regain my breath and consider. I had not assumed other forms frequently. It was a simple trick without much advantage to it. I now discovered a major drawback involved in it. The longer I remained in the assumed form, the more the character of the form became interwoven with my own. The eagle, for all his splendor, is really a stupid bird, and I had no desire to be distracted from my mission by every mouse or rabbit on the ground beneath me. I considered the horse. A horse can run very fast, but he soon grows tired and he is not very intelligent. An antelope can run for days without growing weary, but an antelope is a silly creature, and too many things upon the plain looked upon the antelope as food. I had not the time it would take to stop and persuade each of those things to seek food elsewhere. And then it occurred to me that of all the creatures of the plain and forest, the wolf was the most intelligent, the swiftest, and the most tireless. It was a decision well-made. As soon as I became accustomed to going on all fours, I found the shape of the wolf most satisfactory and the mind of the wolf most compatible with my own. I quickly discovered that it is a fine thing to have a tail. It provides an excellent means of maintaining one’s balance, and one may curl it about himself at night to ward off the chill. I grew very proud of my tail on my journey in search of Belar and his people. I was stopped briefly by a young she-wolf who was feeling frolicsome. She had, as I recall, fine haunches and a comely muzzle. ‘Why so great a hurry, friend?’ she said to me coyly in the way of wolves. Even in my haste I was amazed to discover that I could understand her quite easily. I stopped. ‘What a splendid tail you have,’ she complimented me, quickly following her advantage, ‘and what excellent teeth.’ ‘Thank you,’ I replied modestly. ‘Your own tail is also quite fine, and your coat is truly magnificent.’ ‘Do you really think so?’ she said, preening herself. Then she nipped playfully at my flank and dashed off a few yards, trying to get me to chase her. ‘I would gladly stay a while so that we might get to know each other better,’ I told her, ‘but I have a most important errand.’ ‘An errand?’ she laughed. ‘Who ever heard of a wolf with any errand but his own desires?’ ‘I’m not really a wolf,’ I told her. ‘Really?’ she said. ‘How remarkable. You look like a wolf and you talk like a wolf and you certainly smell like a wolf, but you say you are not really a wolf. What are you, then?’ ‘I’m a man,’ I said. She sat, a look of amazement on her face. She had to accept what I said as the truth since wolves are incapable of lying. ‘You have a tail,’ she said. ‘I’ve never seen a man with a tail before. You have a fine coat. You have four feet. You have long, pointed teeth, sharp ears and a black nose, and yet you tell me you are a man.’ ‘It’s very complicated,’ I told her. ‘It must be,’ she said. ‘I think I will run with you for a while since you must attend to this errand. Perhaps we can discuss it as we go along and you can explain this complicated thing to me.’ ‘If you wish,’ I said, since I rather liked her and was glad by then for any company, ‘but I must warn you that I run very fast.’ ‘All wolves run very fast,’ she sniffed. And so, side by side, we ran off over the endless grassy plains in search of the God Belar. ‘Do you intend to run both day and night?’ she asked me after we had gone several miles. ‘I will rest when it is needful,’ I told her. ‘I’m glad of that,’ she said. Then she laughed, nipped at my shoulder and scampered off some distance. I began to consider the morality of my situation. Though my companion looked quite delightful to me in my present form, I was almost positive she would be less so once I resumed my proper shape. Further, while it is undoubtedly a fine thing to be a father, I was almost certain that a litter of puppies would prove an embarrassment when I returned to my Master. Not only that, the puppies would not be entirely wolves, and I had no desire to father a race of monsters. But finally, since wolves mate for life, when I left her – as I would of necessity be compelled to do – my sweet companion would be abandoned, betrayed, left alone with a litter of fatherless puppies, subject to the scorn and ridicule of the other members of her pack. Propriety is a most important thing among wolves. Thus I resolved to resist her advances on our journey in search of Belar. I would not have devoted so much time here to this incident were it not to help explain how insidiously the personality of the shapes we assume begin to take us over. Let any who would practice this art be cautious. To remain in a shape too long is to invite the very real possibility that when the time comes to resume our proper form, we will not desire to do so. I must quite candidly admit that by the time my companion and I reached the land of the Bear-God, I had begun to give long thoughts to the pleasures of the den and the hunt and the sweet nuzzlings of puppies and the true and steadfast companionship of a mate. At length, we found a band of hunters near the edge of the forest where Belar, the Bear-God, dwelt with his people. To the amazement of my companion, I resumed my own shape and approached them. ‘I have a message for Belar, thy God,’ I told them. ‘How may we know this to be true?’ they asked me. ‘Ye may know it to be true because I say it is true,’ I told them. ‘The message is important, and there is little time to delay.’ Then one of them saw my companion and cast his spear at her. I had no time to make what I did appear normal nor to conceal it from them. I stopped the spear in mid-flight. They stood gaping at the spear stuck in the air as if in a tree. Irritated, I flexed my mind and broke the spear in two. ‘Sorcery!’ one of them gasped. ‘The wolf is with me,’ I told them sternly. ‘Do not attempt to injure her again.’ I beckoned to her and she came to my side, baring her fangs at them. ‘And now convey me unto Belar,’ I ordered them. The God Belar appeared very young – scarcely more than a boy, though I knew he was much, much older than I. He was a fair-seeming, open-faced God, and the people who served him were a rowdy, undisciplined group, scarcely conscious of the dignity of their Master. ‘Well-met, Belgarath,’ he greeted me, though we had never met and I had told my name to no one. ‘How does it go with my brother?’ ‘Not well, my Lord,’ I told him. ‘Thy brother, Torak, hath come unto my Master and smote him and hath borne away a particular jewel which he coveted.’ ‘What?’ the young God roared, springing to his feet. ‘Torak hath the Orb?’ ‘I greatly fear it is so, my Lord,’ I told him. ‘My Master bids me entreat thee to come to him with all possible speed.’ ‘I will, Belgarath,’ Belar said. ‘I will make preparations at once. Hath Torak used the Orb as yet?’ ‘We think not, my Lord,’ I said. ‘My Master says we must make haste, before thy brother, Torak, hath learned the full power of the jewel he hath stolen.’ ‘Truly,’ the young God said. He glanced at the young she-wolf sitting at my feet. ‘Greetings, little sister,’ he said courteously, ‘is it well with thee?’ ‘Most remarkable,’ she said politely. ‘It appears that I have fallen in with creatures of great importance.’ ‘Thy friend and I must make haste,’ he told her. ‘Otherwise I should make suitable arrangements for thy comfort. May I offer thee to eat?’ She glanced at the ox turning on the spit in his great hall. ‘That smells interesting,’ she said. ‘Of course,’ he said, taking up a knife and carving off a generous portion for her. ‘My thanks,’ she said. ‘This one –’ she jerked her head at me ‘- was in so much hurry to reach this place that we scarce had time for a rabbit or two along the way.’ Daintily she gulped the meat down in two great bites. ‘Quite good,’ she said, ‘though one wonders why it was necessary to burn it.’ ‘A custom, little sister,’ he laughed. ‘Oh, well,’ she said, ‘if it’s a custom.’ Carefully she licked her whiskers clean. ‘I will return in a moment, Belgarath,’ Belar said and moved away. ‘That one is nice,’ my companion told me pointedly. ‘He is a God,’ I told her. ‘That means nothing to me,’ she said. ‘Gods are the business of men. Wolves have little interest in such things.’ ‘Perhaps you would care to return to the place where we met?’ I suggested. ‘I will go along with you for a while longer,’ she told me. ‘I was ever curious, and I see that you are familiar with most remarkable things.’ She yawned, stretched, and curled up at my feet. The return to the Vale where my Master waited took far less time than had my journey to the country of the Bear-God. Though time is a matter of indifference to them normally, when there is a need for haste, the Gods can devour distance in ways that had not even occurred to me. We began walking with Belar asking me questions about my Master and our lives in the Vale and the young she-wolf padding along sedately between us. After several hours of this, my impatience finally made me bold. ‘My Lord,’ I said, ‘forgive me, but at this rate it will take us almost a year to reach my Master’s tower.’ ‘Not nearly so long, Belgarath,’ he replied pleasantly. ‘I believe it lies just beyond that next hilltop.’ I stared at him, not believing that a God could be so simple, but when we crested the hill, there lay the Vale spread before us with my Master’s tower standing in the center. ‘Most remarkable,’ the wolf murmured, dropping onto her haunches and staring down into the Vale with her bright yellow eyes. I could only agree with her. The other Gods were already with my Master in the tower, and Belar hastened to join them. My brothers, the other Disciples of Aldur, awaited me at the foot of the tower. When they saw my companion, they were startled. ‘Is it wise, Belgarath, to bring such a one here?’ Belzedar asked me. ‘Wolves are not the most trustworthy creatures.’ My companion bared her fangs at him for that. ‘What is her name,’ the gentle Beltira asked. ‘Wolves do not require names,’ I told him. ‘They know who they are without such appendages.’ Belzedar shook his head and moved away from the wolf. ‘Is she quite tame?’ Belsambar asked me. ‘I wonder that you had time for such business on your journey, and I know you would not loiter.’ ‘She is not tame at all,’ I told him. ‘We met by chance, and she chose to accompany me.’ ‘Most remarkable,’ the wolf said to me. ‘Are they always so full of questions?’ ‘It is the nature of man,’ I told her. ‘Curious creatures,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘What a wonder,’ Belkira marveled. ‘You have learned to converse with the beasts. Pray, dear brother, instruct me in this art.’ ‘It is not an art,’ I said. ‘I took the form of a wolf on my journey. The speech of the wolf came with the form and remained. It is no great thing.’ And then we sat, awaiting the decision of our Master and his brother Gods regarding the wayward Torak. When they came down, their faces were solemn, and the other Gods departed without speaking with us. ‘There will be war,’ our Master told us. ‘My brothers have gone to gather their people. Mara and Issa will come upon Torak from the south; Nedra and Chaldan shall come upon him from the west; Belar and I will come upon him from the north. We will lay waste his people, the Angaraks, until he returns the Orb. It must be so.’ ‘Then so be it,’ I said, speaking for us all. And so we prepared for war. We were but seven, and feared that our Master might be held in low regard when our tiny number was revealed to the hosts of the other Gods, but it was not so. We labored to create the great engines of war and to cast illusions which confounded the minds of the Angarak peoples of the traitor, Torak. And after a few battles did we and the hosts of the other peoples harry Torak and his people out onto that vast plain beyond Korim, which is no more. (#litres_trial_promo) And then it was that Torak, knowing that the hosts of his brother Gods could destroy all of Angarak, raised up the jewel which my Master had wrought, and with it he let in the sea. The sound was one such as I had never heard before. The earth shrieked and groaned as the power of the Orb and the will of Torak cracked open the fair plain; and, with a roar like ten thousand thunders, the sea came in to seethe in a broad, foaming band between us and the Angaraks. How many perished in that sudden drowning no one will ever know. The cracked land sank beneath our feet, and the mocking sea pursued us, swallowing the plain and the villages and the cities which lay upon it. Then it was that the village of my birth was lost forever, and that fair, sparkling river drowned beneath the endlessly rolling sea. A great cry went up from the hosts of the other Gods, for indeed the lands of most of them were swallowed up by the sea which Torak had let in. ‘How remarkable,’ the young wolf at my side observed. ‘You say that overmuch,’ I told her, somewhat sharply. ‘Do you not find it so?’ ‘I do,’ I said, ‘but one should not say it so often lest one be thought simple.’ ‘I will say as I wish to say,’ she told me. ‘You need not listen if it does not please you; and if you think me simple, that is your concern.’ Who can argue with a wolf? – and a she-wolf at that? And now were we confounded. The broad sea stood between us and the Angaraks, and Torak stood upon one shore and we upon the other. ‘And what now, Master?’ I asked Aldur. ‘It is finished,’ he said. ‘The war is done.’ ‘Never!’ said the young God Belar. ‘My people are Alorns. The ways of the sea are not strange to them. If it be not possible to come upon the traitor Torak by land, then my Alorns shall build a great fleet, and we shall come upon him by sea. The war is not done. He hath smote thee, my dear brother, and he hath stolen that which was thine, and now hath he drowned this fair land in the death-cold sea also. Our homes and our fields and forests are no more. This I say, and my words are true, between Alorn and Angarak shall there be endless war until the traitor Torak be punished for his iniquities – yea, even if it prevail so until the end of days.’ ‘Torak is punished,’ my Master said quietly. ‘He hath raised the Orb against the earth, and the Orb hath requited him for that. The pain of that requiting shall endure in our brother Torak all the days of his life. Moreover, now is the Orb awakened. It hath been used to commit a great evil, and it will not be used so again. Torak hath the Orb, but small pleasure will he find in the having. He may not touch it, neither may he look upon it, lest it slay him.’ ‘Nonetheless,’ said Belar, ‘I will make war upon him until the Orb be returned to thee. To this I pledge all of Aloria.’ ‘As you would have it, my brother,’ said Aldur. ‘Now, however, must we raise some barrier against this encroaching sea lest it swallow up all the dry land that is left to us. Join, therefore, thy will with mine and let us do that which must be done.’ Until that day I had not fully realized to what degree the Gods differed from men. As I watched, Aldur and Belar joined their hands and looked out over the broad plain and the approaching sea. ‘Stay,’ Belar said to the sea. His voice was not loud, but the sea heard him and stopped. It built up, angry and tossing, behind the barrier of that single word. ‘Rise up,’ Aldur said as softly to the earth. My mind reeled as I perceived the immensity of that command. The earth, so newly wounded by the evil which Torak had done, groaned and heaved and swelled; and, before my eyes, it rose up. Higher and higher it rose as the rocks beneath cracked and shattered. Out of the plain there shouldered up mountains which had not been there before, and they shuddered away the loose earth as a dog shakes off water and stood as a stern and eternal barrier against the sea which Torak had let in. Sullenly, the sea retreated. ‘How remarkable,’ the wolf said. ‘Truly,’ I could not but agree. And the other Gods and their people came and beheld that which my Master and his brother Belar had done, and they marveled at it. ‘Now is the time of sundering,’ my Master said. ‘The land which was once so fair is no more. That which remains here is harsh and will not support us. Take thou therefore, my brothers, each his own people and journey even unto the west. Beyond the western mountains lies a fair plain – not so broad perhaps nor so beautiful as that which Torak hath drowned this day – but it will sustain thee and thy people.’ ‘And what of thou, my brother?’ asked Mara. ‘I shall return to my labors,’ said Aldur. ‘This day hath evil been unleashed in the world, and its power is great. Care for thy people, my brothers, and sustain them. The evil hath come into the world as a result of that which I have forged. Upon me, therefore, falls the task of preparation for the day when good and evil shall meet in that final battle wherein shall be decided the fate of the world.’ ‘So be it, then,’ said Mara. ‘Hail and farewell, my brother,’ and he turned and the other Gods with him, and they went away toward the west. But the young God Belar lingered. ‘My oath and my pledge bind me still,’ he told my Master. ‘I will take my Alorns to the north, and there we will seek a way by which we may come again upon the traitor Torak and his foul Angarak peoples. Thine Orb shall be returned unto thee. I shall not rest until it be so.’ And then he turned and put his face to the north, and his tall warriors followed after him. That day marked a great change in our lives in the Vale. Until then our days had been spent in learning and in labors of our own choosing. Now, however, our Master set tasks for us. Most of them were beyond our understanding, and no work is so tedious as to labor at something without knowing the reason for it. Our Master shut himself away in his tower, and often years passed without our seeing him. It was a time of great trial to us, and our spirits often sank. One day, as I labored, the she-wolf, who always watched, moved slightly or made some sound, and I stopped and looked at her. I could not remember how long it had been since I had noticed her. ‘It must be tedious for you to simply sit and watch this way,’ I said. ‘It’s not unpleasant,’ she said. ‘Now and then you do something curious or remarkable. There is entertainment enough for me here. I will go along with you yet for a while longer.’ I smiled, and then a strange thing occurred to me. ‘How long has it been since you and I first met?’ I asked her. ‘What is time to a wolf?’ she asked indifferently. I consulted several documents and made a few calculations. ‘As closely as I can determine, you have been with me somewhat in excess of a thousand years,’ I told her. ‘And?’ she said in that infuriating manner of hers. ‘Don’t you find that a trifle remarkable?’ ‘Not particularly,’ she said placidly. ‘Do wolves normally live so long?’ ‘Wolves live as long as they choose to live,’ she said, somewhat smugly, I thought. One day soon after that I found it necessary to change my form in order to complete a task my Master had set me to. ‘So that’s how you do it,’ the wolf marveled. ‘What a simple thing.’ And she promptly turned herself into a snowy owl. ‘Stop that,’ I told her. ‘Why?’ she said, carefully preening her feathers with her beak. ‘It’s not seemly.’ ‘What is “seemly” to a wolf – or an owl, I should say?’ And with that she spread her soft, silent wings and soared out the window. After that I knew little peace. I never knew when I turned around what might be staring at me – wolf or owl, bear or butterfly. She seemed to take great delight in startling me, but as time wore on, more and more she retained the shape of the owl. ‘What is this thing about owls?’ I growled one day. ‘I like owls,’ she explained as if it were the simplest thing in the world. ‘During my first winter when I was a young and foolish thing, I was chasing a rabbit, floundering around in the snow like a puppy, and a great white owl swooped down and snatched my rabbit almost out of my jaws. She carried it to a nearby tree and ate it, dropping the scraps to me. I thought at the time that it would be a fine thing to be an owl.’ ‘Foolishness,’ I snorted. ‘Perhaps,’ she replied blandly, preening her tail feathers, ‘but it amuses me. It may be that one day a different shape will amuse me even more.’ I grunted and returned to my work. Some time later – days or years or perhaps even longer – she came swooping through the window, as was her custom, perched sedately on a chair and resumed her proper wolf-shape. ‘I think I will go away for a while,’ she announced. ‘Oh?’ I said cautiously. She stared at me, her golden eyes unblinking. ‘I think I would like to look at the world again,’ she said. ‘I see,’ I said. ‘The world has changed much, I think.’ ‘It’s possible.’ ‘I might come back some day.’ ‘As you wish,’ I said. ‘Goodbye, then,’ she said, blurred into the form of an owl again, and with a single thrust of her great wings she was gone. Strangely, I missed her. I found myself turning often to show her something. She had been a part of my life for so long that it somehow seemed that she would always be there. I was always a bit saddened not to see her in her usual place. And then there came a time when, on an errand for my Master, I went some leagues to the north. On my way back I came across a small, neatly thatched cottage in a grove of giant trees near a small river. I had passed that way frequently, and the house had never been there before. Moreover, to my own certain knowledge, there was not another human habitation within five hundred leagues. In the house there lived a woman. She seemed young, and yet perhaps not young. Her hair was quite tawny, and her eyes were a curious golden color. She stood in the doorway as I approached – almost as if she had been expecting me. She greeted me in a seemly manner and invited me to come in and sup with her. I accepted gratefully, for no sooner did she mention food than I found myself ravenously hungry. The inside of her cottage was neat and cheery. A fire burned merrily upon her hearth, and a large kettle bubbled and hiccuped over it. From that kettle came wondrous smells. The woman seated me at the table, fetched me a stout earthenware plate and then set before me a meal such as I had not seen in hundreds of years. It consisted, as I recall, of every kind of food which I liked most. When I had eaten – more than I should have probably, since as all who know me can attest, good food was ever a weakness of mine – we talked, the woman and I, and I found her to have most uncommon good sense. Though my errand was urgent, I found myself lingering, thinking of excuses not to go. Indeed, I felt quite as giddy as some adolescent in her presence. Her name, she told me, was Poledra. ‘And by what name are you known?’ she asked. ‘I am called Belgarath,’ I told her, ‘and I am a Disciple of the God Aldur.’ ‘How remarkable,’ she said, and then she laughed. There was something hauntingly familiar in that laugh. I never learned the truth about Poledra, though of course I had suspicions. When the urgency of my errand compelled me to leave that fair grove and the small, neat cottage, Poledra said a most peculiar thing. ‘I will go along with you,’ she told me. ‘I was ever curious.’ And she closed the door of her house and returned with me to the Vale. Strangely, my Master awaited us, and he greeted Poledra courteously. I can never be sure, but it seemed that some secret glance passed between them as if they knew each other and shared some knowledge that I was unaware of. I had, as I say, some suspicions, but as time went on they became less and less important. After a while, I didn’t even think about them any more. That following spring Poledra and I married. My Master himself, burdened though he was with care and the great task of preparing for the day of the final struggle between good and evil, blessed our union. There was joy in our marriage, and I never thought about those things which I had prudently decided not to think about; but that, of course, is another story. (#litres_trial_promo) I THE HOLY BOOKS (#ulink_a24e87f8-f095-503e-9f84-1da1ec266518) THE BOOK OF ALORN (#ulink_85a013c2-cc53-56de-ab49-8f816874869c) (#litres_trial_promo) Of the Beginnings NOTE The myths of the Alorns describe a time when men and Gods lived together in harmony. This was the time before the world was cracked and the eastern sea rushed in to cover the land where they dwelt, a country which lay to the east of what is now Cthol Murgos and Mishrak ac Thull. The cracking of the world is known in Alorn mythology as ‘the sundering’ or ‘the dividing of the peoples’, and their count of time begins then. At the beginning of days made the Gods the world and the seas and the dry land also. And cast they the stars across the night sky and did set the sun and his wife, the moon, in the heavens to give light unto the world. And the Gods caused the earth to bring forth the beasts, and the waters to bud with fish, and the skies to flower with birds. And they made men also, and divided men into Peoples. Now the Gods were seven in number and were all equal, and their names were Belar, and Chaldan, and Nedra, and Issa, and Mara, and Aldur, and Torak. Now Belar was the God of the Alorns, and dwelt with them and loved them, and his totem is the bear. And Chaldan was the God of the Arends, and he dwelt with them and was judge over them, and his totem is the bull. And Nedra was God over the people who called themselves after his name, the Tolnedrans, and he cherished them and accepted their worship, and his totem is the lion. And Issa was God over the snake people, and he accepted their dull-eyed worship, and his totem is the serpent. And Mara was God over the Marags, which are no more, and his totem was the bat, but his temples are cast down and vacant, and the spirit of Mara weeps alone in the wilderness. But Aldur was God over no people, and dwelt alone and considered the stars in his solitude. But some few of the people of the other Gods heard of his wisdom and journeyed unto him and besought him to allow them to stay with him and be his pupils. And he relented and allowed it to them, and they became his people and joined in brotherhood to learn at his feet, and his totem is the owl. And Torak is God over the Angaraks, and sweet to him was their adulation and their worship and the smell of the burning of their sacrifices. And the Angaraks bowed down before Torak and called him Lord of Lords and God of Gods, and in the secret places of his heart Torak found the words sweet. And behold, he held himself apart from the fellowship of the Gods and dwelt alone in the worship of the Angaraks. And his totem is the dragon. And Aldur caused to be made a jewel in the shape of a globe, and behold, it was very like unto the size of the heart of a man, and in the jewel was captured the light of certain stars that did glitter in the northern sky. And great was the enchantment upon the jewel which men called the Orb of Aldur for with the Orb could Aldur see that which had been, that which was, and that which was yet to be – yea, verily, even that which was concealed even though it were in the deepest bowels of earth or in darkness most impenetrable. Moreover, in the hand of Aldur could the jewel cause wonders no man or God had yet beheld. And Torak coveted the Orb of Aldur for its beauty and its power, and in the deep-most crevasses of his soul resolved he to own it even if it came to pass that he must slay Aldur that it might be so. And in a dissembling guise went he even unto Aldur and spake unto him. ‘My brother,’ said he, ‘it is not fit that thou absent thyself from the company and the counsel of thy brothers. I beseech thee that thou takest unto thyself a people and return to our company.’ And Aldur looked upon Torak his brother and rebuked him, saying, ‘It is not I who have turned from the fellowship and sought lordship and dominion.’ And Torak was shamed by the words of Aldur, his brother, and was made sore wroth, and rose he up against his brother and smote him and reached forth his hand and took from his brother the jewel which he coveted, and then he fled. And Aldur went unto the other Gods and spoke with them of what had come to pass, and the Gods rose up, and each of them besought Torak that he return the Orb to Aldur, but he in no wise would do it. And thus it came to pass that the Gods caused each his own people to gird themselves for war. And behold, Torak did raise the Orb of Aldur and did cause the earth to split asunder, and the mountains were cast down, and the sea came in and did engulf the lands of the east where the people of the Gods dwelt. And the Gods took their people and fled from the great inrushing of the sea, but Aldur and Belar joined their hands and their wills and did cause mountains to rise up to set limits upon the sea which had come in. And the Gods were parted one from the other, and the people also. And men began to reckon time from the day in which Torak caused the seas to come in. Now it came to pass that the six Gods went even unto the west with their people, but Torak took the Angaraks unto the east, and the sea that had rushed in separated the Angaraks from the other peoples. Not without hurt, however, did Torak crack the earth, for such was the virtue of the Orb that in the day when Torak raised it against the earth and against the mountains did the Orb begin to glow. Faint at first, the fire of the Orb waxed stronger with each of the commands of Torak. And the blue fire of those distant stars seared the flesh of Torak. In pain did he cast down the mountains. In anguish did he crack the earth asunder. In agony did he let in the seas. And thus did the Orb of Aldur requite Torak for putting its virtue to evil purpose – Behold, the left hand of Torak was consumed utterly by the fire of the Orb, and like dry twigs did the fingers thereof flare and burn down to ashes. And the flesh on the left side of Torak’s face did melt like wax in the holy fire of the Orb, and the eye of that side did boil in its socket. (#litres_trial_promo) And Torak cried out a great cry and cast himself into the sea to still the burning which the Orb had caused, but it availed him not. Truly it is written that the pain of Torak which the Orb had caused in punishment will endure until the end of days. And the Angaraks were dismayed by the anguish of their God, and they went unto him and asked what they might do to end his pain. And Torak spake, calling the name of the Orb. And they sought to bring the Orb unto him, but the fire which had awakened in the Orb consumed all who touched it, and they devised a great iron cask to bear it in. And behold, when Torak opened the cask, the Orb burned with renewed fire, and Torak cried a great cry and cast it away from him. And the Angaraks spake unto him, saying, ‘Lord, wouldst thou have us destroy this thing or cast it even into the sea?’ And Torak cried a great cry again and spake, saying, ‘No! Truly will I destroy utterly him who would raise his hand against the jewel. Though I may not touch it nor even behold it, I have dearly purchased it, and never will I relinquish it.’ And behold, Torak, who had once been the most beautiful of the Gods, arose from the waters. Fair still was his right side, but his left was burned and scarred by the fire of the Orb which had requited him thus for raising it against the earth and the other Gods with evil intent. And Torak led his people away to the east and caused them to build a great city, and they called its name Cthol Mishrak, which is the City of Night, for Torak was ashamed that men saw him marred by the fire of the Orb, and the light of the sun caused him pain. And the Angaraks built for him a great iron tower that he might dwell therein and that their prayers and the smells of incense and the smoke of burning sacrifice might rise up unto him and ease his pain. And he caused the Iron Cask which contained the Orb to be placed in the top-most chamber thereof, and often went he and stood before the Iron Cask and stretched forth his remaining hand as he would touch the Orb. And his remaining eye yearned to behold its beauty, and then would he turn and flee weeping from the chamber lest his yearning become too great and he open the Iron Cask and perish. And so it prevailed in the lands of the Angaraks which men called Mallorea for a thousand years and yet another thousand years. And the Angaraks began to call the maimed God KAL-TORAK – a name signifying at once King and God. Of the six Gods who had with their people gone unto the west thus was their disposition. To the south and west to jungles dank and rivers sluggish went Issa, the serpent God and the snake people. And Nedra went even unto the fertile land to the north of jungle, and Chaldan took his people, the Arends, unto the northwest coast, and Mara sought the mountains above the Tolnedran plain. But Aldur, in the pain of the loss of the Orb and the shame over what the jewel that he had made had wrought upon the world retreated even unto the Vale which lay at the headwaters of the river bearing his name, and shut himself away from the sight of men and of Gods – and none came nigh him but Belgarath, his first Disciple. Now it came to pass that Belar, the youngest of the Gods and most dear to Aldur, took his people unto the north and sought they for a thousand years and yet another thousand years a way by which they might come upon the Angaraks and overthrow them and regain the Orb that Aldur might come forth again and men and Gods be rejoined in fellowship one with the other. And the Alorns, the people of Belar the Bear-God, were a hardy people and warlike, and clad themselves in the skins of bears and wolves and shirts cunningly wrought of rings of steel, and terrible were the swords and axes of the Alorns. And they ranged the north – yea, even unto the land of eternal ice, to find the way they might follow into Mallorea to come upon their ancient foes and destroy them and to restore the Orb unto Aldur. And in his pride did each Alorn warrior upon his passage into manhood raise sword or axe unto the deathless stars and call forth his challenge even unto Torak himself. And in the iron tower of Cthol Mishrak did the maimed God hear the challenge of the Alorns and did see the cold light of the north flickering from their sword edges, and the pain of Kal-Torak did increase ten-fold, and his hatred of his youngest brother and of the rash people who followed him and cast their threats even in the teeth of the stars cankered in his soul. Now, of all the kings of the Alorns, the bravest and most crafty was Cherek of the broad shoulders, and went he even unto the Vale of Aldur and sought out Belgarath, Disciple of Aldur and spake unto him, saying, ‘Now are the ways of the north open, and I have sons exceedingly bold. The signs and the auguries are propitious. The time is ripe to seek our way to the city of endless night and to regain the Orb from the usurper.’ But Belgarath was loath to go from the Vale of Aldur for behold, his wife Poledra was exceedingly great with child, and her time was nigh. And yet did Cherek prevail upon him, and by night they stole away and were joined a thousand leagues (#litres_trial_promo) to the north by the sons of Cherek. And the eldest Dras was named and of great power and craftiness was he. And the second son Algar was named and fleet was he as the wind and bold. And the youngest was named Riva and pure was he and steadfast and his grip was as death, for naught upon which he set his hand could escape him. And behold, the time of darkness was upon the north, and the season of snow and of ice and of mist, and the moors of the north glittered beneath the stars with rime-frost and steel-grey ice in the deathly cold. And Belgarath the Sorcerer took the shape of a great dark wolf, and on silent feet did he slink through the dark, snow-floored forests of the north where the trees cracked and shattered in the sundering cold. And in those days were the ruff and shoulders of the great wolf Belgarath silvered by frost, and ever after was the Sorcerer Belgarath silver of hair and beard. And it came to pass that the companions passed toward the south into Mallorea and even unto the City of Darkness which was Cthol Mishrak, wherein dwelt the maimed God who was king of the Angaraks. And ever were they guided by the wolf Belgarath who ran before them, his belly low to the ground and his shoulders and ruff touched with the silver of eternal frost. And at last came they even unto the City of Night wherein dwelt Kal-Torak and his people, the Angaraks, and the wolf Belgarath slunk low to the ground and sought out the way and led them even into the dark city and yet unto the foot of the iron tower. Then climbed they in crafty silence with muffled feet the rusted iron steps which had known no foot of man or God for twenty centuries. And Cherek of the broad shoulders, more like the Bear than the Bear-God himself, mounted first, and behind him Algar the fleet-footed and Riva the steadfast, and guarding the rear were Dras the bull-necked and the wolf Belgarath. And mounted they the smoldering darkness of the tower and came even unto the iron-bound chamber of the maimed God where slept in pain-hunted slumber the titan Torak. And he had caused his face to be bound up with iron to hide from men and Gods the melted flesh and burned eye which the Orb had wrought upon him. And as they passed through the chamber of the maimed God, stirred he in his sleep and opened behind the iron binding the eye which the Orb had burned. And such was the power of the maimed God that the eye which was not glowed red, and the iron tower glowed likewise a smoldering and sooty red. And passed they through in dreadful fear of the maimed and sleeping God who stirred ever in his sleep as the pain with which the Orb had touched him seared him. And in the chamber beyond lay the Iron Cask in which had rested for a thousand years and yet for another thousand years the Orb of Aldur. And in fear looked they upon the Cask, knowing the power of the Orb. And Cherek Bear-shoulders, King of the Alorns, spake unto Belgarath the Sorcerer, saying, ‘Take thou the Orb and return it unto thy Master, its rightful owner.’ And Belgarath, Disciple of Aldur, spake, saying, ‘Nay, King of the Alorns. I may not touch it, neither may I look upon it, lest it destroy me. None may touch the Orb now unless he be without ill intent. Only him who would not use it may touch it now. Thus doth the Orb protect itself and the Gods and men and the very world – for behold, once was it used to crack open the earth and will not be used so again. If any here be without ill intent – if one of you be pure enough to take up the Orb and convey it at peril of his life and surrender it at the end of our journey with no thought of gain or of power or of dominion, let him stretch forth his hand now and take up the Orb of Aldur.’ And Cherek Bear-shoulders was troubled, and he spake, saying, ‘What man is without ill intent in the deepest silences of his soul?’ And he put forth his hand and as that hand came nigh unto the Iron Cask felt he even in his heart the great heat of the Orb that lay within and knew then his unworthiness. And bitter was that knowledge to him. And he turned away. And Dras Bull-neck, his eldest son, came forward and stretched forth both his hands and put them upon the Cask. And then he withdrew them and turned his head and wept. And Algar Fleet-foot came forward and stretched forth his hand. And he too withdrew his hand and turned away. But Riva Iron-grip went even unto the Cask and opened it and did reach within and took up the Orb. And behold, the fire of the Orb shone through his fingers – yea, even through the flesh of his hand – and he was not burned. ‘Behold,’ spake Belgarath the Sorcerer unto Cherek Bear-shoulders, ‘thy youngest son is pure and without ill intent. And his doom and the doom of all who follow after him shall be to bear the Orb and to protect it from evil.’ ‘So be it,’ spake Cherek, King of the Alorns, ‘and I and his brothers will sustain and protect him while this doom is upon him – even though it be until the end of days.’ And Riva muffled the Orb of Aldur in his cloak and hid it in his bosom, and the companions passed quickly out through the dreadful chamber wherein slept the maimed God, ever stirring and restless in his pain. And the eye that was not watched them. And Kal-Torak cried out in his sleep, but woke not. And down they hurried even unto the foot of the tower. And then went they quickly unto the gates of the City of Darkness which was Cthol Mishrak and into the wasteland beyond. And it came to pass when they had gone but three leagues did the maimed God awaken from his slumber and found the Iron Cask open and the Orb that he had so dearly purchased gone. And horrible was the wrath of Kal-Torak. And girt he himself in black iron and took he up his great sword and his spear likewise, and went he then down from the iron tower and turned and smote it – and behold, the iron tower which had endured a thousand years and yet a thousand years more was cast down, and great was the ruin thereof. And the maimed God spake unto the Angaraks in a great voice, saying, ‘Because ye have permitted this thing to come to pass, shall ye dwell no more in cities. Because you have become unwatchful and indolent and have allowed a thief to steal that which I have purchased at such great cost, I will break your city and cast it down and drive you forth from this place, and ye shall be wanderers in the earth until ye return to me that which was stolen.’ And he raised up his arms and broke the city and cast it down in ruin and drove forth the Angaraks into the wilderness, and Cthol Mishrak was no more. And in the wasteland to the north (#litres_trial_promo) the companions heard the outcry from the city, and the Angaraks pursued them. And once the Angaraks came upon them, and Cherek Bear-shoulders and his sons Dras Bull-neck and Algar Fleet-foot did turn and withstand them, and the Angaraks fled. And again the Angaraks came upon them, and again did Cherek and his sons withstand them, though their numbers were greater. And yet a third time did the Angaraks come upon them and with them strode Kal-Torak himself and the great hosts of the Angaraks. And Riva Iron-grip saw that his father and his brothers were weary even unto death and that their wounds bled. And the bearer of the Orb did turn and did reach into his bosom and withdrew the Orb and held it forth that the maimed God and his hosts might behold it. And great was the confusion of the host by reason of the Orb, and Kal-Torak cried out a great cry and did turn away, but drove he the Angaraks back again and commanded them to regain the Orb. But Riva did raise again the Orb of Aldur, and it shone brighter even than before, and the eyes of the Angaraks were dazzled, and they turned away again, but the maimed God raised his hand against them and drave them yet once more against the companions. And yet a third time did Riva raise the Orb, and the sky was lit by its fire, and behold, the front ranks of the host were consumed by it. And then did the hosts of the Angaraks flee from the Orb, and in no way could Kal-Torak drive them back again. And so passed the companions again unto the north and returned they unto the west. And the spies of Torak did follow them, but Belgarath the Sorcerer assumed again the form of the wolf and waylaid the spies of Torak, and they followed no more. And behold, the Gods of the west did hold council, and Aldur advised them. And he spake unto them, saying, ‘It may not be that we ourselves make war upon our brother Torak, for in the warfare of Gods shall the world itself not be destroyed? Must we then absent ourselves from the world that our brother Torak not find us and make war upon us and thus destroy the world.’ And the other Gods were silent, each loath to leave the people he loved, but all knew that Aldur spoke truth, and that if they remained, would the world be destroyed. And Belar, the youngest of the Gods, wept, for he loved deeply the Alorn people, and Aldur relented. And he spake unto them, saying, ‘In spirit might each remain with his people, and guide them and protect them, but in no wise may Gods themselves remain, lest Torak find us and make war upon us and the world be unmade and our people perish utterly.’ ‘And wilt thou, my brother, bear away the Orb which is thy chiefest delight?’ quoth Chaldan, God of the Arends. ‘Nay, my brother,’ quoth Aldur, and sad was his heart in the speaking. ‘The Orb must remain, for only in the Orb lies that which will prevent our brother Torak from lordship of the world. So long as the Orb remains, Torak shall not prevail against it, and thy people will be safe from his enslavement.’ And so it came to pass that the Gods departed from the world which they had made, and in spirit only did they sojourn each with his people. And Torak only of the seven Gods did remain, but he was restrained by the Orb of Aldur from lordship over the world and prevented from the enslavement of all peoples of the world. And in the wastelands of Mallorea in the east did the maimed God know this, and the knowledge cankered in his soul. And Belgarath spake unto Cherek and his sons, saying, ‘Hearken unto the words of the Gods, for behold, this is their judgement and their doom (#litres_trial_promo) upon you. Here must we part and be sundered one from the other even as in the day wherein all men were sundered.’ And to Riva he spake, saying, ‘Thy journey is longest, Iron-grip. Bear thou the Orb even unto the Isle of the Winds. Take with thee thy people and thy goods and thy cattle, for thou shalt not return. Build there a fortress and a sanctuary and maintain it and defend the Orb with thy life and with the lives of thy people, for know ye that the Orb alone hinders Torak from Lordship and Dominion – even over the whole world.’ And to Dras he spake, saying, ‘Turn thou aside here, Bull-neck, and maintain the marches of the north against the Angaraks and against Kal-Torak. Take thy people and thy goods and thy cattle also and return no more, lest the marches be unguarded.’ And to Algar he spake, saying, ‘Turn thou also aside here, Fleet-foot, and maintain the plains to the south against the enemy. Take thy people and thy goods and thy cattle also and return no more lest the plains be unguarded.’ And to Cherek he spake, saying, ‘Upon thee, Bear-shoulders, lies the doom of the sea. Go thou onward even unto the peninsula of the north that is named for the Alorns. And build thou thereon a sea port and a fleet of swift ships and tall, and maintain the seas that the enemy come not by water against Riva, thy son. And maintain there thy people and thy goods and thy cattle. And teach unto thy people the ways of the sea that none upon the waters may prevail against them.’ And he raised up his face and spake in a great voice, saying, ‘Hear me, Torak-One-eye. Thus is the Orb defended and made secure against thee. And thou shalt not prevail against it. I, Belgarath, first Disciple of Aldur, proclaim it. In the day that thou comest against the west shall I raise war upon thee, and I shall destroy thee utterly. And I will maintain watch upon thee by day and by night. And I will abide against thy coming – yea, verily, be it even unto the end of days.’ And in the wastelands of Mallorea Kal-Torak heard the voice of Belgarath and was wroth and smote about him in his fury, destroying even the very rocks, for he knew that in the day when he went against the kingdoms of the west, in that day would he surely perish. And then did Cherek Bear-shoulders embrace his sons and turned away and saw them no more. And Dras Bull-neck turned aside and abode in the lands drained by the Mrin River, from Aldurfens north to the steppes and beyond, and from the coast to the mountains of Nadrak. And he builded a city at Boktor east of the junction of Mrin and Atun. And men called this northern land the country of Dras, or, in the language of the Alorns, Drasnia. And for a thousand years and yet another thousand years dwelt the descendants of Dras Bull-neck in the north and stood they athwart the northern marches and denied them unto the enemy. And tamed they the vast herds of reindeer, and the horned beast became as cat or dog unto them, and they took from the rivers and marshes furs and skins most luxuriant; and bright gold they found and silver also and did commerce with the kingdoms of the west and with the strange-faced merchants of the east also. And Drasnia prospered, and Kotu at Mrin-mouth was a city of wealth and power. And Algar Fleet-foot turned aside and went to the south with his people and his goods and his cattle. And horses were there on the broad plains drained by the Aldur river, and Algar Fleet-foot and his people caught horses and tamed them, and for the first time in the world men rode upon horses. And the people of Algar named their country for their leader and called its name Algaria. And they became nomads, following after their herds and ever keeping watch that the enemy not come upon them. And they builded a fortress to the south of Algaria and called it The Stronghold, and they garrisoned it but they dwelt not there, preferring to remain with their herds. And for twenty centuries they dwelt in these lands and traded horses to other kingdoms. And Cherek Bear-shoulders returned even unto Aloria which is to the north and west, and because he had been divided from his sons and the Alorn people were no longer one, he called the name of the country with his own name, and ever after for a score of centuries was the land known as Cherek. And he builded a great city at Val Alorn and a seaport there at the mouth of the Alorn River, and ships caused he to be built unlike the ships of other nations – for behold, the ships of others were for commerce and the carrying of goods, but the ships of Cherek were for war. And the people of Cherek became sea warriors and patrolled they the seas that the enemy not come across the dark water unto the Isle of the Winds. And it was rumored that the people of Cherek were pirates and brigands of the sea, but none could say for sure. And Riva Iron-grip went forth even unto the west coast of Sendaria and took ship and did sail with his people and his goods and his cattle across the Sea of the Winds unto the Isle that lay therein. And many days did he search the coast until he found the spot where he might land. And upon all the Isle of the Winds there is but one place to land a ship and he did alight there and took his people and his goods and his cattle and placed them on the strand, and then burned he the ships which had borne him thence that none might return. And he caused to be built a fortress and a walled city around it. And they called the name of the city Riva and nought that was builded therein was for commerce or for display, but for war only. And within the fortress in the most heavily defended spot caused Riva to be built a throne-room and carved he a great throne therein of black rock. And high was the back thereof. And it came to pass that a deep sleep fell upon Riva, and Belar, Bear-God of the Alorns, came to him in a dream. And Belar spake unto him, saying, ‘Behold, Guardian of the Orb, I will cause two stars to fall down from out the sky, and I will show thee where they lie, and thou shalt take up the two stars and shall place them in a great fire and shall forge them. And the one star shall be a blade, and the other a hilt, and it shall be a sword that shall guard the Orb of my brother Aldur.’ And Riva awoke, and behold, two stars did fall from out the sky, and Riva sought them, and the spirit of the Bear-God was with him and showed him where the stars that had fallen had come to earth. And Riva took them up and bore them back to the city and forged them even as Belar had instructed. But behold, when it was done, the blade and the hilt could in no way be joined together. And Riva lifted his face and cried out unto Belar. ‘Behold, I have marred the work, for the blade will not be joined unto the hilts, and the sword will not become one.’ And a fox which had sat near, watching the work, spake unto Riva, saying, ‘The work is not marred, Iron-grip. Take up the hilt and place the Orb thereon even as a pommel-stone.’ And Riva knew that he was in the presence of an enchantment and did even that which the fox had commanded. And behold, the Orb became as one with the hilts which Riva had forged from the star Belar had caused to fall. And even the strength of Riva’s hand could not sunder them one from the other. And Riva spake, saying, ‘Still is the work marred, for the blade and the hilts still remain unjoined.’ And the fox spake again, saying, ‘Take the blade in thy left hand, Iron-grip, and the hilts in thy right and join them.’ ‘It may not be,’ quoth Riva, ‘for they will not join.’ And the fox laughed, saying, ‘How is it that thou knowest that they will not join when thou hast not yet attempted it?’ And Riva was ashamed, and took up the blade in his left hand and the hilts in his right and did set them together, and behold, the blade passed into the hilts even as a stick into water, and the sword was joined and even the strength of Riva’s hand could not unjoin it. And the fox laughed again, saying, ‘Take up the sword, Iron-grip, and go forth with it and smite with it the great rock which doth stand upon the highest mountain upon this Isle.’ And Riva took up the sword and went unto the mountain and raised up the sword against the great rock which stood thereon. And he smote once and clave the rock in twain, and the water gushed forth therefrom and formed a river which flowed down even unto the city of Riva. And the fox laughed again and ran away, but stopped once and looked back, and Riva beheld that the fox was a fox no longer, but the great silver wolf, Belgarath, whom he had known before. And men called the river that flowed from the rock which Riva had clave The River of Veils by reason of the mists which ever surrounded it as it descended into the valley where lay the city of Riva. And Riva caused the sword to be placed upon the great black rock that stood at the back of his throne. And it did hang point downward with the Orb which was now the pommel-stone at the highest point, and did the sword cleave itself unto the rock, and none save Riva could remove it therefrom. And such was the virtue of the Orb that it did burn with cold fire when Riva sat upon the throne. And when he took down the sword and raised it did the sword itself become as a great tongue of blue flame, and all who beheld this great wonder were amazed and understood it not. And thus was wrought the Hall of the Rivan King, and thus his throne and thus was forged his sword. And ever after were the descendants of Riva marked with the mark of the Orb upon the palm of their hands, and the man-child who would become king was borne at his birth unto the throne-chamber and the hand that was so marked was placed upon the Orb that it might know him and destroy him not when he came into his inheritance. And with each such joining did the bond between the Orb of Aldur and the line of Riva become stronger. And the Orb waxed in brilliance with each infant touch as if it rejoiced that the line remained unbroken. And so it endured in the City of Riva for a thousand years and for yet another thousand years. And with the sundering of the companions and the departure of Cherek and his sons, hastened Belgarath southward for a thousand leagues even unto the Vale of Aldur that he might behold his children, the fruit of the womb of Poledra, his wife. And came he even unto the Vale of Aldur and found that his wife had been delivered of twin daughters, and then had she died. And his eldest daughter was named Polgara, and even as an infant were her eyes steely and her face grim. And dark was her hair as wing of raven, and because she was his eldest, even in the fashion of the Sorcerers, stretched he forth his hand and laid it upon her brow – and behold, her mother, Poledra, had in her final hour, divided her anger from her love. And in Polgara, the dark-haired twin, resided her anger that Belgarath her husband, had gone from her when her time was nigh. And thus it was that when Belgarath, her father, laid his hand upon Polgara’s brow did the hair thereof turn white, and ever after was the raven hair of Polgara touched at the brow with the same silver which marked the ruff of the dark, frost-touched wolf. And his second daughter Beldaran was called, because the mark of the Sorcerers was not upon her. And fair was she, and her hair was like gold. And dearly was she beloved by her father and equally by her dark-haired sister. And they contended one with the other for her affection. But it came to pass that when his daughters had reached their sixteenth year did Belgarath fall into a deep sleep, and in a dream did the spirit of Aldur come unto him and spake, saying, ‘My beloved disciple, I would have thy house joined with the house of the guardian of the Orb. Choose thou, therefore, which of thy daughters wilt thou give to the Rivan King to wife, for in the joining of thy house with the house of Riva shall a line invincible be forged that will join my will with the will of my brother Belar, and Torak himself may not prevail against us.’ And in the deep silences of his soul was Belgarath tempted. Thus might he rid himself of his spiteful daughter whose tongue seared like acid and whose white lock was ever a rebuke unto him. But, knowing the burden upon the Rivan King, sent he instead Beldaran, his fair daughter to be the mother of the Rivan line – and wept when she was gone. And Polgara wept also with the departure of her sister, knowing in her soul that the beloved Beldaran would fade and that her love for Riva would age her and that like a flower would she wither and drop away. But in time Polgara dried her tears and went even unto her father. And she spake unto her father, saying, ‘Behold, Old Grey Wolf, thus are we alone, and now mayest thou reveal unto me the secrets of our line that I may succeed thee and care for thee in thy dotage.’ And then was Belgarath mightily provoked and raised up his hand against his spiteful daughter, but she smiled upon him sweetly, and his hand faltered, and he turned and fled from her. And she called after him, saying, ‘Father, still hast thou not instructed me in our art.’ And Belgarath fled. And, laughing, did his daughter, Polgara, pursue him. (#litres_trial_promo) THE BOOK OF TORAK (#ulink_de2ce9ec-cdb6-5c2a-97f0-e296ca6df0a4) NOTE The Book of Torak is forbidden in all the kingdoms of the west. Possession of a copy of this work is punishable by death in all the civilized world. The reading of this work is also punishable by death. This notice constitutes a legal warning under the statutes of The Empire of Tolnedra, the Kingdom of Arendia, the Kingdom of Sendaria, Holy Ulgo, the Kingdom of Cherek, the Wardership of Riva, the Kingdom of Drasnia, the Kingdom of Algaria, and is also valid in the Vale of Aldur and the District of the Marags. Negotiations are currently pending with Her Majesty, Eternal Salmissra, Queen of Nyissa, to extend this ban to the land of the Snake People. (#litres_trial_promo) BEHOLD, I am Torak, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. I was before aught else was. I will be when all that has been made is unmade, yea, even beyond the end of days. I was when the world was englobed and the vast seas contained and the mountains heaved up out of reeking slime to claw at the vault of heaven. I will be when the mountains crumble into sand and are carried away as dust on the endless wind and the seas dwindle down into stagnant pools and the rounded world shrivels and is no more. Seven were we, and joined our hands and made all that is made. And separated we the sea from the land and set the moon and the sun in their courses and covered the world with forests and grasses. Beasts we made and fowls, and lastly Man, to be the servant and the instrument of our will. And we divided the men we had made into peoples, and each of us took unto himself a people to mold and shape to his own purposes – all save Aldur, who was ever contrary and discontented in that we would not grant him dominion over all the world and lordship over us as well. And he withdrew himself from us and sought to entice our servants away from us with his enchantments. And the people who were mine called themselves Angarak, and offered they burnt sacrifice and worship unto me. And I blessed them, and they prospered and grew numerous. And in their gratitude raised they up an altar unto me in the high places of Korim which are no more. And to test and prove their love of me, I required at certain seasons the sacrifice of a score of their fairest maidens and another score of their bravest youths. And it was done gladly, so great was their love of me, and was it deemed honor to be chosen for the knife and the altar-fire. And I was well-pleased and blessed them even more, and they prospered above all men and multiplied exceedingly. And it came to pass that my brother, Aldur, who had despite unto me in that I had a numerous people who loved and worshiped me, conspired in the secret places of his soul and created in my despite a thing with which he might thwart my purposes, and a thing whereby he might gain Lordship and Dominion. Went I then unto Aldur and besought him that he give up this thing and return to the fellowship of the Gods. But he had despite unto me and spake slightingly to me in a manner unfit, and I saw that this thing which he had made had such power over him that it twisted his soul and raised enmity between him and his brothers. And so it was that to save my brother took I the burden of the thing itself upon me. But Aldur was wroth and went unto our brothers and beguiled them into enmity toward me, and each of them came to me and spake slightingly unto me, commanding me to return to Aldur the thing that had twisted his soul and which I had taken that he might be freed of the enchantment of it. But I resisted them, and would in no wise do it. Then girded they for war, and the sky was made black with the stinking smoke of their forges as their people beat out weapons with which to rend and maim my people. But I would not permit it – that the blood of men be spilt and the Gods make war upon each other, and raised I the cursed thing which Aldur had made and with it divided I the land that the seas might come in and separate the peoples one from the other that they might not come upon each other and their blood be spilt. But such was the malice which Aldur had wrought into the thing accurséd that in the day that I raised it to divide the world that men’s blood not be spilt did it smite me with fire. Even as I spake the commands unto it did it sear my flesh. And the malice of Aldur consumed the hand with which I held the thing accurséd and blinded the eye with which I beheld it and marred one half of my face with its burning. And I caused it to be bound up in a cask of iron that it might injure none other, and named it CTHRAG-YASKA, the burning stone, that men and Gods might be wary of it and its evil never again be unleashed to destroy flesh with the malice of Aldur. And upon myself I took the burden of guarding CTHRAG-YASKA that it be bound in iron until the end of days and all its mischief with it. And I bore my people away to the east in Mallorea, and on a sheltered plain did they build a great city and called its name Cthol Mishrak in remembrance of my suffering. And I concealed their city with clouds so that men might not find them to despoil them for their love of me. Then labored I for a thousand years and yet another thousand to raise the curse which Aldur in his malice had laid on the stone, CTHRAG-YASKA. Well I knew that in the day of the lifting of the curse would men and Gods be rejoined in brotherhood and fellowship, and the malice of Aldur unto me would be broken, and I would be restored and made whole to greet my brothers unmarred. Great were the enchantments and words of power which I cast at the obdurate stone, but still its evil fire burned, and its curse was upon the world by reason of the malice of Aldur. And Belar, the youngest of my brethren, conspired with Aldur against me and raised up his uncouth people against me and caused each of them to curse me and have despite unto even me who had suffered so greatly that men’s blood not be spilt. And behold, it came to pass that the evil sorcerer, Belgarath, who had ever sat at the right hand of Aldur, whispering the fell counsel of malice and enmity unto him, came with four others as a thief and bore away CTHRAG-YASKA. And one of them, the youngest, had been so woven about with spells and enchantments that he took up CTHRAG-YASKA and was not burned, and they bore it away. Bravely did my warriors pursue them, and many were slain, and even I strode with them that we might regain CTHRAG-YASKA and so prevent the evil which it would bring to the world. But behold, the young man raised the thing accurséd and cast about its evil fire, and my people were consumed by it, and the thieves escaped, bearing CTHRAG-YASKA with them. And then was evil loosed in the world. And pulled I down the city of the Angaraks, and mighty Cthol Mishrak was laid waste that the enemies of my people not come upon them and destroy them utterly. And divided I the Angaraks into five tribes. The Nadraks made I hardy and bold and set them in the north to guard the ways by which the thieves had come. And the Thulls made I enduring and broad of back that they might bear burdens without tiring, and set them in the middle lands. And the Murgos made I the fiercest and most numerous and set them in the south that they might multiply greatly against the evil that had been unloosed in the world. And the most of my people kept I with me in Mallorea, which hath no limits, to serve me and to multiply against the day when war would be raised by the kingdoms of the west. And lastly made I the Grolims and instructed them in enchantments and wizardry and raised them as a priesthood before me and caused them to keep watch over all my people wheresoever they might be. And I raised up a mighty people and set them to labor that we might undo the evil that had beset the world and regain CTHRAG-YASKA that the malice of Aldur had made and thus hold and keep the world from the destruction which no man or God might forestall. And behold, my brothers feared my wrath in that they had conspired against me and sent thieves to steal CTHRAG-YASKA. And they did flee from me – yea, and departed from the world and remained but in spirit each with his own people. And for a thousand years and yet another thousand and three hundred more (#litres_trial_promo) did I send Nadraks and Murgos against the savage and barbarian Alorns with Thulls to bear their burdens and Grolims to guide them in my service. And it availed not, for the sons of the great thief Cherek, aided by the wicked sorcery of Belgarath, chief disciple of Aldur, did fall upon my people and destroy them. In the west did the sons of Algar bestride strange beasts, swift and cruel, and harried my people back even unto the black mountains. And to the north did the sons of Dras the thick-witted, eldest son of Cherek, the thief, lie in wait and savagely ambush the brave Nadraks I had sent and foully destroyed them – yea, so utterly that a thousand years passed ere their numbers were restored. And call the Angaraks this battle the Battle of the Grief-Place, and each year upon the day of the Battle of the Grief-Place are a thousand Thullish maidens sacrificed and a thousand Thullish young men also. And also are sacrificed a hundred Murgo maidens and a hundred Murgo warriors and ten Nadrak maidens and ten Nadrak champions and a Grolim priestess and a new-born Grolim man-child, borne in her arms. And this is done that my people not forget the Battle of the Grief-Place and it will be so until CTHRAG-YASKA be returned unto me or until the end of days. And it came to pass that my brother Issa slept, and I knew of this by reason of the counsel of Zedar, (#litres_trial_promo) a wise and just man who had abjured the malice of Aldur and the evil dominion of the wicked sorcerer Belgarath and had come unto me with offer of service and respect. Now Zedar had been a Disciple of Aldur and was well-taught in enchantments and sorceries, and after the fashion of sorcerers had his name been called Belzedar. But he had abjured this unseemly name upon the day when he had come into my service. And he brought forth a vision, and behold, my brother Issa, ever sluggish and indolent, had fallen into a deep slumber which had endured for a hundred years, and his priests could not rouse him nor the queen of his people either. And sent I Zedar unto the land of the snake people who worship my brother Issa, and he spake unto their queen and offered unto her wealth and power and Dominion over many lands if she would fall down and worship me and do my bidding. And behold, she consented to it, and in secret sent she her emissaries unto a certain place and did break the power of CTHRAG-YASKA which had by reason of the malice of Aldur and the sorceries of Belgarath raised a barrier against me. And once the sons of Riva, youngest son of Cherek, were no more, the enchantment was broken, and then might I come against the kingdoms of the west and demand the return of CTHRAG-YASKA that I might undo its evil sorceries. And now are my people made ready, and will we now come against the kingdoms of the west which have hearkened unto the counsel and beguilements of wicked Gods and evil sorcerers and have sought to deny me that which is mine. And I will smite them with my wrath and harry them and multiply their sufferings enormously. And behold, I will cause them all to fall down and worship me, forasmuch as my brothers have all fled, I only remain, and I only am God in the world. And all men shall worship me and raise the sweet odor of sacrifice to me and I shall have Lordship and Dominion over all things, and the world shall be mine – (The copy of the manuscript breaks off here.) TESTAMENT OF THE SNAKE PEOPLE (#ulink_84bf70cf-e66b-5e5c-b420-50c0cfb33243) NOTE This strange fragment was discovered in the ruins of a Nyissan temple during an exploratory expedition by the twenty-third Imperial legion into northern Nyissa following the Alorn invasion of the land of the Snake People during the early forty-first century. The antiquity of the fragment and the general condition of the ruins of the temple in which it was found indicate that both more probably date back to the time of the invasion of the Marags rather than the more recent Alorn incursion. 1. Once lived we in caves, beside still brooks and in mossy dells, and ISSA was with us, (dull-eyed ISSA with cold skin) – Praise the glory of ISSA’s name – 2. Content were we to bask in sun on warm rocks and to slither at night into dens cool and dry beneath the rocks, and ISSA moved among us – (Slow the movements, sinuous and subtle) and touched our faces with dry cold hand, and lapped our scent from out of air with flickering tongue – Praise the glory of ISSA’s name – 3. Solitary watched we the turn of seasons, years, light as dust lay upon us, and uncaring we watched and ISSA Instructed us (sibilant the voice of beloved ISSA and wise) – Glory to the wisdom of ISSA – 4. Coiled we with our brothers, the serpents, and kissed the sweet venom from their lipless smiles while ISSA watched and guarded our childlike play – Praise the watchfulness of mighty ISSA – 5. But Other Gods made war, and we knew not why. Some trifle that had no use or value was the cause of their contention. Still lay we in timeless drowse, basking in sun’s Warmth and the glory of ISSA’s gaze – Adore the beauty of the scaled face of ISSA – 6. And Shattered then the other Gods the earth herself, and the rocks of our dens fell in upon us, crushing the people of ISSA as they slept, and the seas rushed in, drowning the caves and the mossy dells, stilling forever the soft sibilance of our brooks and streams, engulfing the sweet land which ISSA had given us. – Oh weep for the precious land of ISSA – 7. Journeyed We then toward those lands where the sun makes his bed, and ISSA led us. Found we there a fair land of swamp and tangled thicket and sluggish rivers, dark beneath the trees. And our brothers, the serpents, dwelt there in abundance. And ISSA commanded us that we raise a city beside the holy River of the Serpent, and called we the name of the city Sthiss Tor in honor of the holy wisdom of ISSA. – All praise to ISSA, cold and fair – 8. And yet There came a time when ISSA called us to him and spake unto us, saying: ‘Behold, it has come to pass that I must depart from thee. The Gods have warred, and the earth may no longer sustain us.’ Loud were our lamentations at ISSA’s words, and we cried out unto him, saying: ‘We beseech thee, oh mighty God, absent thyself not from us, for who will lead and guide us if thou depart?’ And ISSA wept. – Revere the tears of sorrowing ISSA – 9. Again Spake ISSA unto us, saying: ‘Behold, I am thy God, and I love thee. In spirit shall I abide with thee, and from thy number will I select the one through whom shall I speak. Thou shalt hear and obey the one – even as it were me.’ – Hear and obey the word of ISSA – 10. Now Of all the servants of ISSA, most beloved was Salmissra, the Priestess, and ISSA touched her and exalted her and spake unto the people again, saying: ‘Behold my handmaiden, Salmissra. Her have I touched and exalted. And she shall be queen over thee and have dominion, and her voice shall be my voice, and thou shall call her name eternal, for I am with her – even as with thee unto the end of days.’ – All praise to eternal Salmissra, handmaiden of ISSA – 11. Spake Then eternal Salmissra, Queen of the Serpent People, saying: (The remainder of the fragment has been lost.) (#litres_trial_promo) HYMN TO CHALDAN (#ulink_fe380eca-841f-5f20-b438-9389bbbcabf5) NOTE This is the famous War-hymn of the Asturian Arends believed to have been composed sometime early in the second millennium. While there exist Mimbrate and Wacite hymns of similar tenor, this particular piece most universally captures the spirit of Arendia, and despite its Asturian origin it is widely sung in Mimbrate chapels even to this day. Historical research indicates that it was also popular in Wacune before those people were obliterated during the Arendian Civil Wars. Honor, Glory and Dominion be thine, O Chaldan. Grant, Divine Lord, Victory unto thy Servants. See, O our God, how we adore Thee. Smite, Great Judge, the Wicked and Unjust. Chastise our Foes. Consume them with Fire. Scourge him who has despite unto us. Blessed be the Name of Chaldan Power, Might, and Empire be thine, O Chaldan. Bless, Warrior God, the Weapons of thy Children. Gird us, Great One, in Armor impenetrable. Hear, Blessed Chaldan, our Lament for the Fallen. Comfort us in our Bereavement. Revenge us upon our Enemies. Blessed be the name of Chaldan. Wisdom, Honor, Eternal Worship be thine, O Chaldan. Give, O our God, courage for the battle. Hearken, Divinity, unto our War-Prayer. Sustain, Magnificence, our just Cause. Punish him who speaks slightingly to us. Blessed be the name of Chaldan. There are, of course, some four hundred and eighteen more verses, but the quality definitely deteriorates beyond this point, and the descriptions of the punishments invoked upon enemies are too graphic to repeat in a text which might inadvertently fall into the hands of women or children. THE LAMENT OF MARA (#ulink_599ba0f6-b96c-550a-80ed-a357153b65f2) NOTE FROM THE IMPERIAL LIBRARIAN OF TOL HONETH: This peculiar piece was produced by a melancholy monk at Mar-Terin in the late 27th century. Though he steadfastly maintained until his death that these were the actual words of the grieving God, Mara, it is easily evident that this mournful work is rather the product of a mind diseased by solitude, racial guilt and the continual wail of the wind in the barren trees near the monastery. The unfortunate history of the destruction of Maragor and the extermination of its people is a moral burden which the Tolnedran Empire must bear. We must not, however, lapse into hysteria as a result of our sense of guilt. Rather we must resolve never again to turn to such savagery in our quest for advantage and profit. Truly, the spirit of the God Mara stands as a continual remonstrance to us and, balanced against the proverbs of our own beloved Nedra, provides every decent and right-thinking Tolnedran with those bounds against which he may measure his conduct. EEEE – AAAAY! EEEE – AAAAY! Oh Weep for Mara whose people are no more. Sorrow, Sorrow, Grief and Woe The people are destroyed, the elders and the children. The men are cut down, and the women, fountainhead of race and blood and kind are slain. The people of Mara are no more. EEEE-AAAAY! EEEE-AAAAY! Sorrow and Sorrow The people of Mara are no more. Cursed then is the land. Betrayed am I by my brothers. Betrayed land of the Marags shall be forever Accursed. My hand shall be raised against it. No fruit shall it bear to outlanders. No rest or sleep shall they find there. Madness only shall they reap among my empty cities. And I will raise an army of the dead against all who come into this land. Blood and death to all who profane my sacred altars. EEEE – AAAAY! EEEE – AAAAY! Sorrow! Sorrow! Sorrow! O, weep for Mara, whose people are no more. (#litres_trial_promo) THE PROVERBS OF NEDRA (#ulink_de867039-08a7-58ed-a874-42cab2a38120) NOTE There are some 1800 proverbs of Nedra. The few presented here are a random sampling containing the general spirit of the advice of Nedra to his people. The fact that Tolnedra is the dominant power in the west is silent testimony to the efficacy of Nedra’s advice. 1. Kill not. Dead men cannot buy from thee. 2. Steal not. Give full measure, and thy customer shall return. 3. Covet not. Keep thy mind unto thine own business and thou shalt prosper. 4. Store up thy goods against thine old age. Prepare for adversity, and be prudent in thine expenditures. 5. Be bountiful unto thy children and unto thy brother’s children so that they will be bountiful unto thee when thy vigor is diminished. 6. Bribe not the tax-collector. If he will betray the throne, will he not betray thee also? 7. Adulterate not the coinage nor shave away fragments therefrom. The coin thou sendest away today shall return unto thee tomorrow, and then whom hast thou robbed? 8. Dabble not. Select thy wares and become conversant with them. Who can know both shoes and jewels at the same time? 9. Deal in the very best thou canst afford. Who will buy from one who hath no faith in his own goods? 10. Be patient in thy dealings. Courtesy and wit are gold. Anger and spite are brass. 11. Cheat not. Thy customer will remember thee and shall never return. 12. Revenge thyself not on him who hath dealt falsely with thee. No profit is to be found in revenge. 13. Be ever watchful of the servant with ambition. If he is stupid, he will steal from thee. If he is clever, he will supplant thee. 14. Traffic only in tangible things. Who can weigh the wind or measure a promise? 15. Store up gold. Time cannot tarnish it, nor fashion cheapen. Trade thy gold only in the certainty of bringing in more. (#litres_trial_promo) THE SERMON OF ALDUR (#ulink_3d459ac1-ee2d-5580-ba21-5cfbb8e5c1fc) Unto his Disciples (#litres_trial_promo) TRULY I say unto thee that the world was made with a word. For the Seven joined together and spake the one word – Be – And the world was. I say again, in the speaking of the word was the world made, and all that is in the world was made thus. And Truly, I say unto thee also, thus may the world be unmade. (#litres_trial_promo) For in the day that my brothers and I join again and speak the words – Be Not – in that day shall the world perish. Infinite is the power of the word, for the word is the breath and soul of the mind, and as I have taught thee it is in the mind that all power lies. If thy mind have power, put that power into the word, and that which thou dost desire shall come to pass. But if thy mind be untutored or if it should be that thou falter or fear or doubt, the greatest words of power shall avail thee not – for with thy mind and with the word must be joined the will. And thus has it ever been. It has come to pass that I must now go from thee and our paths must part. There is discontent and turmoil abroad in the land, and if it should come to pass that my brothers and I were drawn in to this conflict, our contention would destroy the world. Thus, that we might preserve the world and that we never again be forced to raise our hands against our beloved brother who has been maddened by his afflictions must we go from this world. In sorrow I go from thee, but know that my spirit will be with thee always to aid thee and to comfort thee. As I leave thee, I charge thee with a duty and lay upon thee a heavy burden. Verily, my beloved Disciples, thou art not as other men. Together have we sought out wisdom that we might more perfectly understand the meaning of the power of the word. That power is with thee, and thy minds have been bent to its use. Upon thee therefore falls the duty of preserving the world now that I and my brothers must depart. Some will remain here in this Vale to seek out further the meaning of the power of the word; others must go forth into the lands of strangers and use the power of the word to preserve the world and to stand as a barrier against my brother until the appointed one shall appear who will do that which must be done. It will come to pass that some among thee will sicken of this endless burden, and with will and mind and the power of the word will they cause themselves to no longer be – for it is a simple thing to say ‘be not’ and to perish. For them I grieve, knowing that which is to come to pass. And behold, one among thee shall bend his mind and will and the power of the word to exalt himself above all men, and he too shall perish, and I grieve for him as well. In parting I abjure thee, seek not to pit thy will and thy mind and the power of the word against my brother Torak. Know that he is a God, and though thy mind be as strong as his and thine understanding of the power of the word be as perfect, his will is to thine as is thine to that of a child. Know that this it is that makes him a God. In the invincibility of his will is Torak a God, and in that only. In the day that thou seekest to raise thy will against the will of Torak, in that day shalt thou surely perish. But more than this – if it should come to pass that the power of the word be raised against Torak, no power that exists in the endless starry reaches of the Universe can save the world. For I say unto thee, if Torak in his madness turn mind and will and the power of the word against thee, shall the world be shattered, and the shards thereof scattered like dust among the stars. Lest ye grow fearful and disconsolate at the enormity of thy task, know that the Orb which I have made hath the power to curb the will of Torak. For it hath confounded him, and not without cost hath he raised it against the world. And it shall come to pass that in a certain day shall come the One who is to use the Orb, and if he be brave and pure, shall Torak be overthrown. But if he falter or be tempted by the power of the Orb, shall Torak overcome him and recapture the Orb, and then shall the world be Torak’s forever. But behold, the madness of my brother Torak is a disease and a canker unto the Universe, and if it should come to pass that he prevails in this, it must be that my brothers and I raise our hands against him, for the madness of Torak unchecked shall rend the Universe even as he hath cracked this world which we made and which we love. And thus will we come against him with the most fearful power. In sorrow shall we pronounce the dread words – ‘Be Not’ – and our brother Torak shall be no more, and, as it must needs be, this lovely world also shall be no more. Guide well therefore the child and the man who is to be the Appointed One and prepare him for his great task. Know that if he fail, Torak shall conquer, and my voice must be joined with the voices of my Brethren to speak that final – ‘Be Not’ – which will unmake all that we have made. And, though it will grieve me beyond thy power to understand, I will bend all of my mind and all of my will into that fateful word, and this world will shimmer and vanish as morning mist beneath the weight of the noon sun. Thus I leave the world in thy keeping, my sons. Fail not in thy duty to me and to the world. I will go now to seek pleasant fields among the stars and shaded pathways to strange suns; and, if all passeth well, shalt thou join me there when thy task is done. – And, so saying, did Aldur turn and ascend into the star-strewn skies, and no man hath seen him more – THE BOOK OF ULGO (#ulink_b0c70bb4-5ca5-58d4-a61e-8ae97f34e167) (#litres_trial_promo) NOTE This is the famous southern copy of this disputed work. It differs in certain crucial details from the seven other fragmentary copies, and is considered by certain scholars to be a corrupt, third-hand copy with no historical or theological value. It is, however, the only complete copy we have, and provides the only clues we have to the understanding of the enigmatic Ulgos. How it came to be in the possession of the Dryads in southern Tolnedra is, of course, a mystery. At the Beginning of Days when the world was spun out of Darkness by the wayward Gods, dwelt there in the silences of the heavens a spirit known only as UL. Mighty was he, but withheld his power as the younger Gods combined to bring forth the world and the sun and the moon also. Old was he and wise, but withheld his wisdom from them, and what they wrought was not perfect by reason of that. And they had despite unto him that he would not join with them, and turned they their backs upon him. And it came to pass that the younger Gods wrought beasts and fowls, serpents and fishes, and lastly, Man. But by reason of the withholding of the power and the wisdom of UL, it was not perfect and was marred. Many creatures were wrought which were unseemly and strange, and the younger Gods repented their making and tried they to unmake that which they had wrought so that all things upon the world which they had made might be fair and seemly. But the Spirit of UL stretched forth his hand and prevented them, and they could not unmake that which they had wrought, no matter how monstrous or ill-shapen. And he spake unto the younger Gods, saying: ‘Behold, what thou hast wrought thou mayest in no wise unmake, for in thy folly hast thou torn asunder the fabric of the heavens and the peace thereof that thou might bring forth this world of thine to be a plaything and an entertainment. Know, however, that whatsoever ye make, be it ever so monstrous or unseemly, it will abide and be a rebuke unto thee for thy folly. For in the day that one thing which is made is unmade, in that day shall all that is made be unmade.’ (#litres_trial_promo) And the younger Gods were wroth, and in despite spake they unto each monstrous or unseemly thing they made, saying, ‘Go thou even unto UL, and he shall be thy God.’ And UL spake not. And the younger Gods wrought men, and each selected that people which pleased him to be God over them. And it came to pass that when each had chosen, there were peoples yet who had no God. And the younger Gods drave them out, saying, ‘Go thou even unto UL, and he shall be thy God.’ Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/david-eddings/the-rivan-codex-ancient-texts-of-the-belgariad-and-the-mallo/?lfrom=334617187) на ЛитРес. 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