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Book Two of the Wayfarer Redemption
By Sara Douglass
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 1996 Sara Douglass
All rights reserved.
Jervois Landing — Arrivals
Ho'Demi sat his shaggy horse and contemplated the impenetrable fog before him. His scouts had reported that the Duke of Ichtar and what remained of his command from Gorkenfort drew close. For all Ho'Demi knew they were but ten paces away.
Ho'Demi shivered. He did not like these southern lands with their damp mists. He yearned for the northern wastes of the Ravensbund with its endless leagues of grinding ice. He yearned to be once more hunting the great icebears with the men and women of his tribe — not these Ghostmen whose very whispers defiled the wind.
However, the northern wastes were denied Ho'Demi and his people. For as far back as tribal memory stretched the Skraeling wraiths had existed. Until the past year they had been neither numerous nor brave, and as long as his people hunted in packs, the Skraelings had not attacked. But now, massed by the unseen yet powerful hand of Gorgrael the Destroyer, the Skraelings had driven them from the Ravensbund, down through Gorken Pass, past Gorkenfort and town — where the Duke of Ichtar had stopped the invasion of Gorgrael's Ghostmen — and into these southern lands. Ho'Demi had finally stopped his people's flight here at Jervois Landing. It was here that Borneheld, having somehow escaped the Skraelings, intended to make his stand.
Ho'Demi and his people had always intended to help the Southerners against Gorgrael and his Skraelings; it was part of their heritage. But when he had offered his warriors at Gorkenfort, Borneheld had laughed and said he had no need for Ravensbund assistance. He, Duke of Ichtar, commanded a real army. Well, now the Duke and his real army might not be so slow to accept the help of the Ravensbund warriors.
Ho'Demi had led as many of his people out of the Ravens-bund as he could. But the Ravensbund tribes lay scattered across the vast territory of the northern wastes and Ho'Demi had not been able to get word to the majority of the tribes to flee into the southern lands. Only twenty thousand had pitched their sealskin tents about Jervois Landing, a mere twentieth of the Ravensbund population. Ho'Demi shuddered to think of what had happened to those left behind. He hoped they had found a place to hide among the crevices of the ice packs, there to await the day when Gorgrael was defeated by the StarMan. He hoped they had the courage for a long wait.
The Ravensbundmen were a proud and ancient people who had adapted their culture and society to a life spent almost entirely within the ice-bound regions of northern Achar. Few had any contact with the world beyond the River Andakilsa. The King of Achar (whosoever he currently was) might fondly believe that he ruled Ravensbund as he ruled the rest of Achar, but as far as the Ravensbundmen knew or cared, the Achar King had as much control over them as he did over the Forbidden. Ho'Demi was their Chief, and his was the law they obeyed.
But now, for the sake of the Prophecy and because it was the only thing left for him to do, Ho'Demi would put himself under the command of Borneheld. Ravensbundmen had been aware of the Prophecy of the Destroyer for thousands of years, and Ho'Demi knew that, divided, no one could defeat Gorgrael. Someone had to begin the alliance that would create Tencendor and crush the Destroyer. As the Skraeling threat grew infinitely worse, he had quickly realized this was a sign that the Prophecy had awoken and now walked. Of all the peoples of this land, perhaps the Ravensbundmen were more loyal to the name of the StarMan than most. When he called, then they would rally.
In groups of never less than a thousand, the Ravensbund people had passed by Gorkenfort, many weeks before Axis had arrived. As yet they did not know where the StarMan was; they did not know who he was. Until they found him, until they could declare their loyalty and their spears for him, Ho'Demi had decided they would fight with Borneheld. If he would have them.
Borneheld knew what the bells were the instant their gentle sound reached him through the fog, and he hunched even further beneath his voluminous cloak.
It had been two weeks since they had fled Gorkenfort. As soon as Axis had drawn the Skraelings northwards away from the fort, Borneheld had ordered the gates opened and led his column out through the ruins of Gorkentown. The march south toward Jervois Landing was a desperate trek through icy conditions which hourly weakened his men's resistance to death. Many had died from the freezing cold or from the physical effort of the march. In the past week even more had died as the Skraelings made nibbling attacks on the rear and flanks of Borneheld's retreating column. Others deserted. Even those two old brothers whom Axis had dragged north with him from the Silent Woman Keep and who had babbled incessantly about musty prophecies had disappeared one night. As far as Borneheld was concerned, the Skraelings could feed all they wanted on those two as on any others not prepared to stay with him.
Unaccountably, the Skraelings had left them alone for a critical five days after their escape from Gorkenfort. They had ridden as hard and as fast as they could — until the horses started to die beneath them — expecting an attack from Gorgrael's army at any moment. No one in Borneheld's company knew that it was because Axis and his command had hurt the Skraelings so grievously in the icy wastes above Gorkenfort that the SkraeBolds had needed to regroup the decimated Skraeling forces.
All Borneheld and his company knew was that they'd had five days' start on the Skraelings, and that five days was the difference between life and death. When the Skraelings did finally reappear, they did not do so in force, and Borneheld's column had managed to keep moving farther south toward the comparative safety of Jervois Landing. The Skraelings would not push so far south. Surely.
Yet every step they took southwards toward safety increased Borneheld's bitterness. It hadn't been his fault that Gorkenfort had fallen. Traitors had undermined his command and betrayed both Ichtar and Achar. Magariz's actions had confirmed that. His most senior, most trusted commander had chosen to ride with his bastard half-brother rather than fight for Borneheld and the cause of Achar. For thirty years Borneheld's jealousy of Axis had dominated his life; now bitter resentment twisted his gut. Artor curse him, he thought, I hope he died out there in the frozen wastes. Screaming for me to ride to his rescue, screaming my name as the wraiths chewed the flesh from his bones.
But even that thought could not bring a smile to Borneheld's cold-chapped face. Now, after the treachery of Gorkenfort, Borneheld trusted few. If Magariz could turn against him, then who else might prove treacherous? Even Jorge and Roland, riding silent and introspective farther back in the column, did not enjoy the same depth of trust as they once had. No, Borneheld truly trusted only Gautier and Timozel. Who would have thought that such a young whelp — and an Axe-Wielder to boot — could grow into such a loyal and devoted servant to the Duke of Ichtar? Timozel had clearly demonstrated his worth on this march south, proving that he could harry men into obedience as well as Gautier, and fight with as much courage as Borneheld himself. Now he rode his horse slightly to the left and behind Borneheld, sitting tall and proud in the saddle, the occasional flare of his visionary eyes keeping Borneheld's own hopes alive.
Artor had graced Timozel with visions, and that meant Artor would eventually grace Borneheld's cause with victory as well.
Borneheld's eyes slipped to the horse that followed a few paces behind Timozel's. His wife, Faraday, clung to the saddle and to Yr, as she had since her horse succumbed to the cold three days ago. Could he trust Faraday? Borneheld frowned under the hood of his cloak. He had thought that she loved him, for had she not whispered words of love and devotion to him night after night, and fled to his arms when Axis had proved incapable of protecting her? But what was it she had murmured to Axis as they said goodbye in the courtyard of Gorkenfort?
Curse her, he swore silently. Her future would be with him, not with Axis. She would provide Ichtar with an heir, not whatever shadowland Axis currently ruled. He would rather see her dead than betray him as Magariz had.
The loss of Gorkenfort and, subsequently, Ichtar had hurt Borneheld to the core of his soul. As a young boy growing up in a loveless household, deserted by his mother, ignored by his father, Borneheld had always had Ichtar. And when his father died and Borneheld became Duke of Ichtar at only fourteen, he finally felt that his life had meaning. Ignored by so many when he was simply the son of Searlas, Borneheld revelled in the power he wielded as the new Duke. Power brought him the attention he craved, the respect he demanded, the command that was his due, and, eventually, the woman that he desired above all others.
Now most of Ichtar was lost to him, and Borneheld felt the loss as keenly as a physical wound. What power would he command as the man who had lost Ichtar? What respect? Even if he could win back Ichtar — and he would — he would still feel vulnerable. He would only feel safe if he commanded ultimate power over all of Achar, if he sat the throne itself. As King, Borneheld would have all the power, the respect and the love he craved. As King, he would surely be able to flush out the traitors about him once and for all. Desperate as he was to get it back, Ichtar was no longer enough for Borneheld.
And didn't Timozel's visions indicate that Borneheld would become King? Yes, it was Artor's wish that he take the throne.
Now, as he approached Jervois Landing, Borneheld reviewed the forces he still commanded. Despite the losses at Gorkentown — all of which had been the fault of either the demon-spawned Axis or that traitor Magariz — he still controlled a powerful force. The original column of five thousand he had led from Gorkenfort had been swelled by the refugees from Ichtar. As sorry as these refugees were now, they could work and some could be trained to fight. There were also troops still stationed in Achar that Borneheld could command. There was still a cohort of five hundred Axe-Wielders guarding the Brother-Leader at the Tower of the Seneschal. All these could be his. And, if those soft chimes meant what he hoped they did, he would also have the Ravensbundmen. Uncouth savages to be sure, but they had both spears and horses. If they could stick an enemy in the gut then they would be useful. Finally, there were the resources of the Corolean Empire to the south of Achar. If that simpering fool of a King, Priam, hadn't yet thought about arranging a military alliance with the Coroleans then Borneheld would make sure that he soon would.
Suddenly a stationary horseman loomed out of the mist and Borneheld barked an order to halt. He sat for a moment and looked at the inscrutable Ravensbundman's face. It was even more intricately tattooed in blue and black than most of his race. Dizzying whorls and spirals covered not only his cheeks, but his forehead and chin as well — although, strangely, there was a circular area right in the center of his forehead that remained naked and untattooed. As with all his race, the savage had tiny chips of blue glass and miniature bells threaded through his myriad greasy black braids. Even his mount — ugly, stunted, yellow-furred nag that it was — had glass and bells woven into its mane and tail. Uncivilized savages. Still, if they could kill they might yet serve a purpose.
Ho'Demi let the Duke stare at him a moment, then spoke, demonstrating a fluent command of the Acharite language. "Duke Borneheld. Gorgrael has taken my land and murdered my people. He drives his Ghostmen south. The Ravensbundmen live only to defeat Gorgrael. If you fight against Gorgrael then we will stand by your side."
Borneheld narrowed his eyes at the barbarian. "I do fight Gorgrael. But if you want to fight with me then you will place yourself and your people under my command."
Ho'Demi wondered at the implicit threat in Borneheld's tone, but it did not perturb him. He nodded. "Agreed."
"Good." Borneheld peered into the mists behind the Ravensbundman, trying to see how many men he had with him. "How many will you bring to my command?"
"Of the twenty thousand in my camp, eleven thousand can fight."
"You have done well to choose my cause," Borneheld said quietly. "Together we will make our stand here at Jervois Landing against whichever of our enemies attack first. This time, I will prevail."CHAPTER 2
Four weeks after StarDrifter tore the crossed axes from his breast, Axis — BattleAxe no longer — sat in his favorite spot on Talon Spike letting the wind ruffle through his blond hair and beard. Every few days Axis found he had to spend time alone, to lose himself in contemplation of these beautiful northern alps rather than in the intricacies of the magical Star Dance, Icarii society and his new life.
From his eyrie perch on the rock ledge Axis gazed at the blue-white glacier a thousand paces below, crashing a path through the lesser Icescarp Alps beyond Talon Spike to calve its massive icebergs into the Iskruel Ocean. One month ago the bergs in the Iskruel Ocean would simply have been flecks at the edge of his vision. Now he could see that the huge ice-bear on the smallest of the bergs had lost an ear in some past ursine dispute.
He sighed. Even the wonders of his new-found powers could not make him forget that Faraday was still trapped with one half-brother while the other, Gorgrael, was undoubtedly remarshalling his forces to invade Achar. And if Faraday or either one of his despised half-brothers did not occupy his thoughts, then Axis found himself worrying over the problems of his new life.
Father, mother, sister, uncle, grandmother. All exciting, all troubling in their own right. But it was StarDrifter who dominated Axis' days. His father, the man who had only existed in court gossip and innuendo for almost thirty years and whose conspicuous absence had given Gorgrael the grist to torment Axis in his nightmares for so long, was as compulsively drawn to Axis as Axis was to him.
Their relationship was not easy. StarDrifter was a forceful man with powerful expectations. He drove his son from first waking until Axis, exhausted, lay down his head late at night. And Axis, having been alone for so long, having been his own man for so long, both resented his father's intrusions and yearned for his father's attention. It was not easy reconciling resentment and need every minute of the day.
Axis' mouth twisted as he thought of their morning's training session. After hours confined in the one chamber, they had fought, bitterly, savagely. MorningStar, StarDrifter's mother and Axis' grandmother, who was often present, had finally dismissed Axis as she tried to reason with her son. Yet all Axis wanted to do was stay in that chamber and ask StarDrifter another question about his heritage and powers.
"You fought again."
Startled, Axis turned his head toward the voice. It was Azhure, dressed in a pale-gray woollen tunic and leggings, walking confidently along the narrow rock ledge. She halted a few paces away. "May I join you? Am I intruding?"
Axis smiled. "No, you're not intruding. Please, join me."
She sat down gracefully, curling her legs underneath her. "It is a superb view."
"Can you see the icebear?" He pointed to the distant iceberg.
Azhure laughed. "I have not your Enchanter's vision, Axis SunSoar."
Axis relaxed. Since he had come to Talon Spike, Azhure had become a good friend. She was the one person he felt he could talk to, who understood the problems he encountered as he embraced his heritage.
Excerpted from Enchanter by Sara Douglass. Copyright © 1996 Sara Douglass. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsThe Prophecy of the Destroyer,
Prologue: The Ruins of Gorkenfort,
1. Jervois Landing — Arrivals,
2. Talon Spike,
3. The Wolven,
4. Learning the Star Dance,
5. The Rebel Army,
6. New Responsibilities, Old Friends,
7. Dark Man, Dear Man,
8. The Brother-Leader Plans,
9. The Blood-Red Sun,
10. Propositions and Endings,
11. "Are You True?" Asketh the Bridge,
12. "I Will Lead You Back into Tencendor!",
13. Dinner at the Tired Seagull,
14. Through the Mountain Passes,
16. A Parting of Ways,
17. The Audience,
18. Through the Fortress Ranges,
19. The Alaunt,
20. Arrival at Sigholt,
21. Long Live the King!,
22. Azhure's Dilemma,
23. The Enchantress' Ring,
24. The Patrol,
25. Star Gate,
26. Gorgrael Makes a New Friend,
27. The Strike Force Lands,
28. The GateKeeper,
30. "Let Fly the Standard!",
31. WolfStar's Story,
32. Winter Approaches,
33. Forgotten Vows,
35. Carlon and Beyond,
36. Gundealga Ford,
38. The Nursery,
39. Skraelings and SkraeBolds,
40. "Woe! Woe!",
41. EvenSong's Memory,
42. In the Bleak Mid-Winter ...,
43. The Skraeling Nest,
44. "It Is Time to Reforge Tencendor",
45. Bad News,
46. Contemplations of a Rag Doll,
48. Axis' Salutary Lesson,
49. Baron Ysgryff's Surprise,
50. The Silent Woman Dream,
51. "Then It Is War, Brother?",
52. Battle Eve,
53. The Battle of Bedwyr Fort,
54. The Aftermath,
56. One Nors Woman Wins, Another Loses,
57. The Chamber of the Moons,
59. Shattered Vows,
60. Tencendor on the Shores of Grail Lake,
61. Betrayal Confronted,
62. Into Spiredore,
63. From Out of the Dawning Sun ...,
Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. The Wayfarer Redemption novels are centered around a few major themes, including destiny, sacrifice, personal growth and transformation, and the definitions and dangers of loyalty. Describe how each of these themes shapes Axis, Azhure, Borneheld, Brother Jayme, Magariz, and Timozel. Which theme impacts most powerfully on each of these characters?
2. The Icarii are a study in contrasts. They are said to value politeness and etiquette, yet they are vain, selfabsorbed, and can be seen as arrogant. As Azhure says of them, "They are very good at passions and very bad at friendships." Which of these traits does Axis share, and what impact do they have on the story? Is there an evolution of the Icarii during the events in the book? Describe.
3. In addressing the Icarii Assembly, announcing his plans to revive the realm of Tencendor under his banner, Axis thinks of the advice of Brother Jayme, "Learn to seize the hearts of your audience with your first words, for those hearts will always remain the most loyal. If someone needs to be persuaded with hours of arguments, then he will forever remain a potential traitor in your camp." Do you agree with this advice? Is one's immediate reaction to hearing something always the most correct one? How might this belief have contributed to the eventual downfall of the Seneschal?
4. When King Priam begins to waver, considering joining Axis in an alliance against Gorgrael's threat, the Seneschal leadership sows the seeds of treason and treachery against him. As Brother Jayme makes his fateful decision, he says, "What we do we must do for the good of the Seneschal." What is the author saying about the Seneschal's belief about themselves, and about the Acharite kingdom? How does the author portray the other religious beliefs throughout of the book?
5. Discuss the significance of identity in Enchanter. Much of the storyline is based upon characters discovering, claiming, or concealing their true identities. How does the author use identity as a way to advance the story? As a way to build suspense?
6. According to The Prophesy of the Destroyer, at least some of the Sentinels are destined to have "power corrupt their hearts." While much of the Prophesy is ambiguous, this phrase seems quite clear. With the considerable abilities the Sentinels wield, each would be a formidable enemy if corrupted, and even more so because Axis confides in them and depends in large part upon their strength. Why does Axis allow them such close confidence, and does this trust seem in keeping with Axis's character?
7. Obsession is another powerful theme that runs throughout Enchanter. Discuss the obsessions of the following characters, and explain how each drives their actions and destinies: Axis, StarDrifter, Borneheld, WolfStar, and Timozel.
8. Discuss the roles of women in Enchanter. While Axis is the Starman, and Gorgrael is the Destroyer, a number of women, including Faraday, Azhure, Rivkah, MorningStar, Queen Judith, and Yr, play central roles in bringing the prophesy to life. Which of the above women are the strongest characters? The weakest?
9. Discuss the idea of Fate in Enchanter. How much control does Axis have over his destiny? Are his actions driven by his desire to live up to his Starman billing, or is he merely along for the ride? How do the Icarii and Avar views of Fate compare to the Acharite perspective? Is Borneheld destined to be a victim? Could he have changed the outcome of his Fate?
10. During the course of Enchanter, many characters experience remarkable growth and evolution. Describe how the growth of such characters as Axis, Azhure, and Belial advances the story, and contrast these changes to those in Borneheld.
11. The Icarii view on incest shatters the norms of modern society, and is shocking in its blatancy. Why do you think the author choose to make this a part of their culture? How does the Icarii moral code influence their dealings with the other races?