Book 8 from Tales of Gom in the Legends of Ulm
How like Urolf (Feyrwarl) looked, except that his face had been used in quite a different way, thought Wycan, noting the laughter lines around his eyes. Feyrwarl wasn’t smiling now. “You rejected your own son, you presumably caused his death … You split our clan and wrecked these woods in a fit of pique. You are not fit to rule.” Everyone snapped to. Wycan looked around. A fight was coming. His hand went to his belt.
Looking down, Wycan couldn’t even see the ground on which he stood. On a thought, he bent to touch it, and felt … nothing. “The ground’s gone too,” he went on slowly. “I am standing in the middle of … nothing.” A clap of thunder cracked the silence.
You broke up the Yul Kinta clan, you destroyed this realm. Would that you had never been! Wycan whirled about to see two figures there: Thrulvar and the other. Wycan looked into that face and knew. Did he not look into one just like it every day? “Father.” Bonus item: illustration from Bk 6: The Fall of Aelyth Kintalyn of the Rowan Gate to An Telfahn
Leana’s face was white and anxious. “Gom?” “He’s headed for the Concourse.” “Then so are we. Elder Hanselor?” Hanselor raised his arm. “Forward with all speed. Young Althlafor’s in danger of his life!”
“As for one race being better than the other: my lady, like it or not, you are part Yul Kinta now—with your son.” For a moment, it looked as if she would strike him. Then she simply stood and strode away.
His mother slipped, scraped off the cliff wall, then rebounded off towards the falling water. Wycan grabbed at her arm but to his horror his hand passed right through it! Reaching her, the nearer figure caught her by the mantle. The mantle gave, fully revealing the burden beneath, A baby, bound to her chest with a shimmering gray shawl. That glimpse was all he had before woman and child vanished through the falling water.
Gom: “When will (Leana) waken, do you think?” “By this night’s end, we should know.” “Know?” Gom’s throat was dry. . . . “After living in our woods, Leana may now be part-Yul Kinta. . . . If she is unchanged, if she’s still fully human, the moment she awakens, she will die.”
“You would have me meet with Vala?” “You must, if you’d awaken.” “Mage, the spell that binds me lies beyond her powers. Is there an Elder with them?” “I don’t know.” Gom barely hid his dismay. After all the effort and sacrifice, Leana might still die?
(Wycan) opened his pack and pulled a bite. But he didn’t settle down to sleep. Every slightest sound brought him to his feet, empty-handed, defenseless against tooth and claw, until he almost wished for Gom to come again. . . .
“ ’Tis my own first knife that I got when I had learned to throw. I long outgrew its heft … may it serve you well. . . . Wycan slid the knife back in its sheath. If you find your father, remember me. For long, Wycan sat staring out into the dark, almost until morning.
As Keke rose to dive again, Wycan reached out and touched her thought. Not mad, not mad at all. Only deeply anxious to the point of panic. About what? Danger! Beware! Danger! Wycan closed his eyes, caught a flash of boiling waters broken by jagged points. Keke’s voice narrated by Anya Eleni Bonus item: Wycan’s path to Aelyth-Kintalyn
[Keke]: “That . . . boy you took up with. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!” Wycan? . . . “You’ve seen him? He’s down?” “Down and gone! Too far for you to catch.” Keke’s voice narrated by Anya Eleni Bonus item: Illustration of Wycan poling the raft.
Before (Wycan), the track curved towards the right. There, to his left, the smaller one trailed off into mist. One last look he took up the slope behind him, then headed down towards the Dunderfosse. Note: So far through the series, the viewpoint has remained fairly constant: in the first 4 books it is wholly Gom’s. Now, in Wycan, it shifts markedly and the moves in time and/or space are much wider. I have added a small chime to prepare the listener for them. There are two towards the end of this chapter.
Heat rushed up, breaking into sweat across his brow. Up under the peak, the song he’d heard coming from her bed: mothers sang it to soothe their newborn into sleep. . . . The strange and lovely shawl with which she’d bound him to her: a baby shawl! They’d taken it from her, just as they had taken him. “You’ve guessed, I think,” said Ythac.
Maybe passing under [the entrance grille] had somehow dislodged the iron housing. If so, he was well and truly stuck, why he could die down there, except— His eye went to the torch. Those things did not last forever. Someone had set that flame up there, and not so very long ago. A shadow rounded the corner, slid into the light.
Ystrid’s scowl deepened. . . . “Explain yourself.” Wycan gazed back at her, unflinching. The fire was still there, undiminished—but overlaid with something else. . . . Reaching out, he nudged her mind’s edge: Fear. Wycan watched her beat it down, watched her pride take over. “Lock him up.”
(Ystrid) broke off in mid-cry, a look of blank astonishment upon her face. Wycan half-turned to see what she was staring at. “Wycan?” Too late, Wycan realized that she was gazing right at him!
…(Gom) pulled a light, sent it bobbing up above his head, and gazed around on utter devastation. Only the bed remained intact. On it lay a small gray-green bird, eyes closed, unmoving.
“You know—” Ystrid paused. “My father never let us up here. I would see her now.” “Highness.” Ythac climbed onto the dais and drew aside the curtain, but even as Ystrid moved to join him, he let the curtain drop and whirled about. “She’s gone!”