Roger Taylor: The fall of Fyorlund

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Roger Taylor The fall of Fyorlund
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    The fall of Fyorlund
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    Английский
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Roger Taylor


The fall of Fyorlund

"The time of Hawklan is so far in the past that it could be the distant future"


Prologue

Frantically the valleys and peaks sped by. Gone now was even a vestige of pretence at silence and stealth as the brown bird, its ghastly yellow eyes glittering, hurtled over the mountains from Riddin to Orthlund.

Contained within was the news of Hawklan’s escape from the trap at the Gretmearc. Within was the news of the destruction of that trap by a strange old man. Within rang the terrible noise of the battle that was even now being fought with that same man for control of the birds’ will.

The bird faltered. The battle or the message? All effort to the message, and it would be bound utterly. All effort to the battle, and the message might still be lost.

Then its master’s will reached out and touched it. The message must be delivered at whatever cost.

Unsteadily, the bird flew on, its wings a numbing vibration, until suddenly he was there. Tall and lank. Alien in the Orthlund sunshine. His eyes, red beacons from another age.

The bird dropped out of the sky towards him…

Chapter 1

Jaldaric started suddenly out of his sun-hazed drowsi-ness. ‘What was that?’ he said, sitting up and looking round at his friends.

In the distance, one of the horses whinnied uneasily.

There were six Fyordyn High Guard lounging away their off-duty hours in the small glade that they had chosen as a camp site when the Lord Dan-Tor had called an abrupt halt to their journeying through Orthlund.

For a moment Jaldaric thought that a muscular spasm had jerked him back from the twilight fringes of sleep as his body relaxed into the soft turf but he noticed now that all his men were looking round uncertainly, and an unfamiliar silence filled the clearing. Even the birds were silent.

He repeated his question.

The nearest man to him was Fel-Astian. Fair-haired and strongly built, he was not unlike Jaldaric, though his face was leaner and lacked the seeming innocence of Jaldaric’s.

‘There was a rumbling sound, then the ground seemed to move,’ he said cautiously, as if not believing his own words.

‘Did move,’ someone corrected, more confidently.

Fel-Astian nodded.

Then, as if signalling a release, a bird began to sing and the uneasy disorientation pervading the clearing faded. The men all began to talk at once, debating this strange phenomenon.

Jaldaric craned his head back to ease a stiffness in his neck. The brightness of the spring sky made him narrow his eyes and he noticed a small brown bird flying just above the tops of the trees. Strange, he thought. It was one of those charmless, drab creatures that the Lord Dan-Tor seemed to be able to tame and bring to his hand. Yet their flight was normally arrow-straight and almost alarmingly purposeful, while this one was bobbing and dipping from side to side, as erratically as a swallow.

A little way from the clearing, Dan-Tor stood on the rocky outcrop that he had made his private domain since he had returned from the village of Pedhavin with his unexpected order to halt and make camp. However, it was not the Lord Dan-Tor that Jaldaric or any of his men would have recognized, even allowing for the fact that his mood had been uncertain of late, and his normal commanding charm had been marred by uncharacteristic bursts of irritation.

His body was rigid and quivering, and his eyes glowed red and baleful with a gaze that no ordinary man could have met and stayed sane. Around his feet the rock was shattered and broken as if wrenched apart from its very heart; innocent victim of his immediate response to the news he had received.

He was consumed with alternate waves of fear and rage. Hawklan had escaped the trap at the Gretmearc leaving his, Dan-Tor’s, minion there demented and broken. Worse still, someone had aided Hawklan in his escape and he it was presumably who was now assailing the birds, his messengers, his eyes. Someone with knowledge of the Old Power, and no fear of using it.

Dan-Tor had been locked in tormenting internal debate ever since his decision to lure Hawklan to the Gretmearc to be bound and carried to Narsindal. Now it surged around him in a frenzy like a wind-whipped sea overwhelming a rocky shore.

Grimly he fought off the onslaught, and brought his pounding emotions under control with an icy will that belied the awesome glow in his eyes.

Whatever else had happened at the Gretmearc, Eth-riss had not been wakened. He would not be stood debating with himself in this accursed land if that had happened. He would be bound again in the darkness, to wait another eternity, another Coming. He shuddered involuntarily.

His calmer counsels told him that much could be gained from this disaster. Must be gained, mocked a voice within him. Must be gained, if you are to account to Him for your folly. He grimaced and dismissed the tormentor. His anger must be faced in due course, come what may, but actions taken now could perhaps alleviate it, and such actions would not benefit from fretful worrying.

Who or what Hawklan was remained an enigma. And one that spread further mystery in its wake. The message brought to him by the failing bird was scarcely intelligible, but it was clear that Hawklan had played little or no part in his own salvation, and was now fleeing the Gretmearc. And yet his saviour, too, had fled, though by some route unseen, pitting his strength against one of the birds. The thought was comforting. You’ll find the bird no easy prey, he thought, mali-ciously. It has strength beyond your imagining, and when it defeats you, I’ll know you, and I’ll find you at my leisure.

Standing like a column of rock in the Orthlund sun-shine, Dan-Tor’s turmoil eased gradually and the unfettered hatred faded from his eyes. Nearby, birds began to sing again. He had been right. Hawklan was a creature of some importance. True, he had not been bound, but his very presence had at once exposed and perhaps immobilized a hitherto unknown enemy capable of wielding the Old Power against Him. And now Hawklan himself was alone and presumably scurrying back to Anderras Darion like a frightened rabbit to his burrow.

Caution seeped into Dan-Tor’s momentary ease. The man must still be bound and examined. But how alert was he now? To risk the Old Power again would be unforgivable folly. He sensed a presence approaching.

‘Captain,’ he said, without turning round.

Jaldaric stopped, surprised as always at the Lord’s awareness.

‘Lord, we heard rumbling and felt the ground shake. I thought perhaps there might have been a rock fall.

Dan-Tor turned and looked at Jaldaric. At the sight of the Captain’s fair hair a memory of long blond hair glinting in the sun came to him, and a device for Hawklan’s binding came to him that was truly earthbound and far from the deep powers of older times.

He smiled broadly, a white banner of welcome light-ing up his creased brown face. ‘That was most thoughtful of you, Jaldaric,’ he said, stepping forward appreciatively. ‘But I was in no danger. It was a small earth tremor, nothing more. Unusual and most interesting.’

Jaldaric opened his mouth to speak, but Dan-Tor raised a hand and assumed an expression of almost fatherly concern.

‘I have to leave unexpectedly, Captain,’ he said. ‘And I’m afraid I must leave you and your men with a task as difficult and perhaps as distasteful as you’ve ever had to do.’ He looked deeply into Jaldaric’s eyes. ‘I rely on your loyalty, Captain, as does the King.’

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