Танит Ли: Anackire

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Танит Ли Anackire
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Anackire: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Raldnor, Storm Lord and chosen hero of the goddess Anackire, has passed into legend after bringing peace to the land of Dorthar. But after twenty years, that tenuous peace is threatening to dissolve. Contentious forces are brewing, working through subterfuge and overt war to see the new Storm Lord displaced. Kesarh, prince of Istris, has grand ambitions. Though he is only a lesser noble of Karmiss, his shrewdness and cunning ensure him a stake in the tumultuous fight for sovereignty. If he succeeds, he may yet win the power he craves—and an empire to rule. But his plans are not infallible—a daughter, conceived from a forbidden union, could prove to be his downfall. Ashni is a child not quite human, altered by the strange...

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Tanith Lee

To Oliver Cotton


From the beginning, as the beginning was remembered, the dark races had mastered the major continent of the planet and given it their name: Vis.

North, west and east, the Vis lands ran, ruled by men with copper skins and black skins, lands cruel and often glamorous, and a people glamorous and often cruel, possessed of many and various gods. A people who responded to the curious erotic stimulus of the red star, Zastis, which appeared for several months of each year in their night-time skies. A people proudly at peace after a long history of war, and mythologically united under an ultimate titular king—the Storm Lord, ruler of Dorthar and the dragon city of Koramvis, whose very name (Heart of Vis) demonstrated its eminence. Koramvis indeed, of all the spectacular cities of Vis, was reckoned generally the most powerful, and the most beautiful. High-towered white wonderful Koramvis, the heart-brain of Dorthar, beneath a dragon-comb of mountains. In less than half an hour Koramvis fell and was shaken to pieces, left thereafter in wreckage, like a broken glass.

Ultimately south of the continent there spread a region of land, mostly infertile, Plains called Shadowless for their overall sparsity of vegetation, which ended in a brief maze of jungle against the World’s Edge. There the water opened that was called the Sea of Aarl—the sea of hell. Between the World’s Edge and the kingdoms of the Vis, in the barren flat country of these Plains, lay the places of the Lowlanders. Once, the Lowlanders had had some greatness. There was evidence of that at least in one dark, ancient ruined city, far to the south. But the Lowlanders had come to be very little in the regard of the Vis. A white-skinned blond race, and yellow-eyed, they were xenophobically disliked, occasionally feared for their rumored telepathy, despised always for their lack of temporal strength. They had no kings, no leaders. They lived in scattered villages, or in the sprawling ruin. They were immune to the Red Star, sexually reticent, passive, inimical, alien. Monotheistic, they worshipped only one deity, the snake goddess Anackire, eight-armed and serpent-tailed—nor did they worship her in any recognizable Vis manner, offering her no sacrifices of blood, not even the burning of incense. Their proverb explained: “Anackire asks nothing because She needs nothing, being everything.” To such values the Vis paid no heed. Gods are like their people. The gods of Vis were demanding.

For several centuries the contemptuous antipathy of the Vis for the Lowlands had obtained, at a level, neither lessening nor growing worse. Then there came to be a Storm Lord, Amrek son of Rehdon, who supposed himself under the special bane of Anackire the goddess of the Plains, for from his birth, his left hand was scaled to the wrist—a serpent curse. This High King took it on himself to gouge the last trace of the pale people from his world.[1]

By then, however, there had come to be at last a king among the Lowlanders. He too was the son of the former Storm Lord, Rehdon of Dorthar. For his mother he had had a priestess of a Lowland temple, Ashne’e, a woman whose face resembled the face of Anackire. This man, Raldnor, whose destiny had at one time led him even to live disguised among the Vis themselves, a commander of Amrek’s own armies, flying Amrek’s enmity, had taken ship for Zakoris. And so placed himself in the hand of a fate which thrust the vessel from her course, through storm and fire, into the unknown surrounding ocean reckoned to be the sea of hell. And here he had found the second, lesser continent of the planet, the lands of a race physically kindred to the Lowlands, but temperamentally dissimilar—passionate and warlike. They were soon eager to follow the magnetic Raldnor to the rescue of his people, for justice and, let it be said, for spoil.

So war engulfed Vis after the long peace. Raldnor, as it seemed, touched by Anackire Herself, woke the Plains from their apathy. While his army marched toward Dorthar, the ships of the Sister Continent fell upon the adjacent lands. Swords rang, catapults discharged fire. Zakoris and Alisaar were besieged, starved, burned. Karmiss was taken, and Ommos, ringed by enemies, gave in. Lands friendly to the Lowlands were spared—Xarabiss, Lan and Elyr. They were infiltrated only in the way of the alliance, occupied only in the way of commerce, but that thoroughly. Wild barbarous Thaddra beyond her mountains missed the war entirely, save for an influx of refugees, and a later military strike from defeated Zakoris.

The last battle of the Lowland War was fought on the plain beneath the hills of Koramvis. The Lowland army, betrayed and cut off finally from the aid of the men of the Sister Continent, outnumbered by the legions of Dorthar, seemed set for destruction. But Raldnor had unleashed in his kind the terrifying mental powers known in their legend as the Sleeping Serpent. By will alone, or so the stories ever after claimed, the Lowlanders caused the colossal earthquake which shook down and destroyed Koramvis the Beautiful, before the horrified eyes of her soldiers and lords. While from the mountains’ feet above the toppling city, Anackire Herself rose like a golden moon in the black sky.

Koramvis fell, and the might of Dorthar fell, and the mastership of Vis was altered.

Having won the last battle then, Raldnor, son of a Storm Lord and a priestess, chosen Elect of the goddess, went away. A woman he had loved, and believed dead, had cried out to him with her mind—or rather with the mind-spark of their unborn child, still living in physical stasis in her womb. He abandoned kingship, power, his people and his god, and went to find them, his lover and his child, and the world lost him. Nor was he ever seen again—save in legend, or vision. He became one of that small host of heroes, like the Vis King of old, Rarnammon, who would appear like a bright ghost in the center of conflict, rallying warriors to victory. He remained, too, in the many who were called for him, the myriad “Raldnors” born at that season, and for seasons after.

Twenty Vis years passed, marred by a minor skirmish here or there, mostly years of surface quietude.

On the plain below the wreck of Koramvis, the new city had been built, shining white as Koramvis, perhaps more lovely even than Koramvis, though Koramvis now, of course, having become a myth, was nonpareil. Anackyra, the city’s name. It boasted ten temples to Anackire, chief god of the Vis pantheon. They had made her their own. White bulls died on Her altars. The sexual temple lore of the Lowlands had been augmented and molded to Vis forms. The Daughters of Anackire would lie with any man whose financial gift was offered to the goddess; such acts were holy.

In Anackyra too, the young King had been crowned, and the old titles retained. For the first occasion in known history, Dorthar’s sanctified Storm Lord was pale-haired—hair white as salt. Raldanash, Raldnor’s son by his marriage to the white-haired Sulvian of Vathcri, kingdom of the Sister Continent. Yet, blond heads beneath the diadems of the Vis were common now.

In Karmiss, the golden hair under the helm-crown was that of a Shansarian reaver-prince. He had taken a Karmian name with the Karmian crown, that of one of the island-kingdom’s long-ago valorous lords—Suthamun. It was Ashara-Ashkar, the Shansarian (or Vardian) Anackire they worshipped currently, in the capital of Istris.

But between the coasts of Dorthar and Karmiss the small anchored boat of land known formerly as Obek, was now Ankabek. Ironically, it had become the site of the most orthodox Anackism in Visian Vis. The tiny island was dedicated solely to Her temple, a building of black stone, as in the Lowlands. While all about stood groves of the warped little red trees of the Shadowless Plains, which now grew to great heights and lushness in the rich soil of the north.

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