calling out guarantees of his safety. Eventually, one of them found him cringing behind a barrel of sardines.With a voice neither tender nor harsh, he said: “We are Dûnyain, child. What reason could you have to fear us?”But the boy clutched his father’s sword, crying, “So long as men live, there are crimes!”The man’s eyes filled with wonder. “No, child,” he said. “Only so long as men are deceived.”For a moment, the young Anasûrimbor could only stare at him. Then solemnly, he set aside his father’ssword and took the stranger’s hand. “I was a prince,” he mumbled.The stranger brought him to the others, and together they celebrated their strange fortune. They cried out— not to the Gods they had repudiated but to one another—that here was evident a great correspondence of cause.Here awareness most holy could be tended. In Ishuäl, they had found shelter against the end of the world.Still emaciated but wearing the furs of kings, the Dûnyain chiselled the sorcerous runes from the walls and burned the Grandvizier’s books. The jewels, the chalcedony, the silk and cloth-of-gold, they buried with thecorpses of a dynasty.And the world forgot them for two thousand years.
Nonmen, Sranc, and Men:The first forgets,The third regrets, And the second has all of the fun.
—ANCIENT KÛNIÜRIC NURSERY RHYME
This is a history of a great and tragic holy war, of the mighty factions that sought to possess and pervert it,and of a son searching for his father. And as with all histories, it is we, the survivors, who will write itsconclusion.
COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR Late Autumn, 4109 Year-of-the-Tusk, the Mountains of Demua
Again the dreams had come.Vast landscapes, histories, contests of faith and culture, all glimpsed in cataracts of detail. Horses skiddingto earth. Fists clenching mud. Dead strewn on the shore of a warm sea. And as always, an ancient city, chalk-dry in the sun, rising against dun hills. A holy city . . .
.And then the voice, thin as though spoken through the reed throat of a serpent, saying, “
Send to me my son.
”The dreamers awoke as one, gasping, struggling to wrest sense from impossibility. Following the protocolestablished after the first dreams, they found each other in the unlit depths of the Thousand Thousand Halls.Such desecration, they determined, could no longer be tolerated. ———«»——————«»——————«»——— Climbing pitted mountain trails, Anasûrimbor Kellhus leaned on his knee and turned to look at themonastic citadel. Ishuäl’s ramparts towered above a screen of spruce and larches, only to be dwarfed by therutted mountain slopes beyond.
Did you see it thus, Father? Did you turn and look for one last time?