This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
THIRD CYCLE - Introduction
It would have been hard to follow Butler's apotheosis in
SOLOMON'S DREAM with anything but irony or bathos if
the first novel of the Third Cycle, THE PRINCE, had not as it
were grown up with CS. The Muse had been kind here – She
has a better view of things, for sure.
In the overall scheme the Third Cycle concerns the social
aspect of life, marriage, family and the like. The third section
of THE FOURTH MAN tells of a prospective social union
that never quite gets there, it is superseded by the ultimately
larger issue of the individual. If we don't know who we are
then how can we form a workable society? Likewise here:
there are married folk and there are children, but there are
loads of other people with other concerns.
But the novels of the Third Cycle do have a common concern
- that of relationship. If the second cycle was about one main
character, then this cycle is about the attempts of characters
to relate to other characters. You will see societies destroyed
in the attempt, people who murder in order to reach futilely to
another, who have dealings with strange beings, and who
finally must be utterly broken so that some trace of genuine
love might seep out into the world.
Introduction to The Prince.
The Prince was written in early 1992, shortly after the
completion of Solomon's Dream and during a period of
intense activity engendered by the latter. It was originally
conceived at much the same time as Solomon's Dream, in fact
some of its strongest imagery was long associated with the
latter and only separated out as SD was being written. Yet
while they both have a spiritual dimension, they are also quite
different in context and tone. The true connection between
them lies in the fact that SD completes the second sub-cycle
of four novels and The Prince opens the third sub-cycle. They
are like the two sides of a door, each facing in an opposite
direction, but joined together at a level of truth that with a
little effort can be comprehended.
The Prince is the shortest novel in the cycle, though given its
concentrated narrative structure you will find that hard to
believe. It is one of the most completely realised of the
novels and yet still one of the most enigmatic.
than in the effect the struggle has on the prince.THE PRINCE summary The novel is about the relations between fathers and sons. his two advisers and his close friend. by turns nostalgic or bitter. and the novel tells of his reconquest of the Empire and how he goes on to do what his father could not do. projecting these relations on to an imaginary landscape in an attempt to display how sons are influenced by their fathers and what they do under that influence. whose father. The style of narration is simple. how shame can contaminate love. close to the events he recalls. subtle enough to discern the shifting tensions around the prince. ambition pervert loyalty. is defeated and driven to suicide by the machinations of a powerful priesthood and a great city. qualified to analyse the hidden influences affecting the Prince’s actions. protected only by two advisers and a small group of soldiers. whose relationship with the Prince is complicated by the fact that he is also the father of his close friend. once his tutor and now his confidant. The novel is narrated by one of the advisers of the Prince. The story is about a prince. 4 . He is the perfect narrator. in the form of a long letter to the son of the Prince’s other adviser. and how the prestige of the father can place a tragic burden on the son. leavened by the narrator’s eccentric humour and distinctive philosophy. an emperor too gentle to rule. It is a largely metaphorical work. The chief interest in the novel lies less in the outward events. The emperor’s death leaves his son a fugitive. and finally honest enough to see the part he plays in the drama. a keen eye for local colour. though they are detailed pretty thoroughly.
THE PRINCE is about 57. with the overriding aim of drawing out as much truth as I could about my main theme.Given the scale of the work. especially to do with the decline of spirituality and the growth of illusion. there are elements running through the novel which make it a parable about the contemporary world. my chief concern has been to compose a work about a group of characters.000 words long. at times whimsical but at times harsh. and to this end I have endeavoured to create a varied world for them. These elements are allowed to speak for themselves. 5 .
THE PRINCE PHILIP MATTHEWS © Philip Matthews 1992 6 .
‘The Prince makes war on his subjects.’ N Machiavelli 7 .
an embassy of the Emperor to assess the potential of the savages there. setting down memories of stone – which cannot deflect the light and shadow impressed upon them. because we assumed the savages used the Prince’s naive interest to pass judgement on the Empire. your father asked for me and we spoke of our experiences with candour and we finally relented. the other momentous. Then. We were with the Prince in the desert region beyond the mountains to the south. I will connect two events. I mean how they could live on generation after generation without ease and raise their sons without destruction of all hope. one that seemed at the time slight. I wish you to understand the greater truth of the Prince’s life. with shame for our lack of understanding. The Prince was then young enough to ask questions that from an older man could have offended by their implication. I wish to write to you now about this matter before I. opening that period of the prince’s life about which I wish to tell you. competing to form the judgement of the Prince. First the passing event. as you know. Further questions were prompted when we 9 . To begin with. to which they answered: ‘Between extinction and theft. too.Your father and I. One question was: ‘How do you live?’. that he was not merely a son who struggled to achieve what his father had failed to achieve. We were of course curious to understand how men could endure with such fortitude.’ This answer amused all of us except the Prince. I will write with candour. during our last days at Imbarco. eating snakeflesh and digging with their hands for water. were great rivals. They were primitive beings. as best I can. die.
But it was absurd to feel awe for naked men treading sand roughly and muttering in a harsh language. The momentous event of course was the arrival of messengers bringing the first news of the defeat of the Emperor at Sus-so in the northern Uplands. My first concern was for the Prince. In the Empire that touch would have merited death. not a sense of the awe in these desert men. Here the Prince gestured us back. What do you do more than greet the sun? They answered: ‘We raise the sun. but now an old man grinned wizenedly and touched the Prince on the brow. The messengers. meaning. during the ceremony. We had thirty five trucks. one of fuel. who were a distance away from the ritual area. and two hundred and forty five soldiers 10 . The ritual gestures of these naked savages conveyed a sense of awe in us – in us. together with their escorts.’ The savages rarely showed pleasure. and turned with the old savage to greet the sun as it rose above the desert horizon.’ Other messengers arrived in the following days and slowly we learned the full extent of the catastrophe. ‘What do you do?’. six armoured carriers. increased our numbers in the encampment. saying only to the Prince: ‘You have enemies now.finally rose early to witness their ceremony of greeting the sun. note. The Prince asked. food for three weeks. but the savages seemed unmoved by the news. so that we were obliged to leave the savages and travel east to the nearest fertile lands.’ Our silence provoked them to question: ‘Don’t you also turn the heavens?’ The Prince turned to us. and asked us: ‘Do they make the sun rise?’ Then the prince returned to the ritual and asked: ‘Are you priests?’. and they answered: ‘Priests are the servants of dreamers. two water tankers.
Punctures every day on the stony ridges we followed to keep clear of the sand. I believed the Prince had one great enemy. For my part. had not asked ‘Do they make the sun rise?’ but had stated: ‘They make the sun rise. I disputed your father’s assertion. the regional capital. seeing at once that the other utterances of the savages would appear in a very different light if your father was right.’ In other words.and twenty six officers. ‘He is the ruler. It can taint: it is of the will. and that we can also destroy it.’ and I saw that he defended the Prince and was prepared to serve him to the end. But in the desert the only savage utterance we remembered was the one your father and I agreed with: the Prince now had enemies. contrary to my belief. Our journey across the desert was slow. To which your father replied.’ I demurred. All your father said was. I remember clearly: ‘They spoke of responsibility. not happy with this defence of the savages: we did not need their lessons in ethics. your father asserted that the Prince. At Imbarco. This was all that the Prince had in the world now. as they did. We fretted. Madness is not stupid. one night in the Imperial Keep at Gordoc. Your father disputed this: the prince had told him. We sent a trusted officer ahead in a light truck to gather intelligence at Isocan. I was right. I argued that the savages had said more than that: they had asked if we turned the heavens. your father and I becoming 11 . even though his understanding was imperfect. the Prince believed the savage superstition. especially in the cold nights. as he did. that the savages knew that we upheld the world.
He did not consult us. to judge his disposition. the Emperor. this was on my advice. I wanted to meet the Emperor alone. east to Ansoc. the Imperial Western Road lost. The Empire was crumbling. We camped near a village on the edge of the desert. but I would not let him offer this advice. of course. I thought we needed more information. ending only when the Prince. too far out on the periphery for us. an important cross-roads. The defeat was a serious matter. a small city upriver from Isocan. on the grounds that at best Ansoc would regard him as a nuisance. at 12 . The news told us that the Emperor had returned to the Imperial capital. We camped close to Pamar. and I feared speculation would affect my judgement. with the remnants of his army. an armed group from the desert excited interest. a catastrophe for the whole continent. decided to follow my advice. We chose not to disclose the presence of the Prince.reluctant to discuss the situation further. Tocas. access restricted to mountain passes. The nearest Imperial Keep was at Ansoc to the east. though few were even dimly aware of this. north to Tocas. Your father wanted the Prince to return to Tocas. The Prince showed no grief or anger. to support his father. Officials came. not calm but set. We moved when our food supplies ran low. I asked the Prince to join us. threatening the cities. and we talked far into the night. The Prince was silent. Your father opposed me at first. Secretly. the provinces drawing into themselves. on the Seera River. keeping to ourselves except to draw water from their pool. now beginning to show sighs of strain. he spent much of the time alone in his tent or riding out with his guard. Further news told of raids by the Upland tribes down the great Solos River into the Plain.
but did not seem to be going anywhere. and your father. My advice was taken. So I listened to the Emperor and his attempts to recreate the battle of Sus-so with him as victor this time. my arguments were practical: the Prince was a threat to the Emperor. but the Prince was safe. The choice given us was to accept hospitality in Isocan until the situation on the plains had settled or to continue our journey within a matter of days. chastened by the decline in Imperial prestige. the Prince and the soldiers were to camp at the next cross-roads. I was in danger. The officers who brought me to the Emperor had told me that the army had fragmented. The prince was only sixteen. disturbed by news of the defeat. and had been so since his defeat. the rest of us suspect. and I realised I had already told him what he needed to know. If I did not return. chasing 13 . I was candid. a threat. We were escorted and messengers were sent forward to alert the Imperial guard in the pass. The Emperor was livid. seeing before them two high Imperial officials. and would protect the Prince with his life. I was taken to the Emperor at once. So. Yet I was the guarantee of the prince’s safety. Unfortunately. opposite Tocas. two days’ driving down to Atalac at the head of Lake Karas. should that be required. your father would know why. we presented ourselves as an Imperial embassy returning north from the desert. a lightly armed guard. I arranged to go forward and speak to the guard. I reported on the Prince and informed him of my fear. as a representative of the embassy. His men were heavily armed. loss of confidence. They condescended. we must hide for a time. our subterfuge determined we would travel north. that is. my son. As you can see. the Emperor dismissed the matter entirely.worst.
Then the ruler of the Uplands had taken the Headquarters division and discovered the absence of the Emperor. knowing your father had repulsed the Imperial assassins and taken the Prince west into the Uplands. No one else had been told this. and I was humbled to witness my Emperor so vulnerable. knowing that my loyalty was to the Prince. But his army rotted while the provinces began to fight one another and Kar took control of the Imperial Western Road. The Emperor kept me with him for three years. only six hundred miles from Tocas. They went west to the Uplands with 14 . ‘What goodness is there?’ he raged. powerless against God. I was not some kind of bait to the Prince. This was his shame of shames: he had been powerless. Then the Prince’s guides came and I went with them. Altogether. an advisor to his phantasies. protecting him from his shame. out of an army of thirty thousands. One evening. the Emperor told me that the priests of the Temple had spat upon his crown and sent him away without ceremony. I was a control on the Emperor himself. He had come to pray and had been humiliated. the Emperor had gone to the Temple of the Real God in the mountains. He and your father had established themselves at the Imperial Keep upriver in the Comar valley. only two hundred soldiers had died on the campaign. I do not think your father told anyone but me about those three years. To have a tribesman from the Uplands sit on the Imperial throne. You see. a superstition that had struck him suddenly on the edge of the Uplands. who was I to arouse the interest of one of Imperial blood? No.groups of tribesmen up empty valleys and into dense forest. dominating the rich plain of the river Solos.
beneath the Mountains he feared. Then they walked through the summer. The Emperor knew of this. the fear becoming deeper as the Prince’s state grew. Your father’s love for the Prince kept the group together during that winter. which the Keep guarded. at the headwaters of the Solos. south and west. and he felt urged to complete the preparations for a new march on Sus-so to turn defeat into victory. The onset of winter forced them down into the Comar valley. Your father formed the government and I established learning and thought. paying for our needs. The people of the city offered them food and clothing. philosophers. His fear was that the Prince might come to him. the prince’s army whittled down to a hundred men. knowing the Prince was present. officers. but I had learned enough to know that he was too ashamed to face his son. He did not come to Comar or into the Southern Uplands. He formed an army. Men came to the Prince. from village to village with local guides. searching for a safe place. the Prince.transport for five days. knowing also that his ancestors had come from their valley. soldiers. His campaigns were disastrous. expanding into the adjacent Uplands north. bleeding what remained of the Empire. officials. not losing wars as much as crumbling like clay before water. We lived a further ten years in Comar. They wintered in the Keep. and it was he who set the soldiers to collect the toll on the Great West Road. feeling its way along the Great West Road towards Soro and the Keep at Gordoc in the central Uplands. A number of 15 . a hard march with little food and no equipment. A new Empire grew slowly there. on goodwill with the people.
times the Prince operated to protect the Imperial armies from greater tragedy. Trees are tall and broad-crowned. the hills beyond heavily wooded and wild. The third was for ourselves. For us to have thought this in that lovely valley was. showing by example the limits of man. grass deep. my son. lived ten years that now seem idyllic. The valley is broad. We. We compiled three works. I am afraid. 16 . We were aristocrats in that valley. fruit from the farmers. in understanding both of the Prince and of your father. a turning back. a wide corridor along the river joining them. perhaps to some. We walked at twilight. We had game from the forests. I living with my philosophers in a college we founded upriver from the Keep. primrose in early spring. however. and I learned that I was a helpless observer. that I grew also. it would seem to you. Living as you do in the north. white then until the gold of autumn. and ease from the cities. for us it was a stopping: that there was something meant that what we sought already existed in its full power. The light changes with the seasons. One on morality. two ample plains at either end. but always luminous: butter in winter. teaching practical judgement and prudence. corn. fish from the rivers. you do not know the lushness of this sheltered place. One on power. Yet we knew there was a truth in it. always acting in secret on the rear of his father’s enemies. but. The Prince grew in stature as a ruler. even obvious. a languid work. wine. which presupposed what was sought. satisfied by day. flowers bright. were gleeful in the morning. easy. your father grew as head of his government. on the nature of thought. I assure you.
towards the end of my stay there. stiff with pride they served him. I admit it. his calm decency. affection for the good I do his son. having a new ease. slowly and with a deep kindness for me: ‘My father failed because he knew he was not an Emperor. I went there rarely in the later years. and then. he came in and sat in the great armchair. full of curiosity. the Prince of course brought memory of his childhood. and his gentleness then. the Prince moved to the Warden’s Hall. ‘You saved my life. He said.’ I was very moved. His father had not been an Emperor. the Emperor had been a good father.’ By calling me teacher. He gave me quarters in the house near him and saw me often.For the first two years. teacher. touched his chin. staring at the floor in front of his feet for a long time. coming in the evening. even coming to my room as he did as a child. and yes. His most senior officers lived with him. For a moment I feared betrayal. I was astonished at the force there. and said: ‘But he was a good father. The Prince looked down again. the group lived together in the Keep. the soldiers. you understand. who said to me when he saw me after my long journey from Tocas. not knowing limits. almost to tears. slipping in the door in his bright dress to sit with us. your father. The walls were thick.’. Once. to ask the questions not asked in school. When he looked at me. of course. an ardent room suited to gatherings. It was the Prince. the rooms proportioned. the hall of brick ceiling. that in three years he had learned so much. and he got to understand his men. the Prince. a small but well-built stone house set in the parkland below the Keep. When I saw that 17 . joy in his son. who was my joy. but in the first years that house and its park were my joy. and I could only nod slowly. I am grateful.
But there was no other occupation or pursuit open to him. He used that energy trying to subdue the Uplands and so unite the whole continent. the city being subject to him. and he came to understand that he should fear the Emperor. And he would have fit no other occupation. people believing he was Emperor and placing their energy at his disposal.father as Emperor. not trust to the love of a father. was able to steer the Prince’s government. a father only loves because he is a father. but the adulation of the whole world would not have done that. But I could see that what the Emperor wanted were new subjects and their energies. any man of power. though he is dead now. A seaport and factory of two millions. too gentle to rule. the priests spitting on his crown and the Emperor helpless. This I showed him in many ways. maintaining the momentum of the growing state. Our discussions then were more down to earth. thankfully. goading the Uplanders by urging the Emperor to seize the illegal tolls set by the tribes on the Roads in the remoter parts of the Uplands. But he was torn between fear and love. The Prince and I talked at length in the months that followed about the Emperor. Kar. ninety one per cent of the traffic on the western Roads. I am a father. I could not believe him. sprawled along the southern shore of the mouth of the river Solos. sending soldiers and officials to occupy the 18 . whose control of the trade on the continent is the real enemy. then perhaps he could come to believe in himself. If enough men believed in him. so I told him about the incident at the Temple of the Real God. but sitting on a throne. too. when he should have acted against the city. and I say fear the Emperor. It soon became apparent that the Prince was content with his own understanding of his father. yet your father. an Emperor’s son.
and always the patrols through the forests that separate Comar from Tocas. Or did he want a strong Empire. Was the Empire just a theory for him? Yet. Shame reveals. Then the Emperor could only act. would offer him supplies for his journey. over weeks in a cold winter.’ the Prince said to your father. near the great oak the locals called the Heart of Comar. If he comes up the Great West Road it will be to kill you. It was necessary to let them argue for a long time. A brilliant student recommended to the Court by an eminent scholar. my Prince. a man I came to see of deep perception. which as you know was always your father’s fear in any case. the beginning of a balmy spring. for the Prince and your father were drawn apart by the pressures of office and needed these talks to understand what each other was becoming. Your father was hard to divine at one point. Your father was aghast and told the Prince that the Emperor would not leave such a force in his rear. Your father eased the divide in the Prince by taking over his fear. but I think he was also secretly glad. that it was a question of time only. as I have shown you at the beginning of this account. Your father looked appalled. Yet we all knew.’ ‘The Priests desecrated the Imperial crown. those that came to us too. which no one but their wretched inhabitants want. I reminded them that the Emperor was shamed before his son. We were seated outdoors. the Imperial army must cross Comar. To get to the Temple of the Real God. Once they reached this understanding. coming as he did from the North? Whatever was his 19 . The Prince told your father and me that he would not oppose the Emperor. How could he face his son? ‘Your father fears the Temple.Southern Uplands. but he would not go with him.
always advising. that Kar was excepted. I may have saved the Prince’s.’ I said. I did not mind this. That was the first day we studied the oak underneath which we had sat. you would think. because he might lose again. We were also pleased with the day and we walked out on the grass. and the oak stands on a slight rise to the south of the house. your father was brilliant. noting. he was loyal first of all to the Prince. Only eight years older than the Prince. ‘His army could not face yours. ‘He will not attack then. life.’ I listed the Emperor’s campaigns in the north and south. perhaps. arms open to the warm wind and sun. always trying to influence him. ‘you forget desperation. open to both the cold wind from the Uplands and the furious hot wind from the plains to the east. by giving him the confidence he needed that first winter in Comar. And true. my Prince. a civil administrator. ‘So either me or Kar next?’ the Prince said. he tended to treat him as a younger brother. looking down to the swollen river and the rich land on its banks.’ your father said at once. ‘But. though without emphasis. and your father’s. The Emperor is attacking everyone. asked your father. against the cold winter storms 20 . It is in an exposed position. ‘They share the Emperor’s shame. but your father saved the Prince in a less obvious way. who lived with his officers. Thus its stance is offset.’ ‘Why?’ the Prince. It was surprising.’ your father said at length.motivation. I have told you that it was called the Heart of Comar. a master of analysis and knowledgeable.’ Simply put. The house is situated to the north in the park. ‘And not Kar. how pleased we were then.
sprawled appearance that weakens its dignity. reminding us. leaving a large opening on the upper trunk. see themselves before their Emperor? The aspects of the tree are appropriate. when it was still a sapling. twisted for greater strength. We brought an artist to render each face. Its endurance is obvious from the braced stance. on the northsouth axis. every bole and branch displayed. from the city of Comar below. Was this a coincidence? Consider that from the south. These were hung in the hall. fear of the Emperor. the boles arms raised in supplication. a skilled gardener had removed what would have been the east facing bole. More. wild uplands? Clenched arms upraised. the tree appears to be bending to Tocas. means that it faces Tocas and the Imperial throne. And to the west. the great boles. like a lyre. their beauty assuaging the Warden. For us they were like signposts. which gives the tree from that quarter a hysterical quality. perhaps. three of them ugly.especially. Coincidence. Facing east. the cold. giving the oak from the east and west prospects an ungainly. 21 . A dancing oak. a bustling tremulous people. in other words. Is this how the inhabitants of that city. and the boles spread. but my point is that from the house the oak was one of the loveliest trees I have ever seen. after the autumn had stripped the tree again. are upraised through firm angles. but leaving no evidence of the situation of the oak. in part no doubt to help it against the wind. the tear a great screaming mouth. It was only in the following winter that we understood this. you no doubt have already surmised. the missing bole leaving the gaping face bare. the servility of the people. yet a gay upsurge in the branching. and those who saw the four paintings believed they saw four different trees.
One client who paid: toll on truck after loaded truck. I will put it this way first: The desert savages. a period of waiting. my son. who ‘raise the sun’ each day. So much new thought. your father did not understand. pays for the value you see in yourself. I see this now. A subject should do what is expected of him. and I wonder if your father knew that? And the Prince? Only now I think of him – with shock. remote forest mostly. the many who waited for these goods. new understanding. It was for them alone that the Imperial Roads existed. Did your father understand? No. Did the Prince know this? A claim for a share of the profits? I did not know. not then. The Prince and your father were jubilant. No. gaining control of the city of Soro by a legal ruse and the army winning the Imperial Keep two hundred miles further west. I have thought today about this. The Prince could serve no one. In time. and beyond that were the fabulously wealthy Western Plains. Imagine that. have fought and defeated the Temple 22 .It was. Clients. Did the Prince know the purpose of the Empire? Not subjects. But a client. The watershed was only a hundred and fifty miles away. Gordoc. then. the only sizeable battle of the campaign. I mean. He saw more. and no more. Your father pushed the Prince’s state out into the south Central Uplands. the Prince and I ceased our talks and he returned to his soldiers. How well you serve him. my son. to allow them to trade with Kar. I taught the Prince about subjects. One client who did not. offering everything in return. I realise now. who bought most of Kar’s trade. about magnanimity and force. going up and down that piteously bare road in the dead landscape up there.
the world turns. Three complacent tomes. I hope involuntary. It was I who played with theory while your father and the Prince acted. winds blow. 23 . make water flow and grass grow. We do raise the sun. between extinction and profit among the people of Comar.of the Real God. I must think. so that the Prince followed their precepts. I was going to tell you about my college upriver from the Keep. reaching to the borders of the Western plains. He taught the Prince this. Yes. seeing the muscular face of the oak in the distance. It is they who saved the Prince. But my new knowledge mocks my learning of that time. And then. living. Your father understood the savages. when he was told of his father’s downfall. I must leave this for now. involuntary agent for the savages. and then. as I have already shown you. rivers flow and our food grows. We assent to all this. turn the world. The Prince could serve no one because he already served these savages. charge the winds. Can you deny these facts? The sun rises.
their castle of a thousand years. He was the savages’ answer to the Real God. We would walk blindly around its paths for hours on end.I first say. divided. I see now. knew the world is real. The Prince. especially the priest. divided again. seeing only magic. It is important. I had three companions. among the ruins of the imperial ancestors. then we began to talk again. going deep into the earth. The Prince knew this. learning it in the desert. but first I will tell you about my college. He was their victim. Against a real god they send a real man. which encloses much of the ruins and has many flower and fruit trees. telling him that this would make him every man’s enemy. I had not seen him for twelve years. a savage victim. How their minds run. Tears sometimes. the world is real. we found other corners to fight in. An old house. It was a dream of walls for him. I remember. The savages who guided the Prince do not believe the world is real. We had only two servants for the house. talking. the second an elderly priest and the third was a young graduate. You see. the student was my son. then we argued. son. If we split. We talked in the garden of the house. a budding philosopher. regrouped. One was a teacher from Tocas. I believed it was the light of thought. do you see. Be patient with me. I did not believe that the world is real. Your father did not believe the world was real. my son. tall trees. once. regrouped again. 24 . our needs were simple. We talked at first. and the student. man against god. I will tell you his story. There were roots there.
jamming up the processors. praising the flowers and the fruit. adding until two books appeared. saying once to me: ‘You advise the Prince to go as far as he 25 . load. they were preparing for the first campaign against the Western Plains then. sharper than mine. but your father found time to analyse my work at least. We put our thought into him in any case. Thought: ‘If only wars did not exist. The Prince did not read them. in one room.My son had the same brilliance as your father. dump. deleting. We taught him something of the learning of the old age. and when he repeated it to us it was as though as a spectrum. Power: ‘I won’t defend myself against my father. constantly shifting their attention. Morality: ‘In seven years we have outgrown this valley. he had so much to think about in Comar. Our morality argued that you ought to sustain yourself so no one else need sustain you. seeing thoughts in series.’ we said. slowly for us. I learned quickly. My son went to the Prince after three years and then we three talked and wrote. a range of subtle connotations that then taught us.’ we said. and we showed in our thought what it is that man sustains. The Prince needed such men. three programs.’ we replied.’ ‘Cross the uplands. Always walked among the ruins. That is how we wrote.’ ‘They do. more frequently in the later years – he was impressed by my son. The Prince came. then to our surprise my book came. passing texts about. like your father. he was the Prince’s man first. His questions influenced our thought. then his questions and our answers. Our political philosophy taught that there are limits to what a man could sustain. load. as though recycling what was left over from the other two books. Our books grew around these questions. amending.’ ‘Then against a fool. But it was not for him.
Such peace. But we worked in our room. buds. following the cycle of the seasons. different water in different seasons. sap in the shoots. then flowers and leaves. the 26 . all through summer and into winter. working in the gardens and helping on the river. turning grey rapidly for a bad one. The priest had a parish. I think now that they may well have felt the same. a new light and the trees are stirring. The uplands will tell you when winter is expected. them these other flowers appear. another time a day and a night. Our time in the Castle House was very pleasant. lingering gold if not. my son. I hunted. the estate. was rich in produce. Then suddenly. teaching them the enlightened ways of Tocas. parents as well as children. though rarely. the sadness of autumn. My son was impressed. best in spring. also. The river rises and falls. And all the growth. everyone’s. leaves become dark and limp. Trees begin to die back in August. more likely to help the fishing. I sank into a torpor. held service and preached. if it is up there. and the tree recedes into its pale vacancy of midwinter. and it is summer. in and out. sometimes a few minutes. by all three works. And the teacher established a school in the village. I have told you that the gardens were lovely. and I think he learned too from our thought. learning new things each year. That is such a powerful temptation. then shrivel and fall.’ Which is all you can tell a man. Everything grows and reproduces. but as though in a dream. talking with my colleagues. eyes were agog. in the second month. especially during the five years we wrote together. One thing led to another. If the sun if up there. doing both abundantly. all the signals and responses. then these flowers appear.can see.
infiltration on the border. for your father especially. but my son is important to me.world around us drove us to thought. and a mystery to me. But the Prince saw it as his realm. Forgive the digression. 27 . Also. They planned the campaign during the winter. so our labour was in vain as far as he was concerned. I mean thinking that the vision was not real. but not in the case of your father and my son. content to remain Prince in the Western Plains. I will return to the Prince. procured reasonable maps and travel accounts. The Prince’s army strained the resources of the state. Fleets of trucks to supply the army. a secure base against the Prince’s enemies. even then. so the Prince began his campaign at the end of the second month. Now? I see we dreamed away those years. He knew what he could do. one fast and heavily armed. and our thought drove us back to the world. But tension rose between the states. Their fear of the Emperor was one reason for this decision. to show his father. commanding the Western Roads and guarding the Plains. We merely told the Prince what he already knew. Restless signs came from Tocas and the Prince sent people to reassure the Emperor. upland forts forming a grid. earlier than planned. two armies really. Reaching the watershed in the Western Uplands determined the Prince and your father to attack the plains below. They discovered that an Imperial Keep stood in the heart of the plains. the other a fighting body to hold ground. mistaking vision for reality. The Prince knew more. there was a new refuge for the Prince. in the Keep together.
I laughed when I understood. stopped to look in windows.The convoys were very long. On the road to Soro. rocking the air day and night. saw that it was suicidal for the Emperor. The Emperor was dead. I could see them from the Uplands. on the Imperial Western Road. Then we had news of the disaster at Kar. and the peace of the place. sometimes distinct like insects. hanging from a tree before the sprawling city. thinking no doubt that we believed he was resisting a temptation. as usual. We sent disguised men into the Plains. dark chains negotiating the road up. and had only stories about the wealth of the people. to have a drink at a corner pub. was held by tribesmen. I will tell you what happened. I was shocked that my old idea should have produced such fruit as this. the Prince had the carrier stopped and he beckoned us out into the cold mountain air and pointed to a thin track that began at our feet and led up over bog and bare rock to the Temple. It was later that day that we began to receive the first reports of the stir in Tocas. and they saw no defences. Within two days we knew the Emperor and his army were advancing down-river on Kar. The Imperial army approached Kar along. the beauty of the country. Went into the suburbs of the city. a low thunder. Your father. Your father would have ordered a demolition team down immediately. He smiled. too. Patrols revealed that the passes were not guarded. to chat to 28 . The Prince resumed our campaign and grouped between the city and the Keep at the watershed. walking beside their trucks to relieve boredom. survivors coming within a week with detailed accounts. the Imperial Keep to the north. every lane and street. But I only nodded as if to say that we would be back on this spot again.
Negotiations and embassies were necessary.the inhabitants. and both your father and I prevailed upon the Prince to steady his advance. Leaving Comar upset me more that it did the Prince or your father. dazzled. regrets. They sold everything and brought Kar’s bright clothes. free to that extent from the Government. I discovered I had made many friends and had grown into the habits of the place. And then the true poignancy when word of the Emperor’s death was brought. It was fitting and we were very happy. and once again planned a campaign. The Prince arranged an elaborate meal in the hall at once. without reservation. and the army of the city itself. holding the festivals. that the Army could operate all year round down on the plains. the two south-eastern provinces. We all laughed. At dawn the Prince stood and said in a clear voice. We go to Kar. in a poignant way. for those excluded men. and ate and drank. I had seen plants and animals grow around me and entered the winter revelries. The question of tactics was important. Four armies could face us. perhaps the tone of absurdity of the poor officer who had to tell us. So we rested at Comar. day becoming night becoming day again. the Road Army of Kar. I didn’t believe then that I would return here in peace. to Tocas and its lake and plains. melting into the ease of that rich city. I was 29 . The Imperial army became shoppers and strollers.’ Everyone saluted him at once. We wanted to return to the Empire. working clothes. ‘Turn the army. It was strangely beautiful. By spring it was obvious that we would have to move to Tocas and reorganise the Imperial state. and made speeches. I mean. and we sat as we were. singing for twelve hours. some ceremony.
for ease. seeing armies too great for us. greed.) Proclamations. new powers to be studied. only twenty nine. ceremonies. We sought out the disposition of every force opposing us. always Kar opening its arms to us. malice. spite. a rival? A temptation? Its arrogant rulers? Its favour? All of them.granted the estate in perpetuity. At the time I wept for a pipedream. The city would continue to trade. buying off the Uplands. Learn from the Emperor’s folly. It could enter the Western Plains and take the Keep. A young Prince he was then. that was its interest for us. the situation dangerous for everyone on the continent. teacher?’ Yes. so involved with soldiers and machinery. I left my books and tapes. What then? Even I knew that something had to be done. we were attacking all of them. the best resources of the state equipping them. (Unlike at Comar. always in stained fatigues. We talked and argued as well. Tocas was puzzled by us. don’t repeat it. Which Kar were we attacking? The city of trade and manufacture? The city of gold? Of two million men? An enemy. Envy. excluding the provinces. The Prince refused coronation. court. the clothes suitable for Comar. ‘What then. seeing the Empire closing around me again. roads too long. telling the counsellors that the Empire had to be re-established first. The army of clerks shrank and an army of Imperial soldiers appeared. all were curt and practical. and wept openly on departure. Why Kar? I asked repeatedly. consumer of men. Each day the city was extending its control over the continent. So then we discussed Kar. where he wore simple robes. doing what the Empire wanted us to do. We argued through the 30 . a hope that I would return.
this is the region leading into the uplands and so can subdue the tribes for the sake of trade. Something cheaper but more valued. there is more.following summer in trucks. The reason. mostly young. That is why we are the Empire. Officials were drawn in. in the evening exhausted by the heat. Ninety per cent of the trucks returning to Kar searched contained people. What I know now has helped bring it to mind. A new capital. drinking ale. we discovered then. in art and writing. But. the strength of our desire for that city. enduring and fighting for Kar’s comfort and that of the Western Plains. so we had to be careful in investigation. A dry brazen heat in the summer. mean with clammy inversions in winter. newspapers and the electronic media. But at the bottom of all our thought lay the one truth. factories. Tocas is a torpid plain. Its advantage is that it is the only hinterland off the Great Plain. was that people don’t live long in Kar. Really. It is not generally known that quarter of the trucks sent into the Western Plains do not return. recognisable at a glance in Tocas. But I remember now that there was more. crowds. in camps. bright lights. Also. music. No other region can defend itself: none will attack us. We can control against all other pressures on the continent. All who had ever seen these people 31 . palace beside the Bank. too much excitation. We control. once you became aware of it: the Empire’s place was straddling the uplands. sometimes the exchanges were angry as our secrets leaked out. It was a seductive dream. What trade has Kar with the Western Plains that is worth one and a third more in weight? Not gold alone. the Empire itself had to talk it out. as I know now. We toll the trucks. even a shared interest. we had to talk the city out of ourselves. not their cargo.
We did go.from the Western Plains have celebrated their beauty. perhaps suspecting that everything would change. The Emperor’s attack on Kar had severely depleted the stores. of course. There was no resistance in that city. camping one last time in Tocas on the border with Accas. The Empire is the first step towards the Western Plains. We advanced by river and road to the Imperial Keep above Kar. We knew from the Emperor’s attack that there would be no defences. which joins the great Solos above Kar. Everyone was reluctant. Kar’s trade blocked. early summer then beside the most beautiful river in the world. the attack units taking the Great West Road towards Kar to protect our flank. Kar had to be confronted. Kar had swollen Accas almost as large as itself. trees shading its banks. but did they know the Prince’s weakness? We were cautious because none of us did. Our left flank would be protected by forests. slipping quietly past broad rich plains. Only on the bank of the Solos did we pick up. The Keep capitulated after we allowed them speak to the city. we had the river. It was hard to leave Tocas. The fighting army will go down the river to Accas on the Solos. We expanded the army. Wide but steady. We closed the passes into Ansoc to the south and Tesar to the east. both the Keep and the city. but as ever the problem was with equipment. and no Emperor had ever achieved it But in Tocas we were less happy. 32 . However. This has all along been the secret purpose of the Empire. We occupied the surrounding area as an outer defence and probed slowly forward towards Kar. but slowly at first. finding the attack units spread out in siege already. bringing down upland conscripts. and for this reason everyone wants to go to the Western Plains.
But we talked too. In front of Kar the Prince threw off his youthful reserve. The Prince behaved as normal during that time and told us to do likewise. a great hive full of drones. of its enchantment. But how to hold a city of two millions. all moving together. with the artillery creating confusion among the populace.The army finally drew up along a curve of ridges in sight of the outskirts of the city. Without our knowing it. We closed the coast road to 33 . brisk and in very good mood.’ We followed him back to camp. At night Kar was brightly lit and we heard the murmur of its activity. The army was restive. We could not let the army divide within the city. most wanting an assault. ‘Let us lighten Kar. looking for the first time. The people of the city were rising for their day of work. acted like an Emperor. so the Prince could select the right moment to send the oxygen flare units in to burn the roofs of the houses. vexing them a little. We moved units about to keep them busy. but already he had officers out. of course. intoxicated perhaps. bemused. I think. we tended to shift east away from the river around the city’s perimeter. others ‘light on’. drinking and eating for hours. we were afraid of Kar. that was the rub. truly animated in himself. the Prince called for silence and said firmly. We found the site of the Emperor’s death and the mound covering his ashes. We did not understand him. some actually believed he had said ‘frighten’. At dawn. We arrived minutes after the Prince. aroused by the huge blaze. a fire that raged on into the city for over two days. the pall of smoke that rose and rose. the crackling and the roars. the scarlet light dancing on the roofs of Kar. The Prince ordered another banquet. It is true. and we sat through the night looking down at Kar and its lights.
34 .refugees. and sped away into the city. grouping them as for advance. We laughed. overcome by absurdity. The Prince would hear no argument for any action against the city. In the evening a long car came out. That is what happened.A. comfortable houses close to the sea. shaking out his sleeping bag. speeding along the coast road with a blue light flashing. The fires suddenly began to die down and within two hours the smoke hung over the city. The din this time was overwhelming. The occupants spoke to our forward guards and passed them a letter. turned about. Sincerely K.’ The first contact was a young official on a motorbike. thousands of trucks and carriers churning up and down the local roads. who spoke to our forward guards. Our hospitality minister will visit you tomorrow morning to arrange for your entry. One evening the Prince said. waving back at us. then regrouping them. which was brought to the Prince. Then we waited for a week. Later we changed our opinions of their subtlety. ‘The mountain lion is growling. but your father told me that canals and broad parks separate the suburbs against just such a hazard. drifting slowly north. I became worried on the third day. He moved units again. asking if anything of the city would be left. We all read it: Sir We regret we had no notice of your impending arrival at Kar. In the morning we set fire to the suburbs facing us.R.
‘He is the ruler of Kar. A car came forward and a man in a blue costume got out and approached our guards. The ruler looked about him once the Prince had gone. cameras. Then there was activity opposite us in the city. We were silent with him. ‘Do you acknowledge me?’ The ruler nodded more slowly. was waiting for us. Everyone. straightening his clothes. obviously relieved. helpless before this funny man. irritation now with the city.’ We sat in the shade and drank Comar wine.We moved the army around again in the following days. We remained at camp. This worked on the soldiers. He said to me. ‘Are you from Tocas?’ I said I was. First bulldozers clearing the Road. Kar was not so bright now at night. We drank three bottles before the Prince said. Is that so?’ I nodded this time. rhythm broken. a mild and gentle man. A convoy of long cars came out and stopped in front of the cameras. pulling his right earlobe. everyone very tired. brushing his eyebrows. The Prince and your father excused themselves and went to a truck on the edge of the camp. touching his lips. but who fidgeted all the time. a growing bitterness that Kar had disappointed them. waiting. The Prince ordered all the trucks started and revved for one minute. Another pall of smoke drifted over the city. We waited and they waited. flags. We set our camp on the Great West Road. ‘You know who I am?’ The ruler of Kar nodded hastily. until another motorcyclist came up and asked us why we were not coming down. facing the suburb we blazed first. I do not usually believe 35 . then trucks. it seemed. ‘They say the climate is not so good there. keeping the army ready. a mile away from us. A soldier came and said. ‘Is that so? Thank you for telling me.
second hand reports.’ He was silent then and stared at his
nails until the Prince and your father returned, followed by
soldiers carrying large printout files. These were stacked on
the table before the ruler. The Prince said, ‘We require these,’
pointing to the stack. ‘You have four weeks.’
The ruler stood up and hid his right hand in his
costume, using the fingers of his other hand to flick the top
file open, glancing at the bottom entries of each page. ‘Are
there any non-stock items here, do you know?’ One of the
soldiers behind the Prince said, ‘No. Except.’ The ruler
paused, concentrating sharply on the soldier. ‘Except the
order for cold weather equipment is proportionally large.’
The ruler nodded, pressed his lips hard with his forefinger,
then said to the Prince: ‘We’ll assess this overnight.’ He
stopped, coughing lightly, catching the eye of the soldier who
had spoken . ‘Do you have this on disc by any chance? It
would help things along.’ The soldier brought several discs.
The ruler turned away then, waving his car forward, saying to
the Prince, ‘We’ll let you know tomorrow. What’s your
number?’ The silence brought the ruler back: he checked his
surprise at once and said, ‘Oh yes. Someone will come to
meet you tomorrow.’ The cars were loaded with the files, and
they sped away back to Kar, followed bit by bit by everything
else that had come out before them.
That night Kar was the brightest we had ever seen,
coloured lights searching the sky and flooding across the
ruins before us. The soldiers talked all night, discussing what
they had seen or heard about, enchanted by the colours. We
were quietly jubilant, seeing we might get the stores we
needed for the Empire. At dawn we started up the trucks and
roared, three bursts, two of one minute followed by a two36
minute rev up. At midday a long car came, bearing three
senior men, black costumes, and a printout itemising the
charges, total, city tax, credit terms, and delivery dates. We
did not know what it was at first until your father recognised
their symbol for gold. The Prince sent a barrage of long range
shells, phosphor bombs, into the heart of the city. Then he
had a letter prepared, reading:
The schedule you have in your hands represents an
Imperial Tax Imposition. Kindly have a responsible person in
your company read the Introduction carefully.
The letter was sealed and sent back with the senior
men. Your father kept the invoice for analysis, a valuable
clue to the city’s economy.
Two days later a long car brought a young man, who
identified himself as the ruler’s eldest son. He would not
drink much wine and he waited until we had drunk before
asking the Prince, ‘By what right do you claim this tax?’ The
Prince answered shortly and clearly: ‘Kar has Imperial
protection.’ The youth went away and the Great West Road
into the city was cleared during the next few days. We grew
in jubilation, with instructions not to reveal it. Convoys came
out then, new trucks, loaded with crated equipment, clerks
with delivery sheets. There were cameras again, but it seemed
the city authority stopped people coming out to see us. We
were busy, sorting out the stores, sending most of it back
under guard to Tocas. New uniforms were issued, old
weapons and equipment replaced and sent to Tocas as spares.
We had a new, and more comfortable, command vehicle,
four-axled, air conditioning.
The delivery was completed within the four weeks
stipulated by the Prince, and with the final convoy came an
invitation to the whole army to accept the hospitality of Kar
on a common within the city called Whistling Green.
I have rested a week before resuming this account to
you, my son. I have so much to think about. I walked in the
gardens, admiring the flowers and the trees, and fished in the
river with my friends. It is early summer here. Very luminous
this year, the light leaping everywhere, no shadow. I observe
the festivals here and two days ago we had our Spring
Festival, for the first flowers, which was an intense affair,
giving keen enjoyment. The young people danced for us and
you know what happens then.
I hope you are well, my son, in the north, and that this
account may teach you. I will defer comment on the
significance of Kar and continue with my account of the
Prince’s assault on the city, interesting in itself. By the time
of the invitation, the ruined suburbs had been restored and the
West Way had been illuminated for our entry. The people of
Kar now came to special stands on the edge of the city to
look at us: we sometimes moved units around, to remind
them. On the back of the invitation was written:
We all. the army being on a war footing and fully stretched. my Prince. They called the building “The Egg Shell” because it was as fragile. even the soldiers. spick and span. clearing the West Way as our escape route. It was an irrational fear. he ordered us forward. gaped: ‘How could a man do that?’ A specialist kicked once and broke the ruler’s back. We ranged into the city through the west suburb and secured the segment. but that it floated. 1100-1600 The Welcome Opera. your father and I. Refreshments and exercises. Only the Prince. When the buses started coming. Film. Refreshments and exercises. It had fifteen galleries and could hold the whole city. grouped at dawn.0600-1000 Ferry visitors to Whistling Green by special buses. because we were enchanted by the place and its bright colours. It took a while to grasp it. Refreshments and exercises. remembered what happened to the Emperor’s army. The Prince gave orders for parade dress. together with three specialists.R. gripping it and still shaking the Prince’s right hand.A. 2300-late Party: Second Laser Display.’ He caught the Prince’s shoulder. 2000-2200 The K. None of us wanted to vanish in there. Refreshments and exercises. I said to the 39 . 1700-1800 Dinner 1800-1900 First Laser Display. The common was fifteen miles in and we extended our front carefully through the city. The ruler came forward at once and took the Prince’s hand and said brightly. ‘If only I had understood. would go in.
jumping up and down like grass in a storm. climbed on and stood at the edge facing back to the dignitaries. and the people came on and acted their roles. But the Prince walked. Towards the end. Its very complexity was startling. the Prince was invited to appear in their Opera and guides appointed for us. and they had to accept that according to the rules of hospitality. miming with great concentration. But it was easy to cut the glare.senior men. after which we returned to the Imperial enclosure and drank another very light wine. down systems of staircases. The Opera was performed on a very large stage in the centre of the building. breathless. sat down and watched the Opera. not as bright as the sun. The wine was very light and they left us to finish it while they exercised. We were honestly impressed by the city. What amazed me. The music was everywhere. 40 . on to the stage. When finished. across to the stage. ‘The Prince gives his right hand’. here and there on the stage. I mean. Officials took their turn. We stood around him and saw all the lights shining in the wall of the building. and the others too. They trooped out of their seats. We stood there until the music stopped. Then they climbed back up the staircases to their seats. but people came to be near us and very soon we were part of the crowd of Kar’s high dignitaries. and we with him. there were too many things happening for you to understand anything at all. to the almost continuous applause as spectators cheered their friends on stage. each bowed once. We sat away from the crowds in the corner reserved for the Empire. was that the rhythm of all those feet on different materials was extraordinary in its complexity and sweetness. Then they acted out their lives. a little red light flashing on his shoulder to call the individual.
Your father. you could tell that from the colours of the hills. as seen from the Great West Road. The Mountains looked terrifying. of course. 41 . Tocas appeared. watching closely.The dinner was very rushed. genuinely interested in all that happened. and I was very surprised by my surroundings when I awoke and had to think carefully in order to know where I was. and they jumped up and down screaming. They excited the people. It was only when we understood that the forms were things that we could see the images of the continent and its peoples. hiding the stars. stars prominent. chattering to one another. just as we had seen it on the way to Soro. We saw forms in motion. The laser display was the beams of light we had seen. heading up now towards the Uplands. brilliantly displayed with remarkable detail. It grew dark and the truck rolled on. snow on the peaks. I remember. We saw the Mountains of the Southwest loom up. the Imperial Keep above in the background. The film was a vivid display of forms. We discovered we could have food and drink brought. purple and violet. very strange at first until we grasped the principle involved. more terrifying in their showing because there was no context and we had to sustain their form. It had been a bad summer. I dozed off for a while. white against the deep blue sky. It was only then that we understood that it was as though we were travelling along the Road. so we resumed eating. The Prince was animated during the day. drinking our own Comar wine. Then a specialist and I guarded while the others slept. could see no sense in all the display. And Comar. people around us eating very rapidly. but I was more guarded: the meaning of this day lay in its ending. like teeth. The rhythms wearied us. cheered by its body. poking about in the sky.
a battered landscape of exposed rock and tough grasses. deserted then. and there was something harsh in their bright glare. it really is that depressing. Then dawn. a shepherd camping by the great gate. no dwellings. We crossed a river I vaguely remembered and began the long climb towards the Imperial Keep at the edge of the forest at Gordoc. bent under the weight. The towns were bare. The images became forms again. the stone dark grey. Soro was little better. and the Mountains were closer. the intervening land more and more barren. only hundreds of animals with mounted herdsmen. I cried. lakes everywhere. We climbed and dropped. mostly wooden. all light gone. a weary damp vegetation. looking very damp. We drove straight through. stabbing at us in a complicated weave of drum and string. The music expressed the fear we felt. and the upland hills on our right looked as forbidding. few herds now. people in heavy clothes. the shadows seemed to move. The highest peak of the Mountains overbore us now. which would become the beautiful Solos. rivers and forest everywhere. we could see the stony slopes rising in shadow. and crossed a dark swollen river.yellow light ahead on the road. the noises in the truck in unison. It was only then that we became aware of the music. Then the Imperial Keep under the watershed. and the high upland hills began to close our view on the remaining sides. something nauseating me. now and then the light of a hovel. The land was hugely lonely. something deeply 42 . this image borrowed from a time preceding the reconquest of the area by the Prince. We dropped into the forest. twisted and turned among the trees. thank goodness. No farms or orchards. this time even faster.
We stopped and went into a hall lit by huge coloured globes and walked about for a while. We went through a primitive town. Even so. conspicuous because of their height and colour. Large towns at each river crossing in this forest. More lights than I had seen elsewhere on the uplands. I had never experienced anything like this before. a carpet of dark brown. glinting water everywhere. perhaps out of control. awakening when the music changed. working themselves up so they can relax. Evening came on as we climbed a long shallow slope. enclosures for trucks. drinking and shouting. I mean the intent expressed there. eating places.ambiguous. Both Uplander and lowlander 43 . gave a vigour to the city. animals in the streets and great poverty. gaining the ridge at twilight. people outdoors despite the wind and debris. And then things appeared again and we were clearing forest and turning to cross a river. having gardens and pavements. Many herds too and a city right in its centre. They sit mostly. The forms were blind and I could not understand why. I slept then. harsh in the sun. many river-plain people among the Uplanders. less dense this time. an unknown Imperial Keep ahead at the top of the hill. The people too. through that night. hills behind us only. It was a more comfortable city. hotels. the hills about violet in shadow. the open terrain. Their sexuality is thoughtlessly prominent. and found us descending a snaking road to a vast moor. and swung north through another forest. as though the land dropped away towards a bright place. in time to see a lake bathed in gold. but the clothes the people wore were heavier and all of the same colour. and an unusual light to the south. the smell of blood hanging over its abattoirs. The road veered a bit to the left now and we saw more forests on the distant ridges. observing the people.
armoured carriers. trees on either side and a tall white building before us. BANK inscribed across the top. I did at this point begin to question the import of what was happening. An Imperial Keep came into view a short while later. and entered the city escorted by the Imperial Brigade. You see. There was no music now. and we raced down a broad avenue. our eyes hooded like those 44 . standing in dazzling light. hands stiff by their sides. Nor could your father. But there was one more surprise. Then the soldiers began to salute. but the ambiguity I had felt earlier did not resonate with what I saw now. Above the Keep we breasted a ridge and I saw a plain open below. the Imperial wave. and recognised from the hills in the distance that I was looking down into Accas. remembering my earlier disquiet. the Imperial standard prominent. I realised I was assuming that this was the Western Plains. I suspect there had been none since entering the city. at once grimly restrained and a celebration of being out in the open. We travelled down to the Solos in the evening. again unfamiliar. shouting at one another. and dawn came as we passed the Keep before Kar.congregate together in the place. could not. sometimes sitting side by side. The Prince and your father were asleep. during the night we drove across Accas itself. but I had not noticed. unarmed. and I knew we were still on the Road. helmeted troops carrying new weapons. a wide river snaking through it. some of the specialists too. Tocas beyond the forests on the horizon to the south. to be frank. gun emplacements. then we were looking at the Prince and the rest of us. my son? We had been in the Western Plains and I did not see them. All at once there were Kar policemen in ranks.
enchantment in my face. as you can imagine. we had seen ourselves. but nonetheless active. mouths open in frenzy. staring ahead at us. The ambiguity this time was in myself: I found it hard to believe that these people were so frightened. The party brought a return of the nausea but this time things remained and with that a change of emphasis. A party is an informal gathering of people. but self-induced against the light. I felt an enormous involuntary thrill. Comar even more so. surprising myself by their number and variety. filled by the city’s people. moving in jerks. The Prince gave his right hand to the ruler’s son.of an eagle. drinking Comar wine to hearten ourselves. In one day we had seen a living city and seen more of the continent than we knew existed. We were embarrassed and contrived to sit in a sheltered alcove in the enclosure. The lights and the music echoed this state. Excepting perhaps the Prince. and we did not stop him because he 45 . a significant gesture. saying little because we had all witnessed the film. We rested with the local wine during refreshments. People came to speak to us and we chatted with them. One of the specialists left us. measuring. and took him aside to talk for a few minutes. I spent the time cataloguing the flowering plants in the gardens at Comar. This was the most dangerous time. driving the poor people into deeper panic. Most of all. about gardening and the weather. They moved some of the galleries and extended others so that a very large area was opened out. My eyes were gentle. clinging to one another in panic. none of us could fathom what was being done to us. Tocas seemed distant in time. I was thrilled principally because we could face the world like that. the Kar dignitaries pleased by this.
I had not expected it to. Their fundamental error is that they do not know that there is only one thought and only one will. a connection needed if what we call actuality is not to sunder into a myriad of isolated worlds. a curious attenuated faith. They cannot show how these are connected though. living off the land. and can only wish now that my son had likewise witnessed the contest. to say ‘It is raining. each completely without any sense. My defence included a number of apparent blunders intended to draw them out. Each year we do this. like machine processes. though I would not now. I have been away again. and walking is quite distinct from shaving. Your father listened to this with great interest.’ is quite distinct from saying ‘That is a flower.was no longer one of us. 46 . I was successful. Your father. My defence of the books did not convince the Kar philosophers. knowing what I had already learned about their lives. walking in the clear upland air. For them. to see the limitations of their new method of thought. this time fishing in the hills. Writing to you about Kar brought back many memories and impressions. I was glad your father was present.’. They believe there are many thoughts and many wills. A number of men came then and disputed the Comar books with me. despite their insistence that they are. at least. They merely believe there are connections. I defended the works with energy then. that thought and will are kinds of operations. curled up under a chair. as there is only one soul. I slept for a while and I saw the Prince asleep on one occasion. you will agree.
falling into palpitations. already there though for us becoming all the time real. all our willing contained within a single disposition. They smiled at my indication of their actuality. I quickly calmed him. The man remained in the state for only a fraction. more difficult to get below the concatenation in him. fidgeting in their disquieting way. pressing me to show the connection between past.glimpsed that all our thinking was part of one thought. other than irreversible causation. and that together with massage of his head muscles brought him back to us. Yet it showed us the crucial difference between the people of Kar and we of the Outlands. who watched from one side. present and future. as you might understand. very biddable. The result was that I did not persuade them. I did succeed. though it was a tedious exercise for me and your father and I think the Prince. as though they were clouds in a storm and not beings. The Kar philosophers tried to use my own argument against me. of their presence. I suspect the remainder intended studying my actions. clawing at his head. but only one philosopher accepted. and I could understand their excitation and abiding fear. building an edifice of speculation about a midnight sun that was little more than a phantasy. they are. the actual world a unity extended in time and space. It was a matter less of proof than of demonstration. suggesting he had inadvertently seen the sun rise. treating the event as mystical. he at least knowing something of what we know. only made them suspect I had used magic against the unfortunate man. still shaken. That philosopher wrote about the experience later in a number of works. shrieking that he was blind. They try 47 . It was not difficult to induce a trance. I offered to show them.
I remind myself now. I am perplexed. and only recently understood in its entirety. I write to you about the Prince. my son. and it was years before I learned of its source. to be candid. Of what I understand now. the Prince himself. I have broken off again to walk and think. not in an opinion or dependent proof. but because of the revolution it wrought in me during the intervening years. I will restrict myself to drawing your attention to the second precept of the desert savages: We make the sun rise. which I will relate later. for your father learned from him what he passed to me. the lesson starting in the desert before the fall of the Empire of the Prince’s father. I stress that I was not aware of the significance of the savages’ utterance at the time of our stay in Kar. Not because of that solely. I tell you about the Prince because the lesson lies there. till it brought me to the point where I had to detail this revolution to someone. It is a pathetic fear. one action upon another. because of what your father told me at our last meeting at Imbarco. and who better than the son of the man who in his extremity took the time to show me my blindness.to overcome their faith in connections by abolishing the need for connections. This account lengthens. I undertook this account. not with detail. rushing one thought upon another. But I lose interest now 48 . which I keep to a minimum so as not to divert your attention. but with a reflection that draws me away from my subject. afraid all the time that the chain will break and there will be nothing at all.
that is what he remembered. Which is the greater. The Prince knew. is the love of a son greater than the love of idea? Ah. But how do I know that I am real? Only by knowing the Prince. fearful that the comfort of my life may be under threat by my new knowledge. I confess. my son. somewhere in the preceding pages? I will read now what I have written. the memory and the idea coming together. to love. not to fear – if it were only that – but to a profound reluctance in the face of what seems to me here an overwhelming temptation to delude myself in some way. You saw it in my account of Kar. saying only that the matter is more complicated: I may be faltering in my initial resolve. we love to arouse. how they contended and with such complexity of rhythm. the love of truth or the love of a father? Or. Have I written out the lesson already. you cannot be real. now that I am real. When he said he would brighten Kar. perhaps for you I should say. my son. do you think? To be real is to be alone. This is why we like fire. But this source of knowledge in compounded by my love for him. This is what the Prince was for me and for many others. who is real. These battle inside all mankind. Even at Kar I should have known some of this.in the Prince’s life. He would raise the sun in Kar. We learn desire from fear. son. We knew that at the end of the party they would focus on the Prince again. indeed. You see it most clearly in the Prince and in me. Desire and fear. had known it from the desert. this time to compromise 49 . You see. In other words. I know now that I am alone. This is what battles inside me. have I clarified it. and the sun. which he did. make more clear our reality. They give us light. of course.
seeing the difference. that we should go out to the party. They stopped at the boundary of the city and spread out into the countryside. the lights danced rhythms too and the people of Kar fought one another. The laser lights came on in the sky above and soon afterwards the gallery lights went off. the Prince ordered a barrage of the heavy guns. You see. walking quietly along streets and lanes in our wake. so we knew it to be a light shone on us by the camera. the party thrown into darkness. which for some reason became stronger as we walked through the people. The image appeared on more and more screens until the whole surrounding wall was covered by the image of the Prince walking in the dark. It was truly unbelievable that they were subdued in that way. Their clothes were brilliant in the morning light. After the Kar philosophers left us. Part of me glowed also. 50 . a slight smile on his face. and as we walked the Prince came to glow all over a pale violet. and part of your father. we worked to clear the air of them. our soldiers folding back in due order. who screamed as in one breath. exploding loudly but harmlessly over the assembled crowd. their own equipment made the Prince appear to them as a God. The inhabitants of Kar followed. We walked through all these people in the dark. The people of Kar became very quiet.him. Some wall screens had images of us walking. To salute the city. watching us from every rise and hillock. Then the Prince signalled. it was their own skill that subdued. We pulled out then. so the camera could operate. never stopping because the Prince never stopped. We kept close. the Prince surrounded by his Imperial Brigade. and remained so until dawn.
We dispersed the army for a year. We returned to a Tocas relieved rather than jubilant. alone at the college. moving units frequently from one border to another. the Prince believing his firing the city fulfilled the savages’ command. a lot of rain and wind. for which I was grateful. It was a restless year. I cried once. released to me by the Prince. my 51 . command. He modelled himself on your father. same minds. Your father told me that the Prince believed he obeyed the savages. My son came in the spring. saying with unusual curtness that the Empire did not exist as yet. knew I could cry for ever like that and so stopped at once. but knew also that the savages had chosen him because of who he was. perhaps the same ambitions too. once again slipping into torpor. as I have told you.Need I point out that the Prince did not expect to glow in the dark? We had walked merely to avoid detection. bitterly. trying to grasp the scale of power he commanded and what might be done with it. high water all year long. This was reflected in a rise in the tolls. I spent much of that year in Comar. so their commands could only help him. much of it light. This was accepted because everyone assumed the Prince referred to the Western Plains and his determination to return them to their Empire. (Yes. They bemused him for a long time afterwards.) He entered Kar prepared to endure their festival and did not expect the events that occurred. indifferent to the wind and the rain. glad that the tension between them and Kar had been eased. and we talked for long periods. I fished often. my old companions having returned to Tocas. broody weather. to allow them forget their experience of Kar. The Prince refused to accept the Imperial Crown. But talking to him was not like talking to your father.
This had happened to us at the beginning of the Kar film. long after my son was gone. that at Accas and the remote fort in the upper Solos valley. it was tacitly understood. He could remember little of what we told him. He liked animals. he told us. These uplands are sparsely populated. rode very well. a source of fighting men. your father had also spoken to him in Tocas. but it secured the right flank of the Great West Road as far as Soro. his mind whirling.son had spent three years in our college and had a moderation that broadened his views. so I worked with him but never succeeded in bringing him to see Kar. kept dogs to have about him. Some principle was lacking which prevented my son understanding. The south-eastern provinces. which lived many years with me. 52 . the Mountains giving protection on the left. to Imperial soldiers. We hoped my son would give us a new assessment. Your father engaged in extensive diplomacy. Ansoc. when he tried to recall the city. except of course the Imperial Keeps. Tesar and Bosar had confused accounts of the events at Kar. I told him about Kar in detail. It was an instructive period. I think now that he was too young for the task. when we mistook things for forms. perhaps it is just as well that Kar has to be experienced in order to be believed. not so with Accas. But they were potential allies of Kar to their north. Embassies proved inconclusive. so this did not directly affect them. which opened its territory to Imperial officials but not. but knew tribute had been paid. the Prince on one occasion too. He brought me a dog. so they had to be controlled. They had no interest in the West Roads. on the road to Comar across the Eastern Uplands. high forbidding moor.
Service contracts for the maintenance of the new equipment. clothing. when we could talk candidly. We sketched plans for a circuit of the eastern half of the continent. engaging in combat exercises on the Uplands before Soro. The army would comprise four main divisions. Second. First. terrain had to be surveyed that had not been visited for generations. Food. It took two years to prepare for this four thousand mile expedition. the other in the forests on the border with Tesar. the service personnel joining us at Kar. the second would cross through the forest to meet us at Tesar. inspecting. the latter. it was necessary to protect out Upland border to the north and west. preparing. armed with old equipment – so that no new weapons should fall into the hands of their fellow tribesmen to the north. procuring high-speed transport. warmer now he was less reserved. more powerful weapons. the former to supply the first half of the progress. Uplanders were conscripted. The army trained with this new equipment while it protected our borders. but he made it a habit to eat with your father and me regularly. his new maturity evident. one west of Kar. stiffened by units from Comar. He spent much of his time with his commanders.Kar paid the required tax each year. the nature of the roads and resources noted. headquarters at Soro. some of it remarkably complex. touring. so the Prince was able to strengthen the army. The Prince remained alert after Kar. to accept formal allegiance to the Empire. the second half through Ansoc. from Accas around to Ansoc. One would escort the Prince through Accas and Kar. were arranged with Kar. the remaining divisions were kept 53 . fuel were gathered and divided into two enormous dumps. a show of strength to reassure the regions.
From there they could strike at both Tesar and Ansoc within days. I fishing out on the smooth waters. but we had to wait two days for the deputation from the city. the 54 . really unsure of protocol yet suspicious of the Prince. the Imperial army crossing to the north bank of the Solos. would drain Imperial resources and weaken the western front. and we stopped for a week on the banks of the river at our depot. three quarters of the entire army. A courtesy guard from the Keep greeted us. the two peoples.’ The contempt of the soldiers was two edged. drought threatening. After the submission. tall trees. afraid of what Kar might do if they submitted to the Empire. verdant. the division withdrew from the city and elements patrolled the region for a time. The heat was pleasant on the Solos. The route to Kar was familiar. In some ways. The Prince committed one hundred thousand soldiers to the tour. The mood was buoyant. while it blistered in Tocas. grain to the horizon. reaching the outskirts of Accas at dawn the following day. The Prince closed the Imperial Western Road through Accas and shelled the city for two days. it would overextend us. this adventure was as dangerous as the advance on Kar. War in the south east. camped to the east of Lake Karas in Tocas. The officials were obdurate. for the first time in about two hundred years.in reserve. showing that fat people that he could hurt them more. were distantly related. assisted or not by Kar. We made no attempt to occupy the Keep on the Upland border. and travelled down the Link Road without incident. the most popular joke was the remark by one of the Accas officials. though for different reasons. ‘We know nothing till we’re told. resting. of Accas and Tocas. We left Tocas with only official celebration. the summer was a particularly uncomfortable one.
drowning the stars. The third division came down the Great West Road to join us outside Kar. so it fell to your father to speak on his behalf. and the western suburbs were filled with the snarls of troop carriers snaking down long avenues and roads. It had the air of a vast parade. tracking the sky in complex pulses. The Bank building itself seemed to scintillate like frost. Part of the display included the floodlighting of prominent buildings. and we secured the centre of the city before the three of us approached the brightly lit stage. A new building with soaring arches and thin pinnacles piercing the night sky 55 . The main ceremony was due to take place before their chief offices in the tall building with BANK across its top. glowing violet in a dark blue field. The visit to Kar was prearranged with care. the troops were on battle alert. carrying images of the Prince.languages similar. to welcome Kar and its inhabitants back into the Empire. We entered the city and moved forward slowly. Documents were signed under the glare of banks of white light and the laser lights sprang up immediately afterwards. a pall of exhaust fumes rising in the hot air. details worked out in the Keep near the city. cameras relaying the scene to screens all over the city. but dispositions utterly opposed. Speeches by Kar officials took six hours. The Prince. The Prince did not speak. maintaining a clear sector about us five miles square. your father and I experienced a feeling of deja-vu. As before. the people of the city thronging the roads and streets. which threatened to lull us though we resisted this. fully armed and prepared. the Egg-shell pulsed waves of colour as though it breathed. the Imperial Brigade in white on the West Way. over fifty thousand soldiers armed with the most advanced weapons. to show the city our skill. as agreed. waving bunting.
Then. and that whoever owned them might well be the source of the city’s technological knowledge and expertise. nor where these craft went. the port facilities. The white bolts could not compete with the laser lights. but the roar and reverberation of the guns shook Kar like an earthquake. a residence for the Emperor should he choose it. each ship brightly lit. One of the craft lifted from the ground slowly. otherwise they would be used to trade with the Western Plains. we saw lit up some of their larger factories and works. He became satisfied with these inferences after further analysis and spent the rest of his life trying to discover the nature of Kar’s trade with the owners of these flying craft. The Prince’s reply to these displays was to signal a barrage of tracer shells over the city lasting an hour. low buildings to one side. We never received an explanation for this display. An open area on the north bank of the river. of course. Your father was especially exercised by this puzzle. lit violet. The only inference we could make is that some type of vehicle can fly in the air. We 56 .was to be the Imperial Palace. and rose up and up. or came from. still climbing to the heavens it seemed to us. a forest of cranes and hoists surrounding immense ocean-going ships. of course. liquid gas storage tanks. The officials smiled when we asked and told us to watch. and came to the conclusion that the craft did not belong to Kar. and I suspect the rulers of Kar showed us too much. generating stations. and then suddenly shot away east in a roar of thunder. what seemed to be very large buildings here and there. The last installation we saw confused us at first. but how this is possible we never discovered. sounding its siren. the bass rhythm impressing the citizens. lit by beams of light. more interesting to us.
headlights piercing the hours before dawn. Before I resume. ripeness. a precise moment when sap ceased rising. You will notice how I sustain the import of sentences by augmenting them with subsidiary images. I remarked in telling you about the Kar film that because the images lacked context. but it was an unique event for everyone involved) runs on. We did not look back and so did not know how the people of Kar wished us go. So. whether for good or bad. I find I must do likewise in this account. and try to remember some details of that tour for your entertainment and my consolation. I saw summer end this year. I would like to note one other feature of this account. remarkably like some huge beast. a last walk on the Uplands. we were obliged to sustain their forms. no ceremony. You notice my account of the Prince’s circuit (how many different words I use to describe the event. It will run on for some pages yet. I will tell you why. because I have realised during my long walk that in telling you about the Prince I am also telling you about myself. A momentary regret. an end to striving for the year. I will make a holiday of it. engines snarling and smoking. Away again. So I will tell you what I can grasp about myself as it comes to me.pulled out along the Coast Road afterwards. I am chattering about this harmless pointless expensive princely jaunt for the same reason the Prince dragged us all four thousand miles through the most backward regions of the continent: to prepare for much worse. but it will be warm here for a good while yet and there are the pleasures of autumn. I do so partly 57 . a diversion.
and this intensified his fear and hatred. over two hundred silver coloured vehicles and twelve hundred technicians. We confiscated all their powerful transmitters. years after your father died. Accas too. This. I mean that I will give you sufficient means to see the Prince as I have seen him. painted the vehicles dark blue. which I came to see. the place on this continent 58 . as a servant. giving orders for total surveillance of their activities. where the road from Accas joins the main road from Kar to Tesar. coming from the north. partly also to sustain your interest by means of an artificial vivification. But it made him brilliant. My only justification is that I believe it permits me to convey a complete image of what I perceive as the form of the Prince’s life and the task he undertook. The Kar service units arrived the following morning. Not so your father. The third division was to remain here as rear-guard. rewarding their services. But it was only in Bosar. and it was he who grasped the strategy behind the Prince’s life.because of my own dissatisfaction. I realise it now. is how the Prince treated Kar. words are such small dry things compared with the forms I attempt to describe. seeing into the savages. seeing where his kind of perception was required. Forgive this little deceit. and dispersed them to the appropriate sections of the army. It was a year before the significance of the big ships in Kar’s port came to him. to be a kind of jealousy: too great an envy for any charity. He studied the city as an enemy. a profound hatred. perhaps. We regrouped two hundred miles south of Kar. Chastising them when they misbehave.
what did Kar send away in those ships. a chill intensified by the warm calm air. perhaps too fluent. we on a warm beach. the sea smiling. the peoples of the continent. in awe of our equipment and strong engines. It was good farmland. it does. one of the three tributaries which form the river 59 . that he asked the other question that would vex him ever afterwards: What did Kar diminish absolutely on our continent. which. Then the Prince said. and appraised him. I assure you. Then he nodded at your father. leaving their roads and lanes as mudtracks. But the Prince waited until they had all spoken. ‘I tour the Empire. and people came out from the towns and villages to wave to us. The first embassy reached us at the river. except to complain about our second army. which busied the soldiers. The road was bad.nearest paradise. I think they smiled less after we had gone. saying afterwards. We could not use the bridge on their largest river. too much vegetation.’ Both your father and I were chilled. but we kept them well back in the town nearby. The country was hard to scout. that is. so that rain during the third night reduced our progress to a crawl. but useful practice. thrusting forward now to take the bridge west of Tesar over the Linn. But before that we had to advance to Tesar. later broad open country. The heavy vehicles ground the surface down. ‘That is not my concern. really a track for seasonal trade. simply. advancing carefully from Tocas to the west. at first a lot of forest. We were in radio communication with the second division. your father and I to one side. The men of Tesar are very fluent. of the sea and of the air? And the answer came to him by his special perception: us.’ to which they had no answer. it took three days to ferry the carriers across. assessing. The Prince smiled.
keeping the second outside. had withdrawn towards Ronas to the east. This is true of its government too. The Keep was undefended. yellow and a particular hue of pink. People spend all their time out of doors. wood with thatch or tiles made in the surrounding forests. and we ordered the second division across in the night to take the Keep at first light. on the Tocas road. Our scouts came in alarm to tell us that we were already among the outer suburbs. unable to stop among the houses. splashes of red and blue. The large Imperial Keep lies south of the city. such as it was. There are some stone buildings in the centre. the land flat and open. moving slowly through that last night. Tesar was like that too. No people came out to wave. which is a small city on the mouth of the Sel. and it was three days before we located a senior official. here or to the second division. mostly administration. trees and rampant bushes sheltering the houses. 60 . bright dyed wood among the vegetation. a friable quality that is both refreshingly gay and disquietingly decrepit. down at the confluence itself. the people of Tocas see no need for any formality in structure. From him we discovered eventually that the ruler of Tesar had also withdrawn to Ronas. The towns spread out. We went forward in battle readiness. The Prince had a proclamation prepared. no opposition. the housing of the region is light. who was mistaken at first for an elderly clerk in a crowded office. about three hundred miles to the east. so we took care. But it was more and more evident that the Tesar army.Tonos at Tesar. our scouts ranging wide around us. The architecture is uninspired. active but at ease. stripped of its arms and equipment. Thanks to the climate. arousing but impotent. We ringed the centre of the city with the first division.
We were camped clear of the habitations. quietly. not in uniform. The city people came to recognise this in him. ordering the death penalty for looting. their looseness. but with the aura of vegetable dyes. But we chaffed through the summer in Tesar. The people of Tesar have a passion for racing ponies. He liked their clothes. I follows his example. arms up in gesture. collar open at least. and many of us attended their meetings. talking with their whole faces and bodies. the heat unbearable for us. and it was by breaking their habitual rhythms that we aroused them against us. in the parks of the city. and they 61 . especially a vivid red in association with a sunny yellow. but because he was afraid of their clothes. and ordering all ruling officials and magistrates to attend. high humidity. and wore a gown of red most of the time for coolness. spectacular lightning storms in the mountains that border the region.announcing an Imperial Council at Tesar. Relations between the army and the city’s inhabitants deteriorated rapidly. There was entertainment. but your father remained in dark blue. a small-bodied animal with a graceful head and long fast legs. but our soldiers constantly blundered upon houses in the surrounding areas and the inhabitants insisted on using the park roads as usual. They talked and talked together. choosing yellow instead. The Prince liked to be among them. the army wanting to withdraw. The Prince would allow no reprisals and insisted on proper relations with the civilians. a lot of violence at night. not for principle or to intimidate. Their clothes were bright. We agreed to vacate the park they used for this racing. even so. enjoying the spectacle of the people as much as the excitement of the short intense races.
he bought a very young foal. his few words of thanks delighted my son. but colonnaded on the south to take advantage of the river breezes. though in white. and approached the animal and fingered its forehead with a sad expression on his face. which he assured us all would be a very great racer and the fountain of the Imperial stud. perhaps hoping that they could read the Empire there. as a gift. with yellow eyes. Your father read the proclamation before the packed meeting. as though involved in an unceasing game they enjoyed hugely. aloof rather than overbearing. pure white in colour. My son joined us during the summer. showing a good eye. which was generally understood. which leaped about him all the time. slipping easily among the owners and riders. The Council convened a short while after the summer heat began to abate. an outdoor man like himself. The ruler of Tesar spoke first. He arrived with only one servant. though he checked himself at once. and his dogs. But for the Prince. wearing Tocas suiting. He had come with the Second from Tocas. and brought a string of the ponies. He was shy of Tesar. eyes sparkling with happiness. but he made the gesture of winding a strip of red fabric as a sash about his waist. constructed of a dark stone. The Prince was spontaneously delighted with the gift. and sent them back to Tocas. whose face blazed with Tesar animation. speaking in his flat Imperial tone. We used the Great Hall of the Imperial administration building. too. and had then gone up the Linn to sample the famed hunting lands there. which made him very handsome and lithe. However. He became the most enthusiastic of us at the races.watched him closely. querying the presence of officials from 62 .
and listened to the ruler of Tesar again. throwing their order papers in the air. cheering people thronging the streets. ‘You may depart if you wish. Once the Prince permitted people to come and see his new white foal. ‘We of Bosar welcome you. at which the ruler’s men were adept. bringing the pert animal with them. We owe you nothing. The city especially was remarkable thrilled by the news that the Prince had accepted one of their ponies.’ The Prince listened to the cat calls and jeers. who were as enthusiastic as the city people about these ponies. and invite you to come to our capital in the south. mixing with council officials. The Council was opened once the disputations had ended. Later. now hammering the floor with their feet.’ The Tesar officials screamed this down. and the first of the officials to speak said in a plain exasperated voice: ‘We men of Kasar have come to your Councils for countless generations. They came and waited around the foal’s paddock in the hope that they might see it. Prince. the official from Bosar stood up and said. to tell you that we are not part of your Empire and so we owe you nothing except our good wishes. insisting that these regions formed part of the Imperial Province of Tesar. But we give you our good wishes.Bosar and Kasar.’ The officials of Tesar howled in echo of this. I have been sent here by the Men of Kasar to tell you in person that we do not belong to your Empire. Then the Prince said to the men of Kasar. and rode around the city in the sun. ‘The illegal armies of the province of 63 . We attended the last of the races before harvest. On that day the Prince and my son rode out. a flat peremptory sound in that stone. This led to weeks of legal dispute. The Prince waited till this riot quieted and then said clearly to all the assembled officials. especially the mimicking.
They talked for a week and then the Tesar people came back at the head of the army. the Prince personally installing the victor. uncertain of that province.’ It is surprising. We confiscated all the arms and took conscripts for the western campaign. perhaps. None will be punished. with an invitation for the Prince to visit Ronas. The ruler was pensioned off and an election held. The atmosphere was more relaxed. but only once did he exceed the Tesar riders. which remained encamped outside Ronas. which he was going to do. securing the bridge over the Rann. who knew their beasts intimately.Tesar are to come to this city within the next seven days. Then the Prince sent a delegation of the city people requesting the city people of Ronas to send the army to Tesar. despite the pleas of their ruler. and we formally acknowledged the province’s return to the full legality of the Empire. bearing all arms. incredulous. thus holding the road to Ronas. 64 . using the Second’s transport to ferry them to the base camp near Lake Karas in Tocas. both divisions stood down. valiant. The Tesar officials came most frequently to salute the Prince. The second division on the other side of the city scouted the Baton road to where it joined the Ansoc road. the officials relieved to retain their posts and receive their salaries. Elements of our division moved to the east of the city. and suggested he hold a gala race meeting in two days time. The officials of Tesar became much quieter. it being on the route to Bosar. scrutinising this man who visited their city. My son raced. It became evident very soon that only the region of Tesar had an army. that the city people remained friendly with us through the following tense period. a Tesar official not much different from the outgoing ruler.
the division waiting as planned after an uneventful journey. it seems. every one. So the people of the city became hungrier and hungrier. lamenting something nameless. You see? The people of Kasar were on the whole very content. very prudent. camped on the bank of the Tonos not far from the city. Then a man invented a wheel. placid owing to the ale: Once there were no roads and so no one travelled about. until they decided to make music to pass the time and let the music carry their burden for them. The city people remained plain in the face of the Prince. There are few machines in Kasar. It would go down-river to Baton when we had crossed into Bosar. so the roads are only cart tracks. Roads were built to the city. a small city with a 65 . The Prince arrived unannounced and strolled their main thoroughfare while your father contacted the city’s administration. skirting the impenetrable forest to the north. the Prince and your father went ahead with a light guard in fast cars. chanting merrily in a pleasant swinging rhythm. living frugally in a marginal world. according to your father.The whole city strung out along the Ronas road to salute the Prince on his departure. Their music. is sad. branching left and taking the road to Kasar. The second division remained. The party joined us near the River Sel. but there were never enough wheels. This is the story he and the Prince were told. wishing his well again and offering simple hospitality. to bring his corn to the market in the city. We rested two days before crossing and entering Ronas. Once clear of the towns surrounding the city. but the procession reached the small city in just under twelve hours. after a simple meal in the evening.
a pale sky but rich verdure at the lee of the trees. the frustration of the place evident in the colour. the stiff wind beating the vehicles. Ronas should be as warm as Tesar. except that the breezes from the eastern ocean are funnelled up the bay of the Sel. trees bent under fruit. which hangs in the hall here. They waited for us in their courtyards and arcades. tired from their work. They dressed in their red cloth. and consisted entirely of sitting among them in their arcades. By preference. In return. They mostly laughed in the evening. The scene is of an orchard. worked all over in gold thread. finding it too dark. Kasar refreshed by the sea. The Prince wore it at all times in the city. the city gave every soldier a simple but comfortable gown and for the Prince a gown of their best cloth. The city then strives for shelter. a low 66 . courtyards in the houses. the clear sky leached by airborne salt. But their hospitality was heartfelt. and ordered off duty soldiers to do likewise. which they had amply. a lot of fencing along the streets. both on the same bay. the patterns close and regular as though wishing to subdue the red in the gown. a lot of laughter. Ronas burned by it. doubly vibrant in this climate. producing both rich cloth and highly decorated wall hangings. I was given a fine wall hanging. arcades in the city centre. It was your father who compared Ronas and Kasar. copses and orchards dotting the landscape around about. generators and the Kar radio equipment.pinched hinterland rising to eight thousand feet on the border with Bosar. not much ceremony. The people are famous for their weaving. which stiffen you with an irritating incipient shiver. drinking wine brought over from Bosar. because neither Tosar nor Kasar would drink it. The Prince gave the city gifts of trucks.
which we would cross to reach Bosar. not needing its comfort here in Comar. surrounded by his dogs and horses. giving and receiving energy. Yet I do not think it was Bosar that my son looked forward to. as though all life swam in a profound sea. and took it with him to exercise and strengthen. and the Prince insisted he wear it in the city too. standing to look back at the ring of mountains. the pearly glow of a better climate dancing above the peaks.house nestling there. shrugging at every gust of wind. It always reminded me of fish in water. using all his skill. My son was remote. It reminded him of his beloved country in the hinterland south of Lake Karas. bringing a sense of the quick. The detail is magnificent. It was in Ronas that I realised my son would never become more than a provincial magistrate. farmland giving way to forest and mountain. reflecting his active mind. the dyes retaining their strength to this day. Like your father. spending much of his time hunting on the slopes to the south. speaking of so much of their lives. His life. though it was obvious he was uncomfortable there. distributing the kill among his servants and tenants. He wore a red gown in the city. served its purpose. My son would 67 . knowing that the people would not confuse copper and gold. It is a comforting vision. trying to see forms in motion. which you possess. Your father received a gown worked in copper. my son was ruled by an idea. aware of a hidden structure of life about us. the wall hanging prominent through a window on the wall of its main room. where he could hunt for days and meet no stranger. too fond of the lives of the animals of the continent. though. But he cared for the Prince’s foal. forever searching among them for something lost. but I hang it for its art.
man after man. I made my son love one image. seeking pattern. By the time we came to leave Ronas autumn was ending. at the stars at night. I made my son what he was and admit to guiding him to his end. I fishing in rivers. his first love. I mean the idea of the destiny of the Prince. I see that now. an ordering of awareness. But trained to seek form in series. Perhaps I was too close to him. he could only find the final form in the quick. And your father? He flew. binoculars trained on our moons. simply. Perhaps we were. the something enfolded on itself. seeing your father reading. But your father was the Prince’s adviser because he saw his idea as a theory. my son. with meat. in which the final form is revealed to us. yet can see now the inevitability of that end. while my son drew upon me. believing he would be blind if it were not for me. he hunting in forests. storm clouds among 68 . loving the Prince for this vision.have entered that sea and go down among active men. dog after dog. and try to feed them too. He stood looking at the sky. You see. ruling a city like Ronas. son after father. thrilled at what he saw. making myself too real to him. as it were. the balance of forces that surrounded his Prince. horse after horse. as he saw the light in his mind as my gift to him. explaining the Prince’s destiny to all. Like a bird he circled above his own thought. rather than studying. until he saw the aircraft at Kar and came to see the limits of his sight. I see that now. though I seldom saw him as a child. our identity. similar men. your father drew upon the Prince directly. Yes. his father. winter already in the mountains. gulping his breath as though some sublime revelation was coming. though I did not envisage such an end for him. the light of the world. animal after animal.
teacher. But usually it rained. We were soon in shadow. a sad landscape with no relief whatsoever. that he could not go back. We camped roughly. and stopped for the night at the foot of the climb to the pass. The city people were resigned to our going. The word swept through the division. We went among millions of sheep on the great heath behind Ronas. and the wind came. not that I knew why. By dark it was overcast. with candour. sodden and acid: the drain of the mountains. We sent a team forward at speed. scattered villages and towns. very jagged. the clamour keeping us awake. also devoted to weaving. The engineers came back and expressed their doubt. We crossed the moor slowly. reaching up on to the moor above by the third day. who brought up the question of the quality of the road over the pass. while we ate then loaded up. Later in the morning the sun came out and it lit the land ahead of us with a broad beam. low visibility for such a column. 69 . It is in order to live with their profound resignation that they laboured so hard. because of the mountains to our right.the peaks. a glare of spray over the city behind us and a doom hanging over the mountains ahead. The Prince said to me. I mean. whipping. and the channels by the road were flooded. ‘I cannot go back. a desolate land. producing such beauty in themselves as in their weaving. dashing heavy rain on us. the rivers rising. swift keen water sluicing by.’ Smiled for me and added. ten miles of trucks and carriers strung along the roadside. and it was only on leaving that we saw the quality of the inhabitants.’ And I did know. naked rock. It was the rain that alerted the engineers. We rolled out of the city with a stiff breeze at our back. ‘As you well know. reinforced by our bleak surroundings.
to keep the heavy vehicles away from these.Your father told the officers that we were going across. and it was mayhem. It was difficult to know what to think of our losses. Yes. rain and such mournful winds. many more wounded. half of the remainder took a wrong turn late one evening and drove over a cliff. everyone indoors. At that height we had severe icing in the freezing rain. But the rest of it? Who thought that winter was not a good time to cross those mountains? Absolutely no one. However. but with many undercuts. Morale was very low. Frequent rainstorms hampered us. I laughed at some point during the night. Few of those who were abandoned ever returned to Tocas. There was no shelter in the town. Attempts were made to police the column. most of our supplies gone. and men suffered the cold to get the vehicles going again. we were borne up in the knowledge that we would cross the pass early on the following day. driving in line over a cliff. the wind coming from all quarters. rain. men frightened rather than angry. ploughing in on top of one another in collapsed roads. doing what we never discovered. absurdly. all due to a failure of attention. an acknowledgement of those who died. The road was wide. On the shoulder. On the fifth day we reached the town just under the pass and found it deserted. tumbling two thousand feet down. The road subsided under the burden on three occasions and over twelve thousands were stranded and had to be left to find their way back to Ronas or Tesar. We grouped as best we could. Trucks sliding off roads. Fatalities were about seven hundred. stalling engines and shorting equipment. of course. the road rutted and treacherous. three thousand soldiers and not enough transport. everything soaking. and everyone 70 .
turning these men from despair to expectation. and two birds crossed our path. though it seemed a day. It was true. the town still closeted. Over twenty thousand men. No wonder we examined it so closely. some uproariously. An utterly meaningless place. knowing at last that they would enter the West. Your father was the first to admit afterwards to have enjoyed some aspect of the place. The landscape glinted here and there in the mist. One of senior officers said. as though heroic for enduring. but even so something pure in it. It was utterly idiotic. ‘At this rate. only black soft bog. black. the dream of most men on the continent. the engines seeking echo vainly as though in an abyss. perhaps because we looked at everything we saw. purples and indigos. irrelevant. a cleansing quality. We managed to make contact with our second division. We were not long in that world. and they passed from laughter to joy. approaching Baton down the Tonos.’ at which the Prince touched his own breast and smiled. brightening to a steady intensity before the cloud parted and we saw blue sky at the rise in the road. We moved out in the rain. its austerity was of another order from us. and climbed up into the mist.laughed. the questions of our losses unanswered. intense curiosity always tending to become awe. How judicious the Prince was. The wind suddenly dropped and it became unearthly quiet. no vegetation whatsoever. and order them forward at speed to meet us below the pass in Bosar. we’ll need a million men for the Western Provinces. Then we went through the pass. rock sheer on either side. twelve hundred trucks and carriers missing after climbing eight thousand feet. tails 71 . crumbling but appearing to endure. rock jutting in places. and a glow appeared before us.
We rested for two days. windows down to dry the vehicles. took long walks through the heather and gorse. to be expected in a wilderness. and offered us food and clothing. We halted at noon. a bay flanked by wooded hills. We dropped slowly. We began to abandon vehicles in a strict proportion to fuel levels and had only fifty vehicles. the air very sweet with the blossoms. dropping until the land below came into sight. overhauling the trucks and equipment. They showed us how to build shelters in the surrounding woods. slowly. and with no one to repair it.spread for gliding. tits. There were a lot of birds. There was evidence of deer and. spread out. chatting and singing. The fuel problem became acute on the following day when punctures were found in two of the tankers. forest first. impressed that we had crossed the pass in winter. a cheer in the place. the sea bright and even. the skies gentle. mostly rodents and some hare. one thrush. and pink and blue flowers sparkled among mountain grass and heather. and the men returned beaming. Our last radio gave out. The people came out to meet us. crows. The stream now by the road was bright and clear. Not many animals. I suspect. many walking now. and cleaned up as best we could. this time for three days. Suddenly the road was dry. using the broad leaves and light branches of a tree common in the area. liking the inhabitants. mostly light supply trucks. I’m sure tinkling though we could not hear. by the time we reached the town at the base of the mountains. We rested again. wolf. and some curlews. some I knew. we had to wait 72 . We went on then. We sent trucks down for food. hawks. and I collected some flower specimens. then rich farmland for miles to the coast. men dismounting from the overcrowded trucks to walk.
every gesture. so that everything was significant. The people were too friendly to refuse. stone removed for building purposes. worse. the water in the irrigation canals. no weapons. none armed.for the second division to arrive. The division was not at the town below the forest. Local traffic slowed us. the matting on the roofs. The Imperial Keep was on the wrong side of the river above Bosar and looked derelict. is to say that the place had presence. most in local dress or the gowns of Ronas. as it turned out. a good strategy. the colourful wraps of the people. Bosar having few vehicles. mostly horse and cart. it was possible then. It was by far the sweetest place I have ever experienced. officers as well as men. That was much worse than we thought at first and by the time we left that town our numbers were below two thousand. we began to get reports of desertions. the leaves on the trees. no means of getting beyond the city. That was our division approaching Bosar. The news spread like an idea among us and I’m sure every man looked around him and saw the incomparable loveliness of Bosar. Two hundred officers and men appeared. offering food and rest. The Prince calmed us and asked how many vehicles could get to Bosar. Only fifteen. the reserve divisions thousands of miles away. the land offering more. If ever vision could be satisfied. so the Prince asked those who wished to accompany him to the city to assemble beside the selected trucks. The best way I have of describing it to you. 73 . my son. so we moved on. the second division melted into this countryside. the soldiers marching in file now that the traffic was heavy. a puff of wind. After three days we tacitly agreed that the division had probably halted at the forest’s edge. the flash of wings near and far. and.
I went fishing on the sea. No distinct order was maintained among us and the Prince ate and slept with us. The local council welcomed us at the outskirts. getting to know people. No one minded. their leader saying. The people made a cheerful rhythmic music. an invigorating site in which we established ourselves immediately. swimming to cool. My son had lost or abandoned many of his animals on the crossing of the mountains. A large hall made of light poles and matting had been erected for us on the seaward side of the city. How clear vision can be in water. canals and swollen streams from the mountains and hills. offering us fruit from their trees. a very different pursuit. swayed rather than danced. my son. reserved but in good humour. I think to compensate for this. It is a land of water. the languor overwhelming. groups in small boats.’ We agreed dryly. which had survived in good health. along the coast road from the west. the people of Bosar on hand at all times to help us. This. certainly the water of Bosar’s ocean. talking openly to us. happy to give. 74 . Once again we had meals that lasted through the night. moving from party to party. though my son also suffered a little. in the open. as you know. was the case for your father. We were expected.of course. a great desire to sink into the deep. and export to Ronas. in large groups. usually along the coast road east. and it took three days to travel less than two hundred miles. music always nearby. the air burnished towards evening. comings and goings – which we learned to do very quickly. but he told us later that Bosar contrives to import from Tesar and Ansoc. gently rocking all day. and. ‘Very few come to us from over the hills. and ate and drank and talked for hours on end. became inordinately fond of his gift pony to the Prince.
The Prince permitted him to take care of it, and he would be
away for days with the pony, his remaining horses and dogs.
There was some coarse humour, but I understood why he
suffered, finding Bosar too rich, perhaps too easy. It was as
though taking the pony on long expeditions would remind the
Prince of his duty.
But your father suffered several severe crises. There
was little anyone could do for him, except listen, for he was
in the throes of a release from the enormous pressures he had
imposed on himself. The first crisis occurred during one of
our parties. Looking at the sky, directly in front of me, he
screamed and hit the side of his head violently with his fist,
staggering himself. The stars over Bosar are like fruit, almost
within reach. It was precisely this apparent closeness that
caused your father to hate them as he hated Kar, knowing he
would never reach them, yet air-craft rise up in the sky in
complete silence outside Kar. He was very crushed and
impotent for weeks afterwards, and though I tried to raise him
to vision, the strength of his will was too great for his safety.
The real damage to him was to see his beloved Empire, his
great all-continent state, shrink to the scale of a tuft of grass
in a wilderness, brightly winking stars beckoning. The word
is futility, but crossing his love for the Prince, creating a
terrific tension if him: the urge to do something useless.
Perhaps this is what drove him to breeding out of
season, long after his Spring Festivals. It was not obvious at
first, we thought your father was picking up again, but there
was an abstraction in him that I, for one, was uneasy with.
The Bosar officials told us about his passion, diplomatic
about the effect on their people, your father’s violence, his
possessiveness. Later I came to see that he had created the
situation in order to arouse himself from his futility, but then
I was seriously worried for the Prince, who was dependent on
your father for the day to day business of the Empire. At the
height of your father’s obsession, when he seemed poised to
abandon the Empire and abandon himself to destruction at the
hands of the people of Bosar, the Prince showed me an
instant of doubt, a momentary loss of faith that revealed his
humanity, the boy who trusted his father. Before I could
reply, not knowing what to say except something trite from
my days of teaching him, he smiled and continued: ‘But what
else is there to do now? I must live with myself.’ That
moment shook me to the core, and I will readily confess that
a life spent fishing on the Bosar ocean seemed very attractive.
But your father began to come back to us, the turning
point, I think, during a conversation we had, where I found
the opportunity to remind him that a woman always turns her
passion back on herself, like a scorpion, and should be
allowed to do so. Yet you were the result, my son, saving
your father from complete despair, if only by extending hope
one more generation, as all fathers do. Afterwards your father
made amends, learning nothing, of course, but the people
were ready to forgive him, I think appreciating the difference
between themselves and your father.
The third crisis I have already written about, which
occurred when your father remembered the big ships in Kar’s
port. This brought a return of his impotence, but then his
abiding hatred and envy of Kar returned and intensified,
something of his recent passion engaged, and he arrived at
what for him was the fundamental question concerning the
continent and for the Empire, which was, as I already told
you, what on the continent did Kar deplete absolutely. He
saw at once that it was us, the men of the continent who were
depleted, but he never managed to understand what was
depleted in us and how it was done. He had only his records
in the command vehicle to guide him, so he analysed and
reanalysed the data, gleaning what he could from them and
from memory. He became thoroughly engrossed in this, the
obsession driving him, notebooks by him at dinner, everyone
coming to feel a curious destiny lying on your father,
especially among those of us who knew what he was trying to
do. Once he said to the Prince and I, walking to our hall in
the dawn light, tipsy and intense, jabbing the air with his
hands: ‘I see all the ways in which we are reduced, but I
cannot grasp the principle. But it is there, I know it.
Everything about us points to it.’
Because of his jealousy of the city, I doubt if your
father would ever have grasped the simple fact that, rather
then Kar stealing from us, the peoples of the continent were
more than willing to surrender to the lure of the city,
believing they were profiting from the exchange. But what
did Kar offer? As I have already written for you, the city
offered the possibility of the Western Plains, the beauty of its
people, its fabled wealth. You see, being jealous, your father
could not accept anything from Kar; instead he wished to
take the Western Plains, for nothing, as it were, in the guise
of returning the Plains to the Empire.
There, I think I have shown you your father. You see
now what his service for the Prince and the Empire amounted
to? A way to the Western Plains which avoided payment to
Kar, a payment you northerners cannot afford, living as you
do on the subsistence of a poor land.
why think that the quick can tell you more than an idea does? At a glance anything reveals itself utterly to you. changing or unchanging.I have stopped to think. In Comar we learned a lot from my son’s interpretation of our knowledge. 78 . Yet I had another indicator while in Bosar. and not simply used them like other Kar equipment. I don’t concern myself too much with this question now. how do you see forms in series. seduced by the illusion of motion. and recollection becomes harder and harder very quickly. It is tempting to think that the loss serves some real purpose. why see a bird a thousand times in order to know it flies. yet we never thought to examine the principles involved. which I know is contrary to our most recent metaphysics. my son and your father had suffered crises there. do you wonder if I also suffered a crisis? Not so much a crisis as a temptation I knew to be false. Kar philosophers quoted as sources. but I fail to see how form requires existence in order to reveal itself. giving up its form in its entirety. Your father was educated by methods derived from Kar. and what techniques were employed in analysing such apparently meaningless series? I mean. What if he learned the city’s hunger. I see now the depletion willed by us. distorted in him to jealousy? I taught my son in order to break the influence of Kar’s education and tried to teach your father. But does that matter now? There is a point beyond which people forget. I remarked above that the ocean lulled me. likewise. what was surrendered. I think now it would have been better if I had studied their minds more closely. Given that the Prince. and I wonder now to what extent his resentment was imbibed with this knowledge. when its form tells you that? Or. as was my son. though that did not protect me from it.
Yet the experience helped me – afterwards. content to return to the darkness that is the answer to too great a curiosity. This is a simplification. though without any sense for us. but I will burden you no more. am I so naked? – and seeing finally how Kar technology could contrive to make a god of the Prince. as you are not a philosopher. my son. blinded by a vision. as I felt at the time. to stop knowing and learning. I could write a book now explaining this insight. seeing how different form was for him – and also for your father. to forget we are beings of knowing and sight for whom forms have their meaning. though in a blind and primitive way.calling to me from its depths. Our interaction with my son perhaps sparked the question in us. not as quick things or as the most precise images. though this point remained latent then – gave us a perspective on form. Several times I became lost in deep trances. You see that our book of metaphysics. Forms speak to us. having it reflected back to us – I will never forget that expression in my eyes. of course – to think about the origin of form. but I 79 . I have broken off again to think. we saw form with a new depth. had already touched on that question. written in a languor at our College in Comar. That is. seeing it extending into matter. And then seeing it extended further in the Kar film. that is what they are. and say only in summary that men are tempted always to make form real by reflection. I had been trained to see the purpose of form. that the mirror is our greatest enemy. drawn back to form. and the mind cannot hope for a greater reality of them. The languor of Bosar was such as to tempt you to want to become form. but never to question the fact of their presence to us.
hope you can grasp my point. all mirrors are our greatest ally in life. My companions were simple Comar people. the peace being a unified state where all work is completed. the air like the wine of Kar. This is what I meant when I told you. together. farmers. that holds these and the practical means they use. But you see that the principle is always before them. We think the mirror. religion and law.’ They fulfil their duties in a similar way. at the beginning of this account. They do not think. choosing practical means to practical ends. animals. When I wrote a month ago about Kar’s technique of reflecting. seeking peace for themselves. land. that I now see the world as real. in all their activities something abides in them. they are always working towards it. Such a loss of faith. theirs and that of the world around them. sharp and clear.’ or ‘We must go this way. while I perceive it already present in them. where I will continue my account of the Prince’s tour of the east. My friends see this principle in the peace they seek. and already present in everything around them as form. for my own sake at least. my son. the magistrate. proving that we see what we see. saying only. some principle that connects their concerns. and I give you leave to skip on from here to the next section. ‘It is a fine day. It is midwinter here and we have walked on the frozen uplands for a week. our priest. weather. a new depth. I said that it had given me a perspective on form. Yet. I want to write about this. Nothing escapes this principle. and I thought as I wrote that my perception of the 80 .
the house and gardens I value: why not the food I enjoy. the thought I dwell on. I mean here that the world was a necessary aid or occasion for 81 . seeking to fill the gap. but they have forgotten the form. And Comar? Many in Comar hold a balance among things. So. I wrote then that – I quote the sentence I subsequently deleted: ‘I see it (the loss of faith) in myself in my love of fishing. ultimately all things. and the inhabitants are sucked into a maelstrom of ceaseless activity. and you see that I led on to describe the Kar technique as a loss of faith. for then the form is gone completely and you find you need more things. And Bosar? Your father sought escape from futility among them and found only violence and incomprehension there. which of course they cannot fill. my visions? I thought about this up on the moor.’ Fishing! In what small harmless ways do we betray ourselves! Why did I not cite this account of the Prince as a sign of my loss of faith? Why did I not cite the processor I am using. I believed that the world was the light of thought. ceaseless labour their cure. the car I drive.world as real was derived from that new depth. for which I respect them. where rhythms and images speed up to fill the gap. to fill up the emptiness that ensues. then. This made me uneasy. It did not take me long to see that our use of things is not at fault: it is only when these things take the place of form that error and loss occur. I have shown you this in my account of Kar. so that their balance is merely an expression of timidity and fear. But it was present in Tesar and Ronas. what do I mean when I say that the world is real? I have written that previous to seeing the reality of the world. anxiety and resignation the signs of emptiness.
I fall down on a division now. all things in a futile abundance where only one form is sufficient. that it can be such an aid? All things are incomplete. but I know it is there. and in time I catch the fish. my son. except to urge you to experience the spontaneity of that joy. that it is merely a possible emanation of form as its communication with us is another emanation.seeing form. even at its first careful selfrevelation – caring lest it devours your frail reality. When I fish I cannot see with my eyes what I seek. The world is real once you grasp the unifying principle. completely so. my son. I can say little more. so that form is a purified. a thing of motion seeking fulfilment. But our vision of form is superior to the world’s enactment of form. The world is real: why is it real? Why can we not escape it through vision? Because we too are real. And fishing. countless stars. my son. while the world of things merely articulate it in halting partial series. as it were. which is always before it. for we witness to its perfect presence. not the Tree but countless imperfect trees. have one thought. vision of the world. the universe we experience incomplete. You see. How then can I say that we can witness form’s perfect presence? I can only say that I can witness the light. and have one will. But where is the world. Most of all. sharing the world’s futility. and know that some part of you knows the light. not the Man but countless imperfect men. No. 82 . protect it from delusion. and yet must rise later and eat. trust your will. we know one form. my whole being rising in joy to greet it.
no glass in the windows. my son unhappy in the back seat (the worst seat on the bus.We wintered in Bosar. having travelled now for over a year. The bus was brightly painted. Large trucks from Tesar swept past us. apparently studying the flat countryside. offering us his ancient bus. the range we had crossed in winter. and some of his council made the effort. We had some fuel. though the climate in the region varies little through the year. and matting for a roof. Your father got on with his research. It would hold us. and we chugged off down the dusty road to the west. so we were unable to reach Tosar with news of our predicament. two drivers and an artillery officer. Within hours we knew we were exhausted. mountains in the distance on our right. There was no long range radio in the city. The ruler. which consumed only a fraction of the fuel any of our trucks required. but not enough to travel more than a few hundred miles in our trucks. how it sprang up and down). one of my son’s dogs – leaving the remainder of his animals behind – and your father’s computer with its precious records. The ruler of Bosar came to our aid. Worse. the Prince sat up with the driver. rattling and shaking along. though. We secured a small truck of similar age to transport the Prince’s foal and extra equipment and clothing. staying until well into the following spring. If I say that the people of Bosar did not notice our departure. wave fronts of air jolting our little bus. it is because it was early morning and they had just settled down to sleep off the latest party. cursing each time he hit a wrong button or his pencil slipped. the noise appalling. our original army was reduced to six servants. forest appearing on our left. their multi-axled tractors and trailers churning up the dust about us. After two days of discomfort I 83 .
harsh in sunlight. We discovered for ourselves. quick with their fists and tongues. less languid than I expected. My meditation was simple. heat rising with the dust. the mountains overbearing. There was no ceremony. but we purchased fuel and food. glimpses of the ocean to the left from rises in the road. and crossed the river towards Ansoc in the west. a range of high mountains on either side. battered by hot and cold winds night and day. cold as ice at night sucking land breezes in a tormented way. The people are irritable. forests on the horizons all around. The massif is a great dome of granite. Our feeling of deflation increased 84 . each on its hillock. always the mountains on our right. though I had nothing to read or do. For two days we drove between the massif separating Tesar and Ansoc and the bay of Tonos. forever abrading one another. Baton lies at the mouth of the wide Tonos. no warning from the ingrates of Baton. Ansoc trades directly with Tesar by a pass between the massif and the first range of the uplands to the west.withdrew into long periods of meditation. almost bare. that sudden storms on the mountains send cascades and torrents of water down onto the land below. afflicted with funnelling winds from the interior. over halfway to Ansoc. A bitter climate. appearing to us as bleak stone walls. driving through broken country. hot and cold at once. but the noise and dust remained remote. creating huge floods. no windows facing out. some contempt for our transport. There was very little traffic on the road. winds buffeting us. the sea flat and dark. It was a week before we were safely beyond the influence of the mountain. and I retained a residual consciousness of my surroundings. There are few towns in the area.
Ansoc is a bustling.with each day’s travelling. everyone looking quite at home here. pedestrians weaving between the vehicles. but though his face was lined and dry. Each evening my son aroused himself. walking if we had to. white coat luminous in the dusk. The only light during the whole journey from Bosar to Ansoc was the Prince’s pony. fed and exercised the pony. Our entertainment after eating was to sit and watch that maturing stallion pace back and forward. his eyes remained bright. and the town had been designed to break the air flow. My son was apathetic. self-contained city. though slightly bent with fatigue. many fine public buildings. but approaching Ansoc your father made a reference to Isocan in conversation. of granite from the massif and red sandstone from the Upland range. A lot of traffic on its streets. insufficient data. grizzled. like ours. The Prince’s clothes. his life brimming there encouraging us with a glance. doubly frustrated. but they were not so ferocious. aware of how far we had come and how far we had to go. I suspect. looked aged beyond his years – only twenty five then – and groomed. snorting for us if encouraged. patient with the drivers and the discommoded servants. That last day’s drive into Ansoc was the lowest point for all of us. It too had funnelling winds coming down from the pass to the north. were dusty and streaked with sweat and stains. long 85 . and I realised with a new feeling of weariness that we would complete this tour. the Imperial strategist trapped in the middle of nowhere. even the Prince looked weary now. his dog close to him as though it was deeply disturbed by the noise and jolting. Your father worked with a haggard face. I assumed then that we would head north over the road to Tesar and then turn west to Tocas.
partly defensive.avenues running east to west. Explaining the absence of our army had to be undertaken with humour too. twisting street north to south.’ I was convinced of this. The Prince ordered the driver to continue through the city. apologies. We bathed. spoke to the guards and walked into the Keep. though it expected at least one division. Ansoc had prepared to welcome its Prince. and one very plush Prince in its van. explanations. To console them the Prince said. and hot food. but a genuine welcome once reserve. Your father explained that Ansoc took its status as an Imperial Province very seriously. turning south towards the Imperial Keep. the guards smirking when your father introduced us as Imperial officials. Counsellors came from Ansoc. to counterbalance the threat from Tesar. a horde of officials. knowing the Prince’s intention to enter 86 . At first the guards would not let us through the gates. Humour showed during the evening: the Prince driving through Ansoc traffic in an old bus from of all places Bosar. I realised with shock that it was modelled on Imperial Tocas. eighty miles downriver. though on a smaller scale. the baggy suiting of Ansoc. ‘They will come when I call them. Why not? His presence compelled us. acquired clean clothes. Tocas fashion a generation old. partly annoyance. When I saw the central square dominated by administrative buildings and churches. yet Ansoc attempted to maintain some semblance of Imperial order. why should it not compel these simple if brutal men? The Warden was a fat timeserver. probing for weakness in the Prince. dusty old vehicles with dirty passengers. Then the Prince got out. through whose territory the main road to Tocas ran. was overcome. though the Ansoc officials smiled less. chidings.
we learned that the third and fourth divisions were intact. ‘Don’t you want to see Pamar again. but there was only time to assure the capital of the Prince’s wellbeing before a storm in the mountains knocked a relay unit out. decorated with Imperial flags and banners. However. facing the Tesar border. In the morning I suggested/asked about our plans. good humour restored by a restful night. twisting. We rested in the Keep for three days while Ansoc prepared to welcome their Prince. receiving the Prince from the south when he had been expected from the east. though I suspected the sentiment. a more modest one for your father and I. a long one for the Prince. the city people a little aggrieved that he had passed through without announcing himself. The city was on holiday. so that we came to Ansoc with an 87 .the Western Plains. and your father said. in better temper too. borrowing horses. but the officials saw brave talk only. stating the assumption that we drive in modern vehicles over to Tocas directly. missing his own dogs. There were special cars. and said to me.’ They had walked most of the way. With that I was moved by the memories and could submit to them in good grace. My son did not attend. As soon as we entered the city. as it were. teacher?’ I groaned loudly – I was the oldest in the group. remembering the road over the mountains to Tocas. the Provincial Guard swung in behind us. the broad avenues lined with waving people. Contact was made with Tocas by radio during the night. from Baton. both on standby to the east of Lake Karas. ‘At least you could sit on your arse. Arranging the reception took as long as it did because everything had to be turned around. forty six then. electing to hunt in the forests to the west with officers of the Keep. The Prince laughed. twisting.
He shouted at me. ‘Development!’ I was lost. knowing the strain he was under. How old is this car. the carriers behind us? Forty or fifty years. facing alternately towards the river below or the mountains above. a 88 . the car cruising steadily down an avenue towards the river. compare the bus we came in. the insight coming from elsewhere.’ He was now looking forward towards the Prince’s car with a pleading look on his face: ‘Don’t you understand? KAR MANUFACTURES NOTHING!’ He rubbed his face. overjoyed and amazed: ‘That’s it! That’s it! That’s the secret of that city! It makes nothing!’ He quietened for a while. Could Kar make such advances in so short a time? Could they afford it?’ He suddenly banged the door of the car with his fist. Compare them with the vehicles we lost in the mountains. his weeks of study boiling up in him. barges tied up at quays. imagers and their fancy lights.army! Such was the insecurity of the province. frightening the driver behind the glass partition. Why should Kar waste so much energy and gold to improve a few thousand trucks when the earlier designs were perfectly adequate for the continent’s needs?’ He was furious. worried about his behaviour. the city people could not bear to see the Prince alone with only two of his officials. unconscious of the staring multitudes on the pavements. ‘Don’t you see? Who develops Kar’s technology? Look. how old? One hundred years at least. only to be awakened by your father. the computers and radios. who appeared to be in a frenzy. I dozed off at one stage. looked at the back of the Prince’s head. So we paraded down one avenue and up another. ‘No! That’s not it! The Empire has never required these developments. ‘The ships! They are brought to Kar in the ships. rubbed his knees. All those new trucks.
So the Empire protects Kar’s trade with the Plains. yes? Fine now.few cranes. then. It makes no sense. Thousands and thousands of young people! But why the young of the Plains. and for that attention his mind cohered: ‘Now. wrote. It also supplies the Empire with increasingly sophisticated weapons and electronic equipment. ignorant of the slaughterhouse at the end!’ At last he turned to me. haze of exhaust fumes drifting above us. does not supply – this continent. taking what we are given without question. and to there alone. Is that all a city of two million people can produce? And. at the same time they go to the trouble to develop new. complex technologies no one has asked for. don’t you? The Empire is given a new fleet of trucks. then wrote again. we crossed that mountain and stepped back a hundreds years. Why not trade for them too?’ He brought out a notebook and his little metal pencil. trucks and more trucks. hmm? Look at all the young people here. note. In Tesar. yes? Now. wrote. as I had done from the beginning. thousands of years. correct that. Where are we then? What do we know about that trade? People. Then he hit himself across the face and exploded again: ‘Why didn’t I think of this before! It is so obvious! We’re like animals in a barn. new arms once each generation. the Empire and the Western Plains. staring at the people on the pavement. It supplies both with trucks. In Bosar. It has two customers. So what does it receive in return? The Empire keeps the Imperial Roads open. horizontal lines running from his eyes 89 . in Bosar. Kar does not produce – no. that means that Kar’s trade with the Plains is primary. yes? Where do they go? To the Western Plains. scratched out. look. new equipment.’ I paid attention. yes? Which means? That only the Plains has what Kar wants. rationality returning: ‘You see it.
my son. I looked forward at the back of the Prince’s head now. like the myth of the wealth of the Plains?’ He put his notebook and pencil away. but morale seemed good. What did I give the Prince? Indeed. despair rather than futility in his voice: ‘The Prince will not listen to me. A better army than that of Tesar. They know the Prince now.around towards his temples. his hands coming to rest between his thighs: ‘And we had Kar in our grasp!’ He looked at me again. I don’t remember much of the remainder of that day. about ten thousand soldiers. not much armour. yet the Prince went beyond these gifts. exploiting their talents to the limit. seeing how he used his people. that I have survived all of then. He chases the popular myth of the Western Plains. I gave him his life. but he shrank back. and I saw the division in him. he said to me. He said to me. the Prince reviewed the troops. almost coldly. both grievously mis-educated. ‘For their beauty? Isn’t that just a myth. despair overcoming idea: ‘We’ll never manage that again. sunk in an apathy deeper than my son’s.’ He looked away from me. Remember. sat back and interlaced his fingers in his lap and bounced his enjoined hands on the flesh of his thighs. I moved towards him.’ Your father was quiet after that. almost conversationally. and expected nothing in return. At the end of the parade. pleading with me with his eyes. now dragging these spent men in tow. a better sense 90 . Your father gave him Kar and my son gave him his pony. He looked as though he was about to cry. though I take no credit for it. When I had withdrawn. Never.
you will only find it within yourself. breathing. How far do those ships of Kar sail? A thousand miles?’ He turned back to the Prince. The guard was alert. eating too fast. the Prince surrounded by Ansoc dignitaries. by what is practicable. a comment. the rift eating back into your father. the carpet. silent. Then dinner. yes? They were delivered within four weeks. but you must understand that we must rule by reason. Your father thought to conquer a world. moonlight on the river. I said. spent. your father too involved in what was a matter of Imperial policy. Your father was sullen. the Prince smiling and watching. ‘You? The ex-stock items in our Impost. talking to him and for him. repressing his violence in his presence. Then a reception. who had told me. a faint glow of the massif to the north. But back in our quarters in the Keep – the Prince had declined to move into the State Apartments in the city – your father approached and spoke to the Prince intently. a chair. Your father could not understand the Prince. speeches afterwards until I fell asleep. our 91 .of itself. We drank some wine then. chatter. That is what I had taught the Prince as a child: whatever you seek. ‘They have their trade. my son. more than could be expected in Tocas itself. a dangerous rift. each seated. nor was I pitiless then. of course. Back in the stony chamber. an Imperial force. nice wine. more entreaty in his voice: ‘Another land? Are they an enemy?’ The Prince watched your father. and said. I absented myself. your father turned to me immediately. Think of that. the land in light and shadow. that he had to live with himself. and walked the battlements above for an hour or so.’ The Prince nodded and your father slumped. eyes focusing hard on the wall. I am not pitiless. when he nodded to me. his teacher. letting him talk himself out.
We had my son for three years and we could not help him overcome his blindness. behind that. but a compelling myth. but also. but the Prince showed no inclination to get in touch with Tocas. The relays in the mountains had long ago been repaired. and for your father. they then tried to torture their errors into some kind of rectitude and so found themselves even more entrenched in their blindness. who day after day moved from place to place down the long estuary of the Seera. what hope had I alone with your father. To escape this hole. You will have authority to examine their records. after all it undermined an error. Many kinds of fish moved 92 .’ I sighed with relief. the flight of sea-birds. source of hope and disillusion. ‘You will take an Impost to Kar. In itself. but no replies were ever sent. My companions were ordinary fishermen from villages along the coast. slipping into a satisfying torpor. He said to your father. a necessary stage. Yes. because I knew we would go to the Western Plains. Your father had called that a myth. but the water was contaminated by the city above. I fished in the river. now obsessed. the colour of the sea. Messages came for him.continent. as in the case of my son. the power of his turned will? But the Prince was kind. intent and incoherent. We stayed in the Keep for most of the summer. the rift was not bad. They showed me the signs they followed in seeking the shoals. going out for days in large boats. and discovered on the way other worlds beyond his power to possess. for your father’s sake. and so I went down to the coast and fished in the sea. But. drawing in nets full of various fish. fearing the abyss beyond. conditions of its surface. your father could not replace the error and so an abyss opened in him.
the whole city waiting to say goodbye. We drove up and down the avenues for six hours while the army was turned and brought into the city. trucks for the pony and the rest. waving breathlessly as we passed. and appeared in their square. not happy though. The Council planned an escort to the border after a farewell parade. Your father organised transport and supplies. and then. Our escort was sitting out on the Tesar road to the north. praising their loyalty. a deafening salute. every inch of the coastlines. He heard the advice of the Council. along the river.around the estuary. the sequence of weather. a holiday of running. seven thousand soldiers in three hundred vehicles.. We were ten miles down the road to Isocan when the officials caught up with us. reassuring them. in a panic. 93 . seeing their Prince over and over. The city was in turmoil. knowing the currents. The Prince inspected the province’s defences up in the pass and was impressed by the discipline and alertness of the soldiers.. cheering crowds. The knowledge of these fishermen was complete. The time came to depart. following feeding habits. The people of Ansoc are earnest. slipped into Ansoc from the south. and there was more muddle. then running on to the next avenue. Your father was mollified. So we turned about. a relatively comfortable carrier for us. but also stubborn in holding to what they see as the correct thing to do. all the traffic halted. tanks and mobile artillery. other fish came in to breed at times of the year. spoke to them once. and he went into Ansoc to search the records there. banners and flags. concerned to do what is right. People rushed along the twisting streets connecting the avenues.
another pall of fumes over the city. The Prince had been right. though we stayed only one night. forests along its edge. ringed on the north by mountains. built mostly of pale yellow brick. Backing as it does to the desert. your father fresh from his studies. old trucks. fertile. a long hard pass. comings and goings. seemed in prospect less of a burden. But Pamar I did not recognise. the Prince a youth. as talismans. a low rumble. scouts out. It only struck me there how proud Ansoc was of its Imperial army. Pamar then. coming out to touch the vehicles. to upgrade equipment and communications.Finally everything was ready. pennants flying in the warm breeze. and we were welcomed. The plain of Isocan is very broad. and the crossing of the mountains to Atalac and Tocas. unlike Bosar and Kasar. trees everywhere for shade. a town of yellow brick also. We rumbled across the Ansoc region into Isocan in battle formation. spit and polish. people waving. anything possible. and the Prince made a final promise to the Council to improve contacts between the Imperial capital and the province. still reassuring his most loyal subjects. a perpetual rattle of activity. one hundred miles upriver. it is isolated but. not cut off. old livery. courtyards against the heat. We trundled through Isocan itself. Then we moved out at the head of our new division. cumbersome uniforms. Tocas beyond them. an excited clatter of radios. joking on the pavements. throwing fruit up to the soldiers. dressed in bright blue clothes. less 94 . high Upland mountains to the right. a courteous diversion on the part of the Prince. I re-entered that earlier time. chatting. A lot of carts and carriages jamming the narrow streets of the city. The excitement lifted all of us. verandas. camped out beside their river. The city is very old.
Your father’s seriousness surprised me as he agreed. We stopped at the town at the foot of the pass. and told me of their experiences. It struck me then that their peregrinations in the Uplands had some parallel with the tour we were now completing. and with the encouragement of the Prince. the South-eastern Upland. brightly coloured birds shitting on us. I had been too preoccupied to notice it on the first journey. the forest curling up as though to roll over and smother us. but as if to mark the occasion. the howl of wolves at 95 . I did not remember the road. ensuring that he saw their whole region. muddy footpaths twisting around trees and rocks. coming into its strength. the salient facts of which I will now tell you. and your father showed me the track they had taken. he told me something of that journey. The air was dense with flies. animals screaming and chattering in the gloom under the trees. The only way down was through dense forest. and had led him by means of their guides. which I wrote out towards the beginning of this account. But the descent to Comar. trucks roaring in the confined space. telling me that the wild villagers had come out to greet the Prince. We camped by the small town on a tributary of their largest river. ooze and swamps. my son mounted the Prince’s pony for the first time and rode back and forth until the stallion reacted to his control. the road left leading out into the desert. the air close and hot in the narrow valley. where I had left the Prince and your father to go to the Emperor. Then up through the forest. It was a proud animal. Your father shivered in memory. to rest before the long drive up through the forest to the pass. The slopes began to close in around us. about forty miles away. a miserable succession of hollows among rock. bog and forest. There was nothing to say.bustle.
its grey walls off in the distance. and then down again into relatively dry land. lumbering animals in the brush. thanking he did not know who or what. The flies were worse and brought them mild lingering fevers. now starving. The Prince cried. following the tracks. The worst moment occurred when they came onto a sound bank. Towards the bottom they came to a large river and decided to follow it. loathing the return along that deceptive spit. But at the foot of the mountains the river spread out through the forest. The Prince then raised him to his feet and embraced him tightly. up and away from the river. Food ran out. some instinct driving him to press his forehead into the ground until it was streaked with clay and mud. river below. Then your father cried. and brought them. mostly very acidic. lost except for the downward inclination of the land. Then one night the guides disappeared and the little group went on. a nightmare of hidden water. a good current below them. all flowing strongly. farmland stretching away on both sides. and it was he who led them back and who pressed on for days. and they walked ten miles with lightening hearts until they discovered themselves on a spit of saturated clay. driven to a limit. always a green twilight. 96 . sinking into the mud. through an increasingly less luxuriant growth to a point about fifteen miles from the Keep in Comar. on his knees in the grass. sudden thrashings of startled birds. one almost certainly suicide. Two men were lost. so they lived on raw fowl and fish. berries and some fruit. but in different directions.night. then fuel. thanking your father for their deliverance. convoluted banks. Your father gathered courage from the Prince’s tears. knowing it would join the main river running into Lake Karas. large snakes in the undergrowth. water all around them.
Our trucks were not too heavy. tolerably even. but we felt as though we were looking back along the whole route of our tour around the 97 .Reliving that journey had a cathartic effect on your father and he turned to the Prince. It was little more than a smudge in the reddening light. Two days’ rest and then we began the climb to the pass. It is an infrequently used route – we met no traffic – of impacted rock. we began the climb. The road snaked ahead. and we caught a glimpse of a bright green carpet beyond the opposite ridge. and herds of deer now and again. and strung out for miles behind. getting above the forest line within four hours. a flat horizon. his peace of mind. his misery out in the open at last. the forests on the border of Tocas and Tesar. my son. tall evergreens adapted to the severe conditions of the uplands. tears streaming down your father’s face. The winter storms had not yet begun and the road was firm. because the price he paid for it was very large. It was steep at first. Around the bend we entered forest again. The army was effective. Engineers were sent ahead and reports made on their return. The weather was clear that first day. Below we saw the river coming down in torrents from the high recesses under an isolated peak directly north. I did not begrudge your father his moment of intimacy with the Prince. feeding on sparse grass among the trees. angling up the side of the western slope. until it disappeared around a curve in the valley. the burden of supporting his ruler. following a contour. who embraced him again. several thousand feet up. and at evening we came out onto a small plateau.
drinking mulled wine. mind. The stars turned in their patient courses. and travelling like a bird. looking back at warm green lands and wondering what it was we had done. up already and marching about. and we listed the cities the rising sun was illuminating far to the east: Kasar and Bosar. Why did we sit up in the cold? A last night of some kind of freedom. then bitter Baton and treacherous Tesar. your father and my son venting huge sighs on occasions. and we were at peace. The land was still. once the belling of a stag down in the forest. I think there was a resignation in him now. It was noticeable that the soldiers shared our vigil. if that city noticed the dawn. peace shaking their overwrought beings. I think. Then Accas. Your father spoke of the air-craft at Kar. wolves in the distance. the heavens turning about. the air refreshing like cold water on hot skin. 98 . the latter on their way to bed. We wrapped ourselves in blankets. in a pensive speculative way.eastern half of the continent. large fires blazing all around the plateau. optimistic in the face of threat. singing in places. owls hooting. a crisis passed. one full. My son joined us during the night. then the warm wind heralding day. and gentle loyal Ansoc. the other gibbous. which he regretted before the event. The dawn came slowly. sparks shooting up. so responsive were they to us. our moons rising later. It was cold at night. and he sat beside me and drank our wine. he looking at the limit to his life and so looking to his death. for some reason. first a faint glow. and of course Kar. whose people turned over for more sleep. sitting away from our fire so as to observe the stars. maudlin in the dawn. the first time in our company for many days. We did not sleep. even going up to a star.
except for the elemental uproar. high on the shoulder leading to the pass above. and I was suddenly homesick for my house among the ancestral ruins. reasonable secure shelter in the trucks. clerks preening. Some trucks were moved experimentally. soldiers policing undercut roads. winds rocking our vehicles. It grew overcast during the day. rain. Comar was only over the pass away from us. the idea being to pull back onto the more resilient surface of the road. seeking relief from a growing darkness. while we ate breakfast and damped the fires. and mighty. rulers of the world. officials ostentatious. but the surface of the moor broke up under the weight. We ground on up that day. sleet. grapes and corn ripe. We were in an unfortunate position for the storm. we had food and heating. And after us. These soldiers valued their lives and paid attention to them. cutting the peat away around the wheels of the trucks. knowing at the same time that such peace was not yet at hand. a cheery cooperation. water suddenly welling up into the cracks and holes. men content with a balance of day and night. Otherwise. wondering how the gardens had survived without me. trees heavy with fruit. all knowing how great they were. beyond the shelter of the high peaks. counters of Kar’s golden coins. 99 . slowing the trucks at sharp bends. for whom the sun shone alone. no companies crushed at the bottom of cliffs. hail coming in sheets across the desolate moors. No truck was lost. and we saw the sun go behind high dark clouds. priests proud. rivers full of fish. Floodwater became a problem on the second day. and we mostly lay in a torpor.Now Isocan. a wind from the west picking up. selfimportant Tocas. clouds streaming by us. and the storm lacerated us for thirty six hours. lovely Comar was lit.
We camped just beyond the town. living in another light. for there I lived in another Comar. So. The town was sheltered. the light that made Kar 100 . Why impossible? I would not pay the price of timidity and fear in the face of change. At length all except two trucks were recovered from what was now a morass. Some flooding here. but the road surface held. seeing their skills of use in the Uplands. but it was in Comar we rested nonetheless. crossing the shoulder and entering the confines of the pass. of gardens. and we moved on. seeing my myth of Comar rise in me. We came out on the other side of the pass towards evening. though it was icy cold. The soldiers had skills for this. to allow the waters subside.We waited a further twenty four hours after the storm had passed. with their dark colouring and blue clothes. turned in on itself. the myth haunted me up in the mountains above Comar as it would not down by its beautiful river. The people resembled the inhabitants of Isocan. and your father went out to watch them. I was content. growing out of their experience of the high pass opposite Tesar. rather than of Comar. an impossible land of balance. most of the soldiers keeping under shelter if they could. and set about moving the trucks back on to the road. life and death. fishing and detachment. good summers and bad winters. and we forded the swollen streams carefully. and so crossed back into the region of Comar in the Province of Tocas. with small windows and overhanging roofs. out on the bare rock. and we ate early and had bedded down before sunset. The camp was minimal. light and dark. the lights of the border town in the distance. even though I would seek to spend my life there. where conditions were the same. the vehicles black with muck. using winches as necessary. many of the soldiers wet.
He listened and nodded once. drawing to himself again the reins of government. but myself. and we talked non-stop through the night. was the question of our army raised. Not the Prince. spending the winter embroiled in Imperial affairs. 101 . A long journey. some cheese and bread. my own light. smiling for them. I feared jealousy among the Tocas divisions. The Prince seemed surprised to see the delegation. as I understand now. to find the house and gardens almost as I left them. deep in a warm forest. initiated by the Ansoc commanders themselves. sometimes in front of a large fire in the hall. you understand. a radiant warmth palpable from the distance. my friends waiting in the driveway. my son. and only in the evening. but again the Prince smiled. sometimes in the gardens. a good glass of Comar wine. deep in the Comar autumn that I knew why: we turned off the Atalac road and drove straight across to the city of Comar. We began the long descent at the break of day. I returned to my mythic home far earlier than I expected. The Prince settled in the Warden’s house again. Your father went to Tocas. parading our army through the city – to the surprise of its inhabitants – and out along the Great West Road to the Imperial Keep above the river. the great oak as staunch as ever. a new kindness in him.scream and makes the men of Comar cower in terror. and it was only on the evening of the following day. new officers for company.
I must put this document away for some time. of these events. until at the midwinter festival. Until then. I am to make a long journey and will be away for most of the summer. climbing to the terrible pass above Ronas: ‘I cannot go back. not knowing what was to follow. Perhaps this is a valuable record. I will resume in the autumn. but also about my understanding. my son. All this. I mean for those who concern themselves with the lessons of change. yes. There. and the people of Comar relent into honest cheer. Perhaps it is fortuitous. good company. Did you enjoy the diversion? I think there is enough local colour to allow you to imagine the eastern provinces as they were in those days.’ We took all the enjoyment we could that winter. and I remembered the other thing the Prince had confided in me. then and now. walking. farewell.What then? Ease after a tour of state that would have secured many an Emperor in his realm? No. long meals. good wine. when coloured lights and bright fires replace the sun. I have stirred memories that make me think about not alone the significance of what happened. yes. A snug winter. Reading. 102 . Good food.
a search for some knowledge he never hoped to attain. He had the same curiosity. as he expected them to be with each other. discussing horses and breeding. However. happy that some good was done. your father concentrated. and with the same gentle gratitude. But with my son he was intimate.Greetings. discussing problems of government and their campaign plans. But the outcome is much as I expected. I give the impression in this account that the Prince was very withdrawn and spoke tersely. seeking to influence the Prince. bursting with pride and eager. my son radiant. I am sure you are aware of this too. With your father he was always head to head. It is deep winter as I write this. still willing to learn. my journey having taken longer than I expected. he was chatty and forthcoming with everyone: it was just that everyone knew he was their Prince. and as he matured he came to remind me of his father when he came to see us in the evenings. his old teacher. But these officers from Ansoc were professional men. With me. Really. With his senior officers he was firm. Yet he had a poise at all times. he was open. and this made them reserved with him. 103 . not much can be done to prevent the absurdity. but turning to his people to find relief from the burden of rank. The Prince was open here too. correct in everything they did. intense. I made some notes while away and I will append them here before resuming my story. laying out his ideas for analysis. he too aware that he was the Prince.
104 . accepting their charity. In weakness he had been honest. and because of that he was very powerful. trusting his magnanimity. so many men. Census. so many mouths. statistics. He did not display his power and his people did not need demonstrations of power. herds of animals and fields of corn. was the product of an education that made him dependent upon authority. to overcome their sloth. so much gold. It was his own vision of Empire that he pushed the Prince towards. his modesty unperturbed by his reduction of half of the continent. his sense of power. and he went frequently into the cities of Comar on pretext. Do you have a better picture of the Prince now? I need only add the Princely aspect now. With our own officers from Tocas he had need to be enthusiastic. He used the Prince. because he had proved himself at each stage of his life. He was trusted. so many arms. cities and towns.and perhaps it was their discipline that permitted him to be firm. In strength he had been successful. like my son. so many miles. Your father’s methods worked in terms of government. urbane in the company of their citizens. The Prince had an integrity that compelled people to him. that is. perhaps the most powerful man the continent had ever seen: a man capable of uniting the whole continent. knowing he would be obeyed. a compulsion to love the tangible. all quantified and interrelated: so much food. of course. With his servants and staff he was familiar. Your father. a system designed to control aggregates of particulars. though no one ever remarked the fact.
all the time searching for the reason. all consistent in indicating a closed trade. an army of printers and readers. his reason. and saw the great metal works and assembly factories. and it bewildered him that 105 . libraries filled with analysis and test results. then there. Then he concentrated on research. and could not hope to reach them unless Kar’s secret was revealed. some with other provinces. and no explanations for his suspicions. but could find no reference to overseas or celestial trade. yet convinced they were there but that he did not know what to look for. manufacture accounts. The general standard of living improved. He concentrated on metals. The central computer at Tocas expanded. what product was missing from all these accounts. although they had plenty of everything already. He did not see the mines on the north side of the great Solos estuary. the bulk with the Western Plains. even far-off Bosar was shaken into activity. and found companies of experts on computing. an imbalance between buying and selling. trade figures. analysing. men and gold over a great deal of the continent. The bank officials compiled report after report for him. your father organised aggregates into massive reservoirs of power for the Prince’s disposal. engineering and transport. You see? In the matter of power. for this extensive deployment. analysing. but he saw long trains of ore coming across the suspension bridge from the north bank. saw the bound volumes of their journals. Your father did go to Kar as the Prince promised and he searched the city’s records. a circulation of food. He saw the Prince’s Empire bounded by the stars. the rest Imperial dues. and force moved here.projections. looking for contradictory entries. He searched their records himself. movement of gold. ballistics. but could not find them.
that power had boundaries everywhere you looked. and so contain. But the Prince’s view was very different and so the direction he chose also differed. When he understood the quick. This he understood. into the very recesses of human action. and so understood the futility of his mental power.’ The Prince sheltered the man while the man acted. Once the Prince and I discussed power. within as well as without. so that wills would bend and be disposed for his greater ends. of course. all the time. in Comar in the first years. When he came to us in Comar. We did what we could to ease him by giving him love of the quick. trying to persuade the Prince to point in the direction of Kar’s secret. My son. even a cow moves itself once it knows its destination.analysis. he gave the Prince what he loved most – because he saw in the white foal what he loved and so 106 . For the Prince. to reflect. the basis of rule was different from that of the power exercised: as he once said to your father. the agitation of his mind. I had taught him that power was essentially free and local. both of us struck by the fact that power of itself was no guarantee. that it must be organised in hierarchy. This meant that your father gathered forces he could not use and therefore he looked to the Prince to give him direction. command of command of power. and he developed this charisma. ‘Power? We are naked. This interested the Prince. it can never be fully controlled. allowing the assent of the ruled. as such. could not reveal that secret. my son was frantic. because he was discovering that the exercise of power itself made you aware of the power hidden in everything. watching over him.
Breeding one animal in order to murder another. seeing only the animal in himself and in all men. while yet he could see no other end for the 107 . and of course we listened. take out my hook and break their backs if they fight death. while he tried to impress us with references to his horses. He looked to the Prince to save him from extinction. It was a disappointment that the Prince was obliged to bear. I draw fish from water. where his stud occupied some of the best land. the individual peeking out of the general. especially his horse breeding and his famous racers. I seeing my son’s poor mind in his butchery of deer. the other. One concerned the disposition of space. He would tell us about his exploits in detail. I make no defence. as you might appreciate. as though he was compelled to treat everything as animal and so quick. I think the Prince liked those gestures and learned from them: your father taught the Prince the control of things. taking interest in my son’s activities. strong gestures. He came to Comar at intervals. though the Prince seemed not to notice. so that his gestures sometimes seemed threatening. I love fish. staying as the Prince’s guest. arose from the Prince’s desire not to breed the Tesar stallion. But he had not the farmer’s irony. Yes. seeing birth and death. how mind transcends time. My son was like a farmer. used to handling animals. my son taught him control of life. of time.came to fear the extinction that is part of the quick. they give me detachment. But I wonder if the Prince fully understood the nature of my son’s dependence on him. His great disappointment. At least I felt this at times. My son lived on our estates south of Lake Karas. animated like a farmer. usually after successful hunts in the great forests of Tocas.
It was there that my son was prepared. the quick. then? Yes. then in the Southern Uplands. but only at the price of taking on that threat of death. and this has clouded my understanding of the Prince’s refusal to put the beast to stud. with its own stores and maintenance sheds. I think the Prince did understand. a Prince among animals. A base was built for them in upper Comar. Yes. and at once feared. The stallion became a significant being. By avoiding birth. to bring forward what is inevitable at the instant of birth. The Prince asked for volunteers from Ansoc and formed a second division of what was by now the Ansoc Imperials. You see? The Prince saved my son from suicide. giving the inhabitants of remote areas their first sight of Imperial soldiers. In Kar. when it first knew. as your father was. and in doing so prepared it for its destiny. The Uplands campaign took three years to organise. the naked animal. They were trained first on the Ansoc border with Tesar. Where are the roots of this chain of actions? Not in the desert. and how many others pervading this continent. the stallion seemed raised in dignity. a long time ago. by not passing on its seed. The Prince equipped them with the latest weapons and had Kar build carriers to their specifications. It was purely out of consideration for my son’s sanity that the Prince kept the stallion intact. At the beginning of its science. as I will tell you later. where the Prince was prepared for sacrifice. I see now that the Prince recognised that it was knowledge of birth that drove my son to murder. ungainly vehicles that could 108 . They ranged the Uplands on manoeuvres.quick but death.
The Prince gave my son command of five hundred mounted men. The Tocas army was enlarged to three divisions. Within two years. My most noteworthy piece of advice merely suggested that the best way to defeat the Upland tribes was to destroy their habitations.follow sheep up mountains. I had little part in these preparations. sometimes deliberately losing a thousand men in the forests and studying the outcome. for your father. But you see here that it was I who made the suggestion? But what was obvious to me when I made the suggestion was not that the Uplanders should be 109 . living off the land in winter as well as summer. But the Prince trained them hard. ‘Destroy the people!’ My point here. when your father suddenly went into a huddle at table and said. down to the last pack mule. My son chose his men and animals personally. a trace of sadness in his voice. and lived with them in wildernesses. though he was covering himself. the preoccupation with machines clouding my mind. trained on traditional lines. that is. ‘What about the roads. which seemed obvious to me at the time I spoke. studying the results of tests made in mountainous regions bordering Tocas. he merely spoke the Prince’s thought. Your father gathered supplies by purchase and impost.’ To which the Prince replied. and was already beginning to feel superannuated. basic supplies. my son. ‘We’re putting millions in there and not a penny comes out. nothing else. but which did not bear fruit until weeks later. who trained in deep penetration. Kingatin?’ And your father could only say. teaching them all he knew. beyond advice over dinner. becoming involved in food technology. is that your father was not responsible. every Tocas soldier came to fear abandonment and made secret plans to cope with the experience. men who follow each other.
But the Prince and my son could not bear their own lights. becoming a symbolic mare that could not breed. and if there is no death. A somewhat detached thought. My son raised himself above the quick. That had always been the Prince’s intention. my son. an action that did not come from the desert. But the Prince suffered a loss here. and was thus permitted to go on to his end. his father’s throne. that there is a hidden sequence here. then there is nothing to stop you from loving. yes? But one that was true nonetheless. It was always my son who bent. so they saw each other in the other’s light as symbols. but that they should be driven down from that wretched plateau and encouraged to find ease. The bond I mentioned lies here. 110 . the Prince’s penis deep in his rectum. Once you see the light. in the curious power of human love to overcome any obstacle. If there is no pain and no hunger.exterminated. even magic. either. he revenging the usurpation of the Imperial Throne. then there is no pain and no hunger. descending from his reality as a man to become a symbolic animal for the sake of my son. by making sacrifice. There is a curious bond here. which I should explain now. In that relationship lies the secret of the Prince: by loving my son the Prince evaded sacrifice. You see. having thought a while. my son bent over a wall. not the Prince. love is of the light I speak about from time to time. you know there is no death. even the greatest sacrifice. My son gave the Prince the means to avenge his father. I see now. I once came upon them among the ruins in the garden. This power is the knowledge that love can never die. but first I want to disclose the nature of the relationship between the Prince and my son. It was your father who needed my prompting. yet fulfilled the wish of the desert savages to see the Temple destroyed.
several hundred mounted soldiers. We quickly took control of the region. On the morning of the equinox they entered the tribal areas and began to turn the Uplands into a desert. forty five thousand Ansoc Imperials at his back. a bitter struggle by early summer. We crossed a high shoulder then. the Empire still scratching at the edge of the tribal homelands in the north. A short drive brought us to the track and here my son waited for us. but what I have said will throw light on what I have to tell you. and dismounted in front of the Prince and offered him the pony. extending communications. don’t hold. the Prince set the Tocas divisions on the borders of the Uplands. I’m afraid. establishing his headquarters at Soro. The Prince did not enter the Uplands till midsummer. of course. a mixture of the timid 111 . My son sat at the head of his men. The Uplanders fought back. the third above Comar. and he came forward with some ceremony. They had one order: Destroy. upgrading roads. The Prince rode him only over the first rise. There was a period of preparation. In early spring of the sixth year since our return from the east. My son’s soldiers surprised me at first. one division in Accas. one sent round to the Imperial Keep in the Northwest Province. extending north to seize the pass over to Lake Solos. and the fronts faltered. when he transferred to a working animal. and followed my son and his scouts up through barren valleys blistering in the sun. Our new equipment protected us from the cold of the night and the dried food provided remarkably good meals.I have wandered a little from my story. supplies on pack animals. and one day the Prince announced that we would visit the Temple of the Real God in the Mountains to the south. the setting sun throwing long shadows before us on to the rocky terrain. mounted on the white stallion.
and they were at least constrained with him. The 112 . immobility. bursts with pride in the Prince. and twisted away from us towards gaps between the great blocks. forever climbing to ridges and stumbling down the other side. as I have said. by means of a long eerie hanging valley. The Prince spent much of his time with them. sometimes three. which enters the sea on the other side of the Mountains below the Temple. which must have split in some world cataclysm long ago.and the uncouth. gentle and protective of him. and at once was repelled by the cruelty I saw in them. and we welcomed the moment we turned south and saw from a rise the long curving fjord at the head of which the Temple sits. until I saw the nature of their relationships. Our track meandered along the floor. twisting around obstructing boulders. bare rock echoing with every sound. We came down to the river. We were surrounded now by mountains over twenty thousand feet high. We dreamed of paradises in hidden valleys high among the peaks. great blocks of granite two. This at least distracted us from the fearful isolation of the place. Our engineers explained that the chasm lay in a fault between two halves of the Mountains. thousand feet high. We were all very curious to know where these paths led to. snow glittering in all directions up there. My son. and he helped him mix with the company. But we were still over ten thousand feet up and to descend we had to enter the great chasm the river had cut in order to reach the sea. each one betraying his secret longing: perfect ease. rearing up from the rubble that formed the slopes of the valley. Tracks branched from our path a surprising number of times for such a dead place. how they drove their horses and beat the mules.
the sandstone sandy and sometimes pink. and lit up the chasm with a blue light. an orgy every night in the tents. facet for facet. Open to the south.walls were sheer. Nights were spent on convenient platforms below falls. though it was dangerously smooth at times. so we resorted to the oxygen torches. coloured light everywhere. the water stony grey except in early afternoon. metal lost its edge very quickly. The mules were less alarmed. and the engineers showed how the opposing faces matched. solid faces of granite. and the chasm became permanently misted. the men agitated. twenty men and about fifty horses fell to their death. and algae on the soft stone presented us with a serious problem. when we had to walk our horses. we in single file on a narrow track at its side. torch light at our feet. the air saturated and vibrant. The river fell in steps. The filling in the fault was mostly sedimentary rock. The stone was light in colour. of course. perhaps because they were tied in file and so unable to break away. At times the granite walls rose several thousand feet on either side. thankfully. the granite white. mostly while negotiating the track down from one level to the next. Our progress was slowed while the track was cleared. when the sun shone straight in on us. thunderous water sixty feet wide filling the chasm with spray. the animals often unnerved by the thunder of water and dragging their riders with them. It grew hotter as we descended. It was around then that the men 113 . Between these steps the river ran swiftly with hardly a murmur in a deep smooth channel. the misty air splitting off a harsh purple-violet in a curious striped spectral aureole across the divide between the walls. There was some carelessness. Scraping was useless. which worked well though sore on fuel. we had adequate light for up to eight hours a day.
extending as far as we could see down the fjord and across its head. Then exhaustion. They had never heard of the Empire and would not believe it existed at the ‘top of the fall’. We camped that night well down from the last falls. We sang into the night. A gigantic valley over a thousand miles long. and asked where we had come from. The coastal strip was only about fifteen miles wide. one hundred miles wide at the head. lit huge fires and roasted game on large spits.began the singing. the first green vegetation we had seen for weeks. a high shoulder extending out on our right towards the mouth of the river blocked our view. including the overflow from the lake up at the Temple. torpid for several days. you see. and Tocas men easily tire of difficulty. on the coast near the mouth of the river. as they termed it. and we came to the bottom suddenly. discovering grass at our feet before we cleared the mist. Some soldiers had already voiced their dread of climbing back up the chasm and they asked the locals if they 114 . fed by the river we had followed and many others down its length. The fjord itself is said to be bottomless. perhaps beginning to lose heart in the gloom. not from Ansoc. They sang in the night too. though they appeared elated and yet subdued. no alcohol but everyone intoxicated by the experience of the chasm. narrowing to five miles at the first bend and gradually widening again to over four hundred miles at its mouth. in soft meadow surrounded by trees. They were Tocas men. They told us about the town nearby. local inhabitants coming to satisfy their curiosity. spurning for once our rations. We could not see the site of the temple that first day. plaintive against the roar of water. a kind of purification in its harsh turmoil. It took several days to descend the chasm. We were relieved.
The men were deflated by their encounter with the shepherds and my son had trouble controlling their violence in the town. surrounded by sheer cliffs and broody high peaks beyond them. an unease that set them galloping through the streets careless of the safety of the inhabitants. The district chief said. for a hundred miles. dispirited horses unkempt. With the help of the local fishermen. We bought milk and cheese from them as a goodwill gesture before moving on. catching fish similar to those of Bosar and Ansoc.’ Camas is the most southerly of the Western Plains. I remarked to the Prince that these men would never climb back to the Uplands and he smiled. running away west at an angle that suggested a stupendous recess above us. together with our staff. a sullen train of men. a seaport with a few wooden ships. blue uniforms rumpled and stained. made camp to the west of the town. the coastal strip broadened again and stretched before us. teacher. in the lee of the shoulder. The town.could hire a ship to take them back by sea. I set up sea-rods. We could see no evidence of the Temple from here either. a 115 . which at this point jutted out almost to the seashore. The Prince and I. was a gentle ramshackle place in the middle of nowhere. and said: ‘Perhaps they won’t have to. the locals were not fond of Camas. We followed the road. flat and exposed. telling us it was cold and crowded. Surprisingly. ‘You mean Camas? That’s a long hard journey. glancing at me. a glimpse of higher cliffs behind.’ Beyond the shoulder. a change of diet we enjoyed. only sheer cliffs rising over four thousand feet. which ran just above the rocky shore. a two thousand mile sea voyage from where we stood. It was three days before my son led his company out to us.
I doubt if our soldiers could have sustained further distress. unfathomed depths. he was not a soldier. and that the depths were the homes of monsters. mostly shallow soil. though dark blue otherwise. Trees were stunted. but we could no longer see the higher cliffs beyond. but the eeriness varied from place to place. the weather held good for us. My son grew tired of his command. Now we felt we were on another world. teasing otherwise. perhaps the extensive lake of the Temple. and we were assured that the sea bed dropped down limitlessly one hundred yards out from the shore. During the third day on the road. birds winging to and fro in a desolate manner. here and there farms in hollows with a couple of home pastures of bright grass. more and more dispirited. over twenty thousand feet of cliffs and utterly inaccessible recesses. The men drifted apart. and the quality of light at the top of the cliffs suggested a large body of water in the recess. The south Uplands were barren rock stretching to the Mountains. some fighting. The water of the fjord was a relief. The terrain had a vacant quality. we noticed figures silhouetted at the top of the cliff. and he tended to keep 116 . sparkling in the sunlight. The cliffs on our right remained high. purple rock.slow progress silent except for the jingle of harness. the odd curse. no shouting. monstrous cliffs. It was eerie. no singing. evidence of funnelling winds from the sea. indigo shadows. The chasm had been all roar. bent towards the cliffs. as though it was cut off from its natural place. the highest mountain on the continent rising before us in the west. supporting a thin spread of sheep. Luckily. the light intense at noon. sunlight glancing back in glare. about half way along the head of the fjord. and surmised Temple guards. in fact the whole journey was eerie.
so that we felt trapped in a hidden valley. marking the western end of the head of the fjord.company with the Prince’s stallion again. eaves drooping. swept out again from the recess to join the lower cliff a few miles down the fjord. but it was evident that we were leaving a trail of illwill behind us. riding it out in the evenings to exercise it. I remained silent. Except for reminding the Prince that we were not on circuit. The river had an unpleasant quality. 117 . the cliffs turned. camped above the town on the bank of the river. obviously on holiday from an appalling climate. a weariness affecting man and beast. no trees to water. so our rations were cooked on oxygen stoves and eaten without ceremony. This town was even more desolate than its companion at the foot of the chasm. No firewood here. no soil to irrigate. Sheep were seized to be roasted on spits. at least ten thousand feet high. and matters were made worse by the fact that this cliff appeared to merge with the cliff running down the opposite side of the fjord. The Prince kept the soldiers out in the countryside. and the higher cliffs. the spray from which hid the cliffs behind. wood and stone covered with dried out lichens. as though jeering us with its short useless journey from waterfall to sea. The effect threatened to overwhelm even me. rushing past us to the sea. rutted streets. too fast for fish. much to my relief – the depression of the company had begun to affect my spirit – we reached the town at the mouth of the river which issued from the vastness above in the form of a huge roaring waterfall over two thousand feet in height. A mile or so beyond the river. Finally. though I questioned the inhabitants about other routes out of the fjord. and the Prince sent members of his staff to make good this loss. to our left.
the water like black ice. a murmur of a powerful current. I said. The pressures on the men were enormous now. ‘The river is too fast. was to unite the peoples of the continent. The second was that as Prince he had another destiny. I went to the bank of the river. But the Prince was not like this ‘everybody’. random froth catching the light. as it were. He was aware of my observation of him.’ 118 . I dwell on this incident. ‘No fishing tonight. better. having given me time to think.walls ten thousand feet high. watching my son in the distance. Everyone assumed that meant uniting the peoples under one government. and the Prince strode back and forth across the campsite. his destiny. but two things ran together in his life and now he was beginning to perceive them. destination. The Prince was not lacking in decision.’ He nodded and said. One was that as a man he had his own – let us call it destiny or. the sky darkening rapidly. because it is the crux. When the Prince joined me on the bank. the destiny of all his ancestors. possessing beauty. water the colour of ink. so that life would be much the same everywhere. wealth and such ease as he desired. he already lived in the Western Plains. As Prince. the stallion luminous in the twilight under him. This meant that the only aspect of his Imperial destiny remaining for him was the achievement of the unity of all men. my son. teacher?’ and walked on again. even the horses were restive. He stopped as he passed and said with uncharacteristic irony. upset by the malice of the river. hands behind his back. specifically that everyone would live in the Western Plains. ‘Kar. where everybody had beauty and wealth and the city of Kar supplied him with all the ease of life.
The religion of Tocas is founded on language and belief: the belief that language makes truth. taught by the Imperial priesthood became ‘I make the sun rise’.’ ‘Except perhaps young people to work in factories.’ ‘Kingatin’s celestial beings. Thus ‘I believe in God’. teacher?’ ‘No. We are capable of desiring what Kar or whoever offers.’ The Prince nodded. In return for what are we offered what we are offered?’ ‘Kingatin can find no answer to that. acknowledging that the unity he and his ancestors had envisaged was not possible: a unity of purpose – to live contentedly with each other. to teach him to think. A 119 . The potential is in us. Not the city. The savages in the desert exploited that belief. and no one can make the sun rise because no one knows what the sun is.’ The destination of the Prince as man is common to all men. ‘And we are offered what. The formal belief of the Tocas Church differs from the science of Kar in only one respect: what flows in Kar is frozen in Tocas. This brings me to my son. The priests of Tocas had care of his spirit. then?’ ‘No. My duty had been to train the Prince in philosophy. as your father came to have care of his rule. Prince.’ The Prince jerked his head in irony: ‘Is that enough?’ ‘There may be no desire behind Kar’s technology except the desire to maintain that technology.‘No. Because I had taught the Prince as a child how to think. But no one can finally believe in God because no one can know the truth of God. turning it to the magic of believing that language makes real. it was possible that this problem of knowing would arise in him.
I cured my son by giving him passion. releasing his frantic mind to the run of the quick. but I do not teach the illusions of Kar or Tocas. will tend my garden and meditate upon fishing. elevating him to symbol. to knot thinking and willing in a bind: to stop the mind and thereby perceive its last gasp as truth – death.’ The Prince saw death in the drowning of land. he was. taking on his mortality. The guilt of the father. patient for all eternity. disputing with me. you may say. flashes of starlight now and again. is to impose will on the mind. Prince. and your father gave him a state to cure him. detached. I only then realised. alone with me. ‘Death. and if you cannot think. Desire is the will in place of thought. The Prince said after a while spent looking at the dark river. I am passive. that of the desert. your father in Tocas keeping the 120 . and the Prince seemed not to want to learn further in this regard.crisis of knowledge within the ambit of either will produce a similar anxiety: the absence of truth becomes evident and belief becomes a repetitious chatter like teeth rattling in the mountains: if something is repeated often enough by everyone then it will become true and the chattering might stop. This was my son’s love for the man who was the Prince. how he made sense of the quick. then feel rather than lie. This was my son’s gift to the Prince: sacrifice – taking on his symbolhood. But I must admit that I had not thought deeply about this problem until that evening. birth balancing death. if not a man. The other solution. I teach only those who will learn. ‘Can I overcome death?’ It was rhetorical. crying because he was powerless. then be an animal rather than a god.
the Prince seven years of age. my thought joined his. seeing at once how appropriate was the vacuity of the place we were in.’ It was strange. ‘Think. with no wind or noise. Geryn. to understand the life of the Prince. and at once we were back at the beginning again. It is important for you. but it is not important to me.administration on a war footing. becoming mechanical with use. So many factors come to bear here. each tending his gift to the Prince. In time. I began this account with the conviction that I must communicate my new understanding of the Prince. All I can say by way of explanation is this: Will is the substance of form. we reflect will upon the brute process of nature and so create the world which is the cause of so much pain. and so its form is hidden. This terrifies all men and they pull back at once. This is the oldest lesson. now I feel a lassitude. I sat on the bank while the Prince thought. and men like you. luckily a warm night. Besides. The soul is the intelligibility of the will. allowing the chatter to resume dominion. a lack of interest. testing him on this all-important point. When you think. I apologise for the gnomic quality of the last passage. but I find I cannot exert myself to make them more clear. the words are difficult to explain. my first lesson with him. your mind empties immediately. 121 . I spoke his name without premeditation. But because will is dark. my son out riding in the gloom. and my spirit rose as his thinking lengthened. and the hardest.
knowledge not sight of form but identity of self, the true
unity: one soul, one will, one thought.
The obligation to write this embarrasses me. These
words flow from me, their source propelling them, only to lie
dead on the screen. To understand me, you need already to
know of which I speak, and my utterance therefore a
redundancy creating false meanings, as though the echoes in
our consciousness somehow replace the dark certainty in our
souls. If you believe my words teach you, my son, then look
to your ignorance and learn to think.
I have rested from this work, hoping to understand the
irritation it arouses in me. I feel drawn to explain myself once
again. What purpose would it serve? More words and more
questions: the words I use fragment, bearing meanings
beyond my intention, and I come to suspect that my
interpretation of the event on the river bank is simply wrong.
But we spoke as sparingly as I have relayed, each
understanding the other. But did we? To be candid, my son, I
suspect the truth is that I did not understand the situation the
Prince was in. You notice that I did not think that the Prince’s
irony was directed at me, nor did I respond to the full
implication of his question about overcoming death. I am
willing to accept that my detachment does not prepare me for
dealing with the relations between men and with their desires.
I have even cautioned the government of Comar in this
regard. But even so, my final advice to the Prince to think
was correct; it is the only advice I can give: if you cannot find
the truth in yourself, you will not find it outside yourself. I
can say no more but continue with my account concerning
I was relieved that on the following morning the Prince
ordered the soldiers to put themselves in order, with the
explanation that they should prepare themselves to meet God.
As Tocas men leave it to their church to deal with God, this
was treated with an insinuating humour, though they did
fulfil the Prince’s order. We did not break camp until noon
and so reached the waterfall in late afternoon, the roar
deafening, the high cloud of mist already reddening. The
Prince beckoned my son over, pointed to the track leading
into the mist and said simply: ‘Straight up. No slacking.’ I
heard complaints in the column behind as I followed the
Prince into the fog, and he suddenly turned to me and smiled
in a way I had never seen before. His face was opened, lips
drawn back off his teeth, eyes rounded, but a light there, the
lightness of eyes and teeth, an expression I could not read at
first, until I remembered that he could not go back. Was he
brave? No, more a matter of commitment, unable to
contemplate doing otherwise. But I rode up to him and caught
his hand – yes, now I see what I failed to see in my
explanations above: a simple fact. The Prince had no father.
He did not want truth from me, only assurance. I asked him if
he was afraid, knowing he would understand why I asked him
that. He returned my grasp, convulsively at first, then
steadily, searching my expression with hard eyes. ‘Would it
be better if I was, teacher?’ His candour surprised me. It
would have been easier for me if he had said he was or was
not. I could only ask him how he felt, not his teacher now,
crossing a divide to him as a man. He shook my hand, irony
again, his face as though bursting, the word welling in him
and he permitting it to be uttered: ‘Dead.’ I nodded
emphatically, and for the first time felt for the Prince the love
that motivated my son and your father, but feeling myself
enlarged by that love, accommodating him rather than
submitting to him: the Prince at last had achieved
understanding. He continued to stare at me, and I saw there
the real fear as he entered that understanding, encountering
his own infinitude.
The soldiers entering the mist behind us broke our
rapport and the Prince turned and waved back and then
spurred his mount forward. I had turned back too, and turning
forward again to follow the Prince I caught the expression on
my son’s face, at the edge of visibility. He knew I had done
for the Prince what I did not do for him. My son believed I
would not do this for him, but I knew I could not do it. Kar
had taught my son; I had taught the Prince.
The track was broad, the flagging retaining grip though
permanently wet, and soon it turned away from the falls.
Once out of the mist vegetation appeared, and the track
climbed the cliff at a steep angle, sunk as though a lane,
grasses and flowers covering banks on either side, red
sunlight brightening the place. We could not see over the
outer bank and I suspect the track was not visible from the
plain below, except perhaps to a practised observer. We
reached the top before dusk, with light to prepare camp in a
hollow among the rocks just inside the recess, the glow of an
expanse of water under the gloomy air. The men were
cheered by the ease of the climb, morale also lifted by the
rock all about us. suggesting a large priesthood and temple staff. all falling precipitously from the mountains above. Perfectly calm like a mirror. running in foaming torrents down the skirt of scree at the foot of the cliffs. 125 . mortality no longer relevant.Prince’s re-imposition of military discipline. nearly fifty miles. when it appeared as a brilliant liquid spread on the northern flank of the eastern high mountains of the range. In winter. stretching at an angle from where we camped across the recess to the high cliffs enclosing it on the north. The Prince looked at everything about him. the sun would appear later again. infinite distance. the lake nearby – to reassure him with the best tenderness I could muster. The Prince. The recess was a surprise. The lake is fifty miles long. as the sun struck what we later discovered were gilded surfaces on the consecrated buildings. I was elated. blocked by the high peak itself. and cultivated land bordering the lake on either side of the complex. seeing everything anew – everything falling away into presence. seeing infinity there too. looked at my son with too great an intensity. that his heart was perverse. but there were many buildings. The eastern half of the recess is covered by dense forest. for obvious reasons. ten to fifteen wide. We could discern little detail at that distance. close encounter. There were occasional bright flashes. which shocked us for some reason. for his part. and I drew my son into our company – he could not exercise the stallion in this unknown place. but knowing inescapably that innocent blood was on his hands. The sun did not broach the recess until two hours after dawn. it was fed by two rivers and many streams. and the Temple lies towards the head of the lake in a wide clearing cut into the forest.
The Prince forced a good pace. high up at first. and a thousand feet above the lake. I intended 126 . the dark mass of the forest ahead like an abyss. the far cliff shimmering coldly. You must appreciate that at the time. composing the cliffs about us. the lake. and I could see his head swivel. but its brightness was pleasant rather than confining. as I have said. a purple glow similar to that on the far side of the Mountains – which the Uplanders call the Purple Mountains for that reason. This I assumed was the purpose of the mounted column accompanying us. Only behind us. but by degrees more practical considerations intruded. we surmised. did the cliff soar. My elation continued through the morning. the cliffs receded. the feeling of boundary weakened. so the only motive for our visit to the Temple could be the Prince’s desire to avenge his father. a tumble of scree angling up to the cliff on our right. out in front with some of his staff. the cliff opposite as a bright horizon. the utterances of the desert savages seemed unimportant. Dropping down. but when the light struck them. four thousand feet above the coastal plain. to the west. the stone. water on our left. the lane-like track dropping steeply at an angle to its shore.We found ourselves camped on a ridge. a pale crystalline stone with flecks of violet. I should also make it clear that I did not then connect the Prince’s new understanding with his pilgrimage. Little vegetation. From the lake side. We were on the march again before sunlight entered the recess. In referring to the event on the river bank as the crux in the Prince’s life. like a mirror. they suddenly glared. the cliff we had descended dark but not imposing. The trackway too was bright. The intense silence of the place served to emphasise this play of light. knowing he was still witnessing a new world.
and I hurried the task. helped clear his mind. it would have been with a sense of consolation: the Prince’s new wisdom would protect him against his failure at the Temple – I did not then see how the Prince could oblige the powerful priesthood of the Temple. was not itself significant. in a shadowless light of numbing clarity. which I cannot recollect doing. a silent dark forest with little birdsong. for fear of contaminating his will. to pay for the insult to his father. but at the same time knowing I could no longer intervene in his awareness. ‘Will you fish tonight?’ He was pale. who gave no allegiance to the Empire. We made camp as the sun dipped behind the great mountains to the west. not as a ruler. hunkering before me. not yet seeing its self-subsistence. an overwhelming sense of distance and of implacable chill. no shelter from the sun and only a slight wind from the lake. not wanting him to tire himself further. 127 . We were almost in the centre of the recess. except in so far as the atmosphere in the fjord. The air cooled rapidly and a new eeriness was felt. That it occurred when it did. the sense of vacuity I have remarked upon. but I brought out my rods and set about baiting the hooks. I had not intended fishing. If I did connect the event and the Prince’s visit to the Temple. a dark ring under a green-blue mountain sky. It was a hot day.you to understand a crisis in the Prince’s life as a man. The Prince came to me and said. The men gathered firewood. making as much noise as they could. I too felt the coldness of the place. glowing from the surface of the lake. mentally drained by the demands of wisdom. on the road to the Temple. The road had long since turned away from the cliff and we had forest on our right now. He watched me closely. the surrounding cliffs low in the sky.
Geryn. The Prince’s line was taken and I guided him. which meant that the burden fell wholly on me. soothing him with gesture until he was lightly entranced. the only advice I could offer him: ‘Return to origins.Once I had set out the lines. I was reluctant to answer him. the Prince drawing in too quickly. when I said to him in a low voice. 128 . because I could not let my will intervene upon his. My son could no longer reach the Prince. though. thank goodness – they were focused on their fires as an antidote to the stark night at their backs. playing them patiently. and I fished. In order that he should rest deeply.’ I addressed him by name to signify that I spoke to a man and not a Prince. to presume a familiarity between ruler and subject. but the line broke. exhaustion exposing his consciousness to the residue of wilfulness in him. I was obliged to entrance the company. Afterwards. the Prince asked me why I fished. my son. The men prepared huge fires about the spit of land on which we were camped. which was not difficult. this time out of fear. as some might think. in the firelight. ate with him. I isolated him with his military staff at one of the fires. You can see the analogy. my son bred and hunted animals. I could do no more. which surprised me – I had expected none – a large fish with pale sweet flesh. and they sang for the first time in days. again for fear of contamination. which was then completely biddable. not. The fish was plentiful. and I concentrated upon landing them. so instead I offered him a rod and asked in return: ‘Why do you think I fish?’ He cast the line. Your father disposed men. and I waited until I saw that he studied the line angling down into the lake water. Again. the Prince’s eyes had a wild quality. in submission to his soul and so as fluid as the malleability of the soul.
automatics across their backs. I nodded again and looked out beyond him to the clear water light of the dawn. Soon after the sun rose above the eastern ridge. seeing the first rays of the sun strike the cliffs at the head of the lake. part question. the remaining mules left under guard at the campsite. He smiled and settled into his fragility. we breasted a rise in the road and saw the Temple before us. eyes independently shifting focus. We drank water from the lake but ate nothing. I nodded slowly.At dawn the Prince came to my tent and woke me. but was unsure of the words he used. and he went out to rouse the camp. a group of priests approaching on foot. He knew he was right. five miles away. no doubt. their bright red robes brilliant in the light. but I recoiled involuntarily even so. his skin transparent. ‘Thank you. The mules bearing the heavy weapons were brought forward and distributed to their respective units. He was fragile. 129 .’ The personal name was appropriate. Charin. though none of us regarded the Temple of the Real God as religious in the manner of the Imperial Church. The Prince understood at once. words being blinds in this situation.’ It was part statement. thankfully. to order battle dress for the last stage of our journey. peaked hard hats a reminder that they were huntsmen. He said without ceremony: ‘Fishing is an exercise of knowledge. heavy sabres in their scabbards hanging from saddles. reluctant to talk about the matter. feeling the pressure of his presence like water on my body. the road running like an arrow to the complex of buildings. falling back on the fatalism that buoyed him now. instinctively observing religious forms. Arming for battle induced a complementary seriousness.
but there was no opposition to our entry into the Temple precinct. He nodded. his rage naked. the Emperor. the Prince and his gift. and his mouth tightened with a hatred that dismayed me. and turned to his companions to make a remark about the Prince’s father. the priests were no less savage. securing positions in a leap-frog way. a general air of a 130 . The soldiers ranged forward. a shop on a corner.The Prince halted the column and asked me if I would perform the embassy. secure in their power. seeing the Prince now. I asked him what other conditions applied and was told that the soldiers were to return to our last camping ground. Then the priest turned to me at his leisure and said that only the Prince could attend at the Temple. their wills derived and callous. In their own way. not the man Geryn. I say precinct. Their leader smiled contemptuously when I informed who had come and why. parts of their heavy guns straddled before them on their saddles. his gesturing hand suddenly shaking. detached residences surrounded by small gardens. But I dismounted out of courtesy and greeted then with respect. I rode beside him on the road. As I remounted the priest said at my back: ‘We hope the son knows why he has come here’. a pub opposite. but it was more like the suburb of a small town. but I had ridden only a hundred yards or so when heavy automatic weapons opened fire and cut the priests down. and he deployed his soldiers for attack once we reached the cultivated area before the Temple. a screen of our military specialists in front. closely tended with many flowers. The Prince and the column met me and I turned in beside him and listed the priest’s conditions. They spoke with habituated arrogance.
and the people’s cry changed at once to one of thanksgiving. The Prince pulled up before the man was trampled. screaming. gap toothed and wretched. I would not interfere with my Prince’s actions. and a man in rags ran out and threw himself on the ground in front of our horses. I am not superstitious. The Prince signalled his staff.tableau under way. children crying in doorways. terrified. The street widened at the next crossing. The man scrambled to his feet. my son. Even so. an ironbound gate closed against us. ‘It is not our doing. The priest’s tone alerted me and I saw then that the Prince intended impiety. The gunfire jittered the soldiers and we heard a heavy gun sound off somewhere down by the lake. individuals running out on impulse to touch the specialists in gratitude. and before us was a high yellow wall. telling them to go back indoors. and they fanned out towards the houses. then more guns fired in sympathy. ‘You lack your father’s respect for God. arching up over the doorway.’ The Prince signalled and one of his specialists shot both priests. whatever the price to Geryn’s soul. over and over. The wall stretched a hundred yards on either side. over ten feet high rising to twenty feet at either end. but one should be sure of one’s beliefs before abusing that which is intended as supernatural. expecting the houses to be fired. placating the people with gesture. Other people came from the houses around us. and some pushed their children away to keep them out in the open. Two priests approached us at the next crossing and one called out to the Prince. They withdrew slowly. The Prince spurred his horse forward once the street was clear. screaming with eyes closed. We waited in the 131 . A voice cried out nearby. Lord’. cold but serious.
why he had come to the Temple. heavy cloths and paintings on the walls. They reported that priests stood in ranks behind a seated priest. The Prince picked military specialists to accompany him. asked the Prince and his escort to accompany him into the Temple. gilded roofs. the senseless accretion of centuries. The Prince replied. My son did not protest: he could not. and led us up a small flight of steps. enough if I say that it was encumbered with the offerings of generations. signalled to a priest to take the stallion. spikes and towers jutting from the walls. Then he told my son to bring the stallion. the chief priest had his own light and so owed allegiance to no god. The Prince rode forward and pushed at the gate: it swung open on oiled hinges. perhaps their chief priest. and a security zone to be prepared inside the enclosure. and we went into the enclosure.’ The chief priest smiled and nodded. The Temple rose behind the priests. I will make no attempt to describe the furniture and decorations of the Temple. in a composed voice. my son leading the stallion. The Prince ordered platforms to be constructed at the walls and guards placed there. smaller than I had expected. He turned towards the ancient structure. There were no windows and the interior was lit by clusters of candles around the walls. ornaments and vessels of every 132 . Though ruler of the Temple of the Real God. but the Prince had men scale the wall first to check the situation inside. beckoned to me. and rising slowly. He asked the Prince. perhaps millennia.street until reports came in from our soldiers that the town had been secured. ranging from humble woodwork to screens of gold and silver. a mass of spires. Officers joined us and advised explosives. ‘To see God.
squeezing in among the votive objects. Believe me. haphazardly. The priests arrayed themselves. black with the grease of palms. but the chief priest and the priest leading the stallion led us straight across to the trunk. the priest astride its back. two grabbing the 133 . son. Prince?’ The voice was small. voice sharper. The chief priest repeated his question. and spoke to his specialists. cutting with the short curved sword down to the spine. The chief priest turned at the trunk and said in a small voice. his detachment extreme: ‘You bring a living sacrifice. whose voice shook when he spoke. The Prince caught my wrist and so stopped me raising power. who shook with rage. not knowing how helpless he was there. and I moved closer to the Prince. surrounding the Prince to protect him. The stallion did not move. I was prepared at that moment to exert all my power to protect the Prince. and sliced the animal’s back open from its ears to its anus.’ The old priest lifted his hands as in ritual and a priest ran out from one side. feet braced on the flats of its rump. My son screamed and ran towards the animal.kind from all over the continent. around the Temple. the humiliation burning him: ‘Yes. his will exposed. but in the Temple it conveyed a sense of overwhelming power. stood an old tree trunk. long stripped of its bark. demanding an admission from the Prince. smooth with centuries of kisses. priest. the darkest part of the chamber. stained knife raised in the air. jumped onto the stallion. the priest dropped to the ground and cut my son’s throat open with one concentrated slash. Expertly they moved to a prearranged plan. We stopped when told to. In the centre.
The priest fought the 134 . My son was dead and all I understood from that fact was its inevitability – he had lived with that since the early years in Comar – and that he had found the best use for his death. mouth full with a gentle smile. fear. mounted. saving the Prince from death at the hands of a power I could recognise but not understand. but the walls reverberated with the crash and skid of steel hooves. artefacts clattering to the ground. The gunfire brought our soldiers in. who had gone into his detachment.chief priest and securing him at their feet on the ground. pointing so they would know what he meant. The specialists stripped the chief priest and strapped his gonads tightly with fine copper wire. but really it was an accumulation of will power over a long period. the tree trunk the accumulator. You may call it the Real God. the others covering all points with continuous fire. raking the press of priests around the chamber. the burst flesh along its back swelling up now. a face with piercing eyes. The Prince said to me. The Prince stood by my son. winding it so tightly that effusions of the wound could not escape. priests screaming in pain and. The stallion was still on its feet. ‘Show him his reality’. except by welling up against his groin and dripping onto his thighs. The gunfire had died down in the Temple. The gunfire lit the building with spasmodic flashes and I saw that the roof was painted: a large hovering face on a black field. eyes flared. not much blood. and said to the specialists guarding him. sabres singing after every stroke. a foam at its muzzle. whose blood still pumped up in the air and splashed down on to his face and chest.’ I nodded. finally. He looked down at the chief priest. ‘Your son saved my life. then going among them with their sabres.
not because he had permitted them to spit on his crown. the ninety third in line. put out of its misery. it had been given a pride of place. It was obvious that the priests held the Emperor in contempt. the anxiety of Tocas and Ansoc at last put at ease. It was not clear then if the man Geryn had survived the Prince’s savagery. I knew. but because they had done as he wished – mocked openly what he mocked in 135 . and it was placed in the tremoring hands of the priest. its vanity. thus betraying the impurity of that religion. expressing the relief of the Empire. It is a complicated matter. but they of course knew nothing of the Emperor’s visit here. but it is wrong to use detachment in that way – the result is complete severance. the office. to place the crown on his head. and I was the first to acknowledge him Emperor. faced crushed in agony. still stock still. blood trickling down his legs. The specialists found the Imperial crown with a little trouble. the material husk remaining. its coat covered with congealed blood. The soldiers were surprised to see the Prince kneel before the priest and permit this naked man. Thus ended the career of the Prince and in its place we now had a new Emperor. The cheers of the soldiers were heartfelt. The new Emperor’s first act was to order the poor stallion. but you must remember that my first allegiance was to the Emperor. In the period that followed I did take time to think about this. not the individual who held that office. But it soon became clear that the vulnerable will of Geryn had been contaminated by the shame the Prince felt for his father.agony for a short while.
his unfitness to be Emperor – and the Emperor had not the courage to acknowledge this.secret. and had suffered this shame deeply. had been ashamed of his father as his father had been shamed before his son. conversely. Perhaps it was because. But as Prince. the Emperor had come to the Temple as a man before God. he could not avoid confronting the fact that the Emperor had been humiliated. in turn the Prince saw himself hung from every lamp post and pillar in the city. the weakness of his rule. It is likely that he was. had planned the action many years before. no more. In the matter of my son. He had avenged the Emperor in Kar: the Emperor had hung himself before the city that had humiliated him. as I have said. what can I say? It was not his place to interrupt a religious act involving the Empire. and it was necessary for him to revenge the insult to Imperial prestige. The Prince should have acknowledged his father’s cowardice and requested the return of the crown. Imperial prestige raised to the level of divinity. hiding it behind his reserve. that he had permitted his love for his father to drive him to such a barbarity in the name of the Empire. (Remember the priest addressed the Prince by his title and 136 . But it was too great a revenge. This indicates a tragic weakness in Geryn. I think the Prince had understood this. his will. I did think for many years that Geryn had been demonised by his desire to wipe out his shame for his father’s weakness. but I think that the Prince had in any case intended to destroy the Temple. not as an Emperor in state. of the religious element in the insult at the Temple that the Prince’s reprisal was so savage and thoroughgoing. was vulnerable to such a contamination at the time. destroying the Temple and massacring the priests.
Now. Until your father told me about the significance of the desert savages in determining the Prince’s life. and console myself with the cold knowledge that my son could do no better with his life except murder innocent animals in the wild. the Prince himself was intended as a victim in the struggle between the magicians of the desert and of the Temple. Bear in mind he kept the animal intact. perhaps both confusedly. I suspect the Prince knew something of the situation he was in. was the stallion the substitute? It is not difficult to understand my son’s outrage at seeing his beloved animal sliced open in such a casual. and here I speculate at the extremes of my knowledge of the world. whether love of the stallion or of the Prince. at least. if. This of course begs the question: did the Prince know that the stallion would be sacrificed? Again. way. but his weakness had always been apparent. 137 . I thought that the Prince had merely wanted his close companions with him in the Temple. perhaps as moral support for his savage reprisal. this is a complicated matter.) But again. The question that has haunted me in the years since is this: did the Prince deliberately place my son in such a dangerous position? My son was the commander of a company of horse and as such should have remained with his men outside the Temple. tenuous though it is. I am willing to accept this line of reasoning. and intended the stallion. and senseless.thus acknowledged who had come before him. as substitute. my son was overcome with love. as seems the case. But. not difficult to predict his impulsive response. however.
but. and betrayed these gods so often that we were driven to love one another. not fishing as I had intended. Men first loved gods. and we suffer over and over the contradiction between the illusions we impose and the truth all of us know is in our hearts. they play little or no part in my account. I realise now that this is what I am showing you in this account. I write about love. I had seen it as the true test of your father’s belief concerning the desert savages. but sitting in the garden. imposing impossible burdens on one another.I have rested for many days. Such love is the centre of our lives. What about the light that is within me. rather we make eternal that which we love. a subject I had not considered hitherto as a significant element in the career of the Prince. so you will know what I am writing about. Love is the desire for constancy. Let me tell you what I think love is. is that not love? My answer is that I do not love that light. However. as you have read. sacrificing it to escape death. that my joy has no existence 138 . You ask yourself now: who do I love? I will tell you candidly: I love nothing. man is mortal. what this inescapable love has done to a few men: the Prince’s love for his father. that I greet with joy on every occasion. imposing our desire wilfully. But we do not love the eternal. seeing from an early age the mortality of all that is sensed. for the eternal. not the love-object that reveals itself to us. the love of your father and of my son for the Prince. elaborating heavens of eternity. We can do this because it is our desire that discovers the objects of our love. Instead. as such. and so we always betray that which we love. shaded from the high summer sun. I had known from the beginning of this account that the episode at the Temple would be the centre of my story.
Nor do I mean that the Prince became a god. my son. but until I experience it I do not know what it is. I have given careful thought to what I am writing. that you fear. fatally awaiting its coming. and then that knowledge exceeds my understanding. it does not follow that the Temple priests would be the servants of the Prince. Are the dreamers those who make gods? Did the savage tell the Prince that he was such a dreamer? Believe me. If the savage did mean to tell the Prince this. their desperation. as I have already implied. not his apparent victory. that enchanted the people of Kar. believing at its coming each time that I will die. How did the Prince show his lack of enchantment? Again. the source of his charisma for its inhabitants. I do not even desire the light. I have said that the religion of Tocas is a frozen image of the philosophy of Kar. is that he was not enchanted by the city. or blasphemy as the case may be. only that he was the occasion of the invention. In a sense. nonetheless a god was created in that city.’ Consider that priests are agents of their god. It is simply an operation of form. Let me assure you immediately that this is not the superstition.without the presence of that light. in the city of Kar. The desert savage told the Prince: ‘Priests are the servants of dreamers. or that their God would become the Prince’s god. so who else but the Emperor would be the God-image of the city? That is all. the Prince had already made a god. it is clear that he did not. my joy is beyond memory and knowledge. an accident of their technology and a product of their desire. It is true that as I sit here at this desk I can write about this joy. It is because of this simple fact. this is 139 . The great power of the Prince over Kar. I do not mean that the Prince did this deliberately.
that is. in part appals me.simple. but asking only one question: ‘Don’t you turn the heavens?’. I have an insight that in part awes me. It is an indication of the depth of this shame. now I see more deeply that perhaps it was not an accident. Having written this far. make the sun rise. but for himself. for his love of his father. he destroyed part of the city – brought a new light to it – and showed a willingness to destroy it entirely. the Kar concept of a man. a depth arising from the strength of his love. Can a man. And yet. to find outside what he could find only in himself. make what is desired real? Another insight follows on this: did the savages know the Prince merely by seeing him there in the desert? I can only answer: Yes. that it required an image of divinity to protect the Prince from himself. Notice that I do not say that he did it for his father. and so was condemned to love. perhaps could not do it. it had done the Emperor no harm. The savages knew the Prince had not done that. That is why the ruler exclaimed: ‘How could a man do that?’. 140 . I want to indicate the root of the Prince’s action in love: to protect his love of his father. Why did the Prince burn the city? My answer is not ironic. Do you see this? When I write that the Prince acted to protect his love. meaning that the Prince must be more than a man. In their hidden speech they spoke to the Prince’s soul. by desiring strongly enough. This is one of the reasons he did not destroy the city – Kar had merely been the occasion for revealing his father’s fundamental inadequacy as Emperor. I mean that he sought to hide the shame that lay at the heart of his love for his father. telling his soul what they saw there. I have assumed that the image of the Prince was an inadvertent product of Kar technology. that is.
The soldiers manning the gate opened fire on them. We came out of the Temple during this second attack. my son. Is not shame. old guns. the soon-to-be Emperor? Finally. the miasma driving us out. knives. I mean what guilt? What is it that man fails to do? Not all the priests had been gathered in the Temple. and so operate to bolster their own belief in the Empire.One more insight. of vital importance to them. climbing over their dead and 141 . though. some already scaling the wall surrounding the Temple compound. that desire for eternity is desired by our mortality. and attacked again in some order. but as they crowded in regardless of casualties. I have written of the Prince’s shame as though it were something added by circumstances to his love for his father. There were a least five hundred priests. the priests retreated and armed themselves. Consider. anything that would serve as a weapon. The fighting was simply a matter of killing priests at first. and the Emperor ordered a demolition unit to work before going to assess the situation. did the inhabitants of Kar also detect it. and I will resume my story. pressing in on all sides. cudgels. what I have said about the contradiction at the heart of love. our cowardice in the face of truth? Consider how easy it is to detect shame in a man: the savages detected the Prince’s shame. to put an end to my pedantry: what underlies the feeling of shame. then. and the gunfire brought the remainder running from all directions. always an aspect of love? Does love not reveal our shame. to hide the shame that was part of their love of the Prince.
opposing forces equalling as the priests seized the weapons of our dead. In the distance. the track zigzagging up the face of the cliff. The campsite had been attacked and the mules driven off. a sea of red robe and blue tunic. but we managed to gather ten horses and two mules laden with food. the battle became a grim struggle with no quarter. the last priest was shot and the explosives around the Temple fused. dumbfounded by the carnage. screams. the stallion. sheltered in the entrance to the Temple. the hoarse shouting of aroused men. The silence was intense. that created the unreality: I had a gun. believe me that it lapped the lowest step at the entrance to the Temple. But it was the noise. our track one of the tracks we had seen branching off between the great blocks of rock. The Emperor and I. glutinous. together with three specialists. When I say the compound ran with blood. lapping at our feet. 142 . The villagers showed us the path through the forest and took us as far as the first incline up across the shale. rising ten thousand feet to the desolate valley we had followed down to the chasm. fresh blood pulsing over congealing blood.wounded. were all that remained. gunfire. at times convinced I sat in a boat in the middle of the ocean waiting for fish to bite. The soldiers and the priests fought to the last man. looking at the pile of bodies. On the Emperor’s instructions. a scarlet sea. The explosions brought the Temple down on itself. a priest armed with a long knife. firing as I could over the heads of our soldiers. the god and his treasure. The villagers gave us food and water. the people of the village cried a monotonous lament. The children were quiet. burying my son. sniffing the air in little bursts in order to breath. stunned. but much of the time I spent looking straight up at the clear blue sky.
unjustly. still short with your father. the reserve gone and a hard temper in its place. a column of their ungainly overland carriers. the increased traffic adding to the congestion in the area. With the Imperial Western Road across the north Uplands closed due to the fighting. munitions dumps. Your father was taken aback by the Emperor. Your father. heavy security. the Emperor examining the situation in detail. for they were perforce dispersed over a half million square miles of mountain and bog. remember. as his father’s army had been seduced. used. figures and maps. A patrol of Ansoc Imperials. trucks abandoned in bogs. met us as we turned left on to the main track in the centre of the valley. We rested a week at Soro. because the Tocas divisions had been seduced. whose irritation was communicated to the Tocas troops in the north. They had heard the gunfire down in the recess. lines of supply hopelessly confused. command posts exposed on the sides of mountains. mutilated and left half-dead to be buried in his Temple.whose destination we had speculated on. into chasing bands of tribesmen into forests and valleys. he confided his satisfaction to me. and the Emperor was short with him. all Kar’s trade now snaked along the Great West Road through Comar and Soro. also unsure of the new man. was an administrator. not a general. later that evening. Yet. the drab city surrounded by new buildings. not directly. The Upland front was a fractal extending into every nook and cranny. Then the first delegation arrived to pay its respect to 143 . and he had his facts. the Emperor great at the expense of another man. Your father was at Soro with his war administration. but I could infer that the Tocas army was serving its purpose of distracting the Uplanders. disappointed that he had not witnessed the coronation.
cameras wheeled out immediately. a parade of plush cars and very modern trucks sweeping into town. and it was only when we were told that we realised that the carrier had no wheels. There was a pause before Accas appeared. irritated that Kasar and Bosar arrived on their heels. a taste of Kar’s extravaganza brightening the dull Upland city. the Imperial Seal emblazoned in blue on its side. but they upstaged the other Provinces. reminding the Emperor that his home was in Tocas. the forms observed exactly. praising the Imperial city and its Imperial inhabitants. The Imperial Buggy. On the morning of the banquet. preening themselves now that they served an Emperor rather than a mere Prince. the traffic on the West Road was suddenly ceased. the Emperor drawn down to see the city’s gift. in the meantime the Emperor arranged a dinner. The secret of its propulsion 144 . their soldiers praised. spotlights. Tesar came. colour and eccentricity mocking Tesar’s play. and an hour later the city was filled with sirens and flashing blue lights as the delegation from Kar arrived. working angles as usual. and he made a short reply. Tocas. a supermodern carrier in white. I think. I was surprised to see the Emperor relax in the presence of the ruler’s son. The Emperor would let no man kneel to him.their new Emperor. the showy clothes flashing in the streets. among his most loyal subjects. though the facilities at Soro were not really adequate. greeting one another like old friends. Technicians swarmed about demonstrating all its abilities. and they made long ceremonial addresses. Next came the men of Ansoc in their old fashioned suits. loyalty pledged. Not their intention. as it was called. reminding his servants that the Empire was at war and expected great sacrifices from its subjects. dressed in new finery. of course.
of course. so a special service unit was supplied to be on hand if needed. as was the custom. one hundred miles an hour plus on the West Road. The morning was greeted. The dinner was necessarily restrained. yet an historic occasion. a complex system of laser beams reading the terrain. the old Imperial Keep guarding the road north to Lake Solos. No one made any reference to the coronation of the Emperor. your father and I. explaining why he had done as he had done: the insult to the crown demanded harsh retribution as a lesson to all. Speeches. and the union of the continent under the Emperor. the Emperor. long reign. an escort of Ansoc Imperials. The Buggy had been left in store in Soro. filling in details as I saw fit. The Emperor took your father aside during the drive west and told him what had happened at the Temple. all the delegates rising to solemnly drink the new Emperor’s health.was restricted. given the presence of the cameras. I queried the mutilation of 145 . we. the service unit lodged in a barracks on the moor above the city. the first time all the Imperial Provinces of the east had sat down together for several hundred years. but tensions ran as undercurrents through the night. skimming across the moors at seventy five. ostensibly because there were dangers. The war effort was praised. Tesar pretensions undercut by Bosar good spirits. Kasars on their own. The prospect of retrieving the Western Plains was raised by everyone. with toasts and salutations. The inaugural trip was spectacular. I was present. Tocas style competing with Kar business. and I can tell you that the Emperor spoke factually. on our way to the Ansoc base at Gardoc. bringing the Upland Provinces back into the fold. to the utter destruction of the religion of the Real God. Within an hour. as usual. were out on the West Road.
but a trust placed in a man by other men. And if I had care of an Empire. absolute and with a great task ahead. not a sacred symbolism. after all he had proposed the same. my son. Your father was not dismayed by the annihilation of the Temple. to have associated fishing with such slaughter taught me something 146 . but a word with the ruler’s son had removed that. The Emperor finally explained that his short temper had arisen from the worry that Kar might not easily replace the material being wasted by the Tocas army in the north. sixty million people. slowly digesting the fact that he now administered an Emperor’s. though admittedly I was somewhat detached. If he had seen what I had seen at the Temple. then perhaps the butchery of over a thousand men would be such and such a percent loss of total manpower and resources. haunted by the memory of my response to that carnage. You will have the impression that our week at Soro was a whirlwind of activity coming immediately upon the events at the Temple of the Real God. less dreary than usual the summer being dry and hot. Your father spent the rest of the journey looking out at the Mountains to the south. not a Prince’s. and he made policy on that scale. The Emperor remained factual: the priest was the holiest man on the continent. I am not implying that your father was callous. but he had to concentrate on the significance of the coronation. he wanted the good of the Empire. then perhaps his policy decisions might have been less academic. It seemed so to me. realm – a true Imperium. You see.the priest. and had proposed it for two millions in Kar as well.
giving me a precious glimpse of another. that I do not mean I learned that my fishing was a kind of escapism. if you remember. 147 . I had told him to return to origins. that I was running away from our brute reality and at the same time fooling myself into believing I was somehow transcending that reality. The Prince grasped this when he told me what fishing was. My error. my son. The Prince’s insight into the act of fishing shows that my basic intuition remains correct. the Prince could only see the operation of his soul. Doing this. as I began to understand during that week in Soro. rather than escapist. Obviously. more real plane of being. the Prince used the words I had taught him. what the knowledge was of. that is. which I have written about earlier.about myself. activity. knowledge. to find the meaning of fishing within himself. as it were. raised me above materiality. I had resisted the pull of that exalted state. but could not see further what the knowledge was about. knowing what is was but not sure if he used the correct words. but in misunderstanding the nature of that knowledge. lay not in seeing fishing as an act on knowledge. My experience at the Temple suggested that I fish as a means to forgetting for a short time the horror of sensible existence. Let me say immediately. which would have meant for him to return into himself. should perhaps have alerted me to an error in my assumption. and my reluctance to surrender fully to its transcendence should have prompted me to question the significance of fishing as an act of knowledge. and followed my direction in investigating the act of fishing. I mean that it is a positive. But my experience at Bosar. Until that experience I had regarded fishing as a positive exercise in meditation that. There.
It is this matter of knowing what I cannot experience directly that is important. I know where to fish for it and I know how to entice it. But I had long ago accepted the responsibility for this murder. the space we inhabit. But the analogy holds. What is fishing? A baited hook dropped into dark waters to ensnare fish. Not murder. The problem I saw haunting Kar science and Tocas theology. my son. but I know from experience they are there. The fundamental lack of connection: the hook here. the comforts we seek. finding the Light. known to me already. 148 . in itself. and most of all while I worried about the Emperor’s state of mind and his treatment of your father. Or so I believed until the time in Soro. The analogy holds because I can connect the basic asymmetry. and I know how to entice them onto my hooks. No – the blindness.I thought deeply about all this at Soro. because the ends are analogical: finding the fish. that we survive always at the expense of other life – the food we eat. taught me. that is too obvious. but I know instantly when I have him. seeking the Light always involved my death as a real possibility. seeing it as part of the guilt of the fact of material existence. Now I acknowledge this imbalance and asked myself what lesson fishing. fear that his ego contaminated him in order to justify his actions against the Real God. Likewise the Light. and I know instantly when it comes. This insight came to me fairly quickly. a weapon for the slaughter of innocents. Consider now the act of knowledge. The crucial difference here is this: fishing involves the death of the fish at little risk to me. once I looked for it. while I attended receptions and talked to delegates. the fish there. I cannot see a given fish swimming in the deep. I cannot see the fish. in the dark.
that the Empire could not include all. My son had shown the Prince that reality. But the crowning itself? He had told Tocas he would not be crowned because the Empire did not exist as yet. And look at the price of that impossibility of knowing. I do not think so now. my soul was never completed. This the Prince had already intended. the agony of the priest the agony of the Prince as a man. We had all understood that to mean that he would remain Prince until the continent was united in the Empire. because the circle never closed. as I have said before. so many dead fish. I preoccupy myself with the influences of others on the Prince. not an agent of a god. It may be a coincidence that he came into that knowledge when he did. I cannot immediately see the lineaments of this influence. and told your father that he wished a man to crown him. yet I have not before now considered my influence over him in his later life. that is. the night before he became Emperor and destroyed the Real God. and perhaps other lands on 149 . the ships and the flying craft. You see now what the Prince saw on the river bank below the recess? Why he looked at the world anew? He saw. my son. everything infinitely distant. his own father. until the Western Plains had been restored. Did I send him to slaughter so many and destroy a religion of great age? No. your father. ‘Show him his reality’. yet close at hand. and understood – knew – the gap in between. to punish the Temple for its insult to the crown. the stars. The discontinuity of sensible existence. the failure of knowledge that drives us on and on – why I fished and never tired of fishing. Your father had seen at Kar.That was the knowledge fishing taught. Did the Prince intend the grotesque coronation? He said to his specialists. except that evening on the river bank. the desert savages and Kar.
They ask me to explain the Emperor. the Temple. Here I wanted to tell you that I discovered a connection between fishing and suffering. the Uplanders. (Fathom! I did not intend this metaphor. I am confused. not content. But the Prince had not been daunted. But I am not important: I have not changed the destiny of this continent. Kar. I think because it seems the fish I seek is myself. He had no insurmountable barrier until he fished. You see? I come to the end of the Prince’s life and what is there? Not the Emperor. and that it was already as complete as it could be. I must break off again. They nod and make notes. creating disorder everywhere. That was the Emperor’s doing. but myself. the waters deep and dark. unable to think in a settled way. Not for the first time. and I am led on to insights I cannot fathom. take reports back to their 150 . the fish elusive. to the point where my initial intention sees facile or even wrong. The Prince pressed against barriers within the Empire. He discovered that evening that his Empire existed. would remain outside. the only survivor of his circle. killing his aspiration. Why? His shame.our world. and saw that the Empire would never be complete. I set out to explain something to you and find the matter more complex than it seemed. strange fish on my hook. This account is like fishing. and worked step by step to overcome these barriers.) I have fished for two days in our river. I am confused. This knowledge of incompleteness marked your father. I fish and the imagery of fishing haunts me.
Forgive this outburst. about the dream of the Western Plains. technology. I tell them about loving his father (but not about shame). Be patient. I am not as wise as I thought. and try to think more deeply before resuming my story. about the role of Kar. my son.governments. my knowledge is of the Emperor. about hunger but not about illusion. they believe what I tell them. to fish in Ansoc. I cannot even tell them about the desert seers. That is how it is. I tell them about scarcity but not about guilt. I cannot tell them that I led the Emperor. I will take a long break now. 151 . religion.
is an act of knowledge. This bridging knowledge is not of itself of any importance for me. my being collapsing into its unity as Light. formed 152 . though of course it is essential to the science of Kar and the philosophy of the Empire. though I then experienced it as an uneasy reflection of myself. the uprooted hordes of the continent who cannot face the truth about the Western Plains. I spent a month in the south of Ansoc. For me. I was not at peace. most of the time far out on the ocean with the famous fishing fleet of that region. while permitting me to hold steady the gap in my own mind. the gap in the outward action between hook and fish. perhaps a premonition. as you know. The experience of the Prince was similar to the experience of most men when confronted by the dark: to grasp an already known light – for what is an object present to the mind or soul but a configuration of the Light. Knowledge here is the steady concentration on that dark. Let me begin by completing my reflections on the meaning of fishing. Comar as I knew it has been destroyed. In the act of fishing the bridging of the dark between the baited hook and the unseen fish serves to stabilise. fishing. to its Light. which in turn permits me to ‘enter’ the dark within the gap. as I have written.Three years have passed since I last wrote in this account. a knowledge that bridges the gap or disconnection I described. to free my soul to its nature. ravaged by what are loosely called armies. I had been too confused – distracted – by the first suspicion of the extent of my influence on the Prince. as it were. It was not a personal disquiet. In that time. the Light appearing to the concentration not as knowledge of the Light – as though the mind was a mirror – but an experience of identification.
which the Prince gave him. and built up the Empire. and we are always hiding it by projecting forms in its place. The Prince was my pupil. lack of connection – is always present to us. Now. our fear is usually slight. but unable to concentrate on that shame. the Prince 153 . Unfortunately for all of us. that is. sufficiently thoughtful to see the shame in his love of his father. My son also desired Kar. not objects. however. to do for his father what he could not do for himself – as sons commonly do in memory of their fathers – but the Empire was also the source of the Prince’s shame. In other words. understanding form. not Kar or the Temple priests. the dark – the gap. the gap yawns within us. Sometimes. The gap is usually filled easily. as expected if you think about it. desired the Empire as the means to obtaining Kar. this we experience as the succession of desires. The difference? I am a mystic. An absurd comparison. for the objects only exist in this matter through their value. and the Prince blamed the Empire. I persuaded him to desire life instead. and the object we desire correspondingly great. he built an Empire in its name. the Prince destroyed the Empire as I destroy fish. our fear is great. you might think at first. our desire great. that is as objects of desire. in desiring life he desired death. for the failure of his father. but always the father fails. but a Kar of knowledge.by a will directed (misdirected) outwards. discovered that the Empire could never be real enough to obtain his desire to smother his fear. so our desires are usually small. Your father desired Kar. You see? The father hides the darkness from the son. the leap of desire in fact a recoil of fear disguised as an outreaching to objects. the Prince’s father was the Emperor. and the Prince was also intent on hiding his shame. my son. but we are discussing forms.
inoffensive civilians responding with ferocity to any attempt to restrict them. An Empire is the greatest of objects. the remains torn apart for firewood. the Prince loves to excess. The violence was all the worse for being casual and secondary. the Heart of Comar. desertions reducing our army by half on the first day. There was still some semblance of order there. I do not love because I do not know my father. The difference between the Prince and I is fundamental. source of light. most form-like. in 154 . Like the fish. understanding power. It was worse in the cities. I lived a year in the Imperial Keep. farmers leaving their ripening crops. at home in the dark. I do not love. the greatest creation of the will: transcending individual life. I saved what I could from my house – mostly disk files – and returned to Ansoc. following the Great West Road now. the inhabitants spreading out into the countryside in search of food. the passes north heavily defended. The great oak in the Warden’s park. Our defence of the Keep lasted thirty six hours. I flew back to Comar with every intention of taking part in the defence of my adopted homeland. boats adrift on the river. Comar collapsed as Tocas did. permeated by its medium. was destroyed by mortars during the sack of the Prince’s old palace. When news came of the entry of the hordes into Tocas.was a ruler. the Prince loves because he knew his father too well. trucks abandoned at the side of roads. the old Imperial discipline running deep. Fish is the purest object. containing the world. intact. like the Empire.
I tried to prompt them to understand for themselves. you will understand and accept. instead I prepared reports for their government explaining in detail what was happening and the best course to follow. the reaction I wanted most of all to avoid.the quarters we had occupied during our tour many years before. earning a livelihood fishing out on the ocean. of course. where I now live. though it will be some time before this becomes apparent to them. I attended meetings in Ansoc. I flew across the Bay of Tonos to Bosar and settled in the far east of the country. why should anyone believe it all? If I had told them everything. illuminating few. my son. though. and believe the rest of the continent is being reduced to their level. The reports were read and discussed. Perhaps when you read this account. The outcome? In a sentence: ‘How can people live without hope?’ I had wasted my time. The sudden collapse of order in Isocan presaged the end of Ansoc. to them the natural level of existence for man. which came with all the intent violence of a highly disciplined people. Enough was said. they would have simply defended their hope by simply blaming me for the situation. The overflights are increasing now that the structures of response have largely disappeared. I could not ensure their resolve to withstand the chaos in the northern states. but even 155 . The people here live primitively (not simply). Should I have told the whole truth? No one was willing to believe part of the truth. Perhaps then others will come to understand and this understanding will spread among you. in a small coastal village. They are wrong. I wanted to avoid causing panic. for intelligent inference. I experiment among the villagers. I did not tell the whole truth in these reports.
detailed analyses of a territory of a million square miles. the 156 . the bogs firm. though the initial effect is catastrophic. North of Ordis we encountered elements of the Tocas army busily engaged in pursuing bands of mounted tribesmen around the upper Solos valley. Both cities were devastated. the surviving Uplanders driven ahead under constant harassment. and then ordered an advance on Caspas. The summer was perfect for campaigning. but to break a static mind threatens extinction. It is necessary for you to understand that first. The Ansocs’ reconnaissance had been thorough. a wedge driven along the road to Lake Solos to within a hundred miles of Caspas. a blitzkrieg attack. and a push along the left of the lake to Ordis. the city at the northern end. interviewing the entire senior command. Instead of chasing. The Emperor ordered these units to clear the plain of Lake Solos and took the opportunity to test the tactics of the Ansocs against the Upland fighters. the Uplander city at the southern end of the lake. but I think it will be of more use to you if I resume my narrative of the Prince’s life. I am tempted to expatiate upon my objectives here.at this primitive level it is hard. perhaps in some ways harder. the mountains dry. their reports factual. long and hot. It is easier to interrupt a moving mind. the roads intact. It is all I have to work on now and I do so in the knowledge that what I learn will be far more effective when used among less primitive peoples. otherwise anything I tell you would be meaningless. to break the enchantment. The Emperor spent a week in conference. The Ansoc Imperials had established themselves at Gordoc.
Instead. weather holding. We fired the city of Maloc. fully exposed now to the tribesmen. to complete the campaign in one season. the division coming south from the Northwest Province still fighting to take the old Imperial Keep at Sus-so. of course. merciless at the kill. thus ending a three hundred year occupation by the Uplanders. though the nights were getting cold. moving along a fifty mile front across the open moors of the watershed. The destruction of the city had the desired effect. catering to the traffic of the Western Road. destroying every city and town on the road. The Tocas division driving the Imperial Western Road was still four hundred miles to the east. but plotting nonetheless the movements of these bands. The weather held. the overland carriers the perfect hounds. that it would take a long time to reduce the Uplands by this method. the tribesmen in the Keep surrendered without battle. We left the Solos valley and drove north into the Northern Upland Province. driving the bands together into selected killing fields.Ansocs hunted. ignoring the fact that many Accas and Kar provincials lived there. entrapping the inhabitants in the ensuing firestorm. realising at the same time. the mountains textured like tweed. and we were tempted to press on. Mounted bands attempted to tease us out. But our knowledge of the great Uplander core territory lying north and west of us was sketchy. The Emperor was impressed by the success of these tactics. below the Keep. We arrived at Maloc on the southern fringe of the northern homeland in early October. but the Emperor kept the Imperials intact. a division of the Ansocs was sent east along the Western Road 157 . the moorlands gold.
The Keep was not a comfortable quarters. impatient to complete the subjugation of the Uplands. The Emperor was remote and I was wary of him. but a burden to move in. raw stone mostly. Your father returned to Soro. the ‘desertification’ of the Uplands was in process. keeping track of an Imperium on war footing. The temperature continued to drop but the weather remained clear right to the end of the year. helped by the cold weather and destruction of the upland herds. unable to assess the effect of the coronation upon him and his relations with me. though little warmth returned to their relationship. and dug in against the coming winter. setting up communications and feasible supply routines. We wore heavy Uplander mantles of coarse felt. and the Ansocs especially worked hard to create a wide security cordon around Maloc. effective against the cold. The administration was solely a military matter. freezing the ground. The frosts helped operations. which resumed its former closeness. penetrated by the heavy frosts.to contact the Tocas army and assist them in clearing the area of tribesmen. pressing for reconnaissance reports. exposed to all the winds. The Emperor remained at Maloc. now a practical interchange of information. which amounted to the whole eastern half of the uplands. The Tocas division down at Lake Solos was redisposed along the thousand mile corridor between Soro and Maloc. somewhat agitated. Your father worked tirelessly on the Emperor’s behalf. He had ceased abrading your father. to set up the administration required to supply the liberated Imperial lands. a territory nearly three thousand miles long by two thousand and a half thousand wide. two 158 . then went down to Comar.
though the servility of the Tocas officials tended all the time towards anticipation rather than obedience. not then aware of my part in the event at the Temple. was somewhat superficial compared with the intuition of my son 159 . a positive agony in fact. and realised honestly that my concept of the quick. tempted all the time to add my bit. how all four. I recognised the significance of your father’s absence at the coronation. I had less to do. thousands of trucks.million men directly involved. a danger your father could never wholly eradicate. animality. worrying as a teacher would about his pupil. men and horse. and how much deep pain. But the Emperor seemed to want my presence. and recognised something of the role of my poor son. knowing my advice in such practical matters to be useless or worse. The coronation helped him. without much effort. were linked in the idea of the ‘real’. I was quite objective in this. nonetheless I knew very well that I was doing just that. so I tended to hover around the Emperor and his high command. I saw too. was entailed in the idea of the ‘real’. large quantities of food and munitions moving across half the continent. how the ‘real’ was indicated in the complex symbolism of thwarted sexuality reduced to banal physicality. and the deeper correspondence between the mutilated priest and the coronation of the Prince. I did not try to detect changes in my Prince-nowEmperor during those months. glimpsing but not analysing the correspondence between the stallion as intended sacrifice and my son as actual sacrifice. glancing over at times as though some reassurance was engraved on my features. having no specific office in the Empire. especially in Tocas and Ansoc. the same priest performing both ceremonies with deliberate strokes.
mostly in the company of officers and officials. my son. the first lesson and perhaps the last lesson. Is that it? It moves me deeply now. Oh. I was the teacher and I forgot the deepest lesson. only if it is unavoidable: it would be senseless to cut off one’s right hand just to see what such a disability is like. a degree of formality now the Emperor sat at the head of the table. leaving Geryn with half an insight – showing him the dark but forgetting to bring him to the Light. The point.and the Prince. is that it seems from the events at the Temple that while the agony of being alive is a true experience. nor my pupil’s Emperorship. My son’s death. rather than something which is performed in the heady blindness of youth and mercifully forgotten once one’s duty is fulfilled. and thus of little benefit as knowledge. We ate together in the evening. a context of other knowledge. dispensing with servants. if only because it becomes an horizon of knowledge. but solicitous of one another. allowing me to avoid this terrible awareness of what life is in itself. Alone together. if such an abstract judgement is permissible. but ultimately unknowable itself strictly as knowledge. Recalling those meals. a perspective. we ate in silence. Did the 160 . I feel again the emotion between us. Perhaps being a father limited me. the new Imperial rank. it is also insurmountable. But such an experience is useful. how close they came to the horror of life as experienced compared with my rather formal dialectic of birth and death. Was that the source of the emotion? My son’s death was not. more too I think now: it is strange that during our stay at Maloc I never once remembered the Prince’s enlightenment on the river bank at the head of the fjord – and did not grasp its significance until three years ago.
though I have not yet told you of the event to which this account of the taking of Maloc is leading. inner sight fixed upon the dark. not because it discomforts me. rising at last in joy. blue shadows like inkblots on white paper. in the dark of the cabin. dying in trust. my son. feeling the wind on my skin. but because it puts me in the position of merely rehearsing the Emperor’s disability. painful in the early years. so at root a sentimentality. until sight adjusts to the glow. an empathy with his agony. or is it pity? I am not sure. I tell them they make their own demons – I cannot tell them the same about gods for fear of seeming impious. Much of the time I spend reclining in the bow. In pitying the Emperor I reduce knowledge to fatality. the boat rocking on its sheet anchors. Most of the time I drift in a languor. none of the villagers will accompany me. adding fish as needed. The pity was painful at times. I take flour. gods.Emperor keep me by him and make himself available to me intimately so I could complete that lesson? I will break off now. terrified of the great solitude beyond the sight of land. I pity Geryn. in the knowledge that shame would always keep him apart from his Light. Only in the night. my son. waiting for a line to run. I fish alone. hearing the slap of water. water and fruit. watching clouds changing shape. an unusual emotion in me. forgetting that knowledge is not 161 . fearing demons. I no longer permit this pity. not being experienced in emotion. then the approaching light blinding the inner eye. do I turn inward and wait. I spend up to a week at a time fishing out on the ocean. I admit to grief.
The truth is. the remoteness of the heavens. recognition of your own beingness. Even so. that our experience of otherness in all its forms is already tainted by knowledge. to the extent that experience transcends our existence and so reveals to us our death. which are kinds of knowledge. to be taken up and put off as required. the strangeness of others. our extinction. demonstrating that fatality is attributed wrongly. Thus it is wrong to feel fatalistic about the Empire or our possessions. it is only by accepting your inevitable extinction that fatalism finds its true experience. pity. you can understand that the Prince’s shame is ultimately the shame of all men. Such emotions betray our attitude to otherness. by the fact that we cannot be what we know. As I trust you understand by now. an infinity in an instant. emotions of reaction and resentment. limited by our concerns and intellect. If there is fatality. and seen to be false in the emotion our experience arouses in us: sadness. of course. all time and all movement ceased. prejudice. this fatality is false. then it arises from experience directly. dying into your own presence. anger. our declining powers. when you will find that the emotion aroused by such fatality is joy. That we are willing to endure the corrosion of negative emotion without question shows how far men will go to avoid the truth. that such experience is therefore inessential. the shame of wilful 162 .essential in itself – knowledge should be taken up and left off as required – no knowledge is abiding because knowledge is after all but a reflection. Seen in this light. when the fatality arises from our experience of the eternal round of seasons. setting up fine images of endurance while ignoring the emotions that contradict these images. fear. the truth of our death.
statistics. orders. working to goodness knows what end. a kind of tutor in tutorial with his two most brilliant students. while Ansoc officials would sometimes seek clarification of some point or other. veiled glances. a kind of refined reflector observing from the heights of philosophy. The absence of your father emphasised my presence.ignorance. instead I would refer to reports. but never addressing me. despite the new shyness that existed between us. Some senior officials thought it subtle to try to influence me. what promotions or demotions. adviser. out in the courtyards. and the Emperor never addressed me as teacher. the Prince’s shame important to us only because of its effect on the whole continent. pointing out errors of thought and argument. knowing that the Emperor and your father made policy. The Emperor and I remained in one another’s company throughout the months at Maloc. They believed I was the grey eminence behind the throne. minder. a fastidious 163 . Meeting me in corridors. they would salute me. Sometimes. observer. When the three of us. officers and officials would glance at me during conferences. your father and I. Let me resume now. I seemed the least figure. were together. usually Tocas functionaries. I would never let myself be drawn. never Ansoc military though. wondering what my role was. remarking only on the fine weather or the quality of our food in a casual spontaneous way. The incident I wish to tell you about is this. We never discussed personal matters. the Emperor. the author of goodness knows what policies.
unable to decide whether it was anomalous or not. was cold. silent but brisk. We took our exercise along the sheltered battlements. I pointed it out to him. If a star in the heavens stopped moving. just after sunset. but I can tell you that it would be noticed within seconds by anyone familiar with the heavens and the ceaseless movement of the stars. my own attention suddenly aroused by what seems to me now an 164 . that insisted upon a close understanding of texts prior to any interpretation. Finally I attracted the Emperor’s attention and told him about this curiosity. how long do you think it would be before that fact was noticed? You might think never. it changed in some way I could not at once understand. wrapped in our felt mantles. He could not spot it at first – which indicates how unobtrusive it was. towards the star.pedantry. and this made all excursions out of doors uncomfortable. galleries. mantles open to the heat. faces pinched. We walked on. to alert him. a mile of freeway. The weather. it would seem. as it happens. and I gazed at the clear sky. steps. and at once. I watched it closely. even as the Emperor at last spotted the star. given the wealth of stars on display. though fine. I remarked this to the Emperor. and it remained unblinking but otherwise just like any other star in its vicinity. braziers at points for the ease of the sentries. The Emperor and I walked these in the evening. One star took my interest and it was some time before I realised why: it did not blink. my arm braving the cold air. One evening we paused by a brazier. identifying the constellations as I often do. it was not within any identifiable constellation. This star had stopped moving towards the west even before the Emperor had sighted along my arm and seen it.
too cryptic for the operators but clear to your father and those who watched us: NO SECRECY ABOVE. were run through that equipment. The Emperor caught my eyes and gazed at me. ‘It responded at once. so I continued. hanging it seemed in the sky without motion. even the microwave bursts. I said: ‘Our moons are lit by the sun. decisions.unconscious suspicion. really a latent expectation. and responded instantly to that gesture. then it disappeared. Intercepting our chain of relays. was easy. all existing at one point or another as electrical impulses that radiate into the heavens. All our equipment came from Kar. all our knowledge. starlight flashing in the moisture bathing his eyes. We watched the heavens afterwards until the cold drove us below. There was no need to remind the Emperor of the flying vehicles at Kar. but saw nothing more.’ Again the Emperor nodded. an open message by radio to Comar. so I said: ‘They know everything. 165 . Within an hour we received the reply: NO NEWS BELOW. or of your father’s speculations concerning those vehicles.’ The Emperor nodded in agreement. We agreed your father should be informed at once. tapping into our computers by no means impossible to a technology that could recognise a gestured arm at ten miles.’ The Emperor nodded. Nor did we speculate about the owners of the vehicles. details of our movements and intentions. orders. then took my arm and drew me to continue our walk. concentrating only on the fact that they wanted to know everything. We watched the star for about two minutes. I waited for him to speak and when he did not I knew he wanted my assessment.
The weather broke with the turning of the year. a multitude of skills for every detail of life: baffled entrances. thus 166 . then clear skies gave us frost. violent storms bringing blizzards that blanketed the Uplands in deep drifts. elaborate warrens in the side of hills. carefully balanced diet to prevent apathy and overstimulation. Once the winter had settled in and we discovered the weather remained settled for long periods. steady activity. the famous Tocas stupidity making for their usual carelessness. One story of the period tells how a soldier froze to death pissing out in a blizzard. ingenious ventilation to keep condensation to a minimum. we assessed the mobility of the Ansocs under these conditions. his companions passing him thinking he was having a quick leak. and the Emperor proposed an offensive west along the road to seize the Keep at Westend. detailed survival manuals distributed to each unit. freezing the slushy mantle. a cycle of blizzards followed by rain. and all activity was reduced to the minimum of maintaining our integrity as a fighting force. The true Upland winter was upon us. The warm front that followed brought rain. The Ansoc experience was invaluable here. cracking metals. so losses here were less than expected. freezing lubricants. then weeks of high pressure and clear skies. permitting freer movement. The Tocas divisions were trained in these techniques. Only the tracked vehicles could make headway and we used them to maintain basic supplies. adequate rest. how the body stood in that position for days afterwards. their soldiers geared to defend the high mountain passes. They burrowed underground.
in effect a redeployment of two divisions along the road towards the Upland city of Ispen. Yet even this nihilism spurred him on. but I witnessed the interactions between the Emperor and your father that led up to it. The journey was sometimes interesting.circumventing the great forests that lay northwest of us. it seemed to stimulate him and became the cause of his increasingly ironic humour. I was not present during this conversation. to the contrary. that we do raise the sun. It was during this meeting at Gordoc that the Emperor told your father of his belief in the claim of the desert savages. especially Tocas administrators. Strangely. and his humour was merely a mask for the conflict in him about the value of his labour on behalf of the Emperor. It was then that the Emperor said that men uphold the world and that they could also destroy it. While these preparations were underway. the Emperor and I drove down to Gardoc to meet your father to arrange support for the offensive. and reconnaissance began immediately. He speculated freely before both the Emperor and myself. The realisation that we were watched from the sky brought out all your father’s latent anguish concerning the purpose of the Empire. which he performed now with a cavalier verve that constantly stung his subordinates. dozing in a somewhat fetid cocoon. not only in his work. seeing the Empire as the tool of the ‘star-men’. but also in his arguments with the Emperor. as he called them in a jocular tone. and we travelled non-stop. His fatalism was obvious to us. who merely waited until the Imperial soldiers had destroyed 167 . four hundred miles west. the fact that we had no secrets from our observers did not dismay your father. the white landscape alternatively beautiful or repellent. sometimes monotonous. keyed for action. The Ansocs were keen.
everything before annexing our continent to what he
imagined was their ‘Universal Empire’. The Emperor listened
to him without expression, not goading him but letting him
run on, really to let your father think through what were
actually important considerations. Your father would
speculate like this, say over dinner, rehearsing all that he
knew of Kar’s economy, of the Western Plains, seeing a
stellar policy implemented over six hundred years, puffing up
Tocas, enslaving Accas, bewildering Kar, prostituting the
Western Plains, and then he would deflate, gulping wine to
cool his throat, and throw up his hand and say to us, eyes
burning with sudden despair – ‘What else can we do?’ And
he would work feverishly through the next day, an army of
officials and clerks running to his commands.
It was I who pointed out that there was no evidence of
extraterrestrial involvement, that your father’s investigations
in Kar uncovered no such evidence, that everything could be
explained in terms of Kar’s technology, the true extent of
which, I reminded him, was unknown to us. This brought
your father round to speculating upon the Emperor’s actions,
especially the reasons for his failure to destroy Kar when he
had the opportunity. I was strongly tempted to argue with him
about this, but I stopped myself, sensing a tender spot here,
some experience in that city I had failed to assimilate –
which, to be candid, I still cannot assimilate. (All I can say on
this matter at the moment is that something did happen in that
city which I simply cannot pinpoint. Complexities surround it
that I am unwilling to face. I think now, writing this
digression, that the difficulty may have to do with my fear
that my influence over the Emperor may have been greater
than I am still willing to contemplate.) Your father reviewed
the Emperor’s actions as Prince, his two visits to Kar, his
circuit of the east, his invasion of the Uplands. He saw it as a
policy of inclusion, to bring the whole continent under the
sway of the Emperor, and accepted it as such, even
congratulating the Emperor on his success. This was all said
at another dinner, deep in a winter’s night, food and drink
protecting us from the chill of the stony hall. When he had
finished he paused, drank to relieve his throat, excused
himself to piss in our bucket in the corner, and then said,
buttoning himself up: ‘The affair at the Temple is the
anomaly in this.’
We remained silent, the atmosphere suddenly tense, the
tension running, as it were, from your father to the Emperor. I
was mystified by this tension, an undercurrent I could not
recognise. Your father wondered aloud why the Emperor had
permitted himself to be crowned there, by an unmanned
priest. It was then that I first saw the symbolism of my son,
his gift to the Prince, the play of love between men as a
counter-balance to long-term manipulation of the Empire by
Kar. But the Emperor remained silent, toying I remember
with his glass, eyes lowered as though listening intently.
Then your father said, ‘You are the dreamer, my Emperor.’ I
thought at first that your father had gone too far, taking
licence to be personal, but the Emperor shook his head very
deliberately, his fingers caressing the stem of his glass, his
shoulders drawing back, and said in a gentle admonishing
voice: ‘No, Kingatin. Not me.’ Your father of course dived
on this denial and insisted that the Emperor was the dreamer,
and the Emperor continued to shake his head in a patient
way, gentle with your father at what was obviously a crisis.
Your father became angry, inexplicably to me then, banging
the table with the flat of his hand. He shouted, ‘The priest!
The Priest of the Real God served you!’ The Emperor became
restive then, and once again I thought your father had gone
too far, but once again the Emperor exercised patience and
said, once your father had quietened: ‘He had no choice,
Kingatin.’ I said, ‘We seized him and had him bound with
Your father turned on me then, frustrated now rather
than angry, yet still I saw then as I recognise now more
clearly holding some knowledge back, and he said, suddenly
hoarse: ‘He knew what was happening, Charin! He had no
choice!’ The Emperor coughed to still both of us and said
slowly, picking his words: ‘The priests of the Real God
performed the function of revealing the true self. They gave
supplicants what they wanted most. My father desired
humiliation most of all, to admit his unworthiness to be
Emperor.’ He paused, your father and I concentrating on him,
then said: ‘They murdered what I loved most and gave me
what I hate most.’ I leaned forward in surprise, but the
Emperor raised his hand to me and said: ‘They showed me
my failure.’ My response was a sudden flood of tears, the
meaning of which I did not then know. Now I began to
dispute with the Emperor, denying he had failed, but the
Emperor just looked at me with a kind of reversed
compassion, giving me what I should have given him, till I
had to withdraw, deeply upset, aware that there was an
ambiguity in me, but unable or afraid to face it.
It was after I left them that they discussed the
significance of the desert savage’s utterances. Your father
learned that the Prince had not asked ‘Do they make the sun
rise?’, but had asserted as an instruction that the savages
your father believed. Thus far. he had regarded the utterances as suggestions to an impressionable youth. designed to prompt a particular course of action culminating in the destruction of a rival religion. as Imperial policy required. Kar had not been destroyed. Your father was disturbed by this. This is why. required neither by Imperial policy or the strategy of the savages. your father saw the influence of the savages at work. It seemed a gratuitous action. that the actions of the Prince had been directed by the savages. missed the significance of my son’s sacrifice.make the sun rise. now he connected that image with the Emperor’s apparent insanity and saw the son of a weak father compensating for shame by seeking apotheosis. Your father forgot my breakdown. and saw only the self-will of the Emperor. 171 . this power of destruction deflected instead on to the unimportant Temple of the Real God. This is what he had been insinuating that night. the city of science and the animist savages destroying the Emperor by the same means. whose despair at the limits placed on the Empire could easily be turned into a destructive rage. Your father had never commented on the Kar image of the Prince as a divine being. seeing that self-will expanded to megalomania in the Emperor’s belief that men make the sun rise. a displacement of his envy of Kar. but the coronation of the Prince in the ruined Temple at the hands of the mutilated priest disturbed him deeply. in effect the Empire had been subverted to fulfil their ends. ignored the Emperor’s confession of love. For the Emperor to tell your father that men upheld the world and could also destroy it could only make matters worse: it was a veiled threat that found an echo in your father.
every inch taken up with weaponry. I dwelt on the meaning of love and hate. not knowing then what I know now. the nature of the bond between the Emperor and my son. I did not want to talk about love and hatred with the Emperor. cranked down for sleeping. I was only aware of my mixed feelings. the Emperor and I side by side. or to analyse the ambiguity underlying my tears. our carriers buried in drifts on open moor. the crew all around us.It would be anachronistic if I were to explain at this stage the nature of my puzzlement at that table. up for eating. but they are war machines. the wind shrieking in a world otherwise eerily silent. he received reports by radio. I had nothing to do. cleansed by my breakdown but even more shy of the Emperor. and we lay in semi-darkness for two days. but our close confinement together and yet lack of privacy played on me. We were caught in a blizzard on the shore of Lake Solos. The time for that will come at Imbarco: time enough too. transmitted orders. seventy five tons unladen. so we were confined to our seats on the command deck. I did this not solely 172 . The Ansoc carriers are big. Leaving Gardoc with the Emperor two days later to return to Maloc. studied the situation with the aid of the latest reconnaissance and an array of maps. my analysis of your father’s state of mind after his conversation with the Emperor is also anachronistic in so far as I was not aware of it until that night in Imbarco. ammunition. reliving my son’s death. guidance systems. The Emperor was commander of an invasion force of a quarter of a million men. tired looking at snowflakes whirling out of the white blanket around us. However. tempting me to speak. with Geryn.
and I saw the child Geryn and the face he turned to his father in the evenings coming into our study. the achievement of his life already behind him and lost. my son. for Geryn the child. for my part. These thoughts finally moved me to grasp his arm and squeeze it tightly. only the resulting actions. seeing the aerial surveillance of the Emperor as a futile exercise of a technology that could not register the motivations of men. my son. If wishing to give the greatest good to another could be called love. larger than the machinations of Kar. I have told you that I love no one. I am not accusing your father of insanity. the insanity was deeper and more pervasive than that. saw commitment. I was then beginning to glimpse the larger significance of the Emperor’s life. in a way insanity projected on to the Emperor. but for the Emperor. a wordless communication of support. the Emperor at my side studying reports. Sitting in that carrier. I. men as counters in schemes. I saw the bitter commitment of a man who could not turn back and who also struggled to be true to himself. You see? Your father saw only plans. a courage all the greater for being thankless. something the Emperor did for himself at great cost.out of pained feelings. as well as those of Kar and the savages. The coronation threatened his plans. He turned to me quickly. and he projected his anger at the disruption of his schemes on to the Emperor. rather than 173 . in the hearts of all men – but your father manipulated that insanity on a scale available to few others on our continent. Where your father saw insanity in the coronation at the Temple. and the youthful Prince I have always had what I can best call an interest. his face suddenly glowing. determined by the objectives of these plans. I saw courage. By this I mean that I saw in Geryn the possibility of enlightenment.
gut and hang the fish to dry in the sun. feeling its warmth and vitality.’ I felt surprise and my face betrayed this. another childhood gesture. Geryn. Your father becoming the chief executive of an Emperor. I have been fishing again. when I draw in the line. though disdaining his mere mortality – his quickness. and he said without looking at me: ‘You give me this courage. saying. of modesty. The villagers welcome this 174 . Geryn. suddenly seeing the hooked fish being drawn to the surface. and I whispered to him below the hum of the machines. then you could say that I loved Geryn. a gesture of consolation. teacher. Now that I fish for my livelihood.’ The Emperor threw his head up. I lay long lines of baited hooks. teacher. the click of repeaters in the guidance monitors. the Prince becoming the Emperor. I said. And me? Oh my ignorance. I saw again that he would go on.’ And the Emperor smiled. following the methods I learned from the fishermen in the Bay of the Seera in Ansoc. for it seemed to me at that instant my failure. to bring his essential goodness to fruition. fighting shame with less and less to gain.the evasion usually so signified. and spend my days waiting for a catch. my ignorance. and had always striven to bring him to his Light. ‘I am the Emperor now. I held on to his arm. the screaming wind: ‘You are courageous. the fish fighting its destination to the bitter end: ‘I have tried to give you more. and he reached and placed his hand over mine. I think I have caught those moments.’ There. to the light and its death. taking his hand away. the lightness in him the nearest he would get to joy. the act has lost much of its mysticism.
to invent the future of repeated labour. you understand. wine and whatever else I need. a crumbling will cutting me off from my Light. the Emperor held conference in the command truck to reassess the situation.addition to their diet. Six weeks ago I spotted the unwavering light that betrays their presence. now. I am not likely to be tempted. my son. no friends any more. prevent me from sinking into a mindless torpor. The Tocas divisions were rooted out of their burrows to the east and north and ordered to advance. 175 . there is nothing left to bring them to me. no conversation. but only to wander blindly through their streets. no longer dropping out of sight if we gestured towards them. The inhabitants did not bother even to look out their windows at our coming to Ispan. The villagers press me to marry after their custom. puzzled it would seem by the smoke and fire. a weight of significance in this almost casual order. It is exile. Not fear. however. They have located me again. children. radio traffic filling the cold air. A day’s shelling moved them. curiosity – why me? I mean. The offensive mocked our strenuous preparations. Idyllic? Constant toil. exchanging corn. Only you. though this time I have hidden the Buggy carefully miles away. clanking tracks. Two weeks later I saw them hovering out over the ocean. the appalling racket. the snarl of heavy duty motors. Afterwards. fruit. The third Ansoc division was ordered north from Maloc to seize the Keep at Sus-so. my skin weathered now. We developed the habit of watching the sky in the Uplands. my hands hardened. What do they want to know? They followed us along the Imperial Western Road to the old Keep at Westend. my boat alone riding its anchors.
and said. reaching for the decanter. having sustained its form on the Kar film years before. longwave band from Tocas.’ I nodded this time. on the road leading to Westend.’ The Sus-so Keep was deserted. four hundred miles from Rocarn along an ungraded road. down off the high plateau. hand blue though the air in the 176 . The scout units judged the bands in the forest a diversion. ‘An Uplander sat on the Throne. one division remaining at Rocarn. The Prince held conference again. We recognised the place. and replied. but no less cold. the Ansoc commander shaking his head. We were expected here. the Bosar paradise beyond. saying.three divisions in our wake to clear the inhabitants. ‘Well?’ I remembered the pass above Ronas. Your father came over the air. before ordering the Ansoc Second north to Loran. passable now to heavy transport but not in the thaw. the city in hibernation. Three old guns replied to our shelling. the margin now about twelve days. The Emperor dickered for half a day. At dinner the Emperor said to me. two divisions placed at the disposal of the Ansoc Third at Sus-so. He wiped his mouth very thoroughly and said. ‘Two weeks before the spring thaw. ‘What are you doing?’ The Emperor nodded. two thousand five hundred trucks strung out along roads soon to be turned to mud. men from Accas and Kar waving white flags. but scouts reported mounted bands in the forest to the south. A narrow margin. On we went. barricades in the streets. The Ansoc commander chipped in: two armies spread over a million square miles. The Emperor ordered the Third west along the track to Loran north of us. fretting that the supply line was now nearly six thousand miles long. Emperor. to the city of Rocarn on Lake Rocas. It was a thousand miles from Sus-so to Loran.
the Emperor no better. We were five hundred miles from the upper reaches of the Plains as the crow flies. both of us hardbound of course in this cold. The Ansocs had little or no experience of urban warfare. ‘He’s probably holed up in a castle in the back of beyond. I said. a fight at last. the only colours white. it is obvious that the months in that icy wilderness had reduced our sensibility. the iced-over lake beyond. they called him. bordering the Western Plains. and the wine was lukewarm and sour on the palate. the smudge of forest on the horizon. the forest a thousand miles deep. phosphor. bleak moors beyond that. So I said.carrier was furry: ‘The old shite is probably dead by now. rehearsing horsepower tactics. running them over if they got in the way. ignoring the bands and their rifle-fire. ‘No doubt his son rides on the glory. I had chilblains on my feet and hands. the enemy six times faster. brown-black and a pallid blue.’ The Emperor nodded his agreement. and I closed my eyes for a minute. The Emperor said to the window. The town was defended. and as you can see a lot of feeling was pent up in us. ‘Sus-so?’ I knew the layout of the Uplands very well by then. so they shelled the town. a thousand miles by road through Westend. As well as this.’ The freeze-dried rations made dull eating. ‘Westend. eyes perpetually sandy. the 177 . skin dry and itchy. the Keep beyond in a bend in the river.’ This was the first conversation we had since the stopover at Lake Solos a month before. They stopped felling trees when they saw the overland carriers crush them.’ He looked back at me.’ We drove with the First to Westend. Their Grand Lord. The Emperor looked at the smouldering city below. swaying on their independent rollers. ‘Your old shite was the ruler of the Uplanders. but said.
wiping out a swathe of housing. here on the edge of the Uplands. four thousand Upland warriors incinerated in a matter of seconds. sheep wintering. hay spread 178 .overland carriers raiding the perimeter continuously. the snow cleared. and the Emperor offered to accept the surrender of the garrison. shallow slopes on our left. It was a small scale terrain. the pall of smoke drifting away to the west. rising like fresh food to mingle with exhaust fumes and explosives. familiar from the Temple. the carnage mounting. Two of the carriers were taken out. preparing to scream. each with a crackling rictus. one going up spectacularly towards the town centre. a loud chant resonating in the courtyard within. away from the smell and the fumes. raking the houses with motorised heavy cannon. forest deep green on the far bank. The town resisted for three days. the weather holding fine. the smell of blood and guts. no heavy guns confronting us. Then we invested the Keep. were in the Warden’s quarters high in the main tower. The tribesmen packed the walls. The Emperor and I walked the river bank below the Keep. turn one bend and we were in virgin land. lungs burned dry. shelters beyond. saw the sheet of flames shoot up like an afterburner two hundred feet in the sky. yelling defiance. three generations down to a newborn son. We found pens. The royal family. detonated. the Keep scoured of all flammables. drove the tanker through the gate at fifty miles a hour. river at our feet. their backs roasted: they had been watching the Emperor. We rigged a tanker with explosives. wired the controls to a remote. the wall of the forest to our right. firing their rifles in the air. watching blocks of ice rush in the dark current. We found the ruler in the company of his chieftains in a chamber overlooking the main gate.
The farmer pressed it on him. swearing we could see a summer green in the light that flared up above the line of trees to the west. Here we were given bread and cheese. as melancholy as he was merry. ‘The Western Plains. until we reached the Western Road. a fountain. milk to drink. fatty with a distinctive animal tang. This he appreciated. delighted by all the zips and pockets. an umbrella. The Emperor put his hand on my shoulder and shook it. afterwards a mouthful of powerful spirits. button-down do-dahs. enclosing slopes on our left. and gazed at the withdrawing sun. the river turning through bends. The Emperor admired a wood carving.on the wiry heather. but mellow. and we climbed in time to see the sun setting. disregarding the dropping temperature. We sat on the verge of the road. saying with some relief. artificial fabric. light reflected up from green plains in the distance. We went on again. storm hood.’ 179 . I radioed back for one of Kar’s winter suits. Around another bend and the slopes moved off a bit and there was a farmhouse. two cows on the ground floor. and when he looked at it in puzzlement. I gave him a coin. family sandwiched snugly in between. so we called for more winter suits. a flail. some Comar wine – which we allowed to chill a little – and the Ansoc captain sang songs which had a sunny lightness that delighted the family. feather light but as good as a fleece on your back. no longer a powdery cold glare. always the forest on our right. his son figuring a bass on a onestringed instrument. The farmer played a primitive pipe. The shepherd gave us milk. our feet buried in the unmarked snow of the road. a pattern that suggested a willow. hay in the loft.
He overcame god at the Temple. Did I guide the Emperor. Geryn. the Emperor had avenged his shame. These thoughts came piecemeal during the dinner. rule. until I dismissed it as a pedagogue’s fuss. not connecting immediately. to the end? But there is another question that comes to me now: Why did I do that? I mean. enchantment. surprising me very much. The Emperor was not afraid of death now. I tried to teach him to think by the river below the Temple. An army celebrated a victory. because he is afraid he cannot think. unfortunately by enchanting most. but he only saw conquest. and my first question when I grasped the train of thought was.We refurbished the Keep and had a dinner to celebrate our victory. my knowledge used to kill fish. a father’s anxiety for his son. but only by believing he had destroyed him. which now fascinated him. the Empire had reached the Western Plains. why did I 180 . the agents of god. I tried to show him the death of himself but he saw only the death of everyone else. He was enchanted by the death of everyone but himself. That is how I understood that question then. The Prince had overcome enchantment at Kar. You see how I failed him then. his love of the quick. The dinner had significance on a number of levels. you see. ‘Am I responsible?’ The question came spontaneously. And he overcame rule by destroying the ruled. Only gradually during the meal did I realise that it was a spiritual mission for the Prince. The Emperor seeks to conquer. He would kill everyone to keep secret the fact of his mortality. against the agents that had defeated his father. only afraid everyone might learn. but now I see that it was the most important question.
the population statistics: does the city actually absorb all the youth of the Western Plains? But now I wonder. The Kar technicians brought it up from Soro. I reminded the Emperor of his coronation gift from Kar. Does Kar want the destruction of the continent? Why? That would be the destruction of Kar too. the automatic 181 . The controls are simple. not used for a year by then. the Imperial Buggy. It is strange that only recently I realised what your father missed in his search of Kar’s archives. He provided the means of destruction. I did not seek to teach him a determination.teach him destruction. steady soft light in all the cabins. I wanted to show him a liberation. ‘Who guided my hand against my inclination?’ Kar trained my son. my son. but we had to learn a whole new technology. No. Everything became bogged down. putting these two thoughts together. The sacrifice of my son showed how it was done. who showed the Prince the death of the quick. of course. the guidance highly sophisticated. cream upholstery. who rules this planet and for what end? Your father was also trained by Kar. The thaw came suddenly shortly after this dinner. Another question comes now. wine carpet. and even the Western Road was a morass. someone else wants our destruction. the ones who rule Kar for a greater end. covering the distance in two days. which flew over land. worse. The machine was gleaming white. We went through the manuals with the technicians. but we were lucky to receive supplies from the surrounding farms. inducing him to destruction. the computer diagnostics. to try to conquer death.
and also charged the novel weaponry. speeds up to three hundred and fifty miles an hour. communications on all bands. We took it on trials. We noticed very early on that by no means had we access to the majority of the controls. free it seems to write to you. that the computer would not obey many of the commands available. the speed at which mechanics could push it about for parking or servicing. like the unwavering stars that observed us. and explained that only by inserting one of these into the control board could the carrier be driven above four miles an hour. I returned one day from fishing and discovered two men in my house. the automatic system comprehensive. This engine supplied us with light and heating as well. who asked me to go with them to Kar. a matter of complicated electrical forces. Cooking and hygiene were first class. but fast. I think now that perhaps it can fly much higher. but we could not access this mode. chiller for our wine. and flew about thirty feet above the ground. the technicians gave the Emperor two sticks of plastic. probably with greater speeds. a few support personnel. nothing more than a calculator. When the training was completed. I am in Kar. The facilities amazed us. that the guidance system was far too complex for our needs on a planet. containing very few parts in itself. drivers. perhaps to the stars. both in white overalls. video channels too.systems. but surrounded by a curiously exact control unit. It was also a high altitude flyer. enabling us to travel at night. 182 . The engine is quite small.
they know everything and so know what I write. but revealing desire at every instant. I walked there this evening. lost in abstractions. near the southern shore of the bay. Both sexes together. the lights always tending to become a pattern. a 183 . I am received courteously and left in peace. going blindly from one to another seeking support. nodding. They brought the Buggy in after dark and flew us straight to the city.I was nervous at first. the shock after a week at sea. as they call them. already missing its buoyancy. so bright and fast. watching the people. signalled no doubt by my processor. a clamour of coloured light and their music. The people of Kar are friendly. I see the ocean. embracing with ease. snug Comar. like a perpetual Spring Festival. and two servants care for me. a rhythm. but I went with them without protest. They are without knowledge of themselves. music louder. bringing one of the servants to guide me. There is nothing beyond that blindness – I knew this about Kar already – and tonight I saw for myself that it is true. Nearby there are brightly lit shops and amusements. which seems a Kar custom. I am not here long enough to know yet how I feel about this. I see cars. on the expressway inland about a mile. and see by contrast that Kar erases itself all the time. my son. the Upland moor. They explained nothing and I did not need an explanation. this continent forming my actual self. Food is supplied. bodies all the time jerking to the music and the lights. touching hands. Kar is bright at night. colours more intense. though the sight of the ocean in the distance frustrates me. all blinded by desire. Writing this. I entered a hall like the one we saw in the Kar film. and I drank wretched wine. to a small house in what they call Bayside. and see myself inscribed there.
so we drank cool water and sat in the sun. loosening our clothes more and more. A spring there prompted us to rest. fauns among the deer cropping the grass. not of Imperial origin. parkland along its banks. a jumble of buildings within its high walls. But Kar only engenders desire. we were fully stocked. only for satisfaction. Being a training exercise. flagpoles but no flags. The river descended to the plain below through a series of bends that sculpted the valley into fold upon fold of land. was a fortress. all topped by high parapets. until we strolled in our suits. so no one need strive for a living. The valley broadened below. The track led us through some trees to a wide ledge. Behind the fortress the land continued to rise. not its end. arms embracing knees. Beyond. shots of bright green between clouds. 184 . hidden from us on the right. the ground rose sharply to a low hill. one sturdy tower dotted with windows. large sandstone wedges stepping down towards the valley below. Yet they are not in need. to test the Buggy’s performance on the steep grades down from the upland. We landed and took a walk in the warm air. the ominous edge of the plateau lost in cloud on the left. The Emperor and I entered the Western Plains during our last test flight. glad of the ease. polygonal gatehouses. so the Emperor ordered the craft down into the valley below. surrounded densely by trees. trees in leaf already. spired buildings to one side. perched on which.monotonous lament of frustration. streaks of snow at the highest altitude we could see from where we sat. The river was wide and clear now. becoming the purple-brown of the Uplands. pinnacles. and saw below us the most beautiful scene. our crew experienced.
ate al fresco. spires and pinnacles evident. the sun at zenith.’ he said. not a question yet seeking confirmation. They stopped the traffic so we could re-enter line. waiting for me to awake. and we could see no evidence for it further down the valley. There was a second fortress off in the distance on one of the last folds. as though the Western Plains sealed itself off from the rest of the continent. obviously hidden in the woods. He was smiling. Charin. We brought out the summer gear. changed. the sky clear. and awoke to find the Buggy beside me on the ledge. and how 185 . a radiant blue-violet glow leaping to the white light at the horizon. and it was only during dinner that I remembered the Kar film. looking pleased. low rises and hills here and there. I dozed for a while. a lot of trucks toing and froing along many sideroads. lambent blue. and nodded twice. the houses dispersed behind bushes and trees. No sooner had we got down in line than the police pulled us over and questioned us about our movements.heavily wooded. The Emperor sat in the door. my body relaxed. feeling oil on my skin for the first time in a year. ‘We will go on. making the first town by sunset. hovering about a foot off the ground. then dropped down to the Road. the dos and don’ts of the WP traffic regulations. We were through the town before we knew it and suddenly met heavy local traffic entering the road from both sides. We gained altitude and skimmed the lines of vehicles. its tower. a very reassuring stitching quality in this. It was remarkably quiet. The plain below ran on to the horizon. I rubbed my face. They relaxed when we told them we had come from the east and contented themselves with their lecture for newcomers. looking for a break. The Emperor nodded in response. The Western Road was directly below us and so out of sight.
with a terrible vulnerability. the heavy transcontinental trucks breaking the rhythm of our flow. We rested in the carpark of a service centre. gracile. to assess the difference between them and us. the sexes together. They ignored us. young children showing great curiosity. We drove through the night. but loving their cars most of all. The town centre was jammed with cars and light trucks. but called it a day when the Great West Road joined us below that town. each individually patterned.we were driven along this Road. acres and acres of wheat. We bought clothing. The people were as beautiful as we had been led to expect. mostly clothes that exposed the limbs. the land now flat. dark except for streetlights. Kar coin accepted here. polite though distant with each other. They dressed in pleasant colours. bypassing another town. drivers lit by the blue light of their cabs. a ceaseless rumble of engines. all busy with a brightly coloured local traffic. We pulled off the roadway at the next town and drove down to rest there for a while. and soon became conscious of the plainness of the Buggy. A wealthy people. bright white amid all that 186 . but we managed to park without having to elevate. We entered the flow again after breakfast and cruised for most of the day in the fast lane. There were many side roads among the fields. watching the cavalcade of trucks pass in the night. television very popular. not cold but as though unable to see us. vines. the plateau only a cloudy smudge behind us. fat cattle. supplied by Kar with the latest household technology. not sleepy. often the owner’s name fashioned on the driver’s door. and found among the little shops a place serving coffee. powerful headlights cutting the air on gradients. farmland below.
sitting in rows in a room listening quietly to deeply sad music. not exactly resignation. Being an equitable climate. one group. steadily drinking their wine. We found a pretty hotel on the bank of a small river. absent as though entering a dream. as though they believed they were not good enough. A sad quality to it all. The restaurant closed early. We could see Kar’s angle in this. our lack of grace. they almost glow. electronics. I mean in not coming up to some standard of performance. A lot of technical literature. but we continued in the bar until dawn. Even at their pleasures. We walked around that town. wanting to keep their customers. the clothes are light.show. but their creative works were also imported from Kar. then became distant. talking always at the same pitch. They responded warmly to us at first. the Emperor was taken aback by this indifference to him. Sophisticated food retailing. rowdy towards the end. conscious even more of our ugliness. full of colour and pattern. before we had finished eating. We expected the electronic goods to come from Kar. 187 . a recommended restaurant. I remember. Our ugliness was a kind of loudness. these people were sedate. We spent the night there out of curiosity. a lot of it fresh. Kar included. unlike the rest of the continent. flowers everywhere. books. which you would expect. but a sense of abandonment. food. Though he had not declared his rank. the two of us aware that we were witnessing a new society. about five main manufacturers. clothes. among this people. but we were surprised that all the books came from Kar too. yet a lot to say. a kind of surprise. then puzzled by it. looking into shops. which showed as an overly strong presence. In the bar a group crowded around a table. as I was.
We walked around till dark. The Emperor radioed your father to make arrangements for establishing an Imperial presence in the Western Plains. 188 . Not many pedestrians. I awoke in time to see the great bridge over the Rocas river as we approached Imbarco. arcing the broad river with simple grace. once a walled city commanding the whole river. and he had to call in to check. a huge pile of quite alien architecture. a magnificent view upstream. roads everywhere. to the north. four hundred feet above the river. supporting eight lanes of traffic.I slept through most of the following day as we drove across an open plain. not a lot to see. A very large city. an appalling racket. and squeezed ourselves in that way. then we all went adrift trying to work the directions out. so this time we elevated. the setting sun bathing the cabin with gold light. solid traffic at a hundred miles an hour. heading for the coast. but we found a policeman at last. all the buildings very new. It was only by repeating questioning that we found out that it was on the river below the city. and flew over to the river and followed it down to the Keep. so we flew up to the first terrace and found our way inside. It was deserted. built as a series of massive tiers. a fault leaving a fifty foot drop the river sluiced over evenly. We found the Warden’s chambers at the top of the pile. every inch of the surface carved. the white water contrasting with the deep blue of the river. traffic lights on every corner. Prominent in the centre was the step in the river. But the Imperial insignia were inscribed above the main gate. which no one seemed to notice. We could not find the Keep. really a veritable citadel. We made a detailed survey of the Keep. Parking was a problem. free at last of the extreme spur of the upland. so we had to go into the city to make enquiries.
its waterwheels clogged with weed. was radiant. The cloud far down on the horizon indicated the main massif itself. densely worked.’ I said as the flat horizon came into sight.Further up. sheaves of wheat on others. On the other side of the river opposite us was a kind of factory. a sky that did not interfere. so we tended to hurry up to slow down. We slept in the Buggy and pressed on early next day and covered the last two hundred miles to the coast in just over two hours. as always there. ‘The Western Ocean. the nearest like a crouched sphinx. an older city by far. dominated by a fortress of great circular towers. we had time to spare. bunches of grapes. The city was mostly hidden by a wood. the regional capital. close-arched but with the characteristic grace of that people. None of us was used to wasting time. holiday traffic slowing us. The sky. dancing to judge by their movements. obviously more bad weather up there. forget and then speed up again. and climbed a rise to see 189 . a lot of carved stonework. Rocas has more character than Imbarco. talking. bas relief and sculpted figures on the main buildings. snow on its upper reaches. but we could see the riverside area. Two peaks reached up into the clear blue sky. After informing your father of the situation. It rained in the afternoon. so we decided to do some sight-seeing down on the coast. Below us a group partied on the river bank. warm rain which made us languid. the bridge of the main road north spanned the river on a bend. It is an extraordinarily fertile land. But what surprised us most of all was the sight of the uplands. an extensive structure. my son. the other an almost perfect cone. parapets prominent. continuous growth. violet sea meeting violet sky there. but partly derelict. others sitting in groups on the grass. violet towards the other horizons. We drove down to Rocas first.
forest and low hills on the farther shore. though no less sad. and he contented himself with walking the shore. The roads in the old city were very grand. though the 190 . secretive. so beautiful and wistful. deep forest inland on the horizon. lazing in the sun. Only later during that holiday did I remember that these people. even so they showed no sign of decay.that it was only a bay. They must have been a serious threat. at last by the ocean itself. washing machines and the rest. We were assured of the antiquity of these structures. We walked in the dusk in the old quarter. a flat coastland. televisions. We drove along the coast to the Affarco border. We arrived in Affarco in the evening. a balmy quality. and put in to a resort. boulevards. wondering who the enemy had been. head down as though counting seashells. We found a huge fortress at the head of the bay. but they sang beautifully. but both of us knew it did not interest him. doors and windows were intact. heavy rollers on the beaches below. I fished for a week. with delight after our year in the uplands. The Emperor came with me once. We speculated on these coastal forts. The Affarco people are warmer than those of Rocas. everyone aroused and subdued by turns. but I suppose I had seen so many of these ancient fortresses in the province that I had grown used to them. the atmosphere reminding me of Isocan. and I remembered that we had passed a similar fortress at the head of the bay of Rocas. but the new city though graceful had a depressing lack of assertion by contrast. sold their children to Kar in return for their beloved cars. We drove on towards the city of Affarco once we were rested. like Tocas in some ways. and we managed a number of dinners. gates sealed with heavy chains. old aristocratic palaces behind ornate walls. eating fish at night.
no doubt. The centre was 191 . until I remembered the other times he had stood like this. and I wondered who taught your father the limits of the Empire. as though seeing something he finally believed. and threw a glaring pale light on the figures. Some people stood on the quay below us. angle of reflection. a smouldering gold light everywhere. and came upon the old harbour by accident. mostly fishing craft. It took us a week to reach Camas. taken up by the pale stone of the palaces that line the harbour. faced with unconquerable water. Kar and its flying craft or the Prince crying. watching waves form below. we skimming much of the time over the sea. Our disappointment with the Western Plains helped him. Some boats lay at anchor. the approaches guarded by fortresses. as though they were made of light alone. sturdy staircases leading from fortified gates down to the water. Then we followed the coast south. admiring the sun sinking into the ocean. and he stood nodding his head. though we walked the old city often while there. low hills inland. eyes moist.quality of the architecture was far superior in Affarco. The Emperor’s expression surprised me. outlining them vividly. The sun was setting directly out to sea. buying fish from displays laid out on the ground. a very remote district of salt marshes and forests. It was a crisis the Emperor had expected. We did not stay long in Affarco. showing him that there was a strict limit to how far others can be used to save you from yourself. drinking Comar wine. an untidy ship with trailing rigging and corroded paintwork. sitting on the quay in that harbour in the evening. The light intensified in the harbour. one three-master tied up on the right. a tropical city perched on a shoulder twenty miles from the coast.
but no boats and no inhabitants. Then they were invaded from the north. The wine was strong and the Camas people were a mixture of the beautiful and sad and the rough and ready. They were mordant and philosophical. the fabric a white sandstone rendered smooth by the climate. dozing most of the time. others coming from the north. selfgovernment but no powers. we attracted the latter to our company. We had not yet formalised relations with the Western Plains authorities. We settled in at the top of the citadel again. deeply recessed windows. old walls. a reservation.unspoilt. Now they held onto a tiny portion in the south. old towers. They once ruled the Western Plains amid plenty. light in the forests. We found the Ansoc First camped in the fields around the Keep. acted. We heard their story many times. so 192 . Whatever our choice. and the land of their enemies sank into the sea. a pile of messages from your father that needed attention. slatted screens on the roofs against the sun. some coming down the West Road. cheer recognising cheer. deep south in aboriginal Old Camas. We were taken to their old port. the latter resembling the tribesmen of the Uplands. buildings so old they seemed to melt into the grass. old temples. no sharp corners anymore. recited. securely guarded against their enemies overseas to the west. the land fertile everywhere. driving cars and watching television. Later in the week elements of the Ansoc Second and Third began to drift in. happy to have found their Emperor. a lighthouse prominent at the entrance to the harbour. driving along the north road for three days and two nights. sung. We were nonplussed after a week in Camas and decided to head back to Imbarco. giving the buildings a mellow quality. minds active in the face of loss.
white tents dotted all over the landscape. We were disappointed by the place. We found ourselves confined to the citadel. the Plains were hard to see clearly. Instead. the sea without energy. one hundred thousand men trying to get across the bridge north at once. where I saw nothing only empty forms. For some reason. where I could rest from this writing for a few days. any movement on our part exciting a sympathetic response in the army below. inducing ease. the busy hum of a disciplined army. We watched television instead. though the climate is extremely equitable. but here I have only access to a stony beach. dream it away. I would like now to be on my boat in the middle of the ocean. the people trying only to suspend life. The repetition bored us. We called off our tour of the north when we received complaints of severe congestion behind us. a limousine coming to fetch me. You will notice how perfunctory my account of the Western Plains is. exasperated policemen. The ceremonials surprised me. I mean I saw much of the province but very little caught my attention. And yet their wistful quality. the Ansoc overland carriers blocking two lanes. the assailant always quick on his feet. outriders with flashing blue lights clearing the way ahead.we had them camp out beside their brother division. lapping the stones. I was invited to dinner with the ruler of the city. banished because they were not quite good enough. the 193 . the whole continent threatening this beautiful dreaming people. as though they could not believe that they too were real. the Imperial Palace lit up. though that was better than the Kar film. all about fear of bodily pain.
the full Council on the steps to greet me. seeing him as a puppet of your father. The meal was very formal at first. the ruler and I. the Bank official and one of the aides. 194 . They were curious about your father. brilliantly coloured. to assess the effectiveness of their education. though they did not know this. the one who showed the Prince the death that the Emperor showed finally at Imbarco. that Kar knew nothing of that. Kar does not know what is happening on the continent. innocuous at first. three hundred guests. I explained that I was not an Imperial official. I was pleased to be right about that. each parting from me warmly. and by night there were five of us. nothing of the significance of enemies while they made friends so easily. but I was relieved to learn that your father had spoken to no one else about the desert savages.Image of the Prince on screens everywhere. two of his aides and an official of the Bank. and I knew also that they were ignorant of his influence. and two of my hosts flickered. eating and talking for hours. About the Emperor himself they were less curious. destroying one another. then most withdrew after the third course. I added population statistics to the list of records he consulted in his investigation of the city’s economy. The questioning was evident from the beginning. I mentioned the Temple. They showed no interest in my son. and I treated it as an all-night session. that the peoples know only one thing now. I think. wanting. life-tenure. funded from the Emperor’s private means. which means that they have no interest in me either. dwelling on the significance of the priest as servant of the dreamer. a safe idol for Kar. only Tutor to the Prince. the youth of the Western Plains do not remain in Kar.
I pointed to the Image of the Prince that shone everywhere in the city. I thought then that they were rubbishing my explanation. admiring their nails. but I wanted to deal with politics. they wanting to deal with techniques. This brought us to philosophy. to what I did in Kar. I told them they had enchanted people with their technology. The wine was wretched too. about working magic. I am afraid. the dream of extinction. I had learned so much myself 195 . but a caring one. the discussion sharper. that it was a lie as soon as the snap was taken. but spoke about mysticism. and bit by bit the impression grew that it was not an exploitative economy. but now people were beginning to see the dream their technology failed. until I answered a question they had not asked.Their questions drifted after that. they had in fact created an enemy. picking their noses. prone to superstition. I was pleased with what I had said to them. no interference. quoting the Prince as an example. slopping food. and I grew weary of them. but they were in fact calling the inhabitants of the continent primitive.’ We discussed the continent’s economy in detail. saying ‘The stars. one who could not believe the image. terrifying that philosopher by showing him the light too quickly. referring. noticing more and more how the ruler and his aide fidgeted about. and I lectured them on visual media. I absented myself and left them to talk together while I lay on water in my imagination and floated in the sun. light and acid. thinking they had not much more to learn from me. each to his own. It was back to techniques then. and they said that was not superstition. telling them that though they believed that to take a man’s image was to capture him. it was marketing. they were surprised what I had learned from my travels. I realise now as I write. They did not listen.
of course. being young when it occurred to me. bringing a party spirit. This gives me better heart for what I want to tell you now. the Bosar and Kasas peoples especially at home with the Western 196 . three hundred of them only. having set off in the mud and ice when the word came. each town. I had feared a growing bitterness. Later. that the rehearsal of emotion here can engender. I will admit. instead I continue to understand myself better and I think that gives me greater wisdom in these matters. I had forgotten that over the years. and from Bosar. a hundred thousand from Bosar alone. the old carriers rigged out as buses. Then people came on foot. joining their military representatives. The city of Imbarco complained about looting. which was not the real fear. and you could see their obsession with the Western Plains. first columns on foot coming cross-country. the campground now covering the apex of country between the rivers and the city. vehicles then from the north and east. they came from Tesar. walled up as fatherless until my grandfather rescued me. my son. but they could not stop the fraternising. To destroy a religion for such a vanity: fantasies remain fantasies whether you direct them at God or your fellow man. joined by the remnants of Tesar’s old army. Then truckers from Kar and Accas pulled over on the highways and waited in the hope of glimpsing the Emperor in his penthouse. and I am consoled to see there must be a period of blindness after the initial illumination.and I can see more clearly now what has been done on the continent. city and village proclaiming itself with banners and flags. The desert savages came. summer in the Uplands brought the survivors of the Tocas Army. the ugliest men on the continent wanting the most beautiful. Before your father came.
The Emperor let your father finish speaking before asking. wanting him to lead them to heaven. then fifteen millions gathering in around their Emperor. charitably sitting with them and listening. your father’s hobby horse. happy to be with his friends. ten. basking in his presence. ‘Where are my enemies?’ Your father leaped to his feet and ran to the great east window and pointed down at the 197 . uncertain how to speak to the Emperor. seeing only his white ship flying by. The latter set him off again and now he openly questioned the Imperial policy. Most of all he lamented the Emperor’s shortsightedness in antagonising so many of the continental races. cutting back on estimates as the extent of the migrations became known. insisting that it was Kar that should have been destroyed. forgetting they would seek revenge when he weakened. as was all the country along the rivers. we flying over to pick him up on the outskirts of the camp. a thankless burden in the end. blaming him for the mess. you see. Over dinner he exploded again. for giving him an impossible task. You can imagine your father’s temper when he arrived. He showed us the work he had to do on the way over. ‘The Empire is in danger of collapsing!’ All this before he had washed up and rested after his long journey. without even looking at his surroundings. Then Kar again. his work load. the extravagant waste of finite resources. ignoring the Western Plains. Your father had by then developed a slightly hunched posture. The city was engulfed. He did relax for a while and we told him about the Upland campaign and our travels in the Western Plains.Plains people. the people ecstatic though they could not see the Emperor. not harmless priests and tribesmen. He raised one sheet of form paper and waved it as he shouted.
I spoke with your father before he died. correcting me as I told you. Kingatin. The Emperor stood beside your father for a while.’ Your father grasped the implication and saw the end. to vent the resentment that ran deep in him. and could only see death for the millions below. seeing more now. full. seeing myself as the dreamer sacrificing his two sons. not knowing I would succeed in the Temple. I now reach the end of my story. and I had a feeling of profound pathos. and it was only then I saw what the savages meant by raising the sun. How many deaths that took. no Empire. and then said softly. had to kill before he saw the futility of the fear of death. the conversation I referred to in the beginning. I failed in the fiord. seeing myself doing it in Kar. and your father told me about the desert savages. my son. as I have explained. I saw only more death. but a specialist intervened before he could. the sky clear. The campfire did flicker like stars too. This was not my doing.ocean of camp-fires below. seeing the beauty of the universe. and how many deaths it will take to cure the peoples of the continent. Then. one moon risen. Geryn had to be Emperor before he could become a man. as though only then learning it: ‘I’m not defending myself. After your father died there was nothing else to do. starlight dancing in the heavens. and turned to strike the Emperor. cut by the dark swathes of the converging rivers. shouting like a teacher driven beyond endurance. ‘They are your enemies!’ We joined him at the window. a waste I still blamed on myself. the Empire gone. contemplating the beauty too. to induce a priest to obey him. but now I wonder if it could be done in any other way. its vain but so real beauty. natural and spiritual. Then the taste of death. everybody in 198 .
only in questioning the style. my faith in will rather than image. Kar’s economy collapsing on jammed roads. the last dinner together. Farewell. full of questing movements. but I am consoled by the knowledge that in the end all the birds in the world will fly up together and scream.’ I did not fail. He called it. not much to say anymore. I have faith in my Light. I wanted to rest on the sea but could not get out of the citadel. The Emperor seemed at ease. 199 . face unrecognisable. summer everlasting. looking out the windows most of the time. blue skies.the Western Plains as desired. my son. ‘Showing myself to the people. which is all that can be expected. my son. he hurtled himself from the apex of the citadel. of course. clear rivers. We talked very little. a pulped mass of blood and flesh. like a boy again. I helped him. green land. bright sun. I was glad he had reached the decision and after due ceremony. the world on holiday. you and I included. white bones protruding. so how could this suffering be avoided? You see death all around you now. and landed at the feet of his peoples. There was no point in analysing its significance. bouncing off terraces. and only slowly did he tell me of his intention.