The Wandering Fire
The Fionavar Tapestry Book 2
Guy Gavriel Kay
Table of Contents
PART I: The Warrior
PART II: Owein
Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9
PART III: Dun Maura
Chapter 10 Chapter 11
PART IV: Cader Sedat
Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Winter was coming. Last night’s snow hadn’t melted and the bare trees were laced with it.Toronto woke that morning to see itself cloaked and made over in white, and it was onlyNovember.
Cutting across Nathan Philips Square in front of the twin curves of the City Hall, DaveMartyniuk walked as carefully as he could and wished he’d worn boots. As he maneuvered towardthe restaurant entrance on the far side, he saw with some surprise that the other three werealready waiting.
“Dave,” said sharp-eyed Kevin Laine. “A new suit! When did this happen?”
“Hi, everyone,” Dave said. “I got it last week. Can’t wear the same corduroy jackets allyear, can I?”
“A deep truth,” said Kevin, grinning. He was wearing jeans and a sheepskin jacket. And boots.Having finished the obligatory apprenticeship with a law firm that Dave had just begun, Kevinwas now immersed in the equally tedious if less formal six-month Bar Admission course. “Ifthat is a three-piece suit,” he added, “my image of you is going to be irrevocablyshattered.”
Wordlessly, Dave unbuttoned his overcoat to reveal the shattering navy vest beneath.
“Angels and ministers of grace defend us!” Kevin exclaimed, crossing himself with the wronghand while making the sign against evil with the other. Paul Schafer laughed. “Actually,”Kevin said, “it looks very nice. Why didn’t you buy it in your size?”
“Oh, Kev, give him a break!” Kim Ford said. “It is nice, Dave, and it fits perfectly.Kevin’s feeling scruffy and jealous.”
“I am not,” Kevin protested. “I am simply giving my buddy a hard time. If I can’t teaseDave, who can I tease?”
“It’s okay,” said Dave. “I’m tough, I can take it.” But what he was remembering in thatmoment was the face of Kevin Laine the spring before, in a room in the Park Plaza Hotel. Theface, and the flat, harshly mastered voice in which he’d spoken, looking down at the wreckageof a woman on the floor:
“To this I will make reply although he be a god and it mean my death.”
You gave some latitude, Dave was thinking, to someone who’d sworn an oath like that, even ifhis style was more than occasionally jarring. You gave latitude because what Kevin had donethat evening was give voice, and not for the only time, to the mute rage in one’s own heart.
“All right,” said Kim Ford softly, and Dave knew that she was responding to his thought andnot his flippant words. Which would have been unsettling, were she not who she was, with herwhite hair, the green bracelet on her wrist, and the red ring on her finger that had blazed tobring them home. “Let’s go in,” Kim said. “We’ve things to talk about.”
Paul Schafer, the Twiceborn, had already turned to lead them through the door.
How many shadings, Kevin was thinking, are there to helplessness? He remembered the feelingfrom the year before, watching Paul twist inward on himself in the months after Rachel Kincaidhad died. A bad time, that was. But Paul had come out of it, had gone so far in three nights onthe Summer Tree in Fionavar that he was beyond understanding in the most important ways. He washealed, though, and Kevin held to that as a gift from Fionavar, some recompense for what hadbeen done to Jennifer by the god named Rakoth Maugrim, the Unraveller. Though recompense washardly the word; there was no true compensation to be found in this or any other world, onlythe hope of retribution, a flame so faint, despite what he had sworn, it scarcely burned. Whatwere any of them against a god? Even Kim, with her Sight, even Paul, even Dave, who had changedamong the Dalrei on the Plain and had found a horn in Pendaran Wood.
And who was he, Kevin Laine, to swear an oath of revenge? It all seemed so pathetic, soridiculous, especially here, eating fillet of sole in the Mackenzie King Dining Room, amid theclink of cutlery and the lunchtime talk of lawyers and civil servants.
“Well?” said Paul, in a tone that made their setting instantly irrelevant. He was looking atKim. “Have you seen anything?”
“Stop that,” she said. “Stop pushing. If anything happens I’ll tell you. Do you want it inwriting?”
“Easy, Kim,” Kevin said. “You have to understand how ignorant we feel. You’re our onlylink.”
“Well, I’m not linked to anything now, and that’s all there is to it. There’s a place Ihave to find and I can’t control my dreaming. It’s in this world, that’s all I know, and Ican’t go anywhere or do anything until I find it. Do you think I’m enjoying this any morethan you three are?”
“Can’t you send us back?” Dave asked, unwisely.
“I am not a goddamned subway system!” Kim snapped. “I got us out because the Baelrath wassomehow unleashed. I can’t do it on command.”
“Which means we’re stuck here,” Kevin said.
“Unless Loren comes for us,” Dave amended.
Paul was shaking his head. “He won’t.”
“Why?” Dave asked.
“Loren’s playing hands-off, I think. He set things in motion, but he’s leaving it up to us,now, and some of the others.”
Kim was nodding. “He put a thread in the loom,” she murmured, “but he won’t weave thistapestry.” She and Paul exchanged a glance.
“But why?” Dave persisted. Kevin could hear the big man’s frustration. “He needs us—or atleast Kim and Paul. Why won’t he come for us?”
“Because of Jennifer,” said Paul quietly. After a moment he went on. “He thinks we’vesuffered enough. He won’t impose any more.”
Kevin cleared his throat. “As I understand it, though, whatever happens in Fionavar is goingto be reflected here and in the other worlds too, wherever they are. Isn’t that true?”
“It is,” said Kim calmly. “It is true. Not immediately, perhaps, but if Rakoth takesdominion in Fionavar he takes dominion everywhere. There is only one Tapestry.”
“Even so,” said Paul, “we have to do it on our own. Loren won’t demand it. If the four ofus want to go back, we’ll have to find a way ourselves.”
“The four of us?” Kevin said. So much helplessness. He looked at Kim.
There were tears in her eyes. “I don’t know,” she whispered. “I just don’t know. Shewon’t see the three of you. She never goes out of the house. She talks to me about work andthe weather, and the news, and she’s, she—”
“She’s going ahead with it,” Paul Schafer said.
Golden, she had been, Kevin remembered, from inside the sorrow.
“All right,” said Paul. “It’s my turn now.”
Arrow of the God.
She’d had a peephole placed in the door so she could see who was knocking. She was home mostof the day, except for afternoon walks in the park nearby. There were often people at the door:deliveries, the gas man, registered mail. For a while at the beginning there had been,fatuously, flowers. She’d thought Kevin was smarter than that. She didn’t care whether or notthat was a fair judgment. She’d had a fight with Kim about it, when her roommate had come homeone evening to find roses in the garbage can.
“Don’t you have any idea how he’s feeling? Don’t you care?” Kimberly had shouted.
Answer: no, and no.
How could she come to such a human thing as caring, any more? Numberless, the unbridged chasmsbetween where she now was, and the four of them, and everyone else. To everything there yetclung the odor of the swan. She saw the world through the filtered unlight of Starkadh. Whatvoice, what eyes seen through that green distortion, could efface the power of Rakoth, who hadshoveled through her mind and body as if she, who had once been loved and whole, were so muchslag?
She knew she was sane, did not know why.
One thing only pulled her forward into some future tense. Not a good thing, nor could it havebeen, but it was real, and random, and hers. She would not be gainsaid.
And so, when Kim had first told the other three, and they had come in July to argue with her,she had stood up and left the room. Nor had she seen Kevin or Dave or Paul since that day.
She would bear this child, the child of Rakoth Maugrim. She intended to die giving birth.
She would not have let him in, except that she saw that he was alone, and this was sufficientlyunexpected to cause her to open the door.
Paul Schafer said, “I have a story to tell. Will you listen?”
It was cold on the porch. After a moment she stepped aside and he entered. She closed the doorand walked into the living room. He hung up his coat in the hall closet and followed her.
She had taken the rocking chair. He sat down on the couch and looked at her, tall and fair,still graceful though no longer slim, seven months heavy with the child. Her head was high, herwide-set green eyes uncompromising.
“I walked away from you last time, and I will again, Paul. I will not be moved on this.”
“I said, a story,” he murmured.
“Then tell it.”
So he told her for the first time about the grey dog on the wall of Paras Derval and thefathomless sorrow in its eyes; he told her about his second night on the Summer Tree, whenGaladan, whom she also knew, had come for him, and how the dog had appeared again, and of thebattle fought here in the Mórnirwood. He told her about being bound on the Tree of the God, andseeing the red moon rise and the grey dog drive the wolf from the wood.
He told her of Dana. And Mórnir. The powers shown forth that night in answer to the Darkness inthe north. His voice was deeper than she remembered; there were echoes in it.
He said, “We are not in this alone. He may break us into fragments in the end, but he will notbe unresisted, and whatever you may have seen or endured in that place you must understand thathe cannot shape the pattern exactly to his desire. Or else you would not be here.”
She listened, almost against her will. His words brought back words of her own, spoken inStarkadh itself: You will have nothing of me that you do not take, she had said. But that wasbefore. Before he had set about taking everything—until Kim had pulled her out.
She lifted her head a little. “Yes,” Paul said, his eyes never leaving her face. “Do youunderstand? He is stronger than any of us, stronger even than the God who sent me back. He isstronger than you, Jennifer; it is not worth saying except for this: he cannot take away whatyou are.”
“I know this,” said Jennifer Lowell. “It is why I will bear his child.”
He sat back. “Then you become his servant.”
“No. You listen to me now, Paul, because you don’t know everything either. When he left me…after, he gave me to a Dwarf. Blod was his name. I was a reward, a toy, but he said somethingto the Dwarf: he said I was to be killed, and that there was a reason.” There was coldresolution in her voice. “I will bear this child because I am alive when he wished medead—the child is random, it is outside his purposes.”
He was silent a long time. Then, “But so are you, in and of yourself.”
Her laugh was a brutal sound. “And how am I, in and of myself, to answer him? I am going tohave a son, Paul, and he will be my answer.”
He shook his head. “There is too much evil in this, and only to prove a point alreadyproven.”
“Nonetheless,” said Jennifer.
After a moment his mouth crooked sideways. “I won’t press you on it, then. I came for you,not him. Kim’s already dreamt his name, anyhow.”
Her eyes flashed. “Paul, understand me. I would do what I am doing whatever Kim said. Whatevershe happened to dream. And I will name him as I choose!”
He was smiling, improbably. “Stick around and do that then. Stay with us, Jen. We need youback.” Only when he spoke did she realize what she’d said. He’d tricked her, she decided,had goaded her quite deliberately into something unintended. But she couldn’t, for somereason, feel angry. Had this first tenuous spar he’d thrown across to her been a little firmershe might, in fact, have smiled.
Paul stood up. “There is an exhibition of Japanese prints at the Art Gallery. Would you liketo see it with me?”
For a long time she rocked in the chair, looking up at him. He was dark-haired, slight, stillfrail-seeming, though not so much as last spring.
“What was the dog’s name?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I wish I did.”
After another moment she rose, put on her coat, and took her first careful step on the firstbridge.
Dark seed of a dark god, Paul was thinking, as he tried to simulate an interest in nineteenth-century prints from Kyoto and Osaka. Cranes, twisted trees, elegant ladies with long pins intheir hair.
The lady beside him wasn’t talking a great deal, but she was there in the gallery, and it wasnot a small grace. He remembered the crumpled figure she had been seven months before, when Kimhad brought them desperately from Fionavar with the wild, blazing power of the Baelrath.
This was Kim’s power, he knew: the Warstone and the dreams in which she walked at night,white-haired as Ysanne had been, two souls within her, and knowledge of two worlds. It had tobe a difficult thing. The price of power, he remembered Ailell the High King telling him, thenight they played their game of ta’bael. The night that had been overture to the three nightsthat became his own hard, hardest thing. The gateway to whatever he now was, Lord of the SummerTree.
Whatever he now was. They had moved into the twentieth century now: more cranes, long, narrowmountain scenes, low boats riding on wide rivers.
“The themes don’t change much,” Jennifer said.
He had been sent back, he was Mórnir’s response, but he had no ring with which to burn, nodreams down which to track the secrets of the Tapestry, not even a horn such as Dave had found,no skylore like Loren, or crown like Aileron; not even—though he felt a chill at thethought—a child within him like the woman at his side.
And yet. There had been ravens at his shoulder in the branches of the Tree: Thought and Memorywere their names. There had been a figure in the clearing, hard to see, but he had seen hornson its head and seen it bow to him. There had been the white mist rising up through him to thesky in which a red moon sailed on new moon night. There had been rain. And then the God.
And there was still the God. At night, sometimes, he could feel the tacit presence, immense, inthe rush and slide of his blood, the muffled thunder of his human heart.
Was he a symbol only? A manifestation of what he had been telling Jennifer: the presence ofopposition to the workings of the Unraveller? There were worse roles, he supposed. It gave hima part to play in what was to come, but something within—and there was a god within him—saidthat there was more. No man shall be Lord of the Summer Tree who has not twice been born,Jaelle had said to him in the sanctuary.
He was more than symbol. The waiting to learn what, and how, seemed to be part of the price.
Almost at the end now. They stopped in front of a large print of a river scene: boats beingpoled along, others unloading at a crowded dock; there were woods on the far side of thestream, snow-capped mountains beyond. It was badly hung, though; he could see people behindthem reflected in the glass, two students, the sleepy guard. And then Paul saw the blurredreflection in the doorway of a wolf.
Turning quickly on a taken breath he met the eyes of Galadan.
The Wolflord was in his true shape, and hearing Jennifer gasp Paul knew that she, too,remembered that scarred, elegant force of power with the silver in his dark hair.
Grabbing Jennifer’s hand, Paul wheeled and began to move quickly back through the exhibition.He looked over his shoulder: Galadan was following, a sardonic smile on his face. He wasn’thurrying.
They rounded a corner. Mumbling a swift prayer, Paul pushed on the bar of a door markedEMERGENCY EXIT ONLY. He heard a guard shout behind him, but no alarm sounded. They foundthemselves in a service corridor. Without saying a word, they clattered down the hallway.Behind them Paul heard the guard shout again as the door opened a second time.
The corridor forked. Paul pushed open another door and hurried Jennifer through. She stumbledand he had to hold her up.
“I can’t run, Paul!”
He cursed inwardly. They were as far from the exit as they could be. The door had taken themout into the largest room in the gallery, Henry Moore’s permanent sculpture exhibit. It wasthe pride of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the room that placed it on the artistic map of theworld.
And it was the room in which, it seemed, they were going to die.
He helped Jennifer move farther away from the door. They passed several huge pieces, a madonnaand child, a nude, an abstract shape.
“Wait here,” he said, and sat her down on the broad base of one of the sculptures. There wasno one else in the room—not on a weekday morning in November.
It figures, he thought. And turned. The Wolflord walked through the same door they had used.For the second time he and Galadan faced each other in a place where time seemed to hangsuspended.
Jennifer whispered his name. Without taking his eyes from Galadan he heard her say, in a voiceshockingly cold, “It is too soon, Paul. Whatever you are, you must find it now. If not, I willcurse you as I die.”
And still reeling from that, he saw Galadan raise a long slender finger to a red weal on histemple. “This one,” said the Lord of the andain, “I lay at the root of your Tree.”
“You are lucky,” Paul said, “to be alive to lay it anywhere.”
“Perhaps,” the other said, and smiled again, “but no more fortunate than you have been untilnow. Both of you.” There was, though Paul had not seen it come, a knife in his hand. Heremembered that knife. Galadan moved a few steps closer. No one, Paul knew, was going to enterthe room.
And then he knew something more. There was a deep stirring, as of the sea, within him, and hemoved forward himself, away from Jennifer, and said, “Would you battle the Twiceborn ofMórnir?”
And the Wolflord replied, “For nothing else am I here, though I will kill the girl when youare dead. Remember who I am: the children of gods have knelt to wash my feet. You are nothingyet, Pwyll Twiceborn, and will be twice dead before I let you come into your force.”
Paul shook his head. There was a tide running in his blood. He heard himself say, as if fromfar off, “Your father bowed to me, Galadan. Will you not do so, son of Cernan?” And he felt arush of power to see the other hesitate.
But only for a moment. Then the Wolflord, who had been a force of might and a Lord of themighty for past a thousand years, laughed aloud and, raising his hand again, plunged the roominto utter darkness.
“What son have you ever known to follow his father’s path?” he said. “There is no dog toguard you now, and I can see in the dark!”
The surging of power stopped within Paul.
In its place came something else, a quiet, a space as of a pool within a wood, and he knewthis, instinctively, to be the true access to what he now was and would be. From within thiscalm he moved back to Jennifer and said to her, “Be easy, but hold fast to me.” As he felther grip his hand and rise to stand beside him, he spoke once more to the Wolflord, and hisvoice had changed.
“Slave of Maugrim,” he said, “I cannot defeat you yet, nor can I see you in the dark. Wewill meet again, and the third time pays for all, as well you know. But I will not tarry foryou in this place.”
And on the words he felt himself dropping into the still, deep place, the pool within, whichuttermost need had found. Down and down he went, and, holding tight to Jennifer, he took themboth away through the remembered cold, the interstices of time, the space between the Weaver’sworlds, back to Fionavar.
Vae heard the knocking at the door. Since Shahar had been sent north she often heard sounds inthe house at night, and she had taught herself to ignore them, mostly.
But the hammering on the shop entrance below was not to be ignored as being born of wintersolitude or wartime fears. It was real, and urgent, and she didn’t want to know who it was.
Her son was in the hallway outside her room, though; he had already pulled on trousers and thewarm vest she had made him when the snows began. He looked sleepy and young, but he alwayslooked young to her.
“Shall I go see?” he said bravely.
“Wait,” Vae said. She rose, herself, and pulled on a woolen robe over her night attire. Itwas cold in the house, and long past the middle of the night. Her man was away, and she wasalone in the chill of winter with a fourteen-year-old child and a rapping, more and moreinsistent, at her door.
Vae lit a candle and followed Finn down the stairs.
“Wait,” slie said again in the shop, and lit two more candles, despite the waste. One did notopen the door on a winter night without some light by which to see who came. When the candleshad caught, she saw that Finn had taken the iron rod from the upstairs fire. She nodded, and heopened the door.
In the drifted snow outside stood two strangers, a man, and a tall woman he supported with anarm about her shoulders. Finn lowered his weapon; they were unarmed. Coming nearer, and holdingher candle high, Vae saw two things: that the woman wasn’t a stranger after all, and that shewas far gone with child.
“From the ta’kiena?” said Vae. “The third time.”
The woman nodded. Her eyes turned to Finn and then back to his mother. “He is still here,”she said. “I am glad.”
Finn said nothing; he was so young it could break Vae’s heart. The man in the doorway stirred.“We need help,” he said. “We are fleeing the Wolflord from our world. I am Pwyll, this isJennifer. We crossed here last spring with Loren.”
Vae nodded, wishing Shahar were there instead of in the windy cold of North Keep with hisgrandfather’s spear. He was a craftsman, not a soldier; what did her husband know of war?
“Come in,” she said, and stepped back. Finn closed and bolted the door behind them. “I amVae. My man is away. What help can I offer you?”
“The crossing brought me early to my time,” the woman called Jennifer said, and Vae saw fromher face that it was true.
“Make a fire,” she said to Finn. “In my room upstairs.” She turned to the man. “You helphim. Boil water on the fire. Finn will show you where the clean linen is. Quickly, both ofyou.”
They left, taking the stairs two at a time.
Alone in the candlelit shop, among the unspun wool and the finished craftings, she and theother woman gazed at each other.
“Why me?” said Vae.
The other’s eyes were clouded with pain. “Because,” she said, “I need a mother who knowshow to love her child.”
Vae had been fast asleep only moments before; the woman in the room with her was so fair shemight have been a creature from the dreamworld, save for her eyes.
“I don’t understand,” said Vae.
“I will have to leave him,” the woman said. “Could you give your heart to another son whenFinn takes the Longest Road?”