A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Poul Anderson. Chapter 9, 10, 11, 12

Susette and her husband’s convenient absence? Otherwise I’d have stayed

longer at Thursday Landing, playing sleuth–long enough to give an

assassin, who was expecting me specifically, a chance at me.

No! This is fantastic! Forget it!

“Wasn’t that a disaster to the enemy?” Kossara asked.

” ‘Fraid not. I don’t imagine they’ll get their Diomedean insurgency.

But that’s a minor disappointment. I’m sure the whole operation was

chiefly a means to the end of maneuvering Terra into forcing Dennitza to

revolt And those false clues have long since been planted and let

sprout; the false authoritative report has been filed; in short, about

as much damage has been done on the planet as they could reasonably


Anguish: “Do you think … we will find civil war?”

He laid an arm around her. She leaned into the curve of it, against his

side. “The Empire seldom bumbles fast,” he comforted her. “Remember,

Hans himself didn’t want to move without more information. He saw no

grounds for doubting the Maspes report–that Dennitzans were

involved–but he realized they weren’t necessarily the Gospodar’s

Dennitzans. That’s why I got recruited, to check further. In addition,

plain old bureaucratic inertia works in our favor. Yes, as far as the

problems created on Diomedes are concerned, I’m pretty sure well get you

home in time.”

“Thanks to you, Dominic.” Her murmur trembled. “To none but you.”

He did not remind her that Diomedes was not, could never have been the

only world on which the enemy had worked, and that events on Dennitza

would not have been frozen. This was no moment for reminders, when she

kissed him.

Her shyness in it made him afraid to pursue. But they sat together a

spell, mute before the stars, until she bade him goodnight.

{On the tundra far north of the Kazan, Bodin Miyatovich kept a hunting

lodge. Thence he rode forth on horseback, hounds clamorous around him,

in quest of gromatz, yegyupka, or ice troll. At other times he and his

guests boated on wild waters, skied on glacier slopes, sat indoors by a

giant hearthfire talking, drinking, playing chess, playing music,

harking to blizzard winds outside. Since her father bore her cradle from

aircar to door, Kossara had loved coming here.

Though this visit was harshly for business, she felt pleasure at what

surrounded her. She and her uncle stood on a slate terrace that jutted

blue-black from the granite blocks of the house. Zoria wheeled dazzling

through cloudless heaven, ringed with sun dogs. Left, right, and

rearward the land reached endless, red-purple mahovina turf, widespaced

clumps of firebush and stands of windblown plume, here and there a pool

ablink. Forward, growth yielded to tumbled boulders where water coursed.

In these parts, the barrens were a mere strip; she could see the ice

beyond them. Two kilometers high, its cliff stood over the horizon, a

worldwall, at its distance not dusty white but shimmering, streaked with

blue crevasses. The river which ran from its melting was still swift

when it passed near the lodge, a deep brawl beneath the lonesome tone of

wind, the remote cries of a sheerwing flock. The air was cold, dry,

altogether pure. The fur lining of her parka hood was soft and tickly on

her cheeks.

The big man beside her growled, “Yes, too many ears in Zorkagrad.

Damnation! I thought if we put Molitor on the throne, we’d again know

who was friend and who foe. But things only get more tangled. How many

faithful are left? I can’t tell. And that’s fouler than men becoming

outright turncoats.”

“You trust me, don’t you?” Kossara answered in pride.

“Yes,” Miyatovich said. “I trust you beyond your fidelity. You’re strong

and quick-witted. And your xenological background … qualifies you and

gives you a cover story … for a mission I hope you’ll undertake.”

“To Diomedes? My father’s told me rumors.”

“Worse. Accusations. Not public yet. I actually had bloody hard work

finding out, myself, why Imperial Intelligence agents have been snooping

amongst us in such numbers. I sent men to inquire elsewhere and–Well,

the upshot is, the Impies know revolt is brewing on Diomedes and think

Dennitzans are the yeast. The natural conclusion is that a cabal of mine

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Categories: Anderson, Poul