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

Damn! Flandry thought. I ought to stop letting him startle me.

“My friend,” the other went on gently, “you too play a satanic role. How

many lives have you twisted or chopped short? How many will you? Would

you protest me if the accidents of history had flung Empire rather than

Roidhunate around my sun? Or if you had been born into those humans who

serve Merseia? Indeed, then you might have lived more whole of heart.”

Anger flared. “I know,” Flandry snapped. “How often have I heard? Terra

is old, tired, corrupt, Merseia is young, vigorous, pure. Thank you, to

the extent that’s true, I prefer my anomie, cynicism, and existential

despair to counting my days in cadence and shouting huzza–worse,

sincerely meaning it–when Glorious Leader rides by. Besides … the

device every conqueror, yes, every altruistic liberator should be

required to wear on his shield … is a little girl and her kitten, at

ground zero.”

He knocked back his cognac and poured another. His temper cooled. “I

suspect,” he finished, “down inside, you’d like to say the same.”

“Not in those terms,” Aycharaych replied. “Sentimentality ill becomes

either of us. Or compassion. Forgive me, are you not drinking a trifle


“Could be.”

“Since you won’t get so drunk I can surreptitiously turn off your

mindscreen, I would be grateful if you stay clear-headed. The time is

long since last I relished discourse of Terra’s former splendors, or

even of her modern pleasures. Come, let us talk the stars to rest.”}

In the morning, Flandry told Susette he must scout around the globe a

few days, using certain ultrasensitive instruments, but thereafter he

would return.

He doubted that very much.


Shadow and thunder of wings fell over Kossara. She looked up from the

rolling, tawny-begrown down onto which she had come after stumbling from

the forest. Against clouds and the plum-colored sky beyond, a Diomedean

descended. She halted. Weariness shivered in her legs. Wind slithered

around her. It smelled of damp earth and, somehow, of boulders.

An end to my search. Her heart slugged. But what will I now find?

Comrades and trust, or a return to my punishment?

The native landed, a male, attired in crossbelts and armed with a knife

and rifle. He must have been out hunting, when he saw the remarkable

sight of a solitary human loose in the wilds, begrimed, footsore,

mapless and compassless. He uttered gutturals of his own tongue.

“No, I don’t speak that,” Kossara answered. The last water she had found

was kilometers behind. Thirst roughened her throat. “Do you know


“Some bit,” the native said. “How you? Help?”

“Y-yes. But–” But not from anybody who’ll think he should call Thursday

Landing and inquire about me. During her trek she had sifted the

fragments of memory, over and over. A name and nonhuman face remained.

“Eonan. Bring me Eonan.” She tried several different pronunciations,

hoping one would be recognizable.

“Gairath mochra. Eonan? Wh … what Eonan? Many Eonan.”

There would be, of course. She might as well have asked a random

Dennitzan for Andrei. However, she had expected as much. “Eonan who

knows Kossara Vymezal,” she said. “Find. Give Eonan this.” She handed

him a note she had scrawled. “Money.” She offered a ten-credit bill from

the full wallet Flandry had included in her gear. “Bring Eonan, I give

you more money.”

After repeated trials, she seemed to get the idea across, and an

approximation of her name. The hunter took off northward. God willing,

he’d ask around in the bayshore towns till he found the right person;

and while this would make the dwellers curious, none should see reason

to phone Imperial headquarters. God willing. She ought to kneel for a

prayer, but she was too tired; Mary who fled to Egypt would understand.

Kossara sat down on what resembled pale grass and wasn’t, hugged herself

against the bitter breeze and stared across treelessness beneath a wan


Have I really won through?

If Eonan still had his life and liberty, he might have lost heart for

his revolution–if, in truth, he had ever been involved; she had nothing

more than a dream-vision from a cave. Or if he would still free his

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