Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

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The universe is just there; that’s the only way a Fedaykin can view it and remain the master of his senses. The universe neither threatens nor promises. It holds things beyond our sway: the fall of a meteor, the eruption of a spiceblow, growing old and dying. These are the realities of this universe and they must be faced regardless of how you feel about them. You cannot fend off such realities with words. They will come at you in their own wordless way and then, then you will understand what is meant by “life and death.” Understanding this, you will be filled with joy. -Muad’Dib to his Fedaykin

“And those are the things we have set in motion,” Wensicia said. “These things were done for you.” Farad’n remained motionless, seated across from his mother in her morning room. The sun’s golden light came from behind him, casting his shadow on the white-carpeted floor. Light reflected from the wall behind his mother drew a nimbus around her hair. She wore her usual white robe trimmed in gold — reminders of royal days. Her heart-shaped face appeared composed, but he knew she was watching his every reaction. His stomach felt empty, although he’d just come from breakfast. “You don’t approve?” Wensicia asked. “What is there to disapprove?” he asked. “Well . . . that we kept this from you until now?” “Oh, that.” He studied his mother, tried to reflect upon his complex position in this matter. He could only think on a thing he had noticed recently, that Tyekanik no longer called her “My Princess.” What did he call her? Queen Mother? Why do I feel a sense of loss? he wondered. What am I losing? The answer was obvious: he was losing his carefree days, time for those pursuits of the mind which so attracted him. If this plot unfolded by his mother came off, those things would be gone forever. New responsibilities would demand his attention. He found that he resented this deeply. How dared they take such liberties with his time? And without even consulting him! “Out with it,” his mother said. “Something’s wrong.” “What if this plan fails?” he asked, saying the first thing that came into his mind. “How can it fail?” “I don’t know . . . Any plan can fail. How’re you using Idaho in all of this?” “Idaho? What’s this interest in . . . Oh, yes — that mystic fellow Tyek brought here without consulting me. That was wrong of him. The mystic spoke of Idaho, didn’t he?” It was a clumsy lie on her part, and Farad’n found himself staring at his mother in wonderment. She’d known about The Preacher all along! “It’s just that I’ve never seen a ghola,” he said. She accepted this, said: “We’re saving Idaho for something important.” Farad’n chewed silently at his upper lip. Wensicia found herself reminded of his dead father. Dalak had been like that at times, very inward and complex, difficult to read. Dalak, she reminded herself, had been related to Count Hasimir Fenring, and there’d been something of the dandy and the fanatic in both of them. Would Farad’n follow in that path? She began to regret having Tyek lead the lad into the Arrakeen religion. Who knew where that might take him? “What does Tyek call you now?” Farad’n asked. “What’s that?” She was startled by this shift. “I’ve noticed that he doesn’t call you ‘My Princess’ anymore.” How observant he is, she thought, wondering why this filled her with disquiet. Does he think I’ve taken Tyek as a lover? Nonsense, it wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Then why this question? “He calls me ‘My Lady,’ ” she said. “Why?” “Because that’s the custom in all of the Great Houses.” Including the Atreides, he thought. “It’s less suggestive if overheard,” she explained. “Some will think we’ve given up our legitimate aspirations.” “Who would be that stupid?” he asked. She pursed her lips, decided to let it pass. A small thing, but great campaigns were made up of many small things. “The Lady Jessica shouldn’t have left Caladan,” he said. She shook her head sharply. What was this? His mind was darting around like a crazy thing! She said: “What do you mean?” “She shouldn’t have gone back to Arrakis,” he said. “That’s bad strategy. Makes one wonder. Would’ve been better to have her grandchildren visit her on Caladan.” He’s right, she thought, dismayed that this had never occurred to her. Tyek would have to explore this immediately. Again she shook her head. No! What was Farad’n doing? He must know that the Priesthood would never risk both twins in space. She said this. “Is it the Priesthood or the Lady Alia?” he asked, noting that her thoughts had gone where he had wanted. He found exhilaration in his new importance, the mind-games available in political plotting. It had been a long time since his mother’s mind had interested him. She was too easily maneuvered. “You think Alia wants power for herself?” Wensicia asked. He looked away from her. Of course Alia wanted the power for herself! All of the reports from that accursed planet agreed on this. His thoughts took off on a new course. “I’ve been reading about their Planetologist,” he said. “There has to be a clue to the sandworms and the haploids in there somewhere, if only . . .” “Leave that to others now!” she said, beginning to lose patience with him. “Is this all you have to say about the things we’ve done for you?” “You didn’t do them for me,” he said. “Wha-a-at?” “You did it for House Corrino,” he said, “and you’re House Corrino right now. I’ve not been invested.” “You have responsibilities!” she said. “What about all of the people who depend upon you?” As if her words put the burden upon him, he felt the weight of all those hopes and dreams which followed House Corrino. “Yes,” he said, “I understand about them, but I find some of the things done in my name distasteful.” “Dis . . . How can you say such a thing? We do what any Great House would do in promoting its own fortunes!” “Do you? I think you’ve been a bit gross. No! Don’t interrupt me. If I’m to be an Emperor, then you’d better learn how to listen to me. Do you think I cannot read between the lines? How were those tigers trained?” She remained speechless at this cutting demonstration of his perceptive abilities. “I see.” he said. “Well, I’ll keep Tyek because I know you led him into this. He’s a good officer under most circumstances, but he’ll fight for his own principles only in a friendly arena.” “His . . . principles?” “The difference between a good officer and a poor one is strength of character and about five heartbeats,” he said. “He has to stick by his principles wherever they’re challenged.” “The tigers were necessary,” she said. “I’ll believe that if they succeed,” he said. “But I will not condone what had to be done in training them. Don’t protest. It’s obvious. They were conditioned. You said it yourself.” “What’re you going to do?” she asked. “I’m going to wait and see,” he said. “Perhaps I’ll become Emperor.” She put a hand to her breast, sighed. For a few moments there he’d terrified her. She’d almost believed he would denounce her. Principles! But he was committed now; she could see that. Farad’n got up, went to the door and rang for his mother’s attendants. He looked back: “We are through, aren’t we?” “Yes.” She raised a hand as he started to leave. “Where’re you going?” “To the library. I’ve become fascinated lately by Corrino history.” He left her then, sensing how he carried his new commitment with him. Damn her! But he knew he was committed. And he recognized that there was a deep emotional difference between history as recorded on shigawire and read at leisure, a deep difference between that kind of history and the history which one lived. This new living history which he felt gathering around him possessed a sense of plunging into an irreversible future. Farad’n could feel himself driven now by the desires of all those whose fortunes rode with him. He found it strange that he could not pin down his own desires in this.

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Categories: Herbert, Frank