Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

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The future of prescience cannot always be locked into the rules of the past. The threads of existence tangle according to many unknown laws. Prescient future insists on its own rules. It will not conform to the ordering of the Zensunni nor to the ordering of science. Prescience builds a relative integrity. It demands the work of this instant, always warning that you cannot weave every thread into the fabric of the past. -Kalima: The Words of Muad’Dib, The Shuloch Commentary

Muriz brought the ornithopter in over Shuloch with a practiced ease. Leto, seated beside him, felt the armed presence of Behaleth behind them. Everything went on trust now and the narrow thread of his vision to which he clung. If that failed, Allahu akbahr. Sometimes one had to submit to a greater order. The butte of Shuloch was impressive in this desert. Its unmarked presence here spoke of many bribes and many deaths, of many friends in high places. Leto could see at Shuloch’s heart a cliff-walled pan with interfringing blind canyons leading down into it. A thick growth of shadescale and salt bushes lined the lower edges of these canyons with an inner ring of fan palms, indicating the water riches of this place. Crude buildings of greenbush and spice-fiber had been built out from the fan palms. The buildings were green buttons scattered on the sand. There would live the cast out of the Cast Out, those who could go no lower except into death. Muriz landed in the pan near the base of one of the canyons. A single structure stood on the sand directly ahead of the ‘thopter: a thatch of desert vines and bejato leaves, all lined with heat-fused spice-fabric. It was the living replica of the first crude stilltents and it spoke of degradation for some who lived in Shuloch. Leto knew the place would leak moisture and would be full of night-biters from the nearby growth. So this was how his father lived. And poor Sabiha. Here would be her punishment. At Muriz’s order Leto let himself out of the ‘thopter, jumped down to the sand, and strode toward the hut. He could see many people working farther toward the canyon among the palms. They looked tattered, poor, and the fact that they barely glanced at him or at the ‘thopter said much of the oppression here. Leto could see the rock lip of a qanat beyond the workers, and there was no mistaking the sense of moisture in this air: open water. Passing the hut, Leto saw it was as crude as he’d expected. He pressed on to the qanat, peered down and saw the swirl of predator fish in the dark flow. The workers, avoiding his eyes, went on with clearing sand away from the line of rock openings. Muriz came up behind Leto, said: “You stand on the boundary between fish and worm. Each of these canyons has its worm. This qanat has been opened and we will remove the fish presently to attract sandtrout.” “Of course,” Leto said. “Holding pens. You sell sandtrout and worms off-planet.” “It was Muad’Dib’s suggestion!” “I know. But none of your worms or sandtrout survive for long away from Dune.” “Not yet,” Muriz said. “But someday . . .” “Not in ten thousand years,” Leto said. And he turned to watch the turmoil on Muriz’s face. Questions flowed there like the water in the qanat. Could this son of Muad’Dib really read the future? Some still believed Muad’Dib had done it, but . . . How could a thing such as this be judged? Presently Muriz turned away, led them back to the hut. He opened the crude doorseal, motioned for Leto to enter. There was a spice-oil lamp burning against the far wall and a small figure squatted beneath it, back to the door. The burning oil gave off a heavy fragrance of cinnamon. “They’ve sent down a new captive to care for Muad’Dib’s sietch,” Muriz sneered. “If she serves well, she may keep her water for a time. “He confronted Leto. “Some think it evil to take such water. Those lace-shirt Fremen now make rubbish heaps in their new towns! Rubbish heaps! When has Dune ever before seen rubbish heaps! When we get such as this one –” He gestured toward the figure by the lamp. “– they’re usually half wild with fear, lost to their own kind and never accepted by true Fremen. Do you understand me, Leto-Batigh?” “I understand you.” The crouching figure had not moved. “You speak of leading us,” Muriz said. “Fremen are led by men who’ve been blooded. What could you lead us in?” “Kralizec,” Leto said, keeping his attention on the crouched figure. Muriz glared at him, brows contracted over his indigo eyes. Kralizec? That wasn’t merely war or revolution; that was the Typhoon Struggle. It was a word from the furthermost Fremen legends: the battle at the end of the universe. Kralizec? The tall Fremen swallowed convulsively. This sprat was as unpredictable as a city dandy! Muriz turned to the squatting figure. “Woman! Liban wahid!” he commanded. Bring us the spicedrink!” She hesitated. “Do as he says, Sabiha,” Leto said. She jumped to her feet, whirling. She stared at him, unable to take her gaze from his face. “You know this one?” Muriz asked. “She is Namri’s niece. She offended Jacurutu and they have sent her to you.” “Namri? But . . .” “Liban wahid,” Leto said. She rushed past them, tore herself through the doorseal and they heard the sound of her running feet. “She will not go far,” Muriz said. He touched a finger to the side of his nose. “A kin of Namri, eh. Interesting. What did she do to offend?” “She allowed me to escape.” Leto turned then and followed Sabiha. He found her standing at the edge of the qanat. Leto moved up beside her and looked down at the water. There were birds in the nearby fan palms and he heard their calls, their wings. The workers made scraping sounds as they moved sand. Still he did as Sabiha did, looking down, deep into the water and its reflections. The corners of his eyes saw blue parakeets in the palm fronds. One flew across the qanat and he saw it reflected in a silver swirl of fish, all run together as though birds and predators swam in the same firmament. Sabiha cleared her throat. “You hate me,” Leto said. “You shamed me. You shamed me before my people. They held an Isnad and sent me here to lose my water. All because of you!” Muriz laughed from close behind them. “And now you see, Leto-Batigh, that our Spirit River has many tributaries.” “But my water flows in your veins,” Leto said, turning. “That is no tributary. Sabiha is the fate of my vision and I follow her. I fled across the desert to find my future here in Shuloch.” “You and . . .” He pointed at Sabiha, threw his head back in laughter. “It will not be as either of you might believe,” Leto said. “Remember this, Muriz. I have found the footprints of my worm.” He felt tears swimming in his eyes then. “He gives water to the dead,” Sabiha whispered. Even Muriz stared at him in awe. Fremen never cried unless it was the most profound gift of the soul. Almost embarrassed, Muriz closed his mouthseal, pulled his djeballa hood low over his brows. Leto peered beyond the man, said: “Here in Shuloch they still pray for dew at the desert’s edge. Go, Muriz, and pray for Kralizec. I promise you it will come.”

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Categories: Herbert, Frank