Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

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Church and State, scientific reason and faith, the individual and his community, even progress and tradition — all of these can be reconciled in the teachings of Muad’Dib. He taught us that there exist no intransigent opposites except in the beliefs of men. Anyone can rip aside the veil of Time. You can discover the future in the past or in your own imagination. Doing this, you win back your consciousness in your inner being. You know then that the universe is a coherent whole and you are indivisible from it. -The Preacher at Arrakeen, After Harq al-Ada

Ghanima sat far back outside the circle of light from the spice lamps and watched this Buer Agarves. She didn’t like his round face and agitated eyebrows, his way of moving his feet when he spoke, as though his words were a hidden music to which he danced. He’s not here to parley with Stil, Ghanima told herself, seeing this confirmed in every word and movement from this man. She moved farther back away from the Council circle. Every sietch had a room such as this one, but the meeting hall of the abandoned djedida struck Ghanima as a cramped place because it was so low. Sixty people from Stilgar’s band plus the nine who’d come with Agarves filled only one end of the hall. Spice-oil lamps reflected against low beams which supported the ceiling. The light cast wavering shadows which danced on the walls, and the pungent smoke filled the place with the smell of cinnamon. The meeting had started at dusk after the moisture prayers and evening meal. It had been going on for more than an hour now, and Ghanima couldn’t fathom the hidden currents in Agarves’s performance. His words appeared clear enough, but his motions and eye movements didn’t agree. Agarves was speaking now, responding to a question from one of Stilgar’s lieutenants, a niece of Harah’s named Rajia. She was a darkly ascetic young woman whose mouth turned down at the corners, giving her an air of perpetual distrust. Ghanima found the expression satisfying in the circumstances. “Certainly I believe Alia will grant a full and complete pardon to all of you,” Agarves said. “I’d not be here with this message otherwise.” Stilgar intervened as Rajia made to speak once more. “I’m not so much worried about our trusting her as I am about whether she trusts you.” Stilgar’s voice carried growling undertones. He was uncomfortable with this suggestion that he return to his old status. “It doesn’t matter whether she trusts me,” Agarves said. “To be candid about it, I don’t believe she does. I’ve been too long searching for you without finding you. But I’ve always felt she didn’t really want you captured. She was –” “She was the wife of the man I slew,” Stilgar said. “I grant you that he asked for it. Might just as well’ve fallen on his own knife. But this new attitude smells of –” Agarves danced to his feet, anger plain on his face. “She forgives you! How many times must I say it? She had the Priests make a great show of asking divine guidance from –” “You’ve only raised another issue.” It was Irulan, leaning forward past Rajia, blonde head set off against Rajia’s darkness. “She has convinced you, but she may have other plans.” “The Priesthood has –” “But there are all of these stories,” Irulan said. “That you’re more than just a military advisor, that you’re her –” “Enough!” Agarves was beside himself with rage. His hand hovered near his knife. Warring emotions moved just below the surface of his skin, twisting his features. “Believe what you will, but I cannot go on with that woman! She fouls me! She dirties everything she touches! I am used. I am soiled. But I have not lifted my knife against my kin. Now — no more!” Ghanima, observing this, thought: That, at least, was truth coming out of him. Surprisingly, Stilgar broke into laughter. “Ahhhh, cousin,” he said. “Forgive me, but there’s truth in anger.” “Then you agree?” “I’ve not said that.” he raised a hand as Agarves threatened another outburst. “It’s not for my sake, Buer, but there are these others.” He gestured around him. “They are my responsibility. Let us consider for a moment what reparations Alia offers.” “Reparations? There’s no word of reparations. Pardon, but no –” “Then what does she offer as surety of her word?” “Sietch Tabr and you as Naib, full autonomy as a neutral. She understands now how –” “I’ll not go back to her entourage or provide her with fighting men,” Stilgar warned. “Is that understood?” Ghanima could hear Stilgar beginning to weaken and thought: No, Stil! No! “No need for that,” Agarves said. “Alia wants only Ghanima returned to her and the carrying out of the betrothal promise which she –” “So now it comes out!” Stilgar said, his brows drawing down. “Ghanima’s the price of my pardon. Does she think me –” “She thinks you sensible,” Agarves argued, resuming his seat. Gleefully, Ghanima thought: He won’t do it. Save your breath. He won’t do it. As she thought this, Ghanima heard a soft rustling behind and to her left. She started to turn, felt powerful hands grab her. A heavy rag reeking of sleep-drugs covered her face before she could cry out. As consciousness faded, she felt herself being carried toward a door in the hall’s darkest reaches. And she thought: I should have guessed! I should’ve been prepared! But the hands that held her were adult and strong. She could not squirm away from them. Ghanima’s last sensory impressions were of cold air, a glimpse of stars, and a hooded face which looked down at her, then asked: “She wasn’t injured, was she?” The answer was lost as the stars wheeled and streaked across her gaze, losing themselves in a blaze of light which was the inner core of her selfdom.

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Categories: Herbert, Frank