David Gemmell. The Hawk Enternal

David Gemmell. The Hawk Enternal

David Gemmell. The Hawk Enternal

Second Book Of The Hawk Queen


THE YOUNG PRIEST was sitting in the sunshine, studying an ancient manuscript. Slowly he ran his index finger over the symbols upon it, mouthing each one. It was cold up here by these ancient stones, but Garvis had wrapped himself in a hooded sheepskin cloak, and had found a niche in the rocks away from the wind. He loved the solitude of these high, lonely peaks, and the distant roar of the mighty Falls of Attafoss was a far-away whisper upon the wind. ‘All the works of Man are as dust upon a flat rock,’ he read. ‘When the winds of time blow across them they are lost to history. Nothing built of stone will endure.’ Garvis sat back. Surely this was nonsense? These mountains had existed since the dawn of time and they would be here long after he was dead. He glanced up at the .old stone circle. The symbols upon each standing stone had weathered almost to nothing. Yet still they stood, exactly where the ancients had placed them a thousand years ago. The sun was high now, but there was little warmth in the rays. Gaunt shadows stretched out from the stones. Garvis pulled his cloak more tightly about him.

According to the Lord Taliesen, this was once one of the Great Gates. From here a man could travel across time and space. Garvis rubbed a slender hand over his pockmarked face. Time and Space: the legends fascinated him. He had asked Lord Taliesen about the Ancient Gates and had been rewarded with extra study. The Lesser Gates still allowed a man to move through space. He himself had travelled with Lord Taliesen from the mountains to the outskirts of Ateris – that was more than sixty miles of space, but the journey had taken less than a heartbeat. According to Metas, the Lesser Gates could carry a man all over the land. So why were the Great Gates special?

Garvis’ attention was distracted momentarily, as his fingers found a ripe spot upon his chin. Idly he squeezed it. It was not ready to burst, and pain flared across his face. Garvis gave a low curse and rubbed at the wounded skin. A hawk landed on the tallest of the standing stones, then flew away. Garvis watched it until it rose high on the thermals and was lost to him. ‘I would like to have been a hawk,’ he said, aloud.

Lightning flashed across the stones, a blaze of brightness that caused Garvis to fall backwards from the rock on which he sat. Rolling to his knees, he blinked and tried to focus. The stones seemed darker now. Violet light blazed out, and pale blue lightning forked up from the tallest stone. More lights flared, gossamer threads of light forming a glittering web around the stones. It seemed to Garvis as if tiny stars were caught in a pale blue net, gleaming like diamonds. It was the most beautiful sight. At the centre of the light storm one diamond grew larger and brighter than all the others, swelling until it was the size of a boulder. Then it flattened, spreading out like a sheet upon a wash-line, moving from circle to square, its four corners fastening to the top and bottom of two standing stones. The wind increased, howling over the crags, and for less than a heartbeat two suns hung in the sky.

All was silent as Garvis knelt, mouth open, shocked beyond words. Standing between the central stones was a tall warrior in blood-stained armour. He was supporting a woman, also attired for war; blood was flowing from a wound in her side. Garvis had never seen armour quite like that worn by this fearsome pair. The man’s helm was full-faced, and boasted a white horsehair plume. His bronze breastplate had been fashioned in the shape of a human chest, complete with pectorals and a rippling solar plexus. He wore a leather kilt reinforced with bronze, and high, thigh-length riding boots. With a start Garvis realised that the warrior was looking at him. ‘You!’ he called. ‘Help me.’

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