Dragon Wing – Death Gate Cycle 1. Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Dragon Wing – Death Gate Cycle 1
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
“BE AT EASE, HAPLO. COME IN AND MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE. SIT DOWN. THERE are no formalities between us.”
“Allow me to fill your glass. We drink what was once called the stirrup cup, a salute to your long journey.
“You like the port? Ah, my talents are many and manifold, as you know, but I begin to think that only time-not magic- can produce a truly fine port. At least that’s what the old books teach. I’ve no doubt our ancestors were right about that … no matter how wrong they were in other things. There is something about the drink I miss, a warmth, a mellowness that comes with age. This port is too harsh, too aggressive. Fine qualities in men, Haplo, but not in wine.
“So, you are prepared for your journey? Is there any need or want I can satisfy? Say so, and it’s yours. Nothing?
“Ah, I do envy you. My thoughts will be with you every moment, waking and sleeping. Another salute. To you, Haplo, my emissary to an unsuspecting world.
“And they must not suspect. I know we’ve been over this before, but I want to stress this again. The danger is great. If our ancient enemy catches even the slightest hint that we’ve escaped their prison, they will move land, sea, sun, and sky-as they did once-to thwart us. Sniff them out, Haplo. Sniff them out as that dog of yours sniffs out a rat, but never let them catch a whiff of you.
“Let me refill your glass. Another salute. This one to the Sartan. You hesitate to drink. Come. I insist. Your rage is your strength. Use it, it will give you energy. Therefore…
“To the Sartan. They made us what we are.
“How old are you, Haplo? You have no idea?
“I know-time has no meaning in the Labyrinth. Let me think. When I first saw you, you looked to be just over twenty-five years. A long life for those of the Labyrinth. A long life, and one that had almost ended.
“How well I remember that time, five years ago, I was about to reenter the Labyrinth when you emerged. Bleeding, barely able to walk, dying. Yet you looked up at me with an expression-I will never forget it-Triumph! You had escaped. You had beaten them. I saw that triumph in your eyes, in your exultant smile. And then you collapsed at my feet.
“It was that expression which drew me to you, dear boy. I felt the same when I escaped from that hell so long ago. I was the first one, the first one to make it through alive.
“Centuries ago, the Sartan thought to defeat our ambition by sundering the world that was ours by rights and throwing us into their prison. As you well know, the way out of the Labyrinth is long and tortuous. It took centuries to solve the twisting puzzle of our land. The old books say the Sartan devised this punishment in hopes that our bounding ambition and our cruel and selfish natures would be softened by time and suffering.
“You must always remember their plan, Haplo. It will give you the strength you’ll need to do what I ask of you. The Sartan had dared to assume that, when we emerged into this world, we would be fit to take our places in any of the four realms we chose to enter.
“Something went wrong. Perhaps you’ll discover what it was when you enter Death Gate. It seems, from what I have been able to decipher in the old books, that the Sartan were to have monitored the Labyrinth and kept its magic in check. But, either through malicious intent or for some other reason, they forsook their responsibility as caretakers of our prison. The prison gained a life of its own-a life that knew only one thing, survival. And so, the Labyrinth, our prison, came to see us, its prisoners, as a threat. After the Sartan abandoned us, the Labyrinth, driven by its fear and hatred of us, turned deadly.
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