Gemmell, David – Morningstar

Gemmell, David – Morningstar

Gemmell, David – Morningstar


You know me then? I thought so. It is rare for travelers to journey to the high lands at the start of winter. What are you – a scholar, an historian, both? I know you are no magicker, and you appear to be weaponless. Ah, a storyteller! Well, there is honor in that.

I have been a storyteller for sixty-eight years. Aye, and a magicker of some talent. Not great talent, mind you. But I could work the Dragon’s Egg. Not many could do that right. Have you seen it? Well, perhaps it is not as popular as once it was. But I could make the dragon break clear of the egg, without the shell turning to dust. First the head would come clear, then one tiny, beautiful wing. At last he would ease himself from the shell, and then devour it with tongues of fire. It required great concentra­tion, but I could never get the scales right; they would shimmer and fade.

I cannot do it now, of course. The power is almost gone from me.

So, what stories can I give you?

The Morningstar? Everything is known of him – his courage, his battles, his rescues. There are no new stories.

The truth, you say? Now that is novel. Perhaps unique. Why would you be interested in the truth? Of what use is that to a sstoryteller? Your listeners will not want the truth. They never do, and they never did. They want heroes, boy. Men of wonder, handsome and tall, men of honor. The Highlanders of legend. They would sweep the truth from the table and stamp it beneath their feet like a beetle. Truth has an ugly face, you see.

There are few still living who remember the Morningstar. Some are blind, some senile. Whisper his name in their ears and you will see them smile, watch the strength flow back into their limbs. That is real magick.

No, you don’t want the truth. And neither do I.

Do you like my house? It was built a half-century ago. I wanted to be able to see the sun rise over the eastern lakes, to watch the new pines grow on the flanks of the mountains. Mostly I wanted a home surrounded by trees – oak, beech and elm. It is a simple house. At least by your standards, for you are a nobleman. How do I know? Your boots alone would cost two years’ wages for a working man. But this house is comfortable. I have three servants, and a local farmer supplies all my food. He charges me nothing, for his grandfather marched with the Morningstar, and his father once sat on the great man’s knee.

Each year at the Harvest Feast, I sing for my supper. I stand at the head of the farmer’s table and I speak of the old days. Do I tell the truth? After a fashion. What I tell them is a history they all know. It is comfortable, it fills them with pride. There is no harm in that.

But the truth? Like a poisoned dagger, boy.

Yet still you want to hear it…No, I will not speak of those days. You may stay here the night and join me for breakfast in the morning. Then you will go.

Do not be disappointed. I am favoring you with a kindness, though you cannot understand it. You see, the world knows the Morningstar. He lives in the hearts and souls of his people.

You know the song-prayer: He is the light reborn that shadows fear, when night descends on us, he will be near.

Do I believe that? Of course. I wrote it.

Midnight. A time for memories. My visitor is abed, his disappoint­ment shrouded by sleep and the dreams of the young. There is a log-fire behind me, filling the room with warmth and a golden glow. Shadows flicker by the rafters like old ghosts.

It is an effort but I push open the window, dislodging the snow from the sill. The cold, skeletal fingers of winter reach in, whispering against my shirt. I shiver and stare out over the bleak glens to the ice-covered lakes and the mountains beyond.

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Categories: David Gemmell