After a long pause he went on. “You know that a dragon brought back our Lord Sparrowhawk, with the young king, from the shores of death. Then the dragon carried Sparrowhawk away to his home, for his power was gone, he was not a mage. So presently the Masters of Roke met to choose a new Archmage, here, in the Grove, as always. But not as always.

“Before the dragon came, the Summoner too had returned from death, where he can go, where his art can take him. He had seen our lord and the young king there, in that country across the wall of stones. He said they would not come back. He said Lord Sparrowhawk had told him to come back to us, to life, to bear that word. So we grieved for our lord.

“But then came the dragon, Kalessin, bearing him living.

“The Summoner was among us when we stood on Roke Knoll and saw the Archmage kneel to King Lebannen. Then, as the dragon bore our friend away, the Summoner fell down.

“He lay as if dead, cold, his heart not beating, yet he breathed. The Herbal used all his art, but could not rouse him. “He is dead,” he said. “The breath will not leave him, but he is dead.” So we mourned him. Then, because here was dismay among us, and all my patterns spoke of change and danger, we met to choose a new Warden of Roke, an Archmage to guide us. And in our council we set the young king in the Summoner’s place. To us it seemed right that he should sit among us. Only the Changer spoke against it at first, and then agreed.

“But we met, we sat, and we could not choose. We said this and said that, but no name was spoken. And then I…” He paused a while. There came on me what my people call the eduevanu, the other breath. Words came to me and I spoke them. I said, Hama Gondun! And Kurremkarmerruk told them this in Hardic: “A woman on Gont.” But when I came back to my own wits, I could not tell them what that meant. And so we parted with no Archmage chosen.

The king left soon after, and the Master Windkey went with him. Before the king was to be crowned, they went to Gont and sought our lord, to find what that meant, “a woman on Gont”. Eh? But they did not see him, only my countrywoman Tenar of the Ring. She said she was not the woman they sought. And they found no one, nothing. So Lebannen judged it to be a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. And in Havnor he set his crown on his own head.

The Herbal, and I too, judged the Summoner dead. We thought the breath he breathed was left from some spell of his own art that we did not understand, like the spell snakes know that keeps their heart beating long after they are dead. Though it seemed terrible to bury a breathing body, yet he was cold, and his blood did not run, and no soul was in him. That was more terrible. So we made ready to bury him. And then, by his grave, his eyes opened. He moved, and spoke. He said, “I have summoned myself again into life, to do what must be done.”’

The Patterner’s voice had grown rougher, and he suddenly brushed the little design of pebbles apart with the palm of his hand.

“So when the Windkey returned, we were nine again. But divided. For the Summoner said we must meet again and choose an Archmage. The king had had no place among us, he said. And “a woman on Gont”, whoever she may be, has no place among the men on Roke. Eh? The Windkey, the Chanter, the Changer, the Hand, say he is right. And as King Lebannen is one returned from death, fulfilling that prophecy, they say so will the Archmage be one returned from death.”

“But -“ Irian said, and stopped.

After a while the Patterner said, “That art, summoning, you know, is very . . . terrible. It is … always danger. Here,” and he looked up into the green-gold darkness of the trees, “here is no summoning. No bringing back across the wall. No wall.”

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Categories: Ursula K. Le Guin