“But not the words of the Making.”

“No. Nor dragons,”


“Only in some very, very old tales. Before the gods were. Before men were. Before men were men, they were dragons.”

“Now that is interesting,” said the old scholar, sitting up straighter. “I told you I was reading about dragons. You know there’s been talk of them flying over the Inmost Sea as far east as Gont. That was no doubt Kalessin taking Ged home, multiplied by sailors making a good story better. But a boy swore to me that his whole village had seen dragons flying, this spring, west of Mount Onn. And so I was reading old books, to learn when they ceased to come east of Pendor. And in one I came on your story, or something like it. That men and dragons were all one kind, but they quarrelled. Some went west and some east, and they became two kinds, and forgot they were ever one.”

“We went farthest east,” Azver said. “But do you know what the leader of an army is, in my tongue?”

“Edran,” said the Namer promptly, and laughed. “Drake. Dragon…”

After a while he said, “I could chase an etymology on the brink of doom … But I think, Azver, that that’s where we are. We won’t defeat him.”

“He has the advantage,” Azver said, very dry.

“He does. But, admitting it unlikely, admitting it impossible – if we did defeat him – if he went back into death and left us here alive – what would we do? What comes next?”

After a long time, Azver said, “I have no idea.”

“Your leaves and shadows tell you nothing?”

“Change, change,” said the Patterner. Transformation.”

He looked up suddenly. The sheep, who had been grouped near the stile, were scurrying off, and someone was coming along the path from the Great House.

“A group of young men,” said the Herbal, breathless, as he came to them. “Thorion’s army. Coming here. To take the girl. To send her away.” He stood and drew breath. “The Doorkeeper was speaking with them when I left. I think -“

“Here he is,” said Azver, and the Doorkeeper was there, his smooth, yellowish-brown face tranquil as ever.

“I told them,” he said, “that if they went out Medra’s Gate this day, they’d never go back through it into a House they knew. Some of them were for turning back, then. But the Windkey and the Chanter urged them on. They’ll be along soon.”

They could hear men’s voices in the fields east of the Grove.

Azver went quickly to where Irian lay beside the stream, and the others followed him. She roused up and got to her feet, looking dull and dazed. They were standing around her, a kind of guard, when the group of thirty or more men came past the little house and approached them. They were mostly older students; there were five or six wizard’s staffs among the crowd, and the Master Windkey led them. His thin, keen old face looked strained and weary, but he greeted the four mages courteously by their titles.

They greeted him, and Azver took the word – “Come into the Grove, Master Windkey,” he said, “and we will wait there for the others of the Nine.”

“First we must settle the matter that divides us,” said the Windkey.

That is a stony matter,” said the Namer.

“The woman with you defies the Rule of Roke,” the Windkey said. “She must leave. A boat is waiting at the dock to take her, and the wind, I can tell you, will stand fair for Way.”

“I have no doubt of that, my lord,” said Azver, “but I doubt she will go-“

“My Lord Patterner, will you defy our Rule and our community, that has been one so long, upholding order against the forces of ruin? Will it be you, of all men, who breaks the pattern?”

“It is not glass, to break,” Azver said. “It is breath, it is fire.”

It cost him a great effort to speak.

“It does not know death,” he said, but he spoke in his own language, and they did not understand him. He drew closer to Irian. He felt the warmth of her body. She stood staring, in that animal silence, as if she did not understand any of them.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132

Categories: Ursula K. Le Guin