(gyve: to fetter, to shackle, to bind)
This chronicle begins with Detlev, who emerged from Norsunder Beyond into the center of a violent struggle for power at Norsunder Base. He stepped over the dead and entered the command center, currently deserted as the mage Dejain and the military commander Bostian stalked one another elsewhere in the fortress.
Because there is no time measure in the Beyond, he found the date—and calculated how long he’d been gone—via the accumulation of messages in the dispatch tray. There was no sign of Siamis, nor any report.
He reached the last, considered the lacunae, then sat down to write a coded note.
Why was I not alerted about the blood mage text? Did any of you try to secure it?
A short time later came the answer:
Jilo of the Chwahir was either given it, or was given the location by Kessler Sonscarna. Senrid Montredaun-An took it away. I wrote a report immediately. I found out through gossip that Kessler took the texts back, and I reported that, too. Since we received no new orders, and information was long after the fact, we stayed tight with standing orders.
Our relay is compromised. Reports to be made in person, through you. Commencing with your conveying these orders, face to face.
At the other end of the world, in a place of mutable time, occasionally—cruelly—some trick of light in a changing sky evoked in Siamis’s memory the cloud ships of Yssel, the last of which he witnessed sinking slowly to a fiery death nearly five thousand years ago: dragon-ribbed keelson, spars of glowing crystal, and vast sails iridescent as wasp wings.
The glimpses into past times were never quick to last. The world had changed so vastly, and he was no longer a terror-stricken, bewildered boy. But echoes of those long ago emotions sometimes lingered: astonishment, harrowing realization, the numbness of betrayal, and finally a long-smoldering anger.
“I will someday destroy the entire world,” he had shrieked when summoned to the Garden of the Twelve early after he was taken, and all the Host had laughed but one.
Ilerian tipped his head, regarding Siamis with mild interest. “How will you go about it?”
Later, Detlev had said, “Existence will be far less painful if you say nothing to catch Ilerian’s interest. But if that cannot be avoided, have an answer. And always have a plan. “
Siamis had scorned his uncle’s too-late advice as he’d scorned everything his uncle said and did, until it was proven—excruciatingly, and lasciviously prolonged—to be true.
So his real training began. In Norsunder-Beyond, where time was nearly meaningless, marked by occasional and brief emergences into the real world for either training or a lesson, he had no age markers to measure by except by guesswork.
He might have been the equivalent of fourteen when he figured out how to combine the two—flout and stealth. Flouting Detlev when he could be perceived by the Host or their minions had amused them, and each time he’d been caught he’d suffered the consequences philosophically. While Norsunder’s lords, who rarely stirred from their timeless citadel, began to regard his errors as a typical for callow youth, he had learned from each.
The lesson he kept closest: the mind gained in strength along with the body only in the physical realm, where time resumed its natural progression, where there was sunlight and the fresh air that renews itself as it sweeps over pure water. But those excursions had to be brief, and always in obedience to someone else’s plan.
When at last he dared venture on his own to explore the immeasurable realm between Norsunder’s ageless, arid center and the world, he knew how to leave no physical trace or magical shadow. Detlev called that the hand through the water.
Finally, the most dangerous of all, he essayed single visits back in time, using the great window in the Garden of the Twelve at Norsunder’s center. It was vital to be unperceived; an error meant far worse than the idle cruelties of those who found entertainment in such pursuits, it meant being forever lost in a fold of time.
And so, it transpired, learning to maneuver in Norsunder had prepared him for dealing with the anomaly the mages of Old Sartor had named the Moonfire.
He moved with practiced stealth, the stages of his plan ranked mentally in meticulous order, but found that this anomaly was far more slippery than Norsunder’s magic-straitened boundaries. He had the where, but not the when . . .