The Steel Remains made me drop completely Erikson’s novellas, the story was much more gripping. Now I’m back to finish what I started, and, oh, the writing… I love it.
This was how the world circled around itself, curly as a pubic hair, plucked and flung wayward on whatever wind happened by.
‘Panic is a common affliction when spirits awaken, Captain Sater. Like pollen in the air, or seeds of terror that find root in every undefended mortal mind. I urge you to mindfulness, lest horror devour your reason.’
‘Life is like a clam,’ Bird Mottle’s father once told her. ‘Years flitering shit then some bastard cracks you open and scrapes you into his damned mouth. End of story, precious pearl, end of story.’
Take a stick and jam it deep into the mud, just up where the waves reach on an easy day. Come back a week or two later and there’s a mound of stilts gathered round the stick on one side, and a faint shallow pit on the opposite side. Unless a storm arrives to drag yhe stick away, the mound grows, the hole slowly fills in.
That was Toll’s City.
Bauchelain paused, frowned at her. ‘You are hunted.’ Then he nodded. ‘As we suspected. What follows in our wake, Captain?’
‘How should I know?’
‘Describe your crime.’
‘That’s nothing to do with anything. It wasn’t even a crime. Not really. More like… opportunism.’
‘Ah, a short temptation to which one yelds, casting aside all fears of consequence.’
‘A momentary failings of ethics.’
‘Expedience winning its war with duty.’
‘So would we argue, yes-‘
‘A defense based on the weakness of nature belongs to untutored children and dogs that bite, Captain. You and your cohorts are all adults and if you relinquished your honor then fierce punishment is righteous and deserves a large audience, a mob, if you will, expressing their most civilized glee over the cruel misery of your fate.’
One scream. A sudden widening of the eyes, a faint primordial shiver. The soul tenses, crouches, awaits a repetition, for it is in repetition alone that a face is painted onto the dark unknown, a face indeed frightened, frightening, wracked with pain, or -and so one wishes- in bright, startled delight. But alas, this latter entreaty is yielded upon so rarely, for such are grim truths unveiled, one beneath another and seemingly without end.
Life, as Bauchelain would well note -were he of any mind to voice comment- was ever prone to stupidity and, in logical consequence, atrocious self-destruction.
Of course he was too busy spilling an endless flood of seed into a barely sensate and in no way resisting Captain Sater down in his cabin, and this, as all well know, is the pinnacle of all human virtue, glory and exaltation.