Saturday, May 3, 2008

Chapter One: Prelude

General Clay was on the Top Ring. He was there to pray.

Now, a great many people would give their lives to visit the Top Ring. King Malaghaster once offered to sacrifice himself to Enki, renounce the worship of the Moon God on behalf of all his people, and pay tribute in perpetuity to the kingdom of the North. He was refused.

From the Top Ring, one can see across the Earth. Open your eyes, and there is nothing that can hide from your gaze.

Yet General Clay's eyes were closed. He did not need them. His ears told everything. With a thud, they told him that the outer wall was taking artillery fire. With a creak, they told him it would not last long. With a shout, or a hundred, or a thousand, they told him that his men were dying. His friends would be murdered. His women would be raped. His children would be bastards.

So General Beauregard Clay was on his knees on the Top Rung, with his eyes tightly shut. He was a man of action, but all he could do had been done. The time for surrender was long past. The stillness and the silence was soon to come.

It is a peculiar feature of the acoustics of the Top Ring that, should you make the slightest whisper while atop it, the sound will be delivered direct to the ears of every one in the city, as clearly as if you were inside their bedchambers. On this particular evening, General Clay did not whisper.

He howled.

And he was heard.

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