The Fell Gard Codices


Glimmering silver, set in basalt dark as shadow, a fragment of a moon shines through mist. Water-drops on leaf and stalk catch the light like tears. Vines bend low beneath the weight of their fruit. Stems of pale trumpet-like flowers wreath a trellis. Bushes are freighted with berries. Tree-branches, blossoming, reach with no object. Ivies choke an eyeless cracked statue; they hug the posts of arches, and are heavy upon dew-slick walls. High rushes stand along the edges of winding brick paths. Leaves rustle in odd currents of air, and there can be heard a murmur of bees flitting from flower to flower.

An elf enters the garden, an arrow set to her bow. She stops, staring. Then whispers behind her: “Come! You must see this!” She laughs; and walks along the path before her.


For the first time in days Enheduanna felt a lift within her, the special joy known only to the elf-folk. Of course the night before with William, while the others slept, had been special (if one could speak of night under the earth with no moons nor stars); but this was almost like coming home. She could have wept.

After everyone had rested fully the six of them had set out: she, William, Gryselde, Ulric, Gamelyn, and Ulixa. They’d made their way back to the ratmen’s lair, and then through the door to the west. She’d seen faint glimmerings of light at once, and had led them through a series of halls, west and northward. The last, a short hall running west to open into the south wall of this chamber, had a pattern of bricks running underfoot, which blossomed here into paths among the greenery.

All around her, as she entered the chamber, was something like a forest. Grass and moss and good black earth. Palm trees; and lilac trees, their lavender unearthly in the silver light. Raspberry cane, and blueberries. Violets and love-lies-bleeding and white bell-shaped lilies. She saw chives and mint and mustard-seed and, yes, Amanos’ stillwort. Enheduanna breathed deep, tasting the heavy air flavoured by growing things and rich soil.

Above all was the moonlight. At the peak of the great vault of the room’s ceiling, ten yards or so above, was a kind of spreading mass, a lichen, she thought, that shone like the moon the mortals called Monelic, the First Moon. No, she thought, not like that moon; surely this was moonlight itself, calling her to dance as the elves were by nature disposed to, in such settings.

Behind her the humans entered the garden. She turned to them. They were near as disbelieving as she, saving Gamelyn. “This is impossible,” she said to him, smiling.

“Not even uncommon, actually,” he said. “You see that, on the ceiling? That’s a kind of ætheric moss. There are a few different varieties. But the æther, say the theorists, is related to the House Monelic, to the legendary first of moons, as it is to dreams and visions. Well, I can’t speak to all that, but ætheric mosses shine. And in their light grow … well, as you see.”

“But the water, the mist,” said Enheduanna.

“Waters run below the surface of most courts,” said Gamelyn. “The plants, given the ætheric stimulation, shoot their roots down to reach it; and so it also rises as mist.”

Enheduanna slowly turned entirely around, looking in every direction. She could not stop smiling. “But there is a cycle to water, as there is to all things in the world,” she said. “It lives on earth, or below, and as it dies rises to the heavens, from which it falls again as rain. How does that play out here?”

William shook his head. “What do you mean?” he asked. She reached out to him, to feel his arm, his shoulder, the mortal incomprehension of him.

“Elves know,” she said. “All things rise and fall, in time. To all things their rounds.” She looked about again. “The sun is at the root of all life,” she said, “and his light fosters the plants that pray to him, and that sprout from the earth, which is the grave of animal things; while animal things eat of plants, and animals eat those animals, and then pass away to be eaten by plants, and so all life is a round, and it is the sun that spins it. We have always known this. But I had never thought that the æther could take the sun’s place. What is the nature of these fruits, I wonder, that have grown in alien light?”


Gamelyn stared at the elf-woman. What was she talking about? “There are bugs and suchlike here,” he said. “Bats eat the bugs … I don’t know. Is that what you’re saying?” She only laughed. “Suit yourself,” he said, with a shrug. “I’ll tell you this, what grows here is not poison. Well, excepting your nightshade and your belladonna and such.” He took a turning along one of the winding brick paths. The room wasn’t so large, forty by twenty, he guessed, but of course gardens always looked larger. Ulixa followed him.

“Everything is in bloom,” she said. Was her voice really so quiet as he imagined? If so, why did he always hear her when she spoke? It must be the stillness of her face, he decided. He grinned at her.

“Of course,” he said. “How else?” He plucked a strawberry and ate it. It was fine. “Remember, when the court was created, all this was created with it.”

“In the world above, it was spring when I entered,” Ulixa told him. “Why does it look like it’s harvest-time now? Except, no, strawberries fruit at midsummer, not the harvest.”

“What’s harvest-time?” Gamelyn asked. He had another strawberry. He noticed the prophet, accompanied by the sorine, was filling his pack; so was the singer.

“The time of the harvest,” said Ulixa, as if that should be obvious. He raised his eyebrows. She stared at him for a moment, then went on, as though unsure whether he was joking: “When the corn and other crops have all grown, and you cut them down and take their fruits. But that’s late summer or autumn, and it’s now only late spring. When the fields are seeded with barley and beans and such, in the places that raise those things.”

He gave her a sage nod. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said. “Autumn, spring … If I were a glossologist, I would be fascinated by unknown words. Ah, well, perhaps it is a failing in me that I’m interested less in words than the real, or what I judge to be real.” A tomato plant was growing against a wall. He plucked one of the red globes. It was full and thick. “Not bad, eh?” he said. She looked at it in perplexity. “Haven’t you seen one before?” he asked. She shook her head. “Hmm,” he said. He bit into it; it was delicious. “Words,” he murmured. “What are they?” He took up another fruit. “Try it,” he said. “Go on.”

She took it and bit into it. He grinned, again. She looked at him, shocked.

On the other side of the garden, Ulric laughed.


It all seemed so familiar. He could not say why, or not clearly. There were gardens in the scriptures of the holy William of the Name Blake, and that had to do with it, he suspected. Thinking so, recalling those mighty works of language and art, he saw, on the other side of a tree, Gamelyn offer Ulixa a red round fruit, and saw also her bite into it; and this seemed to him so utterly fit for no reason he knew that he could not help but laugh.

To Gryselde, beside him, Ulric said, “Surely this House of Creation cannot be so wholly terrible, if it has such places in it.”

“Perhaps,” she said. He looked over to her. She was such a very serious young women. How many like her had he known, in his day? Too many, too well. He was thankful that she had found her calling.

He laughed again, not as loudly. “I suppose death is everywhere,” he said, “even in a garden.”

“More than most places,” she said. “— There are five halls out of this room, counting the one by which we entered, and that’s too many for us to guard, I think, even if the murineans would accept our living in the place from which they take their food. No, four halls; see, among the ivy, the hall under that trellis ends at the statue. Still, too many. After we eat, and fill our packs, we should move on, and see if there are more secure chambers nearby.”

“A pretty blossom, hears you sobbing, sobbing,” he sang. Gryselde stared at him as if he were mad.

“What is that to mean?” she demanded.

“It is a song of innocence,” he said. “Don’t let yourself fall sick, my rose.” She continued to stare at him, unmoving. He nodded. “I think I have guessed why you are so silent; why you have done no preaching to us. You were at Hallowchant Priory, in Helluland, weren’t you?” For some moments more, she stared; then she nodded, once. He sighed. “I have heard a little of that tragedy,” he said. “My sorrows go with you, Sorine. — That is how, in the lands of my folk, they say ‘I am sorry for you.’”

She stared at him still; he might have said more, but that was when the blow was struck, and the side of his head split open.


Gryselde shouted as the pair of white apelike things leaped on them. They had hidden among the trees, on the far side of a path. One struck Ulric a heavy blow to the skull, and he dropped. The other leaped at her. She whirled her halberd, and it backed away, then reached out a long arm to swipe at her again.

She tried to shout the words Gral had taught her in the underground tongue: “I am a mendicant of holy orders,” she cried. “Hold!” But it showed no signs of hearing, or of understanding. Then her companions were beside her.

William swung his sword at the white-furred creature that had struck down Ulric. His blade deflected on matted hair, but Enheduanna neatly spitted the thing with her own longsword. As the creature facing Gryselde leaped at her again, Gryselde planted her halberd and caught it in the chest; just as a circling Ulixa also stabbed it in the back with her knife. Gryselde watched the life fading from its eyes, and felt again the nearness of the Graf Vaka-Bane.

“Too often, my lord, too often,” she mumbled. She shouted in rage, and drew her blade out of her enemy. Blood sprayed the garden.


William knelt by Ulric’s head. He had little talent for healing, but knew some tricks. And he felt he must do something for the man, who twice had made him better with a touch. But there was nothing for it. A strike to the head like that …

“I don’t know,” he whispered. “I don’t — his head is cracked. Don’t touch him!”

“We have to,” said the sorine. “This is not a safe place.”

Ulric mumbled something. He twitched an arm. His eyes opened. They were blank, with no vision.

William and Enheduanna managed to stand the prophet up, and get one of his arms around the sorine’s neck. William felt it was terribly wrong. But what was there to do? They had to get him to a place he could be guarded while he mended.

Ah, but a head wound …

He is our only way to heal such hurts as these, thought William. And he is like to die, or lose his wits. What of the rest of us, then?


“What about us, then?” Gamelyn asked her.

Ulixa looked at him, surprised. They were a few feet behind the sorine, Ulric, and William, walking back eastward from the garden. “Us?” she asked.

“As you see, much can change in the House of Creation, very quickly,” he said. “You heard me name myself dwimmerlaik, last night.”

“And saw you avoid speaking to me after,” she said.

“The dwimmerlaik, for his illusions to work, must be a chess-master,” he said. “We’re all of us always playing games, Ulixa. If you want to be a neophyte of the order, you must understand that.”

“Neophyte?” she repeated. Her worry for the old prophet was burned away by a fierce flame of desire. “You’ll take me as a student?”

“Maybe,” he said. “It’s a hard path. You have to understand the magic is the least of it. Power is the most of it, but power is an illusion. Do you understand?”

She said nothing. She did not want to admit that these were hard words. He smiled. “Meditate on it,” he said. “Later, tell me what you think I mean. Then I will judge whether to teach you what I can. If you still wish it.”

“I think that I know what you mean,” she said. “I think —”

But then there was a cry from the elf, who fired her bow and ran down a hall to the north.


The Iron Elves, or Jarnalfar, have dull grey skin, and black eyes smudged with the same rust colour of their hair and lips. They are tall as any elf, and of course have their sinister powers from the shameful bargain they struck, which many of them now remember with regret. They always wear cloaks as tough as suits of mail, whose weight they seem not to notice. Their faces are like other elves’, but at once harsher and sadder.

Leaving the garden, walking eastward along the short passage where the brick paths began, Enheduanna reached the junction where one hall led south-east toward the door back to the murineans, and another unexplored hall stretched north. All was normal along the first. But when she looked north, she saw maybe twenty feet from her, at another junction where a hall led to the east, just such an Iron Elf; and he was that one she had sought, that had led her to Fell Gard. So she shouted, and shot an arrow at him. The shaft broke against his cloak, and he fled northward.

She followed. He slipped through a door at the end of the hall. Enheduanna ran after him into a large room. She saw another door, to her right, closing. She ran to it, and through.

The Iron Elf was fleeing down the hall beyond the door, to the east. She fired again, and again struck his cloak. She ran after him. He came to an arch and made a sign, and then looked back at her.

“Don’t follow,” he said. “Not yet.” They were the first words he had ever said to her, that she could remember.

There was a shimmering under the arch before him. The passage beyond seemed to disappear behind a veil of mist. He stepped through.

She stopped, recognising an ætheric portal. She wanted to catch her quarry, of course, but had no desire to go through such a portal, to that mad place of night and dream, of gibbering moons and stars underfoot, of sinister shadows and Powers of good and evil.

But as she turned, she felt a terrible pull, and the air around her was whipped into a wind. The portal was drawing her toward it. And strong as she was, she could not resist.


William raced after Enheduanna. “Wait!” he cried, but she didn’t seem to hear him. He saw her go through a door, and raced to catch up to her.

On the other side of the door was a large room. There was another door to the right. Had she taken it? The room stretched beyond the light of the torch. “Enheduanna!” he called. He moved deeper into the room. Were there other doors?

Two shapes darted to the edge of the torchlight. They were tall as men, but dead; their skin tight against sinew and bone. “Witherlings!” he shouted, shifting the torch to his left hand, as he drew his sword.

Two, he thought. Lords and ladies above, I was nearly slain fighting just the one. Would have been, if Ulric had not saved me, and then healed me. He felt black despair. He could not win this fight.

The witherlings attacked.


“William!” cried the sorine as the singer ran after the elf. Without the torch they were in darkness. The echo of a door slamming came to them. Ulixa heard the sorine let out a long sigh.

“We must go after him,” Ulixa said.

“Together,” said the sorine. And the four of them rounded the corner, and went down the hall, feeling their way in darkness. Another door slammed ahead of them, the sound echoing strangely in the stone halls.

“Where was that?” whispered Ulixa. “Ahead?”

“If I had Enheduanna’s hearing,” said the sorine wearily, “I could answer.”

Ulixa had been trailing her right hand along the wall to keep herself oriented. Suddenly the wall ended. “There’s a hall here,” she said. “Quickly, something might be coming.”

They ducked into the new hall. She explored along the south wall, Gamelyn along the north, the sorine behind them with Ulric. Ulixa passed a closed door. Then the passage turned south. “Come on,” she whispered.

Ulixa thought she heard something behind her; then was sure she heard someone calling her name in an urgent whisper. She turned to answer. But the floor gave way beneath her.

Ulixa fell, and hit the ground hard. She collapsed, and lay there for a moment aching and dizzy. Then she heard grinding noises to either side of her.

She hauled herself to her feet, hoping that no bones were broken. She stumbled to her left. She found a wall. The wall pushed her back. She stumbled to the other side. That wall also was moving.

Soon, they would crush her between them.


When the north wall ended, Gamelyn considered what to do next. Ulixa whispered “Come on,” and he absently whispered back for her to wait. But she did not answer. He remembered suddenly that people from the outer world were less attentive to whispers, and whisper-shouted her name. Then he heard her cry out. He took a step forward —

— and there was a voice from the north, calling to him. “Knowledge,” it said, “and truth, and power. Knowledge, and truth, and power.”

“Illusions,” he whispered, but he was walking north. It was a compulsion, he suspected; anyway he took step after step, and was helpless to do otherwise. But then also he felt the thing’s words inside him: knowledge, truth, and power, all the things that stirred him. Ahead of him he saw a dull light. As he drew closer he found it came from a wingless gargoyle, wrought in brass that shone with a low unnatural yellow glow.

“Knowledge, and truth, and power,” it spoke to him. “Answer this riddle, or lose all.”

It said:

I am my two arms, am myself light-bearer,

Set high above the woods and cliffs and paths,

The homes and churches with their window-glass,

And all the people of the city’s quarters

Who move among the giant towers and many

Crossing streets. And I, I recall a passing —

I am the sign of faith that once a man

Was also god, and died to save his killers.

The river-waves wash ashore at all sides.

I stand, day-bright, shining; awaiting death.


Gamelyn dropped to his knees. “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t … I don’t know.”

“Lose all,” said the gargoyle. “Lose all.”


Gryselde staggered along, with Ulric half-stumbling beside her. Suddenly the prophet gasped and fell back. She didn’t expect the shift in weight, and stumbled, leaning against the wall. Or what she thought was a wall. Instead there was a door, and she fell through, Ulric above her. She carefully set him down on the ground as the door closed behind them.

“A fine job I’ve done,” she whispered. Almost she cried. No. No. The words were too much, against the Rule as it was. No. No tears. Let it be so.

What had happened to them all? Where had the others gone?

What would happen now?

A light began to shine before her, brighter and brighter and yet more bright still, bright as the sun. She looked at it and gasped at what she saw.


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