The Fell Gard Codices


Geoffrey saw Agneta leave the chamber of Oak and Holly, and went after her, northward. He didn’t try to catch up with her. Truth be told, he wanted to see where she’d go.

She stopped in the room beyond, at the far corner where a hall led off to the west. She turned back, and waited as he approached. He stopped, too close to her, and, staring at him, unsmiling, she asked: “Aren’t you going with the others?”

“In time,” he said. He grinned, watching her. She was blonde, her hair down to her shoulder. Her skin pale. Her eyes blue, like ice. And her body …

“Did you have something to say?” she asked, with a slight lift of her chin. Her gaze did not tremble, nor had she looked away from his eyes at all since she had turned, her stare direct and challenging.  He liked that. He could have said to her that he’d seen her looking at him during the council talk. He did not. Words weren’t the point, he well knew. And so: she stared at him, unyielding, as he grinned at her.

Until he grabbed her shoulders and kissed her full lips. She hadn’t expected it, but responded, her tongue sliding into his mouth, her hands reaching around his back, clawing him through his tunic. He slid his hands under her rump and pressed her crotch against his, his member stiffening. She gave a gasp; he began to lean forward, to bear her down to earth.

Then just before they fell he snapped his head back, cursing. She’d bit his lip, and the inside was bleeding. He turned his head, without letting go of her, and spat on the earth.  “Don’t assume,” she whispered. “They’ll be calling for you soon.”

“Let them wait,” he growled, and fell to earth with her in his arms. Her laugh had no pleasure in it — was in fact mocking — but at that moment he did not wonder why.


“I’d still like to see the library they found,” said Hochelaga.

She was walking with Tilde southward, holding her hand. After Atrahasis had asked Hochelaga to teach him, it’d been simple for everyone to make a decision about what to do. A party would go exploring, seeking the Fell Gard Codices. Amanos wanted to lead them, so Gryselde decided to stay behind. Enheduanna was eager to see what else was in the dungeon, and William was pleased to go with her, but the other explorers from yesterday wanted to rest, it seemed. Anyway Gral had the same training with locks and traps that Ulixa had, and Mew had said he was just as much a prophet as Ulric and had the power to heal as well. Geoffrey had insisted on going, and taking his cobold with him. Gryselde had refused to allow Hochelaga (or Kate) to accompany the seekers, instead asking Tilde to go with the group to interpret what magic they might find.

“It really is better for the rest of you to stay together while we’re gone,” said Tilde. “Then, when we come back, you and I and anyone else who wants to see the library can go with a guard, and there’ll still be enough fighting folk here to keep watch on the stairs.”

“Oh, I know all that,” said Hochelaga. She sighed. “I just want to see the library.”

“I don’t think we’ll be that long,” said Tilde.

“You’re supposed to help me teach Atrahasis and Diccon,” Hochelaga reminded her. “What if,” she went on, and then stopped, because she didn’t want to say it.

Tilde smiled, and for a moment Hochelaga thought she’d misunderstood. “Why, then you’ll have to teach them yourself,” said the older woman. “However, I don’t think I’m so feeble that a little jaunt on the twentieth court will pose much danger.”

“How many … how many charms do you have in your head?” asked Hochelaga.

“One,” said Tilde cheerfully. “But it’s a good one!”

Hochelaga leaned in toward her. “I was hoping I could manage two,” she said in a whisper. “I had two in my head before, when Ahuntsic gave them to me. But I can’t, now. Maybe I haven’t been caught up, the way Gamelyn said.”

“That would be lucky for you,” said Tilde. She sighed, and looked off far away. For a moment her face seemed to slip, and the funny, happy, pudgy woman was suddenly something other, almost frightening. Hochelaga realised that Tilde had seen an awful lot of things in her time, and was very sad in a way that Hochelaga could hardly understand. Then the moment passed, and Tilde gave a little laugh, and drank some wine, and waggled her eyebrows, and she was back to normal.

They entered the southernmost of the forest rooms, and Tilde waved to William, Enheduanna, and Amanos, who were near the eastern hall. William hailed them in return. He wore his gambeson and greaves, and bore both his harp and shield on his back. The longbow Enheduanna had been using was in his hand; the elf, for her part, seemed to have borrowed Kezia’s bow.

“Ready, then?” asked William.

“Where’s everyone else?” asked Tilde in response. Hochelaga looked around. Most of the band was in that room. William nodded to Mew, who was talking to Elous; Elous didn’t seem interested in whatever he was saying. The cobold was standing alone, in the shadow of a tree.

“Don’t know where Geoffrey’s got to,” said William.  Enheduanna tilted her head, then looked away at nothing.

“I’m sure he’ll be along in a moment,” she said. “Have we decided where we’re going?”

“I was hoping to see for myself this magic pool that the rest of you mentioned,” said Tilde. “Tricky things, magic pools, and you never really know with them.”

“Amanos wants to head directly eastward from here,” said William. “She hopes to find out what’s nearby in that direction, and perhaps work our way back to the areas we know from before. That would lead us to the pool. Also I think Geoffrey said something about wanting to return to his old lair, to recover some treasure. That was yet further on to the east and north. Our course seems clear, all in all.”

Tilde nodded. She wandered over to the cobold, and the rest of them watched her speak with him a moment in the underground tongue; asking questions, Hochelaga realised. After a moment Tilde nodded to the cobold, and returned to them, deep in thought. “Hmm,” she murmured, “hmm hmm hmm.”

“What is it?” asked Hochelaga.

“He doesn’t know where Geoffrey is either,” said Tilde. “But I also asked if he would be all right when we came again to his old home, and all his people lying dead.”

“What did he say to that?” asked William.

“He said he’d do as his master told him,” said Tilde, “but I think the truth is he doesn’t know.”

“Why did you ask?” said Enheduanna. “He’s goblinkin.”

Tilde shrugged. “Yes, but what does that mean?” she said.

Enheduanna sighed. “You will see,” she said, sadly.


Mew was chatting with one of the women native to the upper courts, Elous, when Geoffrey finally showed up. Elous was quiet, but that was good. Her being quiet meant he could be funny and self-mocking and bitter. People didn’t seem to take his bitterness seriously, but that just meant he could play it up further. It was all a kind of role, he guessed, but everybody played a role of one kind or another. Anyway, he knew he could be funny, and he always figured that was his best hope in getting women. Elous was pretty enough, in a general way, with stringy brown hair and a snub nose. She seemed to listen to him, too. He liked that. So when the big man deigned to join them he didn’t leave her right away, but went on talking about the things he’d seen down on the seventeenth and sixteenth courts.

But then Tilde began calling him, and so he gave a big sigh. “Well,” he said to Elous, “I suppose I have to go. But I’ll be back. Trust me!” He threw her a big smile. She nodded, but didn’t follow when he went to join the group at the door. Don’t worry, he told himself. Slow and steady. It’s all about how you show yourself off to them. He knew he could make himself look a better person than he really was.

He just wished everybody, starting with himself, would get out of the habit of calling him Mew. It wasn’t a hero’s name. Not that he was a hero, but he wanted people to be able to think of him like one.

Gryselde bade them farewell; Mew didn’t really pay attention, thinking about Elous, or at least about what was between her legs. Then Kezia prayed over them, and they went through the door to the east.

There were bugs on the other side, grim shadowy beetles that scuttled about, racing away from the sudden light. But thanks to the vala’s song, the bugs left them alone. They hurried through the room, Enheduanna, then Geoffrey and his cobold, then Mew was beside Amanos in her full armour, then Tilde behind them pushing a hovering lanthorn and William beside her, and finally the dwarf was a few feet to the rear. Mew was wearing his battered suit of mail, which he detested since it was so blessed heavy. At least he’d been able to heal his arm. Or Reike had healed his arm when he’d asked it, which came out to the same thing, he figured.

There was only one way out of the room, a door on the far wall. Some sort of leather-scale armour was in a sharp-angled corner. It looked wearable, but they wanted to be past  the bugs before the vala’s grace wore off. They reached the door, the dwarf looked it over and nodded, and they went through, into a hallway leading north and south.

“That was an entry chamber,” muttered William. “Those of us who were caught by Fell Gard woke up in chambers with that shape. There’s someone else nearby. Or was.”

Geoffrey grunted. “There’s a light to the south,” he said. “Some kind of torch, maybe?”

“There’s a door on the east wall, about ten yards to the south,” said the elf-woman, peering through the gloom. “Then the passage opens out into a room about another ten yards after that. To the north the hall runs straight as far as I can see.” The elf was beautiful, but Mew knew when a woman was beyond his reach. Besides, he knew she was with William, though how the singer had managed that Mew could not see.

The knight said something. “The room to the south,” William translated. Enheduanna nodded, and set off.

The group was an odd mix, thought Mew, as the rest of them followed the elf. He didn’t like the fact that they spoke so many different languages. But what could you do? Politics. As far as he could tell, Amanos, Geoffrey, the dwarf, and the cobold were together against the nun. The singer and the elf, on the other hand, were of the nun’s party. That left him and Tilde. Were they supposed to provide some sort of balance? Not likely. If it came down to it, he knew there was strength in numbers.

Besides, he didn’t like the orders the nun had given them. She didn’t want them to kill anything if they could avoid it. Always try talking first, she’d said. Tilde agreed with that, but she was an idiot. As far as Mew was concerned, you hit first, and if they didn’t die you ran. In fact, most of the time it was better to run first. You couldn’t trust the things you found in the dungeon.

Ahead of him, the elf had stopped. “Hello,” she said.

“Welcome to the Temple of the Mystery,” said a man’s voice.

They entered the room, which Mew figured to be fifty feet by forty; they were at the north-west of the room, and the only other exit was a hall in the far corner that ran along to the east. There were skulls, small inhuman things with fangs, set in niches here and there and wreathed in white and green flames. A man stood before them in worn linen robes. “If this is a temple, where’s your altar?” Mew blurted out. Enheduanna gave him a look.

But the man before them only bowed his head, then spread out his arms. He was middle-aged, Mew thought, tall and slim, with sparse grey hair. “As you see,” he said. “The Mystery is all about us.”

“We are explorers in this dungeon,” said William cautiously. “We are trying to make of this place a home. My name is William of the Long Road.”

“I am Warin of the Final Mystery,” said the other man.

“What mystery is it you pray to, priest?” asked Geoffrey. “Oak and Holly?”

“Not them, but what is beyond them,” said Warin. “The final mystery is what lies beyond death.”

“You die, and your soul is taken by the gods to join their hosts,” said Geoffrey.

William murmured something to Amanos. “So we have been taught,” said Warin. “I have seen otherwise.”

“We are founding a House,” said Enheduanna. “In the forest rooms.”

“I have eaten the fruits there,” said Warin. “No doubt I will again, in time.”

“You are welcome, of course,” William told him. He seemed off-balance, and Mew could well understand it; how was one to read this situation? Who was Warin, really, and what did he want?

This was why Mew thought attacking and running away were usually better ideas than trying to engage with creatures you met.

“This looks a very barren life,” said Tilde, who was wandering through the room. She reached out toward a skull, then drew her hand back. “Are you lonely, at all?”

Warin laughed gently. “I left my old life behind to wander in the White Mountains,” he told her. “I have been a hermit … well, it had been many years. No, I am not lonely. I have found a place, here, you see.”

“You have no fear of … creatures, other wanderers?” asked William. “This is Fell Gard. Have you heard of it?”

“I know,” said Warin. “I know all about it. No, I have no fear, for all that a war has begun.”

“What?” asked Mew.

“What war’s that?” asked Tilde softly.

Warin shook his head, troubled. “A war of death against death,” he said. “Of shadow against shadow.” He pointed to Mew, looking, Mew thought, oddly drunk. “His father died in one of the first skirmishes.”

Mew felt strange, like hot and cold were racing up and down his flesh. He knew the feeling, which he associated with his father and the old man’s blathering about Reike. He hated it. “Wait,” he said anyway. “What do you know about my father?”

“Why,” said Warin, “we have taken up his body to the High Crypt. I have duties there now; do you wish to see it?”


Ulric sat in his robe, meditating and trying to see.

He remembered the flash that had come to him when first he’d donned the robe; he had seen the goblins upon the stairs, the peril impending. Since then, nothing else.

Though it was true that he could see with his mortal eyes more clearly than before. He took up a clod of clay, like that which had shown the virgin Thel a world of horror. He threw it, and his eye guided his hand so that it struck right in the heart of the tree-knot he aimed at.

Yes, my sight is sharper, he thought, but of what use is it, if I have not seen a company of the heavenly host crying “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty,” as did William of the Name Blake?

He heard a voice cry out: Kate, who was on the stairs with Kwangrolar and Gryselde. The glumm flew into the forest chamber a moment later: “Mortals on the stairs!” he cried out. “They come to us!”

Ulric rose. He went, among a crowd, out to the marble stairs. Three figures were staggering up to the waiting Gryselde. A mortal man in a quilted gambeson, with pipes in his hand; a woman in plated mail; and a cervidwen, whose antlers had been carved with some sort of runes. “Well, they are coming after us,” the mortal man was saying to the sorine. He was an older man, in ragged robes over his padded armour-shirt, with long grey hair and a long patriarchal beard, and as the procession from the forest chamber approached he turned to them. “There are demons, or bad angels,” said the man. “Get away from here. Run!”

Keturah had stayed when Entemena had left, to speak with Kezia; the vala had come out to the stairs, and so had Keturah. Now she went to the railing at the top of the stairs. “I see them,” said Keturah. She loosed an arrow, and another, as Ulric and many others came forward to protect the new arrivals, and positioned themselves upon the stairs. The old man watched, surprised. Ulric looked down, but could see only black smoke rising.

“Grimblers,” muttered Gryselde. “Hold them here! Keep them from the others!” Ulric looked again; and realised the smoke was divided among four shadowy forms. It was a demon like these that the others fought while I was blind, he realised. Well, now there were four of the things, but against them there stood him, Keturah, Kezia, Gryselde, Gamelyn, Aura, Hochelaga and Concordia, Ulixa, even Kate — surely enough.

Then the demons let smoke loose upon them, and he was no longer sure.

In the haze he could see nothing, only hear the shouts around him as his companions attacked darting shadows in the fog. There was a flash of colourful light; Gamelyn had cast a spell, but it did nothing so far as Ulric could tell. Then Ulric thought he saw a demon in the smoke himself, but when he swung his mace there was nothing there.

A breeze came; the smoke parted. Aura had called the wind. But one of the demons struck her, with long distorted fingers like claws made of ash and cloud. The sylph cried out. The smoke closed in again. There was a yowl from Concordia Salus, and a shriek from Hochelaga. They are not trying to pass us by, thought Ulric. They know none of us can see them. None of us are any threat to them. They will kill us all, at their leisure.

And then he thought: No, that is not the truth of things. I have the Robe of Vision. And I will share what vision it grants me, for that is my burden, that is what a prophet must do to be worthy of the name.

He felt the power, in the robe, in himself, in Urthona the creative imagination. What must I do to draw upon it? Only see. Only let myself see. Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Open the doors of perception. The Eye sees more than the Heart knows!

(For a moment he trembled upon the brink: what was seen could not be unseen: not all changes could be undone. If he saw as the holy William of the Name Blake, then he would no longer see as other men did. He would see more, and more truly; but what would be the cost?)

(And then he thought: He who sees the Infinite in all things sees God. And affirmed the faculty of vision.)

He felt a wrenching within himself, as though some inner set of eyelids was torn open. He knew: the demons before him had no voice nor vision; they were emblems of materialism and law; they were the energies of repression. He could see farther than they.

“See!” he cried. “All of you, see!” And he willed the grace of the robe, the true sight that was in it, to be shared by all those around him, all who were standing against these demons.

And so it was, and he knew it well; they all could see through the obscuring clouds. He seemed for a moment to watch them watching, and acting on their newfound vision: Ulixa stabbing with her knife, Keturah with her sword. Kate biting one of the demons, and breathing out its bitter smoke. Concordia Salus stabbing with her horn — but being herself struck and cast to earth, and Hochelaga gasping and falling unconscious. Gryselde piercing one of the demons with her halberd so that it died, vanishing in a cloud of black smoke which sank down into the Abyss. Ah, and there the new folk were fighting alongside them, but the piper had been struck by one of the grimblers — and then Ulric himself felt terrible claws tear at him, and he blinked in pain, and the moment was past.

And yet he understood, he saw within himself: he was still and truly a prophet, as he had been named.

He stumbled away from the demon.“Everyone!” he cried. “All of you! Down the hall! Back to the forest! I will hold them! Go!” Aura collapsed to earth. He picked her up and gave her to Gryselde to hold; “Go!” he cried again. Gamelyn, bleeding terribly, took up Hochelaga, and Ulixa the cat. They went. Ulric trailed behind, hobbling from the old wound; then, when they were all well ahead of him, he turned.

The demons’ smoke was all about him. He stood alone in the hallway. Three shapes floated toward him.

“No,” he said to them.

He called upon all the might of Urthona, the creative imagination of the soul; he touched the broken manacles on his wrists; and he held up his shield, that showed the spirit of the Power called Milton descending to the holy William of the Name Blake.

(Beside him was the woman who had come from the stairs, her sword before her. And someone was behind him, too, he did not know who; it did not matter.)

The demons stopped, facing him, and could come no further in the face of his terrible inspiration.

He struck the first of them, and killed it. The woman beside him wounded another with her sword. And then, from behind them, came leaping that other form: and it was the youth Paradox, crying “Begone, fiends!” and when he touched one of the grimblers it wailed in a high keening cry of pain, and pure white flame burst where Paradox gripped it.

The demons turned, and the three of them slew the grimblers as they fled.

The smoke cleared. Paradox dropped to his knees, shaken.

“How did you … do that?” asked the woman.

“He doesn’t know,” murmured Ulric. “He doesn’t remember. Do you?”

“It is a mystery,” the boy whispered.

Some steps away, the old piper sighed: “Ah, Mystery, the Virgin Harlot, Mother of War,” he said. Ulric whirled to face him.

“Do you say so, sir!” he cried.

“I do,” said the piper, smiling. “And do the words have meaning for you?”

“Yes!” said Ulric. “For they are words written by the holy William of the Name Blake, in his epic called Milton. We must speak, you and I; but first, I must heal my friends.”

Oh, there was much healing work before him. But he knew all would be well, that he had health enough within his touch, at least for these wounds.

Was he not a prophet?


Previous Chapter | Archives | Next Chapter

2 Responses to “Part 3, Chapter 3: Mystery, Vision, and the Infinite in All Things”

  1. Perfidius the Rogue

    This is getting seriously kick-ass. Milton and Blake versus hell.. you have a mind like a rapier, man, and every subplot is like ice-water on a hot day; refreshing and invigorating. 😀 Keep going!

  2. Matthew

    Thank you very much!

Proudly powered by WordPress. Theme developed with WordPress Theme Generator.
Copyright © The Fell Gard Codices. All rights reserved.