Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

Categories Navigation Menu

– 6 –

– 6 –

“Someone’s been talking to the House of Dreams,” Saul says, judiciously. He looks at what is coming.

The battle platforms are floating in the air. They are a stately and awful procession and there are spheres of unknown import orbiting them as they come. There are men on deck in the black uniforms of the Agency, and no few from their cousin Agencies in the EU; and even the Mayor, who doesn’t want to be there, looking firm and chin-up and martial but entirely out of place. There are ninjas, and summoners, and wolf-track killers among them; there is Paul, in his useless yellow hat, and there is Morgan, and there is Max.

The guns of the anti-wolf assault force are charging.

It’s bad to use human souls as ammunition. I’m just saying.

It’s terrible to overclock a hat.

It’s bad to trap the honeyed, floating dreams of children and use them to lift up a battle fleet; at least, if that battle fleet is meant to kill a wolf. Those children wouldn’t like that! They’d want to kill that wolf themselves!

It is worst of all, Saul thinks, when he sees it, to build the corpse of Skoll, with its eyes still burning, into the central warship of your fleet.

There is darkness all around it.

It is drinking down the sun.

Then, just before the human-soul guns fire, the skull of Skoll lifts up its bony jaw and ignites the world around the three of them with fire.

It is terrifying; it is awful; and it is completely and utterly irrelevant.

The wolf is smiling as it comes. The wolf blurs forward and the flames wash pointlessly against its fur. The wolf has caught the skull of its brother; the wolf is wrestling it this way and that, and then with a happy yelp it goes tumbling, wrestling with the lead warship, back and forth, across the ruins of an old covered market.

There was an opportunity to kill the wolf with this kind of thing earlier, when it was weak and wounded.

That time is past.

And Edmund is yelling something, something frightened; Fenris can’t make out the words.

And the speakers of the ships are booming out demands.

And Fenris tilts its head for a moment. It listens. You must kill them! You must surrender! You must stop! You must fight! Eat them! Don’t eat them!

Be good!

Be bad!

The voices of Vaenwode and Jordis; Nordri and Saul; Mr. Gulley; Eldri, Brygmir, Aubrid, Hans; Edmund and the Agency’s chief —

Fenris shakes them aside.

The wolf stands up, delicately, on the tumbled battleship.

“You have to stand down,” the Mayor is shouting, and the soldiers are pelting Fenris Wolf with souls.

“I don’t have to do anything,” smiles the wolf.

It leans back its head.

It gives forth a sound.

It is like a howl, but not it is not a howl.

It is like the wind, but it is not the wind.

The sun shivers at that sound. It cracks. It drips. It bleeds.

The earth rolls, twists, shudders, splits.

There are many of those who have come for Fenris Wolf who hear that sound and lose their reason. It is outside their conceptions. It cuts through the theater of their senses and the theater of their thoughts: it imposes itself directly upon them as reality and it mazes up their thoughts, and they chase those thoughts down alley after twisting alley into the grip of a wolf-wroth. They foam at the mouth. They turn on their allies and their comrades in an ulfserk fury. A great number of them rip and tear at their own or others’ flesh.

The rest —

They tumble over. They are wolfed into sleep; shuddered into it; broken down from the towers of their consciousness and sent off into a phantasmagorium of dream.

They fall.

The wolf walks among them. It leans and stands and walks upon the crumbled walls.

Where it goes the streets are dark and the street lamps seeping.

Where it goes the cars crunch down and the earth bleeds red.

It picks at the sleeping soldiers. It noses over the civilians in their ranks. It opens the shells of their machines and armor like they are lobsters, and then it begins to eat.

Not all of them. By no means all of them.

It eats only the great and the good.

When it is done it coughs. It rolls its head. It stretches. It is larger. It is stronger. It is shining, now, it is beautiful; to look upon it now is to fall in love. It gleams like some moon-beast. It shakes out fur grown soft and silken as the finest sheets.

It looks back at Edmund and Saul and its eyes are glowing.

“Fetch,” it says.

Edmund stares up at it hollowly.

“I want to play fetch,” says the wolf. “I am lonely. Not since Hans have I got to have done.”

It noses a pill-bug shaped sergeant, suggestively, but Edmund doesn’t pick the sergeant up and throw him.

He doesn’t play fetch with Fenris at all!

He just takes off his hat. He gives a pained smile. He leaves it there, in the rubble. And he walks away.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *