Authors: L.E. Modesitt Jr.
The Towers Of the Sunset
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Copyright © 1992
For Eva, and Susan, for yet unforgotten memories, and the lessons I should have learned, and still have not.
CAN YOU SEE how the pieces fit together? Not just the visible ones, like the towers of the sunset, but those unseen, like the heart of a man or the soul of a wizard.
Not that you will believe. Patterns work that way, for each individual is captured by her patterns, even as she must reconcile them.
The lady named Megaera, if indeed merely that, sees all the patterns, yet for all she sees and says, for all the truth in the Legend, logic and the towers fail. Logic indeed is a frail structure to hold a reality that must encompass both order and chaos, especially when Black supports order and White is the sign of chaos.
Even logic must fall to understanding, to those who can laugh at their chains and shatter chaos and upend order, even more so than the so-called gods and those who call upon them. Or the Furies that followed the fallen angels of Heaven.
Has there been a god in Candar? Did the angels in truth fall upon the Roof of the World? How true is the Legend? The patterns supply no answers, but any story must start somewhere, even if its beginning seems like the ending of another tale, or the middle of a third epic. And patterns never tell the entire story, the order-masters and the chaos-masters notwithstanding.
As for the towers of the sunset…
Though the musician has seen them-the towers of the sunset-rearing above the needle peaks of the west, who has dwelt there?
Another look and they are no more, just towering cumuli-nimbi, strafing the foothills with the lashes of the gods. In the gold light of morning, the rivulets of ice would verify the anger of… ?
What does a house tell of its builder? A sword of its owner? Or of those who stop to admire the lines of each?
The musician smiles briefly. That is all he can do. That, and bring to music what his eyes have seen, for he will sing to the Marshall of Westwind, ruler of the Roof of the World, about the towers of the sunset.
Who else looks at the towers of the sunset? Who built them? The angels of Heaven? The musician knows no answers except those of his music, and of his heart, which lies colder than the strings of the guitar he bears with him.
Suffice it to say that the castle is called Westwind… founded by a long-dead captain: Ryba, from the swift ships of Heaven.
Her many-time daughter’s son-but that is the story to come.
“REMOVE WESTWIND’s CONTROL of the Westhorns, and Sarronnyn and Suthya will fall like overripe apples.”
“If I recall correctly, that kind of thinking cost the prefect of Gallos most of his army.”
“Light! We’re not talking about arms.” The skeletal man in white jabs a finger skyward, the mouth in his young face smiling. “We are talking about love.”
“What does love have to do with removing Westwind?”
“I have sent Werlynn to Westwind. Do you not like the sound of that? Werlynn to Westwind?”
“But… how? Werlynn never comes here; his music ruins the work of the White brethren. What-”
“That’s the beauty of it. One little charm… to ensure that he will bring the
Marshall a son… first. And the charm was even order-based.”
“You’ve never liked Werlynn, have you? Ever since-”
“That’s not the question. The question is the
Marshall. Just think-think-she is a woman. She won’t kill her firstborn, male or not, Legend or not.”
“You seem certain of that. But she has no children, nor even a consort.”
“Werlynn will see to that.”
“Even if he does, that’s a long time from now.”
“We have time. The road is still not through the East-horns.”
The other man shakes his head, but does not speak further.
THE GUITARIST STRUMS an ordered cadence, almost a march, so precise are the notes, so clear are the tones. He does not sing.
A single look, underlined with a brief flare of light from the middle stone seat, the one upholstered with the black cushion, stops the guitarist. He nods toward the woman. “Your pardon, grace.” His voice is as musical as the strings he plays, evoking a sense of dusky summer that has yet to come to Westwind, even in the centuries since its construction.
“Perhaps you should consider a trip to Hydolar, or even to
“Perhaps I should, if that is your wish.” His eyes darken as he looks toward the boy.
In turn, the silver-haired toddler hanging on to the stone arm of the chair bearing the green cushion glances from the silver-haired guitarist to the black-haired woman, and back again.
“Play another song of summer,” she orders.
“As you wish.”
As the notes cascade from the strings of the guitar, an unseen fire lifts the chill from the stone walls of the room, and even the guitarist’s breath no longer smokes in the dim afternoon of the Westhorns’ endless winter.
The toddler sees the notes as they climb from the strings into the air, lets go of the stone support and clutches at a single fragment as it passes beyond his grasp.
Neither the woman nor the guitarist remark upon his sudden drop to the gray granite beside the chair he has released. Nor do they notice the glimmer of gold he clutches within his pink fingers and how he turns to seek the light it bears.
Nor do they see the wetness in his eyes when the gold dissipates from within his grasp even as he watches.
His jaw set, the chubby-legged child struggles upright until he stands next to the chair that is his, his hands reaching out once more toward the order behind the sounds he sees and hears.
But the song of summer has come to an end, with tears unshed in the eyes of the guitarist.
Beyond the gray granite walls, the wind howls and… again… the snow falls.