Welcome back to The Temporal Void reread, part the sixth! This week we’ll be returning to Makkathran with Inigo’s Twelfth Dream, and discovering exactly what the secret of the Void is…
Inigo’s Twelfth Dream
We re-join events in Makkathran on Election Day, a day that Finitan and Edeard have worked towards for a long time. Dinlay sums up the huge turnout very well:
“You've finally got people stirred up about the city's leadership. Before, it never really made any difference which candidate you voted for. Nothing was different afterward.”
Edeard is now the chief of Jeavon’s station, and his appointment didn’t receive any objection from the Mayor, thankfully. Edeard and the Master of clerks check the boxes to ensure there has been no tampering, and then the voting opens!
As the voting continues throughout the day Finitan checks in with Edeard and tells him that indications are good so far. Edeard makes his way to the Culverit mansion to find Kristabel in the midst of paperwork – when he moves in the family must re-arrange living accommodations and it’s down to her to sort this out. They talk about the election:
“Is Finitan going to win?” Kristabel asked softly.
“He must. Nobody in their right mind would vote for Owain. Surely people understand what he was trying to do with the militia.”
She pressed her lips together. “This is Makkathran. Anything can happen.”
Back at Jeavons the Master of clerks tells Edeard that there was an 80% turnout, the highest he’s ever seen.
That evening Edeard, Kanseen and Macsen get together, with Kanseen telling Edeard that it’ll take years to track down all the money that Bise had squirrelled away. Kanseen and Macsen tell Edeard that they are coping, but they have so much to do in the aftermath of the riots and their appointment and district Master and Mistress. They discuss Marcol, the young boy Edeard offered to stay in Makkathran if he will join the constables, and the strength of his power, with Edeard wondering if he is just the first strong psychic to emerge, a sign of things to come if you would. He believes that this could be the start of the path to enlightenment, with Skylords finally returning once people are fulfilled.
They make their way to the Malfit Hall in order to see the votes being tallied. As Edeard talks to Finitan he tells him that he has a small lead, but not as much as he’d hoped for. The first results come in giving Finitan the lead, and one of his representatives in the Ysidro district. As the night progresses and more results come in it becomes clear that Finitan has won the election, but Sampalok is the last to announce its results: one of Finitan’s supporters, and the overall vote goes to him! There’s a new Mayor in town!
Four months later and it’s Edeard and Kristabel’s wedding day, and she’s making him wait at the front of the Lady’s church with the farsight of the city on him. But she does finally show, and they marry and head off for their twenty day honeymoon at the family’s lodge on the coast. In the time since Finitan’s election to Mayor things have been going well in Makkathran, but news of bandits and strange guns in the provinces are becoming more and more common, with more attacks happening where before there was peace - and refugees are starting to head towards Makkathran. When they get back to Makkathran after their honeymoon Edeard and Kristabel now have the top floor of the Culverit mansion to themselves, and enjoy their first evening as a married couple together enjoying life.
Dinlay welcomes Edeard back and has been doing a very good job running the Jeavon’s station while he’s been away. He tells Edeard that empty residences are filling up as more refugees come to the city. Edeard heads to see Finitan at the Orchard Palace, with Topar present too. They fill Edeard in with what they’ve found out: that six main groups of bandits appear to be active, and making their way east through the mountain ranges. However, the targeted villages have a connection to Finitan’s allies, with property being destroyed in each one the bandits visit. They suspect that there is someone in the city passing information to the bandits to damage his allies, but haven’t managed to work out who that is. Topar has a plan though:
“I'm going to take a small group of the best people I know and trust,” Topar said. “We'll have ge-eagles and ge-wolves and the best pistols available. Even so, I could do with some help.”
“Oh, Lady,” Edeard put his cold teacup back on the desk. “When do we leave?”
Edeard finds that city life has made him soft – the journey on the road is not easy, but Dinlay and Macsen are having a much worse time of it – oh dear! The group continues on, with Topar talking to travellers they come across to work out what is happening ahead of them. When they finally see signs of the bandits keeping track of them they start to use caution, concealing themselves under the cover of trees as they travel. As they camp that night they are close, with Topar sending scouts to see if they can spot the lookouts. A ge-eagle spots a fastfox, and Edeard knows that the bandits are close – the fastfox is their preferred animal of choice. When the ge-eagle catches sight of a bandit Edeard recognises the way he is dressed: the same as those that attacked Ashwell. Edeard goes scouting himself, using his strong concealment and control over the fastfoxes to see what is in the area. When he gets back to the camp he tells the group that there are nine bandits, and they have the repeat-fire guns. They decide to go the next night…
As midnight passes the group head out to capture the bandits, but as they proceed he gets that familiar feeling: something is wrong. And the sense of foreboding continues to get stronger. As they enter the area that the bandits are hiding it all hits the fan – three large boulders are sent down towards them – it’s an ambush. And then a familiar voice greets him – the leader from Ashwell.
“The great Waterwalker himself.” Edeard's tormentor laughed.
Despite Edeard surviving the attack, other members of the group are dying, with Macsen the first to go. Edeard lifts a boulder and hurls it towards a group of the bandits on a ledge, throwing all but the last one off, and pinning him under its weight. As the fastfoxes approach he reaches into their brains and turns them to mush, killing them all without a second thought. And then more bandits follow in their wake.
Edeard let them come close, then killed them—pulling them from where they crouched and crawled and snapping their spines. They were discarded one after the other, dropping out of the night to lie broken beside their fastfoxes. He felt nothing: no sorrow, no anger. Nothing.
As he surveys the ruin around him and all his dead friends, he falls to the floor crying. It is Macsen’s soul that stirs him from this, and he asks Edeard if he can see them.
“See who?” He sent out his farsight, thinking some bandits might have survived.
Macsen and Dinlay drifted toward him. “Beside us, Edeard,” Dinlay said. “Try, Edeard; try to see them. They're so weak now, so fragile. But they endure. For you. Dear Lady, they have lasted for over a decade and a half. You'll never know what that costs until you die.”
“Focus, Edeard,” Macsen insisted. “The same way you see us. But go further.”
As he does so he sees two souls standing there, with two faces he recognises: his mother and father. He finds out that it is them that have warned him all those times, that feeling of uneasiness he often got. And then Macsen realises that this was all a trap.
“Who warned them?” Macsen asked. “Who is really behind this? Edeard, the girls! Our wives. What is happening back in Makkathran?”
Edeard approaches the final bandit still living, the leader, and questions him, discovering that Owain is the man behind all of this: One Nation.
“Edeard, what is happening in Makkathran? If Owain is to be emperor, this trap for us can only be a part of his madness.”
“Lady damn it,” Edeard spit. He scurried down the slope and began to run along the gully.
Edeard leaves for Makkathran as quickly as he can on horseback. When he comes across a caravan that has left the city he is told of the chaos there: men with guns on the streets claiming to represent the new Mayor: Owain. Finitan is dead, and Edeard declared an outlaw, though they tell all he is dead. But they help him with fresh horses, and he rides for the city. As he passes more travellers word spreads;
“The Waterwalker is still alive.”
“The Waterwalker is coming back.”
“The Waterwalker will stop this.”
“The Waterwalker is too late.”
Edeard finally reaches the city whose gates are guarded by militia, and Owain himself is there.
“Turn around, Waterwalker. There is nothing left for you here. Turn around. You bring only death, for these fine men will kill you no matter how many of them your strength claims first. You cannot wipe out an entire city of adversaries.”
“It is not your city,” Edeard longshouted back.
“As you wish. May the Lady have mercy on your soul.”
Instead of charging them, he veers off and straight through the walls of the city before sliding down into its tunnels. He emerges at the Culverit mansion, Buate taking the role of District Master. But Kristabel is dead, her soul still there to tell him what happened – that she, her father, and Mirnatha jumped from the top floor rather than be captured.
“Daddy and Mirnatha have gone to the nebulae in search of the Heart, Edeard; they follow the songs. Mommy will be there waiting for them. I stayed. I knew you would come. I had to see you one last time before I go.”
As Edeard talks to them Buate becomes more and more frightened, asking who he is talking to. And Edeard shows him, killing him as his men run.
“You have lost,” Buate said. “This is all you can do now: kill. In doing that, in seizing power back in such a fashion, you become us.”
Salrana is the only one left, Buate revealed that much, and Edeard goes to her. When he enters the church there is chaos, and as they talk they both apologise, making up after what happened. And then, despite Salrana saying she must stay, he takes her below the city to the tunnels and they leave Makkathran. They leave the caves at the end of the tunnels and make their way to a nearby pavilion to take cover and decide what to do. When Salrana asks what they will do – stay and fight? – Edeard tells her that they will leave the city, heading far out to the edge of the provinces and away from all of this.
“People will expect you to do something.”
“Buate was right; all I can do now is kill. That's not the answer.”
Salrana gets Edeard something to eat and tends to his injuries, and he quickly falls asleep. When he awakes it is to news he didn’t expect:
“Salrana,” Kristabel told him brokenly. “She betrayed you.”
Owain’s men are coming up the mountain to him, and when he shows Salrana his friends’ souls and asks if he betrayed her, she doesn’t answer, but his farsight tells him that she has. As they argue and she tells him how pathetic he is Arminel and Owain’s men come through the doors, firing as they go. Edeard’s shield is strong enough, but not Salrana’s, and she dies in a hail of bullets.
“I wish you well,” he told Salrana's soul. “I hope you find peace in the Heart.”
“Edeard?” she said. “Oh, Edeard, what have I done?”
“Go,” he told her. “Find the Heart. I will join you there.”
As Arminel turns to Edeard he crushes the guns with his third hand, and does so to all before leaving them to burn.
He reaches the top of the cliff and is still talking to Kanseen, Dinlay, and his parent. It is here he discovers that his family is that of Finitan’s, and that his parents left the city to live life on their terms rather than an arranged marriage. Despite all that they tell him Edeard knows that he is powerless to do anything further to stop what is going on in the city, that he doesn’t have the strength to do what he would have to: kill so many people. Staring across the Iguru Plans he reaches out to Makkathran to thank it for its help, and he senses a change in its slumbering thoughts – it is waking.
“I felt sorrow,” Makkathran said. “You are in pain. I have not felt pain like that for such a long time.”
It tells him that it is the last of its kind, the failed past, and that none others joined with the Heart, it is not what they are. And it tells him:
“Reach into the Void. Search out where you wish to be and begin again. It is simple. Once you adapt to the Void, it provides you with whatever you want. Every species that ever arrived here was drawn into that evolution. You will be no different, I suspect. There is no harm in that. I wish you well on your journey.”
As Makkathran returns to its slumber Kristabel tells Edeard of what she senses when she looks into the fabric of the Void, and the shows him:
He saw himself stretched out down the slope, a million, a billion, images of himself leading back; they encapsulated every instant of the climb, every step, every breath, every heartbeat, every thought. It was as if he were looking into an infinity mirror. Makkathran was right; his essence had been captured by the Void. Every moment of his existence had been remembered.
Edeard then pushes his senses into the past, finding that time that he needs from a few days ago, pushing harder, and then reality changes around him – and he wakes up to Dinlay hopping around the camp, grasping his foot. He has done it, reset time to a moment in the past, but it is not far enough back.
“Do you remember the first day on the road?” His fingers clicked urgently. “We stopped and made camp just outside that farm. Oh, where was it?”
“Stibbington,” Dinlay grunted.
“That's right. That's the place, and it's in time. Plenty of time. Barely a day's gallop back from there. Macsen, do you remember? You were so saddle-sore, you claimed you couldn't walk.”
“Yeah, me, too.” Edeard reached for the moment—
And there we go – the secret of the Void is revealed. Join me again next time for the last sections of The Temporal Void: Justine Year 4 and Inigo’s Thirteenth Dream!
THE ABYSS BEYOND DREAMS, the first book in a new Commonwealth series, published on 9th October 2014, and you can read an extract here
NIGHT WITHOUT STARS, the gripping sequel to THE ABYSS BEYOND DREAMS, will be published on 22nd September 2016.
Whilst you're waiting, check out the cover reveal post!
You can also catch up on the whole Void Trilogy Reread: