Wednesday, 7 September 2011

"Something Real. Something Wrong."

Älvalek, or Dancing Elves, by August Malmström (1866) - via Berig at Wikimedia Commons - public domain
Älvalek, or Dancing Elves, by August Malmström (1866). Via Berig at Wikimedia Commons - public domain.

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland completes its 24th chapter, of the 27 and epilogue now projected. This section looks at the shadow cast in Allingdale by the Battle of Carrowglaze and all that attended it. Even for her friends and family and partisans, What Katy Did shows in a far more alarming light from this vantage. And this has not been our heroes' chapter. It has belonged to the more sympathetic of their enemies.

The Young Duke is always slipping into and out of my grasp as I write him, because his character seems at once so recognizable and so alien to my own. His new guest, the Vestal Abbess, is quite a new thing in this telling. She is profoundly opposed to most of the things Katy Elflocks or I hold dear. Cold, ascetic, single-heartedly devoted to divine Authorities who appear considerably less decent than herself, and unshakeably convinced that faerie and all enchanting arts are both sinful and horribly dangerous, she is not a very obvious person for me to like.

And yet withal she is strong courage, frank charity, hard wisdom, and a very dry and humane humour, all in one compact and embarrassingly puffin-like package. She is what I and my heroes must have now, if we are going to make it to the right true end of this tale: somebody who can set herself against our ways for reasons proper neither to knave, naïf, or noddy.

Her thinking is as hierarchical as a ziggurat. Her religious insight is a nightmare. Her politics is a paralysis. Her sacred hearth sheds as pallid a light on its world as ever gleamed off cold marble. She can’t solve any of the master-problems of the Bonfire Arc, either.

And yet my darling anarch Katy and I have got such terrible things so wrong, that the old cultist gets plumb right! We never dreamed, when we set out, how a wild a wind we were going to set blowing. Still and all, we must follow it now to the last storm's breaking.

Soror Ursula, ora pro nobis!

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