Foster Alan Dean - Krull

Author : Foster Alan Dean
Title : Krull
Year : 1983

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Tumbling through galactic space The Glaive bears this message: From the sky will come the Black Fortress. From the Fortress will come the Slayers to devour the planet of Krull. Then shall a girl of ancient name become queen... she shall choose a king... and together they shall rule the planet. And their son shall rule the galaxy. Imbued with a fearsome power The Glaive can be a wondrous weapon. In the hands of the right man, it can save the planet. KRULL The boy pulled the collar of his coat tighter against his neck. lt wâs a damp, chilly moming. The first suggestions of winter reached thin, icy fingers down from the North Country. Soon the land would sleep beneath a thick mantle of white wet down. Nearby the flock cropped methodically at the long grass. They would work their way to the top of the gentle slope, perhaps as far as the large boulder protruding like a giant' s nose from the hillside, before it was dark and time to herd them in. The boy thought hungrily of the steaming stewpot that awaited him back in the village, of the hot tea that could drive out a day's chili as it spread outward in a steadily warming circle from his belly. Life was not easy, his father repeatedly told him, but with a little hard work it might be made bearable. The sheep would provide meat for the coming year, their wool would give warmth, a11d there should be enough of both left over to trade for money in the marketplace. They might even make enough money to travel to his cousîn's hometown of Banbreak, where ~here was much talk of uniting ali the towns and villages in the region to form a kingdom. The boy's father was àll for such unification. A single govemment could provide strength and protection from which ali might prosper. There was too much division and argument among men, especially now, when they ought to join together against a common enemy. The dominant ram let out a nervous baa and the boy stirred bimself. It wouldn't do to be caught daydreaming. Standing atop the little knoll he'd chosen for a resting place, he leaned on his staff and carefully inspected the surrounding terrain. You never could tell what might be lurking out there, crouched Jow among the bushes or in the rustling branches up a tree. He prided himself on his watchfulness. Since the flock bad been entrusted to his care, he'd lost not a single sheep to marauders, no matter whether they approached on four legs or two or eight. The ram let out a second bleat and there were echoes from others in tlie flock. They began to mill together uncertainly, .clustering around the mature rams and ignoring the grass. The boy's fingers tightened on the staff as he tumed a slow circle, trying to pinpoint the source of their unease. He could see .nothing. In the trees ali that moved were wjnd-stirred Ieaves, on the ground nothing but rippling grass and weeds .. As ifto worry him further a stiff breeze suddenly sprang to Iife, bending the taller bushes and rattling the grave) underfoot. Then it occurred to the boy that it bad become pretematurally silent. There. were no bird sounds, no digger barks, not even the buzz of omnipresent insects from the small stream that .flowed nearby. The wind intensified, swirling his cloak around him. It was rapidly growing darker. Storm coming up, he thought. Probably from behind lgnatus Mountain. But that wasn't sufficient to explain the tlock's eerie behavior. They were ali bleating now, crying out anxiously. Still the source of their collective distress remained hidden from sight. No matter. He did not have any more time to hunt for invisible threats. His job now was to get the tlock under cover before the storm broke. Still keeping a wary eye on the nearest clump of cover, which might conceal a lurking predator, he hopped down from his perch and began shooing the sheep back toward the v... illage . They refused to budg'e, clustering so tightly together they threatened to trample the lambs. Now what the devil had got into those fool animais? He tumed his gaze upward, the better to gauge the speed and strength of the approaching storm, and his jaw dropped. The lowing sky was full of dark cumulus, but the largest cloud of ail was not drifting southward with its billowy companions. It was falling steadily earthward. Lights tlickered along its gray black sides and a dull hum came from somewhere within. The wind rose to a shriek as displaced air sought escape. The young shepherd stared, as paralyzed as his sheep. Now he understood the source of the ir frozen panic, knew why ·they clustered helplessly together instead of trying to run to safety. The cloud that wasn't a cloud covered most of the little valley and there was nowhere to run to. Trees snapped and popped like dead twigs as the Fortress of the Beast settled gently to the ground, obliterating anything Jess resistant than granite beneath its great weight. Only one had observed its unannounced arrivai. Gradually the birds resumed their forays from those trees that had been spared. Insects reemerged from their hiding places to restake their claim to the world. ...

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