The summer tree - By Guy Gavriel Kay
After the war was over, they bound him under the Mountain. And so that there might be warning if he moved to escape, they crafted then, with magic and with art, the five wardstones, last creation and the finest of Ginserat. One went south across Saeren to Cathal, one over the mountains to Eridu, another remained with Revor and the Dalrei on the Plain. The fourth wardstone Colan carried home, Conary’s son, now High King in Paras Derval.
The last stone was accepted, though in bitterness of heart, by the broken remnant of the lios alfar. Scarcely a quarter of those who had come to war with Ra-Termaine went back to the Shadowland from the parley at the foot of the Mountain. They carried the stone, and the body of their King—most hated by the Dark, for their name was Light.
From that day on, few men could ever claim to have seen the lios, except perhaps as moving shadows at the edge of a wood, when twilight found a farmer or a carter walking home. For a time it was rumoured among the common folk that every sevenyear a messenger would come by unseen ways to hold converse with the High King in Paras Derval, but as the years swept past, such tales dwindled, as they tend to, into the mist of half-remembered history.
Ages went by in a storm of years. Except in houses of learning, even Conary was just a name, and Ra-Termaine, and forgotten, too, was Revor’s Ride through Daniloth on the night of the red sunset. It had become a song for drunken tavern nights, no more true or less than any other such songs, no more bright.
For there were newer deeds to extol, younger heroes to parade through city streets and palace corridors, to be toasted in their turn by village tavern fires. Alliances shifted, fresh wars were fought to salve old wounds, glittering triumphs assuaged past defeats, High King succeeded High King, some by descent and others by brandished sword. And through it all, through the petty wars and the great ones, the strong leaders and weak, the long green years of peace when the roads were safe and the harvest rich, through it all the Mountain slumbered—for the rituals of the wardstones, though all else changed, were preserved. The stones were watched, the naal fires tended, and there never came the terrible warning of Ginserat’s stones turning from blue to red.
And under the great mountain, Rangat Cloud-Shouldered, in the wind-blasted north, a figure writhed in chains, eaten by hate to the edge of madness, but knowing full well that the wardstones would give warning if he stretched his powers to break free.
Still, he could wait, being outside of time, outside of death. He could brood on his revenge and his memories—for he remembered everything. He could turn the names of his enemies over and over in his mind, as once he had played with the blood-clotted necklace of Ra-Termaine in a taloned hand. But above all he could wait: wait as the cycles of men turned like the wheel of stars, as the very stars shifted pattern under the press of years. There would come a time when the watch slackened, when one of the five guardians would falter. Then could he, in darkest secrecy, exert his strength to summon aid, and there would come a day when Rakoth Maugrim would be free in Fionavar.
And a thousand years passed under the sun and stars of the first of all the worlds…
In the spaces of calm almost lost in what followed, the question of why tended to surface. Why them? There was an easy answer that had to do with Ysanne beside her lake, but that didn’t really address the deepest question. Kimberly, white-haired, would say when asked that she could sense a glimmered pattern when she looked back, but one need not be a Seer to use hindsight on the warp and weft of the Tapestry, and Kim, in any event, was a special case.
With only the professional faculties still in session, the quadrangles and shaded paths of the University of Toronto campus would normally have been deserted by the beginning of May, particularly on a Friday evening. That the largest of the open spaces was not, served to vindicate the judgement of the organizers of the Second International Celtic Conference. In adapting their timing to suit certain prominent speakers, the conference administrators had run the risk that a good portion of their potential