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Ghost Drum: Book 1 of The Ghost World Sequence by Susan Price

Ghost Drum: Book 1 of The Ghost World Sequence by Susan Price

Author:Susan Price [Price, Susan]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Susan Price
Published: 2011-06-19T04:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER SEVEN

THE SOLDIERS IN THE FOREST

Round the tree goes the cat on the golden chain, telling its story.

Of course Safa Czarevich is not in a grave, says the cat. He has been taken as an apprentice by the witch, Chingis: and it is of them that I shall tell now.

-*-

To Safa, the variety and beauty of the world was shocking; and the shock never ended.

He had spent his life in a dark, small room in a silent palace. Five steps had always brought him against a wall. Now space glowed and spread about and above him, offering distances that could never be paced out. He felt the dust-motes at his finger-tips tingle in companionship with dust-motes that flew - how far? - above his head, buzzing in clouds.

The recklessness of the unwalled space about him dizzied him each time he lifted his head.

He had thought Marien unendingly different and absorbing in her moods and expressions. Add Chingis, and all her moods, all her knowledge, all her changeability - and surely that was enough? But no: there were scores of women, more than could be counted or remembered, and they all had different faces, different voices, changing moods, changing thoughts. How could so much difference be? Not all men were soldiers, or even Palace servants.

Not all people were men or women. Some were children, boys and girls, the same, and yet different from the larger animal, and all different from one another. He could not bear to think of it all for long at a time. It exhausted him.

He had been told of forests by Marien, and had imagined them as forests of twining embroidery and glittering sequins. To the eyes of someone bored with real, dusty, dirty, living forests, these frail growths of silk and tinsel might seem pretty and charming - but to Safa the weight, the mass, the smell, the living, upward growth of the real trees overwhelmed all thought and filled him with delight. All the different trees, covering the land for such grand unknowable distances, heaping the ground with centuries of fallen leaves and branches.

The real, the ordinary, outdid all imagination.

Not one kind of flower, but many, many flowers; nor one kind of fish nor one kind of bird - and a fish and bird so wonderfully different that a fish was never mistaken for a bird nor a bird for a fish, though some fish flew and some birds swam!

Difference, difference in everything. The light changed from morning, to afternoon, to evening; and even from minute to minute as clouds passed over the sun. The darkness of the open air was different from the darkness he had lived his life in, and it was a darkness that changed as often as light.

The air changed its touch against his face, the scents it carried to his nose, the sounds it brought to his ear. The sound of an axe was different if heard at evening or mid-day; and different if it was distant or close by.

He was a poor apprentice.



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