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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Moorcock Michael
 

«The Skrayling Tree: The Albino in America», Michael Moorcock

Prologue

For Jewell Hodges and them Gibsons with great respect

Thanks, too, as always to Linda Steele for her good taste and patience

 

Nine by nine and three by three,

We shall seek the Skraeling Tree.

WHELDRAKE, 'A Border Tragedy"

 

The following statement was pinned to a later part of this manuscript. The editor thought it better placed here, since it purports to be at least a partial explanation of the motives of our mysterious dream travelers. Only the first part of this book is written in a different, rather idiosyncratic hand. The remaining parts of the story are mostly in the handwriting of Count Ulric von Bek. The note in his hand demanding that the manuscript not be published until after his death is authentic.

More than one school of magistic philosophy insists that our world is the creation of human yearning. By the power of our desires alone, we may bring into being whole universes, entire cosmologies, and supernatural pantheons. Many believe we dream ourselves into existence and then dream our own gods and demons, heroes and villains. Each dream, if powerful enough, can produce still another version of reality in the constantly growing organism that is the multiverse. They believe that just as we dream creatively, we also dream destructively. Some of us have the skills and courage to come and go in the dreams of others, even create our own dreams within the host dream. This was the accepted wisdom in Melnibone, where I was born.

In Melnibone we were trained to enter dreams in which we lived whole and very long lives, gaining the experience such realities brought. I had lived over two thousand years before I reached the age of twentyfive. It was a form of longevity I would wish upon only a handful of enemies. We pay a price for a certain kind of wisdom which brings the power to manipulate the elements.

If you were lucky, as I was, you did not remember much of these dreams. You drove them from your mind with ruthless deliberation. But the experience of them remained in your blood, was never lost. It could be called upon in the creation of strong sorcery. Our nature dictates that we forget most of what we dream, but some of the adventures I experienced with my distant relative Count Ulric von Bek enabled me to record a certain history which intertwined with his. What you read now, I shall likely forget soon.

These dreams form a kind of apocrypha to my main myth. In one life I was unaware of my destiny, resisting it, hating it. In another I worked to fulfill that destiny, all too aware of my fate. But only in this dream am I wholly conscious of my destiny. And when I have left the dream, it will fade, becoming little more than a half-remembered whisper, a fleeting image. Only the power will stay with me, come what may.

Elric Sadric's son, last Emperor of Melnibone

Should you ask me, whence these stories?

Whence these legends and traditions,

With the odors of the forest,

With the dew and damp of meadows,

With the curling smoke of wigwams,

With the rushing of great rivers,

With their frequent repetitions

And their wild reverberations,

As of thunder in the mountains?

I should answer, I should tell you,

"From the forests and the prairies,

From the great lakes of the Northland,

From the land of the Ojibways

From the land of the Dacotahs,

From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands

Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,

Feeds among the reeds and rushes.

I repeat them as I heard them

From the lips of Nawadaha,

The musician, the sweet singer."

LONGFELLOW, "The Song of Hiawatha"

THE FIRST BRANCH

OONA'S STORY

Nine Black Giants guard the Skraelings' Tree,

Three to the South and to the East are Three,

Three more the Westward side win shield,

But the North to a White Serpent she will yield;

For he is the dragon who deeply sleeps

Yet wakes upon the hour to weep,

And when he weeps fierce tears of fire,

They form a fateful funeral pyre

And only a singer with lute or lyre,

Shall turn the tide of his dark desire.

WHELDRAKE, "The Skraeling Tree"

CHAPTER ONE

The House on the Island

Hearing I ask from the Holy Races,

Prom Heimdall's sons, coin high ana low;

Thou wilt know, Valfather, now well I relate

Ola tales I remember of men long ago.

I remember yet the giants of yore,

Who gave me bread in me days gone by;

Nine worlds I knew, the nine in the tree

With mighty roots beneath the mold.

THE POETIC EDDA, "The Wise Woman's Prophecy"

I am Oona, the shape-taker, Grafin von Bek, daughter of Oon the Dreamthief and Elric, Sorcerer Emperor of Melnibone. When my husband was kidnapped by Kakatanawa warriors, in pursuit of him I descended into the maelstrom and discovered an impossible America. This is that story.


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