Isles of the Forsaken

Free Isles of the Forsaken by Carolyn Ives Gilman

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Authors: Carolyn Ives Gilman
wondered at that. Who would choose pain and slavery?
    “It was very foolish of me,” Goran said. “But I never thought I would have to leave them. I never thought you would want to . . . protect me.” There was a momentary note of irony in his tone, gone so swiftly Joffrey could not tell if it had truly been there.
    “We did not wish you to be the victim of the first misguided demagogue who fancies himself leader of all the isles,” Joffrey said.
    Goran put down his cup. For an instant, a steely firmness glanced from his light eyes. “You did not need to worry. I do not grant dhota-nur merely to raise one leader or another to power. I grant it only if the balances are in danger, the cause is justified, and the leader is of the stature to restore harmony to the world.”
    In spite of himself, Joffrey felt a twinge of awe. And that, he told himself firmly, was where this man’s political power originated. The leader to whom he gave dhota-nur attained a sanction that was nearly divine. “Yet your father gave dhota-nur for a hopeless and foolish cause,” he said, “trying to prevent the Innings from governing the Forsakens.”
    “It was hopeless, I grant that. Perhaps foolish as well. Dhota-nur does not prevent foolishness, or it would prevent heroism as well. But if the Torna had not sided with the Innings, there would have been no invasion.”
    “If your kind hadn’t stirred up the Adaina, there would have been no resistance,” Joffrey said stiffly.
    Goran shook his head as if the argument were not to his taste. “I cannot defend my father’s choice, or condemn it either. I was only a child when Orin’s War ended. They say I was captured at Sandhaven; I do not remember that. I do remember what happened after I was in the Innings’ power. I was imprisoned for six months until the last of the Inner Chain surrendered. And then I was held for fifteen years. Here, in the palace at Tornabay. When I was twenty-four years old they told me to go and lose myself in the islands, and forget who I was. I obeyed them; I always have. But it seems I did not flee far enough. I forgot who I was, but others remembered for me.”
    “The Inning authority has known all along where you were. We traced you even when you fled to that flyspeck island in the South Chain.”
    “Yora,” Goran said distantly.
    “That’s right.”
    “The eye of Tiarch sees far,” Goran said.
    “Factor Goran—” Joffrey started; but the old man held up a callused hand.
    “Why do you call me Factor?” he asked. “I have never owned Inning property. If you must give me a title, then give me the right one.”
    “Onan?” Joffrey said stiffly. “That title has been abolished.”
    “I have not earned it anyway, not until I give dhota-nur. If I am simply a citizen, call me Goran. Or better yet, give me my real name, Goth Batra.”
    It made Joffrey uneasy to hear him speak of dhota-nur as if there were still a chance he might give it, since that was what he had been brought here to prevent. “I hope that you may be the first Heir of Gilgen in many centuries to avoid the curse of dhota-nur.”
    “At any rate, I will be the last.” To Joffrey’s cautious look, Goran said, “I have no children. I long ago decided I could not inflict on another human being the life of persecution I have led.”
    “So you intend your line to perish, after all these centuries?”
    Joffrey watched him closely, wondering what was going on in his involuted Lashnura mind. At last the old man said, “There is a tradition that someday the Lashnura burden will be transferred to other shoulders. When that day comes, we will have paid our debt and at last we will be free.”
    He paused so long that Joffrey asked, “You think that day is coming?”
    “I cannot tell,” Goran shook his head. “After all, we have been hoping for six centuries now.”
    By the time the guards arrived to escort the prisoner up to the palace, Joffrey was relieved to relinquish charge of his

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