The first day of September in the 943rd year a.g.l.
I'm writing these words from the patrol hut, which is chilly tonight, since the autumn winds have already started. It is likely, I think, that the snows will begin earlier than expected this year, but the patrol soldiers, having been forewarned by their earlier brush with death, will no doubt take appropriate cautions and retreat from the mountains in time. Of course, I will not be here to witness that.
Carle is here tonight as well; I can just hear his voice rising up in triumph as he wins another Law Link over the others. Their fire is beyond my view from where I sit, but it is comforting to hear their voices, raised in the ancient game of law that will no doubt continue long after all of us here tonight are gone. Even the last link that I heard no longer frightens me, though earlier today it seemed for a while as heavy on me as the chain that binds an unwilling slave.
My first clue to its arrival came this morning, when I received word that Captain Radley wished to speak with me. I went to his tent and was surprised to see Carle standing outside, awaiting entrance.
"I thought that you had left for Koretia," I said.
Carle shook his head. "My mission was cancelled; I've no idea why. Perhaps the captain thinks that matters are too unsettled there at the moment, what with the recent fighting near the border. I vow, if the Koretians don't find some way of controlling their blood-thirst, we'll eventually see this war spill over into Emor."
"Perhaps it would be well if it did," I responded. "Then the Chara would be forced to bring Emorian civilization to that land."
"Perhaps," said Carle, but I could see that he was distracted. His mind, I knew, was still on his recent meeting with the Chara. He brought himself back to his surroundings with an effort and said, "What dirty mission does the captain have planned for you?"
"I really don't know," I replied. "Do you suppose that he has called us both here so that we can work together on—?"
"Lieutenant!" It was the voice of Radley's orderly; Carle and I both looked his way. "Lieutenant Carle," the orderly clarified. "Oh, and you might as well go in as well, Lieutenant Adrian. The captain is expecting you."
Carle raised his eyebrows at me, then stepped aside and allowed me to enter the tent first. I took advantage of his offer, and that was my first mistake. Perhaps it was my last one too; I don't think I could have changed anything that happened afterwards.
As I entered the tent, I realized my mistake from Radley's expression. His eyes narrowed as he looked at me. By the time that Carle entered, though, Radley's expression had taken on a curious blankness, the sort of look he usually reserves for distinguished but not high-ranked visitors to the headquarters. "Ah, Lieutenant Carle," he said, fingering the document in front of him. "I have a message that needs to be taken over to the Great Council's quarters. It is highly confidential, so I am depending on you to see that it reaches the right person. You are to give it to the council clerk and wait for an answer. No doubt," he added, spreading his lips in a thin smile, "you can find ways to occupy yourself while awaiting the reply."
The slight twitch of Carle's dagger hand revealed his thoughts, but he said no more than, "Yes, sir," and took the sealed letter from Radley.
I carefully avoided Carle's eye, lest he make the mistake of exchanging glances with me. The way that Radley had failed to acknowledge my presence while Carle was there told me that trouble was coming. And in fact Carle had no sooner left than Radley's eyes narrowed once more. His voice growing thin and unpleasant, he said, "I see, lieutenant, that you have taken it upon yourself to elevate your rank to such a degree that you not only precede those senior to you but you also enter a captain's tent unannounced. I congratulate you on your advancement."
I remained silent, not wishing to reveal the orderly's error in allowing me entrance. Radley drummed his fingers on the table as he squinted at me. Then he said, "Well, Koretian spy, I have been going through your records, and I see that your multitudinous talents have been wasted in one respect."
He was obviously waiting for a response, so I asked, "In what way, sir?"
"Why, here we have a spy whose greatest value – I might say your only value, but I do not want to be prejudiced – is your ability to assimilate into Koretian life. Yet it appears that Captain Wystan never took full advantage of this fact and sent you back to your own village."
I opened my mouth, then closed it again at Radley's look. He continued, "I hear from other spies that there has been considerable unrest in Mountside and its neighboring villages because of the recent fighting in the borderland. I want to know whether the Jackal has been to Mountside recently. You are to go to your village, find some old acquaintance there, and uncover this information. It is an easy and quick mission, so I will expect you to report here seven days from now – eight at the most. You are dismissed."
After a while, he looked up from his papers again and said sharply, "I said that you were dismissed, lieutenant."
"Sir, may I have permission to speak?"
"No, you may not. I have this" – he indicated the pile of papers on his desk – "to get through before noonday, when I am to meet with the subcommander. If you have any questions about your mission, you may ask my orderly."
"Sir—" My voice was so dry that I had to stop to swallow, and this gave Radley time to cut me off.
"Lieutenant," he said, his voice thinning to a whine, "I know that you have a difficult time understanding orders, but this one is clear enough: Leave."
I swallowed again and said rapidly, "Sir, I am sorry, sir, but I really must speak. I have additional information that may affect my ability to complete the mission, sir."
There was a long pause in which the loudest noise in the tent was my heart, which sounded like a Marcadian war drum. Then Radley said, "Very well. Make it short."
I knew he would not stand for a long explanation, so I tried to compress a month's worth of lessons about Koretian customs into two sentences. "Sir, when I left the village, I broke a blood vow I had made to my family. In the eyes of my people, I am god-cursed, and because of that, there is not a man in the village, not even my own father, who would not capture me the moment he saw me and turn me over to the priest for execution."
Radley looked at me through thin-slitted eyes. "I see. Well, lieutenant, I will offer you a choice. Either you go on this mission as ordered, or you can deliver to the army court summoners my request for your summoning on the charge of disobedience to an army official. Such a charge would be entered into your records and, if you were found guilty by the army judge, you would be sentenced to up to thirty lashes. Which action do you prefer to take, lieutenant?"
It was a warm day, and the sun streamed in brightly through the tent flap, but the day suddenly seemed very cold and dark. Almost, I thought, I could be sitting in a cave, watching snow whirl to the ground. And if that were the case, I would be listening to myself speak certain words that were more powerful than any blood vow.
"I will obey your orders, sir," I heard myself say.
A smile crept onto Radley's face. "I knew that you were lying," he said.
"I was testing you, Koretian spy; you fell right into my trap." Radley leaned back in his chair, folding his hands together in a satisfied manner. "I do not know what your true reason is for not wanting to return to your home, and I do not care. You had your chance to tell me the truth. I know that what you said was a falsehood, because if you really feared for your life, you would not be scared at the idea of being beaten instead."
I felt a painful hollowness in my chest, as though a great weight of stone was lying upon my ribs. I knew that it would be of no use to speak further, but I said, "I was telling the truth, sir. I just do not wish to disobey your orders."
"I am sure that you can come up with an explanation for what you did." Radley leaned forward again and took up his pen. "I have no intention of wasting my morning listening to your pathetic Koretian deceits. I am finished with you, lieutenant. You may go."
"Yes, sir." I doubt that he heard me; my voice came out as no more than a whisper this time. I turned and walked stiffly to the tent entrance; then I looked back. Pulling my dagger from its sheath, I held it flatwise against my face for a moment before sheathing it once more. Radley did not look up.
Four hours later, Carle said, "By the law, I'm glad that you're still here. I thought that you would have left me by now."
I didn't look up as he sat down next to me, both of us leaning back against the exterior of the inner palace wall. My eyes were fixed on a mountain near the horizon. I said, "Do you think that you'll be buried in your family's graveyard, Carle?"
"I expect so. What makes you ask?"
"I was thinking that must be nice, to have your whole body in a place of rest like that. I like it better than the Koretian custom of burning bodies."
"What gloomy thoughts for a beautiful day! Here, have this to cheer you."
I took the bag automatically from his hands; then I saw what I was holding and was startled out of my thoughts. "Where in the name of the dead Charas did you get these, Carle?"
Carle chuckled as I stared down at the nuts. "That's what took me so long: I was driving a long, hard bargain with a Daxion merchant at the city market. I managed to bring him down to a price that did not deplete all my savings. No, keep them," he said as I began to hand them back. "They're for you – they're a birthday present."
I gave him a blank look.
He misinterpreted my look and laughed. "Did you think I'd forgotten what day it is? I remembered you had said that you'd like to try Daxion nuts some time. Look, are you headed back to Koretia on a mission?"
"Yes," I said faintly.
"Good!" Carle laid his arm over my shoulders. "Because I have news that I want our old unit to hear. I'll tell you first, of course, but I'd rather tell you when we reach the patrol – or rather, when they reach us. They've grown so good, I doubt that even you or I could slip by them if we were trying to break our way into Emor."
"Well," I said, my gaze returning to Carle's home near the horizon, "you don't have to do that. You can return to Emor any time you want."
"Your command of the Emorian tongue is slipping, lieutenant – watch the number of your pronouns. Come on!" Carle jumped to his feet. "Let's start back, and you can tell me all about your new mission."
I stood up, my look lingering on the northern Emorian view. "I'll tell you tonight," I said. "We can exchange confidences, and then we can try those nuts and see whether they're as good as they're supposed to be. Thank you for buying them for me."
"I'd thought of waiting till next year, when I'll have more money," said Carle, springing down the hillside ahead of me. "But then I thought, Why wait? Life is too short. —Adrian, you're becoming slow in your old age; I'll race you to the gate."
I watched him for a moment, leaping forward with his light, smooth rhythm. Then I began to run also, and in the end, I beat him to the goal.
It was an odd journey to the mountains that day. I remained silent most of the time, but Carle scarcely noticed. He was chatting away about rank, about even the least important men in the empire contributing to the empire's welfare. It was the sort of topic we had discussed many times before, and I wondered what had brought the subject fresh to his mind. In an odd way, I found his words comforting, especially when he said, "You know, even the smallest duty is worth fulfilling. You never know how a tiny job you do will link itself up in such a way that you bring glory to the Chara and his law."
I nodded, unable to trust myself to speak.
Quentin, though, did not need speech to read me. He was on his way out with the night patrol when we arrived, so he would ordinarily have done no more than exchange a greeting with me, but I saw his gaze rest on me as Carle began to offer the others his friendly insults about how lax they had become in their performance since our departure. After a minute, Quentin said, "May I have a word with you, lieutenant?"
I nodded, and he waved ahead the remainder of the night patrol, taking me outside of the hut to stand by the tunnel. Nearby, the day patrol was starting to build a fire.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" he asked without preliminary.
My head had been slightly bowed – I told myself that this was only in order to keep my eye on my step – so that my gaze rose with what must have been a sudden jerk. For a moment I stared at Quentin; then I realized that he had no more than a vague notion that I was in trouble.
Well, he was only a lieutenant, and we were not even under the command of the same captain. Telling him would do no good, but would only distress him. "I don't think so," I replied. "It's something I'll have to deal with alone, I think."
Quentin tilted his head. Even at this moment, his eyes were scanning the horizon, and I knew that he was hearing more than I was. "Can Carle help?"
I stared at the ground again. "I'm not sure."
Quentin turned his head suddenly, and a moment later there came the low sound of a whistle rising, then falling again. Quentin lightly touched the hilt of his sword and began to slide away from my side. Then he stopped and placed a hand on my arm. "Ask him," he advised quietly. "I know he'll help you if he can." He paused, unsheathed his sword, and saluted me. "Good hunting."
With no more sound than a soft breath, he was gone.
Carle was over by the fire, beckoning to me. As I came forward, he showed me two flasks. "Wall-vine or wild-berry?" he asked with a quirk of a smile.
I wondered whether, if I asked for wild-berry, he would be startled out of his obliviousness. "Wall-vine, please," I said, and took the flask he offered me.
The others were sitting on the rocks within the hollow, but Carle gestured me closer to the fire, where we would not be heard over the fire's rumble. The nut bag was awaiting us there. I picked it up and handed it to Carle, saying, "You first."
Carle rustled around in the bag until he had found a nut that satisfied him. He cracked and peeled off the shell, popped the meat of the nut into his mouth, and chewed on it for a while, his face adopting a look of careful judgment.
"Well?" I said.
"Fairly good. In fact," he added with a grin, "if I had a nobleman's income, I might want to eat these all the time. Now you."
He offered the bag to me, but I shook my head, saying, "Let the others eat their share. I'll take whatever is left."
"Generous man," commented Carle, claiming another few nuts out of the bag. "You'll regret it, you know. Hold a bit—" He got up and went over to where the others were sitting.
I stayed where I was, staring at the tongue-red flames before me. For some reason, it was the thought of fire that bothered me most – having my corpse burnt, being eaten by the Jackal. Then another thought came into my mind: perhaps they wouldn't wait until I was dead before they brought the fire. This had all begun with a young man burning alive; perhaps they would consider it fitting to end it that way as well.
I huddled my arms around my knees. The autumn winds had already begun in the mountains, and I was without a cloak. Not fire, I thought. Please, not fire. Let it end with a blade.
A shadow fell over me: it was Carle, standing above me with a wine flask in his hand.
"So tell me about this mission," he said, settling himself beside me again.
I hesitated. He was smiling so easily that I did not want to see that expression end yet. "Tell me your news first," I said. "Does it have to do with your visit to the council quarters?"
He nodded. "By the law-structure itself, what a place! We didn't see the half of it when we sneaked in last time. We didn't even see the law library."
"The library?" I said in an automatic manner, fiddling with my flask as something to do. "The council has books, then?"
"Books! By the wisdom of the Charas, Adrian, you have never seen so many books in your life! They told me to wait in the library when I first arrived there, and I had the place to myself. I was just trying to figure out whether the Chara would place me under the High Doom if I touched any of the books when in walked a man – one of the council workers, I assumed – and asked me what my favorite law was."
"Just like that?" Somehow, I managed a smile.
"Just like that, no preliminary. I figured that, in a place like the Chara's palace, this was as conventional a greeting as asking a person's name. So I told him, of course, that the Law of Vengeance was my favorite, and we talked for a while about why, and we exchanged bits of gossip about the latest law cases, and we even discussed the tutoring I'd received from Fenton, and what fine handwriting he had, and it took me an entire hour to figure out why the man named Godfrey was asking me all these questions."
My mouth slid open. I think I had entirely forgotten everything but the tale I was hearing. "Carle!" I said. "You don't mean—!"
"Fool, fool, fool!" Carle slapped his forehead three times, grinning broadly. "As though I hadn't made enough of a fool already with the Chara, I had to go and make a fool of myself with the High Lord! I can't imagine why he decided I was worth it in the end."
"Worth what?" I practically toppled Carle over, grabbing his tunic. "Carle, what did he want?"
"Oh, nothing important." Carle suddenly looked sheepish. "A council scribe suddenly quit, without warning, and the council has a new set of documents that need to be scribed this week, and not enough scribes with which to do it— Adrian, you're strangling me!"
"I knew it!" I flung my arms around him. "I knew that you'd end up working for the Great Council!"
"For love of the Chara, Adrian, it's only a scribe's job." Carle's face had turned deep red, and he was avoiding my eye. "A tremendous honor for someone such as myself, of course, but I'm the lowest of the low. —No, no, listen, here's the important part. I assume that the Chara must have mentioned me to the High Lord – how else would he have learned of my existence? – and I suppose that I must have chatted on endlessly about you as well, because the first thing the High Lord said after he offered me the job is that he wants you working for the council as well! He said the only reason he didn't hire you this week was because Captain Radley said he was about to send you out on an important mission, but the next time a scribe's job is open, the High Lord will offer it to you. Isn't this wonderful, Adrian?"
I was silent, all of my joy doused by the cold water of my memory. The Chara, yes – he had no doubt played a role in my hiring, but it was likely that the High Lord remembered me and Carle because of the conversation Lord Godfrey and I had held in the council chamber. Because of Carle's arrest, I had never given Carle more than a brief summary of that talk.
I remembered the High Lord saying, "A lover of the law, are you?" And I had replied, "I try to be, High Lord."
How could I go to the High Lord and say, "I am a law-lover, but I refused to follow my official's order because I feared for my life"?
Carle hadn't noticed my silence. "Just think of it, Adrian. You won't have to stay a scribe forever. There are opportunities for elevation within the council. You can rise in rank, and someday – someday, I swear, you'll sit in the chamber of the Great Council. Someday you'll be a council lord."
I said nothing. Across the fire, the day-patrol guards chatted and laughed. An autumn wind made its way down from the cold mountain peaks and sent me shivering.
Nudging my hand with the wine-flask, Carle said, "Here, drink up. You look cold. What was your news? I know that it will be an anti-climax to mine, but still . . ."
I stared down at the mouth of the wine-flask. "You already heard the news. I'm being sent on a mission. Carle . . . do you remember how, last year, we talked about the possibility of doing one last mission together?"
"Mm?" Carle was peering at the guards, who were playing tug-of-battle with the bag of nuts. "Yes, I remember. It's a shame we never did that."
"I don't suppose . . . I don't suppose you could do it now? For this one last time?"
"Adrian, I'm sorry." There was genuine regret in Carle's voice as he turned his attention back to me. "I'd like to, but the High Lord made clear that the only reason he's hiring me is that he needs a scribe right away. Otherwise, I'm sure, he would have given the job to you or some other worthy candidate." He squeezed my shoulder. "You know I'd go if I could. What's the mission? Something filthier than usual?"
I opened my mouth. I still don't know what I would have said. But at that moment, Fowler appeared at my elbow. "Here you are, Adrian. We saved the last for you, so that you could have one more." He slipped away.
"One more? One more?" Carle bounded to his feet. "You cursed thieves, what do you mean, gobbling up Adrian's birthday present? I will hand you over to the Chara's torturers personally—!"
He left my side, roaring like a mountain cat in heat. I didn't watch to see how the guards reacted. My eye was on the fire, leaping and crackling.
If I told Carle the truth, I thought, he would either come to Koretia with me, or he would go to the Chara and risk angering our ruler with tales about Radley. Either way, he would likely lose his chance to work for the council.
So telling Carle was not an option. But what options did I have? I could go to the Chara myself. I tried to imagine explaining the entire history of Koretia's blood feuds to a man who had ordered that a feud victim be delivered to his murderers. The Chara, as Carle had once told me, was human. In all likelihood, the Chara would be so angered by my refusal to follow his brother-in-marriage's orders that he would order my dismissal from the army.
Did it matter? Was it of any importance whether I was regarded with dishonor by the Chara? Wasn't that better than losing my life in order to gain information that would probably make no difference to Emor?
I heard myself then, saying in the cave, "The best path to take is to obey orders, even if it seems that Emor will receive no reward for our sacrifices."
A log fell in the fire, sending up sparks of fire, like the Jackal's eyes. I pulled out the lone nut left in the bag. Three years, I thought. I had served the Chara for only three years. Surely I was born for more than this? Surely, as Carle believed, I was meant to climb to higher paths in life? Was it right for me to deprive the Chara of my gifts, simply in order to fulfill my oath of obedience to the Chara?
"We can never know the full consequences of disobeying orders," Carle had said as we sat in the cave. I thought of that: saw my disobedience rippling forth, destroying my honor, destroying Carle's work, destroying the reputations of Quentin and Wystan, who had trained me.
And against that— What? What reward lay in dying as a dog does? What was this thing called "sacrifice" that I had spoken of so lightly on so many occasions, when balanced against the pain and horror of death?
The nut was warm in my hand. The sparks flew upwards. I curled my palm around the nut. God of Judgment, I prayed, I have only the judgment of a mortal man. I am neither god nor High Judge. If you ever loved me – if I ever served you, as either god-lover or as cousin – help me to know whether I have made the right decision.
I threw the nut above the fire. It cracked, clear and clean.
The relief swept over me like cool air on a summer's day. I was not such a child any more as to believe that I could receive a sign from the god by hurling a nut into the fire. But my feeling of relief when the nut cracked before it reached the flames told me all that I needed to know. I had made the right decision. I knew that this was what I should do.
"Thank you, Jackal," I whispered.
I became aware that someone was standing next to me. I turned my head and saw Carle, staring down at me with puzzlement in his face. "Why did you throw the nut into the fire?" he asked.
I looked back at the fire. "For good luck," I said, and felt the pain again, still present under the relief.
I heard him pull in his breath. In another moment, I think, he would have spoken. Perhaps, if he had asked me to explain, I would not have been able to hide my secret from him. He was too skilled at being able to read men's thoughts.
But at that moment, Devin appeared on our side of the fire. "Lieutenants, we were wondering whether the two of you would be willing to join us in a game of Law Links. We could use your skills." He smiled at me, and I knew that this was the guards' attempt to apologize for having eaten nearly all the nuts.
"All right," I said. "Carle?"
He was looking uneasy, sensing, I think, that more lay here on this night than he had been aware of before. But Devin was already drawing me away, so he nodded and followed me over to where the guards sat, waiting anxiously to see whether I would forgive them for their unintentional greediness.
I knew only three of them: Devin and Levander and Fowler. Payne was killed by a breacher nine months ago, not long after he and I made our peace together over the misunderstanding about the attack on Quentin. When the news arrived of his death, I'd been grateful that our last conversation had been a good one.
Now I sat down on the guards' side of the fire, while Carle announced his news, and all of the guards raised their cups to toast Carle and me for our good fortunes. I thought Devin was watching me rather closer than usual, but I must have passed muster with him, for as soon as the toasts were over, he launched us into the game. I sat silently, listening to the exchange of links, and feeling the questions I had asked before tumble unanswered in my mind, except for the most important one: what I should do.
Finally, I became aware that the link had been passed to the man next to me. Carle paused to take a sip of the fire-warmed wine, then turned to me, and with the steady gaze that he used when he was challenging me to the limits of my power, he said, "'And being as it is gravest of all—'"
"Too hard, too hard!" called out Fowler. "Give him an easier one, lieutenant. It is not fair to make him recite one of the Great Three when he has only been learning the law for three years."
"He is up to the test," Carle announced calmly as he handed me the wine. "The final subsection. 'And being as it is gravest of all that anyone should attack the manhood of the Great Chara—'"
"'—the sentence for such a crime shall be mercy or enslavement or the high doom.'" I took a deep breath and leapt to the end of the Justification to the Law of Vengeance: "'For it is yet another of the Chara's burdens that he should at all times be prepared to sacrifice himself for the sake of the people. And this he must be willing to do whenever the task is required, whether in the day or in the night, whether in Emor or in foreign lands, whether in old age or in youth. For the land cannot endure unless its High Judge be willing to give all that he has to it, even if he should be required to sacrifice his body or his spirit or his life's blood. And in this respect also the Emorian people—'"
I paused, and in the silence that followed I could hear nothing but the crackle of the fire. The night patrol's whistles had long since died out; the hunted had been captured. Carle was watching me with a faint smile, and as I met his eyes, I felt all the fear and unhappiness in me drain away. Whatever I could have contributed to Emor, I thought, Carle will do for me, and he will do it far better than I could have done. That link will remain after I am gone.
I took a final sip of the wine and felt it warm my blood. Then I smiled and handed the bottle back to Carle, saying, "Complete the link."
I think Carle realized that I knew the rest of the passage, and that I only wanted to give him the pleasure of reciting his favorite law. His smile deepened, and he kept our gazes bound together as he said, "'And in this respect also the Emorian people are an embodiment of the law, for, like the Great Chara, they too may be called upon at any time to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the land. This is the way, above all, that they demonstrate their love and obedience to the Chara and his law. And it is only through their willingness to make such a sacrifice that the people receive true peace from the Lawmaker.'"
For one moment more, our eyes remained linked. Then Carle turned the chain; facing Levander he said, "'And being as it is gravest of all that anyone should be disobedient to the Great Chara—'"
There was a general hooting and protest. "We will be making this chain forever if you do not pick shorter links, lieutenant," said Devin.
"All right, all right," Carle responded, laughing. "Here is an easier one. "'And being as it is more grave that a soldier should be disobedient to his official—'"
"'—the sentence for such a crime shall be mercy or reprimand or beating,'" said Levander. "'For however small an order it may be that the soldier is given, his obedience is necessary in all things, firstly so that he shall serve as a model for the people's unswerving obedience to the Chara . . .'"
I rose, unnoticed by anyone except Carle, who was still listening to Levander recite the Justification to the Law of Army Obedience and who therefore acknowledged my departure with no more than a smile and a nod. Since Carle was watching, I took out my blade and held it over the fire for a moment. Then, when no one was looking my way any more, I tossed the dagger into the bushes where I had once hid and started to walk away.
When I reached the edge of the firelight, I looked back. Levander had stumbled on some minor words, and Carle, to much laughter, was demonstrating how that tiny change could cause a disastrous imbalance of judgment in the court. I stood awhile, listening as Carle's words relinked the broken chain and the recital passed to a new man, but Carle did not look my way, so I turned finally and walked back into the darkness.
Forty-four years have passed since the final words of this journal were written, and during all that time, I have never had the courage to look through this manuscript, fearing what it would reveal about me. For the last images I retain of this time have been hard enough for me to endure over the years. There is the image of the two of us sitting by the mountain fire while I babbled on about my good fortune, and Adrian sat in unusual silence. There is the image of me standing several days later in Captain Radley's tent, where I had been summoned back from my new work to search for a missing spy, and where I had the cold satisfaction of seeing Radley turn pale as I told him what he had done, and paler still as I recited the charges I intended to place against him.
But the last image of all, the one I have tried most to erase, is the one that remains most vivid: the moment when I knelt by Adrian and closed his eyes, then lifted him into my arms for the start of his journey home. The blood from his throat had dried by then; he made no mark on me.
But of course in another sense he made a very great mark, and as he had guessed would happen, it is through me that he continues to contribute links to the chain we both revered. Looking back on his words now, I can see how, even in my small roles over the years, I have taken what he said and did, and used it to bring about great changes in high matters.
Because Adrian was who he was and because I knew him, Koretia became a dominion of Emor twenty-six years ago. Because of Adrian, Koretia regained its independence eleven years ago, retaining the Emorian courts but rejecting the Emorian view of the gods. Because of Adrian, the Jackal now sits on the Koretian throne, serving as High Judge and High Priest, and combining Emorian law with Koretian religion in a way which I will never understand but which would have pleased Adrian.
Whether or not he now dwells with his gods, I cannot help but believe that Adrian is still alive through what he has given to Emor and Koretia. Because of this, I no longer dread to visit his tomb in my family's graveyard. Though those last, terrible images will always remain, I now have another image to set beside them: that of a young Koretian-born Emorian, sharing my wine and smiling as he offered his small but golden link to the chain of the law.
Completed on the first day of September in the 987th year after the giving of the law, by Carle, High Lord of the Great Council of Emor.