Översättaren Dominic Hinde har översatt fem smakprov ur de tre konfluxromanerna till engelska. Nedan finns en av dessa texter för påseende, en bekant scen ur Brimstone Sleep, kapitel 31. Min agent, Brandts New Agency, kommer att ta med texterna till Londonmässan senare under april och visa dem för intresserade förlagsrepresentanter från andra länder. Notera att det alltså inte rör sig om avsnitt ur en fullständig översättning utan just om fristående smakprov.
De stycken som översatts är:
Kapitel 29 Eld från himlen
Scenen när Trodax tar sig ur gruvan. (Scenen fanns redan översatt av Martin Andersson och har redigerats.)
Kapitel 31. Mannen utan öde
Scenen när Silvia Miranda vaknar i Shaguls grav.
Kapitel 3. En blå Meridian
En enda sida om när Grisselhår och Perrima seglar tillbaka till Trakorien.
Kapitel 39. Den pilske prelaten
När Didra och Robur samtalar och kramas.
Kapitel 10. De åldriga ödlornas arv
När draken attackerar magillernas styrkor
Kapitel 43. Humlans flykt
Om kejsarinnan Heneguyas död
A man without fate
Silvia Miranda the wind witch was awoken by a faint draught across her face, the remnants of a foreign breeze, odorous and until now reticent to come so close to a human. Deprived of her ether she could neither understand nor identify it, but she knew she was not dead at any rate – in the underworld there is no wind at all.
Her limbs were leaden, as if her body had been emptied of blood and her arteries occupied by thick quicksilver. Her thoughts were clear though. Fear of the unknown is something every conjurer must suppress from the first tears of childhood to avoid being crushed upon fathoming the endless possibilities their art can grant.
She lay in the damp half-dark, on a stone table covered with dead rustling leaves. Over her stretched naked branches that had surrendered their bark to the soil long ago, but beyond them there was no sky, only vaulted stone. The shadows of sprawled limbs patterned the walls in perfect but lifeless arrangement, carved in an unmoving blue light as if the whole scene was drowned in set glass. Underground. Sealed off. Still.
A procession drew slowly closer, its steps revealed by the still rustle of feet moving leaves. The sound reached an audible level thanks only to the contrasting silence. The weak breeze that had visited her immediately petered out into nothing. A man moved into her field of vision; she recognised him immediately from their disturbing ethereal meeting at the basin in the underworld. This time he came as one person, not three, but he had the same round, bare head as his projections. His green eyes looked down in cold assessment, the eyes of an executioner in powerful sockets. The man felt her lame body, not with desire but as to assure himself of the solidity of her substance. He placed his hand on her stomach and let it rise and fall in time with her breathing.
“Warmth”, he said slowly and lay down next to her on the stone altar, turning his cheek to her left breast as if to relive a lost, primal memory.
Another hand, yellowed and withered with its bones sticking out like newly hatched insects at the extremities of the ring and middle finger, suddenly stretched toward her. The man batted it away, irritated.
“Master Honsula! You cannot touch everything simply because you lack eyes. Be mindful of your privileges, I can just as easily bury you again whenever I like – and keep you conscious in your grave.”
With great effort Silvia Miranda turned her heavy head and saw three, no four, figures standing silently at the end of the altar – dead, contorted and ravaged by time but animated by the stranger’s necromancy.
The reprimanded Master Honsula withdrew his hand without a trace of disappointment. She saw his eyes had been sewn shut with a rough black thread. The dead figure next to him had its mouth tacked closed in the same manner. Honsula, where had she heard the name Honsula? “Our guest was until recently a man”, the living one informed his companions. “Does that perhaps dampen your enthusiasm?”
A lunatic. Silvia Miranda tried to study him from the corner of her eye. He pulled himself up on his elbows and into her line of sight when he noticed her efforts, chatting slowly as he lay with a finger caressing her chin like a sated lover.
“Your sleep revealed your name to me and I already know you better than you could imagine. Until it was decided otherwise you were a man by the name of Ramilard. The Narrators - I prefer calling them that as Gods is such an overblown word – it was the Narrators who changed you, removed bits and rewrote others so that now you have always been a woman. I had nothing to do with it myself but for my part I can say that I find you much more agreeable like this. Though your love I cannot perhaps count on, rather… mutual respect and a crumb of warmth. One does not apply any value to warmth until the alternative is apparent. It can be hard to fathom the Narrators of our world. They do not want us to understand, robbing a snake of its legs when it tries to help us to knowledge, punishing us with challenges and eternal travails when we reach for the forbidden fruit. They want us to worship them and play our roles, to be born, live and to die. But they no longer exert that kind of power over me, and I can offer you your salvation even if you are willingly enslaved to the God of Storms. Think it through calmly! Here there really is no urgency to anything.”
A dry leaf settled in the hollow of her throat. He plucked it up and held it against the blue light.
“This was a strong and hardy tree, chosen for its ability to grow underground, but the leaves are more beautiful dead, you can see all of the veins. I appreciate a beauty that does not change. They merely molder imperceptibly slowly. When plants are alive you always worry about them withering and crumpling, is that not so? I used to collect chicks as a boy, but they always died as soon as I had developed an attachment – as unpredictable in their vitality as women are in their love. When I was young I liked the idea that every leaf was unique, that two leaves have nothing more in common than the label we have given them for quite practical reasons. In those days I was fond of wandering in the forest below the mountains. Now though I know the truth. The lack of any one unique form detracts somewhat from the experience. A leaf is a leaf is a leaf, the same tiresome reproduction of the same tiresome idea, their name. Did you know that if you changed the Narrator’s written word for ‘leaf’, the real one that only exists in one single place, all of the leaves would vanish? Not because it is within my power to do so, but if you could delete that one word then none of the leaves would ever have existed. All those songs about greenery and girls with wreaths in their hair would change at a stroke. Who knows what you would sing about? Perhaps the poets would extol the virtues of… the gut instead?”
Silvia Miranda tried to collect herself. She had apparently been captured by a necromancer, in connection with the unearthly predator she had encountered at the temple of Kmorda. But where was she and with what purpose? Underground, yes, but where? She was under his control, but her aura could not be kept out forever – it would collect and give her back her power if she was given time. Who was he? Had he lost his mind? It was not unusual for powerful magicians, especially illusionists, to lose all perspective and vanish into their art. It was said that in Coro Partena they dug up an old master magician when they were building a carp dam. The man was sealed in a copper urn from an ancient civilisation. Pale and mushy like a tape worm, he turned to steam in the sun without anybody being able to understand who he was or make sense of his flat and increasingly desperate babble.
“See these small, tiny holes along the edge of the leaf?”, continued the man, pinching her cheek sharply when he saw she had stopped paying attention. “My princess made them all with a tiny pin – it must have been between her nineteenth and twenty-first years in here – long ago now. She catalogued and marked all of the leaves, thirteen thousand, five-hundred and eighteen. With three hundred and fifty three holes in each if I remember correctly. A lot of holes. You can see that the holes are slightly bigger on the later leaves as the pin was worn down and the tip widened. The imperceptible resistance of a thin leaf membrane can in time blunt a bronze needle. It gives you a certain respect for the patience involved that you could hardly imagine beforehand. Is it not a beautiful thought that a princess of noble blood year after year should punch patterns into dead leaves? Yet her work was never completed, for I was forced to take her needles away from her. She tried to kill herself with them by piercing those same tiny holes in her skin above her arteries, so she could open them up before I had a chance to stop her. She was too eager though and punctured a blood vessel prematurely. I saw the blood and healed her, and in thanks she poured Kargomitic curses upon me, ugly but impotent words.”
Suddenly he got up from her view, but after almost a minute’s silence, when she thought he had gone, his voice spoke from over the top of her head.
“You are strong, but I knew that as soon as I saw you down there amongst the dead at the river. Your power could be significant if only you freed yourself from the curses of your sullied name. I understand your innermost feelings. You can be sure that I am the man to restore you. Now I deign to lift a weight from your body so that you might move. As your liberator I do not wish to admonish you, but I ask you to exercise judgement and carefully consider my offer. Know that my name is Shagul, and I bid you welcome to my tomb!”