In the Tenth Court of Hell stands the Wheel of Rebirth. Its spokes are of red lacquered wood; it creaks as demons pull it, dragging its load of souls back into the world. And before the Wheel stands the Lady.
You cannot stop an angel who truly wants to fall. This is the first thing you learn in Pandemonium. The second thing you learn in Pandemonium is how to drink absinthe.
An unseen log boomed against Wolfrun’s hull. In the last few days, Rhuan of the Grey Hall had taken to posting a lookout on the prow, to ward against just such events. This great, fat monstrosity of a river seemed at times to carry almost as much debris as it did water.
The black bird on the mantelpiece spoke. It said, “Nevermore.” Spade looked up from cleaning his pistol. The bird, a black-lacquered falcon statuette, sat motionless. Spade placed the pistol down on his desk, pushed back the brim of his hat, and approached the bird. “You talk?”
My father’s family had produced monster-finders for several generations. More monsters were being born than ever; our village didn’t have enough finder power to track them all, or shaper power to abort or fix those the finders found, so many people had to offer their offspring to the Shadows.
Across the landscape of the battlefield, men stared sightlessly into the sky, their armor black with blood, their steaming intestines spread over the ground. Swarms of crows covered them in a jumping, fluttering carpet. Camp women scavenged among the corpses, cutting the throats of the dying and looting the bodies for anything of worth.
Walter’s mind was at one time rich with emotions other than hunger, but those feelings had long since fallen away. They’d dropped from his being like the flesh, now absent, which had once kept the wind from whistling through his cheeks. He remembered those inner tides but vaguely, for he lived in the eternal present, with barely a shred of memory left in which to contain them.
The photograph is of a woman at the center of a forest. She is slim and tall and pale as the birches she stands among. The shadows turn her ribs and spine into branches, into knots in the wood. Around her arms, the peeling white bark of the birches, curved in bracelets. Between her thighs, the hair is dense and springy like moss. She is turning into a tree.