Beyond the Black Curtain (Paperback)

Beyond the Black Curtain By Wayne Kyle Spitzer, Spitzer (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Wayne Kyle Spitzer, Spitzer (Illustrator)
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After breaking their sworn oaths in a fit of forbidden passion, a sacrificial bride (Shekalane) and her fearsome escort (the ferryman Dravidian) find themselves alone and on the run in the subterranean river-world of Ursathrax.

From the book:

Permission would not have been granted, nor did he ask; instead, he went straight to the detention block after his meeting with the prefect and located Shekalane's cell. It was easy to do, for it was the only one with a light beneath its door. Indeed, it was the only one in the entire cellblock that was occupied.

"Shekalane," he whispered, crouching, and braced the meal flap open with his finger. "It's Dravidian."

At last she said, sounding distant and utterly confused: "I cannot see you. Opening the flap triggers a light: It-it hurts my eyes, and burns the skin of my face. And yet it is cold-the cell, I mean. So cold."

He withdrew his finger, allowing the flap to close, and thought he heard her teeth chatter. The dragger's great paddle wheel churned.

"Why have you come to me, Dravidian of the ferrymen?"

"You are about to be interviewed by the prefect himself, Asmodeus. During this interview you will be asked about your involvement with Valdus and his revolution. Answer him truthfully-names, dates, tactical information-he has assured me personally that you will be spared if you do so. Do you understand?"

A silence followed. "Spared. That's a curious choice of words. I trust by this you mean I will not be punished or killed ... but that I will still be delivered into sexual slavery."

"Shekalane ..."

"I've had a great amount of time to think, Dravidian. It's-it's in our nature; we women, that when faced with a closed door yet another door opens ... in our minds. And I've decided that Valdus is right: the Lottery must end." She paused as the great ship rumbled all around them. "And I've decided something else; which is that his methods are justified. Indeed, what is death-physical death, I mean-when compared to imprisonment and the suffocation of one's soul? The former at least provides an escape; but the latter .... No, Dravidian, I will not cooperate. Not even if I am tortured to death."

"You don't mean that, Shekalane."

"What know you of what I mean and what I do not? You, who mistook a ploy, and a successful one, for an expression of love for Valdus? You, who in turn used that to retreat into your former self and turn your back on all that we have learned and experienced? No, I tell you plainly that I will not submit, and you-your order-will be forced to destroy me. Now please, go away. For, although I love you, I cannot abide by what you have done."

At last Dravidian lowered his head. "Nor can I abide by what you have done, Shekalane. For by aiding and abetting Valdus, if only in bringing him comfort, you did also turn your back-on all his crimes and victims. And you would aid him still." He stood and swung his mask around on its strap, prepared to put it on. "It would seem we are at an impasse, at last. Whatever our fates, then ..." He fingered the fa ade's velvety lining. "Know that you, too, are loved."

Then he whirled to leave and, whirling, came face to face with a brownie in a dung-colored goblin mask and holding a tray-who quickly looked away and just as quickly looked back, as though recognizing him as someone personally significant to him. Dravidian stared at him for perhaps two breaths, taken aback by the directness of his gaze, and sensing, too, something-well, he could not define it, and quickly placed his mask to his face and depressed the pad at his temple, sealing it with a hiss.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781088112663
ISBN-10: 1088112668
Publisher: Hobb's End Books
Publication Date: March 4th, 2023
Pages: 360
Language: English