jack vance VIE  Vance Integral Edition Maske thaery

     The eastern fringe of the Gaean Reach is bounded by a remarkable pocket of emptiness: the Great Hole.
      The region is virtually untraveled: spacemen find no inducement to enter, while beyond hangs Zangwill Reef, a flowing band of stars with a baleful reputation. The Great Hole, therefore, is a lonely place.
     At the very center of the Great Hole hangs the star Mora. Two of its attendant worlds, Maske and Skay, constitute that celestial oddity, a double planet; in tandem Maske and Skay orbit Mora, swinging around each other in ponderous epicycles.
     Both Skay and Maske are inhabited. No one knows how many waves of human migration have crossed the Great Hole to Mora; perhaps no more than two. The most recent arrivals, a fourteen-ship contingent of Credential Renunciators from the world Diosophede, discovered upon Maske and Skay a population of great antiquity, human but considerably diverged from homo gaea: the Saidanese, of a species which
became known as homo mora.
     With Zangwill Reef barring the way beyond, the fourteen ships landed upon Maske. They expelled the Saidanese from a region to which they gave the name Thaery, after Eus Thario, Explicator of the True Credence. The company of the thirteenth ship would not concede the ‘Triple Divinity’ of Eus Thario and was banished to Glentlin, a spare and stony peninsula west of Thaery. The ‘Irredemptibles’ of the fourteenth ship refused to acknowledge either the Credence or the sublimity of Eus Thario; they were driven away from Thaery. The ship crashed into the mountains of Dohobay, apparently after attack by a pair of Credential pinnaces, and so disappeared from history.
     The Twelve Companies parceled Thaery into twelve districts and organized a state in strict conformity to the Credential Precepts. Diosophede, their world of origin, became an exemplar of everything to be avoided. Diosophede was urbanized; Thaery would be bucolic. The Diosofids controlled natural forces and preferred artificial environments; the Thariots dedicated themselves to natural landscapes and natural substances. The Diosofids were frivolous, cynical, disrespectful of authority, addicted to novelty, artificial sensation and vicarious emotion. The Thariots pledged themselves to duty, simplicity, respect for status.
     In Glentlin the company of the thirteenth ship, adapting to their harsh environment, isolated themselves from the Thariots, and became the Glints. Each saw the other in terms of caricature. In Thaery, ‘Glint’ became synonymous with ‘boorish’, ‘crude’, ‘boisterous’, while for a Glint ‘Thariot’ meant ‘devious’, ‘secretive’, ‘oversubtle’.
     Many Glints took to sailing the Long Ocean; gradually these mariners evolved the concept of ‘Sea Nationalism’. Other Glints, notably those ilks resident in the High Marcatives, became bandits, raiding the depots of Isedel, and even Swange and Glistelamet, for tools, fabric and wealth. The Thariots retaliated, using draughts of Saidanese warriors, the so-called ‘perrupters’, but only after three centuries were the Glints subdued, whereupon Glentlin in effect became the thirteenth district of Thaery.
     Conditions elsewhere upon Maske took on new forms. Those Irredemptibles who had survived the wreck of the Fourteenth eventually reappeared as the Waels of Wellas and the various tribes of Dohobay. The Saidanese, confined to Upper and Lower Djanad, became known as the ‘Djan’ and persisted in their incomprehensible old customs. They evinced neither curiosity nor rancor toward those who had conquered them; the same was true with the Saidanese of Skay.
     Centuries passed: eras of glassy somnolence. Credential stringencies relaxed; Thaery became a land of many textures and cultivated contrasts. Despite the ancient interdicts, certain of the towns became cities, of which the first was Wysrod by Duskerl Bay. During the same period the population of the countryside expanded, until presently the overflow was forced to seek employment elsewhere, sometimes in vain, and young folk coming into their maturity, in either town or country, found little scope for their energies. Imaginations turned outward, and the Mandate of Isolation began to seem a nuisance. A bitter-sweet malaise hung over the land like an autumn haze, and the folk were affected by contradictory emotions; love of the countryside, nostalgia, and the still-vital Credential doctrines disaccorded with a pervasive staleness and spiritual claustrophobia. A certain number of folk considered emigration; a small fraction of these put the tragic and irreversible process into effect; they were heard from no more.
     Another influence troubled the public awareness: rumors of a secret organization known as the Pan-Djan Binadary, apparently dedicated to the expulsion of the Thariots from Maske. The Binadary mystified responsible officials, since neither Djan nor Saidanese were notably apt at intrigue. Who then had instigated the Binadary? Who formulated its programs and supplied the militancy? Such questions perturbed the Thariot intelligence agencies, since no meaningful information could be discovered.

 

Chapter I

     The Marcative Mountains between Thaery and Djanad, extending to the west, became Glentlin: a barren unproductive land of small population, but in proportion to its resources no less crowded than Thaery proper.
     The northwest tip of Glentlin, extending from Cape Junchion to the Hacksnaw Hills, was Droad land, owned by Benruth, the Droad of Droad House and first of the ilk. His oldest son Trewe would eventually come into total possession, by the rigid entailment laws of Thaery. For Jubal, the second son, the future offered no such optimistic prospects.
     Nevertheless, blessed with a strong body and a confident disposition, Jubal passed a pleasant childhood, enlivened by the weekly banquets at which Benruth entertained the Droad kindred and celebrated the sweet fugacity of existence. The banquets often became boisterous. On one occasion, what might have been a practical joke was carried too far. Benruth drank a flask of wine and fell to the floor in cramps. His brother Vaidro instantly forced sugar and oil down Benruth’s throat, then pounded Benruth’s belly until he vomited, unluckily upon a priceless Djan rug, which ever after showed a yellow stain.
     Vaidro tested a drop of Benruth’s wine upon his tongue and spat it out. He made no comment; none was needed.
     Benruth suffered pain for several weeks, and for a year his pallor persisted. All agreed that the event had transcended any reasonable definition of humor. Who had perpetrated the irresponsible deed?
     The persons on hand included Benruth’s immediate family: his wife Voira; Trewe, along with Trewe’s young wife Zonne and daughters Merliew and Theodel; and Jubal. Also present were Vaidro; Cadmus off-Droad, Benruth’s illegitimate son by a Thariot girl of the Cargus ilk who had spent her Yallow
(see glossary 1) at Cape Junchion; and four others of the Droad kindred, including a certain Rax, notorious for blunders and immoderate conduct. Rax denied perpetration of a joke so outrageous, but his protestations were heard silently. Rax would return to Droad House on a single other occasion, to participate in events even more fateful.
     Benruth’s banquets were thereafter both less frequent and more subdued. He began to wither and lose his hair, and three years after the poisoning he died. Cadmus off-Droad appeared at the funeral in company with one Zochrey Cargus, a sharpfaced Thariot from the city Wysrod, who declared himself a genealogist and arbiter of disputed inheritances. Even before Benruth’s corpse had been set upon the pyre, Cadmus came forward to proclaim himself Droad of Droad House by right of primogeniture. Zochrey Cargus, stepping up on the funeral platform to achieve a more advantageous projection, endorsed the claim, and cited several precedents. Trewe and Jubal stood shocked and numb, but Vaidro, without excitement, signaled several of the kindred; Cadmus and Zochrey Cargus were seized and hustled away, Cadmus cursing and calling over his shoulder. Like Rax Droad he would return to Droad House on a single other occasion.
     Trewe became the Droad of Droad House, and Jubal was forced seriously to ponder his future. The choices were not inspiring. Toil in the Thariot factories he rejected out of hand, though a diligent and punctual man might eventually do well for himself. As a Glint he would find no advancement in either the Air Patrol or the Militia. The Space Navy and the Beneficial Service  were reserved to scions of the high Thariot ilks and so completely closed to him. The skilled professions not only demanded years of preparatory discipline, but worked psychological distortions upon their practitioners. He could remain at Droad House in the capacity of bailiff or fisherman or handyman, a not-unpleasant life but quite at odds with his self
-esteem. He might sail the Long Ocean on a National felucca, or he might undertake the final and irrevocable step of emigration. Each possibility led to equally barren destinations. Impatient and depressed, Jubal went forth into Yallow.
     From Droad House he took the road which wound up Coldwater Glen, through the Hacksnaw Hills, across the Five Falls, and into County Isedel, then down the Gryph River Valley to Tissano on the coast. Here he helped repair the trestle which carried a plank walkway on spraddling fifty-foot piles across the tide-flats to Black Rock Island.
He continued east along Broad Beach, sifting sand, burning driftwood and dry sea-wrack; then, turning inland, he wandered County Kroy, trimming hedges and cleaning meadows of hariah weed. At Zaim he veered south to avoid the city Wysrod, then worked his way across Drune Tree and Famet. At Chilian he cut up fallen spice-wood trees and sold the logs to a timber merchant. Proceeding into Athander he worked a month in the forests, clearing the trees of saprophytes and pest-bug. For another month he mended roads in Purple Dale; then moving south into the Silviolo uplands, he came to the High Trail. Here he paused, to look long in both directions. To the east spread the vineyards of Dorvolo and further months of wandering. To the west the trail climbed into the High Marcatives and, paralleling the Djanad frontier, led back to Glentlin. Somberly, as if he were already entering the autumn of life, Jubal turned westward.
     The trail took him into a land of white dolomite crags, flat lakes reflecting the violet sky, forests of thyrse, kil and diakapre. Jubal traveled slowly, mending the trail, cutting back stands of thistle, burning tangles of dead brush. At night, for fear of slanes and poisonous imps, he slept in mountain inns, where often he was the single guest.
     Across the southern edge of counties Kerkaddo and Lucan he worked his way, and into county Swaye. Only Isedel now separated him from Glentlin and he tramped ever more thoughtfully. Arriving at the village Ivo he went to the Wildberry Inn. The landlord worked in the common-room: a man elongated as if he had stepped from a comic mirror: an impression enhanced by his top-knot, which he wore contained in a cutwork cylinder.
     Jubal stated his needs; the landlord indicated a corridor: “Bird-song Chamber is ready for occupation. We dine at the second gong; the tavern is at your convenience until middle evening.” He appraised Jubal’s dust-colored hair, cropped short for coolness. “You would seem to be a Glint, which is all very well, if only you will contain your contentiousness, and defy no one to trials of daring or capacity.”
     “You have an odd opinion of Glints,” said Jubal.
     “To the contrary!” declared the innkeeper. “Already you are mettlesome; is it not as I predicted?”
     “I plan to issue no challenges,” said Jubal. “I take no interest in politics. I drink moderately. I am tired and plan to retire immediately after I take my supper.”
     The innkeeper gave an approving nod. “Many would consider you a dull fellow; not I! The inspector has only just departed. He found a roach in the kitchen and I am bored with tirades.” He drew a mug of ale which he set before Jubal, then drew another for himself. “To ease our nerves.” Tilting his head, he turned the ale into his mouth. Jubal watched in fascination. The hollow cheeks remained hollow; the gaunt throat neither shuddered nor pulsed. The ale disappeared as if poured down a sump. The innkeeper put down the mug and gave Jubal a melancholy inspection. “You travel on Yallow, then?”
     “I’m close to the end of it.”
     “I’d go out again tomorrow, if my legs would stand the tramping.
     Alas, we can’t be young forever. What’s the news from along the way?”
     “Nothing of consequence. At Lurlock they complain of slow summer rains.”
     “There’s the perversity of nature for you! Last week we took a cloudburst that broke all our drains! What else?”
     “At Faneel a slane killed two women with an axe. He escaped into Djanad, not half an hour before I came along the trail.”
     “Djanad is too near for comfort.” He raised his arm and pointed a long finger. “Only seven miles to the border! Every day I hear a new rumor. Djanad is not the placid land we like to believe! Do you realize that they are twenty to our one? If they all went ‘solitary’ together, we’d be dog’s-meat in hours. It’s not lack of emotion which deters them; don’t be deceived by their courtesy.”
     “They follow,” said Jubal. “They never lead.”
     “Look up yonder!” The innkeeper pointed up through the casement to the monstrous bulk of Skay. “There are the leaders! They come down in space-ships; they land practically on our borders. I consider this arrant provocation.”
     “Space-ships?” asked Jubal. “Have you seen them?”
     “My Djan bring me reports.”
     “The Djan will tell you anything.”
     “In certain respects. They are vague, agreed, and also frivolous, but not given to inventive fantasies.”
     “We can’t control the Saidanese. If they choose to visit Djanad, how can we prevent them?”
     “The Servants must make such decisions,” said the innkeeper, “and they have not come to me for advice. Will you take more ale? Or are you ready for your supper?”
     Jubal took his supper, then, for lack of better entertainment, went to bed.
     The morning was clear and bright. Departing the inn, Jubal walked out into a land of gleaming white crags and air fresh with the scent of damp thyrse and ground-mint. Two miles west of Ivo, on the south slope of Mount Cardoon the trail came to an end, swept away by a rock-slide.
     Jubal surveyed the damage, then turned back to Ivo. At the location he recruited three Djan, borrowed tools from the factor and, returning to Mount Cardoon, set to work.
     He had undertaken no trivial task. A retaining wall of roughlaid stone, seventy feet long, from five to ten feet high, had been carried three hundred feet down-hill and lay in a tumble of rough stone.
     Jubal put the Djan to work preparing a new footing, then cut four straight thyrse, from which he constructed a rude derrick overhanging the gully. When the footing was dug, the four men hauled stones up the slope and started a new wall.

     Seventeen days passed. Two thousand stones had been slung, lifted, fitted, and the soil tamped behind them. The eighteenth day dawned cool. A bank of heavy clouds lay in the east, where Skay floated: a great black ball on a scurf of foam. Djan cosmology was both supple and subtle; their portents derived as much from caprice as coherent systemology. On this morning Jubal’s three Djan, by mysterious common consent, kept to their huts. After waiting ten minutes beside the inn Jubal walked down the hill to the location. He had hired Djan from three huts to minimize malingering and slowdowns  (see glossary 2), and now walked from hut to hut beating on the roofs with a pole and calling out the names of his employees. Presently they crawled forth and followed him along the trail, grumbling that the day was unlucky and at the very least threatened rain and chill.
     During the morning the clouds edged closer, striking at the mountains with claws of purple lightning; wind groaned through the high crevasses of Mount Cardoon. The three Djan worked nervously, accomplishing little and pausing every few seconds to appraise the sky. Jubal himself became ill at ease: it was never wise to ignore the intuitions of the Djan.
     An hour before noon the wind stopped short; the mountains became unnaturally quiet. Again the Djan halted in their work to listen. Jubal heard nothing. He asked the nearest Djan: “What do you hear?”
     “Nothing, master.”
     Jubal climbed down the slope to the rock-slide. He rolled a stone into the sling. The line remained slack. Jubal looked up the slope. The Djan were listening, graceful heads raised. Jubal also listened. From far away sounded a curious pulsing whine. Jubal looked around the sky but mist obscured the view. The sound dwindled to nothing.
     The rope tightened; the Djan worked the winch with a sudden access of energy.
     Midday arrived. Safalael, the youngest Djan, brewed tea and the four took lunch in the shelter of a great boulder. Mist blew up the moor, condensing to a fine drizzle. The Djan made finger-signals among themselves. When Jubal returned to work, they hesitated, but, being three, could form no common purpose, and followed without zest.
     Jubal returned down to the rock-slide. He threw the sling around a stone and gave the signal to lift. The line remained loose. Jubal looked up the slope to find the Djan once again poised in the act of listening. Jubal opened his mouth to bellow orders, but checked himself and also listened.
     From the west came a jingle and a grunting chant: the marchmeasure by which a Djan troop coordinated its step when on the move.
     Along the trail appeared a Thariot riding a single-wheeled ercycle; then a column of thirty-two perrupters—warriors recruited from Djan ‘solitaries’—trotting four abreast. The Thariot rode sternly erect: a man of striking appearance, with large prominent eyes, a proud mouth, a black ram’s-horn mustache. He wore a black tunic over gray velvet trousers, a black hat with a wide slanting brim. He displayed no culbrass; his appearance and posture nevertheless suggested high caste. He rode in evident haste, with no thought for his panting escort.
     In puzzlement Jubal watched the approaching column: where had they come from? The trail led to Glentlin, making no connection with the Isedel lowlands.
     Arriving at the break in the trail the ercycle-rider stopped short and made a gesture of petulant impatience. Then, suddenly becoming aware first of the three Djan workers, then Jubal, he drew back and tugged down the brim of his hat. Odd indeed! thought Jubal; the man seemed furtive. Clearly he was in a hurry, and in a mood to attempt the precarious way across Jubal’s construction.
     Jubal called out a warning: “The trail can’t be used! It will collapse under you! Go around the hill!”
     The rider, from perversity, or arrogance, paid no heed. He rolled forward, down to the makeshift path. The perrupters plunged forward, four abreast. Jubal cried out in consternation: “Stop! You’ll destroy the wall!”
The rider, with a sidelong glance down at Jubal, rolled on, wobbling and sliding. The front ranks of the troop, stubbornly four abreast, dislodged stones, which bounded down-slope. Jubal scrambled and dodged. “You cursed fool!” he screamed. “Go back! Or I’ll have a warrant on you!”
     The perrupters marched on, compressing their ranks where the path pinched them between mountainside and loosely stacked stones. The rider spoke something over his shoulder and accelerated his pace. The perrupters jogged forward, and the entire half-finished wall, collapsing, bursting apart, tumbled down the slope. Stones struck Jubal, knocking him down. Hugging his head with hands and arms he curled into a ball, and rolled down-slope with the rocks. He fell over a ledge and frantically sought shelter.
     At the far side of the gap the rider halted his ercycle. Serenely he gazed down at the new rock-slide; then, giving his hat a twitch, he turned, and proceeded eastward. The perrupters followed at a trot. The entire column disappeared around a bend in the trail.
     The three Djan, convinced that work was finished for the day, returned to their location. An hour later Jubal, bruised and bleeding, with a broken arm, broken ribs, and cracked collarbone, crawled up to the trail. He rested several minutes, then heaving himself erect he staggered away toward Ivo.

 This chapter from Maske:Theary was formatted from the VIE pdf to text for Foreverness, by Greg Hansen.