I knew him. Or I knew him for what he was. I had seen dodging, furtive, green-clad figures like his before, and an anger already familiar surged over me at the very sight of him.
Enemy, upstart! One of the many who had dared work their magic upon the great Lord Ganelon.
I felt the heat of rage suffuse my face, and the blood rang in my ears with this unfamiliar, yet well-known fury. My body stiffened in the posture of Ganelon -- shoulders back, lip curled, chin high. I heard myself curse the fellow in a voice that was choked and a language I scarcely remembered. And I saw him draw back, disbelief vivid upon his face. His hand dropped to his belt.
"Ganelon?" he faltered, his eyes narrow as they searched mine. "Edward, are you with us or are you Ganelon again?"
V. Scarlet Witch GRIPPED in my right hand I still held the sword. I cut at him savagely by way of answer. He sprang back, glanced at me over his shoulder, and drew his weapon. I followed his glance and saw another green figure dodging forward among the trees. It was smaller and slenderer -- a girl, in a tunic the color of earth and forest. Her black hair swung upon her shoulders. She was tugging at her belt as she ran, and the face she turned to me was ugly with hate, her teeth showing in a snarl.
The man before me was saying something.
"Edward, listen to me!" he was crying. "Even if you're Ganelon, you remember Edward Bond! He was with us -- he believed in us. Give us a hearing before it's too late! Aries could convince you, Edward! Come to Aries. Even if you're Ganelon, let me take you to Aries!"
"It's no use, Ertu," the voice of the girl cried thinly. She was struggling with the last of the trees, whose flexible bough-tips still clutched to stop her. Neither of them tried now to keep their voices down. They were shouting, and I knew they must rouse the guards at any moment, and I wanted to kill them both myself before anyone came to forestall me by accident. I was hungry and thirsty for the blood of these enemies, and in that moment the name of Edward Bond was not even a memory.
"Kill him, Ertu!" cried the girl. "Kill him or stand out of the way! I know Ganelon!"
I looked at her and took a fresh grip on my sword. Yes, she spoke the truth. She knew Ganelon. And Ganelon knew her, and remembered dimly that she had reason for her hate. I had seen that face before, contorted with fury and despair. I could not recall when or where or why, but she looked familiar.
The man Ertu drew his weapon reluctantly. To him I was still at least the image of a friend. I laughed exultantly and swung at him again with the sword, hearing it hiss viciously through the air. This time I drew blood. He stepped back again, lifting his weapon so that I looked down its black barrel.
"Don't make me do it," he said between his teeth. "This will pass. You have been Edward Bond -- you will be again. Don't make me kill you, Ganelon!"
I lifted the sword, seeing him only dimly through a ruddy haze of anger. There was a great exultation in me. I could already see the fountain of blood that would leap from his severed arteries when my blade completed its swing.
I braced my body for the great full-armed blow!
And the sword came alive in my hand. It leaped and shuddered against my fist.
Impossibly -- in a way I cannot describe -- that blow reversed itself. All the energy I was braced to expend upon my enemy recoiled up the sword, up my arm, crashed against my own body. A violent explosion of pain and shock sent the garden reeling. The earth stuck hard against my knees.
Mist cleared from my eyes. I was still Ganelon, but a Ganelon dizzy from something more powerful than a blow.
I was kneeling on the grass, braced with one hand, shaking the throbbing fingers of my sword-hand and staring at the sword that lay a dozen feet away, still faintly glowing.
It was Matholch's doing -- I knew that! I should have remembered how little I could trust that shifting, unstable wolf-ling. I had laid hands upon him in his tower-room -- I should have known he would have his revenge for that. Even Edward Bond -- soft fool that he was -- would have been wise enough not to accept a gift from the shape-changer.
There was no time now for anger at Matholch, though. I was looking up into Ertu's eyes, and into the muzzle of his weapon, and a look of decision grew slowly in his face as he scanned mine.
"Ganelon!" he said, almost whispering. "Warlock!"
He tilted the weapon down at me, his finger moving on the trigger.
"Wait, Ertu!" cried a thin voice behind him. "Wait -- let me!"
I looked up, still dazed. It had all happened so quickly that the girl was still struggling in the edge of the trees, though she cleared them as I looked and lifted her own weapon. Behind it her face was white and blazing with relentless hate. "Let me!" she cried again. "He owes me this!"
I was helpless. I knew that even at this distance she would not miss. I saw the glare of fury in her eyes and I saw the muzzle waver a little as her hand shook with rage, but I knew she would not miss me. I thought of a great many things in that instant -- confused memories of Ganelon's and of Edward Bond's surged together through my mind.
Then a great hissing like a wind swept up among the trees behind the girl. They all swayed toward her more swiftly than trees have any right to move, stooping and straining and hissing with a dreadful vicious avidity. Ertu shouted something inarticulate. But I think the girl was too angry to hear or see.
She never knew what happened. She could only have felt the great bone-cracking sweep of the nearest branch, reaching out for her from the leaning tree. She fired as the blow struck her, and a white-hot bolt ploughed up the turf at my knee, I could smell the charring grass.
The girl screamed thinly once as the avid boughs writhed together over her. The limbs threshed about her in a furious welter, and I heard one clear and distinct snap -- a sound I had heard before, I knew, in this garden. The human spine is no more than a twig in the grip of those mighty boughs.
Ertu was stunned for one brief instant. Then he whirled to me, and this time I knew his finger would not hesitate on the trigger.
But time had run out for the two woods-people. He was not fully turned when there came a laugh, cool and amused, from behind me. I saw loathing and hatred flash across Ertu's bronzed face, and the weapon whirled away from me and pointed toward someone at my back. But before he could press the trigger something like an arrow of white light sprang over my shoulder and struck him above the heart.
He dropped instantly, his mouth frozen in a snarling square, his eyes staring.
I turned, getting slowly to my feet. Medea stood there smiling, very slim and lovely in a close-fitting scarlet gown. In her hand was a small black rod, still raised. Her purple eyes met mine.
"Ganelon," she murmured in an infinitely caressing voice. "Ganelon." And still holding my gaze with hers, she clapped her hands softly.
Silent, swift-moving guardsmen came and lifted the motionless body of Ertu. They carried him away. The trees stirred, whispered -- and fell silent.
"You have remembered," Medea said. "Ganelon is ours again. Do you remember me -- Lord Ganelon?"
Medea, witch of Colchis! Black and white and crimson, she stood there smiling at me, her strange loveliness stirring old, forgotten memories in my blood. No man who had known Medea could ever forget her wholly. Not till time ended.
But wait! There was something more about Medea that I must remember. Something that made even Ganelon a little doubtful, a little cautious. Ganelon? Was I Ganelon again? I had been wholly my old self when the woods-people stood before me, but now I was uncertain.
The memories ebbed. While the lovely witch stood smiling at me, not guessing, all that had made me so briefly Ganelon dropped from my mind and body like a discarded cloak. Edward Bond stood there in my clothing, staring about the clearing and remembering with dismay and sick revulsion what had just been happening here.
For a moment I turned away to hide from Medea what my face must betray if she saw it. I felt dizzy with more than memory. The knowledge that two identities shared my body was a thought even more disturbing than the memory of what I had just done in the grip of Ganelon's strong, evil will.
This was Ganelon's body. There could be no doubt of it now. Somewhere on Earth Edward Bond was back in his old place, but the patterns of his memory still overlaid my mind, so that he and I shared a common soul, and there was no Ganelon except briefly, in snatches, as the memories that were rightfully mine -- mine? -- returned to crowd out Edward Bond.
I hated Ganelon. I rejected all he thought and was. My false memories, the heritage from Edward Bond, were stronger in me than Ganelon. I was Edward Bond -- now!
Medea's caressing voice broke in upon my conflict, echoing her question.
"Do you remember me, Lord Ganelon?"
I turned to her, feeling the bewilderment on my own face, so that my very thoughts were blurred.
"My name is Bond," I told her stubbornly.
"You will come back," she said. "It will take time, but Ganelon will return to us. As you see familiar things again, the life of the Dark World, the life of the Coven, the doors of your mind will open once more. You will remember a little more tonight, I think, at the Sabbat." Her red smile was suddenly almost frightening.
"Not since I went into the Earth-world has a Sabbat been held, and it is long past time," she went on. "For in Caer Llyr there is one who stirs and grows hungry for his sacrifice."
She looked at me piercingly, the purple eyes narrowing.
"Do you remember Caer Llyr, Ganelon?"
The old sickness and horror came over me as she repeated that cryptic name.
Llyr -- Llyr! Darkness, and something stirring beyond a golden window. Something too alien to touch the soil that human feet touched, something that should never share the same life humans lived. Touching that soil, sharing that life, it defiled them so that they were no longer fit for humans to share. And yet, despite my revulsion, Llyr was terribly intimate, too!
I knew, I remembered -- "I remember nothing," I told her shortly. For in that particular moment, caution was born in me. I could not trust anyone, not even myself. Least of all Ganelon -- myself. I did remember, but I must not let them know. Until I was clearer as to what they wanted, what they threatened, I must keep this one secret which was all the weapon I had.
Llyr! The thought of him -- of it -- crystallized that decision in my mind. For somewhere in the murk of Ganelon's past there was a frightening link with Llyr. I knew they were trying to push me into that abyss of oneness with Llyr, and I sensed that even Ganelon feared that. I must pretend to be more ignorant than I really was until the thing grew clearer in my memory.
I shook my head again. "I remembered nothing." a "Not even Medea?" she whispered, and swayed toward me. There was-sorcery about her. My arms received that red and white softness as if they were Ganelon's arms, not mine. But it was Edward Bond's lips which responded to the fierce pressure of her lips.
Not even Medea?
Edward Bond or Ganelon, what was it to me then? The moment was enough.
But the touch of the red witch wrought a change in Edward Bond. It brought a sense of strangeness, of utter strangeness, to him -- to me. I held her lovely, yielding body in my arms, but something alien and unknown stooped and hovered above me as we touched. I surmised that she was holding herself in check -- restraining a -- a demon that possessed her -- a demon that fought to free itself.
Trembling, she pressed her palms against my chest and thrust free. Tiny droplets stood on her pale forehead.
"Enough!" she whispered. "You know!"
And now stark horror stood in those purple eyes.
"You have forgotten!" she said. "You have forgotten me, forgotten who I am, what I am!"
VI. The Ride to Caer Secaire LATER, in the apartments that had been Ganelon's, I waited for the hour of Sabbat. And as I waited, I paced the floor restlessly. Ganelon's feet, pacing Ganelon's floor. But the man who walked here was Edward Bond. Amazing, I thought, how the false memory-patterns of another person, impressed upon Ganelon's clean-sponged brain, had changed him from himself to -- me.
I wondered if I would ever be sure again which personality was myself. I hated and distrusted Ganelon, now. But I knew how easily the old self slipped back, in which I would despise Edward Bond.
And yet to save myself, I must call back Ganelon's memories. I must know more than those around me guessed I knew, or I thought Ganelon and Bond together might be lost. Medea would tell me nothing. Edeyrn would tell me nothing. Matholch might tell me much, but he would be lying.
I scarcely dared go with them to this Sabbat, which I thought would be the Sabbat of Llyr, because of that strange and terrible link between Llyr and myself. There would be sacrifices.
How could I be sure I, myself, was not destined for the altar before that -- that golden window?
Then, for a brief but timeless moment Ganelon came back, remembering fragmentary things that flitted through my mind too swiftly to take shape. I caught only terror -- terror and revulsion and a hideous, hopeless longing....
Dared I attend the Sabbat?
But I dared not fail to attend, for if I refused I must admit I knew more about what threatened Ganelon than Edward Bond should know. And my only frail weapon against them now was what little I recalled that was secret from them. I must go. Even if the altar waited me, I must go.
There were the woodspeople. They were outlaws, hunted through the. forests by Coven soldiers. Capture meant enslavement -- I remembered the look of still horror in the eyes of those living dead men who were Medea's servants. As Edward Bond, I pitied them, wondered if I could do anything to save them from the Coven. The real Edward Bond had been living among them for a year and a half, organizing resistance, fighting the Coven. On Earth, I knew, he must be raging helplessly now, haunted by the knowledge of work unfinished and friends abandoned to the mercies of dark magic.
Perhaps I should seek the woodspeople out. Among them, at least, I would be safe while my memories returned. But when they returned -- why, men Ganelon would rage, running amuck among them, mad with his own fury and arrogance. Dared I subject the woodspeople to the danger that would be the Lord Ganelon when Ganelon's memories came back? Dared I subject myself to their vengeance, for they would be many against one?
I could not go and I could not stay. There was safety nowhere for the Edward Bond who might become Ganelon at any moment. There was danger everywhere. From the rebel woods-people, from every member of this Coven.
It might come through the wild and mocking Matholch.
Or through Edeyrn, who had watched me unseen with her chilling gaze in the shadows of her cowl.
Through Ghast Rhymi, whoever he was. Through Aries, or through the red witch!
Yes, most of all, I thought, through Medea -- Medea, whom I loved!
At dusk, two maidens -- helot-servants -- came, bringing food and a change of garments. I ate hurriedly, dressed in the plain, fine-textured tunic and shorts, and drew about me the royal blue cloak they had carried. A mask of golden cloth I dangled undecidedly, until one of the maidens spoke: "We are to guide you when you are ready, Lord," she reminded me.
"I'm ready now," I said, and followed the pair.
A pale, concealed lighting system of some sort made the hallways bright. I was taken to Medea's apartment, with its singing fountain under the high dome. The red witch was there breathtakingly lovely in a clinging robe of pure white. Above the robe her naked shoulders gleamed smoothly. She wore a scarlet cloak. I wore a blue one.
The helots slipped away. Medea smiled at me, but I noticed a wire-taut tenseness about her, betrayingly visible at the corners of her lips and in her eyes. A pulse of expectation seemed to beat out from her.
"Are you ready, Ganelon?"
"I don't know," I said. "It depends, I suppose. Don't forget that my memory's gone."
"It may return tonight, some of it anyway," she said.
"But you will take no part in the ritual, at least until after the sacrifice. It will be better if you merely watch. Since you do not remember the rites, you'd best leave those to the rest of the Coven."
"And Edeyrn," Medea said. "Ghast Rhymi will not come. He never leaves this castle, nor will he unless the need is very great. He is old, too-old."
I frowned at the red witch. "Where are we going?" I asked.
"To Caer Secaire. I told you there had been no sacrifice since I went to Earth-world to search for you. It is past time."
"What am I supposed to do?"
She put out a slender hand and touched mine.
"Nothing, till the moment comes. You will know then. But meantime you must watch -- no more than that. Put on your mask now."
She slipped on a small black mask that left the lower half of her face visible.
I donned the golden mask. I followed Medea to a curtained archway, and through it.
We were in a courtyard. Two horses stood waiting, held by grooms. Medea mounted one and I the other.
Overhead the sky had darkened. A huge door lifted in the wall. Beyond, a roadway stretched toward the distant forest.
The somber, angry disc of the red sun, swollen and burning with a dull fire, touched the crest of the mountain barrier.
Swiftly it sank. Darkness came across the sky with a swooping rush. A million points of white light became visible. In the faint starshine Medea's face was ghost-pale.