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And on the finish of the meal the king murmured a observe to the steward, who beckoned either the prepare dinner and the Shepherd into the corridor. The prepare dinner, the steward, and the Shepherd knelt ahead of the king, who reached out 3 fingers to the touch their heads. via lengthy perform they authorized his contact with no recoiling, with out even blinking, for they knew such issues displeased him. finally, it was once an excellent gift that they can serve the king: their prone stored them from giving kingsmeat from their very own flesh, or from adorning with their dermis the tapestried partitions of the fortress or the lengthy teach of a hunting-cape. The king’s armpits nonetheless touched the heads of the 3 servants whilst a shudder ran throughout the citadel and a low caution tone started to drone. The king and queen left the desk and with planned dignity moved to the consoles and sat. There they pressed buttons, environment in movement all of the unseeable defenses of the citadel. After an hour of arduous focus they well-known defeat and pulled their palms again from the now-useless projects that they had been doing. The fields of strength that had lengthy held the skinny partitions of the citadel to their soft top now lapsed, the partitions fell, and a shining steel send settled silently in the course of the ruins. The aspect of the skyship opened and out of it got here 4 males, guns of their arms and anger of their eyes. Seeing them, the king and queen appeared unfortunately at one another after which pulled the ritual knives from their resting position in the back of their heads and concurrently plunged them among one another’s eyes. They died immediately, and the twenty-two-year conquest of Abbey Colony was once at an finish. useless, the king and queen appeared like unhappy squids mendacity flat and empty on a fisherman’s deck, under no circumstances like conquerors of planets and eaters of guys. the lads from the skyship walked to the corpses and made definite they have been lifeless. Then they appeared round and learned for the 1st time that they weren't on my own. For the Shepherd, the steward, and the prepare dinner stood within the ruins of the palace, their eyes extensive with unbelief. one of many males from the send reached out a hand. “How are you able to be alive? ” he requested. they didn't resolution, now not realizing rather what the query intended. “How have you ever survived the following, when—” after which there have been no phrases, for they regarded past the palace, around the moat to the group of colonists and sons of colonists who stood gazing them. And seeing them there with no legs and arms and eyes and breasts and lips, the lads from the send emptied their palms of guns and crammed their fingers with tears after which crossed the bridge to grieve one of the introduced ones’ rejoicing. there has been no time for motives, nor used to be there a necessity. The colonists crept and hobbled and, sometimes, walked around the bridge to the ruined palace and shaped a circle round the our bodies of the king and queen. Then they got to work, and inside an hour the corpses have been mendacity within the pit that have been the basis of the citadel, coated with urine and feces and stinking already of degradation.