By George R. R. Martin
In a crumbling urban on a death planet, younger Annelyn has lived a lifetime of privilege. whilst he's humiliated by the hands of the artful groun hunter they name the Meatbringer, he and his high-born associates plot revenge. yet Annelyn's plan is going desperately awry, prime him deep into the city's ruins—and to the gruesome fact approximately his forebears' reverence for the mythic White Worm.
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It was once hopeless. Up within the Undertunnel, sure, or even within the border areas, the so-called groun-runs, definite. yet no longer right here. but, with no torch—his suits have been subsequent to lifeless. they might by no means lead him out. possibly he can make a torch, Annelyn suggestion. He attempted to remember how torches have been made. The shafts have been mostly wooden. The crooked ones have been reduce from the bent yellow bloodfruit tree, after the leaves and the red-white berries have been placed into the breeding tanks for the food-worms. after which there have been the instantly ones, longer and white, the shafts made through binding jointly thick strips from the stem of a large mushroom and soaking them in—what? something—until they have been not easy. after which anything used to be wrapped round the finish. a fabric, soaked in something-or-other, or a greasy bag of dry fungus, or anything. That was once what burned. yet he didn’t recognize the main points. along with, and not using a torch, how may he discover a bloodfruit tree or a massive mushroom? and the way might he locate the precise fungus, and dry it, if that used to be what you have been speculated to do? No. He couldn't make a torch, not more than he may well locate one. Annelyn used to be worried. He started to shake. Why was once he down the following, why, why? He might be up one of the yaga-la-hai, in flamesilk and spidergray, bantering with Caralee or munching spiced spiders at a masque. Now, rather than munching, he used to be more likely to be munched. via the grouns, in the event that they chanced on him, or by means of the Meatbringer. He remembered vividly the best way the Meatbringer had quaffed the cup jam-packed with Vermyllar’s lifeblood. the concept despatched Annelyn to his ft. The Meatbringer will be coming for him. He needs to cross someplace, whether he couldn't see the place. Frantic, with one hand he pulled free his stiletto whereas with the opposite he felt for the reassuring wall, and he started to stroll. The burrow used to be perpetually black, and whole of terrors. The wall used to be the single sanity, cool and company beside him, with its fists and its air ducts the place they need to be. The rest—there have been sounds round him, rustlings and scurryings, and he used to be by no means definite if he imagined them or now not. usually, within the lengthy stroll towards not anything, he concept he heard the Meatbringer guffawing, guffawing simply as he had on the solar Masque goodbye in the past. He heard it dimly and distant, above him, lower than him, in the back of him. as soon as he heard it in entrance of him, and stopped, and held his breath and waited for an hour or even a week with out as soon as relocating, yet there has been not anyone there in any respect. After a time Annelyn observed lighting fixtures too; obscure shadowy shapes and drifting globes and crouching issues that glowed and ran away. Or did he basically imagine he observed them? They have been regularly far away, or simply round a few bend, or sparkling at the back of him and never there whilst he became to determine. He spied a dozen torches, off sooner than him, burning vibrant and crackling with desire, yet each one used to be snatched away or snuffed ahead of he may possibly run to it. He stumbled on simply empty bronze fists, while he came across something in any respect. He was once strolling very speedy now, even operating, and his footsteps echoed deafeningly, as though a military of the yaga-la-hai have been trotting into conflict.