The book of the mad priest Nisses is large, say those who have held it, and as heavy as a small child. It was discovered at Nisses’ side as he lay, dead and smiling, beside the tower window from which his master King Hjeldin had leaped to his own death moments before.
“The rusty brown ink, concocted of lambsfoil, hellebore, and rue–as well as some redder, thicker liquid–is dry, and flakes easily from the thin pages. The unadorned skin of a hairless animal, the species unprovable, forms the binding.
“Those holy men of Nabban who read it after Nisses’ passing pronounced it heretical and dangerous, but for some reason did not burn it, as is usually done with such texts. Instead, it lay for many years in Mother Church’s near-endless archives, in the deepest, most secret vaults of the Sancellan Aedonitis. It has now apparently disappeared from the onyx casket which housed it; the never-gregarious Order of the Archives is vague as to its present whereabouts.
“Some who have read Nisses’ heretical work claim that it contains all the secrets of Osten Ard, from this land’s murky past to the shadows of things unborn. The Aedonite priest-examiners will say only that its subject matter was ‘unholy.’
“It may indeed be true that Nisses’ writings predict the what-will-be as clearly–and, we may presume, eccentrically–as they chronicle the what-has-been. It is not known, however, whether the great deeds of our age–especially, for our concern, the rise and triumph of Prester John–are included in the priest’s foretellings, although there are suggestions that this may be true. Much of Nisses’ writing is mysterious, its meaning hidden in strange rhymes and obscure references. I have never read the full work, and most of those who have are now long dead.
“The book is titled, in the cold, harsh runes of Nisses’ northern birthplace, Du Svardenvyrd, which means The Weird of the Swords…”
The Life and Reign of King John Presbyter, by Morgenes Ercestres
© 1988 by Tad Williams. All Rights Reserved
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