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Authors: C. J. Cherryh

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The Faded Sun Trilogy

BOOK: The Faded Sun Trilogy
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THE FADED SUN

C. J. CHERRYH

Kesrith

Shon’jir

Kutath

DAW Titles by C.J. CHERRYH

THE FOREIGNER UNIVERSE

FOREIGNER

INVADER

INHERITOR

PRECURSOR

DEFENDER

EXPLORER

DESTROYER

PRETENDER

DELIVERER

CONSPIRATOR

DECEIVER

BETRAYER

INTRUDER

PROTECTOR

PEACEMAKER

TRACKER

THE ALLIANCE-UNION UNIVERSE

REGENESIS

DOWNBELOW STATION

THE DEEP BEYOND:

Serpent’s Reach
|
Cuckoo’s Egg

ALLIANCE SPACE:

Merchanter’s Luck
|
40,000 in Gehenna

AT THE EDGE OF SPACE:

Brothers of Earth
|
Hunter of Worlds

THE FADED SUN:

Kesrith
|
Shon’jir
|
Kutath

THE CHANUR NOVELS

The Pride of Chanur
|
Chanur’s Venture
|
The Kif Strike Back

Chanur’s Homecoming
|
Chanur’s Legacy

THE MORGAINE CYCLE

Gate of Ivrel
|
Well of Shiuan
|
Fires of Azeroth
|
Exile’s Gate

OTHER WORKS

THE DREAMING TREE Omnibus:

The Tree of Swords and Jewels
|
The Dreamstone

ALTERNATE REALITIES Omnibus:

Port Eternity
|
Wave Without a Shore
|
Voyager in Night

THE COLLECTED SHORT FICTION OF CJ CHERRYH

THE FADED SUN: KESRITH

Copyright © 1978 by C. J. Cherryh

THE FADED SUN: SHON’JIR

Copyright © 1978 by C. J. Cherryh

THE FADED SUN: KUTATH

Copyright © 1979 by C. J. Cherryh

THE FADED SUN TRILOGY OMNIBUS

Copyright © 2000 by C. J. Cherryh.

ISBN: 978-1-101-66542-8

All Rights Reserved.

Cover art by Michael Whelan.

DAW Book Collectors No. 1143.

Published by DAW Books, Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

All characters in this book are fictitious.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

The uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law.
Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.
Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
—MARCA REGISTRADA.
HECHO EN U.S.A.

Version_1

KESRITH:

For Don Wollheim, with most especial appreciation

SHON’JIR:

To Elsie Wollheim . . . for being Elsie

KUTATH

To Betsy Wollheim . . . for carrying it all forward

Table of Contents

Book One:
Kesrith

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Book Two:
Shon’Jir

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Book Three:
Kutath

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Book One:
Kesrith
Chapter One

Wind-child, sun-child, what is Kath?

Child-bearers, laugh-bringers, that is Kath.

It was a game,
shon’ai,
the passing-game, Kel-style, in the dim round hall of the Kel, the middle tower of the House—black-robed men and a black-robed woman, a circle of ten. Warriors, they played the round not like children, with a pair of stones, but with the spinning blades of the
as’ei,
that could wound or kill. On the name-beat, the snap of fingers, the
as’ei
flew across the seated circle of players, and skilled hands seized the hilts in mid-turn, to beat the time and hurl the blades on in the next name-beat.

Fire-child, star-child, what is Kel?

Sword-bearers, song-weavers, that is Kel.

They played without words, with only the rhythm of their hands and the weapons, flesh and steel. The rhythm was as old as time and as familiar as childhood. The game had more meaning than the act, more than the simplicity of the words. The Game of the People, it was called.

Dawn-child, earth-child, what is Sen?

Rune-makers, home-leaders, that is Sen.

A kel’en who flinched, whose eye failed or whose wits wandered, had no value in the House. The boys and girls and women of the Kath played with stones to learn their skill. Those who became kel’ein played thereafter with edged steel. The Kel, like the mothers and children of the gentle Kath, laughed as they played. They of
Kel-caste were brief and bright as moths. They enjoyed life, because they knew this.

Then-child, now-child, what are we?

Dream-seekers, life-bearers, we are—

A door opened, echoing, the sound rolling through the hollows and depths of the tower. Sen Sathell broke in upon them, suddenly and without warning or courtesies.

The rhythm ceased. The blades rested in the hands of Niun, the youngest kel’en. The Kel as a whole inclined their heads in respect to Sathell s’Delas, chief of Sen-caste, the scholars. Gold-robed he was, like light breaking into the dark hall of the martial Kel, and he was very old—the oldest man of all in the House.

“Kel’anth,” he said quietly, addressing Eddan, his counterpart in the Kel, “—kel’ein—news has come. The rumor is the war has ended. The regul have asked the humans for peace.”

There was utter silence.

An abrupt move. The
as’ei
whirred and buried points in the painted plaster of the far wall.

The youngest kel’en rose and veiled himself, and stalked from the gathering, leaving shock in his wake.

The sen’anth and the kel’anth looked at each other, old men and kinsmen, helpless in their distress.

And from the deepest shadows one of the dusei, a brown, slope-shouldered mass larger than a man, stirred and rose, ambling forth into the light in that mournful, abstracted manner of dusei. It pushed its way irreverently between the two elders, thrusting its massive head at the kel’anth, who was its master, seeking comfort.

Kel’anth Eddan patted the beast with age-smooth fingers and looked up at the old scholar who, outside the divisions of caste and duty, was his half-brother. “Is the news beyond any doubt?” he asked, the least trace of hope yet remaining in his voice.

“Yes. The source is regul official communications, no city rumor. It seems completely reliable.” Sathell gathered his robes about him and, tucking them between his knees, settled on the carpeted floor among the kel’ein, who eased aside to make room for him in their circle.

They were, these ten, the elders of the House, save one.

They were mri.

In their tongue, when they made this statement, they were merely saying that they were of the People. Their word for other species was tsi’mri, which meant not-people, and summed up mri philosophy, religion, and the personal attitudes of the elders at once.

They were, as a species, golden-toned. Mri legends said that the People were born of the sun: skin, eyes, coarse shoulder-length manes, all were bronze or gold. Their hands and feet were narrow and long, and they were a tall, slender race. Their senses, even in great age, were very keen, their hearing in particular most sensitive. Their golden eyes were lid-folded, double-lidded as well, for a nictitating membrane acted on reflex to protect their vision against blowing dust.

They were, as outsiders believed, a species of warriors, of mercenaries—for outsiders saw the Kel, and rarely the Sen, and never the Kath. Mri served outsiders for hire—served the regul, the massive tsi’mri merchants native to Nurag of the star Mab. For many centuries, mri kel’ein had hired out to protect regul commerce between-worlds, generally hired by one regul company as defense against the ambitions and ruthlessness of some business rival, and mri had therefore fought against mri. Those years and that service had been good for the People, this trying of one kel’en of a certain service against the kel’en of another, in proper and traditional combat, as it had always been. Such trials-at-aims refined the strength of the People, eliminating the weak and unfit and giving honor to the strong. In those days the tsi’mri regul had recognized themselves to be incapable of fighting and unskilled in planning strategies, and sensibly left all matters of conflict to the mri Kel to settle in the mri fashion.

BOOK: The Faded Sun Trilogy
7.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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