- Black Rose
- The Great Train Robbery
- Blue Dahlia
- Carnal Innocence
- Dance Upon the Air
- High Noon
- Sacred Sins
- Face the Fire
- Holding the Dream
- A Man for Amanda
- All the Possibilities
- Black Rose
- The Great Train Robbery
- Blue Dahlia
- Carnal Innocence
- Dance Upon the Air
- High Noon
- Sacred Sins
- Face the Fire
- Holding the Dream
- A Man for Amanda
The Golden Compass
"They must put some food in sometime, else we'd starve. And there's bones on the floor. I expect they're seal bones, aren't they?"
"Seal...I don't know. It might be."
Lyra got up and felt her way to the door. There was no handle, naturally, and no keyhole, and it fitted so closely at top and bottom that no light showed. She pressed her ear to it, but heard nothing. Behind her the old man was muttering to himself. She heard his chain rattle as he turned over wearily and lay the other way, and presently he began to snore.
She felt her way back to the bench. Pantalaimon, tired of putting out light, had become a bat, which was all very well for him; he fluttered around squeaking quietly while Lyra sat and chewed a fingernail.
Quite suddenly, with no warning at all, she remembered what it was that she'd heard the Palmerian Professor saying in the Retiring Room all that time ago. Something had been nagging at her ever since lorek Byrnison had first mentioned lofur's name, and now it came back: what lofur Raknison wanted more than anything else, Professor Trelawney had said, was a daemon.
Of course, she hadn't understood what he meant; he'd spoken of panserbj0rne instead of using the English word, so she didn't know he was talking about bears, and she had no idea that lofur Raknison wasn't a man. And a man would have had a daemon anyway, so it hadn't made sense.
But now it was plain. Everything she'd heard about the bear-king added up: the mighty lofur Raknison wanted nothing more than to be a human being, with a daemon of his own.
And as she thought that, a plan came to her: a way of making lofur Raknison do what he would normally never have done; a way of restoring lorek Byrnison to his rightful throne; a way, finally, of getting to the place where they had put Lord Asriel, and taking him the alethiometer.
The idea hovered and shimmered delicately, like a soap bubble, and she dared not even look at it directly in case it burst. But she was familiar with the way of ideas, and she let it shimmer, looking away, thinking about something else.
She was nearly asleep when the bolts clattered and the door opened. Light spilled in, and she was on her feet at once, with Pantalaimon hidden swiftly in her pocket.
As soon as the bear guard bent his head to lift the haunch of seal meat and throw it in, she was at his side, saying:
"Take me to lofur Raknison. You'll be in trouble if you don't. It's very urgent."
He dropped the meat from his jaws and looked up. It wasn't easy to read bears' expressions, but he looked angry.
"It's about lorek Byrnison," she said quickly. "I know something about him, and the king needs to know."
"Tell me what it is, and I'll pass the message on," said the bear.
"That wouldn't be right, not for someone else to know before the king does," she said. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but you see, it's the rule that the king has to know things first."
Perhaps he was slow-witted. At any rate, he paused, and then threw the meat into the cell before saying, "Very well. You come with me."
He led her out into the open air, for which she was grateful. The fog had lifted and there were stars glittering above the high-walled courtyard. The guard conferred with another bear, who came to speak to her.
"You cannot see lofur Raknison when you please," he said. "You have to wait till he wants to see you."
"But this is urgent, what I've got to tell him," she said. "It's about lorek Byrnison. I'm sure His Majesty would want to know it, but all the same I can't tell it to anyone else, don't you see? It wouldn't be polite. He'd be ever so cross if he knew we hadn't been polite."
That seemed to carry some weight, or else to mystify the bear sufficiently to make him pause. Lyra was sure her interpretation of things was right: lofur Raknison was introducing so many new ways that none of the bears was certain yet how to behave, and she could exploit this uncertainty in order to get to lofur.
So that bear retreated to consult the bear above him, and before long Lyra was ushered inside the palace again, but into the state quarters this time. It was no cleaner here, and in fact the air was even harder to breathe than in the cell, because all the natural stinks had been overlaid by a heavy layer of cloying perfume. She was made to wait in a corridor, then in an anteroom, then outside a large door, while bears discussed and argued and scurried back and forth, and she had time to look around at the preposterous decoration: the walls were rich with gilt plasterwork, some of which was already peeling off or crumbling with damp, and the florid carpets were trodden with filth.
Finally the large door was opened from the inside. A blaze of light from half a dozen chandeliers, a crimson carpet, and more of that thick perfume hanging in the air; and the faces of a dozen or more bears, all gazing at her, none in armor but each with some kind of decoration: a golden necklace, a headdress of purple feathers, a crimson sash. Curiously, the room was also occupied by birds; terns and skuas perched on the plaster cornice, and swooped low to snatch at bits of fish that had fallen out of one another's nests in the chandeliers.
And on a dais at the far end of the room, a mighty throne reared up high. It was made of granite for strength and mas-siveness, but like so many other things in lofur's palace, it was decorated with overelaborate swags and festoons of gilt that looked like tinsel on a mountainside.
Sitting on the throne was the biggest bear she had ever seen. lofur Raknison was even taller and bulkier than lorek, and his face was much more mobile and expressive, with a kind of humanness in it which she had never seen in lorek's. When lofur looked at her, she seemed to see a man looking out of his eyes, the sort of man she had met at Mrs. Coulter's, a subtle politician used to power. He was wearing a heavy gold chain around his neck, with a gaudy jewel hanging from it, and his claws - a good six inches long - were each covered in gold leaf. The effect was one of enormous strength and energy and craft; he was quite big enough to carry the absurd overdecoration; on him it didn't look preposterous, it looked barbaric and magnificent.
She quailed. Suddenly her idea seemed too feeble for words.
But she moved a little closer, because she had to, and then she saw that lofur was holding something on his knee, as a human might let a cat sit there - or a daemon.
It was a big stuffed doll, a manikin with a vacant stupid human face. It was dressed as Mrs. Coulter would dress, and it had a sort of rough resemblance to her. He was pretending he had a daemon. Then she knew she was safe.
She moved up close to the throne and bowed very low, with Pantalaimon keeping quiet and still in her pocket.
"Our greetings to you, great King," she said quietly. "Or I mean my greetings, not his."
"Not whose?" he said, and his voice was lighter than she had thought it would be, but full of expressive tones and subtleties. When he spoke, he waved a paw in front of his mouth to dislodge the flies that clustered there.
"lorek Byrnison's, Your Majesty," she said. "I've got something very important and secret to tell you, and I think I ought to tell you in private, really."
"Something about lorek Byrnison?"
She came close to him, stepping carefully over the bird-spattered floor, and brushed away the flies buzzing at her face.
"Something about daemons," she said, so that only he could hear.
His expression changed. She couldn't read what it was saying, but there was no doubt that he was powerfully interested. Suddenly he lumbered forward off the throne, making her skip aside, and roared an order to the other bears. They all bowed their heads and backed out toward the door. The birds, which had risen in a flurry at his roar, squawked and swooped around overhead before settling again on their nests.
When the throne room was empty but for lofur Raknison and Lyra, he turned to her eagerly.
"Well?" he said. "Tell me who you are. What is this about daemons?"
"I am a daemon, Your Majesty," she said.
He stopped still.
"Whose?" he said.
"lorek Byrnison's," was her answer.
It was the most dangerous thing she had ever said. She could see quite clearly that only his astonishment prevented him from killing her at once. She went on:
"Please, Your Majesty, let me tell you all about it first before you harm me. I've come here at my own risk, as you can see, and there's nothing I've got that could hurt you. In fact, I want to help you, that's why I've come. lorek Byrnison was the first bear to get a daemon, but it should have been you. I would much rather be your daemon than his, that's why I came."
"How?" he said, breathlessly. "How has a bear got a daemon? And why him? And how are you so far from him?" The flies left his mouth like tiny words. "That's easy. I can go far from him because I'm like a witch's daemon. You know how they can go hundreds of miles from their humans? It's like that. And as for how he got me, it was at Bolvangar. You've heard of Bolvangar, because Mrs. Coulter must have told you about it, but she probably didn't tell you everything they were doing there." "Cutting..." he said.
"Yes, cutting, that's part of it, intercision. But they're doing all kinds of other things too, like making artificial daemons. And experimenting on animals. When lorek Byrnison heard about it, he offered himself for an experiment to see if they could make a daemon for him, and they did. It was me. My name is Lyra. Just like when people have daemons, they're animal-formed, so when a bear has a daemon, it'll be human. And I'm his daemon. I can see into his mind and know exactly what he's doing and where he is and - " "Where is he now?"
"On Svalbard. He's coming this way as fast as he can." "Why? What does he want? He must be mad! We'll tear him to pieces!"
"He wants me. He's coming to get me back. But I don't want to be his daemon, lofur Raknison, I want to be yours. Because once they saw how powerful a bear was with a daemon, the people at Bolvangar decided not to do that experiment ever again. lorek Byrnison was going to be the only bear who ever had a daemon. And with me helping him, he could lead all the bears against you. That's what he's come to Svalbard for."
The bear-king roared his anger. He roared so loudly that the crystal in the chandeliers tinkled, and every bird in the great room shrieked, and Lyra's ears rang.
But she was equal to it.
"That's why I love you best," she said to lofur Raknison, "because you're passionate and strong as well as clever. And I just had to leave him and come and tell you, because I don't want him ruling the bears. It ought to be you. And there is a way of taking me away from him and making me your daemon, but you wouldn't know what it was unless I told you, and you might do the usual thing about fighting bears like him that've been outcast; I mean, not fight him properly, but kill him with fire hurlers or something. And if you did that, I'd just go out like a light and die with him."
"But you - how can - "
"I can become your daemon," she said, "but only if you defeat lorek Byrnison in single combat. Then his strength will flow into you, and my mind will flow into yours, and we'll be like one person, thinking each other's thoughts; and you can send me miles away to spy for you, or keep me here by your side, whichever you like. And I'd help you lead the bears to capture Bolvangar, if you like, and make them create more daemons for your favorite bears; or if you'd rather be the only bear with a daemon, we could destroy Bolvangar forever. We could do anything, lofur Raknison, you and me together!"
All the time she was holding Pantalaimon in her pocket with a trembling hand, and he was keeping as still as he could, in the smallest mouse form he had ever assumed.
lofur Raknison was pacing up and down with an air of explosive excitement.
"Single combat?" he was saying. "Me? I must fight lorek Byrnison? Impossible! He is outcast! How can that be? How can I fight him? Is that the only way?"
"It's the only way," said Lyra, wishing it were not, because lofur Raknison seemed bigger and more fierce every minute. Dearly as she loved lorek, and strong as her faith was in him, she couldn't really believe that he would ever beat this giant among giant bears. But it was the only hope they had. Being mown down from a distance by fire hurlers was no hope at all. Suddenly lofur Raknison turned. "Prove it!" he said. "Prove that you are a daemon!" "All right," she said. "I can do that, easy. I can find out anything that you know and no one else does, something that only a daemon would be able to find out."
"Then tell me what was the first creature I killed." "I'll have to go into a room by myself to do this," she said. "When I'm your daemon, you'll be able to see how I do it, but until then it's got to be private."
"There is an anteroom behind this one. Go into that, and come out when you know the answer."
Lyra opened the door and found herself in a room lit by one torch, and empty but for a cabinet of mahogany containing some tarnished silver ornaments. She took out the alethiome-ter and asked: "Where is lorek now?"
"Four hours away, and hurrying ever faster." "How can I tell him what I've done?" "You must trust him."
She thought anxiously of how tired he would be. But then she reflected that she was not doing what the alethiometer had just told her to do: she wasn't trusting him.
She put that thought aside and asked the question lofur Raknison wanted. What was the first creature he had killed? The answer came: lofur's own father.
She asked further, and learned that lofur had been alone on the ice as a young bear, on his first hunting expedition, and had come across a solitary bear. They had quarreled and fought, and lofur had killed him. This in itself would have been a crime, but it was worse than simple murder, for lofur learned later that the other bear was his own father. Bears were brought up by their mothers, and seldom saw their fathers. Naturally lofur concealed the truth of what he had done; no one knew about it but lofur himself, and now Lyra knew as well.
She put the alethiometer away, and wondered how to tell him about it.
"Flatter him!" whispered Pantalaimon. "That's all he wants."
So Lyra opened the door and found lofur Raknison waiting for her, with an expression of triumph, slyness, apprehension, and greed.
She knelt down in front of him and bowed her head to touch his left forepaw, the stronger, for bears were left-handed.
"I beg your pardon, lofur Raknison!" she said. "I didn't know you were so strong and great!"
"What's this? Answer my question!"
"The first creature you killed was your own father. I think you're a new god, lofur Raknison. That's what you must be. Only a god would have the strength to do that."
"You know! You can see!"
"Yes, because I am a daemon, like I said."
"Tell me one thing more. What did the Lady Coulter promise me when she was here?"
Once again Lyra went into the empty room and consulted the alethiometer before returning with the answer.
"She promised you that she'd get the Magisterium in Geneva to agree that you could be baptized as a Christian, even though you hadn't got a daemon then. Well, I'm afraid that she hasn't done that, lofur Raknison, and quite honestly I don't think they'd ever agree to that if you didn't have a daemon. I think she knew that, and she wasn't telling you the truth. But in any case when you've got me as your daemon, you could be baptized if you wanted to, because no one could argue then. You could demand it and they wouldn't be able to turn you down."
"Yes...True. That's what she said. True, every word. And she has deceived me? I trusted her, and she deceived me?"
"Yes, she did. But she doesn't matter anymore. Excuse me, lofur Raknison, I hope you won't mind me telling you, but lorek Byrnison's only four hours away now, and maybe you better tell your guard bears not to attack him as they normally would. If you're going to fight him for me, he'll have to be allowed to come to the palace."
"And maybe when he comes I better pretend I still belong to him, and say I got lost or something. He won't know. I'll pretend. Are you going to tell the other bears about me being lorek's daemon and then belonging to you when you beat him?"
"I don't know....What should I do?"
"I don't think you better mention it yet. Once we're together, you and me, we can think what's best to do and decide then. What you need to do now is explain to all the other bears why you're going to let lorek fight you like a proper bear, even though he's an outcast. Because they won't understand, and we got to find a reason for that. I mean, they'll do what you tell them anyway, but if they see the reason for it, they'll admire you even more."
"Yes. What should we tell them?"
"Tell them.. .tell them that to make your kingdom com-pletely secure, you've called lorek Byrnison here yourself to fight him, and the winner will rule over the bears forever. See, if you make it look like your idea that he's coming, and not his, they'll be really impressed. They'll think you're able to call him here from far away. They'll think you can do anything."
The great bear was helpless. Lyra found her power over him almost intoxicating, and if Pantalaimon hadn't nipped her hand sharply to remind her of the danger they were all in, she might have lost all her sense of proportion.
But she came to herself and stepped modestly back to watch and wait as the bears, under lofur's excited direction, prepared the combat ground for lorek Byrnison; and meanwhile lorek, knowing nothing about it, was hurrying ever closer toward what she wished she could tell him was a fight for his life.
- The Loners
- The Saints
- Tome of the Undergates
- Black Halo
- The Skybound Sea
- If You Stay
- If You Leave
- Until We Burn
- Before We Fall
- Every Last Kiss
- Suspiciously Obedient
- Random Acts of Crazy
- Random Acts of Trust
- Her First Billionaire
- Her Second Billionaire
- Her Two Billionaires
- Her Two Billionaires and a Baby
- His Majesty's Dragon
- Throne of Jade
- Black Powder War
- Victory of Eagles
- Tongues of Serpents
- Empire of Ivory
- Crucible of Gold