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The Ancient Shadows

( Legends from the End of Time - 3 )Michael Moorcock

Цикл о Крае Времени весьма необычен. Это не фэнтези, это не научная фантастика в обычном смысле этого термина, это - нечто иное.

Край Времени - это когда "дни вселенной были сочтены". Герои этого цикла - люди, хотя человеческого в них не сильно много. Они всемогущи, а если их настигает смерть, то они легко могут возродиться, а главное - они не живут, они скорее играют в жизнь. Играют в любовь, в страдания, играют во что угодно, лишь бы занять время. Беспрерывные развлечения - вот смысл их жизни. Цикл полон языковых изысков, необычных способов построения речи и сюжета, странных имен героев, но при этом читается просто отлично.

Легенды Края Времени - это сборник повестей о Крае Времени, позволяющий получше узнать обитателей этого столь необычного мира. Именно эти истории вскользь упоминались в Танцорах. Среди них: история греха Вертера де Гёте, рассказ о дуэли Лорда Акулы Неизвестного и, на мой взгляд, лучшая повесть о материнской любви и сыновнем непонимании...

"Танелорн: Всё о Майкле Муркоке" http://www.moorcock.narod.ru/


Book 3 of the Legends from the End of Time

In ancient shadows and twilights

Where childhood had stray'd ,

The world's great sorrows were born

And its heroes were made .

In the lost boyhood of Judas

Christ was betray'd .

G. W. Russell


1. A Stranger to the End of Time

Upon the shore of a glowing chemical lake, peering through a visor of clouded Perspex, a stranger stood, her dark features showing profound awe and some disapproval, while behind her there rustled and gibbered a city, half-organic in its decadence, palpitating with obscure colours, poisonous and powerful. And overhead, in the sallow sky, a small old sun spread withered light, parsimonious heat, across the planet's dissolute topography.

"Thus it ends," murmured the stranger. She added, a little self-consciously, "What pathetic monuments to mankind's Senility!"

As if for reassurance, she pressed a gloved hand to the surface of her time machine, which was unadorned and boxlike, smooth and spare, according to the fashions of her own age. Lifting apparently of its own volition, a lid at the top opened and a little freckled head emerged. With a frown she gestured her companion back, but then, changing her mind, she helped the child, which was clad in a small suit and helmet matching her own, from the hatch.

"Witness this shabby finale, my son. Could I begrudge it you?"

Guilelessly the child said, "It is awfully pretty, mama."

It was not her way to contradict a child's judgement. She shrugged. "I am fulfilled, I suppose, and unsurprised, though I had hoped, well, for Hope." From the confusion of her private feelings she fled back to practicality. "Your father will be anxious. If we return now we can at least report to the committee tonight. And report success!" A proud glove fell upon her son's shoulder. "We have travelled the limit of the machine's capacity! Here, Time has ceased to exist. The instruments say so, and their accuracy is unquestionable." Her eye was caught by a shift of colour as the outline of one building appeared to merge with another, separate, and re-form. "I had imagined it bleaker, true."

The city coughed, like a giant in slumber, and was silent for a while.

The boy made to remove his helmet. She stopped him. "The atmosphere! Noxious, Snuffles, without doubt. One breath could kill."

It seemed for a moment that he would argue with her opinion. Eye met grey-blue eye; jaws set; he sighed, lowering his head and offering the side of the machine a petulant kick. From the festering city, a chuckle, causing the boy to whirl, defensive and astonished. A self-deprecating grin, the lips gleaming at the touch of the dampening tongue; a small gauntlet reaching for the large one. An indrawn breath.

"You are probably correct, mama, in your assessment."

She helped him back into their vessel, glanced once, broodingly, at the shimmering city, at the pulsing lake, then followed her son through the hatch until she stood again at her controls in the machine's green-lit and dim interior.

As she worked the dials and levers, she was studied by her son. Her curly brown hair was cut short at the nape, her up-curving lips gave an impression of amiability denied by the sobriety and intensity of her large, almond-shaped brown eyes. Her hands were small, well-formed, and, to a person from the 20th century, her body would have seemed slight, in proportion with those hands (though she was thought tall and shapely by her own folk). Moving efficiently, but with little instinctive feel for her many instruments, considering each action rapidly and intelligently and carrying it through in the manner of one who has learned a lesson thoroughly but unenthusiastically, she adjusted settings and figures. Her son seated himself in his padded chair, tucked beneath the main console at which his mother stood, and used his own small computer to make the simpler calculations required by her for the re-programming of the machine so that it could return to the exact place and almost the exact time of its departure.

When she had finished, she withdrew a pace or two from the controls, appraised them and was satisfied. "We are ready, Snuffles, to begin the journey home. Strap in, please."

He was already safely buckled. She crossed to the chair facing him, arranged her own harness, spread gloved fingers across the seven buttons set into the arm of the chair, and pressed four of them in sequence. The green light danced across her visor and through it to her face as she smiled encouragement to her son. She betrayed no nervousness; her body and her features were mastered absolutely. It was left to her child to display some anxiety, the upper teeth caressing the lower lip, the eyes darting from mother to those dials visible to him, one hand tugging a trifle at a section of the webbing holding his body to the chair. The machine quivered and, barely audible,

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