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Authors: David Eddings

The Hidden City

BOOK: The Hidden City
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DAVID
EDDINGS

THE HIDDEN CITY

The Tamuli Book Three

FOR DR BRUCE GRAY

for his enthusiasm and his technical advice -
and for keeping our favorite author (and wife) alive

AND FOR NANCY GRAY, R.N.

who takes care of everybody else,
and neglects to take care of herself.

Shape up, Nancy.

CONTENTS

Cover

Title Page

Prologue

PART ONE: Berit

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

PART TWO: Natayos

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

PART THREE: Cyrga

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Epilogue

About the Author

Copyright

About the Publisher

Prologue

Professor Itagne of the Foreign Affairs Department of the University of Matherion sat on the platform reviewing his notes. It was early in the evening of a fine spring day, and the windows of the auditorium where the faculty of the college of Political Science had gathered were open to admit the smell of flowers and grass and the faintly distracting sound of bird-song.

Professor Emeritus Gintana of the International Trade Department stood at the lectern droning on interminably about twenty-seventh century tariff regulations. Gintana was a wispy, white-haired, and slightly vague academic customarily referred to as ‘that dear old man'. Itagne was not really listening to him.

This was not going to go well, he concluded wryly, crumpling up and discarding yet another sheet of notes. Word of his subject had been broadcast across the campus, and academics from as far away as Applied Mathematics and Contemporary Alchemy packed the hall, their eyes bright with anticipation. The entire faculty of the Contemporary History Department filled the front rows, their black academic robes making them look like a flock of crows. Contemporary History was here in force to ensure all the fireworks anyone could hope for.

Itagne idly considered a feigned collapse. How in the name of God – any God – was he going to get through the next hour without making a total ass of himself? He had all the facts, of course, but what rational man would
believe
the facts? A straightforward account of what had really happened during the recent turmoil would sound
like the ravings of a lunatic. If he stuck to straight truth, the hacks from Contemporary History would not have to say a word. He could destroy his own reputation with no help from them at all.

Itagne took one more brief glance at his carefully prepared notes. Then he bleakly folded them and thrust them back into the voluminous sleeve of his academic robe. What was going to happen here tonight would more closely resemble a tavern brawl than reasoned discourse. Contemporary History had obviously showed up to shout him down. Itagne squared his shoulders. Well, if they wanted a fight, he'd give them one.

A breeze had come up. The curtains at the tall windows rustled and billowed, and the golden tongues of flame flickering in the oil lamps wavered and danced. It was a beautiful spring evening – everywhere but here inside this auditorium.

There was a polite spattering of applause, and old professor Gintana, flustered and confused by this acknowledgement of his existence, bowed awkwardly, clutched his notes in both hands, and tottered back to his seat. Then the Dean of the College of Political Science rose to announce the evening's main event. ‘Colleagues,' he began, ‘before Professor Itagne favors us with his remarks, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce some visitors of note. I'm sure you will all join with me in welcoming Patriarch Emban, First Secretary of the Church of Chyrellos, Sir Bevier, the Cyrinic Knight from Arcium and Sir Ulath of the Genidian Order located in Thalesia.'

There was more polite applause as Itagne hurried across the platform to greet his Elene friends. ‘Thank God you're here,' he said fervently. ‘The whole Contemporary History Department's turned out – except for the few who are probably outside boiling the tar and bringing up bags of feathers.'

‘You didn't think your brother was going to hang you out to dry, did you, Itagne?' Emban smiled. ‘He thought you might get lonesome here, so he sent us to keep you company.'

Itagne felt better as he returned to his seat. If nothing else, Bevier and Ulath could head off any
physical
attacks.

‘And now, colleagues and distinguished guests,' the Dean continued, ‘Professor Itagne of the Foreign Affairs Department will respond to a recent paper published by the Department of Contemporary History under the title, “The Cyrga Affair: An Examination of the Recent Crisis”. Professor Itagne.'

Itagne rose, strode purposefully to the lectern and assumed his most offensively civilized expression. ‘Dean Altus, distinguished colleagues, faculty wives, honored guests-' He paused. ‘Did I leave anybody out?'

There was a titter of nervous laughter. Tension was high in the hall. ‘I'm particularly pleased to see so many of our colleagues from Contemporary History here with us this evening,' Itagne continued, throwing the first punch. ‘Since I'll be discussing something near and dear to their hearts, it's much better that they're present to hear what I say with their own ears rather than being forced to rely on garbled second-hand accounts.' He smiled benignly down at the scowling hacks in the front row. ‘Can you hear me, gentlemen?' he asked. ‘Am I going too fast for any of you?'

‘This is outrageous!' a portly, sweating professor protested loudly.

‘It's going to get worse, Quinsal,' Itagne told him. ‘If the truth bothers you, you'd better leave now.' He looked out over the assemblage. ‘It's been said that the quest for truth is the noblest occupation of man, but there be dragons lurking in the dark forests of
ignorance. And the names of these dragons are “Incompetence” and “Political Bias” and “Deliberate Distortion” and “Sheer, Wrongheaded Stupidity”. Our gallant friends here in Contemporary History bravely sallied forth to do battle with these dragons in their recently published “Cyrga Affair”. It is with the deepest regret that I must inform you that the dragons won.'

There was more laughter, and dark scowls from the front row.

It's never been any secret at this institution that the Contemporary History Department is a political entity rather than an academic one,' Itagne continued. Tt has been sponsored from its very inception by the Prime Minister, and its only reasons for existence have been to gloss over his blunders and to conceal as best they might his absolute incompetence. To be sure, Prime Minister Subat and his accomplice, Interior Minister Kol-ata, have never been interested in the truth, but
please,
gentlemen, this is a university. Shouldn't we at least
pretend
to be telling the truth?'

‘Rubbish!' a burly academic in the front row bellowed.

‘Yes,' Itagne replied, holding up a yellow-bound copy of ‘The Cyrga Affair', I noticed that myself. But if you knew it was rubbish, Professor Pessalt, why did you publish it?'

The laughter in the hall was even louder this time, and it drowned out Pessalt's spluttered attempt to answer.

‘Let us push on with this great work that we are in,' Itagne suggested. ‘We all know Pondia Subat for the scheming incompetent he really is, but the only thing that most baffles me about your “Cyrga Affair” is its consistent attempt to elevate the Styric renegade Zalasta to near sainthood. How in the name of God could
anyone
– even someone as severely limited as the Prime Minister – revere this scoundrel?'

‘How
dare
you speak so of the greatest man of this century?' one of the hacks screamed at him.

‘If Zalasta's the best this century can manage, colleague, I think we're in deep trouble. But we digress. The crisis which Contemporary History chooses to call “The Cyrga Affair” has been brewing for several years.'

BOOK: The Hidden City
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