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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Quantum Shadows

L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

Tor Books

MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Great revelation is almost nigh.

You must wait for the raven to fly.

1


The three-forked and ornate trident stands etched in luminous black in the polished raven-gray-black stone of the wall, visible even in the darkness, as if a bolt of lightning had flared through the lightless shadows cloaking the study, not penetrating that darkness, except the man at the desk knows that the trident appeared seemingly from nowhere, and that a single long hiss filled the study as the trident made its presence known.

He studies the trident once more. To place such a trident without rendering collateral damage to the study and anyone within required far more power than that available to a mere principality, especially given the less-than-modest shadowshields that cloak his eyrie. But then, quantum transport has always required massive amounts of power.

He stands and moves toward the wall. He stops a meter away, feeling the latent heat as he studies the image, blacker than black, imbued with a light that is not light. He can also sense a residual energy, a faint aura, one unfamiliar to him, which is as one might expect of a great power invading his domain, and the quantum shadows that shield it.

A near-universal symbol, and, not unexpectedly, one with varying degrees of meaning, most of them less than auspicious. Yet an obvious one, and, because of that obviousness, one that easily could have come from at least a third of the Houses of the Decalivre, and therefore, one likely to cause quiet consternation, if not worse.

Much worse.

Raven watches from his shaded hall

still seeking foreshadows of the Fall.

2

In the lightless study, the individual who called himself Corvyn sat behind a plain black table desk. His eyes went to the trident black-etched upon the gray stones of the wall.

Under certain conditions, as he well knew, the so-called color charges represented by quantum chromodynamics, and manifested in the arrival and appearance of the trident’s image, not only could vary in space and time, but could inhibit or undermine the properties of otherwise strong quantum interactions, even structured matter. That should not have been surprising to most people, but most human beings still perceived matter as solid, rather than as what it was—various levels of infinitesimal waveform energy amid vast empty space. And, given certain abilities, those possessed by powers, principalities, hegemons, and a few others, that vast empty space could be treated as and handled like shadows.

All the hegemons of the Decalivre had at least some ability with the shadows, as did others who were not hegemons, of which he was one. Also, with such powers, some hegemons believed they were gods, or some form of deity, while other hegemons, with similar powers, only believed that they were prophets or speakers for a god, while at least one House of the Decalivre had neither a prophet nor a deity. Yet all hegemons were powers with whom Corvyn had dealt and with whom he would have to deal in order to preclude another Fall. And that did not include those with lesser abilities, among them minor powers; greater powers, some of which were called angels; and principalities.

But which of the hegemons might have made such an overt and potentially threatening gesture as planting a trident in stone? Especially in another power’s domain?

His eyes again went to the black impression in the stone as he pondered whether he should do what he planned. Had others sensed what had occurred? From where on the vast and high plateau of Heaven might it have come? Could he relate that trident to what he had already begun to sense? And what of the other powers?

“Cogito ergo quaero,” he murmured as he gathered the aether into a flat oblong suspended between the desk and the wall, framing what might be called either inquiry or summons, but was neither.

The slight shimmer of the aether remained blank.

He concentrated again, this time, framing the search in terms of the newest loci of power.

Immediately two images formed in the oblong of aether above the desk. In one a dark-haired man stood in the shadows, looking out at those who awaited his performance, an antique instrument that might have been either lutar or lutelin held in his left hand …

In the other, the fair-haired figure seated at a shimmering white desk studied the boldly inked words on the parchment before her …

Are they the ones who will sing or pen the words that will shape the course of the next great turn, rouse the violent spirits of the age to come from amid the Houses of the Decalivre? Can either burst through the somnolence of satiety, the prurience of prosperity leavened by the stolid corruption of societal solipsism?


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