The Treasured One The Dreamers 2 David Eddings PREFACE It was a time of uncertainty in the nest of the Vlagh, for no word of success had yet reached the nest from the warrior-servants which had followed the burrows below the face of the ground toward the broad water which lies beneath the sunset. All had gone as it should at first as the warrior-servants had moved down through the burrows toward the land of the sunset, killing the man-things of that land as they went, and the joy of our dear Vlagh had known no bounds, for once the land of the sunset was ours, there would be much to eat, and the Vlagh which had spawned us all could spawn still more, and our numbers would grow to beyond counting, and the overmind of which we are all a part would expand, for it grows larger and more complex with each new hatch. Impatient was our Vlagh, for none of its servants of whatever form had yet brought word of victory, and without that assurance, our Vlagh could not spawn. Though our Vlagh reached out with its senses toward the land of the sunset to question the overmind about the success of the warriors of strange form, the overmind did not respond, and that was most unusual. And as the days came and went, our Vlagh grew more and more irritable as the need to spawn was frustrated by the lack of certainty. But it was not so.
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The Treasured One The Dreamers 2 David Eddings PREFACE It was a time of uncertainty in the nest of the Vlagh, for no word of success had yet reached the nest from the warrior-servants which had followed the burrows below the face of the ground toward the broad water which lies beneath the sunset.
All had gone as it should at first as the warrior-servants had moved down through the burrows toward the land of the sunset, killing the man-things of that land as they went, and the joy of our dear Vlagh had known no bounds, for once the land of the sunset was ours, there would be much to eat, and the Vlagh which had spawned us all could spawn still more, and our numbers would grow to beyond counting, and the overmind of which we are all a part would expand, for it grows larger and more complex with each new hatch.
Impatient was our Vlagh, for none of its servants of whatever form had yet brought word of victory, and without that assurance, our Vlagh could not spawn. Though our Vlagh reached out with its senses toward the land of the sunset to question the overmind about the success of the warriors of strange form, the overmind did not respond, and that was most unusual.
And as the days came and went, our Vlagh grew more and more irritable as the need to spawn was frustrated by the lack of certainty. But it was not so. The venomous warriors of strange form returned to report that they could not find even one of those of our number which had followed the burrows beneath the face of the ground toward the broad water which lies beneath the sunset, nor had they even been able to find any trace of those burrows.
More horrible still, they had felt no sense of the overmind in that region. And the pain of our dear Vlagh knew no bounds, for the over-mind had been greatly diminished, and it would remain so until the burrowers and the warriors with venomous fangs were found and their awareness was rejoined with the overmind. Then there came to the nest of the Vlagh a burrower with missing limbs and deep burns in its shell, and the burrower spoke of hot light spewing up from the mountains and red liquid hotter than fire running down through the burrows below the face of the ground, consuming all that was in its path.
And then the burrower said that which should never be said. The many which went through our hidden burrows toward the land of the sunset have all been consumed by the red liquid hotter than fire, and we are all made less because they are gone.
And our beloved Vlagh shrieked in agony, for the word of the burrower had torn away the urge to spawn. And all of us were made less by those words, for the many were now fewer, and the lands beneath the sunset were now and forever beyond our reach. The grief of our Vlagh was beyond our understanding, and that grief brought us rage.
Now it came to pass that the servants with strange forms and venomous fangs which had gone forth to seek knowledge in the lands of the man-things conferred with one another. The seekers of knowledge are unlike the true servants, for their task has altered them. And so it was that the seekers of knowledge agreed, each with the others, that the lands of the sunset were now and forever beyond the grasp of the burrowers and the warriors by reason of the liquid fire which was coming forth from the mountains, and they offered the alternative which the knowledge they had found had suggested to them.
Might it not be better, they said, to expand toward a different direction than we had before? The mountains above the land of longer summers are quiet, and the need to spew forth liquid fire is not stirring in those mountains, and there are many more things to eat in the land of longer summers than there had been in the land of the sunset. Should we do so, the urge to spawn will grow much greater, and there will soon be even more of us than there had been when the burrowers had opened the passages below the face of the ground which had led down to the land of the sunset.
And thereby the awareness of the overmind which we all share will be increased, lifting it to heights which it has never reached before. And our beloved Vlagh communed with the overmind concerning the virtue of the alternative offered by the seekers of knowledge, and the overmind found much that was good in that alternative, for it had learned much during our attempt to occupy the land of the sunset. The warriors of strange form had encountered many different creatures as they had moved toward the sunset, and the overmind perceived that those different forms might prove to be most useful in our encounters with the man-things in the land of longer summers, for the man-things are most tenacious and difficult to push aside as we move toward that which is our goal.
Then, however, the overmind warned our beloved Vlagh that the greatest danger we would face in the land of longer summers would be - even as it had in the land of the sunset - not the man-things who stood in our path, but would rather be sleeping infants and peculiar stones. And surely the time will come when all the lands of the man-things shall be ours, and we shall grow to numbers beyond counting, and our overmind shall expand until all knowledge is ours - and the world as well.
And only then will we be content. Mountain air is clean and pure, and the eternal snow on the peaks seems to increase that purity. No matter what happens later in the day, the taste of a mountain sunrise gives me a serenity that nothing else can provide.
When I reached my customary feasting place, I saw that there was a cloud bank off to the east, and that always makes the sunrise even more glorious. It occurred to me that this might be a sign of one of those periodic climate changes which appear much more frequently than the people who serve us seem to realize. The temperatures on the face of Father Earth are never really constant. That can go on for centuries. Zelana had tampered with the weather extensively during the past winter to delay the invasion of her Domain by the servants of the Vlagh until her hired army arrived from the land of Maag, and it might take a while for things to go back to normal.
All in all, though, things had gone rather well this past spring. The more I considered the matter, the more certain I became that my decision to rouse the younger gods from their sleep cycle prematurely and to cause them to regress to infancy in the process had, in fact, fulfilled that ancient prophecy. The morning sun rose in all her splendor, painting that eastern cloud-bank a glorious crimson, and I feasted on her light. My little toy sun was waiting for me at the cave-mouth, and she flickered her customary question at me.
She always seems to get all pouty and sullen if she thinks that I prefer the light of the real sun to hers. Pets can be very strange sometimes. She bobbed up and down slightly in answer. Maybe you should keep your light a bit subdued so that he can sleep longer. He needs the rest. I went on down through the twisting passageway that led to my cave, ducking under the icicle-like stalactites hanging down from the ceiling. They were the result of the mineral-rich water that came seeping down through Mount Shrak, and they grew perceptibly longer every century.
I made a mental note to take a club to them some day, when I had a little more time. Ashad, covered with his fur robe, was still sleeping when I came out of the passageway into the large open chamber that was our home, so I thought it best not to disturb him. Then when the real crisis arose, Yaltar had shoved prediction aside and had gone straight into action with those twin volcanos.
The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that the core of our problem lay in the fact that the Vlagh had been consciously modifying its servants over the past hundred or so eons. The modification of various life forms goes on all the time, usually in response to changes in the environment.
The species that makes the right choice survives, but the wrong choice leads to extinction. In most cases, survival depends on sheer luck. Before the arrival of the hairy predecessors of the creatures we now call men, vast numbers of creatures had arisen in the Land of Dhrall, but at some point most of them had made a wrong turn and had died out. The Vlagh, unfortunately, had been among the survivors. Originally, the Vlagh had been little more than a somewhat exotic insect which had nested near the shore of that inland sea which in the far distant past had covered what is now the Wasteland.
A gradual climate change had evaporated that sea, and the Vlagh, driven by necessity, had begun to modify its servants. The ability to share information had given the servants of the Vlagh an enormous advantage over their neighbors.
What any single one of them had seen, they all had seen. The extensive tunnels had kept the servants of the Vlagh out of the blazing sunlight, but that had only been the first problem they had been forced to solve.
As the centuries had passed, the changed climate had gradually killed all the vegetation in that previously lush region, so there was no longer sufficient food to support a growing population. The Vlagh had continued to lay eggs, of course, but each hatch had produced fewer and fewer offspring, and the Vlagh had come face to face with the distinct possibility of the extinction of its species.
I love mine, but I hate theirs. Anyway, the servants of the Vlagh had encountered other creatures in the caves and mountains, and evidently the overmind had realized that some of those creatures had characteristics which might prove to be very useful, and it had begun to experiment - or tamper - producing peculiar and highly unnatural variations.
Having been forewarned by our store owners and the manager that he would probably stop by and that he was a reserved man during his visits I curbed my excitement, helped him, and quietly told him that I had not read any of his fiction or joint works, but that I was a huge fan of his fantasy writing that I had read. At that point he thanked me and told me that he had several thousand words of a new fantasy work completed. After he left I went bouncing to the back office of our store where the store manager just shook her head and laughed at my enthusiasm. I never mentioned the new work to Mr. Eddings again, but when this book came out he remembered and he offered to personalize a signed copy. So I guess you can say that I was a fan who then grew a soft spot for one of my favorite authors. As for this book specifically
Dalhaine - The Elder God of the North. Aracia - The Elder God of the East. Zelana - The Elder God of the West. Veltan - The Elder God of the South. But Dalhaine felt that they would be of help during the upcoming war against the Vlagh. They were rewoken as the Dreamers, origially with no memory of their past lives.