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High Druid of Shannara: Jarka Ruus (Anglais) CD – Version coupée, Livre audio

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Extrait

One

She sat alone in her chambers, draped in twilight's shadows and evening's solitude, her thoughts darker than the night descending and heavier than the weight of all Paranor. She retired early these days, ostensibly to work but mostly to think, to ponder on the disappointment of today's failures and the bleakness of tomorrow's prospects. It was silent in the high tower, and the silence gave her a momentary respite from the struggle between herself and those she would lead. It lasted briefly, only so long as she remained secluded, but without its small daily comfort she sometimes thought she would have gone mad with despair.

She was no longer a girl, no longer even young, though she
retained her youthful looks, her pale translucent skin still unblemished
and unlined, her startling blue eyes clear, and her movements
steady and certain. When she looked in the mirror, which
she did infrequently now as then, she saw the girl she had been
twenty years earlier, as if aging had been miraculously stayed. But
while her body stayed young, her spirit grew old. Responsibility
aged her more quickly than time. Only the Druid Sleep, should
she avail herself of it, would stay the wearing of her heart, and she
would not choose that remedy anytime soon. She could not. She
was the Ard Rhys of the Third Druid Council, the High Druid of
Paranor, and while she remained in that office, sleep of any kind
was in short supply.

Her gaze drifted to the windows of her chamber, looking west
to where the sun was already gone behind the horizon, and the
light it cast skyward in the wake of its descent a dim glow beginning
to fail. She thought her own star was setting, as well, its
light fading, its time passing, its chances slipping away. She would
change that if she could, but she no longer believed she knew
the way.

She heard Tagwen before she saw him, his footfalls light and
cautious in the hallway beyond her open door, his concern for her
evident in the softness of his approach.

"Come, Tagwen," she called as he neared.

He came through the door and stopped just inside, not presuming
to venture farther, respecting this place that was hers and
hers alone. He was growing old, as well, nearly twenty years of
service behind him, the only assistant she had ever had, his time at
Paranor a mirror of her own. His stocky, gnarled body was still
strong, but his movements were slowing and she could see the way
he winced when his joints tightened and cramped after too much
use. There was kindness in his eyes, and it had drawn her to him
from the first, an indication of the nature of the man inside. Tagwen
served because he respected what she was doing, what she
meant to the Four Lands, and he never judged her by her successes
or failures, even when there were so many more of the latter than
the former.

"Mistress," he said in his rough, gravel-laced voice, his seamed,
bearded face dipping momentarily into shadow as he bowed. It
was an odd, stiff gesture he had affected from the beginning. He
leaned forward as if to share a confidence that others might try to
overhear. "Kermadec is here."

She rose at once. "He will not come inside," she said, making it
a statement of fact.

Tagwen shook his head. "He waits at the north gate and asks if
you will speak with him." The Dwarf's lips tightened in somber re-
flection. "He says it is urgent."

She reached for her cloak and threw it about her shoulders.
She went by him, touching his shoulder reassuringly as she
passed. She went out the door and down the hallway to begin her
descent. Within the stairwell, beyond the sound of her own soft
footfalls, she heard voices rise up from below, the sounds of conversations
adrift on the air. She tried to make out what they said,
but could not. They would be speaking of her; they did so almost
incessantly. They would be asking why she continued as their
leader, why she presumed that she could achieve anything after so
many failures, why she could not recognize that her time was past
and another should take her place. Some would be whispering that
she ought to be forced out, one way or another. Some would be
advocating stronger action.

Druid intrigues. The halls of Paranor were rife with them, and
she could not put a stop to it. At Walker's command, she had
formed this Third Council on her return to the Four Lands from
Parkasia. She had accepted her role as leader, her destiny as guide
to those she had recruited, her responsibility for rebuilding the
legacy of the Druids as knowledge givers to the Races. She had
formed the heart of this new order with those few sent under
duress by the Elven King Kylen Elessedil at his brother Ahren's
insistence. Others had come from other lands and other Races,
drawn by the prospect of exploring magic's uses. That had been
twenty years ago, when there was fresh hope and everything
seemed possible. Time and an inability to effect any measurable
change in the thinking and attitudes of the governing bodies of
those lands and Races had leeched most of that away. What remained
was a desperate insistence on clinging to her belief that
she was not meant to give up.

But that alone was not enough. It would never be enough. Not
for someone who had come out of darkness so complete that
any chance at redemption had seemed hopeless. Not for Grianne
Ohmsford, who had once been the Ilse Witch and had made herself
Ard Rhys to atone for it.

She reached the lower levels of the Keep, the great halls that
connected the meeting rooms with the living quarters of those she
had brought to Paranor. A handful of these Druids came into view,
shadows sliding along the walls like spilled oil in the light of the
flameless lamps that lit the corridors. Some nodded to her; one or
two spoke. Most simply cast hurried glances and passed on. They
feared and mistrusted her, these Druids she had accepted into her
order. They could not seem to help themselves, and she could not
find the heart to blame them.

Terek Molt walked out of a room and grunted his unfriendly
greeting, outwardly bold and challenging. But she could sense his
real feelings, and she knew he feared her. Hated her more than
feared her, though. It was the same with Traunt Rowan and Iridia
Eleri and one or two more. Shadea a'Ru was beyond even that, her
venomous glances so openly hostile that there was no longer any
communication between them, a situation that it seemed nothing
could help.

Grianne closed her eyes against what she was feeling and wondered
what she was going to do about these vipers--what she
could do that would not have repercussions beyond anything she
was prepared to accept.

Young Trefen Morys passed her with a wave and a smile, his
face guileless and welcoming, his enthusiasm evident. He was a
bright light in an otherwise darkened firmament, and she was
grateful for his presence. Some within the order still believed in her.
She had never expected friendship or even compassion from those
who came to her, but she had hoped for loyalty and a sense of responsibility
toward the office she held. She had been foolish to think
that way, and she no longer did so. Perhaps it was not inaccurate to
say that now she merely hoped that reason might prevail.

"Mistress," Gerand Cera greeted in his soft voice as he bowed
her past him, his tall form lean and sinuous, his angular features
sleepy and dangerous.

There were too many of them. She could not watch out for all
of them adequately. She put herself at risk every time she walked
these halls--here in the one place she should be safe, in the order
she had founded. It was insane.

She cleared the front hall and went out into the night, passed
through a series of interconnected courtyards to the north gates,
and ordered the guard to let her through. The Trolls on watch, impassive
and silent, did as they were told. She did not know their
names, only that they were there at Kermadec's behest, which was
enough to keep her reassured of their loyalty. Whatever else happened
in this steadily eroding company of the once faithful, the
Trolls would stand with her.

Would that prove necessary? She would not have thought so a
month ago. That she asked the question now demonstrated how
uncertain matters had become.

She walked to the edge of the bluff, to the wall of trees that
marked the beginning of the forest beyond, and stopped. An owl
glided through the darkness, a silent hunter. She felt a sudden connection
with him so strong that she could almost envision flying
away as he did, leaving everything behind, returning to the darkness
and its solitude.

She brushed the thought aside, an indulgence she could not
afford, and whistled softly. Moments later, a figure detached itself
from the darkness almost in front of her and came forward.

"Mistress," the Maturen greeted, dropping to one knee and
bowing deeply.

"Kermadec, you great bear," she replied, stepping forward to
put her arms around him. "How good it is to see you."

Of the few friends she possessed, Kermadec was perhaps the
best. She had known him since the founding of the order, when
she had gone into the Northland to ask for the support of the
Troll tribes. No one had ever thought to do that, and her request
was cause enough for a convening of a council of the nations. She
did not waste the opportunity she had been given. She told them
of her mission, of her role as Ard Rhys of a new Druid Council, the
third since Galaphile's time. She declared that this new order
would accept members from all nations, the Trolls included. No
prejudices would be allowed; the past would play no part in the
present....

Revue de presse

“If Harry Potter has given you a thirst for fantasy and you have not discovered the magic of Terry Brooks, you are in for a treat.”
—Rocky Mountain News



From the Paperback edition.

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