The Crippled God (The Malazan Book of the Fallen #10)


by Steven Erikson

BOOK ONE

‘HE WAS A SOLDIER’

I am known

in the religion of rage.

Worship me as a pool

of blood in your hands.

Drink me deep.

It’s bitter fury

that boils and burns.

Your knives were small

but they were many.

I am named

in the religion of rage.

Worship me with your

offhand cuts

long after I am dead.

It’s a song of dreams

crumbled to ashes.

Your wants overflowed

but now gape empty.

I am drowned

in the religion of rage.

Worship me unto

death and down

to a pile of bones.

The purest book

is the one never opened.

No needs left unfulfilled

on the cold, sacred day.

I am found

in the religion of rage.

Worship me in a

stream of curses.

This fool had faith

and in dreams he wept.

But we walk a desert

rocked by accusations,

where no man starves

with hate in his bones.

Fisher kel Tath
CHAPTER ONE

If you never knew

the worlds in my mind

your sense of loss

would be small pity

and we’ll forget this on the trail.

Take what you’re given

and turn away the screwed face.

I do not deserve it,

no matter how narrow the strand

of your private shore.

If you will do your best

I’ll meet your eye.

It’s the clutch of arrows in hand

that I do not trust

bent to the smile hitching my way.

We aren’t meeting in sorrow

or some other suture

bridging scars.

We haven’t danced the same

thin ice

and my sympathy for your troubles

I give freely without thought

of reciprocity or scales on balance.

It’s the decent thing, that’s all.

Even if that thing

is a stranger to so many.

But there will be secrets

you never knew

and I would not choose any other way.

All my arrows are buried and

the sandy reach is broad

and all that’s private

cools pinned on the altar.

Even the drips are gone,

that child of wants

with a mind full of worlds

and his reddened tears.

The days I feel mortal I so hate.

The days in my worlds,

are where I live for ever,

and should dawn ever arrive

I will to its light awaken

as one reborn.

Poet’s Night iii.iv The Malazan Book of the Fallen Fisher kel Tath
COTILLION DREW TWO DAGGERS. HIS GAZE FELL TO THE BLADES. The blackened iron surfaces seemed to swirl, two pewter rivers oozing across pits and gouges, the edges ragged where armour and bone had slowed their thrusts. He studied the sickly sky’s lurid reflections for a moment longer, and then said, ‘I have no intention of explaining a damned thing.’ He looked up, eyes locking. ‘Do you understand me?’

The figure facing him was incapable of expression. The tatters of rotted sinew and strips of skin were motionless upon the bones of temple, cheek and jaw. The eyes held nothing, nothing at all.

Better, Cotillion decided, than jaded scepticism. Oh, how he was sick of that. ‘Tell me,’ he resumed, ‘what do you think you’re seeing here? Desperation? Panic? A failing of will, some inevitable decline crumbling to incompetence? Do you believe in failure, Edgewalker?’

The apparition remained silent for a time, and then spoke in a broken, rasping voice. ‘You cannot be so … audacious.’

‘I asked if you believed in failure. Because I don’t.’

‘Even should you succeed, Cotillion. Beyond all expectation, beyond, even, all desire . They will still speak of your failure.’

He sheathed his daggers. ‘And you know what they can do to themselves.’

The head cocked, strands of hair dangling and drifting. ‘Arrogance?’

‘Competence,’ Cotillion snapped in reply. ‘Doubt me at your peril.’

‘They will not believe you.’

‘I do not care, Edgewalker. This is what it is.’

When he set out, he was not surprised that the deathless guardian followed. We have done this before . Dust and ashes puffed with each step. The wind moaned as if trapped in a crypt. ‘Almost time, Edgewalker.’

‘I know. You cannot win.’

Cotillion paused, half turned. He smiled a ravaged smile. ‘That doesn’t mean I have to lose, does it?’