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Dustless | Volume 14 | The Governor of the Desolate Cantons

…I will be a bridge to you, and you will be a bridge to me

Where old power breaks down, new power is sought. Where old leaders vanish, new leaders appear. Where old weakness is shown, new strength emerges.

Across cantons known as “the Desolate”, the tenuous order of a negligent regime dissolves. The hollow core collapses: in the ruins, a wild vacuum forms. People flee in disarray, leaving no authority: so strangers arrive, prepared to use violence, and good at it.

These are the days of assassins, the days of rats and crows.

A sleigh of bones, carrying a fairy-tale emperor. A thread of black metal, denying the road. A child made of snow, born from weeping. Wolves! Gloom in the mid-day sun: and at night, on the horizon, the light of an incinerating city apes the dawn.

A great bloodshed: a bloodshed like a sea.

How can such obstacles be crossed? How may we be lifted above them, carried beyond them?

A bridge is needed…

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‘Yes, and the dreams were strange. They were unprecedented, unstoppable, recurring. They happened with a vividness that was a shock to consciousness. The light in them was phenomenally sharp, the clarity of every detail super-defined, colours rich, shadows etched, the whole beyond nature. Their content was gruesome, and yet fascinating. They were disturbing! Night after night, as the summer wore on, I dreamed these dreams. And slowly, I realised two things that made them so perplexing. The first, and lesser thing, was that the same dream appeared to happen each night. The same events occurred: the same conclusion. And so eventually it seemed to me that I was dreaming the same dream. Not, you understand, different versions of the same dream, but the same dream. It was as if the dream went on, and I revisited it. The dream was like a river: it flowed on, and I visited its banks nightly. I came and went, but not the dream. The dream was real and permanent, but I was unreal, and temporary…

This was troubling enough. But then the second and most disturbing thing about these dreams suddenly struck me – and once it had, I could not shake my mind free of the sense of the truth of it. It was not that the dreams themselves were so disturbing – although they were – it was that they were not my dreams. Ugh! Even now, I shake a little at it – I, Igangsogun dex:rikoji, prince of this world! – I do admit, though no longer do I suffer from them… I was dreaming someone else’s dreams


from The Governor of the Desolate Cantons | Dustless | Volume 14

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Now they entered a different kind of world. And the ride entered a new phase. For so long, they had struggled to complete their journey, and their world had shrunk, more or less, to the size of a journey. The places they passed through were just places they left behind. Akzasosan had once quoted a philosopher to Zy: The journey forgets its maker, that old Master had said. The journey forgets its maker. Yet, to Zy, it seemed for a long time the complete opposite: the makers forgot the journey. That was how it was, wasn’t it?

How many villages had they passed through or passed by now? A hundred? Yes, easily. How many of them lingered in his mind? Only a handful. Which was the most important one? Well, not any of those Zy had already seen – no. The most important village was the next one – the village Zy hadn’t seen. Why? Because that was the next step on the way.


Excerpt from Dustless, Volume 14 | The Governor of the
Desolate Cantons