DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan preview: “The Peacemaker”
In celebration of the release of Marie Brennan’s DRIFTWOOD, Tachyon presents glimpses from the book that “celebrates the death-defying power of love and everlasting memory.” (Karen Lord, author of Redemption in Indigo)
“He’s not dead!” The words burst out of a small kid: Dreceyl, older than he looks but still not very old. He stamps his foot and then runs down to the stage. “How can people think Last is dead? He’s survived everything.”
A clamor fills the amphitheater, which until that point has been more or less respectfully silent. If there’s one thing capable of thriving in Driftwood, it’s rumors, and in the days since word went around that Last was gone, this one has grown a hundred heads.
He went into the Crush. He traveled to the Edge and leapt off into the Mist. He committed suicide with a weapon that before its world’s apocalypse had been used to kill a god. He ate or drank something that turned out to be poison to his kind. The final artifact of his world was caught for ages in the depths of the Crush, but now it’s finally vanished, and it took Last with it.
The whole thing was never true in the first place. The stories about Last were just that: stories. He was never immortal; at best there was just a long series of men who looked enough like the stories to pass. And now he’s gone, just like everything else in Driftwood.
What began as a silent memorial and then became a tribute starts shredding into chaos. Dreceyl shoves Kuondae, who to him is just a disrespectful stranger. She hisses at him and raises a hand, but Ioi stops her from striking, which brings the Oneui in; Ioi may be only one-quarter of their blood, but Kuondae’s provocation has temporarily erased that gap. In the stands above, people begin to shout competing theories, points and counterpoints, few of them backed by solid facts. The dark-skinned woman with the gold wound into her hair watches silently, leaning against the crumbling sandstone wall with her jaw set hard. The man in the robe sets his pen down and waits.