A scholar, a goblin, and a gnome, among others, pursue the secrets of a vanished ancient race through a wasteland of dark magic in this enthralling fantasy quest adventure On an Earth that is different from ours, the young scholar Mark Cornwall becomes a target of the Inquisition, and specifically its most evil and obsessed agent, Beckett. Damned for asking questions, Mark is forced to escape over the border into the Wastelands, a magical realm that is home to all manner of flesh-devouring monsters. Luckily he will not have to make his journey alone. He is accompanied by a cadre of stalwart companions, including the rafter goblin Oliver, Snively the gnome, and secretive Mary from one of three parallel planes. Somewhere beyond the vengeful, blood-hungry Hellhounds, somewhere past the horrific legacy of the now-destroyed Chaos Beast, the mysteries of the Old Ones are waiting to be revealed—and only those with the courage to seek them will be able to alter the destiny of their worlds. In Enchanted Pilgrimage , Clifford D. Simak ingeniously blends elements of science fiction into a savory fantasy stew. The award-winning Grand Master of science fiction spreads his wings and takes glorious flight into a bold new realm of magic and adventure, demonstrating why he remains one of the most acclaimed storytellers in the literature of the remarkable.
|Publisher:||Open Road Integrated Media LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
During his fifty-five-year career, Clifford D. Simak produced some of the most iconic science fiction stories ever written. Born in 1904 on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin, Simak got a job at a small-town newspaper in 1929 and eventually became news editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, writing fiction in his spare time. Simak was best known for the book City , a reaction to the horrors of World War II, and for his novel Way Station. In 1953 City was awarded the International Fantasy Award, and in following years, Simak won three Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award. In 1977 he became the third Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and before his death in 1988, he was named one of three inaugural winners of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Read an Excerpt
By Clifford D. Simak
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1975 Clifford D. Simak
All rights reserved.
The rafter goblin spied on the hiding monk, who was spying on the scholar. The goblin hated the monk and had reason for the hate. The monk hated no one and loved no one; he was bigoted and ambitious. The scholar was stealing what appeared to be a manuscript he had found hidden behind the binding of a book.
The hour was late and the library hushed. Somewhere a mouse scrabbled furtively. The candle standing on the desk over which the scholar crouched guttered, burning low.
The scholar lifted the manuscript and tucked it inside his shirt. He closed the book and put it back on the shelf. He snuffed out the candle with a finger and a thumb. Pale moonlight, shining through tall windows that reached almost to the rafters, lit the interior of the library with a ghastly radiance.
The scholar turned from the desk and made his way among the tables of the study room, heading for the foyer. The monk shrank further back into the shadows and let him go. He made no move to stop him. The goblin watched, full of hate for the monk, and scratched his head in perplexity.CHAPTER 2
Mark Cornwall was eating cheese and bread when the knock came at the door. The room was small and cold; a tiny blaze of twigs burning in the small fireplace did little to warm it.
He rose and brushed crumbs of cheese off his coat before he went to the door. When he opened it a small, wizened creature stood before it — scarcely three feet tall, he was dressed in tattered leathern breeches. His feet were bare and hairy and his shirt was a worn crimson velvet. He wore a peaked cap.
"I am the goblin of the rafters," he said. "Please, may I come in?"
"Certainly," said Cornwall. "I have heard of you. I thought you were a myth."
The goblin came in and scurried to the fire. He squatted in front of it, thrusting his hands out toward the blaze.
"Why did you think of me as a myth?" he asked petulantly. "You know that there are goblins and elves and others of the Brotherhood. Why should you doubt me?"
"I don't know," said Cornwall. "Because I have never seen you, perhaps. Because I have never known anyone who has. I thought it was a student story."
"I keep well hidden," said the goblin. "I stay up in the rafters. There are hiding places there and it is hard to reach me. Some of those monkish characters in the library are unreasonable. They have no sense of humor."
"Would you have some cheese?" asked Cornwall.
"Of course I'd have some cheese. What a foolish question."
He left the fire and hoisted himself onto the rough bench that stood before the table. He looked around the room. "I take it," he said, "that you have no easy life. There is no softness here. It is all hard and sparse."
"I get along," said Cornwall. He took the dagger from the scabbard at his belt and cut a slice of cheese, then sawed a slice off the loaf of bread and handed it to his visitor.
"Rough fare," said the goblin.
"It is all I have. But you didn't come for cheese and bread."
"No," the goblin said. "I saw you tonight. I saw you steal the manuscript."
"Okay," said Cornwall. "What is it that you want?"
"Not a thing," the goblin said. He took a bite of cheese. "I came to tell you that the monk, Oswald, also was watching you."
"If he had been watching, he would have stopped me. He would have turned me in."
"It seems to me," the goblin said, "that there is a peculiar lack of remorse on your part. You do not even make an effort to deny it."
"You saw me," Cornwall said, "and yet you did not turn me in. This business must go deeper than it seems."
"Perhaps," the goblin said. "You have been a student here how long?"
"Almost six years."
"You are no longer a student, then. A scholar."
"There is no great distinction between the two."
"I suppose not," the goblin agreed, "but it means you are no shiny-faced schoolboy. You are beyond simple student pranks."
"I think I am," said Cornwall, "but I don't quite see your point. ..."
"The point is that Oswald saw you steal it and yet he let you go. Could he have known what you stole?"
"I would rather doubt it. I didn't know what it was myself until I saw it. I wasn't looking for it. I didn't even know that it existed. I noticed when I got the book down that there was something rather strange about the binding on the back cover. It seemed too thick. It gave beneath one's fingers, as if something might be hidden there, between the binding and the board."
"If it was so noticeable," asked the goblin, "how is it that no one else had found it? How about another chunk of cheese?"
Cornwall cut another slice of cheese and gave it to him. "I think there is an easy answer to your question. I imagine I may have been the first one in a century or more who had taken down that book."
"An obscure tome," said the goblin. "There are many such. Would you mind telling me what it was?"
"An old traveler's tale," said Cornwall. "Written many years ago, several hundred years ago. In very ancient script. Some monk of long ago made it a thing of beauty when he copied it, with intricate and colorful initial letters and pretty conceits in the margins. But if you ask me, it was a waste of time. By and large, it is a pack of lies."
"Then why did you go looking for it?"
"Sometimes from many falsehoods one may garner certain truths. I was looking for the mention of one specific thing."
"And you found it?"
"Not in the book," said Cornwall. "In the hidden manuscript. I'm inclined to think the book is the original copy of the tale. Perhaps the only one. It is not the sort of thing that would have been copied extensively. The old monk in the scriptorium probably worked from the traveler's own writings, copying it in style, making it a splendid book that one might be rightly proud of."
"Not really a manuscript. Only a single page of parchment. A page from the traveler's original manuscript. It had something in it that the monk left out."
"You think his conscience bothered him and he compromised by binding the page from which he had deleted something under the back cover of the book."
"Something like that," said Cornwall. "Now let us talk about what you came here for."
"The monk," the goblin said. "You do not know this monk, Oswald, as I do. Of all the scruffy crew, he is by far the worst. No man is safe from him, no thing is sacred. Perhaps it has crossed your mind he might have had a purpose in not apprehending you, in not raising an outcry."
"My theft does not seem to perturb you," Cornwall pointed out.
"Not at all," the goblin said. "I am rather on your side. For years this cursed monk has tried his best to make my life a misery. He has tried to trap me; he has tried to hunt me down. I have cracked his shins aplenty and have managed, in one way or another, to pay him back for every shabby trick, but he still persists. I bear him no goodwill. Perhaps you've gathered that."
"You think he intends to inform on me?"
"If I know him," the goblin said, "he intends to sell the information."
"To whom would he sell it? Who would be interested?"
"Consider," said the goblin, "that a hidden manuscript has been filched from its hiding place in an ancient book. The fact that it seemed important enough to be hidden — and important enough to be filched — would be intriguing, would it not?"
"I suppose you're right."
"There are in this town and the university," said the goblin, "any number of unprincipled adventurers who would be interested."
"You think that it will be stolen from me?"
"I think there is no question that it will. In the process your life will not be entirely safe."
Cornwall cut another slice of cheese and handed it to him. "Thank you," said the goblin, "and could you spare me another slice of bread?"
Cornwall cut a slice of bread.
"You have been of service to me," he said, "and I am grateful to you. Would you mind telling me what you expect out of this?"
"Why," the goblin said, "I thought it was apparent. I want to see that wretched monk stub his toe and fall flat upon his face."
He laid the bread and cheese on the tabletop, reached inside his shirt and brought out several sheets of parchment. He laid them on the table.
"I imagine, Sir Scholar, that you are handy with the quill."
"I manage," Cornwall said.
"Well, then, here are some old parchments, buffed clean of the writing once upon them. I would suggest you copy the page that you have stolen and leave it where it can be found."
"But I don't ..."
"Copy it," said the goblin, "but with certain changes you'll know best to make. Little, subtle changes that would throw them off the track."
"That's done quite easily," said Cornwall, "but the ink will be recent ink. I cannot forge the writing. There will be differences and ..."
"Who is there to know about the different script? No one but you has seen the manuscript. If the style of script is not the same, no one will know or guess. The parchment's old and as far as the erasure is concerned, if that could be detected, it was often done in the olden days when parchment was hard to come by."
"I don't know," said Cornwall.
"It would require a scholar to detect the discrepancies you are so conerned about and the chances are not great the forgery will fall into a scholar's hands. Anyhow, you'll be long gone. ..."
"Certainly," said the goblin. "You can't think you can stay around after what has happened."
"I suppose you're right. I had thought of leaving in any case."
"I hope the information in the manuscript is worth all the trouble it will cause you. But even if it isn't ..."
"I think perhaps it is," said Cornwall.
The goblin slid off the bench and headed for the door.
"Wait a second," said Cornwall. "You've not told me your name. Will I be seeing you again?"
"My name is Oliver — or at least in the world of men that's what I call myself. And it is unlikely we will ever meet again. Although, wait — how long will it take you to make the forgery?"
"Not too long," said Cornwall.
"Then I'll wait. My powers are not extensive, but I can be of certain aid. I have a small enchantment that can fade the ink and give the parchment, once it is correctly folded, a deceptive look of age."
"I'll get at it right away," said Cornwall. "You have not asked me what this is all about. I owe you that much."
"You can tell me," said the goblin, "as you work."CHAPTER 3
Lawrence Beckett and his men sat late at drink. They had eaten earlier, and still remaining on the great scarred tavern table were a platter with a ham bone, toward the end of which some meat remained, and half a loaf of bread. The townspeople who had been there earlier were gone, and mine host, having sent the servants off to bed, still kept his post behind the bar. He was sleepy, yawning occasionally, but well content to stay, for it was not often that the Boar's Head had guests so free with their money. The students, who came seldom, were more troublesome than profitable, and the townspeople who dropped in of an evening had long since become extremely expert in the coddling of their drinks. The Boar's Head was not on the direct road into town, but off on one of the many side streets, and it was not often that traders the like of Lawrence Beckett found their way there.
The door opened and a monk came in. He stood for a moment, staring about in the tavern's murky gloom. Behind the bar mine host stiffened to alertness. Some tingling sense in his brain told him that this visit boded little good. From one year's end to the next, men of the saintly persuasion never trod this common room.
After a moment's hesitation the monk pulled his robes about him, in a gesture that seemed to indicate a shrinking from contamination by the place, and made his way down the room to the corner where Lawrence Beckett and his men sat at their table. He stopped behind one of the chairs, facing Beckett.
Beckett looked at him with a question in his eyes. The monk did not respond.
"Albert," said Beckett, "pour this night bird a drink of wine. It is seldom we can join in cups with a man who wears the cloth."
Albert poured the drink, turning in his chair to hand it to the monk.
"Master Beckett," said the monk, "I heard you were in town. I would have a word with you alone."
"Certainly," said Beckett, heartily. "A word by all means. But not with me alone. These men are one with me. Whatever I may hear is fit for their ears as well. Albert, get Sir Monk a chair, so he may be seated with us."
"It must be alone," said the monk.
"All right, then," said Beckett. "Why don't the rest of you move down to another table. Take one of the candles, if you will."
"You have the air," said the monk, "of humoring me."
"I am humoring you." said Beckett. "I cannot imagine what you have to say is of any great importance."
The monk took the chair next to Beckett, putting the mug of wine carefully on the table in front of him, and waiting until the others left.
"Now what," asked Beckett, "is this so secret matter that you have to tell me?"
"First of all," said the monk, "that I know who you really are. No mere trader, as you would have us think."
Beckett said nothing, merely stared at him. But now some of the good humor had gone out of him.
"I know," said the monk, "that you have access to the church. For the favor that I do you, I would expect advancement. No great matter for one such as you. Only a word or two."
Beckett rumbled, "And this favor you are about to do me?"
"It has to do with a manuscript stolen from the university library just an hour or so ago."
"That would seem a small thing."
"Perhaps. But the manuscript was hidden in an ancient and almost unknown book."
"You knew of this manuscript? You know what it is?"
"I did not know of it until the thief found it. I do not know what it is."
"And this ancient book?"
"One written long ago by an adventurer named Taylor, who traveled in the Wastelands."
Beckett frowned. "I know of Taylor. Rumors of what he found. I did not know he had written a book."
"Almost no one knew of it. It was copied only once. The copy that we have."
"Have you read it, Sir Monk?"
The monk shrugged. "Until now it had no interest for me. There are many books to read. And traveler's tales are not to be taken entirely at face value."
"You think the manuscript might be?"
"To have been hidden so cleverly as it was, within the binding of the book, it would have to have some value. Why else bother to hide it?"
"Interesting," said Beckett softly. "Very interesting. But no value proved."
"If it has no value, then you owe me nothing. I am wagering that it does have."
"A gentleman's agreement, then?"
"Yes," said the monk, "a gentleman's agreement. The manuscript was found by a scholar, Mark Cornwall. He lodges in the topmost garret of the boardinghouse at the northwest corner of King and Broad."
Beckett frowned. "This Cornwall?"
"An obnoxious man who comes from somewhere in the West. A good student, but a sullen one. He has no friends. He lives from hand to mouth. He stayed on after all his old classmates had left, satisfied with the education they had gotten. Principally he stays on, I think, because he is interested in the Old Ones."
"How interested in the Old Ones?"
"He thinks they still exist. He has studied their language or what purports to be their language. There are some books on it. He has studied them."
"Why has he an interest in the Old Ones?"
The monk shook his head. "I do not know. I do not know the man. I've talked to him only once or twice. Intellectual curiosity, perhaps. Perhaps something else."
"Perhaps he thought Taylor might have written of the Old Ones."
"He could have. Taylor could have. I have not read the book."
"Cornwall has the manuscript. By now he would have hidden it."
"I doubt it has been hidden. Not too securely, anyhow. He has no reason to believe that his theft of it is known. Watching him, I saw him do it. I let him leave. I did not try to stop him. He could not have known I was there."
"Would it seem to you, Sir Monk, that this studious, light-fingered friend of ours may have placed himself in peril of heresy?"
"That, Master Beckett, is for you to judge. All about us are signs of heresy, but it takes a clever man to tread the intricacies of definition."
"You are not saying, are you, that heresy is political?"
"It never crossed my mind."
"That is good," said Beckett, "for under certain, well-defined conditions, the university itself, or more particularly the library, might fall under suspicion because of the material that can be found on its shelves."
Excerpted from Enchanted Pilgrimage by Clifford D. Simak. Copyright © 1975 Clifford D. Simak. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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