"Three times I've compiled those damned lists, and I'm running out of names. But he still wants more. More souls for his experiments. More lives to be wasted in the pursuit of this vain, useless, futile hunt!"
First Magus Vordegh's maniacal obsession to destroy the heretic cult of Order was running out of control. As the atrocities grew and the gods remained indifferent to pleas for sanity, the convictions of even Chaos's most devoted servants were starting to disintegrate. Faith seemed meaningless; trust impossible. The world was going mad.
Benetan Liss's faith was cruelly tested by the part he was forced to play in Vordegh's savage reprisals. But the choice was stark: obedience or death, there was no third way. Or so he believed, until one violent event brought him into direct conflict with the heretics – and the unearthly source of their power.
May 29, 1952 -- October 21, 2009
Louise Cooper was born in Hertfordshire in 1952. She began writing stories when she was at school to entertain her friends. She hated school so much, in fact—spending most lessons clandestinely writing stories—that she persuaded her parents to let her abandon her education at the age of fifteen and has never regretted it.
She continued to write and her first full-length novel was published when she was only twenty years old. She moved to London in 1975 and worked in publishing before becoming a full-time writer in 1977. Since then she has become a prolific writer of fantasy, renowned for her bestselling Time Master trilogy. She has published more than eighty fantasy and supernatural novels, both for adults and children. She also wrote occasional short stories for anthologies, and has co-written a comedy play that was produced for her local school.
Louise Cooper lived in Cornwall with her husband, Cas Sandall, and their black cat, Simba. She gained a great deal of writing inspiration from the coast and scenery, and her other interests included music, folklore, cooking, gardening and "messing about on the beach." Just to make sure she keeps busy, she was also treasurer of her local Lifeboat station.
Louise passed away suddenly in October 2009. She was a wonderful and talented lady and will be greatly missed.
Tarod was astonished by the man’s arrogance—and, though he was loath to admit it, by his courage. In all their history no magus had ever dared show such temerity to a Chaos lord. Though his tone was faultlessly respectful, even reverent, Vordegh’s attitude verged on outright defiance. He had understood Tarod’s implied reprimand and warning but he refused to be cowed by it; refused, indeed, to accept it. Tarod knew why, for the First Magus had made the point—none too subtly—that his first allegiance was to Yandros alone. While Yandros sanctioned his decisions and deeds, or at least did not actively condemn them, he had an utterly free hand. As First Magus he was invulnerable; he was well aware of it and would not defer to anyone, even a god, who sought to challenge his position.
Tarod said, “Your confidence is impressive. Thus far, though, I fail to see the evidence to justify it.”
Vordegh’s mouth pursed. “I hesitate to differ with you, my lord—”
“Not just with me, Vordegh, but also, I gather, with the great majority of your peers.”
The First Magus’s eyes hardened abruptly. “The magi know their duty, my lord, just as I know mine.”
“To obey their leader?”
“Their chosen leader. Yes. As—pardon my presumption, but I think I speak only the truth—as you obey your great brother, without dissent and without question.”
Tarod considered that for a few moments, then smiled faintly. “The parallels aren’t quite as close as you think, Vordegh. Yandros’s authority in the realm of Chaos is absolute, but in practice his attitude differs somewhat to yours. My brother is not autocratic. He has the…well, let us say he has the insight to appreciate and respect the views of his lesser brethren, and to allow those views free rein without the need to refer constantly to him for sanction.” He paused briefly, then added with a fine sting, “Which is why I am here to express my views, which aren’t necessarily those of my brother. As a self-professed servant of Chaos, you might do worse than to bear that fact in mind when you claim Yandros’s example as a precedent for your own conduct.”
Vordegh’s pale cheeks colored faintly. “I am sensible of the honor you do me in proffering your…advice, my lord. I shall, of course, take heed of it.” His composure, which had wavered a fraction, returned in full measure. “However, as a mortal man I would never presume to aspire to the standards set by the gods. I am aware that my judgment is as fallible in this matter as in any other, but I am also certain that time and endeavor will prove me right, whatever certain of my colleagues may presently believe to the contrary. If that is so, then I think that the end will more than justify the means I use to achieve it.”
Tarod nodded. “Very well, First Magus. You’ve made your views quite clear, as I think I have made mine.” He rose. There was nothing more to say, for he had precisely assessed Vordegh’s attitude and disposition, and that gave a surer answer to his questions than any words could have done. “I’ll follow the progress of your hunt for the heretics with great interest—as, I imagine, will the rest of your world.” He flicked back his long cloak, and for a moment the light in the room dimmed almost to blackness. “I only hope—and trust—that your methods don’t foster another kind of insurrection, either here in the castle or elsewhere. It would not amuse us to find that the gods were held to blame for the actions of one misguided man. I wish you a good night.”
For several minutes after Tarod’s departure, Vordegh stood motionless where he had risen to make his bow. Both the inner and outer doors were still open, a faint, dark aura shimmering around them in the Chaos lord’s wake. Verdice was absent, the apartments empty of any presence save his own. Then, at last, the First Magus sat down. At a gesture the doors closed quietly, and with precise, economic movements Vordegh began to tidy away the documents on his desk. His face was impassive, betraying no sign of emotion; to look at him, no one would think that the interview with Tarod had ever taken place. But in the depths of his dark eyes something stirred. Something implacable, hard as tempered steel. Vordegh believed that he had been a combatant in a small battle tonight. And he believed that he had won.