The Wounded Land, p.1Stephen R. Donaldson
The Wounded Land (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1) is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Del Rey eBook Edition
Copyright © 1980 by Stephen R. Donaldson
All Rights Reserved.
Published in the United States by Del Rey, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Originally published in Hardcover in 1980 by Del Rey, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.,New York.
Del Rey and the Del Rey colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
What Has Gone Before
2: Something Broken
PART I: Need
4: “You Are Mine”
5: Thunder and Lightning
6: The Graveler
8: The Corruption of the Sun
10: Vale of Crystal
11: The Corruption of Beauty
PART II: Vision
12: The Andelainian Hills
15: “Because You Can See”
16: The Weird of the Waynhim
18: Revelstone in Rain
PART III: Purpose
20: The Quest
22: Plain of Fire
23: Sarangrave Flat
24: The Search
25: “In the Name of the Pure One”
Other Books by This Author
WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE
After an infection causes the amputation of two fingers, Thomas Covenant learns he has leprosy. Once a popular author, he is now a pariah to his community. His wife Joan divorces him.
Lonely and bitter, he meets an old beggar who tells him to “be true.” Confused by the odd encounter, he stumbles in front of a car and revives on a high mountain in a strange world. After an evil voice of one called Lord Foul gives him a message of doom for the Lords of the Land, he is led down to the village of Mithil Stonedown by Lena. There Covenant is considered the reincarnation of the legendary Berek Halfhand, the first High Lord, and his white gold wedding ring is regarded as a talisman of great power, capable of wild magic.
Lena heals him with hurtloam mud. His sudden recovery is more than he can bear, and he rapes Lena. Despite this, Lena’s mother Atiaran agrees to guide Covenant to Revelstone, home of the Lords. Covenant calls himself the Unbeliever because he cannot believe in the magic of the Land. He fears it is merely a delirious escape from reality.
A friendly Giant, Saltheart Foamfollower, takes Covenant to Revelstone, where he is greeted as an ur-Lord. The Lords are shocked at Foul’s message that an evil Cavewight holds the powerful Staff of Law, without which they cannot overcome Foul’s plot to ruin the Land. They must rescue the Staff from the Cavewight caverns under Mount Thunder. Covenant goes with them, guarded by Bannor, one of the Bloodguard who have taken an ancient vow to protect the Lords.
After many encounters with Foul’s evil creatures, they rescue the Staff from the Cavewights. The Lords escape when Covenant—without knowing how—somehow uses the wild magic of his ring. But Covenant begins to fade and wakes in a hospital a few hours after his accident—though months passed in the Land.
A few weeks later, Covenant rushes to answer a call from Joan, only to stumble and knock himself out. He again finds himself in the Land—where forty years have passed. The Lords are desperate. Foul has found the Illearth Stone, a source of evil power, and prepares to attack. The weaker army of the Lords is commanded by Hile Troy, who also comes from the “real” Earth. The High Lord is now Elena, Covenant’s daughter by Lena. She greets him as a savior.
A force of Bloodguard and Lords is sent to Coercri to ask help of the Giants. But there Foul has possessed three Giants to house the spirits of his ancient Raver lieutenants. The other Giants are monstrously murdered. The surviving Lord destroys one Giant-Raver, and the Bloodguard seize a piece of the Illearth Stone to return it to Revelstone. But the Lord dies before he can warn them of its danger.
Hile Troy takes his army south, accompanied by Lord Mhoram, Covenant’s friend. Foul’s army is commanded by another Giant-Raver, and Troy is forced to flee to Garroting Deep, a forest protected by an ancient, mysterious Forestal, Caerroil Wildwood. The Forestal saves Troy’s army but commands that Troy become an apprentice Forestal.
Elena has taken Covenant and Bannor to Melenkurion Skyweir, a mountain near Garroting Deep. Inside the mountain, Elena drinks from the water called the EarthBlood, and thus gains the Power of Command. She summons the spirit of Kevin, an ancient Lord, and orders him to destroy Foul. But Foul overcomes Kevin and sends him back to drag Elena and the Staff to their doom within the mountain.
Covenant and Bannor escape down a river, to meet with Mhoram. But again Covenant fades, to come to in his own living room.
Filled with guilt, he neglects himself and wanders the country at night. Then he encounters a little girl endangered by a snake. He saves her, but is bitten. Again he returns to the Land—to Kevin’s Watch where he first appeared in the Land. He has been summoned by a surviving Foamfollower and Triock, Lena’s former lover, who has overcome his hatred of Covenant for the good of the Land. In Mithil Stonedown, covenant again meets Lena—a crazed woman who claims to have kept herself young for love of Covenant, though she is old now.
During the seven years since the Staff was lost, things have grown worse for the Land. Mhoram is about to be besieged in Revelstone, and no place is safe. Only Covenant can destroy Foul with the power of the ring, they believe. Finally Covenant sets out for foul’s Creche in the far east, accompanied by Foamfollower, Triock and Lena. They seek help from the Ramen, a people who serve the great Ranyhyn, the wild horses of the plains. But the Ramen are betrayed. Lena gives her life to save Covenant, but he is seriously wounded.
He is saved by an Unfettered One and healed. He meets Foamfollower and Triock—but they are captured by a Raver and brought to the Colossus that guards the Upper Land. There the ghost of Elena tries to destroy them, since she has been enslaved by Foul. With his ring, Covenant overcomes her and destroys the Staff she holds.
He and Foamfollower continue down into the Lower Land toward Foul’s Creche. They are helped by the jheherrin, pitiful creatures of living mud, and finally penetrate the stronghold of Foul. There, with the courage of Foamfollower to help, Covenant discovers how to tap the power of the ring—though still without really understanding it. Whereupon he overcomes Foul and destroys the Illearth Stone.
He seems to be destroyed also. But the Creator of this world—the old beggar who first told him to “be true”—saves him. After showing Covenant that Mhoram has also triumphed against the forces of evil—by using the krill, a sword activated by Covenant’s presence in the Land—the Creator sends him back to his own world.
Satisfied that the Land will survive, Covenant willingly faces the challenge of making his way as a leper in his own time and place. And for some ten years, he does face that challenge, with no further summons from the Land.
Here begins “The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant”.
When Linden Avery heard the knock at her door, she groaned aloud. She was in a black mood, and did not want visitors. She wanted a cold shower and privacy—a chance to accustom herself to the deliberate austerity of her surroundings.
She had spent most of the afternoon of an unnaturally muggy day in the middle of spring moving herself into this apartment which the Hospital had rented for her, lugging her sparse wardrobe, her inadequate furniture, and a back-breaking series of cardboard boxes containing textbooks from her middle-aged sedan up the outside stairs to the second floor of the old wooden house. The house squatted among its weeds like a crippled toad, spavined by antiquity; and when she had unlocked her apartment for the first time, she had been greeted by three rooms and a bath with grubby yellow walls, floorboards covered only by chipped beige paint, an atmosphere of desuetude bordering on indignity—and by a piece of paper which must have been slipped under the door. Thick red lines like lipstick or fresh blood marked the paper—a large crude triangle with two words inside it:
She had glared at the paper for a moment, then had crumpled it in her pocket. She had no use for offers of salvation. She wanted nothing she did not earn.
But the note, combined with the turgid air, the long exertion of heaving her belongings up the stairs, and the apartment itself, left her feeling capable of murder. The rooms reminded her of her parents’ house. That was why she hated the apartment. But it was condign, and she chose to accept it. She both loathed and approved the aptness of her state. Its personal stringency was appropriate.
She was a doctor newly out of residency, and she had purposely sought a job which would bring her to a small half-rural, half-stagnant town like this one—a town like the one near which she had been born and her parents had died. Though she was only thirty, she felt old, unlovely, and severe. This was just; she had lived an unlovely and severe life. Her father had died when she was eight; her mother, when she was fifteen. After three empty years in a foster home, she had put herself through college, then medical school, internship, and residency, specializing in Family Practice. She had been lonely ever since she could remember, and her isolation had largely become ingrained. Her two or three love affairs had been like hygienic exercises or experiments in physiology; they had left her untouched. So now when she looked at herself, she saw severity, and the consequences of violence.
Hard work and clenched emotions had not hurt the gratuitous womanliness of her body, or dulled the essential luster of her shoulder-length wheaten hair, or harmed the structural beauty of her face. Her driven and self-contained life had not changed the way her eyes misted and ran almost without provocation. But lines had already marked her face, leaving her with a perpetual frown of concentration above the bridge of her straight, delicate nose, and gullies like the implications of pain on either side of her mouth—a mouth which had originally been formed for something more generous than the life which had befallen her. And her voice had become flat, so that it sounded more like a diagnostic tool, a way of eliciting pertinent data, than a vehicle for communication.
But the way she had lived her life had given her something more than loneliness and a liability to black moods. It had taught her to believe in her own strength. She was a physician; she had held life and death in her hands, and had learned how to grasp them effectively. She trusted her ability to carry burdens. When she heard the knock at her door, she groaned aloud. But then she straightened her sweat-marked clothes as if she were tugging her emotions into order, and went to open the door.
She recognized the short, wry man who stood on the landing. He was Julius Berenford, Chief of Staff of the County Hospital.
He was the man who had hired her to run his Outpatient Clinic and Emergency Room. In a more metropolitan hospital, the hiring of a Family Practitioner for such a position would have been unusual. But the County Hospital served a region composed largely of farmers and hill people. This town, the county seat, had been calcifying steadily for twenty years. Dr. Berenford needed a generalist.
The top of his head was level with her eyes, and he was twice her age. The round bulge of his stomach belied the thinness of his limbs. He gave an impression of dyspeptic affection, as if he found human behavior both incomprehensible and endearing. When he smiled below his white moustache, the pouches under his eyes tightened ironically.
“Dr. Avery,” he said, wheezing faintly after the exertion of the stairs.
“Dr. Berenford.” She wanted to protest the intrusion; so she stepped aside and said tightly, “Come in.”
He entered the apartment, glancing around as he wandered toward a chair. “You’ve already moved in,” he observed. “Good. I hope you had help getting everything up here.”
She took a chair near his, seated herself squarely, as if she were on duty. “No.” Who could she have asked for help?
Dr. Berenford started to expostulate. She stopped him with a gesture of dismissal. “No problem. I’m used to it.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be.” His gaze on her was complex. “You just finished your residency at a highly respected hospital, and your work was excellent. The least you should be able to expect in life is help carrying your furniture upstairs.”
His tone was only half humorous; but she understood the seriousness behind it because the question had come up more than once during their interviews. He had asked repeatedly why someone with her credentials wanted a job in a poor county hospital. He had not accepted the glib answers she had prepared for him; eventually, she had been forced to offer him at least an approximation of the facts. “Both my parents died near a town like this,” she had said. “They were hardly middle-aged. If they’d been under the care of a good Family Practitioner, they would be alive today.”
This was both true and false, and it lay at the root of the ambivalence which made her feel old. If her mother’s melanoma had been properly diagnosed in time, it could have been treated surgically with a ninety per cent chance of success. And if her father’s depression had been observed by anybody with any knowledge or insight, his suicide might have been prevented. But the reverse was true as well; nothing could have saved her parents. They had died because they were simply too ineffectual to go on living. Whenever she thought about such things, she seemed to feel her bones growing more brittle by the hour.
She had come to this town because she wanted to try to help people like her parents. And because she wanted to prove that she could be effective under such circumstances—that she was not like her parents. And because she wanted to die.
When she did not speak, Dr. Berenford said, “However, that’s neither here nor there.” The humorlessness of her silence appeared to discomfit him. “I’m glad you’re here. Is there anything I can do? Help you get settled?”
Linden was about to refuse his offer, out of habit if not conviction, when she remembered the piece of paper in her pocket. On an impulse, she dug it out, handed it to him. “This came under the door. Maybe you ought to tell me what I’m getting into.”
He peered at the triangle and the writing, muttered, “Jesus saves,” under his breath, then sighed. “Occupational hazard. I’ve been going to church faithfully in this town for forty years. But since I’m a trained professional who earns a decent living, some of our good people”—he grimaced wryly—“are always trying to convert me. Ignorance is the only form of innocence they understand.” He shrugged, returned the note to her. “This area has been depressed for a long time. After a while, depressed people do strange things. They try to turn depression into a virtue—they need something to make themselves feel less helpless. What they usually do around here is become evangelical. I’m afraid you’re just going to have to put up with people who worry about your soul. Nobody gets much privacy in a small town.”
Linden nodded; but she hardly heard he
With a scowl, she drove back the recollection. Her revulsion was so strong that she might have consented to having the memories physically cut out of her brain. But Dr. Berenford was watching her as if her abhorrence showed on her face. To avoid exposing herself, she pulled discipline over her features like a surgical mask. “What can I do for you, doctor?”
“Well, for one thing,” he said, forcing himself to sound genial in spite of her tone, “you can call me Julius. I’m going to call you Linden, so you might as well.”
She acquiesced with a shrug. “Julius.”
“Linden.” He smiled; but his smile did not soften his discomfort. After a moment, he said hurriedly, as if he were trying to outrun the difficulty of his purpose, “Actually, I came over for two reasons. Of course, I wanted to welcome you to town. But I could have done that later. The truth is, I want to put you to work.”
Work? she thought. The word sparked an involuntary protest. I just got here. I’m tired and angry, and I don’t know how I’m going to stand this apartment. Carefully she said, “It’s Friday. I’m not supposed to start until Monday.”
“This doesn’t have anything to do with the Hospital. It should, but it doesn’t.” His gaze brushed her face like a touch of need. “It’s a personal favor. I’m in over my head. I’ve spent so many years getting involved in the lives of my patients that I can’t seem to make objective decisions anymore. Or maybe I’m just out of date—don’t have enough medical knowledge. Seems to me that what I need is a second opinion.”
“About what?” she asked, striving to sound noncommittal. But she was groaning inwardly. She already knew that she would attempt to provide whatever he asked of her. He was appealing to a part of her that had never learned how to refuse.
He frowned sourly. “Unfortunately I can’t tell you. It’s in confidence.”
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