Philip Pullman - Dark Materials 02 - The Subtle Knife. Read more · Pullman, Philip - Dark Materials 2 - The Subtle Knife · Read more. Philip Pullman The Subtle Knife His Dark Materials – 2 Philip Pullman The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials–Book Two) Philip Pullman The Subtle Knife His Dark Materials – 2. The Cat And The Hornbeam Trees Will tugged at his mother's hand and said, "Come on, come on ". Philip Pullman - Dark Materials 02 - The Subtle Knife. Read more His Dark Materials, Book 2: The Subtle Knife. Read more.
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Lee Scoresby finds Grumman living as a shaman known as Jopari, a corruption of his original name, John Parry, Will's father. Grumman has summoned Scoresby to take him to the bearer of the knife and assist in Lord Asriel's rebellion against the Authority. They set off in Scoresby's hot air balloon but are forced to land by Magisterium soldiers.
Scoresby dies holding off the soldiers so that Grumman can complete his task. Coulter tricks Charles into revealing the secret of the knife and kills him.
She uses the spectres, which she has learned to control, to torture a witch into revealing the prophecy: Lyra is the second Eve. Coulter plans to destroy Lyra rather than risk a second Fall. Serafina goes to aid Scoresby, having heard his last plea for help. Will encounters Grumman, who staunches the bleeding in his hand and instructs him in his task. Grumman is killed by a vengeful witch whose love he once spurned. Will returns to camp to find a pair of angels, Balthamos and Baruch , waiting to guide him to Lord Asriel.
He goes to awaken Lyra, but discovers she is missing and her guardian witches have been killed by spectres. The international rights were also originally sold to provide financing for the first film, thus amounting to a significant disappointment for New Line Cinema.
Producer Deborah Forte, however, was adamant that she would finish the trilogy, saying, "I believe there are enough people who see what a viable and successful franchise we have.
Variety, Los Angeles. Retrieved 13 December Retrieved 13 March References[ edit ] Lenz, Millicent She was really frightened, and they went around and around putting things back on the shelves, but this time they had to be extra careful because the enemies were tracking them down by means of her credit card numbers, which they knew because they had her purse… And Will got more and more frightened himself.
He realized how clever his mother had been to make this real danger into a game so that he wouldn't be alarmed, and how, now that he knew the truth, he had to pretend not to be frightened, so as to reassure her.
So the little boy pretended it was a game still, so she didn't have to worry that he was frightened, and they went home without any shopping, but safe from the enemies; and then Will found the purse on the hall table anyway. On Monday they went to the bank and closed her account, and opened another somewhere else, just to be sure. Thus the danger passed. But sometime during the next few months, Will realized slowly and unwillingly that those enemies of his mother's were not in the world out there, but in her mind.
That made them no less real, no less frightening and dangerous; it just meant he had to protect her even more carefully. And from the moment in the supermarket when he had realized he must pretend in order not to worry his mother, part of Will's mind was always alert to her anxieties.
He loved her so much he would have died to protect her. As for Will's father, he had vanished long before Will was able to remember him. Will was passionately curious about his father, and he used to plague his mother with questions, most of which she couldn't answer. John Parry had been a handsome man, a brave and clever officer in the Royal Marines, who had left the army to become an explorer and lead expeditions to remote parts of the world.
Will thrilled to hear about this. No father could be more exciting than an explorer. From then on, in all his games he had an invisible companion: But the older he got, the more Will began to wonder. Why were there no pictures of his father in this part of the world or that, riding with frost-bearded men on Arctic sledges or examining creeper-covered ruins in the jungle?
Had nothing survived of the trophies and curiosities he must have brought home? Was nothing written about him in a book? His mother didn't know. But one thing she had said stuck in his mind. She said, "One day, you'll follow in your father's footsteps.
You're going to be a great man too. You'll take up his mantle. All his games were going to come true. His father was alive, lost somewhere in the wild, and he was going to rescue him and take up his mantle… It was worth living a difficult life, if you had a great aim like that.
So he kept his mother's trouble secret. There were times when she was calmer and clearer than others, and he took care to learn from her then how to shop and cook and keep the house clean, so that he could do it when she was confused and frightened.
And he learned how to conceal himself, too, how to remain unnoticed at school, how not to attract attention from the neighbors, even when his mother was in such a state of fear and madness that she could barely speak.
What Will himself feared more than anything was that the authorities would find out about her, and take her away, and put him in a home among strangers. Any difficulty was better than that. Because there came times when the darkness cleared from her mind, and she was happy again, and she laughed at her fears and blessed him for looking after her so well; and she was so full of love and sweetness then that he could think of no better companion, and wanted nothing more than to live with her alone forever.
But then the men came. They weren't police, and they weren't social services, and they weren't criminals—at least as far as Will could judge. They wouldn't tell him what they wanted, in spite of his efforts to keep them away; they'd speak only to his mother.
And her state was fragile just then. But he listened outside the door, and heard them ask about his father, and felt his breath come more quickly.
The men wanted to know where John Parry had gone, and whether he'd sent anything back to her, and when she'd last heard from him, and whether he'd had contact with any foreign embassies. Will heard his mother getting more and more distressed, and finally he ran into the room and told them to go. He looked so fierce that neither of the men laughed, though he was so young. They could easily have knocked him down, or held him off the floor with one hand, but he was fearless, and his anger was hot and deadly.
So they left. Naturally, this episode strengthened Will's conviction: His games weren't childish anymore, and he didn't play so openly. It was coming true, and he had to be worthy of it. And not long afterward the men came back, insisting that Will's mother had something to tell them.
They came when Will was at school, and one of them kept her talking downstairs while the other searched the bedrooms. She didn't realize what they were doing. But Will came home early and found them, and once again he blazed at them, and once again they left. They seemed to know that he wouldn't go to the police, for fear of losing his mother to the authorities, and they got more and more persistent. Finally they broke into the house when Will had gone to fetch his mother home from the park.
It was getting worse for her now, and she believed that she had to touch every separate slat in every separate bench beside the pond. Will would help her, to get it done quicker. When they got home that day they saw the back of the men's car disappearing out of the close, and he got inside to find that they'd been through the house and searched most of the drawers and cupboards.
He knew what they were after. The green leather case was his mother's most precious possession; he would never dream of looking through it, and he didn't even know where she kept it. But he knew it contained letters, and he knew she read them sometimes, and cried, and it was then that she talked about his father.
So Will supposed that this was what the men were after, and knew he had to do something about it. He decided first to find somewhere safe for his mother to stay. He thought and thought, but he had no friends to ask, and the neighbors were already suspicious, and the only person he thought he could trust was Mrs. Once his mother was safely there, he was going to find the green leather case and look at what was in it, and then he was going to go to Oxford, where he'd find the answer to some of his questions.
But the men came too soon. And now he'd killed one of them. So the police would be after him too. Well, he was good at not being noticed. He'd have to not be noticed harder than he'd ever done in his life before, and keep it up as long as he could, till either he found his father or they found him.
And if they found him first, he didn't care how many more of them he killed. Later that day, toward midnight in fact, Will was walking out of the city of Oxford, forty miles away. He was tired to his very bones.
He had hitchhiked, and ridden on two buses, and walked, and reached Oxford at six in the evening, too late to do what he needed to do. He'd eaten at a Burger King and gone to a cinema to hide though what the film was, he forgot even as he was watching it , and now he was walking along an endless road through the suburbs, heading north.
No one had noticed him so far. But he was aware that he'd better find somewhere to sleep before long, because the later it got, the more noticeable he'd be. The trouble was that there was nowhere to hide in the gardens of the comfortable houses along this road, and there was still no sign of open country.
He came to a large traffic circle where the road going north crossed the Oxford ring road going east and west. At this time of night there was very little traffic, and the road where he stood was quiet, with comfortable houses set back behind a wide expanse of grass on either side.
Planted along the grass at the road's edge were two lines of hornbeam trees, odd-looking things with perfectly symmetrical close-leafed crowns, more like children's drawings than like real trees. The streetlights made the scene look artificial, like a stage set. Will was stupefied with exhaustion, and he might have gone on to the north, or he might have laid his head on the grass under one of those trees and slept; but as he stood trying to clear his head, he saw a cat.
She was a tabby, like Moxie. She padded out of a garden on the Oxford side of the road, where Will was standing. Will put down his tote bag and held out his hand, and the cat came up to rub her head against his knuckles, just as Moxie did. Of course, every cat behaved like that, but all the same Will felt such a longing for home that tears scalded his eyes. Eventually the cat turned away. This was night, and there was a territory to patrol, there were mice to hunt.
She padded across the road and toward the bushes just beyond the hornbeam trees, and there she stopped. Will, still watching, saw the cat behave curiously.
She reached out a paw to pat something in the air in front of her, something quite invisible to Will. Then she leaped backward, back arched and fur on end, tail held out stiffly. Will knew cat behavior. He watched more alertly as the cat approached the spot again, just an empty patch of grass between the hornbeams and the bushes of a garden hedge, and patted the air once more.
Again she leaped back, but less far and with less alarm this time. After another few seconds of sniffing, touching, and whisker twitching, curiosity overcame wariness. The cat stepped forward—and vanished. Will blinked. Then he stood still, close to the trunk of the nearest tree, as a truck came around the circle and swept its lights over him. When it had gone past, he crossed the road, keeping his eyes on the spot where the cat had been investigating. It wasn't easy, because there was nothing to fix on, but when he came to the place and cast about to look closely, he saw it.
At least, he saw it from some angles. It looked as if someone had cut a patch out of the air, about two yards from the edge of the road, a patch roughly square in shape and less than a yard across. If you were level with the patch so that it was edge-on, it was nearly invisible, and it was completely invisible from behind.
You could see it only from the side nearest the road, and you couldn't see it easily even from there, because all you could see through it was exactly the same kind of thing that lay in front of it on this side: But Will knew without the slightest doubt that that patch of grass on the other side was in a different world.
He couldn't possibly have said why. He knew it at once, as strongly as he knew that fire burned and kindness was good. He was looking at something profoundly alien. And for that reason alone, it enticed him to stoop and look further.
What he saw made his head swim and his heart thump harder, but he didn't hesitate: He found himself standing under a row of trees. But not hornbeam trees: The hot night was laden with the scent of flowers and with the salt smell of the sea. Will looked around carefully. Behind him the full moon shone down over a distant prospect of great green hills, and on the slopes at the foot of the hills there were houses with rich gardens, and an open parkland with groves of trees and the white gleam of a classical temple.
Just beside him was that bare patch in the air, as hard to see from this side as from the other, but definitely there. He bent to look through and saw the road in Oxford, his own world. He turned away with a shudder: With a dawning lightheadedness, the feeling that he was dreaming but awake at the same time, he stood up and looked around for the cat, his guide.
She was nowhere in sight. Will lifted up his tattered tote bag and walked slowly across the road toward them, moving very carefully in case it all disappeared. The air of the place had something Mediterranean or maybe Caribbean about it. Will had never been out of England, so he couldn't compare it with anywhere he knew, but it was the kind of place where people came out late at night to eat and drink, to dance and enjoy music.
Except that there was no one here, and the silence was immense. On some of the tables glasses stood half-empty; in one ashtray a cigarette had burned down to the butt; a plate of risotto stood next to a basket of stale rolls as hard as cardboard.
He took a bottle of lemonade from the cooler behind the bar and then thought for a moment before dropping a pound coin in the till.
As soon as he'd shut the till, he opened it again, realizing that the money in there might say what this place was called. The currency was called the corona, but he couldn't tell any more than that. Little grocery shops and bakeries stood between jewelers and florists and bead-curtained doors opening into private houses, where wrought-iron balconies thick with flowers overhung the narrow pavement, and where the silence, being enclosed, was even more profound.
The streets were leading downward, and before very long they opened out onto a broad avenue where more palm trees reached high into the air, the underside of their leaves glowing in the streetlights. On the other side of the avenue was the sea. Will found himself facing a harbor enclosed from the left by a stone breakwater and from the right by a headland on which a large building with stone columns and wide steps and ornate balconies stood floodlit among flowering trees and bushes.
In the harbor one or two rowboats lay still at anchor, and beyond the breakwater the starlight glittered on a calm sea. By now Will's exhaustion had been wiped out. He was wide-awake and possessed by wonder. From time to time, on his way through the narrow streets, he'd put out a hand to touch a wall or a doorway or the flowers in a window box, and found them solid and convincing. Now he wanted to touch the whole landscape in front of him, because it was too wide to take in through his eyes alone.
He stood still, breathing deeply, almost afraid. He drank from it, and it tasted like what it was, ice-cold lemonade; and welcome, too, because the night air was hot. He wandered along to the right, past hotels with awnings over brightly lit entrances and bougainvillea flowering beside them, until he came to the gardens on the little headland. There were paths leading here and there among the lamp-hung oleander trees, but not a sound of life could be heard: The only sound he could hear came from the regular, quiet breaking of delicate waves from the beach beyond the palm trees at the edge of the garden.
Will made his way there.
The tide was halfway in, or halfway out, and a row of pedal boats was drawn up on the soft white sand above the high-water line. Every few seconds a tiny wave folded itself over at the sea's edge before sliding back neatly under the next. Fifty yards or so out on the calm water was a diving platform.
Will sat on the side of one of the pedal boats and kicked off his shoes, his cheap sneakers that were coming apart and cramping his hot feet. He dropped his socks beside them and pushed his toes deep into the sand. A few seconds later he had thrown off the rest of his clothes and was walking into the sea.
The water was deliciously between cool and warm. He splashed out to the diving platform and pulled himself up to sit on its weather-softened planking and look back at the city.
To his right the harbor lay enclosed by its breakwater. Beyond it a mile or so away stood a red-and-white-striped lighthouse. And beyond the lighthouse, distant cliffs rose dimly, and beyond them, those great wide rolling hills he'd seen from the place he'd first come through. And all safe.
No one could follow him here; the men who'd searched the house would never know; the police would never find him. He had a whole world to hide in. For the first time since he'd run out of his front door that morning, Will began to feel secure. He was thirsty again, and hungry too, because he'd last eaten in another world, after all. He slipped into the water and swam back more slowly to the beach, where he put on his underpants and carried the rest of his clothes and the tote bag.
He dropped the empty bottle into the first rubbish bin he found and walked barefoot along the pavement toward the harbor. When his skin had dried a little, he pulled on his jeans and looked for somewhere he'd be likely to find food. The hotels were too grand. He couldn't have said why; it was very similar to a dozen others, with its first-floor balcony laden with flowerpots and its tables and chairs on the pavement outside, but it welcomed him.
There was a bar with photographs of boxers on the wall, and a signed poster of a broadly smiling accordion player. There was a kitchen, and a door beside it that opened on to a narrow flight of stairs, carpeted in a bright floral pattern. He climbed quietly up to the narrow landing and opened the first door he came to. It was the room at the front. The air was hot and stuffy, and Will opened the glass door onto the balcony to let in the night air.
The room itself was small and furnished with things that were too big for it, and shabby, but it was clean and comfortable. Hospitable people lived here. There was a little shelf of books, a magazine on the table, a couple of photographs in frames.
Will left and looked in the other rooms: Something made his skin prickle before he opened the last door. His heart raced. He wasn't sure if he'd heard a sound from inside, but something told him that the room wasn't empty.
He thought how odd it was that this day had begun with someone outside a darkened room, and himself waiting inside; and now the positions were reversed— And as he stood wondering, the door burst open and something came hurtling at him like a wild beast. But his memory had warned him, and he wasn't standing quite close enough to be knocked over.
He fought hard: She realized what he was at the same moment, and snatched herself away from his bare chest to crouch in the corner of the dark landing like a cat at bay.
And there was a cat beside her, to his astonishment: She put her hand on the cat's back and licked her dry lips, watching his every movement.
Will stood up slowly. This city? It's joined on. Where's your daemon? Then he saw something extraordinary happen to the cat: Now it was a red-brown stoat with a cream throat and belly, and it glared at him as ferociously as the girl herself. But then another shift in things took place, because he realized that they, both girl and stoat, were profoundly afraid of him, as much as if he'd been a ghost.
Is that your demon? The stoat curled himself around her neck, and his dark eyes never left Will's face.
In my world demon means… it means devil, something evil. You mean this en't your world? I just found… a way in. Like your world, I suppose. It must be joined on. A few days. I can't remember. What, gold dust? What sort of dust? He turned away to go downstairs. In the kitchen Will found the ingredients for a casserole of chicken and onions and peppers, but they hadn't been cooked, and in the heat they were smelling bad. He swept them all into the dustbin. Lyra came to look. It's cold. The butterfly raised and lowered his wings slowly.
Will felt he shouldn't stare, though his head was ringing with the strangeness of it. He found a can of cola and handed it to her before taking out a tray of eggs. She pressed the can between her palms with pleasure. She looked at it, frowning. She didn't know how to open it. He snapped the lid for her, and the drink frothed out.
She licked it suspiciously, and then her eyes opened wide. They have Coke in this world, obviously. Look, I'll drink some to prove it isn't poison. Once she saw him drink, she followed his example. She was obviously thirsty. She drank so quickly that the bubbles got up her nose, and she snorted and belched loudly, and scowled when he looked at her. Or there's a can of baked beans, if you'd like.
She looked for the snap-open top like the one on the cola can. Bring it here. She sniffed the beans, and again an expression of pleasure and suspicion entered her eyes. She tipped the can into the saucepan and licked a finger, watching as Will shook salt and pepper into the eggs and cut a knob of butter from a package in the fridge into a cast-iron pan. He went into the bar to find some matches, and when he came back she was dipping her dirty finger in the bowl of beaten eggs and licking it greedily.
Her daemon, a cat again, was dipping his paw in it, too, but he backed away when Will came near. I don't know. I found bread and stuff here and ate that. Her eyes followed everything greedily, watching him pull the eggs up into soft ridges in the center as they cooked and tilt the pan to let raw egg flow into the space.
She watched him, too, looking at his face and his working hands and his bare shoulders and his feet. When the omelette was cooked he folded it over and cut it in half with the spatula. He brought out the food and some knives and forks from a drawer, and they sat down together, a little awkwardly. She ate hers in less than a minute, and then fidgeted, swinging back and forth on her chair and plucking at the plastic strips of the woven seat while he finished his.
Her daemon changed yet again, and became a goldfinch, pecking at invisible crumbs on the tabletop. Will ate slowly. He'd given her most of the beans, but even so he took much longer than she did. The harbor in front of them, the lights along the empty boulevard, the stars in the dark sky above, all hung in the huge silence as if nothing else existed at all.
And all the time he was intensely aware of the girl. She was small and slight, but wiry, and she'd fought like a tiger; his fist had raised a bruise on her cheek, and she was ignoring it. Her expression was a mixture of the very young—when she first tasted the cola—and a kind of deep, sad wariness. Her eyes were pale blue, and her hair would be a darkish blond once it was washed; because she was filthy, and she smelled as if she hadn't bathed for days. How did you get here? I didn't know where I was going.
At least, I knew I was going out of my world. But I couldn't see this one till the fog cleared. Then I found myself here. I'm going to find out about it. But this world seems to be empty. There's no one here to ask. I've been here for… I dunno, three days, maybe four. And there's no one here. He did so in the flick of an eye, and from a goldfinch he became a rat, a powerful pitch-black rat with red eyes. Will looked at him with wide wary eyes, and the girl saw his glance.
You'd be… half dead. We seen a kid with his daemon cut away. You en't like that. Even if you don't know you've got a daemon, you have. We was scared at first when we saw you. Like you was a night-ghast or something. But then we saw you weren't like that at all. But you, your daemon en't separate from you. It's you.
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A part of you. You're part of each other. En't there anyone in your world like us? Are they all like you, with their daemons all hidden away? I'm going to bed," he said. I've got to find out more about what I'm looking for. There must be some Scholars in this world. There must be someone who knows about it.
But I came here out of a place called Oxford. There's plenty of scholars there, if that's what you want. You never came from my world. But in my world there's an Oxford too. We're both speaking English, en't we? Stands to reason there's other things the same. How did you get through? Is there a bridge, or what? It was a command, not a request. He shook his head. Anyway, it's the middle of the night. But I've got my own things to do.
You'll have to find your scholars by yourself. Anyway, I'm not a servant. I'm not going to wash them. You'd never find it. Listen, I don't know how long we can stay in this place. We've got to eat, so we'll eat what's here, but we'll tidy up afterward and keep the place clean, because we ought to. You wash these dishes. We've got to treat this place right. Now I'm going to bed. I'll have the other room. I'll see you in the morning. Lyra waited till she was sure he was asleep, and then took the dishes into the kitchen and ran them under the tap, rubbing hard with a cloth until they looked clean.
She did the same with the knives and forks, but the procedure didn't work with the omelette pan, so she tried a bar of yellow soap on it, and picked at it stubbornly until it looked as clean as she thought it was going to.
Then she dried everything on another cloth and stacked it neatly on the drainboard. Because she was still thirsty and because she wanted to try opening a can, she snapped open another cola and took it upstairs. She listened outside Will's door and, hearing nothing, tiptoed into the other room and took out the alethiometer from under her pillow. She didn't need to be close to Will to ask about him, but she wanted to look anyway, and she turned his door handle as quietly as she could before going in.
There was a light on the sea front outside shining straight up into the room, and in the glow reflected from the ceiling she looked down at the sleeping boy. He was frowning, and his face glistened with sweat. He was strong and stocky, not as formed as a grown man, of course, because he wasn't much older than she was, but he'd be powerful one day. How much easier if his daemon had been visible! She wondered what its form might be, and whether it was fixed yet.
Whatever its form was, it would express a nature that was savage, and courteous, and unhappy. She tiptoed to the window.
In the glow from the streetlight she carefully set the hands of the alethiometer, and relaxed her mind into the shape of a question. The needle began to sweep around the dial in a series of pauses and swings almost too fast to watch. She had asked: What is he? A friend or an enemy? The alethiometer answered: He is a murderer. When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once. He could find food, and show her how to reach Oxford, and those were powers that were useful, but he might still have been untrustworthy or cowardly.
A murderer was a worthy companion. She felt as safe with him as she'd felt with Iorek Byrnison, the armored bear. She swung the shutter across the open window so the morning sunlight wouldn't strike in on his face, and tiptoed out. Among The Witches The witch Serafina Pekkala, who had rescued Lyra and the other children from the experimental station at Bolvangar and flown with her to the island of Svalbard, was deeply troubled.
In the atmospheric disturbances that followed Lord Asriel's escape from his exile on Svalbard, she and her companions were blown far from the island and many miles out over the frozen sea. Some of them managed to stay with the damaged balloon of Lee Scoresby, the Texan aeronaut, but Serafina herself was tossed high into the banks of fog that soon came rolling in from the gap that Lord Asriel's experiment had torn in the sky.
When she found herself able to control her flight once more, her first thought was of Lyra; for she knew nothing of the fight between the false bear-king and the true one, Iorek Byrnison, nor of what had happened to Lyra after that. So she began to search for her, flying through the cloudy gold-tinged air on her branch of cloud-pine, accompanied by her daemon, Kaisa the snow goose.
They moved back toward Svalbard and south a little, soaring for several hours under a sky turbulent with strange lights and shadows. Serafina Pekkala knew from the unsettling tingle of the light on her skin that it came from another world. After some time had passed, Kaisa said, "Look! A witch's daemon, lost…" Serafina Pekkala looked through the fog banks and saw a tern, circling and crying in the chasms of misty light. They wheeled and flew toward him.
Seeing them come near, the tern darted up in alarm, but Serafina Pekkala signaled friendship, and he dropped down beside them. Serafina Pekkala said, "What clan are you from? Our companions have been driven away!
I am lost! Help us! I am so afraid! After the fight at Bolvangar they drove us off, but my witch was taken prisoner. They have her on a ship… What can I do? She is calling to me and I can't find her! Oh, help, help me! It roared for several seconds and then stopped abruptly. They wheeled low over the water and cast about again for the sound of the engine. Suddenly they found it, for the fog seemed to have patches of different density, and the witch darted up out of sight just in time as a launch came chugging slowly through the swathes of damp air.
The swell was slow and oily, as if the water was reluctant to rise. They swung around and above, the tern daemon keeping close like a child to its mother, and watched the steersman adjust the course slightly as the foghorn boomed again.
There was a light mounted on the bow, but all it lit up was the fog a few yards in front. Serafina Pekkala said to the lost daemon: Will you look for my witch?
But stay with Kaisa for now. His seagull daemon squawked, and the man turned to look. It had worked: Port was left, she remembered, and the port light was red. She cast about in the fog until she caught its hazy glow no more than a hundred yards away. She darted back and hovered above the launch calling directions to the steersman, who slowed the craft down to a crawling pace and brought it in to the ship's gangway ladder that hung just above the water line.
The steersman called, and a sailor threw a line from above, and another hurried down the ladder to make it fast to the launch. Serafina Pekkala flew up to the ship's rail, and retreated to the shadows by the lifeboats. She could see no other witches, but they were probably patrolling the skies; Kaisa would know what to do.
Below, a passenger was leaving the launch and climbing the ladder. The figure was fur-swathed, hooded, anonymous; but as it reached the deck, a golden monkey daemon swung himself lightly up on the rail and glared around, his black eyes radiating malevolence.
Serafina caught her breath: A dark-clothed man hurried out on deck to greet her, and looked around as if he were expecting someone else as well. But Mrs. Coulter interrupted: Have they started the torture? Coulter," was the reply, "but—" "I ordered them to wait," she snapped. Perhaps there should be more discipline on this ship. Serafina Pekkala saw her face clearly in the yellow light: The man from the ship said, "All gone, ma'am.
Red to their homeland. The cleric looked around, bewildered, but Mrs. Coulter was too impatient, and after a cursory glance above and along the deck, she shook her head and hurried in with her daemon through the open door that cast a yellow nimbus on the air. The man followed. Serafina Pekkala looked around to check her position. She was concealed behind a ventilator on the narrow area of decking between the rail and the central superstructure of the ship; and on this level, facing forward below the bridge and the funnel, was a saloon from which windows, not portholes, looked out on three sides.
That was where the people had gone in. Light spilled thickly from the windows onto the fog-pearled railing, and dimly showed up the foremast and the canvas-covered hatch. Everything was wringing-wet and beginning to freeze into stiffness. No one could see Serafina where she was; but if she wanted to see any more, she would have to leave her hiding place. That was too bad. With her pine branch she could escape, and with her knife and her bow she could fight.
She hid the branch behind the ventilator and slipped along the deck until she reached the first window. It was fogged with condensation and impossible to see through, and Serafina could hear no voices, either.
She withdrew to the shadows again. There was one thing she could do; she was reluctant, because it was desperately risky, and it would leave her exhausted; but it seemed there was no choice. It was a kind of magic she could work to make herself unseen. True invisibility was impossible, of course: Holding it with the right degree of intensity, she could pass through a crowded room, or walk beside a solitary traveler, without being seen.
So now she composed her mind and brought all her concentration to bear on the matter of altering the way she held herself so as to deflect attention completely. It took some minutes before she was confident.
She tested it by stepping out of her hiding place and into the path of a sailor coming along the deck with a bag of tools. He stepped aside to avoid her without looking at her once. She was ready. She went to the door of the brightly lit saloon and opened it, finding the room empty. She left the outer door ajar so that she could flee through it if she needed to, and saw a door at the far end of the room that opened on to a flight of stairs leading down into the bowels of the ship.
She descended, and found herself in a narrow corridor hung with white-painted pipework and illuminated with anbaric bulkhead lights, which led straight along the length of the hull, with doors opening off it on both sides. She walked quietly along, listening, until she heard voices. It sounded as if some kind of council was in session. She opened the door and walked in. A dozen or so people were seated around a large table.
One or two of them looked up for a moment, gazed at her absently, and forgot her at once. She stood quietly near the door and watched. The meeting was being chaired by an elderly man in the robes of a Cardinal, and the rest of them seemed to be clerics of one sort or another, apart from Mrs. Coulter, who was the only woman present.
Coulter had thrown her furs over the back of the chair, and her cheeks were flushed in the heat of the ship's interior. Serafina Pekkala looked around carefully and saw someone else in the room as well: She thought at first that he was a clerk or a secretary, until she saw what he was doing: Then he would open one of the books, search laboriously through the index, and look up a reference before writing that down too and turning back to the instrument.
Serafina looked back to the discussion at the table, because she heard the word witch. All the witches know something about her. Coulter knows," said the Cardinal. Coulter icily.
What is this truth that I should have known about the child? There was a pause, and then another cleric said almost apologetically: It concerns the child, you see, Mrs. All the signs have been fulfilled. The circumstances of her birth, to begin with. The gyptians know something about her too—they speak of her in terms of witch oil and marsh fire, uncanny, you see—hence her success in leading the gyptian men to Bolvangar.
And then there's her astonishing feat of deposing the bear-king Lofur Raknison—this is no ordinary child. Fra Pavel can tell us more, perhaps…" He glanced at the thin-faced man reading the alethiometer, who blinked, rubbed his eyes, and looked at Mrs. I learn from this instrument that the child was given hers by the Master of Jordan College, and that she learned to read it by herself, and that she can use it without the books of readings.
If it were possible to disbelieve the alethiometer, I would do so, because to use the instrument without the books is simply inconceivable to me. It takes decades of diligent study to reach any sort of understanding. She began to read it within a few weeks of acquiring it, and now she has an almost complete mastery.
She is like no human Scholar I can imagine. I say we should torture her again! Coulter, who had been getting increasingly angry.
The golden monkey glared around the table, and none of them could look him in the face. Only the Cardinal did not flinch.
His daemon, a macaw, lifted a foot and scratched her head. If it's true, it places on us the most terrible responsibility men and women have ever faced. But I ask you again, Mrs. Coulter—what do you know of the child and her father? Coulter had lost her flush. Her face was chalk-white with fury. And, finally, how dare you assume that I am keeping something from you? D'you think I'm on her side? Or perhaps you think I'm on her father's side?
Perhaps you think I should be tortured like the witch. Well, we are all under your command, Your Eminence. You have only to snap your fingers and you could have me torn apart. But if you searched every scrap of flesh for an answer, you wouldn't find one, because I know nothing of this prophecy, nothing whatever. And I demand that you tell me what you know. My child, my own child, conceived in sin and born in shame, but my child nonetheless, and you keep from me what I have every right to know!
Coulter, the witch hasn't spoken yet; we shall learn more from her. Cardinal Sturrock himself says that she's only hinted at it. Coulter said. We guess, do we? We shiver and quail and guess? We shall find the answer, whether from the witch or from the books of readings. It is an immensely complex question. And she rose to her feet.
As if in awe of her, most of the men did too. Only the Cardinal and Fra Pavel remained seated. Serafina Pekkala stood back, fiercely holding herself unseen. The golden monkey was gnashing his teeth, and all his shimmering fur was standing on end. Coulter swung him up to her shoulder. She turned and swept out into the corridor.
The men hastened to follow her, jostling and shoving past Serafina Pekkala, who had only time to stand quickly aside, her mind in a turmoil. The last to go was the Cardinal. Serafina took a few seconds to compose herself, because her agitation was beginning to make her visible.
Then she followed the clerics down the corridor and into a smaller room, bare and white and hot, where they were all clustered around the dreadful figure in the center: Coulter stood over her. Serafina took up a position by the door, knowing that she could not stay unseen for long; this was too hard. We have a thousand years of experience in this Church of ours.
We can draw out your suffering endlessly. Tell us about the child," Mrs.
The Subtle Knife - Chapter 1, The Cat and the Hornbeam Trees Summary & Analysis
Coulter said, and reached down to break one of the witch's fingers. It snapped easily. The witch cried out, and for a clear second Serafina Pekkala became visible to everyone, and one or two of the clerics looked at her, puzzled and fearful; but then she controlled herself again, and they turned back to the torture. Coulter was saying, "If you don't answer I'll break another finger, and then another.
What do you know about the child? Tell me. Please, please, no more! Serafina Pekkala could hardly hold herself back. Then came these words, in a shriek: I'll tell you! I beg you, no more! The child who was to come… The witches knew who she was before you did… We found out her name…" "We know her name. What name do you mean? The name of her destiny! Tell me! Found out how? Coulter gave a little exclamation of impatience, and there came a loud slap, and a groan. Coulter went on, and her voice was all bronze now, and ringing with passion.
She must end this witch's suffering, and soon, but the strain of holding herself unseen was enormous. She trembled as she took the knife from her waist. The witch was sobbing. Well, now she has come again, and you failed to find her… She was there on Svalbard— she was with Lord Asriel, and you lost her.
She escaped, and she will be—" But before she could finish, there came an interruption. Through the open doorway there flew a tern, mad with terror, and it beat its wings brokenly as it crashed to the floor and struggled up and darted to the breast of the tortured witch, pressing itself against her, nuzzling, chirruping, crying, and the witch called in anguish, "Yambe-Akka!
Come to me, come to me! Yambe-Akka was the goddess who came to a witch when she was about to die. And Serafina was ready. She became visible at once and stepped forward smiling happily, because Yambe-Akka was merry and lighthearted and her visits were gifts of joy.
The witch saw her and turned up her tear-stained face, and Serafina bent to kiss it and slid her knife gently into the witch's heart. The tern daemon looked up with dim eyes and vanished. And now Serafina Pekkala would have to fight her way out. The men were still shocked, disbelieving, but Mrs. Coulter recovered her wits almost at once. Don't let her go! She swung up the bow and loosed the arrow in less than a second, and the Cardinal fell choking and kicking to the floor.
Out, along the corridor to the stairs, turn, nock, loose, and another man fell; and already a loud jarring bell was filling the ship with its clangor. Up the stairs and out onto the deck. Two sailors barred her way, and she said, "Down there! The prisoner has got loose!She didn't know the man, but a cliff-ghast was an enemy always. Evil—The trilogy challenges our assumptions about good and evil: some witches are good, while some members of the church are evil.
She was small and slight, but wiry, and she'd fought like a tiger; his fist had raised a bruise on her cheek, and she was ignoring it. It looked as if someone had cut a patch out of the air, about two yards from the edge of the road, a patch roughly square in shape and less than a yard across.
He splashed out to the diving platform and pulled himself up to sit on its weather-softened planking and look back at the city. I'll see you in the morning. He turned away to go downstairs. Music—Music plays an important role in modern fantasy and science fiction films.
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