When the Rivan King was killed by assassins, Polgara became the guardian of a secret line of surviving heirs. Preview — Polgara the Sorceress by David Eddings. Hey, remember all the cool stuff? After the birth of the twins, Poledra was presumed to have died, but her daughters knew that she had simply had to go away.
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The mistake was a simple one, so slight that Garion could not even be sure it was a mistake. Jerked off balance, Brill seemed almost to dive forward. With a strangled exclamation Brill clutched desperately at one of the stone blocks of the parapet as he sailed over, but he was too high and his momentum was too great.
He hurtled over the parapet, plunging out and down into the darkness below the wall. His scream faded horribly as he fell, lost in the sound of yet another shriek from the Temple of Torak. Silk rose to his feet, glanced once over the edge, and then came back to where Garion stood trembling in the shadows by the tower wall. The old man looked puzzled. Belgarath shrugged. From far below - terribly far below - there came a faint, muffled crash; then, after several seconds, another.
Belgarath made a wry face. He looked around with a broad smile. His grin was a flash of white teeth in the shadows. Then Durnik and Relg came along the top of the wall to join them in the shadows. Stay in single file and mutter to yourselves as if you were praying. If anybody speaks to us, let me do the talking; and each time the gong sounds, turn toward the altar and bow. He looked back once to be sure they were all in line, then put his hand to the latch and pushed the door open.
The inside of the Temple glowed with smoky red light, and a dreadful, charnel-house reek filled it. The door through which they entered led onto a covered balcony that curved around the back of the dome of the Temple. A stone balustrade ran along the edge of the balcony, with thick pillars at evenly spaced intervals. The openings between the pillars were draped with the same coarse, heavy cloth from which the Murgo robes were woven.
Along the back wall of the balcony were a number of doors, set deep in the stone. Garion surmised that the balcony was largely used by Temple functionaries going to and fro on various errands. As soon as they started along the balcony, Belgarath crossed his hands on his chest and led them at a slow, measured pace, chanting in a deep, loud voice.
A scream echoed up from below, piercing, filled with terror and agony. Garion involuntarily glanced through the parted drapery toward the altar. For the rest of his life he wished he had not. The circular walls of the Temple were constructed of polished black stone, and directly behind the altar was an enormous face forged of steel and buffed to mirror brightness-the face of Torak and the original of the steel masks of the Grolims.
The face was beautiful - there was no question of that - yet there was a kind of brooding evil in it, a cruelty beyond human ability to comprehend the meaning of the word. The altar stood on a raised dais directly beneath the glittering face of Torak. A smoking brazier on an iron post stood at each front corner of the blood-smeared altar, and a square pit opened in the floor immediately in front of the dais.
Ugly red flames licked up out of the pit, and black, oily smoke rolled from it toward the dome high above. A half dozen Grolims in black robes and steel masks were gathered around the altar, holding the naked body of a slave. The victim was already dead, his chest gaping open like the chest of a butchered hog, and a single Grolim stood in front of the altar, facing the image of Torak with raised hands. In his right, he held a tong, curved knife; in his left, a dripping human heart.
There was a burst of steam and smoke from the brazier and a hideous sizzle as the heart dropped into the burning coals. From somewhere beneath the Temple floor, the huge iron gong sounded, its vibration shimmering in the air. The assembled Murgos and their Grolim overseers groaned and pressed their faces to the floor. Garion felt a hand nudge his shoulder. Silk, already turned, was bowing toward the bloody altar. Awkwardly, sickened by the horror below, Garion also bowed.
The six Grolims at the altar lifted the lifeless body of the slave almost contemptuously and cast it into the pit before the dais. Flames belched up and sparks rose in the thick smoke as the body fell into the fire below. A dreadful anger welled up in Garion. Without even thinking, he began to draw in his will, fully intent upon shattering that vile altar and the cruel image hovering above it into shards and fragments in a single, cataclysmic unleashing of naked force.
Not now. Unclench your will, Belgarion. Garion jerked his eyes away from the hideous scene below. A masked and robed Grolim stood in front of Belgarath, blocking their way. We were commanded to present ourselves to the Hierarch of Rak Hagga in the instant of our arrival. That stern duty prevents our participation in the celebration. We are unfamiliar with the dark Temple. As the iron gong boomed, the Grolim turned and bowed toward the altar. Belgarath gave a quick jerk of his head to the rest of them, turned and also bowed.
They filed past the steel-masked Grolim, their heads down and their hands crossed on their breasts, muttering to themselves as if in prayer.
Belgarath had reached an ornately carved door near the end of the balcony, and he swung it open cautiously. The little man glanced back at the priest standing some distance behind them. Wait - there he goes. He tugged the latch carefully, and the door opened smoothly. He frowned. The door slowly closed behind them as the gong shuddered the stones of the Temple.
They started down the worn stone steps beyond the door. The stairway was narrow and poorly lighted, and it went down sharply, curving always to the right. Belgarath nodded. Belgarath stopped them. The guards are ceremonial more than functional. I can get you close enough to deal with them, but I want it quick and quiet. He started down again with Barak and Mandorallen close behind him.
The curve of the stairway brought a lighted area into view as they descended. Torches illuminated the bottom of the stone steps and a kind of antechamber hewn from the solid rock.
Two Grolims priests stood in front of a plain black door, their arms folded. He reached the bottom of the stairs and stopped in front of the steel-masked guards. One of the guards reached for it, but Barak caught his arm in a huge fist. The guard shuddered when the blade reached his heart and collapsed with a long, gurgling sigh. Silk turned his back quickly as Relg knelt between the two bodies and took hold of them, one with each hand.
There was a sort of muffled slithering as he pushed down, sinking the bodies into the stone floor. Belgarath took a deep breath and put his hand to the iron door handle. Bright yellow coins - gold beyond counting - lay in heaps on the floor; carelessly scattered among the coins were rings, bracelets, chains, and crowns, gleaming richly.
Blood-red bars from the mines of Angarak stood in stacks along the wall, interspersed here and there by open chests filled to overflowing with fist-sized diamonds that glittered like ice. A large table sat in the center of the room, littered with rubies, sapphires, and emeralds as big as eggs. Ropes and strings of pearls, pink, rosy gray, and even some of jet held back the deep crimson drapes that billowed heavily before the windows.
Belgarath moved like a stalking animal, showing no sign of his age, his eyes everywhere. He ignored the riches around him and crossed the deep-carpeted floor to a room filled with learning, where tightly rolled scrolls lay in racks reaching to the ceiling and the leather backs of books marched like battalions along dark wooden shelves.
The tables in the second room were covered with the curious glass apparatus of chemical experiment and strange machines of brass and iron, all cogs and wheels and pulleys and chains. In yet a third chamber stood a massive gold throne backed by drapes of black velvet.
An ermine cape lay across one arm of the throne, and a scepter and a heavy gold crown lay upon the seat. Inlaid in the polished stones of the floor was a map that depicted, so far as Garion could tell, the entire world. The room at the top of the stairs was filled with horror.
A rack stood in the center of it, and whips and flails hung on the walls. Cruel implements of gleaming steel lay in orderly rows on a table near the wallhooks, needle-pointed spikes, and dreadful things with saw-edges that still had bits of bone and flesh caught between their teeth.
The entire room reeked of blood. After a few moments they returned by way of another door. I thought he might be, but I needed to be sure. As they neared the top, Garion felt a peculiar tingling glow beginning somewhere deep within him, and a sort of endless singing seemed to draw him on. The mark on the palm of his right hand burned. A black stone altar stood in the first room on the top level of the turret, and the steel image of the face of Torak brooded from the wall behind it.
A gleaming knife, its hilt crusted with dried blood, lay on the altar, and bloodstains had sunk into the very pores of the rock. Belgarath was moving quickly now, his face intent and his stride catlike. He glanced through one door in the wall beyond the altar, shook his head and moved on to a closed door in the far wall.
He touched his fingers lightly to the wood, then nodded.
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Alorns Edit Alorns are the people of Belar , that occupy the north-western part of the western continent. Divided into several nations to better protect the Orb of Aldur, but retaining strong military and economic ties. Algars are the people of Algaria , the broad grasslands drained by the River Aldur: nomadic cattle-herders and horse-breeders who live in moving house-trains. Their culture seems to be based loosely on that of various western Native American tribes, and they fight as light cavalry similar to Cossacks and the Peloi of the Elenium and Tamuli. Their only true city is the Algar Stronghold, a fortress which exists solely to draw invaders to a convenient battleground. They are sailors, dominating sea trade and piracy in the West, forming the Alorn navy and patrolling the Sea of the Winds. On land, they are hunters, miners, and foresters, and also fight as shock troops.
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