Perched upon the stones of a bridge
The soldiers had the eyes of ravens Their weapons hung black as talons Their eyes gloried in the smoke of murder To the shock of iron-heeled sticks I drew closer in the cripple’s bitter patience And before them I finally tottered Grasping to capture my elusive breath With the cockerel and swift of their knowing They watched and waited for me ‘I have come,’ said I, ‘from this road’s birth, I have come,’ said I, ‘seeking the best in us.’ The sergeant among them had red in his beard Glistening wet as he showed his teeth ‘There are few roads on this earth,’ said he, ‘that will lead you to the best in us, old one.’ ‘But you have seen all the tracks of men,’ said I ‘And where the mothers and children have fled Before your advance. Is there naught among them That you might set an old man upon?’ The surgeon among this rook had bones Under her vellum skin like a maker of limbs ‘Old one,’ said she, ‘I have dwelt In the heat of chests, among heart and lungs, And slid like a serpent between muscles, Swum the currents of slowing blood, And all these roads lead into the darkness Where the broken will at last rest. ‘Dare say I,’ she went on,‘there is no Place waiting inside where you might find In slithering exploration of mysteries All that you so boldly call the best in us.’ And then the man with shovel and pick, Who could raise fort and berm in a day Timbered of thought and measured in all things Set the gauge of his eyes upon the sun And said, ‘Look not in temples proud, Or in the palaces of the rich highborn, We have razed each in turn in our time To melt gold from icon and shrine And of all the treasures weeping in fire There was naught but the smile of greed And the thick power of possession. Know then this: all roads before you From the beginning of the ages past And those now upon us, yield no clue To the secret equations you seek, For each was built of bone and blood And the backs of the slave did bow To the laboured sentence of a life In chains of dire need and little worth. All that we build one day echoes hollow.’ ‘Where then, good soldiers, will I Ever find all that is best in us? If not in flesh or in temple bound Or wretched road of cobbled stone?’ ‘Could we answer you,’ said the sergeant, ‘This blood would cease its fatal flow, And my surgeon could seal wounds with a touch, All labours will ease before temple and road, Could we answer you,’ said the sergeant, ‘Crows might starve in our company And our talons we would cast in bogs For the gods to fight over as they will. But we have not found in all our years The best in us, until this very day.’ ‘How so?’ asked I, so lost now on the road, And said he, ‘Upon this bridge we sat Since the dawn’s bleak arrival, Our perch of despond so weary and worn, And you we watched, at first a speck Upon the strife-painted horizon So tortured in your tread as to soak our faces In the wonder of your will, yet on you came Upon two sticks so bowed in weight Seeking, say you, the best in us And now we have seen in your gift The best in us, and were treasures at hand We would set them humbly before you, A man without feet who walked a road.’ Now, soldiers with kind words are rare Enough, and I welcomed their regard As I moved among them, ’cross the bridge And onward to the long road beyond I travel seeking the best in us And one day it shall rise before me To bless this journey of mine, and this road I began upon long ago shall now end Where waits for all the best in us. Avas Didion Flicker Where Ravens Perch
After the battles, three barrows were raised near
Kolanse City for the deceased Letherii, Bolkando, Gilk and Teblor while near the Spire, three more were raised for the fallen Imass, Jaghut, K'Chain Che'Malle and Kolansii, with two small mounds for Gesler and Stormy.
Nimander asks Korlat to attend the marines' funeral and pay their respects to the Malazans. Filled with trepidation, Korlat approaches the barrows and is joined by Kalyth. Kalyth tells her about Gesler and Stormy, and about how they died.
When Korlat comes forward to place
Whiskeyjack's heartstone as a barrow gift, she is confronted by her lover's former squad, though the Adjunct steps in. Fiddler asks her if she knew the marines. Understanding from her reaction, he assures her that Whiskeyjack stll loves her and is waiting for her.
The eleven surviving
Jaghut, along with Hood, pay their respects to the fallen Imass in solitude. They are joined by Roach.
Brys, Aranict, Abrastal and Spax bid farewell to the Adjunct. Elsewhere, the surviving Bonehunter marines and heavies reunite with the regulars.
When Korlat returns to the
Tiste Andii camped nearby, they are joined by Whiskeyjack's squad. Fiddler summons Whiskeyjack's ghost, playing one of Fisher's songs, My Love Waits. Korlat runs to join her beloved.