He thought momentarily of his dream, of that last night with his family, with his childhood. Twenty years ago now, but it seemed an eternity.
Dont dwell on it. Dont give power of any kind to the past.
Satisfied that nothing threatened, he glanced at the solar battery readings. Full power. He was good to go. Solar had its advantages in a world in which the climates had been so drastically altered that the sun shone 350 days a year all the way from the equator to Canada. When you crossed the Mississippi, there was nothing but desert until you reached the mountains, then more of the same after that until you got close to the coast. The ozone layer had mostly burned away, the polar ice caps all but vanished. Temperatures had risen everywhere, and the land that had once been Middle America had turned stunted and dry. Old news; it had happened more than thirty years ago. So lots of sunshine was the forecast for today, tomorrow, and the next few centuries.
Rainfall? Six to eight inches a year in the wet spots.
Logan Tom wondered if anyone would ever again see anything that even resembled the old world. He thought it possible his descendants might, one extrapolated from the raw conditions of the present. But the world his parents and grandparents had known was gone forever, as dead as the moral and social fabric that had failed to hold it together. No one had thought it possible. No one had believed it could happen.
No one except the Knights of the Word, who had dreamed the nightmare and tried unsuccessfully to prevent it. Men and women conscripted to the cause, champions of and believers in the need to keep the magic that bound all things in balance.
For there was magic in the world, born out of the time before humankind, out of the world of Faerie, out of an older civilization. Magic that infused and sustained, that reached beyond what could be seen or even understood to tie together in symbiotic fashion all life.
Magic over which both the Word and the Void sought to exercise control.
It was an old struggle, one that dated all the way back to the birth of humanity. It was a struggle for supremacy between shadings of light and dark, between gradations of good and evil. Logan Tom didnt pretend to understand all the nuances. It was enough that he understood the difference between a desire to preserve and a determination to destroy. The Knights, as servants of the Word, sought to keep the balance of the worlds magic in check; the demons, as creatures of the Void, sought to upset it. It was a simple enough concept to grasp and one easily embraced if you believed in good and eviland most humans did. They always had. What they didnt want to believe, what they tried repeatedly to dismiss, was that whatever good and evil existed in the world came from within themselves and not from some abstract source. It was easier to attribute both to something larger than what they knew, what they could see. A refusal to accept that it came from within was what had ultimately undone them.
The Knights and the demons understood this truth and sought, respectively, to reveal or exploit it. Both were born of the human race, evolved into something more by becoming what they were. Until the beginning of the end, humans hadnt even known of their existence. Many still didnt. Knights and demons were the stuff of urban legend and radical religions. No one saw them at work; no one could pick them out from other humans. Not until they had begun to reveal themselves and their cause. Not until the balance was tipped and the steady, purposeful destruction of all humankind a reality.
How hard it was for them to see the truth even then, when it was staring them in the face.
Even after the plagues had killed half a billion people, no one had believed. Even after the air was so polluted and the water was so badly fouled that it was dangerous either to breathe or drink, no one had believed. They had started to believe after the first nuclear weapons were launched and whole cities vanished in the blink of an eye. They had started to believe when the governments of countries collapsed or were overthrown, when chemical warfare attacks and counterattacks decimated entire populations. Enough so that they began turning what remained of their cities into walled compounds. Enough so that they retreated into a siege mentality that hadnt abated as a way of life in thirty years.
Excerpted from Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks Copyright © 2006 by Terry Brooks. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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