Chapter no 27


“He’s dead – buying us a bit of time to escape.”

The she-witch alive! Gurney thought. The one I swore vengeance against, alive! And it’s obvious Duke Paul doesn’t know what manner of creature gave him birth. The evil one! Betrayed his own father to the Harkonnens!

Paul pressed past him, jumped up to the ledge. He glanced back, noted that the wounded and dead had been removed, and he thought bitterly that here was another chapter in the legend of Paul Muad’Dib. I didn’t even draw my knife, but it’ll be said of this day that I slew twenty Sardaukar by my own hand .

Gurney followed with Stilgar, stepping on ground that he did not even feel. The cavern with its yellow light of glowglobes was forced out of his thoughts by rage. The she-witch alive while those she betrayed are bones in lonesome graves. I must contrive it that Paul learns the truth about her before I slay her .

How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him.

– “The Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

The crowd in the cavern assembly chamber radiated that pack feeling Jessica had sensed the day Paul killed Jamis. There was murmuring nervousness in the voices. Little cliques gathered like knots among the robes.

Jessica tucked a message cylinder beneath her robe as she emerged to the ledge from Paul’s private quarters. She felt rested after the long journey up from the south, but still rankled that Paul would not yet permit them to use the captured ornithopters.

“We do not have full control of the air,” he had said. “And we must not become dependent upon offworld fuel. Both fuel and aircraft must be gathered and saved for the day of maximum effort.”

Paul stood with a group of the younger men near the ledge. The pale light of glowglobes gave the scene a tinge of unreality. It was like a tableau, but with the added dimension of warren smells, the whispers, the sounds of shuffling feet.

She studied her son, wondering why he had not yet trotted out his surprise – Gurney Halleck. Thought of Gurney disturbed her with its memories of an easier past – days of love and beauty with Paul’s father.




Stilgar waited with a small group of his own at the other end of the ledge. There was a feeling of inevitable dignity about him, the way he stood without talking.

We must not lose that man , Jessica thought. Paul’s plan must work. Anything else would be highest tragedy .

She strode down the ledge, passing Stilgar without a glance, stepped down into the crowd. A way was made for her as she headed toward Paul. And silence followed her.

She knew the meaning of the silence – the unspoken questions of the people, awe of the Reverend Mother.

The young men drew back from Paul as she came up to him, and she found herself momentarily dismayed by the new deference they paid him. “All men beneath your position covet your station ,” went the Bene Gesserit axiom. But she found no covetousness in these faces. They were held at a distance by the religious ferment around Paul’s leadership. And she recalled another Bene Gesserit saying: “Prophets have a way of dying by violence .”

Paul looked at her.

“It’s time,” she said, and passed the message cylinder to him.

One of Paul’s companions, bolder than the others, glanced across at Stilgar, said: “Are you going to call him out, Muad’Dib? Now’s the time for sure. They’ll think you a coward if you – ”

“Who dares call me coward?” Paul demanded. His hand flashed to his crysknife hilt.

Bated silence came over the group, spreading out into the crowd.

“There’s work to do,” Paul said as the man drew back from him. Paul turned away, shouldered through the crowd to the ledge, leaped lightly up to it and faced the people.

“Do it!” someone shrieked.

Murmurs and whispers arose behind the shriek.

Paul waited for silence. It came slowly amidst scattered shufflings and coughs. When it was quiet in the cavern, Paul lifted his chin, spoke in a voice that carried to the farthest corners.

“You are tired of waiting,” Paul said.

Again, he waited while the cries of response died out.

Indeed, they are tired of waiting , Paul thought. He hefted the message cylinder, thinking of what it contained. His mother had showed it to him, explaining how it had been taken from a Harkonnen courier.

The message was explicit: Rabban was being abandoned to his own resources here on Arrakis! He could not call for help or reinforcements!

Again, Paul raised his voice: “You think it’s time I called out Stilgar and changed the leadership of the troops!” Before they could respond, Paul hurled his voice at them in anger: “Do you think the Lisan al-Gaib that stupid?”

There was stunned silence.

He’s accepting the religious mantle , Jessica thought. He must not do it!

“It’s the way!” someone shouted.

Paul spoke dryly, probing the emotional undercurrents. “Ways change.”

An angry voice lifted from a corner of the cavern: “We’ll say what’s to change!”

There were scattered shouts of agreement through the throng.

“As you wish,” Paul said.

And Jessica heard the subtle intonations as he used the powers of Voice she had taught him.

“You will say,” he agreed. “But first you will hear my say.”

Stilgar moved along the ledge, his bearded face impassive. “That is the way, too,” he said. “The voice of any Fremen may be heard in Council. Paul-Muad’Dib is a Fremen.”

“The good of the tribe, that is the most important thing, eh?” Paul asked.

Still with that flat-voiced dignity, Stilgar said: “Thus our steps are guided.”

“All right,” Paul said. “Then, who rules this troop of our tribe – and who rules all the tribes and troops through the fighting instructors we’ve trained in the weirding way?”

Paul waited, looking over the heads of the throng. No answer came.

Presently, he said: “Does Stilgar rule all this? He says himself that he does not. Do I rule? Even Stilgar does my bidding on occasion, and the sages, the wisest of the wise, listen to me and honor me in Council.”

There was shuffling silence among the crowd.




“So,” Paul said. “Does my mother rule?” He pointed down to Jessica in her black robes of office among them. “Stilgar and all the other troop leaders ask her advice in almost every major decision. You know this. But does a Reverend Mother walk the sand or lead a razzia against the Harkonnens?”

Frowns creased the foreheads of those Paul could see, but still there were angry murmurs.

This is a dangerous way to do it , Jessica thought, but she remembered the message cylinder and what it implied. And she saw Paul’s intent: Go right to the depth of their uncertainty, dispose of that, and all the rest must follow.

“No man recognizes leadership without the challenge and the combat, eh?” Paul asked.

“That’s the way!” someone shouted.

“What’s our goal?” Paul asked. “To unseat Rabban, the Harkonnen beast, and remake our world into a place where we may raise our families in happiness amidst an abundance of water – is this our goal?”

“Hard tasks need hard ways,” someone shouted.

“Do you smash your knife before a battle?” Paul demanded. “I say this as fact, not meaning it as boast or challenge: there isn’t a man here, Stilgar included, who could stand against me in single combat. This is Stilgar’s own admission. He knows it, so do you all.”

Again, the angry mutters lifted from the crowd.

“Many of you have been with me on the practice floor,” Paul said. “You know this isn’t idle boast. I say it because it’s fact known to us all, and I’d be foolish not to see it for myself. I began training in these ways earlier than you did and my teachers were tougher than any you’ve ever seen. How else do you think I bested Jamis at an age when your boys are still fighting only mock battles?”

He’s using the Voice well , Jessica thought, but that’s not enough with these people. They’ve good insulation against vocal control. He must catch them also with logic .

“So,” Paul said, “we come to this.” He lifted the message cylinder, removed its scrap of tape. “This was taken from a Harkonnen courier. Its authenticity is beyond question. It is addressed to Rabban. It tells him that his request for new troops is denied, that his spice harvest is far below quota, that he must wring more spice from Arrakis with the people he has.”

Stilgar moved up beside Paul.

“How many of you see what this means?” Paul asked. “Stilgar saw it immediately.”

“They’re cut off!” someone shouted.

Paul pushed message and cylinder into his sash. From his neck he took a braided shigawire cord and removed a ring from the cord, holding the ring aloft.

“This was my father’s ducal signet,” he said. “I swore never to wear it again until I was ready to lead my troops over all of Arrakis and claim it as my rightful fief.” He put the ring on his finger, clenched his fist.

Utter stillness gripped the cavern.

“Who rules here?” Paul asked. He raised his fist. “I rule here! I rule on every square inch of Arrakis! This is my ducal fief whether the Emperor says yea or nay! He gave it to my father and it comes to me through my father!”

Paul lifted himself onto his toes, settled back to his heels. He studied the crowd, feeling their temper.

Almost , he thought.

“There are men here who will hold positions of importance on Arrakis when I claim those Imperial rights which are mine,” Paul said. “Stilgar is one of those men. Not because I wish to bribe him! Not out of gratitude, though I’m one of many here who owe him life for life. No! But because he’s wise and strong. Because he governs this troop by his own intelligence and not just by rules. Do you think me stupid? Do you think I’ll cut off my right arm and leave it bloody on the floor of this cavern just to provide you with a circus?”

Paul swept a hard gaze across the throng. “Who is there here to say I’m not the rightful ruler on Arrakis? Must I prove it by leaving every Fremen tribe in the erg without a leader?”




Beside Paul, Stilgar stirred, looked at him questioningly.

“Will I subtract from our strength when we need it most?” Paul asked. “I am your ruler, and I say to you that it is time we stopped killing off our best men and started killing our real enemies – the Harkonnens!”

In one blurred motion, Stilgar had his crysknife out and pointed over the heads of the throng. “Long live Duke Paul-Muad’Dib!” he shouted.

A deafening roar filled the cavern, echoed and re-echoed. They were cheering and chanting: “Ya hya chouhada! Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib! Ya hya chouhada!”

Jessica translated it to herself: “Long live the fighters of Muad’Dib! ” The scene she and Paul and Stilgar had cooked up between them had worked as they’d planned.

The tumult died slowly.

When silence was restored, Paul faced Stilgar, said: “Kneel, Stilgar.”

Stilgar dropped to his knees on the ledge.

“Hand me your crysknife,” Paul said.

Stilgar obeyed.

This was not as we planned it , Jessica thought.

“Repeat after me, Stilgar,” Paul said, and he called up the words of investiture as he had heard his own father use them. “I, Stilgar, take this knife from the hands of my Duke.”

“I, Stilgar, take this knife from the hands of my Duke,” Stilgar said, and accepted the milky blade from Paul.

“Where my Duke commands, there shall I place this blade,” Paul said.

Stilgar repeated the words, speaking slowly and solemnly.

Remembering the source of the rite, Jessica blinked back tears, shook her head. I know the reasons for this , she thought. I shouldn’t let it stir me .

“I dedicate this blade to the cause of my Duke and the death of his enemies for as long as our blood shall flow,” Paul said.

Stilgar repeated it after him.

“Kiss the blade,” Paul ordered.

Stilgar obeyed, then, in the Fremen manner, kissed Paul’s knife arm. At a nod from Paul, he sheathed the blade, got to his feet.

A sighing whisper of awe passed through the crowd, and Jessica heard the words: “The prophecy – A Bene Gesserit shall show the way and a Reverend Mother shall see it.” And, from farther away: “She shows us through her son!”

“Stilgar leads this tribe,” Paul said. “Let no man mistake that. He commands with my voice. What he tells you, it is as though I told you.”

Wise , Jessica thought. The tribal commander must lose no face among those who should obey him .

Paul lowered his voice, said: “Stilgar, I want sandwalkers out this night and cielagos sent to summon a Council Gathering. When you’ve sent them, bring Chatt, Korba and Otheym and two other lieutenants of your own choosing. Bring them to my quarters for battle planning. We must have a victory to show the Council of Leaders when they arrive.”

Paul nodded for his mother to accompany him, led the way down off the ledge and through the throng toward the central passage and the living chambers that had been prepared there. As Paul pressed through the crowd, hands reached out to touch him. Voices called out to him.

“My knife goes where Stilgar commands it, Paul-Muad’Dib! Let us fight




soon, Paul-Muad’Dib! Let us wet our world with the blood of Harkonnens!”

Feeling the emotions of the throng, Jessica sensed the fighting edge of these people. They could not be more ready. We are taking them at the crest , she thought.

In the inner chamber, Paul motioned his mother to be seated, said: “Wait here.” And he ducked through the hangings to the side passage.

It was quiet in the chamber after Paul had gone, so quiet behind the hangings that not even the faint soughing of the wind pumps that circulated air in the sietch penetrated to where she sat.

He is going to bring Gurney Halleck here , she thought. And she wondered at the strange mingling of emotions that filled her. Gurney and his music had been a part of so many pleasant times on Caladan before the move to Arrakis. She felt that Caladan had happened to some other person. In the nearly three years since then, she had become another person. Having to confront Gurney forced a reassessment of the changes.

Paul’s coffee service, the fluted alloy of silver and jasmium that he had inherited from Jamis, rested on a low table to her right. She stared at it, thinking of how many hands had touched that metal. Chani had served Paul from it within the month.

What can his desert woman do for a Duke except serve him coffee? she asked herself. She brings him no power, no family. Paul has only one major chance – to ally himself with a powerful Great House, perhaps even with the Imperial family. There are marriageable princesses, after all, and every one of them Bene Gesserit trained .

Jessica imagined herself leaving the rigors of Arrakis for the life of power and security she could know as mother of a royal consort. She glanced at the thick hangings that obscured the rock of this cavern cell, thinking of how she had come here – riding amidst a host of worms, the palanquins and pack platforms piled high with necessities for the coming campaign.

As long as Chani lives, Paul will not see his duty , Jessica thought. She has given him a son and that is enough .

A sudden longing to see her grandson, the child whose likeness carried so much of the grandfather’s features – so like Leto, swept through her. Jessica placed her palms against her cheeks, began the ritual breathing that stilled emotion and clarified the mind, then bent forward from the waist in the devotional exercise that prepared the body for the mind’s demands.

Paul’s choice of this Cave of Birds as his command post could not be questioned, she knew. It was ideal. And to the north lay Wind Pass opening onto a protected village in a cliff-walled sink. It was a key village, home of artisans and technicians, maintenance center for an entire Harkonnen defensive sector.

A cough sounded outside the chamber hangings. Jessica straightened, took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. “Enter,” she said.

Draperies were flung aside and Gurney Halleck bounded into the room. She had only time for a glimpse of his face with its odd grimace, then he was behind her, lifting her to her feet with one brawny arm beneath her chin.

“Gurney, you fool, what are you doing?” she demanded.

Then she felt the touch of the knife tip against her back. Chill awareness spread out from that knife tip. She knew in that instant that Gurney meant to kill her. Why? She could think of no reason, for he wasn’t the kind to turn traitor. But she felt certain of his intention. Knowing it, her mind churned. Here was no man to be overcome easily. Here was a killer wary of the Voice, wary of every combat stratagem, wary of every trick of death and violence. Here was an instrument she herself had helped train with subtle hints and suggestions.

“You thought you had escaped, eh, witch?” Gurney snarled.

Before she could turn the question over in her mind or try to answer, the curtains parted and Paul entered.

“Here he is, Moth – ” Paul broke off, taking in the tensions of the scene.

“You will stand where you are, m’Lord,” Gurney said.

“What . . . ” Paul shook his head.

Jessica started to speak, felt the arm tighten against her throat.

“You will speak only when I permit it, witch,” Gurney said. “I want only one thing from you for your son to hear it, and I am prepared to send this knife into your heart by reflex at the first sign of a counter against me. Your voice will remain in a monotone. Certain muscles you will not tense or move. You will act with the most extreme caution to gain yourself a few more seconds of life. And I assure you, these are all you have.”

Paul took a step forward. “Gurney, man, what is – ”

“Stop right where you are!” Gurney snapped. “One more step and she’s dead.”




Paul’s hand slipped to his knife hilt. He spoke in a deadly quiet: “You had best explain yourself, Gurney.”

“I swore an oath to slay the betrayer of your father,” Gurney said. “Do you think I can forget the man who rescued me from a Harkonnen slave pit, gave me freedom, life, and honor . . . gave me friendship, a thing I prized above all else? I have his betrayer under my knife. No one can stop me from – ”

“You couldn’t be more wrong, Gurney,” Paul said.

And Jessica thought: So that’s it! What irony!

“Wrong, am I?” Gurney demanded. “Let us hear it from the woman herself. And let her remember that I have bribed and spied and cheated to confirm this charge. I’ve even pushed semuta on a Harkonnen guard captain to get part of the story.”

Jessica felt the arm at her throat ease slightly, but before she could speak, Paul said: “The betrayer was Yueh. I tell you this once, Gurney. The evidence is complete, cannot be controverted. It was Yueh. I do not care how you came by your suspicion – for it can be nothing else – but if you harm my mother . . . ” Paul lifted his crysknife from its scabbard, held the blade in front of him. “. . . I’ll have your blood.”

“Yueh was a conditioned medic, fit for a royal house,” Gurney snarled. “He could not turn traitor!”

“I know a way to remove that conditioning,” Paul said.

“Evidence,” Gurney insisted.

“The evidence is not here,” Paul said. “It’s in Tabr sietch, far to the south, but if – ”

“This is a trick,” Gurney snarled, and his arm tightened on Jessica’s throat.

“No trick, Gurney,” Paul said, and his voice carried such a note of terrible sadness that the sound tore at Jessica’s heart.

“I saw the message captured from the Harkonnen agent,” Gurney said. “The note pointed directly at – ”

“I saw it, too,” Paul said. “My father showed it to me the night he explained why it had to be a Harkonnen trick aimed at making him suspect the woman he loved.”

“Ayah!” Gurney said. “You’ve not – ”

“Be quiet,” Paul said, and the monotone stillness of his words carried more command than Jessica had ever heard in another voice.

He has the Great Control , she thought.

Gurney’s arm trembled against her neck. The point of the knife at her back moved with uncertainty.

“What you have not done,” Paul said, “is heard my mother sobbing in the night over her lost Duke. You have not seen her eyes stab flame when she speaks of killing Harkonnens.”

So he has listened , she thought. Tears blinded her eyes .

“What you have not done,” Paul went on, “is remembered the lessons you learned in a Harkonnen slave pit. You speak of pride in my father’s friendship! Didn’t you learn the difference between Harkonnen and Atreides so that you could smell a Harkonnen trick by the stink they left on it? Didn’t you learn that Atreides loyalty is bought with love while the Harkonnen coin is hate? Couldn’t you see through to the very nature of this betrayal?”

“But Yueh?” Gurney muttered.

“The evidence we have is Yueh’s own message to us admitting his treachery,” Paul said. “I swear this to you by the love I hold for you, a love I will still hold even after I leave you dead on this floor.”

Hearing her son, Jessica marveled at the awareness in him, the penetrating insight of his intelligence.

“My father had an instinct for his friends,” Paul said. “He gave his love sparingly, but with never an error. His weakness lay in misunderstanding hatred. He thought anyone who hated Harkonnens could not betray him.” He glanced at his mother. “She knows this. I’ve given her my father’s message that he never distrusted her.”

Jessica felt herself losing control, bit at her lower lip. Seeing the stiff formality in Paul, she realized what these words were costing him. She wanted to run to him, cradle his head against her breast as she never had done. But the arm against her throat had ceased its trembling; the knifepoint at her back pressed still and sharp.

“One of the most terrible moments in a boy’s life,” Paul said, “is when he discovers his father and mother are human beings who share a love that he can never quite taste. It’s a loss, an awakening to the fact that the world is there and here and we are in it alone. The moment carries its own truth; you can’t evade it. I heard my father when he spoke of my mother. She’s not the betrayer, Gurney.”

Jessica found her voice, said: “Gurney, release me.” There was no special command in the words, no trick to play on his weaknesses, but Gurney’s hand fell away. She crossed to Paul, stood in front of him, not touching him.




“Paul,” she said, “there are other awakenings in this universe. I suddenly see how I’ve used you and twisted you and manipulated you to set you on a course of my choosing . . . a course I had to choose – if that’s any excuse – because of my own training.” She swallowed past a lump in her throat, looked up into her son’s eyes. “Paul . . . I want you to do something for me: choose the course of happiness. Your desert woman, marry her if that’s your wish. Defy everyone and everything to do this. But choose your own course. I . . . ”

She broke off, stopped by the low sound of muttering behind her.


She saw Paul’s eyes directed beyond her, turned.

Gurney stood in the same spot, but had sheathed his knife, pulled the robe away from his breast to expose the slick grayness of an issue stillsuit, the type the smugglers traded for among the sietch warrens.

“Put your knife right here in my breast,” Gurney muttered. “I say kill me and have done with it. I’ve besmirched my name. I’ve betrayed my own Duke! The finest – ”

“Be still!” Paul said.

Gurney stared at him.

“Close that robe and stop acting like a fool,” Paul said. “I’ve had enough foolishness for one day.”

“Kill me, I say!” Gurney raged.

“You know me better than that,” Paul said. “How many kinds of an idiot do you think I am? Must I go through this with every man I need?”

Gurney looked at Jessica, spoke in a forlorn, pleading note so unlike him: “Then you, my Lady, please . . . you kill me.”

Jessica crossed to him, put her hands on his shoulders. “Gurney, why do you insist the Atreides must kill those they love?” Gently, she pulled the spread robe out of his fingers, closed and fastened the fabric over his chest.

Gurney spoke brokenly; “But . . . I . . . ”

“You thought you were doing a thing for Leto,” she said, “and for this I honor you.”

“My Lady,” Gurney said. He dropped his chin to his chest, squeezed his eyelids closed against the tears.

“Let us think of this as a misunderstanding among old friends,” she said, and Paul heard the soothers, the adjusting tones in her voice. “It’s over and we can be thankful we’ll never again have that sort of misunderstanding between us.”

Gurney opened eyes bright with moisture, looked down at her.

“The Gurney Halleck I knew was a man adept with both blade and baliset,” Jessica said. “It was the man of the baliset I most admired. Doesn’t that Gurney Halleck remember how I used to enjoy listening by the hour while he played for me? Do you still have a baliset, Gurney?”

“I’ve a new one,” Gurney said. “Brought from Chusuk, a sweet instrument. Plays like a genuine Varota, though there’s no signature on it. I think myself it was made by a student of Varota’s who . . .” He broke off. “What can I say to you, my Lady? Here we prattle about – ”

“Not prattle, Gurney,” Paul said. He crossed to stand beside his mother, eye to eye with Gurney. “Not prattle, but a thing that brings happiness between friends. I’d take it a kindness if you’d play for her now. Battle planning can wait a little while. We’ll not be going into the fight till tomorrow at any rate.”

“I . . . I’ll get my baliset,” Gurney said. “It’s in the passage.” He stepped around them and through the hangings.

Paul put a hand on his mother’s arm, found that she was trembling.

“It’s over, Mother,” he said.

Without turning her head, she looked up at him from the corners of her eyes. “Over?”

“Of course. Gurney’s . . . ”

“Gurney? Oh . . . yes.” She lowered her gaze.

The hangings rustled as Gurney returned with his baliset. He began tuning it, avoiding their eyes. The hangings on the walls dulled the echoes, making the instrument sound small and intimate.

Paul led his mother to a cushion, seated her there with her back to the thick draperies of the wall. He was suddenly struck by how old she seemed to him with the beginnings of desert-dried lines in her face, the stretching at the corners of her blue-veiled eyes.

She’s tired , he thought. We must find some way to ease her burdens .

Gurney strummed a chord.

Paul glanced at him, said: “I’ve . . . things that need my attention. Wait here for me.”

Gurney nodded. His mind seemed far away, as though he dwelled for this moment beneath the open skies of Caladan with cloud fleece on the horizon promising rain.




Paul forced himself to turn away, let himself out through the heavy hangings over the side passage. He heard Gurney take up a tune behind him, and paused a moment outside the room to listen to the muted music.

“Orchards and vineyards,

And full-breasted houris,

And a cup overflowing before me.

Why do I babble of battles,

And mountains reduced to dust?

Why do I feel these tears?

Heavens stand open

And scatter their riches;

My hands need but gather their wealth.

Why do I think of an ambush,

And poison in molten cup?

Why do I feel my years?

Love’s arms beckon

With their naked delights,

And Eden ‘s promise of ecstasies.

Why do I remember the scars,

Dream of old transgressions . . .

And why do I sleep with fears?”

A robed Fedaykin courier appeared from a corner of the passage ahead of Paul. The man had hood thrown back and fastenings of his stillsuit hanging loose about his neck, proof that he had come just now from the open desert.

Paul motioned for him to stop, left the hangings of the door and moved down the passage to the courier.

The man bowed, hands clasped in front of him the way he might greet a Reverend Mother or Sayyadina of the rites. He said: “Muad’Dib, leaders are beginning to arrive for the Council.”

“So soon?”

“These are the ones Stilgar sent for earlier when it was thought . . .” He shrugged.

“I see.” Paul glanced back toward the faint sound of the baliset, thinking of the old song that his mother favored – an odd stretching of happy tune and sad words. “Stilgar will come here soon with others. Show them where my mother waits.”

“I will wait here, Muad’Dib,” the courier said.

“Yes . . . yes, do that.”

Paul pressed past the man toward the depths of the cavern, headed for the place that each such cavern had – a place near its water-holding basin. There would be a small shai-hulud in this place, a creature no more than nine meters long, kept stunted and trapped by surrounding water ditches. The maker, after emerging from its little maker vector, avoided water for the poison it was. And the drowning of a maker was the greatest Fremen secret because it produced the substance of their union – the Water of Life, the poison that could only be changed by a Reverend Mother.

The decision had come to Paul while he faced the tension of danger to his mother. No line of the future he had ever seen carried that moment of peril from Gurney Halleck. The future – the gray-cloud-future – with its feeling that the entire universe rolled toward a boiling nexus hung around him like a phantom world.

I must see it , he thought.

His body had slowly acquired a certain spice tolerance that made prescient visions fewer and fewer . . . dimmer and dimmer. The solution appeared obvious to him.

I will drown the maker. We will see now whether I’m the Kwisatz Haderach who can survive the test that the Reverend Mothers have survived .

And it came to pass in the third year of the Desert War that Paul-Muad’Dib lay alone in the Cave of Birds beneath the kiswa hangings of an inner cell. And he lay as one dead, caught up in the revelation of the Water of Life, his being translated beyond the boundaries of time by the poison that gives life. Thus was the prophecy made true that the Lisan al-Gaib might be both dead and alive.

– “Collected Legends of Arrakis” by the Princess Irulan




Chani came up out of the Habbanya basin in the predawn darkness, hearing the ‘thopter that had brought her from the south go whir-whirring off to a hiding place in the vastness. Around her, the escort kept its distance, fanning out into the rocks of the ridge to probe for dangers – and giving the mate of Muad’Dib, the mother of his firstborn, the thing she had requested: a moment to walk alone.

Why did he summon me? she asked herself. He told me before that I must remain in the south with little Leto and Alia .

She gathered her robe and leaped lightly up across a barrier rock and onto the climbing path that only the desert-trained could recognize in the darkness. Pebbles slithered underfoot and she danced across them without considering the nimbleness required.

The climb was exhilarating, easing the fears that had fermented in her because of her escort’s silent withdrawal and the fact that a precious ‘thopter had been sent for her. She felt the inner leaping at the nearness of reunion with Paul-Muad’Dib, her Usul. His name might be a battle cry over all the land: “Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib! ” But she knew a different man by a different name – the father of her son, the tender lover.

A great figure loomed out of the rocks above her, beckoning for speed. She quickened her pace. Dawn birds already were calling and lifting into the sky. A dim spread of light grew across the eastern horizon.

The figure above was not one of her own escort. Otheym? she wondered, marking a familiarity of movement and manner. She came up to him, recognized in the growing light the broad, flat features of the Fedaykin lieutenant, his hood open and mouth filter loosely fastened the way one did sometimes when venturing out on the desert for only a moment.

“Hurry,” he hissed, and led her down the secret crevasse into the hidden cave. “It will be light soon,” he whispered as he held a doorseal open for her. “The Harkonnens have been making desperation patrols over some of this region. We dare not chance discovery now.”

They emerged into the narrow side-passage entrance to the Cave of Birds . Glowglobes came alight. Otheym pressed past her, said: “Follow me. Quickly, now.”

They sped down the passage, through another valve door, another passage and through hangings into what had been the Sayyadina’s alcove in the days when this was an overday rest cave. Rugs and cushions now covered the floor. Woven hangings with the red figure of a hawk hid the rock walls. A low field desk at one side was strewn with papers from which lifted the aroma of their spice origin.

The Reverend Mother sat alone directly opposite the entrance. She looked up with the inward stare that made the uninitiated tremble.

Otheym pressed palms together, said: “I have brought Chani.” He bowed, retreated through the hangings.

And Jessica thought: How do I tell Chani?

“How is my grandson?” Jessica asked.

So it’s to be the ritual greeting , Chani thought, and her fears returned. Where is Muad’Dib? Why isn’t he here to greet me?

“He is healthy and happy, my mother,” Chani said. “I left him with Alia in the care of Harah.”

My mother , Jessica thought. Yes, she has the right to call me that in the formal greeting. She has given me a grandson .

“I hear a gift of cloth has been sent from Coanua sietch,” Jessica said.

“It is lovely cloth,” Chani said.

“Does Alia send a message?”

“No message. But the sietch moves more smoothly now that the people are beginning to accept the miracle of her status.”

Why does she drag this out so? Chani wondered. Something was so urgent that they sent a ‘thopter for me. Now, we drag through the formalities!

“We must have some of the new cloth cut into garments for little Leto,” Jessica said.

“Whatever you wish, my mother,” Chani said. She lowered her gaze. “Is there news of battles?” She held her face expressionless that Jessica might not see the betrayal – that this was a question about Paul Muad’Dib.

“New victories,” Jessica said. “Rabban has sent cautious overtures about a truce. His messengers have been returned without their water. Rabban has even lightened the burdens of the people in some of the sink villages. But he is too late. The people know he does it out of fear of us.”

“Thus it goes as Muad’Dib said,” Chani said. She stared at Jessica, trying to keep her fears to herself. I have spoken his name, but she has not responded. One cannot see emotion in that glazed stone she calls a face . . . but she is too frozen. Why is she so still? What has happened to my Usul?




“I wish we were in the south,” Jessica said. “The oases were so beautiful when we left. Do you not long for the day when the whole land may blossom thus?”

“The land is beautiful, true,” Chani said. “But there is much grief in it.”

“Grief is the price of victory,” Jessica said.

Is she preparing me for grief? Chani asked herself. She said: “There are so many women without men. There was jealousy when it was learned that I’d been summoned north.”

“I summoned you,” Jessica said.

Chani felt her heart hammering. She wanted to clap her hands to her ears, fearful of what they might hear. Still, she kept her voice even: “The message was signed Muad’Dib.”

“I signed it thus in the presence of his lieutenants,” Jessica said. “It was a subterfuge of necessity.” And Jessica thought: This is a brave woman, my Paul’s. She holds to the niceties even when fear is almost overwhelming her. Yes. She may be the one we need now .

Only the slightest tone of resignation crept into Chani’s voice as she said: “Now you may say the thing that must be said.”

“You were needed here to help me revive Paul,” Jessica said. And she thought: There! I said it in the precisely correct way. Revive. Thus she knows Paul is alive and knows there is peril, all in the same word .

Chani took only a moment to calm herself, then: “What is it I may do?” She wanted to leap at Jessica, shake her and scream: “Take me to him! ” But she waited silently for the answer.

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