The Fifth Age

Garion and Silk get a report on what's really going on in Mallorea from Dolmar, Silk's factor in Mal Zeth. Silk plots to tie up the bean crop (since the army will need to eat). Dolmar also describes Mengha's Demon Lord–and tells of the rumors that say he's named Nahaz (the closest being to a God for the Karands). The effects of Sadi's intrigues come to light (he's got that little red case, you remember…). Garion suggests that Silk, Liselle, and Sadi go to work on devising a plan to get the Companions out of Mal Zeth–a plan on the scale of open warfare in the Imperial Palace. (DLK 146-168)
Yarblek and Vella arrive in Mal Zeth. They are accompanied by Feldegast, a man of questionable background (and even more questionable legality) who is an entertainer who wants nothing more than to demonstrate a bit o' his unspeakable talent, don't ya know? (Interestingly enough, when he makes the mistake of drinking from Vella's flask of othlass, he almost appears to be deformed.) Yarblek has a bit more information than Dolmar had; Mengha's Karands control all of northern Karanda, largely due to their Demonic allies (and said allies' method of feeding). Feldegast managed to uncover the fact that there are a lot of messengers on the road between Calida (Mengha) and Mal Yaska (Urvon). (DLK 181-190)
Garion, Silk, Liselle, and Sadi meet to discuss possible means of inciting a riot within the Palace. Baron Vasca (head of the Bureau of Commerce) is attempting to absorb the Bureau of Military Procurement. Garion suggests offering the services of Sadi's bandits (who just brought a shipment of 'agricultural products' to Mal Zeth) to Vasca to hold off the men the colonels in charge of Military Procurement are going to send to arrest him (well, sort of)–with the idea that anyone hearing fighting in the halls (mainly the already paranoid nobility and petty monarchy of Mallorea) would believe is directed at them. Sadi's part is to offer the troops and perk Vasca's courage with something from his little red case. The whole thing should go down in about three or four days. (DLK 192-195)
The Star of Jarot lands at the port of Mal Gemila. One sailor, Balsca, steals the captain's cache of valuables, evades a press gang, and heads inland. He sells his former captain's stuff, for both money and more landlubberish clothing. Some of the money goes to pay for his… entertainment, a young (and very sick) woman named Elowanda. Who was dead by the time he woke up the next morning. To evade the authorities (who would certainly want to talk with him in connection with her death) and his captain (who wouldn't bother with the authorities), he heads to Mal Zeth, buying transport with a teamster bound that way. Unfortunately, he has a rather nasty form of a rather nasty disease–the plague, to be specific. The disease begins to spread among the citizens of Mal Zeth. (DLK 196-207)
Zakath orders the palace sealed. After hearing a description of the symptoms, Polgara is able to diagnose the disease as one of the rarer types of the plague. Her recommendation is seal the city, and take steps to reduce the spread of the disease, since–if they're lucky–only half of the population of Mal Zeth will die. The plague produces a complication, as well, since the little conflagration that Garion and his co-conspirators have been working on is likely to go off any time now, and there's no way to stop it. So they use it anyway, especially once Cyradis shows up to tell them they have a week to get to Ashaba. The path leads them through a tunnel in their wing of the palace, along the city streets for a short time, then back through another tunnel to outside the walls. (DLK 207-229)
The Companions head for Ashaba, dealing with several petty distractions along the way (some enterprising peasants who have made an Imperial highway a toll road, a self-important Imperial Army officer who's turning everyone back who can't prove they didn't come from Mal Zeth, and Vella's dancing the night before Yarblek heads for a coastal port). They encounter a Mallorean bureaucrat who had been stationed at Akkad–well within Mengha's territory–who tells them that the Grolims in Venna (the Mallorean province where the Church holds absolute sway) are basically in a state of civil war–they ask you which God you worship, and the wrong answer is fatal. Dual sacrifices are being held, one to Torak, one to the New God. (DLK 233-253)
After blackmailing a ferry operator near Mal Rakuth, they cross into Venna. Garion is recruited as the group's knight–since many of the Temple Guardsmen are knights, Garion has the necessary training from Mandorallen, and using sorcery to unhorse the Guardsmen would attract attention from the Chandim. In the process of making the necessary equipment, Durnik reveals that he knows how to transmute substances. They continue north, encountering one of the dual-altar ceremonies, and a knight whom Garion easily unhorses. Feldegast goes into Mal Yaska as they pass to gather some intelligence, reporting that Urvon isn't in the city, nor are the Chandim and Guardsmen apparently concerned about Mengha and his demons. (DLK 254-272)
The Companions swarm a border post between the provinces of Venna and Katakor, then take shelter that night in a smugglers' cave. They are besieged there by a demon whose master had turned it loose for hunting that night; Garion and Eriond combine to drive it off by using the Orb–which creates an earthquake and fills the night sky with blue fire. They immediately head for Ashaba; along the way, they encounter a Karandese religious ceremony at which some of the Hounds of Torak are present–but are not attempting to devour the participants. (DLK 273-290)
They reach the wasteland surrounding the House of Torak. ETA: Dark. ("A particularly unpleasant time to visit a haunted house," as Feldegast says.) They encounter a column of Temple Guardsmen and Karandese irregulars headed to Ashaba–more proof of an accommodation between Urvon and Mengha. They sneak past any watchers by wearing their dark green slavers' robes (and one of Polgara's blue gowns for Feldegast), take out the one guard who spots them, and head up to the second floor. As they pass the library, the Orb reacts strongly–Geran was in that room! They find footprints from both Geran and Zandramas… and the note that Zandramas left for Belgarath, thus proving conclusively that Zandramas is nowhere in the area. Garion, Silk, and Feldegast spy on the throne room in the basement through cracks in the floor. (DLK 291-316)
A ceremony is going on in the throne room–they're paying homage to Urvon as the new God of Angarak (Urvon, by this time, is absolutely nuts–not that he was much better before). Urvon is accompanied by a figure cloaked in black, who exudes an aura of pure evil. Urvon receives Lord Mengha–who turns out to be Harakan. Zandramas then enters the room, and informs Urvon that his days as the God of Angarak are numbered–and then she summons the Godslayer from upstairs (by triggering the "possession" she planted in Garion's head). Garion, being an Alorn, does something highly Alornish–he goes berserk, carving a path through the Grolims who are desperately trying to stop him from reaching Urvon. Eventually the Guardsmen begin driving Garion back. However, by that point the others have arrived from upstairs. Harakan threatens to kill everyone (to neutralize Garion), but then Liselle distracts him and throws Zith directly in his face. Zith, being a snake, does something serpentine–she bites Harakan, who is so startled that he just curls up and dies. Feldegast then decides that it's time to defuse the situation, and starts performing, juggling brightly colored balls in the air. Then he stands on one hand, juggling faster and faster until he's juggling balls of fire. Finally, he flips so that he's standing on his feet and drops his illusion, nearly startling Urvon back into sanity–since Feldegast is in fact Beldin. Nahaz intervenes, as he needs Urvon, but the combined force of the sorcerers present (and the Orb) forces him to retreat, taking Urvon with him. (DLK 317-330)
It's time for explanations (because Belgarath is demanding them from Garion). Garion's been having the same dream over and over since leaving Mal Zeth–which Zandramas used to plant the "possession," and hence all the events in the throne room. Except for what happened to Harakan, that is. Liselle, it turns out, was Hunter, and her orders were to kill the former Bear-cult leader. She simply took advantage of the opportunity when it arose. (It also turns out that she's a better liar than Silk.) Toth reluctantly summons Cyradis. She reveals that they have 9 months to get to the Place Which Is No More; she also tells them that the Event that had to happen at Ashaba was "the Huntress [finding] her prey and [bringing] him low in the House of Darkness" (i.e., Liselle killing Harakan). She also reveals that the Ashabine Oracles weren't mutilated only by Zandramas, but also by their author (Torak!). Two unaltered copies of the Ashabine Oracles exist; Nahaz has one, "the clubfooted one" has the other. Nahaz will not pose a problem. At the moment, he's busy attacking Zandramas' forces in Darshiva. (DLK 333-345)
Beldin leaves a very obvious trail for the Temple Guardsmen and Chandim to follow (an illusion of a 50-foot-high demon eating imaginary people, then stomping off into the woods will tend to do that). The Companions head off in a different direction, following the path taken by Zandramas and Geran. A few days later, they encounter a Karandese temple–with a woman in labor inside, showing that the rumors of demons mating with humans that they've heard are not rumors. They're forced to deal with this, as the half-demon child would be the worst of both worlds–all the power of a demon, but not subject to banishment. Fortunately, the demon is stillborn (unfortunately, its mother dies as well). They burn the temple to the ground as they leave. (DLK 350-369)
Continuing their pursuit of Geran and Zandramas, the Companions head toward Lake Karanda. They witness a failed demon-summoning (with the attendant consequences for the would-be summoner); Nahaz has told his demons not to respond to any summons, and they're obeying. Garion, Silk, and Belgarath deal with another magician–actually a Grolim–who "summons" Nahaz (illusionarily, that is). The illusion is so good, in fact, that this particular Grolim must have seen Nahaz. After stealing a boat, they decide to interrogate him, with the help of something from Sadi's little red case. His name is Arshag, of the Temple of Torak at Calida, and he was the Grolim who made the initial contact with Nahaz and put him in contact with Harakan. Nahaz, it seems, has his own agenda–because when he seizes the Sardion, both prophecies will cease to exist, and Nahaz will rule supreme. It was also Arshag who convinced several young Karandese women that receiving the "attentions" of the Demon Lord would be a supreme honor. For his efforts, Polgara curses him–nobody will ever again believe anything he says. (DLK 370-401)
Garion and Silk use their Karandese camouflage to track down Zandramas' landing point. She's following the main road leading east out of the city of Karand; she's evidently gathering Grolims from the Temples of Torak as she passes. But they've gained on her–they're three or four days' journey behind, and closing. (DLK 402-413)
The Orb reacts strongly to the aura left behind by the Sardion, letting the Companions know they're getting close to something significant. Something significant enough that Zandramas left a trap behind for them; Cyradis, however, leads them clear of the trap to a small grotto. Belgarath enters, then returns. The Sardion had been there for a long time, and now Belgarath will know when they're getting close again. Zandramas picks that moment to show herself. Ce'Nedra tries to kill her, and nearly gets herself killed–but then Poledra intervenes. Zandramas leaves in a huff. (DLK 414-422)

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