The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

THE HALF-MADE WORLD PROLOGUE HOW THE GENERAL DIED ~ 1878 ~ The General lay flat on his back, arms outflung, watching the stars. A rock pressed into the base of his spine. He’d hit his head and turned his ankle when he fell, but the rock was the worst of his pain. Other sensations were leaving him, but the rock, obstinately, persisted; yet he was powerless to move. He was powerless to will himself to move. Between his will and his body, there was the noise. A dark cloud passed before the stars, and their light was shadowed, then returned, cold as ever. He watched the night sky over the mountains burn and wheel, hiss and dance, shudder and fall. The General was losing his mind. There were no trees—no pines. He lay in a bare hollow, a high flat stony clearing. The General and his last most loyal twenty-two men had been caught in their desperate flight between the Line behind them and the cliff’s edge before them. If the General could only have mustered the will to turn his head, he would have seen the mountain’s peak. It was dark, and forked like a gesture of benediction. It had been his destination, b
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