The priest struck a clear musical tone on the bell. "Friends of House Ecaz, House Atreides, and Emperor Shaddam IV, we welcome you to this moment of happiness." He struck a second tone.
As the priest began to speak again, Paul heard a snick, followed by a hum. He didn't want to tear his eyes from the bride and groom, while everyone in the room was listening so intently, but then he heard another sound and sensed a faint movement. He concentrated, forcing the background noise to fall away, and pinpointed the source of the sound: the huge Elaccan flowerpots.
Thufir Hawat snapped his head to one side. The old Master of Assassins had heard it as well.
The large hexagonal mosaic tiles had popped loose—extending slightly from the curved pots on some type of axle—and began to spin.
"Duncan!" Paul shouted, not caring that he would disrupt the ceremony.
But Duncan was already in motion. Gurney crouched, dagger in hand, ready to fight, looking for an attacker. Rivvy Dinari and Whitmore Bludd both drew their swords, advancing to protect Archduke Ecaz and Ilesa; Paul had never seen them move so fast.
The decorative hexagonal plates, thin sheets of metal, propelled themselves forward, spinning through the air like circular saw blades. Their edges, which had been mounted into the glazed clay of the pots, were razor sharp.
The air of the hall was filled with whirling blades, executioner discs that flashed toward their targets: everyone in the wedding party, any person who stood on the stage.
Duncan swept the Old Duke's sword in an arc to strike one of the discs, sending it into the stone blocks of the wall, where it cut a deep gouge before clattering to the ground. Thufir grabbed Duke Leto by the tuxedo collar and pulled him sideways to the floor, diving upon him as another scythelike blade slashed a long rent across the old veteran's back.
More blades crisscrossed in the air, and the audience began to scream in panic. Like a charging bull, Gurney threw himself toward Paul. "Young Master, down!" Paul had already crouched to dodge the flying blades, and Gurney bowled him over, throwing himself between Paul and one of the deadly plates. At the last instant, Paul grabbed a handful of Gurney's blond hair and yanked the man's head. A sharp disc streaked past, missing Gurney's skull by millimeters, clipping a small lock of hair.
"Ilesa! Save her!" Rivvy Dinari bellowed. "I have the Archduke!" Whitmore Bludd sprang toward the bride, whipping his thin rapier before him. He struck one of the disks, and it caromed off into the ceiling.
Undeterred by the Swordmasters, another of the weapons struck like an executioner's hatchet into the Archduke's upper arm, neatly severing it above the elbow. Pushing himself free of Gurney, Paul watched in nightmarish slow motion as the detached limb dropped to the floor, sleeve and all, in a rain of blood.
Dinari roared, realizing his failure. He brandished his sword and stood as a human blockade, spreading himself in front of his grievously wounded master. The Archduke gasped, clutching at his stump.
More spinning blades flew directly at the Ecazi leader. The corpulent Swordmaster smashed one out of the air and sent it ricocheting into the floor. He struck another disk a glancing blow. Then four more blades slammed into his great body with the sound of cleavers cutting into tough meat, embedding themselves deep in Rivvy Dinari's lungs, cutting through his sternum and slicing his heart in half. The last disc bit deep into his gut. Dinari's great hulk collapsed to the floor of the stage, but he had intercepted all of the deadly devices aimed toward his master.
With a howl of outrage, Bludd attempted to defend Ilesa. His rapier skewered and flung aside another executioner disc. He reached up with the thin blade to parry one more razor-edged tile, moving with both speed and precision.
Though Ilesa was backing away, she couldn't bend far enough, and the spinning disc slashed her throat.
Her delicate hands fluttered up, as if to catch the scarlet spray, but blood fountained from her neck, drenching her beautiful gown in red.
With a roar from his artificial lungs, Rhombur threw himself forward, knocking aside guests in the front row. "Leto!"
Squirming free of Gurney, Paul got to his hands and knees again, intent only on ensuring that his father was safe. Duke Leto, as expected, was shouting orders, organizing an immediate response, telling his guards to smash the deadly pots, calling for medics, showing concern for everyone but himself.
Acting on instinct, as if he could foresee what was about to happen, Paul sprang toward his father. Every instant stretched, drawn out to a long and syrupy timeline. Duke Leto turned, his gray eyes widening as he saw the sharp, whirling edge—
But Paul slammed him aside, and the cutter disk made only a harmless whirring noise as it passed and thudded into a wall. From the corner of his eye, extraordinarily aware of every detail, Paul saw his mother rushing toward the stage.
Like a mechanical ox, Rhombur used his artificial limbs to smash the pots, destroying the targeting mechanisms, preventing the launch of any more razor-edged plates. Duncan struck the last three spinning discs out of the air.
And all because Archduke Ecazi (WHO?!) stiffed the caterers last time!
Oh, where to begin with this one? Let's just do this: "Acting on instinct, as if he could foresee what was about to happen, Paul sprang toward his father." Foresee what was about to happen?! And HOW COULD HE DO THIS THING?! BECAUSE HE IS THE KWISATZ HADERACH! To be.
"Every instant stretched, drawn out to a long and syrupy timeline." A long and syrupy timeline? Syrupy? What. The. Fuck.
Have at it. I'm getting bored of BAD.