Banner of the Hawk 30

Dymal felt a calling from within the temple annex. Leaving the board and counters, he rose and went in to Taipai. The old man’s skin was waxen pale and his eyes were bright. He held a thin hand out to Dymal and said, “I saw him. I saw his ai gathered about him as he was born.”

Dymal was skeptical, but did not disagree. He took the old man’s hand and felt how loosely his ai was tethered to his failing body. The time of his passing had come. No wonder, then — if ever a man were to see visions, why not in the hour of his death. Dymal nodded his belief to comfort the old man, and actual belief flooded into him as Taipai’s eyes locked with his.

“Dymal,” the old man said, “this child is your weird and your destiny. Never lose him. He will pattern your life.

“He is the Lost Get.”

In that revelation many mysteries became clear to Dymal. And in that moment, all of Hea Santala’s attempt at hiding the child from the truth of his heritage was overturned, although it would be years before Dymal would reveal that truth.

Taipai closed his eyes and departed his body. His soul rose up to hoover, benign and smiling down on the one he had come to love like a son.


Banner of the Raven


There had been no hell in the world of the menhir until Hea Santala created it — and now Baralia was in it. The pain of this hell was not analog to physical pain. She did not burn with fire. But take every rejection of a lifetime, every loss of loved ones; take the pain of a father in the grave, or a beloved child dead in your arms. Take every empty moment of a lifetime, every snub, every failure to connect with those around you, every loss so deep that it seems the human soul could not endure. Take all that and multiply it. That is the loss that comes when the soul hangs in the air above the body, forever separated from that physical shell that connects with other physical shells and makes life, life

It is an unendurable loneliness.

Then comes enreithment, and a total inclusion with the souls of those who have gone ahead.

Or comes the sure knowledge that there is no besh and no priest near enough, and that enreithment cannot be done. The crying loneliness of the abahara is the greatest tragedy possible on Baralia’s world, made tolerable only by the abahara’s rapid fading to oblivion and nothingness.

Or so it was until Hea Santala, not really knowing what she did, condemned Baralia to endure that hellish loneliness for all of Marquart’s lifetime.

Now, it has been seven years.

# # #

Clevis rode at the head of the column of new troops, returning from Port of the Gull. It was a good day for travel; perhaps the first perfect day of spring. New grass grew in the sheltered places, providing food for kakai on the march. The entire season of Greengrass lay ahead, before the Weathermistress put an end to the time when warfare was practical.

Coming up from Port of the Gull where Clevis had landed his small troop, the wagon road passed over a high bluff where the rocky backbone of the land forces the River Gull through a narrow defile. Below a convoluted maze of heavy blocks of stone impeded the flow of the river. A narrow channel had been reclaimed from the maze so that small barges could carry cargo, but the swans which had previously brought the goods of the world to the village that surrounded the menhir were still blocked out.

It was all clearly no act of nature. One of the soldiers, called out to Clevis, “Is that what I think it is? I had heard about Marquart damming the flow of the Gull, but I didn’t believe it.” more tomorrow


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