“That’s what a good wife does, keeps your dreams alive even when you don’t believe anymore”
“Fools believe silence is a void needing to be filled; the wise understand there's no such thing as silence.”
“I think comfort can be a curse, an addiction that without warning or notice erodes hope.”
“I swear, the reason for full moons is so the gods can more clearly see the mischief they create.”
“Fulfillment comes from striving to succeed, to survive by your own wits and strength. Such things make each of us who we are.” Using the blanket, he rubbed his hair. “You lose that in captivity, lose yourself, and that loss saps your capacity for joy. I think comfort can be a curse, an addiction that without warning or notice erodes hope. You know what I mean?” He looked at each of them, but no one answered. “Live with it long enough and the prison stops being the walls or the guards. Instead, it’s the fear you can’t survive on your own, the belief you aren’t as capable, or as worthy, as others. I think everyone has the capacity to do great things, to rise above their everyday lives; they just need a little push now and then.”
“I’m Tekchin,” he said, exchanging an empty gourd for a full one. “The handsomest and most skilled of the Galantians.”
This brought an immediate and loud moan from the other Fhrey.
“That scar suggests otherwise,” Moya replied. “On both counts.”
More laughter, louder this time.
“Pretty and smart,” Tekchin said to the others in Fhrey.
Persephone was thankful Moya couldn’t understand their language. A comment like that would have been tantamount to putting torch to tinder.
“This?” Tekchin returned to Rhunic and touched his cheek. “Naw, this is a beauty mark given to me by a special friend. He’s dead now, of course, but he was a gifted opponent and aiming for my throat. I can assure you it proves my skill. So what’s your name, or shall I call you Doe-Eyes?”
“Doe-Eyes? Seriously?” Moya rolled her same-said eyes in disbelief. “I would have expected something less sappy from a god. My name is Moya. Call me anything else and you’ll receive a second beauty mark.”
Tekchin struggled but failed to resist smiling. Behind him, the rest of the Fhrey laughed once more.
“God, eh?” Tekchin said.
“Don’t get too excited. Apparently it’s only a rumor.”
“I like you, Moya.”
“Most people do,” she replied.”
“And if you can't trust an ancient talking tree, what was the point of having one?”
“Remember, it’s easier to believe an outlandish lie confirming what you suspect than the most obvious truth that denies it,”
“That’s what a good wife does, keeps your dreams alive even when you don’t believe anymore.”
“Spring had let go of Winter's hand and was reaching out to Summer”
“Power doesn't equal worth. Wisdom is a far greater virtue.”
“Suri had a wolf named Minna. They were the best of friends and roamed the forest together. She had tattoos, was always filthy, afraid of nothing, and could do magic. From the first time I met her, I wanted to be Suri… I still do.
—THE BOOK OF BRIN”
“When faced with certain death, running is sensible, but I think a man can make an unhealthy habit of it. Running can take on an importance of its own and become an excuse to avoid living a normal life.”
“No god, goddess, or spirit would ever inhabit or employ a chicken.”
“How are you speaking?” Gryndal asked.
“With my mouth,” she said. “Does everyone play that game?”
“Sunlight had a way of showing the realities that shadows born of firelight hid. The”
“Caught early enough, the waking forest had no time to disguise itself into something mundane. This was a place of enchantments, a place where anything could happen.”
“Why are you here?”
“Oh— I came to tell the chieftain we’re going to die.” The girl said it quickly and with the same casual indifference as if she were announcing that the sun sets in the evening.
Persephone narrowed her eyes. “Excuse me? What did you say? Who’s going to die?”
“All of us.”
“All of whom?”
“Us.” The girl looked puzzled, but this time Persephone wasn’t certain if it was the tattoos or not.
“You and I?”
Suri sighed. “Yes— you, me, the funny man with the horn at the gate, everyone.”
“Strange game, this stating the obvious,” Suri said, shaking her head. She got up and joined Minna at the woodpile. “Pointless, but popular. Everyone plays it. You’re eating our bread. That isn’t your bed. You have a wolf. But as you can see, I’m getting the knack of it. Tura told me to blend in at villages, especially the dahls. She said people who live inside walls are crazy and can be dangerous. Touched animals are, too. Cursed by the gods, sort of like you, and even a tainted squirrel’s bite can make you that way.”
“I merely meant, well…” Persephone hesitated. “I didn’t think you’d still be here.”
Suri pointed at the treetops visible over the rear wall of the dahl where the gray spears had become a curtain of green. “Was waiting on the leaves.”
Persephone laughed. “It’s been two weeks.”
The mystic twisted her face, thinking hard. “You have two ears.” She smiled proudly. “I’m starting to see the fun of this. Using a part of what another person says makes it harder, doesn’t it? Probably gets more challenging late in winter when you’ve been sealed up for months— I assume you can’t repeat the same thing twice, right?”
“Do you see the butterfly?” Suri grinned with enthusiasm.
“Yes, I see it, but—”
“So stunning and delicate; it’s marvelous. No one can see a butterfly and not stop to admire it. I’d love to be one. To go to sleep and wake up a season later with such beautiful wings and the ability to flutter about. That’s the most wonderful sort of magic, don’t you think? To change, to grow, to fly. But…” She paused. “I wonder what the cost would be.” The smile diminished once more. “There’s always a cost when it comes to magic. I suspect there is a great price to go from lowly caterpillar to glorious butterfly.”
“Ferrol’s Law was created for ordinary Fhrey, not the Miralyith,” Gryndal said. “The Art has elevated us, and we cannot be bound by the law of a god when we have become gods ourselves.”
Arion saw Mawyndulë nodding, a look of wonder and admiration in his eyes. He would be the next fane, and it was her responsibility to make sure he was a good ruler. She stepped forward.
“How wonderful! I wasn’t aware we had achieved divinity. When exactly did that happen?”
Her tone caught them all by surprise.
“And now that we have,” she continued, “please tell me when we’ll be having tea with brother Ferrol? My mother would love his recipe for vegetable soup. As for myself, I’d like some advice on how to create my own race of people, for that ability has eluded me.”
“What length will a mother go to on behalf of her child? How long is time? What is the depth of love? —”
“They’ll probably gang up on you this time.” “Lovely! Any advice?” “Pray.” “Which god?” “All of them.”
“Freedom, he discovered, had built a greater prison than his family or clan had.”
“The more you know about the past, the easier it is to divine the future.”
“I want to know how long we have before he rises. If I cut off his head, will he stay down longer?”
The servant rolled his eyes. “He’s not getting up! You killed him.”
“My Tetlin ass! That’s a god. Gods don’t die. They’re immortal.”
“Really not so much,”...”
“Well, do you still make that marvelous wine? The pale red one, with a hint of nuts? I’ve boasted about it all the way here.”
“There was a vineyard once, up on the slope of the Horn Ridge,” Persephone said. “But it was lost to drought decades ago.”
Nyphron scowled. “Doesn’t anything in this place last?”
“Hardship,” Persephone replied. “We always have an abundance of that.”
The god looked directly at her. Their eyes met and he smiled. With a nod, he replied, “Well… at least you have that.”
“It was like waiting for the sunrise and a chicken to hatch— if the sun marked the end of the world and the chicken was an all-devouring demon.
—THE BOOK OF BRIN”
“I’m going?” Malcolm asked nervously.
“But I don’t know anything about hunting bears.”
“We aren’t hunting a bear,” Raithe said. “You just heard her.”
“Then why am I terrified?”
“Because it will be dark by the time we get out there, because I’m going, and because the gods are infatuated with me this month.”
“Tell me again why I’m going.”
Raithe ran toward the gate. “It’s your reward for hitting people with rocks.”
“But let's face it, the world of sex is weird no matter how you look at it. I mean-fourteen hours after you've had your face smashed into someone's genitals, you're walking down the street with the boy as though that were all "just fine, thank you, how are you!”
“And day by day I became convinced that not only is it unwise, but it is criminal for the people of the Abyss to marry. They are the stones by the builder rejected. There is no place for them, in the social fabric while all the forces of society drive them downward till they perish. At the bottom of the Abyss they are feeble, besotted, and imbecile. If they reproduce, the life is so cheap that perforce it perishes of itself. The work of the world goes on above them, and they do not care to take part in it, nor are they able. Moreover, the work of the world does not need them.”
“Truly divine faculties of intellect and imagination can make gods of us all”
“But humans drive the cars and decide when dogs eat and where dogs live and clearly this was something else in their power - they could find their dogs when they needed them.”
“I couldn’t stop loving you even if I tried. And I’ve tried.” He shook his head and laughed without humor, his hands balling into fists. “God, how I’ve tried. But I am completely lost to you. I am lost and empty and broken -”
“My heart is broken too -”
“My heart is not broken, Scar. My heart is dead!”
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