Ventus – Day 132 of 135


Across Ventus, music visited every town and village, and came to the door of every peasant’s hut. The flaming threads that had walked the skies faded and vanished, but in their place a rich and wonderful song had begun. The song was Jordan’s idea, but the swans took to it eagerly.

As shocked and bewildered people stood outside their homes and gazed at the sky, a faint cobweb-fine gauze of Armiger’s design began to fall. It drifted like snow in the streets, and tangled in people’s hair. When they pulled it free, they were often surprised to find small spots of blood on it, and when they felt their scalp they found tender spots there.

It was the only miracle that day. Not until dawn the next day, as people awoke, did they become aware that their whole world had changed.


Enneas–grave robber, thief, soldier, and lately deserter from Parliament’s army–woke to the sound of rain. He lay bundled under his coat in the lee of a big rock, somewhere on the edge of the desert. This was as far as he’d gotten before collapsing from hunger, cold and what he had to admit was the exhaustion of old age.

He was surprised at having awoken at all. Last night, the cold had settled down upon the land like a shroud, and Enneas had finally given into despair. Huddling by this boulder, he’d bleakly assessed his life. There would be no fine tomb for him, as he’d once imagined he deserved. He wouldn’t even leave behind a crying widow or squabbling family. After a lifetime of struggling to assert his existence–decades of stubbornly continuing to live despite the disappointments and trials life had thrown at him–he had nothing to show for it; his only memorial would be whichever of his bones poked up above the sand here.

As he lay curled around himself, shuddering from cold, he’d imagined he heard music coming from the sky. Enneas was past hope; he must be delirious.

Now, as he came to himself and knew he had survived the night, he felt no emotion. So he’d lived through the night–it hardly mattered, because the freezing drizzle descending now was bound to do him in anyway.

Although… Enneas lifted his head, blinking. His face wasn’t wet, nor his hands; but he heard the rain, clear as anything. He sat up.

The rain was falling, all right, steady and almost musical in its soft sound. Yet Enneas, the rock he lay against, and the sand for a good two meters around were dry. It was as though an invisible parasol hovered overhead.

Or as though the raindrops themselves were parting around him.

Heart pounding, Enneas put his back to the rock and huddled under the coat. “What is this? What is this?” he mumbled; then, realizing he was talking to himself and that there was no one who would or could hear him, he lowered his head in shame and despair. It was then that he noticed how warm the material of his coat was.

He stuck a tentative hand out from under the cloth, and felt heat as from a summer sun on his palm. It was as though he sat in his own private, invisible beam of sunlight.

His hand trembled as he drew it back under the coat. This was impossible. That the whole world was quickened with life, invisible owlish eyes staring from every object, he had no doubt. But what did Enneas matter to the spirits of this world? He was just another bug crawling on the face of Ventus. How could he be visited now by a Grace that had denied him all his life? The Winds strode like kings through the sky and earth; they would never turn their attention to one such as him. At the end of all things, alone and starving in the desert, he finally had to admit he was beneath their notice–or anyone’s notice.

And yet… the warmth remained, and the dryness.

Something moved out among the scrub-grass and scattered stones. Enneas made himself go completely still, peering as though his gaze could open another avenue through the rain to better see what was there.

A bedraggled head poked up from behind a rock, and he let out a sigh of relief. It was only a fox. The little fellow emerged from hiding; the soaking rain had reduced his coat to a tangled mat, making him appear impossibly skinny. Enneas’ heart went out to him.

The fox reached his head down and lifted something. Carrying the speckled brownish object in his jaws, he trotted a few meters towards Enneas, then stopped.

He was carrying a dead quail, Enneas realized. Thinking about that quail roasting over a fire made him suddenly realize how ravenous he was. He sat up.

The fox jumped in surprise and ran back a ways. Then it stopped, cocked its head as though listening to something, and returned. It picked up the quail and came a little closer. Then it paused, watching again.

Enneas cleared his throat. “What… what do you want, little one?”

The fox cocked its head again. Then, very slowly, it walked up to Enneas. When it was no more than a body-length away, it dropped the quail. It put a paw on the bird, then turned and pranced away.

He watched it go, mouth open. When it was ten meters away, the fox paused, and looked back. It met Enneas’ eyes.

And it seemed then to Enneas that a voice spoke to him–a very quiet voice, almost like the whisper of the rain itself; not human, but somehow like he would imagine a fox’s voice to sound, if foxes could speak. It was a voice as faint as imagination’s, yet Enneas knew he was not dreaming it; that it really had said:


He couldn’t breathe. For a moment Enneas held his trembling hands together, then he began to weep–it seemed as if decades of loneliness and disappointment released themselves in this one torrent of relief and wonder. He hugged his knees and cried like a little boy, while the fox sat with its tail wrapped around its paws and watched.

Enneas wept at hearing what he had never expected to hear–never even known he was missing: a voice that should have been as close as his own pulse, but which had seemed as forever unattainable as the gates of Heaven itself.


Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)