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Beyond the bounds of land, and miles away,

Across the ink-black sea whose sullen waves rise and fall in brief silver,

Beneath celestial lamps set in unbroken Night,

A storm blots the sky.

Billowing purple clouds coalesce, and hide away the stars as though a growing void had been torn into the frayed fabric of what is familiar and recognizable. Rolling flashes of white chasing along the flattened bottom hanging just above the churning waters.

Arahim stood quietly, and still, and watched.

The winds sent expectant whispers through the trees and shrubs at his back. Answered by soft sibilant hissing of dead, dry leaves that had yet refused to fall to the kiss of Winter.

Words sang through his thoughts.

The refrains ever shifting, yet the chorus remained the same to a note.

A steady cadence unchanging.

The repetition calming.

He wondered if the song was truly his own, untainted by outside influences, and not for the first time.

The lantern at his feet had long since sputtered out and died, allowing the dark to claim its due. Leaving Arahim as anonymous, as faceless, as the long shadows of slowly swaying branches of his garden that stretched and scratched at the grass and stone around him.

The cold lay trailing, intimate fingers across his skin. Tugging with languid insistence upon his coat and cloak like the pull of a lover drowsily cooing, "Come back to bed." The icy air finding its way through his clothing with a nonchalant ease and gifting his vigil with sudden shivers, and gooseflesh.

Breathing the promise of more to come.

The first clash of thunder found his ear, low and rumbling.

A baritone harbinger.

An electric call to arms.

And while the sleeping world waited with stilled breath, and dreams of tomorrow, Arahim stood quietly, and still, and watched.


Nothing is constant in Malas. Nothing, that is, but rain.

Cezanne had grown accustomed to starless night in a place where haze obscured the hushed voices and songs that the constellations whispered to her upon the sea. She missed the company – the steadfastness of it all. The surety of looking heavenward and seeing them watching over her, guiding her on her path. Here, nothing was changeless. Even the rain, as it was ever-flowing, ever-changing, and was never twice the same.

Outside, rain dripped from the eaves, and spattered on the cobblestones on the path to the theatre. This was her constant. And somehow, she found comfort now in the tempest that raged and died in the bosom of a sky bordered by razor-sharp cliffs and mountains that held up a canopy of clouds.

It was in these stolen moments, as she lay on her stomach on the warm wooden floor of the theatre watching the storm, that she found thankfulness in her heart for the rain. A single candle's flame pushed back the night and illuminated one side of her face as she lay in the arched entrance, propped up on elbow, chin in her hand. Her free hand stroked the long, ebony silken fur of Althea, the cat closing her wide, golden eyes in candlelit bliss.

Thankfulness. For so many beautiful memories here were now marked here by the rain. Cezanne smiled, the right half of her face illuminated by the glow of the candle, the left concealed in shadow, with doubt and the scars of the past. She lay there for hours, wide-eyed in the darkness, her face painted in hues of duality.

As the candle burned low, she took it up and lit her way upstairs to her bedchamber, Althea padding silently in Cezanne's footsteps. Funny thing about holding a candle unto one's path. She smiled as she blew out the flame. The light is always ahead, and dark remains behind.