Sabin still knows each phase of the moon by name; because of this he feels he also knows the sun, the reach and power of its rays, how it works with the stationary angles of the earth to create shadows, illusions and shapes. Out here in the mountain-dotted forest where he trains with Duncan and Vargas he can still watch the sky; though when he looks up his vision is mottled by trees and he remembers when the view was clear, vast and unobstructed.
He remembers how he would watch the summer sky at night in Figaro, pick out constellations as he wrapped himself in blankets against the cold chill of the darkened desert. Sabin would excitedly point out the stars to his brother; Edgar would listen but keep his eyes focused on the deft manipulation of his own fingers against metal and lens, trying to build something Sabin couldn’t understand, out there on the sand-dusted parapets. You’ll love it, Edgar would say, or you will, at least, when I figure this damned thing out.
In the present, it is summer in the mountains and the ground has dried near to dust. When Sabin breaks from meditation, when he opens his eyes and stares at the particles of dry dirt on the ground, he lets his eyes shift out of focus and his mind shift back to longing, and the dirt begins to look like sand.
I was trying to build you a telescope. So you could see the moon up close. But now you’re leaving, so…
Sabin wonders if Edgar ever finished the project or if the tubes and glass and bits of mirror merely gather dust in the castle basement. He has a feeling he knows the answer, though he doesn’t wish to dwell on it, prefers to think of his brother’s hands as still inquisitive and busy, still serving a purpose beyond the signing of documents and treaties, the empty politics of practiced handshakes. Sabin looks up from the ground, and the sand disappears. He looks back up at the blue sky through the leaves of trees, and though he feels the sweat rolling down his skin in the summer heat he thinks it is not hot enough here. He thinks of desert.