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There is No Wind Here

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Smooth wooden shapes, halla with rounded horns, wolves with no teeth, owls with notches for feathers - each lovingly carved by a father’s hands. The same hands that bend wood into aravels and form branches into staves. The same hands that swing her in circles while her hair dances against her cheeks.

But there is no wind here.

A lullaby, at once comforting and foreign. Words she doesn’t understand, but from a mother’s lips she knows they mean love and family and safety. Mother is magic, and she hopes she will be too, so she can say the old words. Words that conjure fires for cooking, repair scraped knees, create gusts to help aravels over rocky terrain.

But there is no wind here.

Brother and sister, both younger than she, run along behind her in a meadow holding only the clan. Laughter spills from them, and the other children, as she hoists the handmade kite ever higher. It spins and dives through the clear blue sky, looking as limitless as they feel. Children with their lives ahead of them, floating on a breeze just like the paper they hold to a string.

But there is no wind here.

Happy to go into the city with Father, to watch him earn more than callouses from the things he makes. She’s never been inside one before. It’s loud and lonely and holding his hand is the only thing she can focus on as her eyes dart from building to market stall to the faces of the people he calls shemlen. Quicklings, and they move like it, never standing still. They look unkind as they pass the stall filled with goods from the clan. A man picks up, looks over, and drops a carefully engraved flute. “Nice, but I don’t buy from knife ears.” The words shouldn’t have been bad - still they blow her down.

But there is no wind here.

Young still and free, running through the forest, toes digging into the soil after the deer she had struck. Her first kill by an arrow as swift as she was. Mother said, “Even without magic, you’re a marvel. Show them what you can do.” And she does. Curls flutter behind her as she tracks her prey with pride.

But there is no wind here.

They sit in silence under the aravel’s awning, sobbing and stinging as clanmates buzz around. “What can we do?” “Can we help?” “I’m so terribly sorry.” Until Grandmother, through tears, begs them to leave. They huddle around the body, in candlelight, and pray to Falon’Din for Mother’s safe passage into the beyond. Her skin is cold and her face frozen in surprise. Her hand clutches a belt. Grandmother says it holds powerful magic and is very old. She doesn’t want to touch it. The candles blow out, one by one.

But there is no wind here.

Days of practice, of arrows in targets and arrows in animals. Nights in taverns, drinking ale made by shems. The small throwing knife behind her ear in case one of them tries to get handsy, tries to get violent. No mark is too big or small for her to hit, even at this level of inebriation. A woman smiles from across the bar, comes to talk, promises a way to forget. Hand in hand they walk down alleyways. The night air is cool on her booze-muddled flesh.

But there is no wind here.

The sky is cracked. Her hand is on fire - no, different than that. It’s electric. Angry stares she has grown used to from faces that all look the same. She doesn’t care what they think of her ears or her vallaslin or the history they stole from her. She’s earned it all. But then they want her help, and they sing her name, and they lift her up. She’s in the eye of a tempest that they want her to control.

But there is no wind here.

He’s older and maddening and speaks to her like she’s a child. No vallaslin, but still he calls her da’len. She wants to tell him to shut up, to piss off, that his aid isn’t necessary. But it is, and he’s magnetic, and they’re back at Haven alone. Everything has changed, for both of them, and she changes it again. Lips on lips, and she’s not drunk this time. The pull back against him feels like a wall falling down. She won’t let him unbuild what she’s worked hard to protect. But on this mountain, Ayelet can kiss him.

On this mountain, there should be a gale, whipping the snow around. Then he says it: “Where did you think we were?”

This is the Fade. And there is no wind here.

These are just memories, and there is no wind here.