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There is something unnerving about being chosen by the Crystals.

With every rune Butz traces, with every deadeye flick of Faris’ wrist, there’s a taste, a texture, a flicker of another place, another world.  Remnants of thought and memory, snapshots out of space and time.  Some moments mere glimpses, and others overwhelming – personalities, disembodied and whole, love, life, loss.

A king who loved his country here, a knight who loved a prince there.  A mage who mastered the fire and water, earth and air and loved naught but learning and sugar scones with tea.  A bard whose love was cast into an endless sleep, until as doves the curse was broken, and the two of them flew the skies.  It seems strange that every scholar and historian on the planet hasn’t lined up to pick their brains for the trove of history that might be gleaned from the twisting mire of fragmented souls. 

Perhaps this is because no one ever talks about it.  The wisps of thought, fragments of memory.  At first, he had thought it was Galuf’s cooking – that the old man had, in his selective memory, mistaken his wild mushrooms in an attempt at seasoning the broth.  But it lingered, intensified, solidified under the surface,  with every shard that came into their possession, and even now that the Crystals are whole again, he can feel it, under the surface of his skin.  Every once in a while, he can see flickers of it in her eyes.

There are times, late at night, listening to her heart beat steadily under his ear, when Butz wonders how much the influence of these lives defines them, and marvels at how the threads of the past binds their present.

On the darkest of nights, it has left him uncertain.  How much of them, of whatever rests comfortably between them, is the remnants of old memories and old scars.  How much has it changed them, and would he love her all the same, and she him, and how much of them is going to live on eternally as a fragment of a shard of rock, and does he think too much, especially does he think too much when she stirs beneath him, blinking awake in the summer morning that tastes faintly of a distant thunderstorm.

Muscles rippling beneath his ear like the waves on the sea, Faris eases out from under him to sit up, and he slides to one side.  He watches her stretch in the dawn’s light, at once whole and full of scars and chips and fragments.  Unlike him, she doesn’t bother with where they came from, she merely takes the shards, the pieces, and makes them herself, adding them to the patchwork that is.

Perhaps, he thinks, this is why no one ever talks about it.