Return 19

If this is your first time here, go up to the tab marked ‘Serials’ and begin at the beginning. This is Part 19 in a series — and while I’m sure it’s lovely on its own, it makes far more sense (ostensibly) when you’ve read parts 1-18 before it.

* * *

When we discovered Luroteo was missing, it was as though the heart of Songfall had suffered a blow — while the Captain was our spine, Luroteo had been our spirit. He had sung with the children, had inspired us to follow the Captain when we were frightened. He was loyalty and kindness, and we felt his absence keenly. We all went about our duties as we had to, children gathering, adults tending. The camp continued to move on, as it had to, as all things must. Days went by without him, and we begged the Captain to let us send out a search party, but he would not — it was like when we lost the children at first, and had no idea how to find them again. He told us we would simply have to wait. He asked for patience.

We did not know how to give it, not anymore. We had grown used to our lives, used to this time, after the ruining, our little world, there on the shores of Songfall. This abrupt change was too hard, too much.

We did not see how hard it was for the Captain, as well.

Night after night, he dreamed of Luroteo, and simply did not tell us of the screams he heard within his heart, unending.

It was Riesa that found out.

She, too, had been touched by the fallen thing, and she could hear the song within herself, if she quieted the world enough (sometimes we found her, still, floating in the pool, her hair a wide halo, her dress clinging to her pale thighs, her eyes so wide and dark and watching) she could listen to the sound of it, if she wished.

That’s how she knew of Luroteo, how his screams had throbbed within the pulse of light, doubled and doubled and doubled, still, and were added to the song. How he would never come back.

One night, she went to the Captain’s bed, where he wept in the red dark, and as he had pulled her from the waters, she pulled him from his dreams. She put her fingers between his, and the feather, and her skin between his and the rough cot, and she shared his breath, and sang with him, of all they had seen, and all that was still to come.

When it was over, she stayed as Luroteo had, and stood with him against the night.

For the first time since the Captain had heard the song, heard the thing crying out from where it had fallen to the stones, he slept without dreams.

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