2

There are only two symbols.

The storm is growing, as it always has been and always will.  The air is icy and burns the lungs.  The sour water screeches as it breaks against the shore of bones.  He can feel the vigor of life and soft call of death.  The wind, silent, and screaming, tears through the tall conifers without rustling their branches. 

“Kulen?” 

It is not a question.  It is a statement.  He has added more passion to the storm.  More quiet to the earth.  More sickness to the water.  More chill to the air.  And he is here.  So he must need.

“I do not wish to see you here.” 

Her eyes are soft, and purple like the dying sky.  So full of sadness.  So bursting with youth denied.  So large they dwarf the sky.

“You called for me.”

No, not purposefully.  A call without knowing.  Fear.

She touches his cheek.  Her touch is soft, softer even than her eyes. 

“You are pure now.  But the song is quieter now.”  She is looking towards the trees.

Concern.  Accusation.  He listens towards the forest.  Voices, like boys singing softly, like angels run out of immortality, like pained moans, drift outward from within the trees.

He is walking through the trees now.  The branches laden with snow bend, bowing to him as he moves between them.  The song is quiet, too quiet.  What was so many voices, too many to hear and count, is only a few.

“Please.”  She takes his hand.  “Please walk with care.  The world is dark, and we are dim.”

The song has lost a voice.  The owner of the voice moves towards him, eyes green and blazing.  The fires of pain and hurt, and innocence destroyed with an unfeeling hand.

“You take what you do not deserve.”

“He takes what was given.”   She places a hand on the shoulder of the singer, stopping his approach.  “We have all given it.”

“It is not my choice to give it!”  The singer’s voice breaks. 

She pulls the singer into her arms.  The singer weeps, and he feels the weight of the singer’s tears.  The weight of despair.  Thunder shakes the sky.  The air shivers.

“Hush.”   She pulls the singer in closer. 

He leaves them, running.  His heartbeat hammers silently in his ears, a furious thrum of terror, guilt, and resentment.

He is back again at the shore of bones.  They are crushed and broken, and pull his feet down like sand.  The smell of decay overwhelms him as he reaches the end of the shore.  Water, no, rot laps slow against the sand of bones.  The rotted liquid is thick and sticky and vile.  And there is so much of it.  A lake, as wide as his eyes can see.  His eyes burn.  From the stench or from his own tears, he cannot tell. 

He crumples.  Why?  Why him?  Why this?  Why so much death and despair and decay and such a drowning of all that is bright and beautiful?  He looks to the sky.  There are no stars.  There is only the storm.  Thunder rumbles from within it, like a mocking laugh.

“You have taken.”  The voice is silver.  Her eyes are as blue as the forgotten sky.  “You have taken, but you do not give.  Why?”

He does not know. 

She approaches.  She takes his hands.  She is cold.  Her touch saps the life from his flesh, but makes him feel alive.

“You must give.”  Her grip tightens.  “You must!”

The cold burns through his hands, up his arms.  He screams as it sears through him.  What is he supposed to do?  He did not ask for their gifts.

“You must learn to give.”  She touches his chest now, and his heart races, then slows.  Slows, so slow, it begins to stop.  His lungs refuse to breathe.

“You must learn, Kulen.”

The world is cold, and dark.  So very, very dark.

“You must wake up.”

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