Section I: Episode 36
May 11, 2015
Gloaming in the valley of Ieik, the Hidden Bowl, home to the Wisdom God's chosen people. A village of simple mates, steeped in wisdom like ancient children, as the shadows of morning dissolved into eternal air. Murk and wind.
…And the beferglory.1
It was the height of summer, but cold all the same, that wicked chill of the early morning at the top of the world. And windy, as it so often was.
Seldom did the village have clouds, but today a layer of Ebreil's felt2 hung there in the Sheer, and from underneath, in its burrow just below the horizon, the unrisen sun lit the clouds fiery red. Like radiance itself they glowed down upon Ieik, Ieik, still submerged in the shadows of the palisades.
But the beferglory was not for warmth. The glow from above bestowed no shelter upon the people of Ieik; their sky was never a haven. It was only one thing: the end, the edge, the end.
In that blowing wind Galavar trod an empty street, not one of the sheltered apriceways but an ordinary open-air roadway. The cold made his nose run. His fingers were chilly despite being wrapped in their gloves. The rims of his ears burned with cold, and he could imagine how red they must be.
Summer! Summer…that strange joke told to the children of the Sheer. He wondered sometimes what summer was really like.
Galavar loved the clouds, but to the desert they rarely came. Rain, snow, or hoarfrost…no matter which; none of them came here. One could customarily count on a single hand the days of the year when the ground turned wet, or white.
So in the sanpoil's3 place he loved the gray twilight of the early morning sky. For it was in this hour that he could imagine, with that fanciful and wishful mind of his, and in the solitude that only the rawest early edge of the day could bring, a sky that in fact was overcast and gray. Perhaps a great rain was just moments to come.
There were things he dreamed of…impossible things, in a land such as this. Summer. Green fields, trees. And a whole day of overcast skies. Maybe even more than a whole day.
He looked up at the clouds; they were really becoming something handsome this morning. When he had set out from the Dormitories, they had been a luminescent silvery blue, somehow brighter than the sky beyond them despite being pale and dim. And now they were become aflame. The gray hour was done. In its shades of yellow and blue behind the Ebreil's felt, the Sheer was unmistakably bare. No rain today.
Down on the Landstorm, in the sights of his own village, Galavar saw his destination in the distance: a brief wall, standing alone in an open plaza. This was where the endurance training class met, under Athlete Ko. Every few days in the spring and summer, Galavar had to make this walk. In the colder season they were permitted to train indoors, but if frostbite and death weren't assured then the class would be out here. Something about building character.
Not that Galavar didn't find beauty in his harsh surroundings. In fact he loved the twilight hour of the morning. The evening, even more so. And though he usually preferred the company of his friends, Galavar did appreciate having time to himself, to reflect. These little walks were a nice occasion for it. He listened to the sounds of his feet on the stone. He tasted the air. And his thoughts wandered.
What Javelin had said to him had been on his mind. Even though she hadn't quite glimpsed the yearnings of his spark, she had been right about his desire to go out into the world, and see what could be seen. What was Relance, beyond the Hidden Bowl where Sourros held sway?
He looked up again. The clouds had turned even brighter, and their glow had spread to other clouds, seemingly the whole sky. At first he didn't really notice it, but slowly he looked again, and realized how vivid it all was.
So much that he stopped, there in his tracks, alone on the street. He balled his hands into fists and stuck them onto his hips, and leaned back to look up at as much of the sky as he could.
He didn't see the sky anymore. Instead he imagined that he was actually looking down from a great height, upon a land made of some wonderful dreamstuff…fiery orange fleece, or an empyreal snow. Between these bright folds of land were the darker spots, where the clouds didn't catch the sunlight, and they were the rich ichor of a perse ocean. Laid out before him was an entire world, such a place as would truly be worthy of the Gods, or the highest dreams of the Kindred. The words of his teacher Koro came to him: There are always…possibilities. Could all this truly just be clouds in the morning sky?
Well, of course it could—and it was. But in that moment, Galavar didn't think of it.
1 The Beferglory
Beferglory is red sunlight on the mountains or the clouds before sunrise. Its evening counterpart is afterglory.
2 Ebreil's Felt
Ebreil's felt is an Ieikili term for altostratus clouds.
Sanpoil is a term for a fully overcast sky, all gray, with no trace even of individual clouds, let alone of the sky beyond.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!