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In Osgili, the far-flung island on the southernmost tip of the Brystal Archipelago, it is a ring. And it takes nearly a week for Solinde to locate the totem, lost as it is under the silt of a river. Even though her power can hold back the water, it cannot keep her boots from sinking in the sun-warmed muck.

When she finds the dratted thing, sweaty and matted with algae and bedevilled by biting instincts, she nearly calls down the lightning and does away with the horrible totem right there. But no, there are too many trees closing in over her head, suffocating and holding the fetid, humid air close to the ground. She must be the tallest thing in a clearing for the lightning to come to her hand. Even she cannot circumvent the laws of nature to call lightning where it is not wont to go.

There is a town nearby, and a defense tower with a spire. But that would mean humans, and Solinde carries too much hate for their kind to willingly venture into their midst just now.

No, Solinde desires silence.

With the ring pulled snug over her thumb, she walks for a full day and night to the southernmost tip of the world. She stands on the gray, reaching finger of rock that arrows out over the sea, on the promontory the sailors call the Astrolabe.

She slides the ring off her thumb and kisses its unremarkable gold curve, hoping.

And then she calls down the storm. The rain washes her hair and clothing clean. It is cool and refreshing, and if Solinde weeps with the sky, there is none but the sea to witness. The lightning, when she summons it, leaves her skin untouched, but turns the ring in her palm to ash and dust.

In the sky, four more stars flare and burn out. Solinde stands on the crest of the chalky cliff, waiting. She lays a hand over her heart and waits for the tug that will signal the return of that which she seeks. She waits, and yearns. She waits, and despairs. She waits, and weeps. She waits.

He does not return to her.

Her anger is the storm. Below Solinde, waves rage, flung at the stone as if to sacrifice themselves, to be free forever of Solinde's harnessing misery.


"The Forgotten Tale" is available from Reuts Publications:


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