Posted on September 7, 2010


This story is Part 20 in the series Fire and Water. It follows Gathering. To read from the beginning, please visit the Index Page.

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They sat in a circle around the campfire at the edge of Sulinor’s prison. They could all hear the prison’s shrill hum like a ceaseless ringing in their ears.

“Jal and Madan were right to carry what we’ve learned to the four corners,” Zaghran said. “The more of us who know, who choose their own natures rather than the bondage of the Nurain, the better chance we will have to banish their hold over us forever. We can help Jal and Madan in that task.”

“How will we do that?” Varala said. “If we are here, and we do not travel far and wide, how can we spread this news?”

“We wake up the deep memories of everything,” Findol said. Coanh scratched his head.

“Those are somewhere beneath the stories the Nurain told us,” he said. “We’ll have to dig through all those lies to reach what we used to know.”

“You have already done something similar to this,” Griel said. “Twice now you have unseated the spell of the Nurain, and twice the magic sleeping in the earth has woken and answered you. You know what to do. Simply hold what you have learned in your hearts, and you call to everything, instead of calling to a specific thing, like my scale, or to resist the Nurain ship. The more you hold that call open, the more Vael will respond.”

Findol sighed, looking at his companions.

“I don’t know if the little we’ve learned can reach so far,” he said. Zaghran smiled, his dark eyes glinting.

“I can help you with that,” he said. “I’ve grown stronger since we’ve begun to wake our magic. I believe I can carry the call farther now.”

“Forgive me for being thick,” Coanh said, “but what sort of creature are you exactly, Zaghran? You’re Sulinor’s mate, that much I know. And Varala says Sulinor is the creator of all the forms in Vael. What’s your part in that?”

“Zaghran animates forms,” Griel said. “What forms any other being in Vael may create, Sulinor provides the matter to shape those forms, and Zaghran gives each form its individual spark of magic, its ability to awake and know what it is.”

All eyes were on Zaghran now.

“You truly are the Great Father,” Varala said. He shook his head.

“Please don’t call me that,” he said. “I give a form its will to exist, that’s true. But Sulinor is the one who gives a form its place to exist, its life, the ability to grow. Without her, my gift– no, my being– is only a whisper in search of a voice.”

Findol could hear the longing and grief in his words. He laid a hand on Zaghran’s shoulder.

“Not lost,” he said. “The whole world will help you get her back. For now, we’ll do what we know to do. We’ll hold the call as long as we can. And when the time comes, we’ll have all the strength we need to bring Sulinor back to us– to you.”

“Whenever you are ready to begin,” Aurmid said, “I will protect you while you work.”

Findol took his rock out of his pocket, and watched it shimmering gold and blue in the firelight. Varala and Zaghran quietly shed their human forms, preparing for the task ahead. Coanh settled himself cross-legged on the ground, and Griel stood alert behind him, black wings outspread, tips brushing the earth.

Findol let the voices of his ancestors fill him, drowning out the hum of Sulinor’s prison. He knew that the others could hear their voices now, too. Coanh began to softly drum the earth with his hands until Findol heard the voices of Coanh’s family, and then Varala’s, join the song.

Coanh’s drumming deepened in tone. The voices took on the sound of flowing water, and Findol could smell the sea, the lakes and rivers. The voices changed again, and sighed like wind in the trees, then the crackle and roar of flames reaching for the sky. All the while, the drumming grew deeper, reverberating farther into the earth.

Findol formed a word in his head: Remember. It echoed like water, like fire and wind, like rocks tumbling down a mountain. Findol opened himself as he had done before, and felt the current of magic pass through him, riding his watery essence outward.


Findol saw the word and all the magic they had called flow into a dark, starry cloud. Zaghran was gathering it into himself, and then releasing back into the earth. It pooled beneath them and spread in all directions, seeping deeper and deeper into the ground as it went. At the same time, he released it upward into the sky, and it shimmered out toward every horizon, leaving sparks of light in its wake.


They felt the earth stir beneath them. They felt the air quiver around them. The current of magic passing through them grew in strength until they could barely hold it. Still Zaghran gathered it, amplifying and pouring it back into everything.


They heard Griel and Aurmid trumpeting, and their voices steadied their hold on the energy. They felt clouds gather overhead, heard the thunder, felt the rain begin to fall. They heard the voices of small animals chirping and grunting around them, birds calling as they flew above them. They could hear the grass of the plains growing and whispering in the wind. They felt sap rising in the trees. And all these voices carried one word: Remember.

Findol felt something shift in the magic flowing through him. He could sense all these creatures, these elements, everything, becoming aware of its own nature, its own form. He could feel them waking up, as if they had been in the grip of a dream.

We are remembering.

He heard the words pass through him, through Coanh and Varala and Griel and Aurmid. Zaghran gathered those words and sent them out into creation again.

We are remembering.

The tide of magic began to ebb slowly out of each of them. It sank back into the earth, breathed back into the sky. It returned to every place from which they had called it, and it did not return empty. They all felt the world being filled with the words: We are remembering.

Vael was waking up.

Findol sank back into himself as the magic left him. He saw Coanh rubbing his hands. Varala lay beside the fire as a cat, panting with her effort. Griel and Aurmid flapped their wings and lay down next to each other. Zaghran slowly took on human form again and sat down by the fire. He gave them a tired smile.

“It has begun at last,” he said, and they all grinned at him.