56

The ground rumbled ominously. A soft shake, a tremble more than anything else, making the sand that covered the Valley floor shimmer and tumble soundlessly in all directions. Minutes would pass before another shake, another tremble, stronger than the last. Over and over in a cycle of shaking trembles, shimmering tumbling sand, few minutes’ pause, and repeat. Hours passed until the rumbling was so powerful the sand dunes that rose hundreds of feet into the air, nearly thousands at some of their highest points, visibly shook.

It wasn’t until the dunes themselves, those sandy mountain ranges that stretched all across the Shiraniqi Desert, a landmark that all within the Worlds knew as a marker for that area of Fènwa World, shook just as Shiran Valley did that the obelisks that rose from the Valley’s floor moved, too. And when they did a soft chime rang out, crystal clear and piercing in the still desert night. Rose from every inch of those Towers until it was loud enough to be heard for several leagues. Though only the bones of the dead that surrounded the Valley could hear them, really. But that was okay. The only Dhaoine who needed to hear their Music didn’t have to be physically in earshot to know they Sang.

When the first length of wall pushed up from the shimmering, tumbling sands that were now making their own shush-shush counter-melody to the chiming of the Towers, a presence touched down on the top of the dunes that surrounded the Valley, that made it an actual a valley cut into the otherwise flat desert wasteland that was Shiraniqi Desert. And beside that presence stood another, though far less physical but no less aware and important for that. They paid no heed to their visitors, merely continued to Sing, to chime in the way their beloved Heart had not for what felt like months. Kept raising sections of the City that had once enclosed them in its embrace.

“You said I was just as much as he is?” An incredulous voice said, dancing on the wind, just as clear as their chiming music was. The disbelief in that voice made amusement trickle warm and thick over the still tumbling sands, touched each new rise of stone wall and house and set of cobblestones as they pushed up from the depths they’d lain in for centuries. Brought a touch of blue-gold to that blackened stone, but it didn’t last for long. Not that they expected it to.

At least not yet.

“Yes, We did,” another voice answered, full of amusement at the first speaker’s expense. This one carried the weight of Divinity, one of the First Born at that, rippling across multiple cadences; a thousand voices contained by one mouth. “You are a living legend in more ways than one, Nhulynolyn Otherborn. And for that, you are special in ways Our brethren could never comprehend until this very moment.”

“Honored One, I do not understand…”

They quieted their music in order to listen. Attention swinging around as the last of the City that had housed them rose from the sands, shaking off hundreds of years of dust and disuse like a duck shook water off its feathers. Waited while it woke up, collected its bearings. They were content to let it take its time. For the conversation had at the outermost reaches of their touch was interesting and one they knew was important. Knew its conclusion would change the Worlds.

“No Otherborn before you has managed to sire an Other whilst they themselves were still a -attached Other,” that multi-faceted voice answered, the touch of the Divinity in its depths stronger now. “But when you nearly died trying to save Azriel and several others in your Court at your old cabin not far from here, Rhyshladlyn being dragged down with you despite the collar that made him Imènian-blind…” The god trailed off, the pause heavy, laden with so many things unsaid, the remembered fear and worry touching them and the City that surrounded them again for the first time in far too long. “He did the one thing he could think of that would save you both: he spoke an attend that left no option but for you to live and then he gave you life. He made you the living twin you were never supposed to be born as.”

Nhulynolyn’s astonishment was a touchable thing that soaked into the sand beneath his ghost-like feet. That trickled down the dune he stood atop of all the way until it reached the base of the western retaining wall. The moment his emotion touched the City itself, that blue-gold glow from before started at the base of the retaining wall and moved upwards until that entire section glowed that peculiar hue. And then it began to spread outwards to other sections, to the streets and buildings beyond the wall.

“I… so what…” Nhulynolyn made an exasperated sound. “What does this mean?”

The god’s laughter had echoes to it, after flickers of sound, reverberations that reached out and plucked at the heartstrings of the City all around them. They chimed happily in response, taking up their Song again as that blue-gold glow spread across the City, eating away at the blackness that had covered it. Gathering speed as it went until it was moving so fast it was a blur; until it was hard to believe that seconds before the stone it now covered was once black with rot and disuse and age and neglect.

“It means, Our Child, that you,” the touch of the god’s Divinity on the World flared white-hot, “can go home without needing anyone to bring you there; not your twin, not your Court, not a contingent of the most powerful of your kind. For you are not an Otherborn in the way those who bear that racial name are. You are something more, something Else. And so… to be brought back into the living realm you need only the touch of the god who begot you.”

The rumbling of the ground that hadn’t stopped for what felt like hours came to a sudden, jarring halt. And with its cessation the World held its breath as the City fully woke up all around them, bringing the Towers slowly to silence themselves as the Currents cooed as they twirled and fell over each other. All of Shiraniqi Desert held its breath, even the whispers of the dead who surrounded Shiran Valley itself waited to see what would happen next.

“An’… that god would be…?” Nhulynolyn asked haltingly, like he didn’t know if it was a trap or not. They didn’t blame him. After all, Fate was not known for being kind, let alone generous.

“Us.”

And with that answer, Shiran City Woke with a piercing yell that echoed Nhulynolyn’s as Fate ripped him from the in between and into the living realm as the City of his birth Sang his name on a single, long note that a voice Worlds away echoed.

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