Ashni (ashnistrike) wrote,

Winter Tide

In Innsmouth, of course, they appreciate long nights: 

We walked down to the boundary of the waves, where the cool and giving sand turned hard and damp. Charlie’s night vision was poor, but he followed readily and crouched beside me, careful not to put too much weight on his knee. He winced only a little when a rivulet washed over
his bare feet.

I glanced up and down the beach and satisfied myself that we were alone. At this time of night, at this time of year, it was a safe gamble that no one would join us.

I began tracing symbols in the sand with my finger. Charlie helped. I rarely had to correct him; by this point even he knew the basic sigils by touch. You must understand them as part of yourself, no more needing sight to make them do your bidding than you would to move your own legs.

Outward- facing spells had been harder for me, of late. To look at my own body and blood was easy enough, but the world did not invite
close examination. Still, I forced my mind into the sand, into the salt and the water, into the clouds that sped above them. I felt Charlie’s strength flowing into my own, but the wind tore at my mind as it had not at my body, pressing me into my skull. I pushed back, gasping as I struggled to hold my course and my intentions for the night.

And it wasn’t working. The clouds were a distant shiver in my thoughts, nothing I could grasp or change. The wind was an indifferent opponent, fierce and strong. I fell back into my body with cheeks stung by salt.

Charlie still sat beside me, eyes closed in concentration. I touched him, and they flew open.

“It’s no good,” I said.

“Giving up so soon?”

I shivered, not with cold but with shame. As a child we had the archpriests for this. Not a half- trained man of the air and me, dependent 
on distant memories and a few scavenged books. “I can’t get through the wind.”

He tilted his head back. “I know
De Anima likes to talk about ‘the great war of the elements,’ but I’ve been wondering— should it really be through? When we practice other spells, at the store . . . I know these arts aren’t always terribly intuitive, but ‘through’ doesn’t seem right. When we’re working on the Inner Sea, or practicing healing, you always tell me that you can’t fght your own blood.”

I blinked, stared at him a long moment—at once proud of my student, and embarrassed at my own lapse. My eyes felt heavy, full of things I needed to see. “Right. Let’s find out where the wind takes us.”

I closed my eyes again, and rather than focusing on
De Anima’s medieval metaphors, cast myself through the symbols and into the wind. This time I didn’t try to direct it, didn’t force on it my desires and expectations and memories. And I felt my mind lifted, tossed and twisted— whirled up into the misty tendrils of the clouds, and I could taste them and breathe them and wrap them around me, and I remembered that I had something to tell them.

I knelt on the strand, waves soaking my skirt, and gazed with pleasure and fear as the clouds spiraled, streaming away from the sky above us, and through that eye the starlight poured in.

“Oh,” said Charlie. And then, “What now?”

“Now,” I murmured, “we watch the universe. And tell stories, and seek signs, and share what has been hidden in our own lives.


May the darkness, and the stars that shine through it, bring you solace and insight. 

This post originally appeared at Comments are welcome both here and at There are comment count unavailable comments on Dreamwidth.
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