Esper He was so tall. That is most of what she remembers. Tall. Much taller than she. It was odd she thinks in retrospect, that he would come to her. She thought her self insignificant. "That," he said, in his incredibly slow way, "Is why I choose you." "I don't understand," she said. "Simple," he said, "To hold a shield means you are the ultimate target. They will seek to ruin you, raze you, ravage you, destroy you - whatever they can do to bring you down to their level." She mostly just nodded, not really understanding at the time. She understood now. The weight was incredible. His words buffered her. "If you think nothing of yourself now, nothing is what they can destroy." Once, she had been questioned by Series and she had tried to explain and Series had simply been frustrated. "I don't understand how nothing can be the greatest shield." Esper shrugged her shoulders and went back to her drawing. "I don't really know either, I just know it works." Kasper was raining his usual fire across the field and Esper keep doodling through the pressure. Part of her could see the urge to break, to just fall, to just give into the crushing damage, however, the majority of her disregarded these thoughts and she simply continued drawing. The young school teacher looked slightly frightened, much more terrified than her cluster of charges who watched the battle with great interest. One of them pointed at a falling fireball hitting the Vaspered drone and said to his friend, "Isn't that cool." Esper thought for a moment to herself, I wonder what it would be like to see Kasper for the first time. She saw him nearly all the time. Destroying that. Destroying this. Destroying something else. Shielding was the mantle that she had accepted and she rose to it each time she was called, which was quite often. Cespve moved through the hail of fire ripping the hearts from the cankems. Esper layered a mental buffer around the school children. Some of them were fascinated and some of them were horrified, it mattered not to Esper. Her shields were just right and just so. His words came back to her again. "You will be the shield that never breaks or wavers. You will be the light that never falters. You will be the one that never surrenders." And it was true. During the siege of Trimony when even the Conclave was humbled, Esper had kept to herself and just sat with a pile of papers. She shielded two notes. Just two notes of paper. One said, "Eveevsn, we must go to Palines." The other said, "Domas domas." She didn't really know why she was holding her shield there. It mattered not. Adamasa had come to her with them and said, "If all else fails, keep these." Unsurprisingly, all else had failed and so she had just sat in the corner while the roof collapsed and watched the notes. Part of her wondered if she should shield the Conclave but they had decided to engage and he had been very clear. Her shield was for non-combatants. Shield a combatant and her shields fail. So she was left shielding two pieces of paper. They say, as they say many things, that the rest would be history for that story, and of course it was. Trimony was razed to the ground. The Conclave perished to a man, and all that was left was the two notes from Diean's last meeting with Mester. The sole surviving member of the Conclave, Usper carried out Mester's last will, and the task of Nunder was fulfilled. In the grand scheme of things, this is just one story. It is really a small story. To Esper, it was in some ways no more significant or less significant than any thing else, she fulfilled her duty as she always did. Resolute. The point is that she fulfilled. I am Lesoer of the Quen and this is what I write of Esper the Unfailing. The Rains of Africa She ran down the steps screaming. He threw down his paper and ran to the door. They all stopped their work and looked up to the sky. The dogs lay down and stopped their panting. It's coming again. The wind whispered. Her chest heaved and she fell into the sand and felt the smooth caress of thousands of tiny particles brushing against her skin, and, there, against her cheek, the drops of water began to fall. It was just a drizzle but she held the sensation close to her. He threw down his ruler and ran into the yard and stared at the sky. They stepped away from their work and just began to cry. She let the curtains fall and settled to the floor. The birds paused in flight and the cats crept softer. And in one stroke, the lightening fell and the thunder crashed. Water falls. I got my angel now He reaches down his hands to grasp the earth and he pulls up mud. She pulls down the heavens to take the rains and she pulls out water. They begin to sing and the song is the same song that they sang last week which is the same song they will sing next week. It is the song of creation. From the underverse he buffers his weaves and begins the knit. She looks down at the pattern and keeps the gnarls in check. They continue to sing the long song. It is work. Work to create a play on words that never ends, feeding back upon itself. Working itself into something amazing. Something wonderful. Something living. Theirs is the oldest magic. The magic of song and intention. The magic of imagination and utterances. He flows the powers under space and over space and through space. She buffers the meldings around the powers. They continue the song. Red rain Mars, she sighs to herself and sips the cup of tea. He barely bats an eye watching her across the table. It's been years. He should be surprised at the very least. She wonders what he's thinking. The tea has just a hint of Jader's mint, a nice touch, she thinks to herself. "It's warm," he says and he gestures at the rain falling gently outside the permafield. They both glance up and watch the rain striking the invisible barrier above their heads and for a moment she imagines what the tepid red rain would feel like against her skin. He remains cool. "Yes," she nods, "This world is so unseasonably warm compared to Aldaris." He says nothing for a moment and simply regards her across the table. "Yes," he drawls in that laconic way of his, "It is warm here." For a moment, neither says anything. Falling Odd, she thinks to herself, perhaps she should feel more. She feels nothing however, she notes in reality to herself. The blood covering her hands is thick and viscous. Laundry. She was in the middle of doing laundry. The knife lies at an odd angle and a spray of red covers the counter top. It will take a while to get everything clean. She stands with resolution and firmly places one hand on the counter top to steady herself and she stands up to survey the room. She really feels nothing. It's okay she thinks and she wipes the blood from her face. It was just an assassin. Of course she'd feel nothing. Why would she feel anything? She turns on the faucet with a wave of her hand and lets the warm water cascade over her hands. A buzzer sounds to her right and she sighs. Dinner is ready. Fast as the knife she plunged into the assassin, her mind computes the time until dinner is to be served. Thirty minutes. She thinks wearily to herself. She was going to fold the laundry and then set the table. Now she has a body to dispose of and a bloody mess to clean. The laundry will have to wait. She waves her hands and invokes but a word. The table sets itself. She regards the bloody body at her feet. There is magic "Still," he says, and he regards her stoic face across the room. She say's nothing. He turns with tired confidence bearing the weight of too much truth and not enough support. For a moment she thinks that if she but laid a hand on his retreating form, it would all be better. The Blue Jacket Actually, it was a cardigan, she remembers that much. He was wearing a blue cardigan and they both regarded each other across the dinning room table with complete shock. It was undeniable. Neither wanted to eat. Every option seemed horrible now. "What do we do?' he regarded her across the table with such horror. She remembers moving her hand towards her water glass and hesitantly drinking before answering him. "I don't know..." What could they do? The french doors to the garden were open and for a moment they both looked at each other in panic. There was so much out there. Insects. Pollen. Plants. Everything was suddenly suspect. "Do you think..." he said, his voice trailing off with uncertainty. "I don't know," she replied with her shoulders, shrugging, "The news said..." and she too trailed off with her own measure of uncertainty. You knew in five minutes Recognition, they say. Always so quick, always so indescribable, always so undeniable. There it was. There it is. They regarded each other slowly without words with the world slowed to a a bare minimum and their thoughts percolating through their faces bursting through their expressions to reveal the secrets of their hearts. If only it could have been another time Kesper thought. If only it had been earlier thought Resse. Life is full of bitter if-only's sitting at the tip of the tongue, curled at the back of the mind, twisting at the bottom of the stomach. The fire fight coaleseced around them in a brilliant glory of desturction, and they both thought at the same time, why now? Why this moment? Hesitation gripped them both in an icy clench of disappointment. An explosion rocked the ground beneath them and the ground buckled upward. Resse grasped at the wall behind him, only to find it crumbling in the explosion, he stumbled forward and clutched instintively to Kesper's extended arm. Sentience He drew his chair closer to the monitor and peered at the screen. "Coffee?" She turned around from the edge of the neighboring screen where she was fiddling with a control and answered, "No, thanks."