The Aethretics Saga: Chapter Three

The Aethretics Saga: Chapter Three

(A little lost? Read the Intro, the Prelude, and if you’re game, Chapter One)

Chapter Three

A soft pattering of rain began a chorus upon the mill.

Maedoc stared off into space as he sat on the floor. He threw his arms up, baffled.

“How can you not be sure? It’s either alive or it isn’t.”

Extending a hand, Cynwrig helped him to his feet.

“I do have to say, my boy, I’ve never seen someone end up on the floor before. Were you pulling my leg just now?”

Was he pulling Cynwrig’s leg? The nerve of this man.

He looked Maedoc in the eye. An air of stillness permeated the moment.

“Just what is it you saw?”

Maedoc looked down. To put this experience into words felt a little like planting a potato in a thimble.

An utter mess is the only outcome.

“The Aether, you were right. It had its own pulse. The instant I realized it, it went wild. It became fast. Too fast. Too complex. And suddenly it all felt like… plants.”

“It all felt like plants.”

“It — well, yes, I saw, or, I felt something like a fern. Each leaf was its own song, and also a world. Both, at the same time. It just kept going and going until—”

“You went to greet the ground. Plants, huh. Interesting…”

Cynwrig looked a million miles through him.

“Here,” he said with a smirk, motioning towards Maedoc’s glass. “Try it. Extra flavorful. It’ll help you focus.”

Maedoc shot him a quizzical look, to which the man responded.

“You seem dazed. Besides, I’m about to talk your ear off. Fortify yourself, soldier!” The man pumped his fist into the air, looking deadly serious over the incoming dialogue.

The glass received a sniff. It smelled like a sweet and spicy salad.

“So. Is Aether alive? That is a fine question.”

Cynwrig took the Aether from Maedoc’s palm, eyed it, and wiped it on his shirt.

“Good God Lassie, could you manage to perspire a little more next time? I almost dropped the thing…

“Now then. Life. Let’s start there. What makes something alive, rather than not?”

Crynwrig did an about-face and walked to a small, shabby desk on the back wall. He plucked a paper from its surface and made his way back, where he presented it to Maedoc with arms fully splayed.

“There are seven things that mankind has decided determines life. To pass muster, Aether has to do all of them.”

Maedoc nodded as he felt his brain slowly turning off. His teenage intuition knew a long speech was just beginning, and it was having none of it.

Maybe a jolt to the senses would be wise after all.

Mustering an extra ounce of bravery, he took a sip of Cynwrig’s beverage.

Fear took him over in an instant.

At first, it burned. The spice was immense. Surprised, he inhaled quickly, coughed and then hiccuped.

“Do you have— haah—haah—a drink to wash this drink down?” He frantically scrapped his tongue with his front teeth. No relief.

“Just give it a sec. It won’t last too much longer.” Cynwrig smiled with crinkled eyes, unable to hide his amusement.

He was correct. As soon as the words were uttered, the flavor began to change. Other notes made a presence as the heat died down. It was sour, it was savory, and it was strangely mouth-watering.

“Garlic, ginger, horseradish, turmeric, onion, and a slew of hot peppers. Oh, vinegar too, right, right, now where was I… yes, seven characteristics. You good to continue?”

His cheeks reddened, forehead beaded with the lightest patina of sweat, Maedoc nodded. He now felt wide awake.

“Let’s breeze right through these…” Cynwrig muttered as his eyes perused the list.

“Living things… they have cells. The cells are organized. The living things use energy, they respond to their environment, grow, reproduce and adapt to their environment. That makes seven total.”

As Cynwrig listed them off with militant speed, he pointed at a small sketch for each quality. Or, to be more accurate, a loopy smudge with arrows sticking out of it. Regardless, Maedoc got the gist of what was said. Working in the fields allowed him a glimpse at most anything life and death had to offer. At least, for vegetables.

“I’ve seen almost all of these. The cells you showed me once through your lens. Tiny houses crammed together, right? The energy I don’t know about, tonight’s the first I’ve heard of it, but — the flowers, some flowers follow the sun throughout the day…” Maedoc knitted his brow as he thought of more examples.

“It’s alright, I believe you, you get it. Good. Now, Aether? It’s just a goop poured into a shape, then hardened. Can’t say it has much in terms of cells. And no cells means no organization of cells. So that’s two down.”

Maedoc took another sip. This one didn’t burn so much. He was beginning to enjoy it.

“Now it gets a little interesting. Would you like to know what Aether is doing to create such, ah, acrobatics in yourself?”

“I would…” Maedoc grumbled, glancing at the floor he once occupied.

“The next item on the list states living things use energy. Does Aether use energy? Yeah. Sort of. It’s more accurate to say Aether processes it. Much like how we breathe in oxygen, then breathe out something else. Since the air never vanishes, we are, in effect, processing the air.”

“Okay, sure.”

Cynwrig rubbed his chin before continuing. “Plants, they do the opposite. They breathe in the air we exhale, and breathe out fresh oxygen. They are also processing air, but in the other direction.

Aether does something strikingly similar to this mechanism. It feeds on stale energy in its surroundings, continually churning out a distinctly positive energy in its place. This energy is an energy that all us living things typically find pleasant.”

Maedoc immediately grasped what was being said. He had always felt immense peace when among the trees surrounding the village. The air felt cleaner, more pure. It seemed to be a subtle but vital nutrition. Was this also energy?

“Plants do the same thing!” he blurted out. “I could be in the sourest of moods, feeling beyond frustrated. But if I march myself to the forest and lie down among the trees, they sort me right out. Without fail.”

“Correct!” Cynwrig bellowed, pointing a finger at the startled youth. “Impressive insight there, Maedoc. Yes, plants do purify energy quite well on their own. And oftentimes it’s a stagnant energy that places us humans in a funk. If you’re ever feeling ill, off or anything unpleasant really, laying among the plants and trees is a surefire recipe for relief.”

Cynwrig lowered his arm and froze as he mused to himself.

It would appear that nature was the first form Aether ever took.”

The man placed his empty cup on the table and filled it up to the brim. When had he finished it? Maedoc swore it had been full just a minute ago.

After a sip, Cynwrig exhaled loudly and continued.

“Here’s my theory. Aether appears to have a bigger impact on a person if they possess a large amount of ‘something’ for it to process. That ‘something’ could be any energetic aspect of that person which is found to be out of sync.

Padded raindrops permeated the background as the conversation fell silent. Cynwrig turned away, pacing slowly with hands delicately knit behind his back. Maedoc watched silently as the man ruminated.

“We’ll go into that a little later, but in essence there may be some sort of ‘something’ that is plugging you up energetically.

Aether is much like an etheric plunger. It diligently unclogs one’s energetic piping, returning flow to a stream that has, in most cases, long been blocked.

Cynwrig turned to face Maedoc, crouching low as he slowly wiggled his upright fingers every which way. His eyes darted between invisible targets in the distance, giving him the faintest semblance of a maniacal octopus. This phenomenon was commonly seen as the man made his various cognitive leaps. One of his stranger tics, to be sure.

“Perhaps a dam broke within you, Maedoc, and this breakage resulted in a sudden rush of energy that your body wasn’t entirely prepared for.”

He paused for a moment, seemingly lost for words. He eyed his feet for an instant before returning to Maedoc’s gaze.

“But you seem just fine now!” he exclaimed with a toothy grin, tousling the hair on Maedoc’s head.

“Hey now!” the boy yelped. “Are you suggesting I’m more broken than anyone you’ve ever showed this to? From the sound of it, no one was knocked off their chair but me.”

He felt a little sick. Of all the ways to stand out, this one really took the cake.

Couldn’t have been a weird birthmark, or a funny walk, no. Instead, his invisible energetic insides were twisted in knots, or full of holes, or however this all worked.

He had only just learned he had an energetic side to him, and as it turns out, it’s broken.

Cynwrig raised an eyebrow at him. The boy appeared to be having a small nervous breakdown.

“It was a theory. I would find it a little exciting, personally. If I were to guess, every dam you break rewards you with greater access to energy. Be it your own,  or the subtle energy wafting about your environment. Just imagine how you might feel in the end?

He lifted his arms, their movement matching his inhale, then slowly unfurled them as he exhaled.

Better than you’ve ever felt.

Maedoc considered his words.

Sure, he could bear to feel a little better. A little less anxious. More stable. Secure. Those are two feelings he’d never had before. Maedoc assumed it was because he didn’t belong.

The parasite of the village.

Cynwrig seemed to pick up on his thought process, for he chimed in.

“There are many things that could create such a dam in a person. You have plenty that could contribute to it.”

He walked towards a long table to the left, picked up a glass vial and swirled its contents before his eyes.

“It can’t have been easy, never knowing who your parents were.”

His body stiffened. His typically loud breathing had gone silent.

The room suddenly felt cold. Frozen in place. Maedoc shivered.

A small pang arose within him, blossoming into a sharp, frosty bouquet. It curled itself around his heart and held tight. He raised his hand to his chest; an instinctive tic he always found himself doing when he felt troubled.

Maedoc knew this feeling was not for the topic at hand. He felt no sadness for those who gave birth to him. He found this difficult, for he didn’t know a single thing about them.

He felt it for Cynwrig. Up until now, he had never seen him the slightest bit sad.

Not only sad. Sad on his behalf.

No one had ever done that before.

“It’s… nothing. I’m not upset about it. Honest. This village is a perfect home. Everyone’s been good to me. And I work hard, to give back to everyone. I’m happy.”

Maedoc felt the honesty in his words. He did love this place. He was thankful for the life he had.

There were some downsides, some unpleasantness, but who didn’t share in that? No one lived a perfect existence. Growing up among the villagers, watching them live their lives, Maedoc had come to understand this rule quite well.

Cynwrig nodded slowly after the boy spoke, thinking to himself.

“Well. That’s good to hear. Let’s finish answering your question, Lassie. What’s next on our list… ah, response to the environment,” he said, waving his finger in the air.

Maedoc nodded as he took his next sip. A fiery sourness soaked his mouth and made his nose tingle. For a moment he felt a sneeze coming on — then it passed. False alarm.

“This one…” Cynwrig began, as he walked back towards Maedoc with a mischievous smirk, “is the most worrying of all.”

That’s encouraging, thought Maedoc.

“It’s not all bad. Half of it is even fairly pleasant. You know the pulse you felt earlier? That tempo? It’s entirely dependent on where you interact with it, and who’s around when you do.”

If you engage Aether while out in nature, there is an abundance of energy for it to tap into. Its output will surge along with its input. Sensible, right? As far as environments go, the wetter and more forested it is, the stronger the Aether’s output will become. Not exceedingly so, but it’s noticeable.”

He walked a dozen paces to the wall on the right.

This guy can never keep himself still, Maedoc observed. He’s been making tracks around this mill all evening.

Turning around, he held the Aether high as he spoke.

Now, let’s consider people. People are also harbingers of energy. Much like plants, we can also be powerful sources of soothing, healing energy. As I approach you, I feel…”

He stepped closer, then stopped, looking at his upraised fist. Pursed his lips. Walked another few steps, stopped again. After a moment, he returned to Maedoc’s side.

“….I feel nothing.”

Silence fell.

“Which is good, actually! It means you’re a normal, happy-go-lucky human. It’s a good thing, I promise.”

Maedoc crossed his arms. His brain was becoming tired. It seems there was no end to the confusing nature of this evening.

Cynwrig laughed. “I know, I know, I’m sorry. Thing is, it’s rare for a single person to feel tangibly positive. That sort of thing would take extraordinary work. Chalk it up to the world we live in. The depths of darkness are easier to feel, and far more plentiful, than the heights of light.”

The old man returned to his post at the wall on the other side of the room. Maedoc’s neck was getting a decent workout, following his various trajectories.

Now, say you were someone else. A truly dark individual. Someone who’s done actions so evil, and did them so heartlessly, that it imprinted your very soul.

“Luckily for us, you can tell them apart from others by their energy.”

As Cynwrig slowly approached, he continued. “If you were such an individual, I would feel the Aether go, in a word, ballistic. It would react quite violently, to the point where one might think it were having a heart attack.”

He returned to Maedoc, standing just a foot away.

It would respond to you as a scared animal would. It will buck and squirm in your hand. Remember, its sole purpose is to convert negative energy to positive. Allow it to be a warning to you. If the Aether responds violently, do not trust the individual it responds to.”

Cynwrig bounced the Aether up into the air, snatching it in his palm as it fell back to Aunios.

And if you have them hold it in their hand, hoo boy, prepare for some fireworks!” His face donned its usual mischievousness.

Maedoc found himself skeptical, but intrigued.

The man held up two fingers. “Two nay. Two yea. And those are the only two we get, for Aether does not physically grow, it cannot reproduce, and I can’t stay it physically adapts to its environment much. Two out of seven isn’t all that convincing, Maedoc. It would seem that Aether is not alive after all.”

He then leaned in close. “But it sure is fascinating all the same, is it not?”

Maedoc nodded, taking a step back. He smiled. This was exciting. Overwhelming, but exciting all the same.

“Have you met anyone that made it do that, Wrig?”

Cynwrig’s face hardened. He stood up straight, lowering his chin defensively as he spoke through a clenched jaw.

“I have.”

He squinted his eyes and cocked his head, considering his words. “We’ll get to it later. Tonight isn’t about people like that. Tonight is about you, dear Maedoc!”

A drop of water streaked down Cynwrig’s face. He blinked, then looked up at the ceiling. Maedoc followed his gaze. Sure enough, there was a damp spot forming, where yet another drop fell and landed upon the old man’s head.

“Oh no… my books are up there. Maedoc, hold tight, I need to address this.”

Seems the rain was seeping into the mill. Maedoc found this odd, for Cynwrig may not be the neatest individual, but he kept his living quarters as secure from the elements as could be.

Before he could finish his train of thought, Cynwrig was hoisting himself up a ladder in a corner of the room. He poked his head up into the next floor for a moment.

“Brrrr, rather cold up here. Seems a roof tile has fallen off. Maedoc, do me a favor and fire up the furnace?”

He pointed to a copper contraption on the opposite end of the room. Crooked pipes jutted out of it from multiple angles. It looked like a demented fruit.

“It might appear menacing,” Cynwrig yelled, “but it’s fairly simple to operate. Just turn the dial to allow more air in. There should be sufficient coal in there already. I’ll be back!”

He continued his ascension until he disappeared.

Maedoc gawked at the freshly vacated ladder. Then he turned to gawk at the shiny orange contraption at the opposite end of the room.

From a distance, it was hard to understand what he was seeing. As he approached, it began to take further shape.

It was just about his height. A stout figure, bulbous and dense. It drove itself up on thick iron legs, a few inches long and many more wide.

There was a small display in the middle of the unit, made of the same thick, milky quartz that the torches utilized at the room’s entrance. It was a rough, translucent slab, seemingly in place so one could keep tabs on the fire without opening the unit. Leaning in close, he was able to see it was just the slightest bit orange. Must be the embers, burning slowly in their oxygen-starved state.

The furnace had a heat to it. Not hot, but just warm enough to leave the lad unsure of where it was safe to be touched.

Without warning the unit shuddered, the branching pipes echoing a tinny chorus as the reverberation spread. It creaked and groaned in place, until it stopped as suddenly as it began.

Maedoc had no desire to approach it.

Peering to the right, he spied a wrought iron dial, sprouting from the front in a perpendicular manner. Near it was a short pipe which jutted out horizontally from the unit’s side. The end of the pipe was open and exposed, leading nowhere in particular.

Maedoc assumed this was the pipe which funneled air into the furnace. He eyed it with a curious stare.

Without thinking, he brought his hand up to the cusp of the pipe. His fingers circled the edge as if it were a drain, finding themselves slowly drawn in towards the center with nary a way to stop it.

He let a finger peek over the edge, then two.

Air could be felt lazily billowing in between them. It shuffled forward with a quiet sense of duty. Sleeping embers beckoned.

The metal felt only slightly warm, and the air was surprisingly pleasant. Maedoc reasoned that if any part of this thing was to be cool, it would be where fresh air was ferried in.

He spread the fingers of his hand across the opening like a spider’s web, allowing the smallest slices of air to slip through.

His fingers parted the flow of air as boulders do a stream. As mountains did the clouds and the wind.

Utter and complete control over nature. A rare feeling.

With his left hand, Maedoc palmed the dial and gave it a counterclockwise turn.

The weak billowing of air within the pipe transformed into a subtle suction. It quietly whistled as it darted between his fingers, now even hungrier for its destination.

Maedoc had never considered fire to be so alive. So much like a living creature.

Air was just as vital for its survival.

He inched the dial forward as he felt the heat from the furnace slowly begin to swell. The milky quartz glowed brighter as the coals grew in strength.

Midday sun beat down from above. The boughs of surrounding firs swayed in the breeze. A remote clearing in the forest, a day’s hike from the village.

Maedoc’s eyes glazed as a scene unfamiliar to him settled upon his senses.

Pine needles floated down from sickly trees. In this tumultuous and rocky soil, they had a rough time making it. Any tree would, if it grew here.

His hand, quite automatically, continued its slow and steady progression. The dial neared its second full rotation.

The cold, granite face of the mountain did not only serve to diminish the life of trees. Many a species had a rough time making it here — the deadliest of dead ends.

Sweat began to drip from the boy’s brow, as the heat neared the edge of what most would consider bearable. Had he been present, Maedoc would have abandoned his post, task completed, and he certainly wouldn’t have persisted with the dial. However, he was not present, and he did persist.

The geography of the clearing made it easy for predators to surround its prey.

There was only the one entrance. The cliffside was draped around it to create a veritable amphitheater of death.

Creatures were found picked clean, long after their expiration. This was the only time he arrived to find an animal still very much alive — though not for long.

The doe had large, gaping wounds in its side. Too deep to heal. Blood coated the ground so thoroughly, Maedoc felt it belonged to another planet. 

He could tell she was scared, and in unfathomable pain.

He found himself frozen, unable to think or feel. His brain and heart locked up. No one had taught him how to handle this. He had no practice, no knowledge. No adult to help.

It was only when their eyes locked that he was spurred back to life.

All pretense of what was correct, proper, expected — these notions, having lost all power, faded and fell away.

Of all notions that could ever be, only two resided.

A shared sense of pain. A shared desire of it ceasing.

A loud clink woke Maedoc from his stupor. He blinked through the sweat now coating his face. What had just happened? Upon reorienting himself, he gasped.

The dial had been spun out of its socket and lost to the floor. Where it had rolled off to, Maedoc hadn’t a clue. Strong heat now radiated from the furnace, which begun to creak and shake. Quite worryingly, this process appeared to be gathering momentum.

The heat was increasing. The shaking was intensifying. The milky quartz window now beamed a ray of burning red across the room.

The stifling warmth began to make him ache. He took a step back.

Fear began to resonate Maedoc’s bones. His legs buckled as he considered his situation.

If this beastly item ruptured, red hot coals would litter the floor. A fire would most certainly result. Given the wooden construction, the entire mill would burn to the ground.

He might get out okay. As for Cynwrig…

Maedoc opened his mouth to scream. But no sound would come out. Terror had paralyzed him, holding his breath hostage.

He couldn’t warn him.

Running was no option. There was no conceiving the abandonment of his friend.

Frozen in place, he faced death alone.

Maedoc made his way to the doe. His footing was clumsy, due to the slick of the blood.

Approaching her made him nauseous. The smell of impending death filled his nostrils.

He placed himself alongside her, wrapping his arms tightly around her neck.

She struggled, as any creature would. Tightening his body, he arched back and pulled with all his strength.

In a flash, Maedoc knew what had to be done.

He took a step forward. Maedoc grimaced. Astounding, how much more heat a single step can bring. He lifted his left arm to use as protection for his face. His eyebrows felt ready to burst into flame.

Pressing his free arm up to the intake pipe, he shut his eyes and drove his hand inside.

Wind whistled past his fingers at astounding speed. The suction was far stronger than it was before.

No longer was it a playful pull. It had evolved into something more determined. Tinged with desperation. Animal hunger.

If it could, it would eat him whole.

There was no backing down now. Maedoc forced his hand deeper still, splaying the fingers outward to best block the flow of air. He had physically displaced most of the pipe, yet the air flow felt the same.

Ah.

With an instant certainty, he understood.

Air, given its exceedingly high demand, had simply ushered itself more rapidly through the smaller cracks. A boy’s hand just wouldn’t be enough to block it completely.

Not good. Not one bit.

The heat was becoming truly unbearable. Just how much coal was packed away into this thing?

As a last ditch effort, he took his arm away from his face, cupping the hand against the base of his entrapped arm. The sudden blast of heat threatened to boil his eyeballs straight out of his sockets. He winced with a gasp, burying his head deep into his arms in an attempt to escape it.

All he could do was hope for it to end.

It felt like a lifetime had passed.

Does it always feel this way, to rob something of its breath?

Time, breath, they felt so very equivalent. So intimately tied together.

Maedoc was losing strength. He suddenly realized that he, too, had been holding his breath.

He pressed the contents of his lungs through tightened lips. Miraculously, it was then that the doe ceased struggling and remained still.

End of Chapter Three

ACQUIRED:

ITEMS

No additions

TECHNIQUES

No additions

LORE

1)

Aether does something strikingly similar to this mechanism. It feeds on stale energy in its surroundings, continually churning out a distinctly positive energy in its place. This energy is an energy that all us living things typically find pleasant.”

2)

“This one…” Cynwrig began, as he walked back towards Maedoc with a mischievous smirk, “is the most worrying of all.”

That’s encouraging, thought Maedoc.

“It’s not all bad. Half of it is even fairly pleasant. You know the pulse you felt earlier? That tempo? It’s entirely dependent on where you interact with it, and who’s around when you do.

If you engage Aether while out in nature, there is an abundance of energy for it to tap into. Its output will surge along with its input. Sensible, right? As far as environments go, the wetter and more forested it is, the stronger the Aether’s output will become. Not exceedingly so, but it’s noticeable.”

3)

The old man returned to his post at the wall on the other side of the room. Maedoc’s neck was getting a decent workout, following his various trajectories.

“Now, say you were someone else. A truly dark individual. Someone who’s done actions so evil, and did them so heartlessly, that it imprinted your very soul.

“Luckily for us, you can tell them apart from others by their energy.

As Cynwrig slowly approached, he continued. “If you were such an individual, I would feel the Aether go, in a word, ballistic. It would react quite violently, to the point where one might think it were having a heart attack.
He returned to Maedoc, standing just a foot away.

“It would respond to you as a scared animal would. It will buck and squirm in your hand. Remember, its sole purpose is to convert negative energy to positive. Allow it to be a warning to you. If the Aether responds violently, do not trust the individual it responds to.”

Cynwrig bounced the Aether up into the air, snatching it in his palm as it fell back to Aunios.

And if you have them hold it in their hand, hoo boy, prepare for some fireworks!

RUMINATIONS

1)

“Plants do the same thing!” he blurted out. “They also have good energy to them. It doesn’t feel as wild as this, but it does feel nice.”

“Correct!” Cynwrig bellowed, pointing a finger at the startled youth. “Impressive, Maedoc. Yes, plants do purify energy quite well on their own. If you’re ever a little down, or feeling ill, laying among the plants and the trees can really sort you out.”

Cynwrig lowered his arm and froze as he mused to himself.

It would appear that nature was the first form Aether ever took.

2)

After a sip, Cynwrig exhaled loudly and continued.

“Here’s my theory. Aether appears to have a bigger impact on a person if they possess a large amount of ‘something’ for it to process. That ‘something’ could be any energetic aspect of that person which is found to be out of sync.”

Padded raindrops permeated the background as the conversation fell silent. Cynwrig turned away, pacing slowly with hands delicately knit behind his back. Maedoc watched silently as the man ruminated.

“We’ll go into that a little later, but in essence there may be some sort of ‘something’ that is plugging you up energetically.

Aether is much like an etheric plunger. It diligently unclogs one’s energetic piping, returning flow to a stream that has, in most cases, long been blocked.

3)

He had only just learned he had an energetic side to him, and it turned out to be broken.

Cynwrig raised an eyebrow at him. The boy appeared to be having a small nervous breakdown.

“It was a theory. I would find it a little exciting, personally. If I were to guess, every dam you break rewards you with greater access to energy. Be it your own,  or the subtle energy wafting about your environment. Just imagine how you might feel in the end?

He lifted his arms, their movement matching his inhale, then slowly unfurled them as he exhaled.

Better than you’ve ever felt.”

4)

“Now, let’s consider people. People are also harbingers of energy. Much like plants, we can also be powerful sources of soothing, healing energy. As I approach you, I feel…”

He stepped closer, then stopped, looking at his upraised fist. Pursed his lips. Walked another few steps, stopped again. After a moment, he returned to Maedoc’s side.

“….I feel nothing.”

Silence fell.

“Which is good, actually! It means you’re a normal, happy-go-lucky human. It’s a good thing, I promise.”

Maedoc crossed his arms. His brain was becoming tired. It seems there was no end to the confusing nature of this evening.

Cynwrig laughed. “I know, I know, I’m sorry. Thing is, it’s rare for a single person to feel powerfully soothing. That sort of thing would take extraordinary work. Chalk it up to the world we live in. The depths of darkness are easier to feel, and far more plentiful, than the heights of light.”