There was a soothing, very familiar atmosphere of sound and movement as they rode. The padding of the horses’ hooves on the snowstruck ground; an occasional clink of gear; the soft, heavy wrapped-up noises the riders themselves made as they changed position; even Akzasosan’s cough, painful as it sometimes sounded: all of these intimate, close-hung noises, belonging to the riders, were intensified in their intimacy a thousandfold by the sense of the surrounding emptiness of the great forest of the MerZirvora. The riders carried their sounds with them as a firefly carries its light, and in the immense, passive wilderness, the act of riding impressed Zy as being at once reassuringly humdrum, and yet also weird, spectacular – the small scale of people on this wild earth made their feelings at once very unimportant, and yet also precious, somehow, and essential.

Excerpt from Dustless, Volume 10, Mask [ii]