The first thing he remembered was the clouds. The clouds, and Zysashin’s voice. His sister, Zysashin, laughing.

Did the clouds come out of Zysashin’s voice?

That was strange…

The first thing he remembered was the two of them, together on the moor, running under the brief summer sky, racing clouds across the heather.

How did they run?

They hurdled, or scrambled over, the low, soft, round grey boulders that studded the hillside. Zysoshin, Zysashin: twins. They ran hard, lifting each other up if one stumbled, trying to reach the thorn tree near the edge of the track before the cloud’s shadow fell over their heads, ending the game. The wizened black thorn was the winning post…



Sai, SolMin

And how did the game begin? In those short summers, when the days were long?

Well, they would wait by the stream until a cloud appeared over the brow of the hill, and then, trying not to giggle, sprint towards the thorn.

They raced together – only then was the race real. Sometimes Zysoshin would race alone, without Zysa, and sometimes even beat the cloud to the thorn – but it didn’t matter. He knew it didn’t count without Zysa. Even if she watched him race the cloud, Zysa sitting on the Bug Stone in the sunlight, and he said: ‘“Watch me, Zysa – Zysa: watch”, and they both laughed and yelped when the tip of the great white cloud first appeared over the top of the hill, like the tentacle of some fairytale sea creature, and Zyso set off, splashing through the wet grass and over the peaty, black earth, in a kind of ecstasy – even then, if he managed to reach out and touch the trunk of the thorn before the shadow fell upon him, he knew he had not won very much really, it was only him alone, it didn’t mean anything.

No, only when they raced hand in hand was the race true. And though they were both slender, of similar build, long-limbed and agile, and though Zysa was hardly slower than Zyso, when they ran together, they always lost the race against the cloud – unless it was a very fat, old summer cloud, lazy and ambling, which didn’t count anyway: but at least when they lost together, the losing was real. To run alone (and Sasa could beat the cloud on her own, too) was not really to run at all.

Their home and their world was a high place of clouds and of winds. It belonged to them…

Excerpt from The Sentinels, Volume 1 of Dustless

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Dustless | Volume 1

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