Not a short climb
, Lucien observes. No
, I agree as I ascend on foot, one arm around the sling where my baby is sleeping against my ribs. I find the weight comforting but very different from the rocks I've been practicing with. No matter how carefully you weigh a baby, no stone will ever give you the same impression... the vulnerability, the preciousness. And the wiggle: babies wiggle a lot more than you imagine.
We've left my guards behind... but we are well past the point where it's safe to go without wings. Besides, I am never without protection, and by now everyone knows it. It's been an interesting, very grueling few months. I have occasionally tried to imagine undertaking this... adventure... without the Godson's help; it would have been disaster. Even with his help it's been a struggle. I've fought easier uphill battles than the one I'm embroiled in now.
So I have been busy. It's only now, at summer's end, that I've been able to get away from the seat of the Closest Kin to come here, as I have been longing to since I returned from Shraeven. We're almost there
, I tell him, and feel his attention grow more focused. I hike up the last crumbled feet of the trail and then we are standing on top of the world. The Lip of the Sun
, I say to him. Ah...!
I am on a summit of tawny rock so far above the sea that the sky looks closer than the earth, almost touchable. The drop is sheer, straight down to amber rocks slicing through the foam-edged waves, an eye-watering turquoise. Their boom is distant, as is the scent of salt and summer. Up here you mostly smell the sky... feel a wind too high to gather earthbound smells.
This is where I grew up... this is where I had to come. Not just for myself, but to bring these two newest important people in my life. So I don't spoil the moment with explication. Together the Godson and I overlook the shimmering waters while I hold the sleeper to my chest, knowing that the taste of the air and the smell of it and the heat will reach the baby just as powerfully—perhaps more so—than the sight.
I remember not long ago I was contemplating my retirement in a room at Fort Endgame... wondering about godhead and grace. I wanted to wander the earth, to unravel the mysteries. When the Godson called me back to duty, I thought Shraeven was a distraction from that goal. But instead, Shraeven gave me the answer, sheathed in blood and suffering so that I would be sure to feel it piercing me, bright as a sword:
We are each of us vibrating between the eternal and the moment. To be mortal is to never be comfortable, never be able to settle on one or the other... and so we need reminders to pull us in each direction. Like gods and children.
I cup the baby's body against my breast and feel the brush of Lucien's ghostly hand. I spread my wings, feeling the heat in every feather, and the sun sparkles on the waves and in my eyes.
And then I step off the edge of the world and soar into the summer sky.The End