From a bed, Korsten looked toward
the window of a room that felt spacious; the air around him moved freely, as if
the water in his dream had transformed.
His mother sat smiling at him before the window, red hair dark against
the ocean view over her white shoulder.
She watched him with what he’d always taken for gentleness, his private
shelter from his father and from life outside of his dreams or a book. Looking at her delicate features now he saw
something else. He saw wisdom, of an
ancient sort. Thoughts of Ashwin flashed
across his mind and he watched the smile slowly seep from his mother’s
He felt at once confused and
remiss. “Mother,” he began.
“Korsten,” she said, her voice overlapping his
own. “Come home.”
The Vadryn made themselves personal, by burrowing to the roots of their
despairs and suckling, like children from an unhealthy mother. They grew, like twisted caricatures of family,
roosting in the heart, cluttering it with debris, sending poison out to the
rest of the body. Sickness and
depression, lethargy and weakness, desperation and insanity; those were what
the Vadryn brought to men. They truly
were as a plague.