Children of the Rain
Their hair was dark, nearly as black as a cloudless night. Their skin was pale and their eyes the color of the cloudy, stormy sky. They were beautiful - but everyone was beautiful - and they walked surely but softly, and their clothes trailed behind them like smoke, scarves and coattails and long sleeves floating in a non-existent breeze.
They were twins, they were children of the rain.
They drifted through the tall gray misty city, whispering to each other. They passed in and out of the Library, where their voices became dry and papery, rustling like pages; they sat in the Symphony, momentarily still with awe at the unfathomable music played there.
And the twins listened as they traveled the city's stone-cobbled roads. They listened to scupltors directing their models, they listened to scholars arguing. They listened to the Governors debating policy as they sat in council. They heard apprentices and masters, the common and the wealthy, the stupid and the wise.
They heard rumors; they were troubled. They went to see the Historian.
"We have heard things we do not understand," said Ry, the sister. Her lips were a metallic rusty green, the ocean sky in the flat stillness before an electric storm. Her flared coat was long and gray and cut close to her body, with bell-shaped sleeves and black embroidered trim.
"We wish to know," said Pix, the brother. His dark hair was pulled back and tied with a narrow silver ribbon that matched the laces of his gray-blue shirt. He wore a long gray vest subtly patterned with stylized clouds.
"Tell us who we are."
Mist beaded in their hair and on their clothes. The Historian studied them.
"You are the children of the rain," he commented.
"We know," Pix said.
"Tell us what that means," said Ry.
"The city rose from rain," the Historian continued. "Out of the clouds and thunder."
"We know that too," said Pix.
"We do not need to hear about the city's birth," said Ry. "We need to hear about ours."
So the Historian told them. He told them about the storms and the rain, about the wind and the clouds and the electric spears strobing down from the sky. He told them about the birth of the city, about the rising of the tall silvergray towers towards the stars. He told them about prophecy and history, about myth; he told them what stories the city whispered to itself.
"We know these stories," said Pix.
"Tell us our own," said Ry.
So the Historian told them about governors and craftsmen and masons and engineers; he told them about the building of the Library and about the collections of books within. He told them about laws and regulations, and he told them what stories the Historians recorded for posterity.
"We are not interested in policy," said Ry.
"We understand it," said Pix.
The Historian told them about lovers' quarrels, about plots hatched in the stillness before dawn, about aborted coups and marriages of convenience and political intrigues. He told them about legacies and geneologies; he told them secrets that other men had taken to their graves. He told them about ghosts and vengeance killings and mercy and grace. He told them what stories the city's great families repeated to each other.
"This does not answer our question," said Ry.
"You have not helped us," said Pix, "and we lose patience."
They turned to go.
"Do you not see?" the Historian asked. "You are the children of this very place. The city's stories are your stories; the city's birth is your birth."
The twins looked at each other. They still did not understand.
"The city was born in rain," the Historian continued, "and without rain it shall perish. As shall you."
And this at last was what they had heard. This was the rumor that had troubled them like a steady drip from an unseen crack in the ceiling, a niggling little irritation whose source they could not discover. They knew the Historian's words for truth.
"We have never feared anything," said Ry.
"Yet we fear this," said Pix.
"As well you should," said the Historian.
"Someday the towers will fall," said Ry. "Will they not?"
"Someday," agreed the Historian.
"And we will fall with them."
"Why do you tell us this?" asked Pix.
And this too they knew for truth.
The twins looked again at each other, then at the Historian, and then, too afraid of what else his words might reveal, they left.
Outside, the city's tall gray towers glittered like silver and seapearl in the slanting rays of a half-hidden sun.