The door in the rock opened and he stepped out into the dimming light.
The dimming light. Always the dimming light. He had refused to look upon the sun for years. Not since the High King fell, and the Lions fled from the forests and the Wolves and Rats had overrun the world. There was only one true King, and he would not look on the sun until he saw it rise anew. It had set in his youth—oh, so very long ago.
The breeze whispered softly as it ran its fingers through what little hair was left on his shriveled head. The first star winked at him, as though she knew something he didn’t and wasn’t about to tell him.
The breeze whispered strange things. Such strange things. Every passing year made it harder for him to hear what it said. It had calmed down since the War, but now, now that the western end of Berasia was heating up again with the fires of hate the breeze was humming with news it wanted to tell him. But he could not understand. Not anymore.
With a scuttling sound, his Beast clambered from the hole in the rock and scrambled to his shoulder. It was a scraggly, grey, weasely thing that had been alive just as long as he had. He stopped talking to it years ago. Both of them now deemed verbal communication unnecessary. He could not even remember its name. He had to think very hard to remember his own. Even then, he could only remember the first syllable. Or perhaps it was the last—
Tom. That was all. He sighed, deeply—the most sound he had made in weeks.
His ferret bristled. It could not understand the breeze either.
The moon looked down at the pair of them almost pityingly. Tom frowned at it. She was always the silent one at these nightly gatherings. She had been silent as long as he. The wind chattered, the rocks groaned, the foliage rustled, and the stars winked, but the moon always watched it all in quiet amusement. He knew she had something to say. But she never said it. Even she was worthless without the sunlight.
The breeze picked up. It was whispering something desperately. Excitedly. Tom raised his head, creakily cocking it to one side as he listened. The ferret on his shoulder lifted its nose to the air.
Something was happening.
Something was on the move.
It was all indistinct—they were all giving him information at once. A piece here, a piece there, but they were all shouting so loudly he could hear them. For the first time in years, he could hear them.
Even the moon spoke.
Oh, his heart, the moon.
The things she said—could they be true?
The wind and trees and rocks and the glimmering starlight replied in the affirmative.
The heated hatred that simmered behind him in Nanduvar growled, but he ignored it. The Sun had set in the West so long ago, but if what the Moon said was true—
Then She was coming. She.
And He soon to follow.
Tom knew. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The Sun would rise again.
Slowly, he turned back to his hidden door in the rock, touching it in that one place to make it swing open. Silently he stepped back into his darkness to keep company with the books under his care. The happiest he had been in years, he closed the door behind him, shutting out the anxiety of the wind. He sat in the silence.