titanflameob.jpgI walk one pace behind her; gaunt in her scarlet shift, her hair simply cut, half hiding her eyes, black as charred bone, lit only along the thin, liquid edge like the night side of two lonely worlds. She denies her own legend with every magnetic step through a swirling pool of children, well wishers, ill wishers and beggars. From one side comes the lingering, ululating call to bear witness. On the other, a boy and girl barely seven years old perform The Song of Long Parting. The children are dancing on thin metal. Below their bare feet is a deep seam of bones that only she can see. The wall behind is etched with the names of the faltered: those whose last steps toward sanctuary failed them. There are millions of names written there and sometimes I’m sure that she knows every one. Even that precious monument is wounded with random punctures, each one weeping a wax-like tear of cold stone. Debris is scattered around, covered in typical Prinnean fashion with a crusted layer of dust made of metal and rock.
The crowd jostles. Many of them cannot see her. There are many, many blind here and even those who can see have seen too much. These are the Eyeless: the grit left behind when the war ground everyone else to pulp. Rosie Grass is their queen. For the blind, she wears a strong scent and it competes with an aroma of falsespice, pseudoseminix bread, soy, blackwet, boiling curd and soiled air. The smell and taste of corroded metal sits behind all the others, though the scent of waste and decay is less than it was. The noise is riotous. Sellers bully the crowd. Bare feet and egos are stepped on. Everyone is calling and stretching out their hands to be touched. Through all this, under her breath, inside her cowl, she is begging them to leave her alone. Finally we stop at the frail door of the Transit's Mission and she hesitates...

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