There, in the hidden village of Old Man’s Chin, the mothkin gather around the dry well at the center of town, look to the stars of the southern sky, and begin the midnight sermon. They praise those distant, flickering speckles of white for the light they provide—distant, and safe, yet bright enough to bring the world into focus. They praise, too, the messages written in the sky: Each star a word, each constellation a parable.
Red Jack finds his parables elsewhere: In his own history. And now, on this holy night of possibility, he gathers together the visitors from Velas so that he may tell them one.
This is the longest I've stayed in any one place. I suppose I'm not very good at what you might call laying roots. And yet, now, aye, the soft buzz of the mothkin as they flitter from task to task. The switchlings rumbling soil and snow as they move underneath. My children, running with a laugh, not yet called to face their nature. And that tangled heart of flesh and bark. I look at it. I look out on all of this place, here in the shadow of Twinbrook, in the shadow of Hieron. Our woods, the rice fields. Even the snow stings my feet. And I think it home. And that, friends, leaves me shaking. Homes are built not on wood and plaster but on aspiration. Each utterance, each thought that links you to a place and its people is a promise. And there, years ago, the last time I had a home, I learned all about promise. There, in Red House, there in the hopeful commons and the broiling streets of Marielda, mourning.