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A SLEEPLESS WIND

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Two monks disembark from their ornithopters and tug their thin robes about aged shoulders, each clutching a staff in gnarled hands. The male of the two points ahead and the woman nods in return as she looks toward the blizzard which awaits them.

Stony barren land gives way to ice-covered treachery as they bow their heads and forge onward in the increasingly inclement conditions. Soon their noses drip with icy water as hail and sleet alternate their barrage on these tiny figures moving across a massive landscape.

Pulling their red robes up over their bald heads, they trudge onward.

Soon, the howling wind lets them know they are close to their destination as it changes in cadence and takes on the tell-tale whistle of air squeezed through and around something which stands in its path.

The man gasps and coughs, clutching the woman’s arm in momentary surprise and awe as what they seek appears through the barrage of elements. She too looks up, squinting through icy lashes.

There, majestic in size and grandeur, stand three plinths, each with an elder dragon stood upon it as though ready to take flight. One, its huge jaws open in a roar which may never be heard, another with horns each the size of three monks protruding from its mighty head and the third, slightly ahead of its fellows and seemingly frozen with an overwhelming sad ferocity at its fate.

A pounding of great feet behind lets them know their companion – Nue, a mononoke – has at last caught up to them. It is with gladness that they bury cold hands in its fur as it chitters unhappily at the weather.

‘At last we look upon the elders,’ the man says solemnly.

‘Can it be true they shall return?’

Her question hangs on the air between them before being torn away in the wind. They urge Nue forward, glad of its mighty strength and warmth.

With gnarled fingers they inspect the ice-covered giants, the mononoke allowing the woman to clamber on its back to reach the feet of the first. They poke, prod and knead both plinths and elders, hoping against hope to discover something untoward about their stony countenance.

At last the man sighs and slithers back to the ground, shaking his head.

‘If it is so, then so shall it be.’ The woman says sadly as she gently climbs down from Nue who shakes his long beard to rid it of the sleet resting there.

The man simply nods but there is a sadness to both their expressions as they probe the elder dragons with keen gazes.

‘Perhaps.’ The man mutters. ‘If not now, then when?’

To this, neither woman nor mononoke has an answer. It seems they must simply wait for the prophecy to be revealed true or false.

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