The krying spider was a spider and lived in the mountains. The wind whistled and blew and everything was around it; and the wind was whistling and singing. He loved to eat and went to the river and fished in the river and the river was full of fish. The spider winced and dropped the pole into the river and tried to catch a fish. He could not catch anything. He did not want to go down to the city, for someone would see him and he did not want to be seen. Everything around him was deathly still. So still, he could not breathe-his eyes blinked, flashed madly. Everything was perfect. Perfect and still. The snow fell. The wind whistled. His mouth opened and he sang:
We are of mountain/of burdened snow,
We do not know where we go-
We haven’t found a way behind,
We push past darkness and deep we find,
Nervous now, nervous yet,
Look for the shadow of the silhouette.
The Power of the Six had been protecting Merlin for several thousand millennia-beyond the grain of sand, of wind and rain and lightning, the world spun and the magic spun with it; delved short of nothing of the cold that was in it. The magic delved further into the heart of things; further into the greatness that was the abyss, and made up of everything. Further than the eyes of Torn; the breath of speak; the light that wove through anything. Everything was shattered. Everything was in ruin. The man stood among the ruins, his hands stuffed deep in the pocket of his jeans. He looked ready to bolt from the spot at any minute. He grunted. The wind grunted back.
“Well, old gal,” he told the krying spider. “What are we to do with you?”
“Feed,” the spider said pitifully, and skittered under his feet. He forgot to mention he was terrified of spiders. Beyond terrified. He wanted to kill it. He remained calm. The spider’s eyes reflected sincerity; depthness; intelligence. He had seen spiders before. Spiders were not intelligent.
“Why do we call it krying, anyway?” he continued, his lips trying to part into an almost half smile, the smile of something that had never wavered, had never been worn-the danger was in it all, was in everything. The danger was everywhere. He could smell it. Could smell the way everything was. Everything could be. “Why not have a different spelling? A different sort of spelling in the name, the way the name is shaped. The way it is.”
“You’re babbling,” the spider reminded him.
The man laughed. His laughter rolled across the dust and the spider winced. He was afraid, he feared man, as well as everything else. Everything was to be feared. He did not know why he was afraid; only that it comforted him, and he wanted the man to go away. He said it aloud.
He rose to his feet and nodded. “I’ve come this far, and seen ghosts,” he told him. “I saw many ghosts.”
“They scare me.”
“So, leave, old man.”
“Why’d you call me that?” the spider asked sharply.
His name was Harper. He was a harpist. He was an orphan and had been living in the Red Plains his entire life; it was nowhere near the Great Plains, but the Red Plains were close by. Harper loved to sing. He loved to fiddle. He could do almost anything. He squinted down at the krying spider. “How many of you are there left?” he asked pleasantly enough.
The spider sniffed. “I don’t right know,” he apologized. “I only know of cold; of loneliness; of the mind and body. That is all.”
“What of your god?”
“God?” It laughed bitterly. “I don’t know about God. I know about magic.”
“Are you a magician?”
The krying spider rolled over on himself. And straightened.
“What was that for?” Harper couldn’t stop laughing. His insides were tickling. He hoped the krying spider hadn’t drugged him.
“Nothing,” the spider protested. “I was just…rolling over. I do that sometimes.” If the spider could blush, he sure would have.
The night was cold. The man went away and the spider crawled into its little home, and slept; and the stars broke out, full and beautiful, in the sky; and everything was bright. The color of brightness was everywhere. The color of brightness was inside everything. Everything was still. The man woke up in the middle of the night, his dreams sharp as a tack.
The dragon rose tall as the mountains-the mountains were tall above it, and the wind was sharp and whistled. The dragon’s name was Kustka and he snorted cold air. It was winter. He had no trouble finding shelter-caves were all over the place-but he wanted one that was close to a river. He scanned the landscape, the rolling hills that rose and fell against the sky, and the sky was breathtaking and the sun was falling, fell fast. It was going to be night soon.